Ninth Circuit Clarifies First Amendment Rights of Public University Professors

Law

When I write about professors acting badly, like William S. Penn of Michigan State University or Erik Loomis of the University of Rhode Island, readers argue about whether taxpayer-funded public university professors should or can be fired for their speech.

Yesterday, in Demers v. Austin, the Ninth Circuit clarified the state of the law on that topic. The opinion — uploaded here — represents a significant clarification of the free speech rights of public university professors, often a matter of some controversy.

Explaining the opinion requires some background. Get a drink and hang on. This will hurt.

The Default Situation: The State Can't Punish You For Most Speech

Say you want to say "[Politician X]" is an ass." Generally, under the First Amendment, the state can't punish you for that. Sure, there are some reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions — you can't repeatedly scream it in the waiting room at the hospital where Politician X is having his syphilis treatment, or chant it in the courtroom during his arraignment for insider trading — but generally you can't be jailed for it or have your state benefits taken away for it.

Employment Is Different

But the state, bless its addled head, can wear more than one hat in its relationship to you. The state can relate to you as a citizen — in which case you have all the rights that everyone else does — or as an employee — in which case you don't, exactly. As a citizen, you can say "[Politician X] is an ass," but if you work for [Politician X], you have to wait until you leave and write your book or get interviewed on Fox.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that, even when wearing its employer's hat, the state can't fire you for any reason it wants. On the other hand, the state as employer has a legitimate interest in keeping order in the workplace. As the Court said in 1968:

To the extent that the [lower court's] opinion may be read to suggest that teachers may constitutionally be compelled to relinquish the First Amendment rights they would otherwise enjoy as citizens to comment on matters of public interest in connection with the operation of the public schools in which they work, it proceeds on a premise that has been unequivocally rejected in numerous prior decisions of this Court. . . . . At the same time, it cannot be gainsaid that the State has interests as an employer in regulating the speech of its employees that differ significantly from those it possesses in connection with regulation of the speech of the citizenry in general. The problem in any case is to arrive at a balance between the interests of the teacher, as a citizen, in commenting upon matters of public concern and the interest of the State, as an employer, in promoting the efficiency of the public services it performs through its employees.

So: public employees have free speech rights, just not as extensive as those of citizens.

The Pickering-Connick Test Governs Public Employee Speech Rights Generally

Courts balancing the rights of the state-as-employer and the free speech rights of public employee have developed an approach called the "Pickering-Connick Test," after Supreme Court cases Pickering v. Board of Education in 1968 and Connick v. Myers in 1983.

There are tons of cases applying the Pickering-Connick test. Speaking very generally — because the application of the test is not the point of Demers v. Austin, or this post — the test requires several steps. First a court must determine whether or not the speech is on a matter of public interest. Speech on matters of public interest are entitled to protection, even when uttered by employees; speech on purely private matters (like, say, a private and internal spat among employees) is not. Then the court must balance the employer's interest in an orderly and efficient workplace against the speech rights of the employee, taking into account things like whether the speech restriction is content-based (that is, whether it censors some viewpoints but not others), the circumstances of the speech, the strength of the employee's interest in the speech, whether the speech genuinely disrupts discipline and order and interferes with relationships, and so on. For an example of this complex balancing test in action, consider the district court case Johnson v. County of Los Angeles, in which a firefighter challenged a sexual harassment policy that forbade firefighters from having pornography at work.

But then the Supreme Court came along in 2006 and made things substantially worse for public employees.

The Garcetti Complication

A Deputy District Attorney named Robert Ceballos claimed that the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office retaliated against him for criticizing what he saw as misstatements in an application for a search warrant. This, he asserts, pissed off the Los Angeles County Sheriff and his supervisors, who no doubt recognized that if every Deputy DA dwelt on every warrant application that was full of maliciously or incompetently perjured horseshit no work would ever get done.

In ruling for the DA's Office in Garcetti v. Ceballos, the Supreme Court drew a distinction that sharply limited public employee free speech rights: it said that employees have no such rights, and the Pickering-Connick test doesn't apply, when the speech in question is part of the employee's job.

We hold that when public employees make statements pursuant to their official duties, the employees are not speaking as citizens for First Amendment purposes, and the Constitution does not insulate their communications from employer discipline.

The Supreme Court noted that Ceballos was speaking as a Deputy DA when he raised his concerns about the veracity of the search warrant. Therefore he was shit out of luck if the DA subjected him to freeway therapy. Had somebody raised concerns even though it wasn't their job — say, a paralegal in another part of the DA's office — they would have enjoyed First Amendment protection. Hence the person with the most relevant knowledge and the ethical duty to raise issues had fewer rights and people with less knowledge and fewer obligations had more rights. The law is majestic.

Lost to most in this exchange was a battle between the dissent and the majority over what this would mean for public employees of universities. Quoth the majority opinion:

Second, Justice Souter suggests today’s decision may have important ramifications for academic freedom, at least as a constitutional value. See post, at 12–13. There is some argument that expression related to academic scholarship or classroom instruction implicates additional constitutional interests that are not fully accounted for by this Court’s customary employee-speech jurisprudence. We need not, and for that reason do not, decide whether the analysis we conduct today would apply in the same manner to a case involving speech related to scholarship or teaching.

The question was therefore left open: after Garcetti, is a public university free to fire a professor for anything they say in the classroom because saying things in the classroom is their job?

It turns out: no.

In Demers v. Austin, The Ninth Circuit Recognizes That Colleges Are Different

In yesterday's decision in Demers v. Austin, the Ninth Circuit considered a lawsuit by a David Demers, an associate professor at Washington State University. Demers claimed the university retaliated against him for writings critical of the development of the journalism school. The district court determined that Demers' writing was part of his job — in part because he was on a committee responsible for evaluating the journalism school, and in part because he listed the writing on various school publications about himself — and ruled, under Garcetti, that the university was entitled to summary judgment under Garcetti because a public employee's job activities are not protected by the First Amendment. This decision seemed to validate all the fears of Garcetti's critics — they showed how broad the definition of "on the job" could be, and showed that the doctrine would strip protection from a professor's advocacy of how a university should be run.

Yesterday the Ninth Circuit reversed. Relying on the paragraph above in Garcetti, it held that the Garcetti doctrine cannot be applied to professors at public colleges and universities, because speech in that context holds special First Amendment significance.

Demers presents the kind of case that worried Justice Souter. Under Garcetti, statements made by public employees “pursuant to their official duties” are not protected by the First Amendment. 547 U.S. at 421. But teaching and academic writing are at the core of the official duties of
teachers and professors. Such teaching and writing are “a special concern of the First Amendment.” Keyishian v. Bd. of Regents of the Univ. of the State of N.Y., 385 U.S. 589, 603 (1967). We conclude that if applied to teaching and academic writing, Garcetti would directly conflict with the important
First Amendment values previously articulated by the Supreme Court.

. . .

We conclude that Garcetti does not — indeed, consistent with the First Amendment, cannot — apply to teaching and academic writing that are performed “pursuant to the official duties” of a teacher and professor. We hold that academic employee speech not covered by Garcetti is protected underthe First Amendment, using the analysis established in Pickering.

In so deciding, the Ninth Circuit joins the Fourth Circuit, signalling a reasonably strong movement in this direction.

What does this mean? It means that, for public university professors, their rights revert to what they were before Garcetti — to the Pickering-Connick test, rather than a blanket loss of rights to speak on job-related issues. This is hugely important: had then Ninth Circuit ruled the other way, then the state could fire professors at will if it didn't like, for instance, the stance that a history professor took about a historical event, or a political science professor took about a political dispute, or any professor took about an issue of academic governance on a committee.

I would argue it means more as well. As I noted above, the Pickering-Connick test is contextual and considers the importance of the speaker's interest in the speech and the circumstances of the speech. Demers stands for the position that a professor's interest in free speech in the academic environment is uniquely important and entitled to the highest level of First Amendment protection. The Ninth Circuit quoted the Supreme Court in Keyishian v. Board of Regents:

Our Nation is deeply committed to safeguarding academic freedom, which is of transcendent value to all of us, and not merely to the teachers concerned. That freedom is therefore a special concern of the First Amendment, which does not tolerate laws that cast a pall of orthodoxy over the classroom. "The vigilant protection of constitutional freedoms is nowhere more vital than in the community of American schools."

Demers therefore suggests that, in applying the Pickering-Connick test, courts should place great weight on a professor's right to free speech in the academic environment, and require the most exacting showing of the state's need for discipline before allowing censorship of its academic employees.

Some people are angered by the Pickering-Connick rule because they see it as giving public employees superior rights to private employees. Private employees, after all, can generally be fired for their speech, absent relevant contracts or statutes. I submit that it's better to see the rule as a limit on state power, not a special right granted to public employees. State officials have a long history of attempting to increase their power by limiting the boon of state employment to people who support them. The state's power to police speech should be scrutinized with great skepticism and even hostility.

What about David Demers? Well, he gets to go back to the district court to continue his lawsuit against the officials he says retaliated against him. But even though he won this victory for the rights of academics in general, his prospects for winning are grim. The Ninth Circuit also pointed out that though Demers may be entitled to injunctive relief, the officials he sued are entitled to qualified immunity, because before this ruling it wasn't clear what they could or couldn't do under Garcetti. See, state actors get qualified immunity unless their behavior violated a "sufficiently clear" right. Here it couldn't have until the Ninth Circuit clarified it. They couldn't let Demers profit. It wouldn't be civilized.

Last 5 posts by Ken White

94 Comments

91 Comments

  1. Gabriel  •  Sep 5, 2013 @10:37 am

    Leaving aside the interesting and complicated question of what the law is, what ought it to be? I have a hard time seeing a voluntary employment relationship between state and professor as qualitatively different, in terms of rightsfulness, from any other employment relationship . Firing someone for their speech doesn't prevent them from speaking, it just means that they're not going to get paid to do it.

    I think a consistent libertarian position, perhaps counter-intuitively, would support the authority of the state to fire its employees for any reason or none. We need rights against the state because the state is the one entity you cannot simply choose not to do business with; but in the context of employment that doesn't apply except perhaps to those jobs where the government does not permit private competitors.

