Harvard Yields the Most Boring Commencement Protest Yet

by Charles C. W. Cooke

Goodness me, intolerance is getting dull. At least with Brendan Eich, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Phil Robertson, and Condoleezza Rice, protesters were dealing with sexy topics: sex, religion, love, war. By way of contrast, we learned over the weekend that Harvard’s Graduate School of Education was the scene of a protest against a commencement speaker who . . . has different views as to how education reform should proceed. Per Bloomberg:

Students, faculty and alumni of Harvard’s Graduate School of Education are protesting the school’s choice of commencement speaker for his stance on education reform that relies on so-called test-based accountability.

Colorado State Senator Michael Johnston was chosen last month by Dean James Ryan to speak. The school is being asked to rescind Johnston’s invitation and to create a more transparent and inclusive process for choosing future commencement speakers.

Student and faculty opposition has led to other protests this graduation season. On May 12, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde withdrew as speaker at Smith College amid protests over IMF policies. Earlier this month, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice pulled out from Rutgers University’s ceremony after complaints about her position on the Gulf War when she served under President George W. Bush.

In the School of Education case, the group objected to Johnston’s “vision of education reform that relies heavily on test-based accountability while weakening the due process protections of teachers.” The graduate school’s commencement is set for the week of May 29, according to the school’s website.

Johnston, 39, is a graduate of Yale College and holds a master’s degree from Harvard Graduate School of Education. He is a Democrat and represents northeast Denver.

Students want “a more transparent and inclusive process for choosing future commencement speakers”? No they don’t. They just don’t want to hear the views of people they dislike.

Silly as they often are, at least campus protests can sometimes be exciting. But what, pray, would the world-beating chant of these luminaries be? “What do we want? An educational system in which test-based accountability is held to be anathemic to the interests of educators everywhere! When do we want it? Whenever there is a package of education reforms that our union deems to be acceptable!”

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