Name and Shame: Major Attack on Academic Freedom and Labor Studies in Michigan

The Michigan Senate included in its budget proposal a penalty of $500,000 against any public college or university that teaches a labor-related course or offers a labor-studies program.
Michigan State University has been considering an agreement to adopt a portion of programming from the National Labor College. A spokesperson for the university said in testimony before the subcommittee: “We do also provide training for other groups, business groups, others on the other side of the aisle.”
Apparently the state senators found that testimony insufficiently reassuring, for the proposed legislation imposes a sort of draconian “neutrality” on the topic of labor issues by prohibiting any courses and programs, existing or new.
State Rep. Al Pscholka, the Higher Education Subcommittee chair, called the program “sloppy”, said that some of the seminar’s subject matter was “inappropriate” and added, “this is a case where I think they’re almost encouraging labor disputes, and I don’t think that’s right.”
This outrageous political story reminded me sharp words of William O. Douglas: “The most important aspect of freedom of speech is freedom to learn. All education is a continuous dialogue – questions and answers that pursue every problem on the horizon. That is the essence of academic freedom.”

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