  2. jdgalt  •  Sep 5, 2013 @10:39 am

    All this seems to leave two important questions unanswered. (1) Are students at state universities similarly protected if they publicly disagree with a professor about politics (and how much does it matter if they do it outside his classroom)? Can they be expelled, suspended, or flunked for it? (2) Do students who spent a lot of money expecting a respectable education, and instead get political harangues and attempts at indoctrination, have a fraud case and can they make it stick?

  3. James Pollock  •  Sep 5, 2013 @10:48 am

    " Firing someone for their speech doesn't prevent them from speaking, it just means that they're not going to get paid to do it."
    This was the law before Pickering.
    It can be summed up as "a policeman has a right to free speech. He doesn't, however, have a right to be a policeman."

    The pretend case in the oral arguments part of my 1L legal analysis and writing course covered similar ground (it was shortly after Garcetti came down).

  4. James Pollock  •  Sep 5, 2013 @10:53 am

    "(1) Are students at state universities similarly protected if they publicly disagree with a professor about politics (and how much does it matter if they do it outside his classroom)? Can they be expelled, suspended, or flunked for it?"

    No, they can't. The syllabus spells out (or at least, is supposed to spell out) what grading will be based on. If it doesn't say "the student will parrot back the ideological rantings of the professor", then grading can't be based on parroting back the ideological rantings of the professor. You can be suspended or expelled for political rantings that are contrary to the school's, if they are actually disrupting classes (No ranting with an amplified bullhorn during exam week), but that's a time-place-manner restriction more than a content-based one.

    "(2) Do students who spent a lot of money expecting a respectable education, and instead get political harangues and attempts at indoctrination, have a fraud case and can they make it stick?"

    No, particularly if, as in the recent case under discussion, the professor makes his ideological preferences known at the outset. Fraud requires a misrepresentation.

  5. jdgalt  •  Sep 5, 2013 @11:08 am

    No, particularly if, as in the recent case under discussion, the professor makes his ideological preferences known at the outset. Fraud requires a misrepresentation.

    I've never seen a syllabus until the first day of class, which is always after I've paid the costs of being there. The decision to incur those costs is made much earlier, based on the school administration's marketing materials. The misrepresentation I'm asserting would take place then.

  6. Sertorius  •  Sep 5, 2013 @11:23 am

    Great summary of the law, but I had to give you a special smack on the Papal ring for your summary of Garcetti:

    "This, he asserts, pissed off the Los Angeles County Sheriff and his supervisors, who no doubt recognized that if every Deputy DA dwelt on every warrant application that was full of maliciously or incompetently perjured horseshit no work would ever get done."

    I laughed out loud at my computer. Well said!

  7. John  •  Sep 5, 2013 @11:29 am

    Gabriel: The difference is in the externalities. Think how many people get educated at state-run institutions. Now think what would happen if the state were allowed to turn them into propaganda mills, which is the likely eventual outcome if teachers and professors could be fired for their political stance in lessons and lectures. If you want to limit state power at all in the long run, it's vital to make sure that the state doesn't have complete control over people's educations.

    When even the near-socialist (from an American perspective) is arguing that something is necessary to limit state power and avoid totalitarianism, that's when you know it's serious. :-)

  8. azazel1024  •  Sep 5, 2013 @11:39 am

    Maybe I haven't attended enough colleges/universities (or maybe mine was too prestigous being a state school, ha!), but I can't recall a time I took a class, received the sylabus and gone "This is pure BS and a misrepresentation of what I thought I'd be doing/learning!"

    Oh sure, I've had a couple of bad professors before and taken classes for my major I didn't think were terribly pertinent, but I can't think I've ever taken one where I thought I was being mislead, defrauded, etc.

    Maybe don't attend the "professional colleges", afterall, their accredidation means absolutely nothing for 99% of them.

  9. Jesse from Tulsa  •  Sep 5, 2013 @11:49 am

    @Gabriel: If you put a draconian enough penalty on speech, it is the same as preventing speech. No nation on earth really limits freedom of speech – in North Korea you are free to call Kim Jong-Un a pudgy elitist twit that is continuing North Korea's slide into the abyss. There is NOTHING stopping a North Korean from saying that.

    Now, it will probably result in you being executed. But you are perfectly free to say it. I am free to not be spied on by the NSA, all I have to do is stop using phones, cell phones or the internet. My mail will not be scanned, I just have to stop sending it. I'm free to not pay taxes, just stop earning money. I'm free to avoid being detained by the TSA, just stop flying. YAY FREEDOM!

    Losing your job and having your career destroyed is a professional death penalty. To many career academics it may as well be the death penalty. Setting termination as the penalty for stating an opinion on University affairs is akin to banning criticism of a public institution to all employees (i.e., those with the most knowledge).

    Freedom of speech all around! I think the University President is doing a fine job, just fine. Right? Am I right? Three cheers for our Dear Leader! Right comrade? Hazzah! Hazzah! Hazzah!

  10. The Man in the Mask  •  Sep 5, 2013 @11:49 am

    Speaking as an employee of a public university, one of the (related) concerns I have to this is the ongoing and pervasive initiative to promote "civility". In one sense, I have no problem with that: I really don't want to have to endure "You have the fashion sense of a Cro Magnon on crack", even though this is arguably true. Nor should my coworkers have to endure the occasional sniping that silently forms in mind when one of them has done something truly stupid. So yes, we should all try to be reasonably nice to one another, and that's great…as far as it goes.

    That brings me to the other sense, the one I do have a problem with: and that is "don't point out that the university president is a nitwit, don't criticize the latest campaign no matter how ill-conceived, don't mention that the campus police are laughably outclassed by common street criminals" and so on. The disapproval isn't overt — but it's there. It's tangible. There are any number of things I'd like to say in meetings, but I'd prefer to keep my position and not be the next case reported on here.

    I think the problem is that (some) people are conflating "civility" with "agreement", and thus "incivility" with "disagreement". This won't end well.

  11. Chad Miller  •  Sep 5, 2013 @11:58 am

    > I have a hard time seeing a voluntary employment relationship between state and professor as qualitatively different, in terms of rightsfulness, from any other employment relationship

    State employees are not being paid by a business subject to market pressure. They are being paid by taxes. If we assume that there are some circumstances where you should be forced to give me or let me keep a job, it stands to reason that such an argument is strengthened if working for literally anyone else means I'm forced to give you some of my money.

  12. JTM  •  Sep 5, 2013 @11:59 am

    @jdgalt

    The decision doesn't address student speech rights, but there is a long line of cases establishing that students do not "shed their constitutional rights to freedom of expression at the schoolhouse gate." Tinker v. Des Moines (1968) 393 U.S. 503. The exact limitations on student speech vary in different situations.

    For an excellent analysis of the First Amendment in a school setting (or pretty much any other constitutional issue), check out "The Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation," available for free at the website of the U.S. Government Printing Office.

  13. Gabriel  •  Sep 5, 2013 @12:24 pm

    @John: "Now think what would happen if the state were allowed to turn them into propaganda mills, which is the likely eventual outcome if teachers and professors could be fired for their political stance in lessons and lectures. If you want to limit state power at all in the long run, it's vital to make sure that the state doesn't have complete control over people's educations."

    Universities already are, and inevitably are, propaganda mills, but I agree that it's preferable that they be propaganda for the views of academia rather than the views of the state. The libertarian response to the issue of state control of education is to privatize education. Until libertopia appears, though, I suppose that freeing public teachers from state control is a lesser evil.

    @Jesse from Tulsa: "Losing your job and having your career destroyed is a professional death penalty. To many career academics it may as well be the death penalty. Setting termination as the penalty for stating an opinion on University affairs is akin to banning criticism of a public institution to all employees (i.e., those with the most knowledge)."

    Private institutions, and the careers of private employees, survive just fine in an environment where criticizing your boss can get you fired, and nobody likens a dismissal to a death penalty in a corporate environment. I can appreciate John's concerns above, but yours just sound like the complaints of an academy that is scared of the real world. Maybe the ivory tower needs more firings so that it can learn that finding a new job isn't the end of the world- and a professor that can't find a new job probably didn't deserve the one he had.

  14. Pedant  •  Sep 5, 2013 @12:26 pm

    Early in my academic career (1960s), I had a truly offensive colleague. A friend of mine assured me that he'd be gone. The next semester he was. The chairman had assigned him to two courses, MWF at 9:00 and MWF at 4:00 pm, and one that met 10:30-noon on Tu and Th. Easy. (It might no longer work, I admit, as timetabling is no longer ad lib.)

  15. J@m3z Aitch  •  Sep 5, 2013 @12:27 pm

    Some people are angered by the Pickering-Connick rule because they see it as giving public employees superior rights to private employees…. I submit that it's better to see the rule as a limit on state power, not a special right granted to public employees.

    As a private college prof, I'd agree with this. I often make it clear to my students that by coming here instead of a state school they sacrifice their free speech rights insofar as the potential for punishment by the college is concerned (but that hopefully we as an institution voluntarily choose to let them exercise those foregone rights without punishment anyway).

    If it doesn't say "the student will parrot back the ideological rantings of the professor", then grading can't be based on parroting back the ideological rantings of the professor.

    Dammit, how come I never thought of that? (Amusingly, I was accused of that in student reviews a couple of times, but in each case both a liberal student and a conservative student simultaneously accused me of favoring the other side…one of the joys of being libertarianish.)

  16. rsteinmetz70112  •  Sep 5, 2013 @12:35 pm

    William S. Penn of Michigan State University seemed to be on a rant barely related to his duties as a professor. If in fact he was using his classroom to disseminate his political views in a course on creative writing that would seem to be disruptive of the workplace, if teachers could say any damn thing they want in the classroom, unrelated the to subject of the class. Outside of class he can say anything he wants.

  17. Dirkmaster  •  Sep 5, 2013 @12:37 pm

    The Garcetti Complication

    Sounds like a Big Bang Theory episode

  18. Tim  •  Sep 5, 2013 @12:40 pm

    There is an aspect of this story that does not make sense to me.

