Tag Archives: academic freedom

Academic Freedom Or Propagandizing?

Swedish television showed a documentary made by their correspondents who traveled in
America seeking out views on the upcoming election. “From Bill To Barack” aired on Swedish television a few days before the election, but it has now caused an uproar in several parts of the United States because of comments made by a teacher to a student. Fifth grade teacher, Diantha Harris, was discussing the election and asked a girl named Kathy to give her opinion, given that her father was in the military service. The girl remained silent and then Mrs. Harris said, “it’s a senseless war. And, by the way, Kathy, the person you are picking for president said our troops will stay in iraq for another 100 years.” Her comments were picked up by conservative bloggers and played on Youtube. Many were upset at the words of Mrs. Harris to a fifth grade student.

School Superintendent William Harrison expressed his dismay arguing while “neutral discussion of the political process is appropriate, at not time, particularly with elementary students, should a teacher infuse his/her political views into the discussion.” Mrs. Harris argues her comments were edited to reflect a certain perspective.

A teacher has a right to hold political views, but they should be conveyed in an environment that protects the dignity of children. A fifth grade student does NOT have political views, she was merely reflecting what her mother and father said. According to the report, Kathy did not speak in response to the question, and therefore, the teacher should have respected the silence of the child. There was no need to make negative comments about Senator McCain because to do so is insulting parents– who are not present to defend themselves.

Egyptian Government Arrests College Students

More than two thousand students at Al-Azahar University in Cairo protested the arrest of eleven students who are member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Students complained of interference in their rights by security guards and urged the end of students being searched when they entered university grounds.Ahmed Abdel-Rahman, a student complained; “This escalation in the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood has worrying implications for anyone who peacefully campaigns for change.” University authorities insisted the government was merely trying to protect students from those who preach violence.

There are several issues entailed in the efforts by students to ensure their rights against government actions. The Muslim Brotherhood has been condemned as a violent organization without due process proceedings. Egyptian university students wish to be accorded their rights to belong to organizations in order to fight for democracy in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood in the past has engaged in violence, but these students are attempting to create a sense of freedom on college campuses which allows students to engage in intellectual discussions. If any student commits an act of violence there are sufficient laws which would result in punishment. The Western world condemns actions by the Iranian government to suppress free speech on university campuses, certainly the same principle should be protected in Egypt.