North Carolina professors are up in arms over proposed legislation that would require students to take courses on America‘s government and founding documents.
More than 670 faculty members at the University of North Carolina‘s Chapel Hill campus signed a public letter Tuesday, decrying the bills as an attack on “academic freedom“ and the “intellectual expertise of faculty.”
The first bill, House Bill 96, would require students to take a 3–credit–hour course covering America‘s founding and history. The course would include required readings of the U.S. Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Emancipation Proclamation, at least five essays from the Federalist Papers, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail, and the Gettysburg Address.
The professors argue that this legislation constitutes an infringement on the university‘s academic freedom and “substitutes ideological force–feeding for the intellectual expertise of faculty.”
The second bill, H.B. 715, would eliminate tenure at UNC and its affiliated campuses, establish minimum class sizes and require colleges to report “all non–instructional research performed by higher education personnel at the institution.”
The professors decry both bills as an attack on “expertise,” claiming that the American government courses amount to little more than indoctrination.
“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 reads.
Supporters of the bills argue that the courses would help students develop a better understanding of America‘s history and founding documents.
“This is an essential part of our history and heritage,” said Rep. Pat McElraft, a Republican who authored the bill. “I think it’s important for our young people to understand the great documents that founded our nation.”
Despite the professors‘ objections, House Bill 96 has already passed through the North Carolina House of Representatives and is now making its way through the state Senate. It remains to be seen if the bill will eventually become law.