    Most Universities have a tenure process for situations such as these. That is, once you have proven yourself in whatever arbitrary way is deemed necessary (usually based on your research and/or publication records), professors are granted tenure to protect their pursuit of whatever academic endeavor they wish free from political pressure. That is, it provides further protections on their speech, such that (at my University, at least), I can only lose my job only if I commit an act of gross ethical misconduct or my entire department is dissolved. The protections of tenure, though most commonly used as an excuse to not be productive, are intended to provide protections in making political statements such as these, both in how the University operates and in the person's research (envision being a political science professor in the USA in the 1950s whose thesis was that communism was a superior form of government).

    David Demers is listed an associate professor, which usually means that he has tenure.

  19. AlphaCentauri  •  Sep 5, 2013 @12:46 pm

    It's important to understand that this isn't a special right granted to professors at state universities. Academic freedom is considered a standard by which public and private colleges and universities are judged. If their professors could be fired for the content of their speech or writing, the school would lose its accreditation. Even professors at Catholic universities usually have that right.

  20. Shane  •  Sep 5, 2013 @1:12 pm

    This would be a lot simpler if the state didn't give itself an interest in the education of the populace.

  21. Wordsmith's Apprentice  •  Sep 5, 2013 @1:18 pm

    The Garcetti Complication – is the Oxford Dictionary aware of your definition of majestic?

  22. Francis  •  Sep 5, 2013 @1:34 pm

    For those who don't live in Los Angeles, "freeway therapy" consists of assigning county employees to work locations far from their home addresses. Court employees (DAs, PDs, sheriffs, even judges [I don't recall]) are particularly vulnerable because there are courthouses all over the county, the county is really big, and traffic is really bad.

    (LA county is about 4 times the size of Rhode Island, for example.)

  23. Dan Weber  •  Sep 5, 2013 @1:34 pm

    It's important to understand that this isn't a special right granted to professors at state universities. Academic freedom is considered a standard by which public and private colleges and universities are judged. If their professors could be fired for the content of their speech or writing, the school would lose its accreditation. Even professors at Catholic universities usually have that right.

    I don't think this is right. FIRE deals with this issue and I've read their explanations and Volokh's back in the day, and private schools can definitely fire professors for speech.

    FIRE admits this readily, and for private schools they either 1) point out that the school says upfront it restricts speech, or 2) point out how the school says it stands for free speech and attempt to shame them into following their stated guidelines.

    I submit that it's better to see the rule as a limit on state power, not a special right granted to public employees. State officials have a long history of attempting to increase their power by limiting the boon of state employment to people who support them.

    This is so good it needs saying twice. While I have big issues with the difficulty of firing public sector employees, we do not want the state to be able to retaliate against their employees at will.

  24. James Pollock  •  Sep 5, 2013 @1:40 pm

    "This would be a lot simpler if the state didn't give itself an interest in the education of the populace."

    Last time I checked, students were free to choose from a wide variety of private colleges, or even forego university entirely.

  25. wgering  •  Sep 5, 2013 @1:45 pm

    Thanks Ken!

  26. Renee Marie Jones  •  Sep 5, 2013 @3:11 pm

    I love the way the coutrs read "Congress shall pass no law" and take it to mean "Congress can pass a law if it really, really wants to."

  27. Shane  •  Sep 5, 2013 @3:38 pm

    @James Pollock

    Last time I checked, students were free to choose from a wide variety of private colleges, or even forego university entirely.

    But I however am not free to not support said university that students have so much freedom to not go to.

  28. Saribro  •  Sep 5, 2013 @4:07 pm

    The Garcetti Complication

    Sounds like a Big Bang Theory episode
    While true, it seems Ken has Firefly on his mind at the moment.

  29. Harry Johnston  •  Sep 5, 2013 @4:23 pm

    Here in NZ it wouldn't be an issue. All employers, public and private, must be able to show that they had a good reason to fire someone. (You can also get in trouble if you don't follow the procedures properly, even if you did have a good reason.)

    This perhaps goes a little further than I'd prefer, and there are a small number of people who take advantage of it, but I still think it's better than employment-at-will.

    [Flame retardant glasses ON.]

  30. En Passant  •  Sep 5, 2013 @5:02 pm

    Dirkmaster wrote Sep 5, 2013 @12:37 pm:

    The Garcetti Complication

    Sounds like a Big Bang Theory episode

    Heh. Or a newly discovered Robert Ludlum draft. Lots of cool titles in this saga. Demers' The Ivory Tower of Babel ain't too shabby either, no matter what else he said.

  31. Ceterum Censeo  •  Sep 5, 2013 @5:31 pm

    The law Roberts Court is majestic.

    FTFY

  32. Xenocles  •  Sep 5, 2013 @5:58 pm

    "They are being paid by taxes. If we assume that there are some circumstances where you should be forced to give me or let me keep a job, it stands to reason that such an argument is strengthened if working for literally anyone else means I'm forced to give you some of my money."

    I'm not following. If money is being taken from me forcibly to employ you, doesn't that give me more of a right to dictate the terms of your employment? Isn't this right properly exercised by the agents appointed by the elected officials (to my understanding, the university's president or board of visitors or whatever)?

    "The syllabus spells out (or at least, is supposed to spell out) what grading will be based on. If it doesn't say "the student will parrot back the ideological rantings of the professor", then grading can't be based on parroting back the ideological rantings of the professor. "

    Of course they wouldn't be so brazen; it's like we have now with discrimination complaints. If I were a professor who wanted to run my class that way I would spread it out through the grading process and never use that language. I would put a lot of weight on "contributing to class discussions" and only consider toeing the line to be a contribution. I would have you write essays and rip you for not using my preferred sources in a favorable way. You might be able to detect a trend, but it would be hard to prove.

  33. mud man  •  Sep 5, 2013 @6:09 pm

    Some people are angered by the Pickering-Connick rule because they see it as giving public employees superior rights to private employees.

    This is so backwards. People should be angered because private employees don't have the superior rights of public employees, which generally work ok. Why should anyone be required to be a wholly-owned automaton to have a job?

    We are talking about a Whistleblower Persecution Act here. Even a Philosophy Suppression Act. Not to mention United Against Technical Innovation.

  34. mud man  •  Sep 5, 2013 @6:15 pm

    "(2) Do students who spent a lot of money expecting a respectable education, and instead get political harangues and attempts at indoctrination, have a fraud case and can they make it stick?"

    No, particularly if, as in the recent case under discussion, the professor makes his ideological preferences known at the outset. Fraud requires a misrepresentation.

    I don't think prior representation matters. If Bob Dylan goes electric, can you get your concert tickets refunded? I think the free speech principle implies that the professor has no such obligation to his students … he is free to speak as he chooses. The students have a right to complain to the administration (.pdf). The remedy for bad speech is more speech.

  35. James Pollock  •  Sep 5, 2013 @7:12 pm

    "But I however am not free to not support said university that students have so much freedom to not go to."

    Since when? Move out of state. Done.

  36. En Passant  •  Sep 5, 2013 @7:16 pm

    mud man wrote Sep 5, 2013 @6:15 pm:

    I don't think prior representation matters. If Bob Dylan goes electric, can you get your concert tickets refunded?

    No, but you get to listen to Mel Lyman's mournful harp riff on Rock of Ages for 20 minutes.

  37. Shane  •  Sep 5, 2013 @7:21 pm

    @James Pollock

    Since when? Move out of state. Done.

    OMG BRILLIANT! Then I won't have to pay for public schools in that state, and I can get away from the federal student loan program too.

    Do any of your calculations ever include the unseen funder of all of your good ideas?

  38. Cat  •  Sep 5, 2013 @7:22 pm

    So then, I'm wondering on reading this – as relating to employment, what is the balance of First Amendment, Whistleblowing (in a legal sense), Retaliation, and harassment?

    I'm getting a headache trying to work through how that particular web of speech interaction works in any employment situation.

  39. Cat  •  Sep 5, 2013 @7:28 pm

    @Xenocles – as a student, it's generally implied that arguing against the beliefs or prejudices of your professor is not going to wind up with a good grade. It does not have to be explicitly spelled out. There are a fair few professors that enjoy a stimulating argument, and who may be fine with disagreement over matters of opinion – and then grade you not on the opinion but the quality of your argument. Those professors, however, are generally in fields where the quality of the argument is the important teaching point. (Law, philosophy, etc.)
    I've had professors who were absolutely brilliant in their chosen area of expertise but who have problems outside of it – and a good student in their classes either agreed with their opinions or didn't bring them up.

    For interesting funny theoretical, read The Number of the Beast by R. A. Heinlein, where Zeb describes how he got a BS on a bet about learning nothing.

  40. Matthew  •  Sep 5, 2013 @7:34 pm

    Garcetti is such a bullshit case. Every time I think of it it makes me upset. Part of the reason why no good person can work on that side of the system.

  41. James Pollock  •  Sep 5, 2013 @7:41 pm

    "OMG BRILLIANT! Then I won't have to pay for public schools in that state"
    Duh. Pick a state whose policies, including the way they run their higher education program, suits you. (If you can't find such a state, perhaps the problem does not lie in the states.)

    "I can get away from the federal student loan program too."
    The federal student loan program makes money for the government, paid for by the people who use the program. What is it you're "getting away" from?

    "Do any of your calculations ever include the unseen funder of all of your good ideas?"
    If you aren't willing to put your own money up to get what you want, you're kind of a freeloader.

  42. Bob Brown  •  Sep 5, 2013 @7:44 pm

    I sent a link to the article to the University Counsel of the state university where I teach. In an email message with a "sig" that says, "Consider the NSA before replying to this message. Remember in November."

    Heh.

  43. James Pollock  •  Sep 5, 2013 @7:48 pm

    "If Bob Dylan goes electric, can you get your concert tickets refunded?"
    Maybe. It probably depends mostly on how you ask. And probably not if the name of the show was "Dylan Goes Electric!!!"

  44. Xenocles  •  Sep 5, 2013 @8:32 pm

    @Cat-

    "…it's generally implied that arguing against the beliefs or prejudices of your professor is not going to wind up with a good grade."

