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Knowledge in the Making

Knowledge in the Making: Academic Freedom and Free Speech in America's Schools and Universities

Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    Knowledge in the Making
    Book Description:

    How free are students and teachers to express unpopular ideas in public schools and universities? Not free enough, Joan DelFattore suggests. Wading without hesitation into some of the most contentious issues of our times, she investigates battles over a wide range of topics that have fractured school and university communities-homosexuality-themed children's books, research on race-based intelligence, the teaching of evolution, the regulation of hate speech, and more-and with her usual evenhanded approach offers insights supported by theory and by practical expertise.

    Two key questions arise: What ideas should schools and universities teach? And what rights do teachers and students have to disagree with those ideas? The answers are not the same for K-12 schools as they are for public universities. But far from drawing a bright line between them, DelFattore suggests that we must consider public education as a whole to determine how-and how successfully-it deals with conflicting views.

    When expert opinion clashes with popular belief, which should prevail? How much independence should K-12 teachers have? How do we foster the cutting-edge research that makes America a world leader in higher education? What are the free-speech rights of students? This uniquely accessible and balanced discussion deserves the full attention of everyone concerned with academic goals and agendas in our schools.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-16851-8
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
    (pp. IX-XII)
    (pp. XIII-XIV)
  5. 1 A Seat at the Table
    (pp. 1-26)

    If “[o]ne person’s freedom is . . . always another person’s restriction,” as Louis Menand suggested, then any discussion ofwhatacademic freedom is must considerwhoseit is. The invocation of academic freedom signals a claim to control the parameters of discourse: not only the right to determine whether certain material should be included but also the authority to establish the principles on which such decisions are to be made. Inevitably, the efforts of any constituency or individual to exercise control can be successful only at the expense of competitors whose understanding of academic freedom would produce a different...

  6. 2 Freedom and (or) Equality
    (pp. 27-55)

    As a broad statement of principle, Paine’s observation seems unlikely to arouse much controversy. In context, his point was that the atrocities following the French Revolution reflected the lack of a written constitution whose provisions would apply consistently to all citizens, regardless of which party held power at a particular time. The underlying premise, colloquially approximated by such expressions as “What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander” and “What goes around comes around,” is widely shared, as is the belief that liberty depends upon the equitable enforcement of law. Nevertheless, as soon as the discussion moves from...

  7. 3 Price-Fixing in the Free Marketplace of Ideas
    (pp. 56-84)

    Indoe v. university of michigan,a biopsychology graduate student challenged a speech code that focused less on the intentions of the speaker than on the perceptions and feelings of the listeners. He questioned what would happen if, in his university courses, he brought up the theory of race-based intelligence, which states that people of African descent are statistically less intelligent than members of other races. Since the Michigan code forbade speech that demeans or stigmatizes people on the basis of race, Doe feared that any student offended by such a discussion might file a successful complaint. Despite the university’s...

  8. 4 Rainbow Before the Storm
    (pp. 85-116)

    In the foregoing discussion of disputes about speech codes and race-based intelligence, the central issue was whether a public school or university may compel students and faculty to endorse an institutional message that is strongly influenced by constitutional requirements, by conditions placed on the acceptance of state and federal funding, and by social and political considerations. The present chapter expands the discussion by examining a controversial area of personal identity that is not explicitly referenced in the U.S. Constitution. By comparison with the treatment of race in public schools and universities, approaches to the topic of homosexuality are largely open...

  9. 5 Here Comes Darwin
    (pp. 117-146)

    Disputes concerning the treatment of race and homosexuality in public schools and universities are, in our present state of knowledge, differences of opinion in which each view is defended by examples and argument rather than by reference to hard data. Accordingly, lawsuits involving controversial speech on these topics set out to determine not which side is factually correct but which constituency prevails under constitutional law or under professional standards of academic freedom. But because disputes over the teaching of evolution pertain to an academic discipline whose very definition limits it to ideas that are empirically testable, the discussion is complicated...

  10. 6 And Yet It Moves
    (pp. 147-178)

    As the antievolution movement regrouped after its defeat inEdwards v. Aguillard(1987), a new organizational leader emerged: the Discovery Institute, founded in 1991. Through its Center for Science and Culture, the institute promotes the development and teaching of intelligent design (ID): the contention that only the acts of an intelligent designer could account for the diversity and complex structure of living things. Earlier proponents of ID, such as William Paley and Louis Agassiz, openly professed their belief in God as the intelligent designer. Most of today’s advocates, maintaining that ID is science and not religion, describe religious faith as...

  11. 7 The Mote and the Beam
    (pp. 179-213)

    Consistent with the governance structure of K–12 public education, disputes involving the treatment of controversial material in elementary and secondary schools focus on reconciling the well-established principle of public control with the need for a curriculum that is up-to-date, accurate, and intellectually competitive in the world market. At the K–12 level, popular control is assured; what is up for debate is the role of content-area experts. The converse is true in public universities. In an environment in which academic decisionmaking is dominated by professors, some critics seek to increase the influence of populist or majoritarian values. In particular,...

  12. 8 All Roads Lead to Garcetti
    (pp. 214-238)

    Academic freedom enjoyed no legal protection when, in 1915, the fledgling American Association of University Professors began a campaign to persuade universities to adopt it as a professional standard. Beginning in the mid-twentieth century, courts—including the Supreme Court—repeatedly mentioned academic freedom, but the constitutional basis on which it rested was not clearly defined. Courts routinely used tests derived from general public-employee law to decide cases involving the free-speech rights of professors, and the issue was further complicated by decisions that treated academic freedom as an attribute of the university as an institution, not of the faculty. Nevertheless, by...

  13. 9 Caution! Paradigms May Shift
    (pp. 239-267)

    Richard ceballos was a deputy district attorney in Los Angeles County when, in February 2000, he reviewed an affidavit that had been used to secure a search warrant. Believing that the affidavit, given by a deputy sheriff, contained significant misrepresentations, he wrote a memorandum advising his superiors that the case should be dismissed. When his superiors went ahead with the prosecution, Ceballos shared his reservations with the trial court, which nonetheless found the warrant valid. Ceballos was subsequently reassigned to a less desirable position, transferred to another courthouse, and denied a promotion. He filed suit, asserting that the negative job...

  14. Afterword
    (pp. 268-272)

    Not far beneath the surface of some disputes in K–12 schools and public universities lies a subtextual debate over the value of controversy in its own right. The actions taken by university administrators when faculty suggested a causal link between race and intelligence, for instance, reflected not only a rejection of that conclusion but also a determination to prevent controversy from boiling up on campus. The same is true of the repeated efforts of Salt Lake City school officials to marginalize a particular view of sexual orientation. There, too, the motivating factor was not merely a desire to suppress...

  15. NOTES
    (pp. 273-298)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 299-306)