Thursday, March 03, 2005

Education and Freedom

There's some positives out there, really there are.

Phi Beta Kappa, the premiere organization promoting academic excellence on college campuses, has rejected the formation of a chapter on George Mason University's campus. Evidently this is a direct result of George Mason's cancelling an appearance by Michael Moore just before election day. The Washington Post reports:
George Mason University Prof. Marion Deshmukh was feeling good last fall as she finished the school's 177-page application seeking to establish a chapter of the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa honor society. The university, growing in size and reputation, counted two Nobel laureates among its faculty, new majors had been added and the library's collection had grown to more than 1 million volumes.

But the very day Deshmukh delivered the application, George Mason got some unwanted attention: Leaders of the state university in Fairfax County, under pressure from conservative Virginia lawmakers, withdrew a speaking offer to liberal filmmaker Michael Moore, the outspoken director of "Fahrenheit 9/11." The controversial cancellation of an event scheduled days before the presidential election made headlines nationwide.

University President Alan G. Merten said it was Moore's $35,000 fee, to be paid with state funds, that prompted the university to pull out, not opposition to the filmmaker's rhetoric. But Phi Beta Kappa officials apparently were not convinced: The organization, citing concerns about academic freedom, promptly rejected George Mason's application, according to university professors involved in the process.

In addition to this action, there's some anti-war stirring amongst high school students in Minnesota. Seems the students wanted to do some counter-recruiting when the military came to Kennedy High School in Bloomington. They even joined Youth Against War and Racism. After some wrangling inspired by the American Legion having a talk with the Principal of the High School, the kids are now alright, and they are gathering a much larger crowd than the military recruiters.

What I had forgotten is that No Child Left Behind has a provision that gives the military complete access to all high school student records and the right to recruit on campuses nationwide. Many organizations are active on this issue, including the American Friends Service Committee, Mother Jones, and Michael Cervantes with Veterans for Peace.

Yes, there is hope.