AAC&U, PEN America speak out against bills restricting teaching, learning

The American Association of Colleges and Universities and PEN America issued a public statement June 8 opposing 70 bills drafted in 28 states since January 2021 that are intended to impose constraints on teaching and learning in colleges and universities.

“The majority of these restrictions are focused on concepts related to race, racism, or gender that legislators regard as divisive or otherwise objectionable,” the statement reads. “These legislative restrictions infringe upon freedom of speech and academic freedom, constraining vital societal discourse on pressing questions relating to American history, society, and culture.”

The statement continues: “In teaching and learning, as in scholarship and research, the freedom to engage in intellectual debate, and to share ideas and raise questions without fear of retribution or censorship, expands the boundaries of knowledge and drives innovation. … Any legislative effort to circumscribe freedom of inquiry and expression in order to hew to political directives and agendas denies students essential opportunities for intellectual growth and development. In doing so, such an effort undermines our society’s democratic future.”

Read the full statement here.