Don't Let Missouri End Secular Public Higher Education!

From: 
American Association of University Professors, UMKC Chapter
What's happening: 

The Missouri House passed HB 213, the "Emily Brooker Intellectual Diversity Act," on April 12.

The bill (now S 848) is now before the State Senate.

Most notable is the bill's explicit protection of "the viewpoint that the Bible is inerrant" (infallibility as interpreted by ultra-conservatives). The Act would legally empower fundamentalist students claiming infallibility to file grievances against non-fundamentalist instructors and have them disciplined for "lack of respect" or "viewpoint discrimination." That is, they can be disciplined for rejecting the infallibility of
ultra-conservative tenets (creationism replaces evolution in the life sciences, gay rights are excluded from law and social work curricula, programs in Black Studies, Women's Studies, and Labor Studies are eliminated, etc.).

What you can do: 

1) PLEASE CONTACT THE SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE RIGHT AWAY

a. Address the message to 9 SENATORS [all 9 e-mail addresses in the TO: line]. OR, since HB 213 has been a largely partisan affair, send 2 messages, one to Democrats, the other to Republicans.

b. The subject line should read: "Vote NO on S 848 / HB 213, Emily Brooker Intellectual Diversity Act"

c. You don't have to be original (see sample message below).

d. If you work in Missouri but don't live there, your opinion counts. THIS LEGISLATION WOULD UNDERMINE THE ECONOMY OF THE STATE BY HARMING HIGHER EDUCATION. You can also write as a concerned citizen.

e. Concerned citizens who don't work or live in Missouri should also speak out. THIS BILL IS PART OF A NATIONAL CAMPAIGN (SIMILAR LEGISLATION INTRODUCED IN 26 STATES). THE OPPOSITION NEEDS TO ALSO BE NATIONAL.

2) Please FORWARD THIS MESSAGE to everyone you know who supports academic freedom and academic standards and opposes government interference in higher education.

CONTACT INFORMATION FOR SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE

1) Maida Coleman (Democrat)
Minority Floor Leader
e-mail: Maida_Coleman@senate.mo.gov
Phone: 573-751-2606
FAX: 573-751-7638

Coleman graduated from from Lincoln University and represents the 5th Senate district (St. Louis County, including Clayton)

2) Rita Days (Democrat)
e-mail: ritadays@senate.mo.gov
Phone: 573-751-4106
FAX: 573-751-0467

Days graduated from Lincoln University and represents the 14th District (St. Louis County, including city of St. Louis, Clayton)

3) Chuck Graham (Democrat)
Assistant Minority Floor Leader
e-mail: Chuck.Graham@senate.mo.gov
Phone: 573-751-2162
FAX: 573-751-4703

Graham has worked at University of Missouri, Columbia, won awards from from the National Education Association, and represents the 19th District (Boone and Randolph Counties, including Columbia, Huntsville)

4) Yvonne Wilson (Democrat)
e-mail: yvonne.wilson@senate.mo.gov
Phone: 573-751-9758
FAX: 573-522-4626

Wilson graduated from Lincoln University, earned a Masters at UMKC, was a teacher in the Kansas City school district, and represents the 9th District (Jackson County, including Independence and Kansas City)

5) Gary Nodler (Republican)
Education Committee Chair
e-mail: gary_nodler@senate.mo.gov
Phone: 573-751-2306
FAX: 573-751-2894

Nodler is a graduate of Missouri Southern State University and represents the 32nd district (southwest counties and Joplin)

6) Rob Mayer (Republican)
Education Committee Vice-Chair
e-mail: Rob.Mayer@senate.mo.gov
Phone: 573-751-3859
Fax: 573-526-1384

Mayer is a graduate of Missouri State University, earned a graduate degree at UMKC, and represents the 25th district (bootheel and southeast counties)

7) Norma Champion (Republican)
e-mail: normachampion@senate.mo.gov
Phone: 573-751-2583
FAX: 573-526-1305

Champion teaches at Evangel University and represents the 30th District (Green County, including Springfield)

8) Scott Rupp (Republican)
e-mail: scott.rupp@senate.mo.gov
Phone: 573-751-1282
FAX: 573-526-4766

Rupp graduated from University of Missouri, Columbia, has received awards from the Missouri State Teachers Association, and represents the 2nd Senate district (Lincoln and St. Charles counties, west and northwest of St. Louis)

9) Charlie Shields (Republican)
Majority Floor Leader
e-mail: charlie_shields@senate.mo.gov
Phone: 573-751-9476
FAX: 573-526-4765

Shields earned an MA in Business Administration from University of Missouri, Columbia and represents the 34th Senate district (Buchanan and Platte counties, including Kansas City, St. Joseph, Platte City)

SAMPLE MESSAGE

Subject line: Vote NO on S 848 / HB 213, Emily Brooker Intellectual Diversity Act

Dear Senators [all 9 names; or one message to 4 Democrats, another to 5 Republicans],

I am writing to urge you, [a graduate of--fill in name of institution(s)] to vote NO on S 848/ HB 213, the Emily Brooker Intellectual Diversity Act. It would harm academic freedom, academic standards, the reputation of Missouri institutions, and the economy of the state.

The Act would mandate interference by government in the everyday operations of higher education in Missouri. Since all institutions already have effective procedures in place addressing allegations of faculty misconduct, it is unncessary and intrusive.

Trying to legislate "diversity" is like trying to legislate free speech. Every such attempt fails, and accomplishes the opposite of its intent, because it restricts the free exchange of ideas. Without this exchange, there is no education. The Act would encourage a regime of censorship and self-censorship affecting everyone in the institution.

S 848/ HB 213 would replace academic standards with "political, ideological, and religious" criteria in all aspects of campus life. Academic standards, established and maintained by professionally trained faculty, are the principle on which all higher education in the US is based. The Act would eliminate the professional authority of faculty, who would be forced to defer to student viewpoints and could be disciplined for lack of deference.

For these reasons it would damage beyond repair the reputation of the state's institutions. A degree from a Missouri institution would be devalued, and income would be lost as students and faculty (and their
grants) went elsewhere. Because it would harm higher education, which is one of the main economic engines of the state, S 848 / HB 213 would harm the economy of Missouri as a whole.

Thus I urge you to vote against this destructive Act.

Sincerely,

[Signed]
[Your name]
[Your address]
[Academic affiliation, if any (faculty, student, staff, administrator, etc.)]
[If you are a resident of Missouri or work in Missouri, give your residential or employment Senate district.]

You can look up your state senators IN THE DISTRICTS WHERE YOU WORK AND/OR LIVE on the website of the Missouri General Assembly: http://www.moga.mo.gov. On the home page click on "Legislator Lookup," and on the next page enter the 9 digit zip code of your home or workplace. There is a link to the USPS zip code finder if you don't know it.

For more information: 

Get involved with the April Mobilzation to Save Higher Education and Liberty Tree's Democratizing Education Program.

Learn More about Missouri's HB 213 and the other states considering similar legislation: