First, they came for the private-sector unions, especially in manufacturing. Then, they came for public-sector unions and financing for public higher education. Now, they’re after the professors themselves.
According to the Chronicle of Higher Education,
Changes in collective bargaining could well have a broad impact on higher education—and have led to protests by faculty members and others in several states—but a number of narrower bills being considered in some statehouses are seen as a more direct attack on academic affairs.
A measure limiting sabbaticals to 3 percent of the faculty at any one time at Iowa’s three public universities is expected to be signed by the Republican governor, a former college president, as part of a budget bill there. Another proposal in Iowa, which has already died in the Legislature, sought to force the University of Iowa to sell its most valuable painting, Jackson Pollock’s “Mural,” worth an estimated $100-million to $140-million, to pay for undergraduate scholarships.
Tenure came under fire recently in Utah, where a bill to eliminate the practice was introduced in the state’s House of Representatives. The measure, rejected last week by the Education Committee in the Utah House of Representatives, was sponsored by Rep. Christopher N. Herrod, a Republican, who has also proposed legislation to require greater state oversight of the University of Utah’s public-radio station.
Lawmakers are inserting themselves even more directly into the classroom in South Carolina, where a proposal would require professors to teach a minimum of nine credit hours per semester.
Professors may be upset about the latest attempts to control their activities. But they never spoke up about the initial attacks on workers and unions. And now it may be too late.