Tuesday, April 10, 2012

 Iowa Republicans blast law school over refusal to hire conservative professor as faculty

Iowa Republicans are taking aim at the state's top law school for denying a faculty position to a conservative law professor, who an assistant dean once said embraces politics the rest of the faculty "despises."  

Teresa Wagner, who works as an associate director of writing at the University of Iowa College of Law, is suing former dean Carolyn Jones for employment discrimination, claiming she was not hired for a professor position because Jones and other law faculty disapproved of her conservative views and activism.

To hold a law faculty position at the publicly funded university is viewed as a "sacred cow," Wagner said in an interview, and "Republicans need not apply."

The case, which goes to trial this October, has become a chief concern for Republicans in Johnson County, who on Monday passed a resolution calling on the Iowa House of Representatives' oversight committee to investigate hiring practices involved in Wagner's case and others like it.

"We think the hiring policies need to be such where there are certainly non-discriminatory practices which relate to political philosophy, as well as to race and gender and other issues," said Bob Anderson, chairman of the Johnson County Republican Party. He claims students are deprived of "diversity of political thought" when conservative thinkers, like Wagner, are rejected based on their politics.

"We have a very active, conservative Republican community within the University of Iowa, which has not been met with an appropriate sense of respect for their ideas," he told FoxNews.com. "We see generally the climate as unfavorable." 

Wagner, who graduated with honors from the law school in 1993, has taught at the George Mason University School of Law. She has also worked for the National Right to Life Committee, which opposes abortion, and the conservative Family Research Council.

In 2006, Wagner applied for a full-time instructor position with the law school and was denied. She was also rejected for an adjunct or full-time position in four subsequent attempts, according to her attorney, Stephen T. Fieweger.

"For the first time in years, there are more registered Republicans in the state of Iowa than there are Democrats, which is obviously not reflected at the University of Iowa," Fieweger told FoxNews.com.

Fieweger said Wagner's candidacy was dismissed because of her conservative views, and he cited a 2007 email from Associate Dean Jonathan C. Carlson to Jones in which Carlson wrote: "Frankly, one thing that worries me is that some people may be opposed to Teresa serving in any role, in part at least because they so despise her politics (and especially her activism about it)."

Associate Dean Eric Andersen was not immediately available for comment when contacted Thursday. Tom Moore, a spokesman for the university, told the Iowa City Press Citizen last week that the school is "committed to equal opportunity, diversity and to following fair hiring practices."

Wagner's case was initially dismissed in a lower court that ruled the dean could hire whomever she wishes. But the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, in St. Louis, reinstated it in December. A trial is set for Oct. 15.

Fieweger said the law school and academic institutions in general have been so "entrenched" in discriminating against conservative-minded faculty over the years that "they don't recognize they're doing it."

At the time Wagner filed her complaint, Fieweger said, the number of registered Republicans on the law faculty stood at one.

Fieweger said the school argues Wagner was rejected because she "stunningly flunked the interview" in refusing to teach analysis -- a claim he said "just doesn't make sense and the jury is going to see that."


‘America Is Better Than Glenn Beck’: College Textbook Includes Anti-Beck Writings

“Today’s Tea Party adherents are George Wallace legacies.”

“[Glenn] Beck is an ignorant, divisive, pathetic figure.”

If those sentences sound to you like they’re straight out of the op-ed pages of the Washington Post and the New York Times, you’d be right. But they can also be found in a college textbook assigned to students at a community college in Texas.

America Is Better Than Glenn Beck: Anti Beck Writings in College Textbook“Read, Reason, Write: An Argument Text and Reader” is a critical reading and analysis book assigned to freshmen at Lone Star College-University Park in Houston. Its 10th edition features a collection of readings excoriating Beck and the Tea Party, while providing only the barest counter point of view.

The two sentences above came from op-ed pieces in the Post and Times that were reprinted in the book’s 23rd chapter: “America: Embracing the Future — or Divided by Conflict?” The line about the Tea Party is from Post columnist Colbert I. King’s March 2010 piece, “In the faces of Tea Party shouters, images of hate and history”, while the line about Beck comes from the Times‘ Bob Herbert’s “America Is Better Than This,” published in August 2010.

