Attacking Education

Indiana’s terrible legislature is–as usual– considering several terrible bills. One of those is a thinly-veiled attack on Hoosier higher education.

Senate Bill 202 would establish government oversight of tenure and promotion for all faculty teaching at the state’s public universities. The bill would require those institutions to “deny, limit, or terminate continued employment to faculty if certain conditions related to free inquiry, free expression, and intellectual diversity are not met.”

The author of S.B. 202 wasn’t taking any chances that a classroom discussion violating his quixotic definition of “intellectual diversity” might go unchallenged; SB 202 also establishes a reporting system encouraging students and employees to file complaints against any faculty member they feel is failing to meet the new pro-conservative conditions. It also adds two additional alumni representatives to university boards of trustees.

The Indianapolis Star has published an opinion piece that describes the bill and its likely effects: the departure of competent faculty and an enforced intellectual conformity, a la DeSantis’ Florida. The article reported on the real motives of the bill’s supporters and the political dishonesty involved.

The bill is similar to proposals advanced in other majority-Republican state legislatures — in Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, North Carolina, North Dakota, and Texas — that seek to establish political oversight of tenure and promotion procedures, curriculum planning, and student services at public institutions of higher learning. Such initiatives are part of a concerted effort to curb the expansion of diversity, equity, and inclusion policies and programs that many colleges and universities across the country have adopted.

Sen. Spencer Deery, R-Lafayette, the bill’s author, has cited partial and unspecified polling data in a number of press reports that purport to show 46% of right-leaning students not feeling welcome to express their views on college campuses in Indiana. In fact, no such Gallup survey results exist.

The figure of 46% does, however, show up in a 2022 study conducted by political science professors at the University of North Carolina (and much cited by conservative advocacy groups) that seems to confirm Deery’s worries. But that study only surveyed students across eight institutions in the UNC system (and even there, with a sample size of 500 students, a mere 2.5% of the student population), not in Indiana.

Of course, as the author notes, even if a more rigorous survey produced the same results, S.B. 202 wouldn’t alleviate the problem. Instead, it would turn Indiana’s campuses into incubators of political correctness and intellectual conformity and would replace the scholarly and professional basis for employing faculty with political litmus tests.

The article ends with a pertinent question: why is a political party that holds a supermajority in the state legislature, the governorship, both U.S. Senate seats, and 7 out of 9 seats so alarmed by the prospect of actual education on the state’s college campuses?

I think we all know the answer to that question.

All available polling and research confirms that the more educated voters are, the more likely they are to vote, and the more likely they are to vote Democratic.

Here in Red Indiana, any threat education poses to GOP dominance will be delayed, thanks to gerrymandering and the lack of a mechanism to overcome it (not to mention the ongoing “brain drain” that sends our brightest graduates to states more congenial to that pesky diversity and inclusion), but our legislative overlords are looking down the road. The rural districts that reliably send MAGA Republicans to the Statehouse are emptying out, and even in the hinterlands, some of Indiana’s small towns are showing signs of dreaded culture change–welcoming immigrants and other “diverse” town-folks.

Several political observers have noted that MAGA Republicans are prone to projection–that when they hurl an accusation at Democrats or “Never Trump” Republicans, they are usually accusing their targets of behavior of which they themselves are guilty. Senate Bill 202 is an effort to indoctrinate students attending the state’s institutions of higher education; anyone who has been paying attention is aware that Republicans have been insisting that teachers, librarians and professors are “indoctrinating” students by introducing them to subversive “liberal” ideas.

The problem is, indoctrination is the antithesis of genuine education.

Educated individuals can recognize complexity, live with ambiguity, and discuss, negotiate and compromise with people who disagree with them. Today’s MAGA voter rejects complexity, is terrified by ambiguity, doesn’t understand the concept of negotiation and refuses to compromise. To be a MAGA Republican means to believe in a black and white universe threatened by any rapprochement with fellow-citizens who differ.

Education and intellectual inquiry are the enemy. Hence S.B. 202.


  1. This will only accelerate the moving vans taking the best and brightest to states and countries that are not MAGA. Good luck young people. Stay in touch. Let us know what life is like with less MAGA crazy.