    I've only ever felt that way one time in high school (and I'm working on a second master's now), and it was an English teacher who was very vocal about her tastes and views. I won't say I'm proud of it, but that made it very easy to succeed in the class despite doing maybe 1/5 of the readings. In any other class I felt that even if I disagreed with the prof I would get a fair shake if I could back it up. Maybe I was wrong – I didn't always disagree – but if so they did a very good job of concealing it. Perhaps it was too good, since I never had that sort of trouble. Then again, my baccalaureate experience wasn't typical in most respects and my first master's was in management and earned via distance, so YMMV.

    IIRC, Zeb's bet took him all the way to a doctoral degree in education.

  45. Shane  •  Sep 5, 2013 @9:05 pm

    @James Pollock

    (If you can't find such a state, perhaps the problem does not lie in the states.)

    I see if I can't find a place that won't force me to pay for something that I don't need or want then the fault is mine? Makes perfect sense.

    The federal student loan program makes money for the government, paid for by the people who use the program.

    Just like the federally backed mortgages at Freddie and Fannie. What happens if your little precious decides that he/she can't pay for that Archaeological Basket Weaving degree that he/she took out $100k worth of loans for?

    If you aren't willing to put your own money up to get what you want, you're kind of a freeloader.

    This is awesome! You are so erudite! See I paid for your precious to go to a state subsidized school for K-12 and then off to a state subsidized college on federally guaranteed loans and be so much better for it. Now if only I could do that too, then somehow I would not be a freeloader?

    Once again @Jame Pollock:

    Do any of your calculations ever include the unseen funder of all of your good ideas?

    It seems that you are constitutionally unable to grasp that somehow some way someone will have to pay for all of this great government give away. Are you completely unable to grasp that the money that the government spends comes from somewhere?

  46. Shane  •  Sep 5, 2013 @9:06 pm

    (If you can't find such a state, perhaps the problem does not lie in the states.)

    I see if I can't find a place that won't force me to pay for something that I don't need or want then the fault is mine? Makes perfect sense.

    The federal student loan program makes money for the government, paid for by the people who use the program.

    Just like the federally backed mortgages at Freddie and Fannie. What happens if your little precious decides that he/she can't pay for that Archaeological Basket Weaving degree that he/she took out $100k worth of loans for?

    If you aren't willing to put your own money up to get what you want, you're kind of a freeloader.

    This is awesome! You are so erudite! See I paid for your precious to go to a state subsidized school for K-12 and then off to a state subsidized college on federally guaranteed loans and be so much better for it. Now if only I could do that too, then somehow I would not be a freeloader?

    Once again @Jame Pollock:

    Do any of your calculations ever include the unseen funder of all of your good ideas?

    It seems that you are constitutionally unable to grasp that somehow some way someone will have to pay for all of this great government give away. Are you completely unable to grasp that the money that the government spends comes from somewhere?

  47. mud man  •  Sep 5, 2013 @9:37 pm

    En Passant: No, but you get to listen to Mel Lyman's mournful harp riff on Rock of Ages for 20 minutes.

    Into each life a little rain must fall.

  48. Black Betty  •  Sep 5, 2013 @11:11 pm

    @Shane,

    You know, I would write a proper response to your comments…but it would be deliciously obscene. And it would probably get me banned. So, I'll just note my appreciation for your thoughtful and in-depth analysis.

  49. J  •  Sep 6, 2013 @5:14 am

    I don't have a problem with the satate limiting the speech of state employees while they're conducting state business or acting under a perceived authority of the state. The alternative is that every government employee should be automatically viewed as a mouthpiece for promoting/advancing whatever the state's popular agenda of the day is. And university professors in the classroom/on the state's time/dime are not just state employees like the jabronies at the DMV, they're speaking from a position of authority, with a great deal of influence over others.

    Military members are free to be active in political campaigns, but not while in uniform. Not exactly the same principle, but related, IMHO. It could create an implication that their branch of service officially endorses their opinion. It's even worse when we're considering teachers imposing their views on a captive audience of impressionable students who (rightfully, in many cases) worry their GPA might suffer from voicing disagreement with the instructor.

    And while the idea of "they can just keep their mouths shut and not voice their disagreement" might seem an easy answer, it does a disservice to everyone around them by leaving only one opinion on the table, with the nebulous suggestion that this opinion is the "correct" one.

  50. JT  •  Sep 6, 2013 @8:04 am

    I am a college professor with tenure at a state institution. I’m glad to see an informed discussion of academic freedom and tenure, as teh internetz often has little understanding of it. Academic freedom (which originated as a protection for research, then, with the AAUP’s help, reached to the classroom as well) is not a license to do whatever I want in the classroom. I teach English, and if, mid semester, I decided to ditch that and teach microbiology instead, and I refused to change despite warnings and due process, I’d be out on my ear by the end of the semester.

    The system works when professors are professional and act like mature adults, which, because actual people are invovled, doesn’t always happen. In eighteen years of observing this system, I’ve seen two clear flaws (at my institution at least). First, when it comes to student/professor conflict, the odds are stacked decidedly in favor of the professor. There is so much deference to the professor’s judgement that, unless there’s a particularly evil administrator involved, the students don’t make headway.

    The other flaw is that there is not much recourse involved in tenure decisions. Though they are ultimately administrative decisions, administrators nearly always follow the recommendations of tenure/promotion committees, there’s little actual recourse if a tenure committee decides to deny tenure for unfair reasons because it’s an uphill battle. There are lawsuits filed, but most professors denied tenure end up just going away.

  51. James Pollock  •  Sep 6, 2013 @9:08 am

    "What happens if your little precious decides that he/she can't pay for that Archaeological Basket Weaving degree that he/she took out $100k worth of loans for?"

    Try it and see. There are two ways out of educational indebtedness… pay it off, or die.

    "It seems that you are constitutionally unable to grasp that somehow some way someone will have to pay for all of this great government give away."
    It also seems that you just can't deal with the fact that it is entirely possible to avoid being the one doing the paying.
    Don't want to pay income tax? Don't have an income.
    Don't want to pay property tax? Don't own property.
    Don't want to pay excise tax? Don't use those products.

    The rest of us have grown up and decided that, on balance, we like the system the way it is. If you are so burdened, so oppressed, so… traumatized by it all, get off your ass and do something about it. No, you probably aren't going to change the way the United States is run, but you remain entirely free to stop subjecting yourself to it. And if you don't want to do that, then I guess it IS tolerable after all, hmmm?

    Gad yer a whiner.

  52. grouch  •  Sep 6, 2013 @10:03 am


    The rest of us have grown up and decided that, on balance, we like the system the way it is.

    I don't recall voting for you as my representative and I sure as hell don't like the system the way it is.
    Perhaps you shouldn't rely too heavily on an assumed "rest of us" and "we" to back such an argument. It might be a herd of cats instead of a majority bloc.

  53. Jesse from Tulsa  •  Sep 6, 2013 @10:12 am

    @Gabriel: A private sector company can ban public speech of non-criminal issues because it is not a matter of public policy to disclose most internal discourse. A PUBLIC UNIVERSITY, on the other hand, has an inherent duty to be accountable to the public. If people are not allowed to speak out against it, particularly those people with the most knowledge, then the public loses a primary source of information concerning that entities behavior.

    That is bad public policy.

  54. Shane  •  Sep 6, 2013 @10:53 am

    @James Pollock

    Try it and see. There are two ways out of educational indebtedness… pay it off, or die.

    Here is the problem that you have @James, you only see a few of the possible options to any given problem, that is why you are so enamored with the government. There is a third situation, called default. In this situation you can carry the debt, but you will have to work around the consequences of the default, but definitely doable. The greater the debt to income the more doable this becomes. And now the government is on the hook for this debt.

    It also seems that you just can't deal with the fact that it is entirely possible to avoid being the one doing the paying.

    I don't want to pay for YOUR education.
    I don't want to pay for YOUR healthcare.
    I don't want to pay for YOUR groceries.
    I don't want to pay for YOUR mortgage.
    I don't want to pay for YOUR student loans.
    I don't want to pay for YOUR utopia.

    Call me crazy but if I pay for those things what incentive do YOU have to use them wisely or not use them at all.

    If you are so burdened, so oppressed, so… traumatized by it all, get off your ass and do something about it.

    What might I do to stop it @James? Write my congressman? Check. Voice my concern to people around me? Check. Peacefully protest? Check. Write on blogs and voice my dissent to these things? Check.
    Sadly @James there are too many people like you, who are willing to take money from everyone else to carry out the things that they are unwilling to put up their own money and resources to see through.

    The rest of us have grown up and decided that, on balance, we like the system the way it is

    I am glad the system is so comfy for you @James. I am glad that my hard work has helped you out so much. I am glad that you see nothing evil in taking another mans money for your own benefit. I am glad that you are all growed up and in an adult frame of mind.

  55. James Pollock  •  Sep 6, 2013 @10:55 am

    "Perhaps you shouldn't rely too heavily on an assumed "rest of us" and "we" to back such an argument. It might be a herd of cats instead of a majority bloc."
    I call on the empirical evidence of lack of revolution in the streets to support my contention that "the rest of us" and/or "we" are effectively satisfied with the way things are. Note that "satisfied with the way things are" should not be read as "satisfied with every detail of every aspect of the way things are" and "rest of us" should not be read as "including every individual without exception"; rather, these are generalities.

    "I don't recall voting for you as my representative"
    I don't recall asking for your vote, nor suggesting that a vote is either necessary or proper, for a person to note the present state of public mood.
    YMMV.

  56. Shane  •  Sep 6, 2013 @10:56 am

    @Black Betty

    You know, I would write a proper response to your comments…but it would be deliciously obscene.

    If you don't insult me personally, you can write the most obscene rebuttal that you can think of, and you won't be banned for it.

    If the force of your ideas are so strong then I will be left to look the fool, and you will have won.

  57. Shane  •  Sep 6, 2013 @11:03 am

    @James Pollock

    I call on the empirical evidence of lack of revolution in the streets to support my contention that "the rest of us" and/or "we" are effectively satisfied with the way things are.

