The Corner

Education

Free Speech in the Classroom

I probably agree with Samantha Harris 90 percent of the way when it comes to Critical Race Theory, the need for open debate, and the difference between teaching and indoctrination. It sounds like her firm is going to do good work in holding abusive college administrations to account. But I still don’t see why it should be considered censorship when a state legislature tries to block harmful fads from making their way into government-funded classrooms.

Nor do I see any distinction in principle between making schools conduct an annual assessment saying that they’re exposing students to a variety of perspectives (which she suggests is praiseworthy legislation) and telling them not to base classes on propaganda (which she says would compromise freedom). If we were talking about private schools, I’d be inclined to oppose either kind of legislation. If we’re talking about how government-funded, government-run schools, whether either or both kinds of legislation are warranted seems like a prudential judgment.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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