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San Diego Mesa College violates academic freedom, investigates professor for sample essay associating GOP with fascism


San Diego Mesa College has launched an investigation into a professor who compared the Republican Party to fascism. (Photo courtesy of San Diego Mesa College)

by Sabrina Conza

September 29, 2022

San Diego Mesa College is investigating a professor who teaches college-level classes to advanced high school students after parents complained about an instance of fast-paced writing that associated the Republican Party with fascism.

In a letter At SDMC today, we explained that the public college investigation violates the First Amendment because the professor retains full academic freedom to select and discuss course material. Authorities cannot justify diluting or securing college-level material just because some high school students can take the course.

According media reportsan anonymous SDMC professor teaching a dual-enrollment class at Madison High School used as an example thesis: “As presently constituted, the Republican Party is now a fascist organization that no longer fits the category of a conventional Democratic party.

To comply with its First Amendment obligations, SDMC must end its investigation.

The professor supported the sample thesis using the terms “authoritarian,” “Trump,” “heterosexual,” “in-group—white, Christian,” and “hate foreigners/immigrants/minorities.” This led to complaints from students and parents, which in turn triggered an investigation by SDMC.

But like us Told SDMC, laws restricting what material K-12 teachers can discuss are already in the works used, abusedand disputed Across the country. Additionally, the law has been clear for decades that the First Amendment protects a much wider range of material at the college level, where professors teach content intended for mature students:

Absent the protections afforded by the First Amendment, college courses open to high school or junior college students would be subject to paternalistic censorship, preventing faculty members from selecting materials and tailoring discussions to best serve their educational interests. If left in place, such restrictions could easily be abused, preventing university professors from discussing any divisive topics, including those of race, sex and gender. FIRE has already seen states attempt to erode those protections by passing “divisive concept laws,” threatening teachers’ ability to teach certain subjects, as well as critically acclaimed K-12 core texts. reviews like “To Kill a Mockingbird”, “Catch 22”, and “The Things They Carried”, to name a few.

Across the country, colleges have partnered with high schools to provide advanced courses for high-achieving students. However, this cannot be used to justify censorship of faculty or student expression – which enjoys increased protection at the college level.

Aggrieved parents can choose not to enroll their high school students in college-level courses, but the university cannot prevent professors and students in college courses from engaging with educationally relevant materials that the professor selects.

To comply with its First Amendment obligations, SDMC must terminate its investigation of the content of the Professor’s course.

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