    This is a rebuttal? Because things aren't bad enough then everything is fine?

    Generally speaking there is no revolutions before totalitarianism sets in.

  58. James Pollock  •  Sep 6, 2013 @11:12 am

    "that is why you are so enamored with the government."
    You've made a VERY flawed assessment, there. Are you familiar with the dangers of assumption?

    "There is a third situation, called default. In this situation you can carry the debt, but you will have to work around the consequences of the default, but definitely doable. The greater the debt to income the more doable this becomes."
    I don't think you understand what "default" means, or what exactly the consequences of default actually are. You have the choice of defaulting on your student loans to the exact same extent you have the choice of defaulting on your taxes. You can do it, but it won't make them go away, and you'll be hounded until… stop me if you're familiar with this choice… you either pay up, or you die.

    "I don't want to pay for YOUR education.
    I don't want to pay for YOUR healthcare.
    I don't want to pay for YOUR groceries.
    I don't want to pay for YOUR mortgage.
    I don't want to pay for YOUR student loans.
    I don't want to pay for YOUR utopia."
    You aren't. Well, maybe for my utopia. (You seem to really like this word lately.)
    Funny thing is, I don't remember asking you to do any of these things. (or, to foretell the comeback, TELLING you to do any of these things without asking first.)

    "What might I do to stop it @James?"
    The vast majority of human beings pay NO taxes to the U.S. of any kind. You're free to join them, pretty much any time you like. Granted, most other options substitute some other taxing authority for the U.S., but not all of them do. Do your research and choose wisely.

    "Sadly @James there are too many people like you, who are willing to take money from everyone else to carry out the things that they are unwilling to put up their own money and resources to see through."
    You seem to have me confused with somebody else.

    "I am glad that you are all growed up and in an adult frame of mind."
    Try it! It's not so bad. I'll wait (but I won't hold my breath, 'cause I suspect it's going to take awhile.)

  59. James Pollock  •  Sep 6, 2013 @11:14 am

    "This is a rebuttal? Because things aren't bad enough then everything is fine?"

    Everybody has something to gripe about but nobody is unhappy enough to actually do anything about it. AKA "situation normal".

  60. James Pollock  •  Sep 6, 2013 @11:16 am

    "Generally speaking there is no revolutions before totalitarianism sets in."

    Premise two, there is not a revolution at present.
    Conclusion: There is not totalitarianism at present.

    (so quit whining about the totalitarianism)

  61. James Pollock  •  Sep 6, 2013 @11:26 am

    "If you don't insult me personally, you can write the most obscene rebuttal that you can think of, and you won't be banned for it.
    If the force of your ideas are so strong then I will be left to look the fool"

    Why go through all that trouble, just to wind up back where we started?

  62. Shane  •  Sep 6, 2013 @11:38 am

    @James Pollock

    You've made a VERY flawed assessment, there. Are you familiar with the dangers of assumption? … Try it! It's not so bad. I'll wait (but I won't hold my breath, 'cause I suspect it's going to take awhile.)

    Very. Are you?

    You can do it, but it won't make them go away, and you'll be hounded until… stop me if you're familiar with this choice… you either pay up, or you die.

    I never said that they would go away. I said you could get around them. Which leaves me on the hook for your loans. And amazingly it is already happening, it is a good thing that the government is collecting enough interest to cover the defaults.

    Government rates
    Mortgage rates

    Funny thing is, I don't remember asking you to do any of these things.

    Right, you or someone like you, asked someone else with the power of coercion to do these things for you.

    The vast majority of human beings pay NO taxes

    Shoot, I am not in this majority, now what? And for the record I am not against paying taxes. If some idea is so damn beneficial that everyone thinks it is a great idea then everyone should pay.

    You seem to have me confused with somebody else.

    So you really are against state funded colleges?

    Everybody has something to gripe about but nobody is unhappy enough to actually do anything about it. AKA "situation normal".

    And what might they do if they are unhappy about it, besides just "gripe"?

    FYI Here is my original "gripe":

    This would be a lot simpler if the state didn't give itself an interest in the education of the populace.

  63. James Pollock  •  Sep 6, 2013 @11:56 am

    The vast majority of human beings pay NO taxes to the U.S. of any kind.
    "Shoot, I am not in this majority, now what?"
    Same as before. Select a jurisdiction where NOBODY has to pay taxes to support those things you find intolerable, then go there. Then, you'll need a form DS-4080, which I'm sure you can get from the Internet.

    "And for the record I am not against paying taxes."
    No, just for paying taxes that support education, housing, nutrition, or, um, "utopia", whatever that means, of other people. I'm sure you can find a jurisdiction that does not collect taxes for any of those purposes, if you put in the effort.

    "So you really are against state funded colleges?"
    Depends on what they do. Did you miss the part where I noted that I was previously employed, for just over a decade, in PRIVATE education?

  64. Wondering  •  Sep 6, 2013 @12:05 pm

    David Demers is listed an associate professor, which usually means that he has tenure.

    Tim, unless WSU has changed since I was there, which is entirely possible, Associate Professor is tenure track, but not tenure. Only Professor is tenured.

    A general question, what were the retaliations? Was he fired? I was wondering if the retaliation was that he was denied tenure.

  65. Shane  •  Sep 6, 2013 @12:57 pm

    @James Pollock

    Premise two, there is not a revolution at present.
    Conclusion: There is not totalitarianism at present.

    (so quit whining about the totalitarianism)

    Ok, so totalitarianism happens at the same time as revolution? Nope, I think that I implied totalitarianism happens first and then revolution second, and history bears this out. Your conclusion is wrong.

    Why go through all that trouble, just to wind up back where we started?

    Why indeed. If nothing is going to change, and you are comfortable with the way things are then why bother saying anything?

    Same as before. Select a jurisdiction where NOBODY has to pay taxes to support those things you find intolerable,

    OMG why didn't I think of that. And short of this then I have to live with the shit that other people make me pay for that I don't want. But I should be happy with that because? I should also not try to do anything about cancer too because it hasn't killed me yet? These are decidedly bad choices for me. But for you they are legitimate?

    I'm sure you can find a jurisdiction that does not collect taxes for any of those purposes, if you put in the effort.

    Sadly I can't, and trust me if I could I would. Everyone says that I am bad for not wanting to pay for these, so I must be an awful person indeed.

    Depends on what they do. Did you miss the part where I noted that I was previously employed, for just over a decade, in PRIVATE education?

    Ok I will rephrase: You support taking other peoples money for things that you think are a good idea?

  66. James Pollock  •  Sep 6, 2013 @2:33 pm

    "OMG why didn't I think of that. And short of this then I have to live with the shit that other people make me pay for that I don't want."

    YES!
    Why'd that take so long?

  67. James Pollock  •  Sep 6, 2013 @2:40 pm

    "Sadly I can't, and trust me if I could I would."
    You're not trying hard enough. Typical for someone who'd rather whine about his situation than change it.

    "Everyone says that I am bad for not wanting to pay for these, so I must be an awful person indeed."
    Not everyone, although I'll concede it's a big, big number. My complaint isn't the not wanting to pay for those… you're free to want or not want anything you like (or don't). It's the whining about it that's annoying. (Plus the unwillingness to do anything about it, mentioned previously.)

    "You support taking other peoples money for things that you think are a good idea?"
    Um, yeah. This is, for example, how banking works.

  68. Ken White  •  Sep 6, 2013 @2:42 pm

    I am unenthused about the direction this thread is going and the tone it is taking, and may do something about it, possibly after drinking, and possibly keeping in mind whether or not tone issues are a persistent problem with any of the participants.

  69. Shane  •  Sep 6, 2013 @2:57 pm

    @Ken

    Dammit @Ken I am trying to see if there is any point at which I might have the last word on any particular topic. My experiment is yet complete but I guess the adults have entered the room and now I must behave.

  70. Shane  •  Sep 6, 2013 @2:58 pm

    @Ken

    The thing that I am really surprised at, is how far down you read these threads. Color me impressed.

  71. JTM  •  Sep 6, 2013 @11:45 pm

    With regard to some of the earlier questions in this thread about student speech rights, the 9th Circuit issued a decision last week that addressed student speech (specifically, threats of school violence made outside of the school setting, but there's also a good general discussion of the law in this area).

    Wynar v. Douglas County School District
    http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2013/09/04/11-17127%20web%20corrected.pdf

  72. James Pollock  •  Sep 7, 2013 @1:13 am

    "With regard to some of the earlier questions in this thread about student speech rights, the 9th Circuit issued a decision last week that addressed student speech (specifically, threats of school violence made outside of the school setting, but there's also a good general discussion of the law in this area). "

    Hmmm. I read as far as the court's recitation of the facts, and it seems right that that kid was removed from the school. I wonder how it would apply he wrote about targeting other students in a mass shooting, but one whose setting was explicitly NOT the school.

  73. David Demers  •  Sep 7, 2013 @8:33 am

    I am the plaintiff-appellant in the Demers v. Austin case. Ken White is correct, at the end of his commentary, that obtaining damages from First Amendment cases is difficult, even without qualified immunity for defendant-universities. If I were seeking financial compensation, I would be very disappointed in the Ninth Circuit panel's decision. However, I am elated at the decision, because it helps protect the free-speech rights of faculty, a cause to which I have been committed for more than a quarter-of-century. See my not-for-profit website http://www.acfcl.org for more details. -Dave Demers

  74. Castaigne  •  Sep 7, 2013 @2:26 pm

    @Gabriel: I think a consistent libertarian position, perhaps counter-intuitively, would support the authority of the state to fire its employees for any reason or none.

    What safeguards would you implement against political purges, which can happen very frequently in private business in right-to-work/at-will combination states? Would there be any safeguards at all?

    Since the state invariably can issue control over ALL the colleges/universities in the state that are in the public education system, how would you prevent this from happening state-wide? If, for example, all science department personnel are replaced by Young Earth Creationists, are the students just shit out of luck? If they cannot afford to attend out-of-state higher education, what do you propose private business do to make sure engineers graduated from Texas don't hold the position that the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is false because it violates Genesis?