  2. So, basically, he wants to suppress what the universities are for – teaching students.
    After a certain age, most young people are curious about what they are interested in and like to explore it. And exploration usually means looking at things from different angles.
    I went to a small private college, and we had 2 history professors. One was a Republican and the other a Democrat. And neither one really ever promoted their party preference while lecturing. But, they did teach facts, and if the Republicans were responsible for something that went bad, they both taught it, and if the Democrats had goofed, they both taught it.
    BUT, if anybody asked what party they liked best, and why, they would answer.
    And sometimes, just sometimes, tenure can be an important factor in how they answer, and students need to hear opinions, too – at least once in awhile.

  3. So much for limiting government interference in the lives of taxpayers. Republican ideologues simply must control every aspect of the narrative in order to create the “good Germans” of our times. And for Pete’s sake, stop calling these people “conservatives”. They are fascists, plain and simple. There is NOTHING conservative about the right-wing agenda.

    Patmcc is right. The best people will leave Indiana and relegate the state’s institutions to below mediocre. Pitiful.

    I just read a bit of history regarding Indiana’s Wendell Wilde and his embrasure of the NEW DEAL. Gosh, even a Republican in the 30s figured it out that when we all do well, we all do well. Those days and those people are long gone from the GOP.

    In happier news: Have you seen how much Trump’s donor base has to pony up for his legal fees – so far? The last number I saw was close to $60 million. And so far, that “investment” by the Trump-ites has yielded over $500 million in judgements against him in court. And there’s still the criminal cases to go. The GOP will be, I predict, teetering on bankruptcy (financially) by election day. Perfect.

  4. re: universities – If you were to send your kids to a college that only taught
    what you’d already taught them, wouldn’t that pretty much be a waste of money?

  5. Vernon is correct — the GOP isn’t conservative any longer. Why in the world do they want to oversee colleges in the state? Don’t they have enough to do?

    Don’t they trust the BOTs the governor appoints? I wonder if there is a school causing them anxious moments because it hires more liberal professors to teach.

    Control, control, control.

    They even want a “portal” for complaints — ala Todd Rokita, turning college students and faculty into whistleblowers. #Pathetic

    The blue states don’t even have to try to recruit top talent when the red states are turning them away. Any bright college student will leave Indiana as soon as possible after graduation. Lilly won’t have to spend millions studying the brain drain. It is what it is!

  6. Well, the Indiana republican legislature has taken control of K-12 education by forcing taxpayers to pay for the religious (and political?) indoctrination of young minds while trying to financially gut public school systems, so it isn’t a shock that the next target for indoctrination is public institutions of higher education.

    If this bill somehow manages to get passed, I can’t even imagine how rapidly it will destroy the two largest and successful state universities. Respected blue state universities will be offering lucrative jobs to some of the country’s most knowledgeable and highly esteemed professors

  7. Ask most “conservatives,” and they’ll tell you they are intent on saving themselves from “liberals,” two terms that essentially mean whatever the user would like them to.

    The reality is that conservatives intended to save themselves from keeping up with a rapidly evolving reality.

    I’ve been hearing all my life about the reality of human connectedness, the knowledge society, the demise of family farming in favor of factory farms, the transition to urban living from rural, the replacement of hardware with software, the rising importance of networks over isolation, civil rights, the danger of guns except for hunting (which in itself was becoming too time-consuming compared to grocery buying), the replacement of war with diplomacy, gender equality, the rise in human knowledge displacing creation mythology, climate change, new math, the de-Europization of history.

    All of those changes underway were learning opportunities for all of us.

    Some of us could and did and some chose not to.

  8. So we will soon have young earth creationists teaching science in our public universities?

  9. The Republicans now under fascist control have politicized medicine (Fauci bad man) and now education is up for grabs (liberal professors bad). One of the reasons I left Florida and returned to Indiana (from the firing pan into the fire) was when De Fascist put politicians onto the boards of the state’s colleges and universities and gave them overseer rights to define and determine tenure for professional staff. (Admission – I was married to a professor for over 45 years.)

    The chickens are coming home to roost. As I predicted and on the net this very morning, educators are leaving Florida in droves, and De Fascist and crew are desperately attempting to get retired schoolteachers to return to the classroom due to teacher shortage, but why should anyone retired or not want to teach in Florida when under the thrall of Republican used car salesmen and women posing as legislators who tell them what and how to teach and whether PhD professors are entitled to tenure?

