We’re a month into state legislative sessions, and there’s a lot happening around educational gag orders. Here are some of the highlights.
Seventy-one educational gag orders have now been introduced in twenty-three states. Thirty of those bills specifically target higher education, with nearly half including punitive measures of some kind—allowing faculty members to be fired, reducing or eliminating funding either for “prohibited” programs or for the entire institution, or allowing monetary damages to be awarded to claimants who file successful lawsuits against an institution or faculty member. AAUP’s EGO Dashboard provides an overview of state legislation, including a list of upcoming hearings. The dashboard updates in real-time, so bookmark it in your browser and check it often!
Some AAUP state conferences and chapters are already taking action against these censorship bills. The Kentucky conference has joined a broader coalition that held a rally on January 12 to protest the bills that have been introduced there. The event received significant press coverage. And in Missouri and Alabama, we’re exploring opportunities to work with coalitions that are very active in fighting back.
At the national level, the AAUP is part of a working group that aims to develop state-level coalitions so that our organizations can fight back together. Other members of the working group include the National Education Association, American Federation of Teachers, American Civil Liberties Union, African American Policy Forum, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and the National Center for Youth Law.
In addition to our defensive efforts, we’re going on offense where possible. We’ve drafted a legislative resolution in support of academic freedom and accurate teaching on race and racism, and are talking with conference leaders in several states where there’s a strong possibility of getting it introduced.
We’ll send another update at the end of February, so be sure to check your inboxes!
If you have questions about anything, would like more information, or would like help in your state, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stephanie Lamore, AAUP Government Relations