David Horowitz to Debate Ward Churchill at Academic Freedom Conference · 22 March 2006

The debate will be held Thursday evening on the campus of George Washington University in Washington, DC. Young America's Foundation and the Center for the Study of Popular Culture are the co-hosts of the debate. Seating for the debate is limited and will be determined by George Washington University. Conference registration does not guarantee admission to the debate.

 

The conference will also feature U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander, House Leader Jack Kingston, and Colorado high school student Sean Allen whose recording of an anti-American rant by his geography teacher, Jay Bennish, created a national furor over classroom indoctrination. The conference (apart from the debate) will take place at the Washington Court Hotel in Washington, DC.

The conference is free for students, non-profit employees, legislative staffers, and the media and is only $75 for the general public. Some dormitory housing is available free-of-charge for college students traveling to the conference from outside of the DC area. A preliminary schedule for the conference may be found here. For more information or to register for the conference, please contact Elizabeth Ruiz at 800-752-6562, ext. 202 or at Elizabeth@cspc.org.

High School Indoctrination

Several horrific cases of classroom indoctrination in high schools have made national headlines during the past few weeks. A geography teacher in a Colorado high school delivered a 20 minute communist rant and compared President Bush to Adolf Hitler; a New Jersey teacher put President Bush on trial for war crimes in his classroom, and students at a public high school in Maryland launched a campaign to reform the peace studies class at their school which was taught with an extreme anti-war and anti-conservative bias.

The educational establishment would like you to believe that these instances are a rarity, but sadly we know better. The only thing that is rare in these instances is that thanks to the courageous action of the teenage victims of these so-called educators, these indoctrinators were exposed to public scrutiny. Students for Academic Freedom has defended these students in press releases and on national media shows. Read on for the latest details.

Child Abuse in Colorado

 

At Overland High School in Colorado, tenth grade geography teacher Jay Bennish was suspended from his teaching duties after an audio tape made by a 16-year-old student revealed Bennish using class time to rant against America, the Bush administration and capitalism.

The tape, made by student Sean Allen, documents a tirade Bennish delivered on February 1st about President Bush's State of the Union address. After recounting some of Bush's comments during the speech, Bennish declared "Sounds a lot like the things Adolf Hitler used to say." He also questioned his class, "Who is the probably the single most violent nation on planet Earth?!" and answered himself, "The United States of America!" Bennish declared capitalism to be against humanity and said the victims of 9;/11 were justified targets because they included FBI men and businessmen.

Students for Academic Freedom put out a press release calling for the school to take immediate action against the teacher and to send the message that such classroom indoctrination is child abuse. "This outrageous violation of students' academic freedom points the need for immediate adoption of the K-12 Academic Bill of Rights nationwide," said David Horowitz, the chairman of Students for Academic Freedom. "The fact that Bennish's outrage took the form of a Communist political rant on the evils of America, capitalism, and George Bush in that order is immaterial. Any political rant in a classroom (high school or otherwise) is an unprofessional abuse of students and deserves the sternest punishment. It's time to take politics out of the classroom and put education back in."

Bush on Trial in New Jersey Classroom

At Parsippany High School in New Jersey, teacher Joseph Kyle has assigned students in his advanced placement government class to put President Bush on trial for "crimes against civilian populations" and "inhumane treatment of prisoners." Students are assigned to either the prosecution or the defense and the case will be judged by a panel of five teachers dubbed the "international court of justice."

In an appearance on MSNBC, David Horowitz condemned Kyle for intruding his partisan politics into the classroom and taking advantage of his position as an educator.

Reforming Peace Studies in Maryland

Students at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in Maryland launched a campaign to reform the teaching of peace studies at their school after discovering that the course is regularly used to indoctrinate students in antiwar ideology and to disparage conservative views.

Andrew Saraf and Avishek Panth, both 17-year-old seniors at the school, became concerned after their classmates approached them with tales of their experiences in Colman McCarthy's Peace Studies course, an elective class for seniors. Though not a student in the course himself, Saraf was incensed by his classmates' descriptions of McCarthy's class, where the textbook is a collection of essays on peace edited by McCarthy himself and where students are regularly subjected to one-sided guest lecturers and diatribes. Saraf sent an e-mail questioning McCarthy's use of the class to promote his political agendas to the school e-mail list, sparking a fiery debate leading to press coverage in the Washington Post.

Saraf contacted Students for Academic Freedom for advice on how to challenge the course's exclusionary political content. Sara Dogan, the national campus director for Students for Academic Freedom, urged him to carefully document student complaints about the course and suggested that he meet with the school's top administrators to recommend that they adopt the Academic Bill of Rights. She also suggested that he put out a press release and seek media attention to spur administrative action to address the course's one-sided content. Students at B-CC are also considering organizing a chapter of Students for Academic Freedom.

Colman McCarthy, the teacher of the course, has defended his teaching style, saying, "Unless we teach them peace, someone else will teach them violence," although he claims to welcome conservative dissenters in his class.

Students for Academic Freedom put out a press release defending Saraf and his campaign to remove the partisan content from the school's peace studies program, noting that "Andrew Saraf and his classmates have set a courageous example of how students who refuse to accept classroom indoctrination can make a true difference in their schools."

Yours in Freedom,

Sara Dogan
National Campus Director
Students for Academic Freedom