SAF Launches Initiative to Fight Indoctrination in K-12 Schools · 07 September 2004

Parents and Students for Academic Freedom will also promote legislation at the state and federal level to ensure that students are protected by a Bill of Rights designed to guarantee them an education that is fair, inclusive and non-partisan. A sample resolution is available on the organization's new website at www.psaf.org and a mission and strategy guide can be found here.


The inspiration for this new effort stems from the overwhelming demand voiced by parents across the nation. Since starting up SAF, we have been continually besieged to expand our efforts to include the primary and secondary schools, where partisan indoctrination is reportedly just as rampant as on the college campuses. Parents and Students for Academic Freedom will address this need.

A case that poignantly illustrates the problem is that of an eight-year-old second grader at a Delaware public school who wrote a composition saying that he wanted to be a soldier like his grandfather. "If you ever write anything like that again, you are going straight to the principal's office," the teacher threatened. When his parents complained, the teacher again scolded the child, accusing him of lying about the incident. The mother confirmed the story with two of the child's classmates but the child himself was so upset that he didn't want to return to class.

Another example occurred at a Catholic high school. During the war against the Taliban following 9/11, the administration set up a table in the cafeteria where they encouraged students to send bags of rice to President Bush to show him that the Afghan people need food, not war.

We are encouraging parents across the country to start up chapters of PSAF at their children's schools and to band together to fight partisan abuses and encourage specific guidelines for teachers that actively promote intellectual diversity in the classroom. Parents who aren't able to start up chapters at present, can register as members by emailing me at Sara@studentsforacademicfreedom.org and will become part of the national organization.

Please notify your parents and younger siblings about our efforts. More information on starting a chapter of PSAF or on becoming a member can be found on the program's new website at www.psaf.org.

As we head into the fall semester, SAF has already encountered one major case of political abuse on campus. At the University of Missouri-Columbia, the administration has "strongly encouraged" incoming freshmen to read Barbara Ehrenreich's socialist tract Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America and to attend professor-led group discussions of the book as part of its orientation program. No other book providing a contrary perspective on the issue of poverty in America was assigned.

Assistant Spanish Professor Molly Olsen, one of the faculty members charged with leading a student discussion on Ehrenreich's book, made clear that she had explicitly partisan lessons to impart. "Do I hope the truth that the book contains creates some voters who will ally themselves with Kerry to oust Bush?," Olsen told Vox Magazine. "You'd better believe it."

Upon learning of this incident, Students for Academic Freedom took immediate action, sending a letter to Mizzou Chancellor Richard Wallace asking that Professor Olsen apologize for her comments and alerting the legislators within the state about this blatant attempt to use a taxpayer funded and tax-exempt institution as political base for partisan agendas.

SAF further recommended that an alternative text on the subject of poverty (such as W. Michael Cox's, Myths of Rich and Poor: Why We're Better Off Than We Think) be recommended to incoming freshmen, and asked that Mizzou explicitly incorporate intellectual, political and religious diversity in its diversity mission statement to ensure that the views of all students are respected. We will be sure to be watching this case closely as we head into the fall term.

For more information on starting a chapter or to report an abuse of academic freedom on your campus, please contact me at 202-969-2467 or at Sara@studentsforacademicfreedom.org.

Yours in Freedom,

Sara Dogan
National Campus Director
Students for Academic Freedom