King compares the Tea Party to the protesters who stood to block the Little Rock Nine in 1957 and those who cheered ex-Klansman David Duke at a rally in 1991. He describes Tea Party members picketing on Capitol Hill during the health care debate and says they’re the legacy of George Wallace, the former Alabama governor who famously declared: “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever”:
    They see the world through the eyes of the anti-civil rights alumni. “Washington, D.C.” now, as then, is regarded as the Great Satan. This is the place that created the civil rights laws that were shoved down their throats. This is the birthplace of their much-feared “Big Government” and the playground of the “elite national news media.”

In “America Is Better Than This” — published on the eve of Beck’s Restoring Honor event in Washington, D.C. — Herbert says there is “no road too low for [Beck] to slither upon.”
    He is an integral part of the vicious effort by the Tea Party and other elements of the right wing to portray Mr. Obama as somehow alien, a strange figure who is separate and apart from — outside of — ordinary American life.

The book, first brought to The Blaze’s attention by a professor at the college, does feature an article by Arthur C. Brooks, president of the conservative American Enterprise Institute. Brooks’ 2010 piece, “America’s new culture war: Free enterprise vs. government control,” is the only reading in the chapter that can be said to offer any real counterpoint, and it’s limited to one paragraph:
    “And while some have tried to dismiss the ‘Tea Party’ demonstrations and the town hall protests of last summer as the work of extremists, ignorant backwoodsmen or agents of the health care industry, these movements reveal much about the culture war that is underway.”

Vicki Cassidy, a spokeswoman for the Lone Star College System, told The Blaze two faculty members at University Park use the book, but said the chapter in question is not assigned and the readings — part of a supplementary section — are not part of the syllabus. Other chapters in the supplementary section deal with the environment (Chapter 17: “How Do We Cope With Climate Change”) and marriage (Chapter 19: “Marriage and Gender Issues: The Debates Continue”)

Cassidy said the book was first adopted in 2006 before it contained the readings in question. Textbooks are selected by a faculty committee that does not typically re-examine subsequent editions of previously adopted material.

She confirmed the book’s current edition was not re-examined before it was assigned to students. The committee may opt to revisit its material this summer, she said.

Of the two faculty members who teach out of the book, Cassidy did not immediately know how many classes it has been assigned to. She also did not immediately know whether the book is assigned at other colleges within the Lone Star College system.


'This is the worst time to stop teaching religion': Archbishop of Canterbury warns of dangers of axeing RE lessons in British schools

The Archbishop of Canterbury yesterday warned about the dangers of ‘downgrading’ religious education in secondary schools.

In his Easter Sermon, Dr Rowan Williams said it was the ‘worst possible moment’ to undermine the teaching of religion to teenagers.  He told the congregation at Canterbury Cathedral that apparent hostility towards faith among the young had been exaggerated and that many took the issue of religion seriously.

Dr Williams, who will resign as Archbishop of Canterbury at the end of the year, said pupils appreciated the role it plays in shaping human existence and are keen to learn about it.

He said: ‘There is plenty to  suggest that younger people, while still statistically deeply unlikely to be churchgoers, don’t have the  hostility to faith that one might expect, but at least share some sense that there is something here to take seriously – when they have a chance to learn about it.  'It is about the worst possible moment to downgrade the status and professional excellence of religious education in secondary schools, but that’s another sermon.’

Under current guidelines all five to 16-year-olds must study RE at school and all 14 to 16-year-olds must take at least half a GCSE in religious studies.

But research published last year showed that one in four comprehensive and academy schools do not teach religious studies at GCSE and nearly a third of grammars are now also shirking the obligation.

The study came after RE was left out of the subjects counting towards the English Baccalaureate. This is given to teenagers who score at least a C at GCSE in English, maths, science, a foreign language and a humanities subject, which is limited to history and geography.

Nick Seaton, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, said: ‘Most parents will think the Archbishop of Canterbury is absolutely right. Let’s hope education ministers take note and restore religious education to its proper status in schools after it has been allowed to decline for the last 20 years.

‘Even if people are not religious themselves, it is very important  to get a good grounding in religious education because so much of  our culture and society is based  on religion.’


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