Resolution of the Faculty Senate of Southwestern Oklahoma State University
We, the faculty senate of Southwestern Oklahoma State University are very concerned about the future state of education in Oklahoma and in particular legislation introduced and being considered in the 2006 Oklahoma legislature (HB 2107, the "Academic Freedom Act" and HCR 1043).
While we recognize that abuses addressed in this legislation are not beyond the realm of possibility, checks already exist that protect the academic freedom of faculty and students and promote critical thinking in the classroom. These include but are not limited to student grade appeal processes, yearly tenure reviews of non-tenured faculty and post-tenure review of tenured faculty, peer reviews of curricula and teaching, competition between institutions for students and competition between students for university admission and scholarships, state and national science curriculum standards, standards of professional ethics and conduct endorsed by professional academic and educational organizations, and public awareness of institutional behavior. We feel that these checks appropriately balance proper academic freedom while punishing wanton abuse or neglect of duty.
In our litigious society the unintended consequences of the proposed legislation could be devastating. The effect of this legislation will be to encourage and protect the introduction of unverifiable pseudoscientific and philosophical ideas and concepts into Oklahoma science classrooms. Nine major federal court cases have determined that the actions of teachers and schools encouraged by this legislation violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, and will unnecessarily expose teachers and school districts to costly litigation.
Furthermore, the introduction of such material in science classrooms will weaken Oklahoma science curricula, do immeasurable harm to the reputations of graduates of Oklahoma public schools and higher education institutions and inhibit Oklahoma's attempts to encourage a growing biotech industry
We therefore oppose passage of HB 2107, the "Academic Freedom Act," and HCR 1043.
Adopted 7 March 2006