    The libertarian response to the issue of state control of education is to privatize education.

    Which is a very nice response and laudable, but will ultimate result in a class of people who cannot pay for education and therefore will be unable to acquire jobs that require education. Since we in the technology industry are currently in the process of eliminating the need for human presence in manual and service labor jobs (and will probably have achieved that within 200 years)…what exactly will these non-educated people do?

    A colleague of mine has suggested that everyone without a sheepskin can just be inducted into the military as basic infantry and used to charge machine gun nests with a rifle or something, assuming that humanoid drone soldiers have not eliminated that necessity. Do you think that is an equitable solution? Or do you have a better one?

    Private institutions, and the careers of private employees, survive just fine in an environment where criticizing your boss can get you fired, and nobody likens a dismissal to a death penalty in a corporate environment.

    Are you saying that you are unaware of the blacklisting that is extremely pervasive in the corporate world, especially amongst the Fortune/Global 500?
    =====

    @jdgalt: I've never seen a syllabus until the first day of class, which is always after I've paid the costs of being there. The decision to incur those costs is made much earlier, based on the school administration's marketing materials. The misrepresentation I'm asserting would take place then.

    You are still able to withdraw at that point, thus receiving 100% of the money paid for that class back. I do not see any issue of fraud at that point, unless you are unwilling to withdraw for some reason, in which case, you continue with the class knowing full well what rhetoric it contains. I would personally consider not withdrawing to be the same as agreeing to a EULA and thus not fraud.
    =====

    @Shane: OMG BRILLIANT! Then I won't have to pay for public schools in that state, and I can get away from the federal student loan program too.

    You are free at any time to renounce your citizenship and leave the USA. I can point you to the necessary paperwork you can fill out for that. (I tend to do that for people who don't believe in the social contract a lot.)

    I see if I can't find a place that won't force me to pay for something that I don't need or want then the fault is mine? Makes perfect sense.

    Dude, there is absolutely NOTHING preventing you from taking up residence in New Hampshire, which has the most economic freedom, or Alaska, which has the highest personal freedom, or Idaho, which is high in personal AND economic freedom. Quit your job, pick up your stuff, and vamoose.

    If you want to found a libertarian state, you'll need to find some unclaimed land. You might try Antarctica. Sorry about that, but those non-libertarian states are very good at, y'know, claiming stuff.

    What might I do to stop it @James?

    You're always free to start a revolution. Get some people together and begin the execution of the statists. I wish you the best of luck; I find most people do not have the stomach to wade in blood for what they want.

    Nope, I think that I implied totalitarianism happens first and then revolution second, and history bears this out. Your conclusion is wrong.

    Your supposition is historically incorrect. Revolution is NOT always proceeded by totalitarianism; the Hussite Revolution is a good example. The Roman Church was not totalitarian at the time (by any stretch of the definition) and involved a great many different belligerents. Even in the 20th Century, after the rise of totalitarianism in governments, this is not correct. I refer you to one of the seminal works on the subject "Coup d'Etat: A Practical Handbook", by Edward Luttwak.
    =====

    @James Pollock: Everybody has something to gripe about but nobody is unhappy enough to actually do anything about it. AKA "situation normal".</i.

    Right on the nose, as usual.

  75. Shane  •  Sep 7, 2013 @4:34 pm

    @Castaigne

    What safeguards would you implement against political purges, which can happen very frequently in private business in right-to-work/at-will combination states?

    None, as consistent with Libertarian positions. Why does it matter if there are purges, it is not like those positions will disappear. And you can't tell me that the people in those positions are so valuable that they can't be replaced. Welcome to the market it happens unfortunately whether you like it or not.

    Would there be any safeguards at all?

    No. Safeguards breeds complacency, complacency breeds stagnation, stagnation breeds death. Or living death as the case may be.

    Since the state invariably can issue control over ALL the colleges/universities in the state that are in the public education system, how would you prevent this from happening state-wide?

    Well I guess you better do whatever it takes to keep your party in power so that you don't lose your job.

    If, for example, all science department personnel are replaced by Young Earth Creationists, are the students just shit out of luck?

    No. Maybe the students could just leave and go to another school, that has a more favorable political climate for them, but heaven forbid that they should "whine" about what is happening.

    If they cannot afford to attend out-of-state higher education, what do you propose private business do to make sure engineers graduated from Texas don't hold the position that the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is false because it violates Genesis?

    Private business shouldn't hire these engineers. Why should private business' care they can find engineers elsewhere.

    … but will ultimate result in a class of people who cannot pay for education and therefore will be unable to acquire jobs that require education.

    And this is somehow bad?

    Since we in the technology industry are currently in the process of eliminating the need for human presence in manual and service labor jobs (and will probably have achieved that within 200 years)

    How mighty you must be to be able to just eliminate jobs. I love people without basic economic understanding. I really love it when said people have college degrees.

    Did the automated loom eliminate jobs? How about the wheel? automobile? train? internet? Nope amazingly you in the technology industry are creating jobs after all.

    Because in the last 2000 years, the need for human beings has decreased. As evidenced by all of the productivity gains and yet here we are still in need of a carpenter to operate a nail gun, as opposed to a hammer. Amazing. I am not going to hold my breath that low skill jobs are going to go away anytime soon.

    …what exactly will these non-educated people do?

    Laugh at the educated boobs that think that they are eliminating peoples jobs.

    A colleague of mine has suggested that everyone without a sheepskin can just be inducted into the military as basic infantry and used to charge machine gun nests with a rifle or something, assuming that humanoid drone soldiers have not eliminated that necessity.

    That would have put Henry Ford, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and many others as cannon fodder. I don't see how this is a useful service to humanity.

    Do you think that is an equitable solution? Or do you have a better one?

    I have one, how about we let people find their own way in the world without having a bunch of high brow nannies tell them that they are dumb because they don't excel in one narrow aspect unrelated to life … college.

    Are you saying that you are unaware of the blacklisting that is extremely pervasive in the corporate world, especially amongst the Fortune/Global 500?

    I mean if this bothers you, then I am sure that there is someplace else that might work better for you. Because being blacklisted is the end of your existence in this country.

    You are free at any time to renounce your citizenship and leave the USA. I can point you to the necessary paperwork you can fill out for that.

    Amazingly that is the EXACT same thing that @James Pollock suggested in fact he even gave me the form number which is notably absent but asserted in YOUR statement.

    If you want to found a libertarian state, …

    I don't. I want to bring this country at least back to the founding documents and their intent. See I was in right place all along it seems however something has changed, and now I am being chastised for having the temerity to "whine" about it.

    You're always free to start a revolution. Get some people together and begin the execution of the statists.

    Because all revolutions involve blood. Maybe that is the way you might want revolution, but I think there might be better ways.

    I find most people do not have the stomach to wade in blood for what they want.

    Right, so what you want might have to be really important, ya' know something crazy like freedom.

    Your supposition is historically incorrect. Revolution is NOT always proceeded by totalitarianism; the Hussite Revolution is a good example.

    The least you could do is link this for poor stupid illiterate me. And this is an example of how a free people started a revolution? This is an example of how a group of people started a revolution to throw off the tyranny of the monarchs who sought to assert church doctrine over them. This isn't totalitarianism from the church is totalitarianism from the monarchs. Why reach so far back for such an obscure reference and to pin your argument too, and then not even know anything about it?

    The Roman Church was not totalitarian at the time (by any stretch of the definition)

    Really? And what was done to this man is a sign of the Catholic Church's benevolence in the 1400's.

    I refer you to one of the seminal works on the subject "Coup d'Etat: A Practical Handbook", by Edward Luttwak.

    You are aware that this book covers post WWII revolutions, and does not prove your assertion that revolution precedes totalitarianism. But hey name dropping books looks good, and maybe some will think that you really know what you are talking about.

    @James Pollock: Everybody has something to gripe about but nobody is unhappy enough to actually do anything about it. AKA "situation normal".

    Right on the nose, as usual.

    If you are going to shill for @James Pollock you prolly should be less obvious about it. Wave at @James Pollock for me though.

  76. James Pollock  •  Sep 7, 2013 @5:54 pm

    "Well I guess you better do whatever it takes to keep your party in power so that you don't lose your job."

    So you're AGAINST totalitarianism, but FOR policies that lead to totalitarianism.

    "here we are still in need of a carpenter to operate a nail gun, as opposed to a hammer"
    Now we need ONE carpenter with ONE nail gun, instead of FOUR carpenters with FOUR hammers.
    If this is typical of you showing up people with college degrees and no economic understanding? (have you already forgotten being schooled on your lack of economic understanding from another thread? Or did it just not register?)

    "I don't. I want to bring this country at least back to the founding documents and their intent. [...] something has changed, and now I am being chastised for having the temerity to "whine" about it."

    The "something" that changed is those founding documents, and their intent. This country has altered its founding documents several times to enable a stronger central government. Why? Because it took only a little over a decade to discover that the original plan DIDN'T WORK. It's not at all clear why you think a plan that failed in 1788 will work now (or, perhaps you're pining for the one that didn't work in 1861… it's not quite clear).

    It still comes down to either A) accept your situation, or B) change it. If you find both option unacceptable, I don't know what to tell you, but I'm sure you won't be happy about it.

    "Amazingly that is the EXACT same thing that @James Pollock suggested in fact he even gave me the form number which is notably absent but asserted in YOUR statement."
    That offer remains open. I'll be happy to look up the full procedure for you, free of charge.

    "Right, so what you want might have to be really important, ya' know something crazy like freedom."
    But you only want it enough to whine about it, and not enough to do anything. Huh.

    "Wave at @James Pollock for me though."
    Wave at me yourself. What is it with you and wanting other people to do things for you?

  77. Shane  •  Sep 7, 2013 @6:17 pm

    @Jame Pollock

    And amazingly my last post was directed at @Castaigne, yet YOU answered. Will the real @James Pollock please stand up.

