College campuses used to be a place where students were able to debate issues from all sides. Sadly, college campuses today are shutting down viewpoints to protect the views of the intolerant left. Higher education reform is long overdue to ensure college campuses are again a welcoming place for all views.
Missouri campuses are not immune from the forces of the intolerant left. Last fall we all watched as former Professor Melissa Click became the poster child for this intolerance. Former Professor Click felt she needed to protect one group of students while trampling on the First Amendment rights of a student reporter who was covering the campus protest. Arrested and charged with assault, she was finally fired for her intolerant actions but refuses to go away and accept responsibility.
The only agenda colleges and universities should have is ensuring an quality education where students are encouraged to be critical thinkers and debate issues without being influenced by the schools’ or professors’ political leanings. This is why curriculum transparency is needed.
Transparency is not a new issue for college campuses, or even for the University of Missouri specifically. In 2014, in a case between the National Council on Teacher Quality and the University of Missouri, the Court of Appeals for the Western District sided with the University, which argued that faculty members hold copyright ownership in their course syllabi, and therefore the syllabi are protected under the Federal Copyright Act and faculty do not have to make course syllabi readily available to the public.
Curriculum transparency requirements would give students, prospective students, parents, and, most importantly, Missouri taxpayers greater access to information on what is being taught in publicly-funded classrooms. Professors can teach want they want, but greater transparency is needed to inspire students and professors to welcome differences of opinion.
Curriculum transparency legislation we support would require public colleges and universities in Missouri to make publicly available syllabi, reading lists, attendance requirements, extra credit opportunities and required homework or projects. The legislation would not dictate what professors can or cannot teach, but will ensure taxpayers, parents, and potential students have access to information about what is taught in taxpayer-funded classrooms.
We believe reform is sorely needed at public colleges and universities in Missouri. We urge the Missouri legislature to pass legislation calling for curriculum transparency at public colleges and universities.
Guest Op-ed by Gregg Keller who is chairman of the Missouri Century Foundation.