California has always been a hotbed of forward thinking, but now a group of professors are trying to make the state take a step backwards. At issue is the way that the education system is trying to enforce diversity in the classroom. Here is the full story.
They Want to Advance DEI
Back in March of 2022, the California Community Colleges (CCC) system first proposed a set of classroom standards focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
New Rules for Professors
The proposal included mandatory procedures that professors would have to follow in instructing students on how to build a more diverse and equitable college experience for all campus members.
DEI Affects Tenure
The educators would then be evaluated on the effectiveness of their DEI work when it came time for tenure decisions.
They could also be sanctioned if they weren’t meeting the standards.
Drawing Fire from FIRE
Right away, the CCC drew fire from an organization called Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, or FIRE.
Was It Unconstitutional?
At the time, FIRE warned the policy makers in California that their proposed DEI classroom initiative would violate the First Amendment rights of both educators and students.
Academic Freedom Squashed
FIRE also claimed that forcing the teaching requirements on professors would squash any semblance of academic freedom.
DEI Plowed Ahead
But the CCC went ahead with their DEI plans anyway.
And with a new school year just getting underway, several professors are taking exception to the new rules.
Professors Are Suing
In fact, six Fresno-area profs are so concerned about the impact on their free speech that they are working with FIRE to sue CCC to challenge the legality of the new regulations.
Representing three area campuses, the professors claim that the college system is forcing them to teach what they claim are questionable and always-changing viewpoints.
Forced to Comply
According to the FIRE filing, “The government is forcing professors to teach and preach a politicized viewpoint they do not share.”
Hard to Understand
What’s worse, say FIRE and the teachers, the DEI guidelines are vague and written in a sort of double-speak that makes it hard for professors to know where they stand.
Crossing an Imaginary Line
And yet, if they cross some arbitrary line defined by the new standards, the educators could face punishment or the denial of tenure.
They Have to Teach It
Some of that language includes the directive that professors must “employ teaching, learning, and professional practices that reflect DEIA and anti-racist principles.”
It’s Too Vague
That language is too vague to actually implement, claim FIRE and the educators.
They also take exception to some of the terminology that CCC includes in their glossary aimed at helping professors implement the guidelines.
‘Not a Racist’ Means Denial
For example, in the definition of “anti-racist,” the college system says, “Persons that say they are ‘not a racist’ are in denial of the inequities and racial problems that exist.”
No Freedom of Expression
FIRE says that such definitive statements are totalitarian and deny professors the right to express different viewpoints.
White Professors Can’t Win
And they also think some of the definitions put white faculty members in a precarious position.
Immune from Racism?
In defining “white privilege,” for example, the glossary states, “…White people are immune from disparate racial treatment and their privileges are elevated….”
The Courts Will Decide
Now the battle over whether or not that language is fair or even legal appears headed directly for the court system.
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Source: Campus Reform