    @James Pollock you ALWAYS have to have the last word, my experiment is complete, the question answered. Your only interest in posting to this forum and probably others is to argue and for no other reason than that. You don't care of the subject, you don't want to see the other side you want to dominate and be the alpha keyboard warrior, at any cost.

    I call you out Troll.

  78. James Pollock  •  Sep 7, 2013 @6:28 pm

    "Will the real @James Pollock please stand up."
    That would be me. You can tell by the fact that my name appears on it.

    "I call you out Troll."
    Dammit. Right after I promised Ken I'd suffer the fools more gladly.

    So. Whatever you say, Shane. Boy, you sure have shown me the error of my ways through skillful argument and careful reasoning.

    " Your only interest in posting to this forum and probably others is to argue and for no other reason than that."
    I like to debate. Sue me. To reason from that fact, hardly a secret, that this is my only interest is erroneous. One you're free to make, along with as many others as you'd like.

  79. James Pollock  •  Sep 7, 2013 @6:38 pm

    Also
    "And amazingly my last post was directed at @Castaigne, yet YOU answered."
    My name's in it 4 times. That's one more than it takes to summon me.

  80. Ken White  •  Sep 7, 2013 @7:17 pm

    Cut it the fuck out right the fuck now or I start pasting.

  81. Castaigne  •  Sep 8, 2013 @5:46 am

    @Shane: None, as consistent with Libertarian positions. Why does it matter if there are purges, it is not like those positions will disappear.

    Then you are OK with my, as a boss, saying "Fire anyone who doesn't belong to N party and hold N political beliefs immediately. If any protest, manufacture documentation saying we fired them as thieves and embezzlers. You will replace these people with members of my church, qualified or not."

    No. Safeguards breeds complacency, complacency breeds stagnation, stagnation breeds death. Or living death as the case may be.

    That's an interesting legal attitude to take. I do not believe it will be a workable one with existing caselaw or with the traditions of free speech in the USA.

    Well I guess you better do whatever it takes to keep your party in power so that you don't lose your job.

    So you are saying that whatever political party is in power should have the fiat to force all state employees, educational or not, to be adherent to the political party's beliefs to remain employed? Interesting. The last time that happened to a family member of mine, they were living in Berlin in the 1930s. It's interesting to know that you think Libertarianism is on board with this.

    No. Maybe the students could just leave and go to another school, that has a more favorable political climate for them

    So long as they can afford to go out of state, I guess.

    Private business shouldn't hire these engineers. Why should private business' care they can find engineers elsewhere.

    Excuse me, why shouldn't private business hire these engineers? They graduated from an engineering school, they have the proper documentation to show that they did – exactly what criteria should I use to discriminate against them that will not open me up to a discrimination lawsuit?

    How mighty you must be to be able to just eliminate jobs. I love people without basic economic understanding. I really love it when said people have college degrees.

    Oh, I have a basic economic understanding, all right. What's amusing is when I come across a person who has not understanding how automation and technological upgrade is currently outstripping the ability of the workforce to change and assimilate into new jobs.

    Did the automated loom eliminate jobs? How about the wheel? automobile? train? internet? Nope amazingly you in the technology industry are creating jobs after all.

    Yes. And yes. And yes. And yes. Oh, we in the technology industry create jobs…we just create fewer than we destroy.

    Because in the last 2000 years, the need for human beings has decreased. As evidenced by all of the productivity gains and yet here we are still in need of a carpenter to operate a nail gun, as opposed to a hammer. Amazing. I am not going to hold my breath that low skill jobs are going to go away anytime soon.

    That need for human beings in manual labor is decreasing at an exponential rate.

    Carpenters? Much less need for them now than there was. In 50 years, a carpenter will only be needed to do custom work. For all industrial applications, a robot will be more efficient.

    How about agriculture? Within 20 years all of those migrant workers will be replaced by the new picker robots. Family farms will not be able to compete; we'll see the last of those too. No need for anyone to live in rural areas, unless they're old and recalcitrant.

    How about my own industry? We manufacture copiers. In 15 years, when you call in for support because it's not working, there will be NO human beings to speak to. We'll have intelligent agent software that will lead you through the steps. Want a tech sent out? Nope, won't be doing that anymore – all the copiers will be modular with self-contained parts. You'll get a box, pull the handle on the offending piece, take it out, slide the replacement piece back in. No need to troubleshoot. No need to have a tech come out.

    You know what's going to happen to all those field techs and phone techs? FIRED. You know where they'll be able to go? NOWHERE. The whole copier industry will be like that. Guess these 40-50 year-old guys will have to retrain for a different field…oh wait, they're too old. Won't be hired.

    Ah well. I guess they can eat a gun. That's what you do with things that are obsolete. DELETE. DELETE. DELETE.

    200 years, my friend. We will have eliminated all those jobs you love in that time. And I put good money down on it.

    Laugh at the educated boobs that think that they are eliminating peoples jobs.

    As you will, but that's what I do for a living. I'm a hatchet man.

    That would have put Henry Ford, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and many others as cannon fodder. I don't see how this is a useful service to humanity.

    *shrugs* Anyone could have done what they did. All it requires is the requisite intelligence and the verified credentials. As it is, Bill Gates has retired – he is now obsolete and is of no further consequence.

    I have one, how about we let people find their own way in the world without having a bunch of high brow nannies tell them that they are dumb because they don't excel in one narrow aspect unrelated to life … college.

    OK. And when they can't find a job because we, the corporations, do not have a job for them?
    Should I tell them to emigrate to Bangladesh or the Phillipines and work for the sweatshops out there, just as I did for a factory worker here who couldn't find work? They're free to leave and work for 3rd world wages for 3rd world jobs, as far as I care. I think the military would be a better option – you get health insurance and other bennies. Or even prison – 3 hots and a cot guaranteed!

    I mean if this bothers you, then I am sure that there is someplace else that might work better for you. Because being blacklisted is the end of your existence in this country.

    *shrugs* I'm not personally bothered by it because I have the right connections to ensure it will never happen to me. Benefits of a private schooling and being in the right class. I was simply asking questions. You seem to take personal exception to them.

    Amazingly that is the EXACT same thing that @James Pollock suggested in fact he even gave me the form number which is notably absent but asserted in YOUR statement.

    That would be correct. I saw his comment after I made mine. You had not requested the full process and I see no reason to exert myself unless necessary. Law of the conservation of energy.

    I don't. I want to bring this country at least back to the founding documents and their intent.

    Oh, INTENT! I love intent of the Founding Fathers. Personally I would love that too, at least if it were brought back to the intent of Alexander Hamilton, who most libertarians refer to as an Anti-Founding Father, worthy only of being beheaded and skull-fucked. Since every Founding Father had a different opinion on what intent was, which ones do you want to go back to? Samuel Adams? Madison? Hancock? Federalist or Anti-Federalist?

    I hope isn't Jefferson's original intent; his was basically the CSA and he always advocated for a bloody revolution every generation. It's where Mao got his idea of the Cultural Revolution from. Everyone always go for Jefferson.

    Because all revolutions involve blood.

    Yes, they do. Even our own, our glorious American Revolution. It's so enlightening to read the events that get glossed over in our own American history. Confiscation of all Loyalist lands and redistribution to Patriots…whether or not the Loyalists were still present. The gang-rape by Patriot soldiers of Loyalist women, often with husbands and brothers being forced to watch before being shot or having their throats cut. The boiling of Loyalist children and infants in tar…but no feathering. Just the boiling as they screamed and died.

    Revolutions involve blood and ruthlessness. Read the history of every successful revolution and tell me otherwise. I even provided you with a good resource to start with. Many footnotes.

    Right, so what you want might have to be really important, ya' know something crazy like freedom.

    If you are willing to execute your statist neighbors, down to their children, and paint yourself with their blood, why then sir, I salute you for having the courage of your convictions.

    The least you could do is link this for poor stupid illiterate me.

    No. It is not my job to educate you. To expect me to do so is rather un-libertarian for you.

    This is an example of how a group of people started a revolution to throw off the tyranny of the monarchs who sought to assert church doctrine over them. This isn't totalitarianism from the church is totalitarianism from the monarchs.

    No, the monarchs were not totalitarian, especially if you know anything of feudal structure, the rights and privileges due to each class through the bond of feudalism, and so on. The first hint of totalitarianism did not arise until the absolute monarchies of the enlightenment and that was just a hint; true totalitarianism did not appear until the rise of the Communist and Fascist states.

    Why reach so far back for such an obscure reference and to pin your argument too, and then not even know anything about it?

    Obscure to you, bro, not to my well-educated self. Stop trying to make me conform to your viewpoints of what I should think and know; that's anti-libertarian.

    Really? And what was done to this man is a sign of the Catholic Church's benevolence in the 1400's.

    I didn't say they were benevolent to heretics; I said they weren't totalitarian. Especially how totalitarian is defined, both in the vernacular and in political science.

    You are aware that this book covers post WWII revolutions, and does not prove your assertion that revolution precedes totalitarianism. But hey name dropping books looks good, and maybe some will think that you really know what you are talking about.

    Yes, I am aware, and not, it does not prove my 'assertion', if you will call it that. It does however provide a good starting point for someone who is obviously untutored on the subject.

    If you are going to shill for @James Pollock you prolly should be less obvious about it.

    If I think he's right, I think he's right. That does not constitute 'shilling'.

  82. Shane  •  Sep 8, 2013 @9:56 am

    @Castigne

    You will replace these people with members of my church, qualified or not.

    Yes, this is how the market works, and really it is how human beings work. Trying to override it is a lesson in futility. The point that is lost on you is that this is an extreme situation and the vast majority of hiring will not be like this. One other note why use church there are a million other things that can be used instead, the most common one that I see is family members.

    That's an interesting legal attitude to take. I do not believe it will be a workable one with existing caselaw or with the traditions of free speech in the USA.

    The quote was in response to your assertions about hiring specifically. Not about the law in general. Please note the context.

    Interesting. The last time that happened to a family member of mine, they were living in Berlin in the 1930s. It's interesting to know that you think Libertarianism is on board with this.

