The Associated Press article is here. Read it for yourself. The e-mails are pretty explicit that this Governor wanted to censor what went on in classrooms in this state.
This doesn't surprise me. It also fits the narrative that Governor Mitch Daniels had and has no respect for public education in this state. In my estimation, he tried to do everything he could to undermine it and now it seems he wanted to systematically cripple academic freedom in the classroom.
Of course, as the AP points out in the article, it was a much different Daniels that took the job at Purdue University. In an open letter to the Purdue community, the AP said that Daniels wrote, “The academies that, through the unique system of tenure, once enshrined freedom of opinion and inquiry now frequently are home to the narrowest sort of closed-mindedness and the worst repression of dissident ideas.”
In his flurry of e-mails, the AP says that Daniels took particular aim at the writings of academic, Howard Zinn. Zinn's People's History of the United States ticked off the Governor so much that he actually argued for prior restraint. The AP reports that Daniels wrote in an e-mail, “Can someone assure me that it is not in use anywhere in Indiana? If it is, how do we get rid of it before more young people are force-fed a totally false version of our history?”
Governor Daniels clearly made a mistake here. Had he wanted to get rid of Zinn's book from Hoosier classrooms, there were many ways to do it without putting his own stamp on it. By sending these e-mails, it shows how power-drunk he was. It shows how much he disrespects those that would oppose him and the lengths he would go to to make sure that he is in control.
The duty of a teacher or a professor, in my estimation, is to challenge the minds of students. Sometimes it's ok to generate discussion by bringing in non-traditional articles, opposing viewpoints, or stories told from different lenses. That should not be threatening to a Governor. On the contrary, it should be a great comfort that we are raising and teaching young people who can think for themselves who are not being force fed what we want them to hear.
A public school or public university classroom in 2013 is a culturally and economically diverse place filled with young people who need to hear a variety of messages presented in a variety of different ways to learn. I wish people, especially the politicians, would just let the professionals teach.
Indiana didn't need censorship of a message that was unpalatable to the ruling class. Hopefully, the folks at Purdue will take a hard look at these e-mails and realize the true nature of the man they selected as the president and face of their university.
Just another reason to say, "GO IU!"