Mitch Daniels and his top state education officials targeted an author and a university professor in an ideological purity-purge:
Former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels pledged to promote academic freedom when he became president of Purdue University in January, but newly released emails show he attempted to eliminate what he considered liberal “propaganda” at Indiana’s public universities while governor.
The emails are raising eyebrows about Daniels’ appointment as president of a major research university just months after critics questioned his lack of academic credentials and his hiring by a board of trustees he appointed.
In a Feb. 9, 2010, email sent to top state education officials, including then Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett.
“This terrible anti-American academic has finally passed away,” Daniels wrote , referring to Zinn. “The obits and commentaries mentioned his book ‘A People’s History of the United States’ is the ‘textbook of choice in high schools and colleges around the country.’ It is a truly execrable, anti-factual piece of disinformation that misstates American history on every page. Can someone assure me that is not in use anywhere in Indiana? If it is, how do we get rid of it before more young people are force-fed a totally false version of our history?”
Daniels’ concerns about Zinn’s book punctuated a sharp, rapid-fire exchange between the governor and his top aides.
Scott Jenkins, Daniels’ education adviser, was the first to respond to the governor’s question about Zinn’s book. He noted it was being used at an Indiana University course for teachers on the Civil Rights, Feminist and Labor movements.
“This crap should not be accepted for any credit by the state. No student will be better taught because someone sat through this session. Which board has jurisdiction over what counts and what doesn’t?” Daniels asked, three minutes after Jenkins’ note.
David Shane, a top fundraiser and state school board member, replied seven minutes later with a strategy directing Bennett and Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers to review university courses across the state.
“Sounds like we need a cleanup of what is credit-worthy in ‘professional development’ and what is not. Who will take charge,” Daniels replied seven minutes later.
Shane replied that a statewide review “would force to daylight a lot of excrement.”
Just seven minutes later, Daniels signed off on it.
“Go for it. Disqualify propaganda and highlight (if there is any) the more useful offerings. Don’t the ed schools have at least some substantive PD (professional development) courseware to upgrade knowledge of math, science, etc,” Daniels wrote.
Daniels on Tuesday stood by his demand that Zinn be excluded from Indiana classrooms but said his request was limited to K-12, where the state has control of the curriculum.
“We must not falsely teach American history in our schools,” he told The Associated Press in an email. “Howard Zinn, by his own admission a biased writer, purposely falsified American history. His books have no more place in Indiana history classrooms than phrenology or Lysenkoism would in our biology classes or the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ in world history courses. We have a law requiring state textbook oversight to guard against frauds like Zinn, and it was encouraging to find that no Hoosier school district had inflicted his book on its students.”
Daniels is lying. Obviously. Reading his words, Daniels wasn’t worried about K-12 public school students being exposed to ideas that conflict with his far Right ideology. He was worried about teachers and college students who would go on to be K-12 teachers being exposed to ideas that conflict with his far Right ideology. Adults. Not children. That’s why he and his top education officials discuss “professional development” and “ed schools” and that’s why the creeps directed a “review” of courses offered in higher education. If Purdue accepts this completely disingenuous response they all need a remedial reading course.
Daniels is a leader in the “market-based school reform” corps, a lock-step, narrow version of “reform” that deregulates, dismantles and then privatizes K-12 public school systems. Teachers get crazy notions when exposed to anything outside abject market-worship.They might occasionally veer from standardized test prep or (God forbid) form a labor union. Daniels and his education team also sought to silence a critic of their market-based public education approach:
In a separate round of emails, Daniels called for an audit of Little, who teachers at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. Little was highly critical of Daniels’ education overhaul in internal emails and often critiqued the governor’s performance at public meetings. Daniels directed, in an April 11, 2009 , email that Little’s program be audited and potentially be cut out of state funding.
Then Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett, is one of many national celebrities in school reform circles. Bennett was too far Right even for Indiana and voters threw him out but he landed on his feet and now directs efforts to deregulate, dismantle and then privatize Florida’s K-12 public schools. Might want to look at the emails in that state.
Is this how school reformers intend to prepare children who attend public schools for the “jobs of the 21st century”? By censoring ideas offered to current and future teachers and silencing critics of market-based school reform?