Rep. Calvin Hill(R-Canton, Ga) didn’t expect to be talking about steamy sex courses at Georgia’s public universities in this legislative session. In the course of his duties at Vice Chair of the Appropriations Committee, Hill came across a listing of experts available from Georgia State University in Atlanta. Among the offerings were experts in subjects like male prostitution, oral sex and “queer history.”
One of his colleagues, Rep. Charlice Byrd (R-Woodstock, Ga) took to the floor late last week to announce an effort to oust professors teaching these courses. Hill took a different tact in pointing out with a $2.2 billion shortfall in the state budget, “he might be able to suggest a few courses that could be cut to save money.”
"This is not considered higher education," Byrd said. "If legislators are going to dole out the dollars, we should have a say-so in where they go." The legislators, their supporters and groups like the Christian Coalition will join together to pressure fellow lawmakers and the University System Board of Regents to eliminate the jobs of these fringe educators or move them into different subjects. They ask the question “is this really what a research institution ought to be teaching?”
"Our job is to educate our people in sciences, business, math," said Hill, a vice chairman of the Georgia House Appropriations Committee. He said professors aren’t going to meet those needs "by teaching a class in queer theory." Of course the usual chorus of “Gay-Basher” is coming from the usual suspects. Hill says it’s not about sexuality: it’s about prudent use of the state’s dollars.
There’s an underlying problem here, too. Most college students are in the 18-22 year old range and since the advent of “privacy” regulations that bar telling parents what their children are up to, the parents of these young people get very little information from the college about how or what their student is doing. The old philosophy of “in loco parentis” (i.e., the school administration acting as a parent) is gone.
Students today have to give their tuition paying parents permission to see their grades or talk to their professors. Since the Virginia Tech massacre, colleges have grappled with the relationship they should have with parents and many have improved the communication. The problem of what courses to teach falls under the umbrella of intellectual and academic freedom. If there was a vigorous defense of teaching conservative theory or welcoming conservative speakers on campuses, they might have a valid intellectual freedom argument, but they don’t. Academic freedom in state funded college campuses in Georgia and around the country is for liberal theory only.
Rep. Hill is not introducing legislation to make this happen. He and Rep. Byrd are encouraging a grassroots effort for students and parents who pay the bills at state universities to pressure the administration to look to the fringes of what they teach to find the cuts needed to make the budget work.
According to Hill, it’s an issue of what the mission of higher education should be. He also acknowledges there may be places to teach about sexual behavior, but it should be inside of a sociology or psychology course, not a stand alone course.
The lobbyists for the University System don’t like the idea of state legislators suggesting who they should hire or retain. They contend they hire faculty with expertise in a range of subjects, including it appears, the “Queering of the South.”
The core mission of the University System is to educate students, not to make “relevant and effective policy.” In these tough economic times, tough choices have to be made and the fringe courses through out the system should be trimmed. That’s why they call them electives.
This is a management issue. Over the last thirty years, even in the bastion of large public universities, the mantra has been “let’s shock the parents.” Maybe it hasn’t been official or stated but it’s been there. The Deans of the Schools and the management structure of the University must be able to not only balance the curriculum, but also manage it through hard times. Too many times these academics don’t know how to manage people because they are academics and not business people.
If this is happening in University System in Georgia, it’s happening in your state, too. Go online and look at the course offerings at your son or daughter’s university and you’ll find these fringes offered there, too. They are counting on parents to be too intimidated to get involved. Parents should take charge of their child’s education at every level.
And taxpayers should demand better administration of college funds. If we are graduating people who can’t do math, don’t know science and can’t write or speak English well, why in Heaven’s name are we spending money on anything but to improve those results?
Rep. Calvin Hill and Rep. Charlice Byrd, keep fighting the good fight and shining the light.