    The original comment on this was regarding hiring and Libertarian thinking. A narrow endevour. My original comment was that: This would be a lot simpler if the state didn't give itself an interest in the education of the populace. It seems that as more and more hiring is done by the state the more and more that hiring becomes politicized. And the more interest that the state takes in the process of jobs and hiring and ultimately the exchange of goods between people. This is the back door entrance of Command Control economies.

    So long as they can afford to go out of state, I guess.

    Wouldn't it be much better if there were a plethora of private universities and trade schools that might take up the slack when one school fails, instead a bunch of state schools operating under a set of uniform rules that crowd out their private counterparts and provide a one size fits all educations.

    exactly what criteria should I use to discriminate against them that will not open me up to a discrimination lawsuit?

    In today's climate you will need to make up some half truth or outright lie that no one but you knows, but sounds plausible to everyone else. But discriminate you will, because who wants engineers that are taught science by a bunch of creationists as was your original assertion. Because at the end of the day if your engineers don't produce the things that you envision that you think that other people might want then why pay them money?

    when I come across a person who has not understanding how automation and technological upgrade is currently outstripping the ability of the workforce to change and assimilate into new jobs.

    And people haven't changed and assimilated into new jobs? In the 80's the news was full of how America had lost itself because most of the manufacturing went overseas and we were JUST a service economy. The Japanese were going to eat our lunch because we couldn't produce a car to save our life. And yet, our workforce did change did assimilate into new jobs. Surprisingly not all of our manufacturing was lost and in fact came back stronger than ever. The cost of goods got cheaper people were then able to buy more of those goods, there was a demand for more of those goods, new ways of using those goods came into being now that the cost was cheaper. New industries were created and those new industries needed employees. People are not static, when faced with the deprivation of money, you would be surprised how resourceful people can be.

    Yes. And yes. And yes. And yes. Oh, we in the technology industry create jobs…we just create fewer than we destroy.

    And yet the population is bigger and the number of people employed is more? How did that happen?

    That need for human beings in manual labor is decreasing at an exponential rate.

    Cite your source.

    Carpenters? Much less need for them now than there was. In 50 years, a carpenter will only be needed to do custom work. For all industrial applications, a robot will be more efficient.

    This shows your employee thinking. A robot will only be used if it is more cost effective than a human being. The market will always have jobs that it is more cost effective to employ manual labor than a robot. And honestly most improvement comes to make the manual laborer more productive, which he then produces more etc …

    How about agriculture? Within 20 years all of those migrant workers will be replaced by the new picker robots. Family farms will not be able to compete; we'll see the last of those too. No need for anyone to live in rural areas, unless they're old and recalcitrant.

    This has yet to happen even in the face of waves of cost saving and labor saving improvements. As to farms, have you not heard about the organic movement. The market is way to fluid for things to happen is linear paths with known end results.

    How about my own industry? We manufacture copiers.

    According to your assertions your industry should have been dead already, but here you are surviving and I hope thriving in a now sizeably smaller industry. Yes those things may happen but who knows maybe copier technology might morph into … I dunno … 3D printing and your skills and people who lost their jobs skills might be useful in the new new economy.

    You know where they'll be able to go? NOWHERE.

    Once again people are not static. Average number of career changes for an American worker over his lifetime … 6.

    Guess these 40-50 year-old guys will have to retrain for a different field…oh wait, they're too old. Won't be hired.

    During the 2000 date bug fiasco, you will never guess what skill set was in demand, and what the age of those workers were.

    200 years, my friend. We will have eliminated all those jobs you love in that time. And I put good money down on it.

    We might live to settle, I have hope, it is amazing what new technology happens. You do know that the unknown future also provides positive changes, not just negative changes. Just sayin.

    As you will, but that's what I do for a living. I'm a hatchet man.

    I used to think that to when I was in software. I could write entire programs that would put 10 people out of work, but amazingly those 10 people found other jobs or were moved into different areas of the company to keep up with the new demand. Imagine this across thousands of industries.

    *shrugs* Anyone could have done what they did.

    And yet they didn't

    All it requires is the requisite intelligence and the verified credentials.

    And none of these men had the verified credentials when they started. In fact most history of these types of people show that people told them that they couldn't do it and discouraged them in their endevour.

    And when they can't find a job because we, the corporations, do not have a job for them?

    The corporations are the only ones with jobs. How about making your own job? Can't that work too?

    Should I tell them to emigrate to Bangladesh or the Phillipines and work for the sweatshops out there, just as I did for a factory worker here who couldn't find work?

    Been to the Philippines, trust me, what you are calling sweat shops are a dream in comparison to what an average filipino must do to make ends meet. It is easy for you to stand on the shoulders of giants and look down on those who are building their own place in the world.

    They're free to leave and work for 3rd world wages for 3rd world jobs, as far as I care. I think the military would be a better option – you get health insurance and other bennies. Or even prison – 3 hots and a cot guaranteed!

    But never ever challenge their need to change or help them discover the thing that they might be good at. Tell them that life is easy and no need to challenge yourself to be better. Just give up, cause that is what makes things better.

    … intent of the Founding Fathers.

    You must of misread. I said founding documents. Not founding fathers.

    Because all revolutions involve blood.

    Yes, they do.

    Sorry No

    No. It is not my job to educate you. To expect me to do so is rather un-libertarian for you.

    I guess sarcasm is lost on you.

    No, the monarchs were not totalitarian,

    Ok if you say.

    Obscure to you, bro, not to my well-educated self.

    You mad bro?

    This is my last post on this. This thread has gotten way away from the original article. If you respond cool, I will read it but I will not post. Hopefully @Ken is full of good spirits, and doesn't turn us into paste eaters.

  83. James Pollock  •  Sep 8, 2013 @1:51 pm

    "Wouldn't it be much better if there were a plethora of private universities and trade schools"

    Wasn't my first post a simple notation that this is what exists now?

  84. RBH  •  Sep 9, 2013 @2:44 pm

    Our Nation is deeply committed to safeguarding academic freedom, which is of transcendent value to all of us, and not merely to the teachers concerned. That freedom is therefore a special concern of the First Amendment, which does not tolerate laws that cast a pall of orthodoxy over the classroom. "The vigilant protection of constitutional freedoms is nowhere more vital than in the community of American schools."

    This is very similar to the argument made by John Freshwater, a terminated middle school science teacher in Mt. Vernon, Ohio. Freshwater has appealed his termination to the Ohio Supreme Court, arguing (in part) that his termination was a First Amendment violation. (That argument first appears in his OSC appeal; it was not in his appeals at lower judicial levels.) Oral arguments were in late February, 2013, and we're still awaiting the Court's decision.

  85. Eli Rabett  •  Sep 11, 2013 @8:59 pm

    Freshwater is going to be decided on different grounds, basically the right of the district to set a curriculum. K-12 teachers are required to teach to the curriculum. Freshwater disagrees with part of the curriculum and injected his own views. The district fired him.

    As Eli said, K-12 teachers have a curriculum, have to submit lesson plans to the school administration which has the right to ask them to be modified and/or reject them. It is a much more stringent employee/employer relationship than universities or colleges.

    In a university or college, the assigned faculty member is required to teach the subject listed in the schedule of courses, but the curriculum, content and methods of instruction are entirely at their discretion.

  86. Eli Rabett  •  Sep 11, 2013 @9:02 pm

    Oh yeah, to give an example, when Eli was a little bunny, he had a college English course taught by a rather right wing lady of Italian descent and a very observant Catholic. The subject of that semester was all three volumes of Dante's Inferno, fortunately in translation, a few of them. Hey, that, as they say is the way it is and everyone survived. Some were more bemused than others.

  87. Eli Rabett  •  Sep 11, 2013 @9:09 pm

    @jdgalt: I've never seen a syllabus until the first day of class,

    Many colleges and universities now have syllabus sites where the syllabii are posted before the start of class. When not you can often ask the faculty member by Email for the syllabus (if it has been made up), or look on line for last year's version. Consider your mole whacked.

  88. James Pollock  •  Sep 11, 2013 @10:16 pm

    "In a university or college, the assigned faculty member is required to teach the subject listed in the schedule of courses, but the curriculum, content and methods of instruction are entirely at their discretion."

    When I worked at a vocational college, syllabi were set for all courses and all instructors taught from the same syllabus… the only differences were the name of the instructor, and the dates and times of class. Changes to the syllabus were proposed by the program director and subjected to the academic council, which consisted of the program directors of the various programs, the academic dean, and me (the IT manager responsible for maintaining access to computing resources for students.) (I was put on the council after a few somewhat stressful cases where changes to the curriculum were proposed and adopted that changed the software requirements for classes, and nobody told me until the start of the term.)

  89. Eli Rabett  •  Sep 12, 2013 @5:53 am

    James P: That is certainly not the general practice. I notice that you qualified that as a vocational college, what kind and where probably accounts for much.

    In the US that sounds more like what happens in high schools and proprietary places, certainly not in four year and research places.

  90. James Pollock  •  Sep 12, 2013 @12:13 pm

    "James P: That is certainly not the general practice. I notice that you qualified that as a vocational college, what kind and where probably accounts for much."

    I didn't claim it to be general practice. I pointed it out as contrary to the expectation that instructors may always vary the syllabus. I suspect that it is related to the accrediting body, which spent much time scrutinizing syllabi in their periodic site visits. Since vocational schools are typically nationally accredited rather than regionally as are most universities, that would make a difference.

    I'll note also that it was not uncommon in my law school classes to get a syllabus only two weeks or so at a time. (Well, the date and time of the final exam was given, and the fact that the grading was blind and 100% based on the final. But the scope of coverage of the class was potentially variant.)

  91. Parker  •  Oct 25, 2013 @3:52 pm

    I am a graduate student at Oregon State University, within the ninth circuit's jurisdiction. The university routinely offers most graduate students an assistantship, which comes with duties that may or may not include teaching an undergraduate course (the responsibility may vary from running the lab sessions for a course taught by an instructor, or it may be that we are the instructor for a full course) or engaging in research projects under the direction of a professor. The state of Oregon recognizes these assistants as public employees. How would this ruling affect graduate assistants like myself?

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