    So what’s next? Will Toyota salespeople rewrite the curricula for law and medical schools so that they conform to fascist philosophy? Don’t laugh; remember the pregnant 10-year old child who was denied reproductive care? GRRRRRR!

  10. any one here have/or know of, a journal or history piece of the nazi movement against liberal/jewish teachers (20/30s)and the students/parents who condememned them? Im presently working with a few teens who want to be auto mechanics,(techs) I could use some ammo as in talking points with them on this subject today. and to further see if said influences above,are present. NoDaks education policy seems to stifle thier speaking out. they are teens in high school in the local burg im working in.. the auto repair shop is a local fix all. and pox news is the mainstay for rumors.

  11. As this sort of move is entirely predictable and inevitable, the brain drain has already been occurring out of Indiana higher education for years. Indiana has been blessed with excellent universities, but it will be no longer.

  12. today,In the public intrests,, is a story of Nebraskas voucher program and its devos style push.

  13. Mark:
    thanks,this is ammo for discussions i have with locals. keep the refrence points easy to find. makes my job easier.

  14. Anecdotally, this perceived indoctrination of students is probably long-standing. Dad, a Goldwater Republican, was concerned back in the early 60’s that my sister was being indoctrinated by her liberal professors at Manchester College. (To his credit, he was adamant that all three of us graduate from college.)

  15. Just one piece of the division into BSA/RSA, the “The Blue States of America” the other? It is happening right in front of our eyes and the migration figures support it. Maybe our “final solution”?

  16. “I pledge allegiance to the flag, of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands….”

    Q: What does the “Republic” stand for?

    A: Our Constitutional democratic government, which organizes all of the people within our borders.

    We have rebels within our borders who need to be prevented from changing our government and our progressive culture.

    We will do that in November.

  17. Just an FYI,
    “Deery earned a bachelor’s degree from the Brigham Young University in communications and a master’s degree in public administration from George Washington University. Deery worked on Purdue University’s leadership, as deputy chief of staff, team alongside former university president and former Governor of Indiana Mitch Daniels.” …Wiki
    Mitch’s fine hand is on the scale. I have tenured family on the faculty of one of our public universities. The faculty are angry and disgusted for the most part. Not so much the administration or the BOT. Guess why.
    In a recent search for a diverse candidate to fill a position in the sciences, there were almost no responses and the few received opted out almost immediately. Note the adjective being used is “diverse”. Although they never say exactly why they back out, minorities cannot help but see how POC and women are viewed by the Indiana local and state political establishment. Disrespect hardly covers it.
    When challenged on how evaluations would be done, by whom and when are being changed from alumni associations to majority leaders in the General Assembly, supposedly to avoid making the issue not “political”. It is almost funny if it wasn’t such an outrageous power grab.
    Indiana Week in Review this week has an interesting discussion of the issues.

  18. As Sheila will be talking about tomorrow at the UU Church in Danville (95 North Jefferson St, 10:00 am), The Republicans, excuse me, Fascists, are really trying to get rid of “equal treatment under the law” as required by the 14th amendment. No more equal treatment under the law means people of color can be controlled, LGBTIQ+folks can be put back into the closet and made back into sick perverted people, women can be kept barefoot and pregnant, and on and on. You can get a really good idea of where the American Fascists are trying to take us by watching The Handmaid’s Tale streaming on several services.

  19. This legislation would also set up a post-tenure review every five years where the faculty will be judged on how they have advanced “intellectual diversity” in their classrooms. Talk about a litmus test! Also, it removes two Trustee seats that are elected by alumni and replaces them with two more government appointed seats, one appointed by the state House of Representatives and the other appointed by the state Senate. All promotions and grants of tenure must be approved by the Trustees.

    I see a purge coming.

  20. The Republicans in the Indiana legislature are not ambitious enough. Their timidity is in fact appalling. Clearly, there is more for them to learn from countries like China. When I visited there in 2010 to negotiate cooperation and exchange agreements with several universities, I was appalled to learn that for every senior university administrator (President, Provost, etc.) there was a shadow administrator from the Communist Party, typically with an office right next door. Surely, Indiana needs to attempt the same arrangement. How else can the Republican majority in the legislature ensure that their brand of intellectual diversity (dare we label it “political correctness”?) reigns supreme and violators are properly punished? How naive to think that without close supervision university officers might know how to do their jobs?

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