On Tuesday, an open letter was circulated that featured hundreds of North Carolina professors declaring their opposition to any requirement that students learn about the United States government and its founding documents.
As reported by Fox News, exactly 673 professors from the University of North Carolina (UNC) Chapel Hill signed the letter as legislation works its way through the North Carolina legislature that would mandate the teaching of such courses. The professors claim that such a law would violate the school’s “academic freedom.”
House Bill 96, the first bill on the subject, would require all public university students to take a 3-credit course that focuses on the history of America and its founding. The course would include such required reading as the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, no less than five essays from the Federalist Papers, the Emancipation Proclamation, the Gettysburg Address, and Martin Luther King’s letter from the jail in Birmingham.
The second piece of legislation that has drawn the professors’ collective ire is H.B. 715, which would eliminate tenure at all UNC-affiliated campuses, as well as establish minimum class sizes, and require all colleges to report on “all non-instructional research performed by higher education personnel at the institution.”
The first bill, the professors claim, would “violate core principles of academic freedom,” and “substitutes ideological force-feeding for the intellectual expertise of faculty,” while the second one would be an attack on professors’ “expertise.”
“Our leaders continue to disregard campus autonomy, attack the expertise and independence of world-class faculty, and seek to force students’ educations into pre-approved ideological containers,” the letter declares. “We must protect the principles of academic freedom and shared governance which have long made UNC a leader in public education. If enacted, we believe that these measures will further damage the reputation of UNC and the state of North Carolina and will likely bring critical scrutiny from accrediting agencies that know undue interference in university affairs when they see it.”
Of the two bills, H.B. 96 has already been passed by the state House of Representatives and is currently awaiting a vote in the State Senate. Both chambers are controlled by the Republican Party.