Brooker Act is an unnecessary measure that stifles learning

Tuesday, November 6, 2007 | 3:00 p.m. CST; updated 1:03 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 14, 2008

When I heard of the Emily Brooker Act and found out what it was, I felt embarrassed that the state representative who introduced it last year and intends to do the same this session was from my home district in St. Louis. Rep. Jane Cunningham’s proposal seems to be a stab at the very heart of intellectual diversity, while at the same time pretending to endorse it. It is an attempt to deal with the perceived threat of students being indoctrinated by professors. Only there’s a catch: There’s already a system in place to deal with such grievances. If I have a problem with something my professor has said, done or assigned, there’s nothing stopping me from filing a complaint with the department chair, provost, chancellor or even the president of the UM System. That’s what Missouri State student Emily Brooker did after refusing to sign a letter supporting gay adoption because it was against her religious beliefs. She sued the university to have the bad grade she received reversed, the case was settled out of court, and the teacher was duly punished. What Rep, Cunningham wants to do is use this case as a springboard to force otherwise critically thinking professors to teach unacademic conservative ideals, not diverse academic opinions. If this legislation passes, it would not be unreasonable to expect that biology teachers would at some point be forced to teach intelligent design, something not relevant to the science. Urge your legislator to vote this bill down. Support critical thinking in Missouri schools, not forced diversity.

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