Middle East studies in the News
American Association of University Professors
Re: Congressional Action
Tomorrow, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce is scheduled to vote on HR 3077, the International Studies in Higher Education Act. This is the vehicle for reauthorizing Title VI of the Higher Education Act, and it has generated controversy by proposing the establishment of an "International Advisory Board."
This Board is to "annually review, monitor, apprise, and evaluate the activities of grant recipients based on the purposes and objectives of this title." The Board is also to make annual recommendations to Congress and the Secretary of Education, to improve the programs under this title to better reflect the national needs related to the homeland security, international education, and international affairs, including an assessment of the national needs and the training provided by the institutions of higher education that receive a grant under this title for expert and non-expert level foreign language training
The Association supports all efforts to improve international programs in higher education, but has serious concerns about the potential for such a board to engender Federal government intrusion into curriculum decisions—decisions that properly are a faculty responsibility. In the words of the 1966 Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities: "The faculty has primary responsibility for such fundamental areas as curriculum, subject matter and methods of instruction, research, faculty status, and those aspects of student life which relate to the educational process."
The Chronicle of Higher Education reported last week on subcommittee passage of the bill late last week, suggesting that the Board's establishment was a response to "complaints from conservative scholars that some of the centers supported by these programs purvey an 'anti-American' bias." The Chronicle did report a change the subcommittee made to the bill that allowed the Congressional leaders to appoint some of the members of the board rather than have the White House appoint all of them. This change allows some partisan balance, but does not really speak to the concerns about federal interference in curricular matters. [For those of you who have access to the Chronicle, the article is available at http://chronicle.com/prm/daily/2003/09/2003091801n.htm]
This bill grew out of a hearing on this subject last summer. At that time AAUP joined others in the higher education community and signed onto testimony delivered by ACE Vice President Terry Hartle, which rejected the allegations of bias, and called for the reauthorization of Title VI without imposing an unnecessary layer of governmental review.
This testimony is available online at the ACE website: http://www.acenet.edu/washington/international/Hartle.Testimony.pdf
Other witnesses at the hearing suggested that Title VI programs reflect an anti-American bias and discourage students from working for the U.S. Government. The subcommittee on Select Education has posted the hearing testimony at its own website: http://edworkforce.house.gov/hearings/108th/sed/titlevi61903/wl61903.htm.
ACTION NEEDED IMMEDIATELY: Contact members of the House Education and the Workforce Committee immediately to tell them you oppose the creation of a Board that oversees international education centers and represents a threat to curriculum independence of higher education. The "About Congress" page on the AAUP Government Relations website allows you to identify your Representative, and provides a quick link to e-mail that office. Since time is of the essence, e-mails or phone calls are recommended. The general phone number for the House is (202) 225-3121.
The members of the committee are listed below:
Democrat Members (22)
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