Teachers, Professors, and Academic Freedom

Monday, February 18, 2013

Marjorie Heins, civil liberties lawyer and founding director of the Free Expression Policy Project, talks about how, in the early 1950s, New York City’s teachers and professors became the targets of massive investigations into their political beliefs and associations. Those who refused to cooperate in the questioning were fired. Her book Priests of Our Democracy tells of the teachers and professors who resisted the witch hunt, those who collaborated, and those whose battles led to landmark Supreme Court decisions. 


Marjorie Heins

Comments [11]

Noach (Independent, Anti-Corporate Traditionalist) from Brooklyn

When it comes to allowing ideology and agenda to trump reason, science, empiricism, and sound public policy, the left is no less guilty than the right. Likewise for inserting blatant bias and indoctrination into education. Each side is blinded by their respective biases, ideologies and agendas. It is not rare, even, for these to come before basic ethics and morality. This is something I have become increasingly aware of with time, as I continue to observe and find examples on both sides.

I would like to elaborate somewhat with some specific examples but cannot do so now. If I get the time, perhaps I will post again to this page at some point. Anyone interested might wish to check back every so often.

Feb. 18 2013 06:22 PM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Google "hitler stalin pact"

Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact - 1939

Both socialists. Both invaded and divided up Poland. Their "non-aggression" pact lasted until hitler invaded Russia.

Feb. 18 2013 02:08 PM
Larry from Brooklyn

Tenured faculty at colleges can be dismissed for not carrying out their required duties or if a college is in financial exigency. That they cannot be is a misunderstanding of what tenure is. I am speaking for university faculty- I am not familiar with school teacher tenure.

Feb. 18 2013 02:07 PM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Eliminate tenure for teachers and professors.

Why should a teacher/professor be a special class, exempt from market pressures and evaluation and dismissal?

A witch hunt is waged against teachers who don't toe the "progressive" socialist, pro-islamist party line.

Feb. 18 2013 02:02 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

To Amy

As the child of Holocaust survivors with a BS in History from Brooklyn College, I firmly believe that had there been no Bolshevik revolution in Russia, the Nazi party would never have come to power in Germany in the first place. Fascism was the unfortunate reaction to the threat of Bolshevism.

Feb. 18 2013 02:02 PM
Amy from Manhattan

I wonder what it was like for Jewish teachers, many of whom might well have lost relatives in the Holocaust, to see fellow teachers persecuted for supposedly having Communist sympathies, but not those who had Fascist & even Nazi sympathies.

Feb. 18 2013 01:57 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

My alma mater, Brooklyn College, was called the "Little Red School House" in the 1930s and having gone there in the 1960s, I'm sure for good reasons.

I do believe that the government has the right to try to obstruct enemies of the US constitution, be they fascists, communists, or jihadists. Democracy is not a suicide pact.

Feb. 18 2013 01:55 PM
herbert from manhattan

i work at ccny & while cleaning out the file cabinets, ~late 1980s, i saw some 5.5" x 8.5" slips of paper that were loyalty oaths. that one would *not* support a communist country. then you sign. neat!

Feb. 18 2013 01:45 PM
Leo from Queens

The involvement of NYC agencies in political persecution reminds me of the current activities being carried out by the NYPD, Board of Ed and multiple elected officials against anyone who is a Muslim or anyone in City public schools of CUNY who demonstrates any sympathy for the living and human rights conditions of millions of Arabs in the occupied territories of Gaza and West Bank.

This is a democracy as long as your views are in agreement with the ideology of those in power. Blatant racism and discrimination are OK since the oligarchy shares that ideology

Feb. 18 2013 01:42 PM
Larry from Brooklyn

Professors are accused of indoctrination of students by those on the right today (this is not ancient history). They would like us to not teach human sexuality, alternative economic theory, evolution, social problems, American history (the non-Texas textbook version), etc. They do not want to encourage critical thinking, investigation of social policy... this is why college professors can apply for tenure after 6 years of review... to protect intellectual freedom.

Feb. 18 2013 01:40 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Many of my professors in Brooklyn College in the 1960s professed to being Marxists.

Feb. 18 2013 01:28 PM

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