The New Architects: Academic Repression in the United States?

The New Architects: Academic Repression in the United States?


In the United States, people take for granted the freedom we have been given when it comes to our educational systems.  Many people believe that we have the option to study, teach and learn anything without any form of restrictions based on ideology.

News stories of how our academic freedom has been taken over by extremists to infiltrate American textbooks in Texas have saturated the media. As reported in The New York Times, these textbooks will stress the superiority of American capitalism along with questioning the Founding Fathers’ commitment to a purely secular government and presenting Republican political philosophies in a more “positive light”.  Many have said that they are pushing a total white teaching of, not just Texas history but world history.

The feeling of academic repression is not only heard in the board rooms of lawmakers, students are even taking to the streets to protest and speak out against the institutions of higher learning.

Erica Goldson, is an excellent example.  She is a valedictorian who spoke out against how the current system is creating, as she says, “robotic bookshelves, conditioned to blurt out facts we were taught in school.”

(more after the break)

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She also makes some very interesting points when she quotes H. L. Mencken in saying  the aim of public education is not “to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence.  Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim … is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States.”

Not much has been written about modern academic repression and we wanted to learn more.  I reached out to talk with Anthony J. Nocella II, editor of the book,  Academic Repression: Reflections from the Academic Industrial Complex so we could have a deeper understanding of what the ‘academic industrial complex’.

You can hear that interview here

This edited anthology brings together prominent academics writing hard-hitting essays on free speech, culture wars, and academic freedom in a post-9/11 era. It’s a powerful response to attacks on critical thinking in our universities by well-respected scholars and academics, including Joy James, Henry Giroux, Michael Parenti, Howard Zinn, Robert Jensen, Ward Churchill, and many more.


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About author

Jason Bayless

Jason Bayless is a life-long activist and is currently working at The Pachamama Alliance. When he is not working he spends, working with Center for Farmworker Families and spending his time recording shows, writing blogs, collecting 3D movies, and playing VR games.

  • Michael Lewis, Ph.D.1

    March 14, 2011

    Yes, there is academic repression, in many forms. It can be as subtle as the culture of academe, that requires subservience to tenure committees, publication peer-review processes, the “publish or perish” mentality of academic review.

    One can hold one’s nose, submit to the authority of the tenure process and gain acceptance to the hallowed halls, then attempt to continue with a subversive academic career. Some have succeeded, many have spun out and gone on to other pursuits.

    The process is repressive and can change one forever. Once allowed in to the ivory tower, the black-robed fist become more acceptable, somehow, when the perks come in to play, when one is published, accepted in the peer-review process and becomes a reviewer in one’s own right.

    The light in academe, if there is one, is students. As a teacher, seeing the light go on in a student’s head is the most rewarding moment in any academic career. Especially in the subversive sciences, one can have a positive effect on impressionable minds.

    In my case, the negatives far outweighed the positives. I moved from teaching into research and administration, then left academe altogether. Now I work in non-profit public radio, with its own set of challenges.

    Much as it would like to, academe does not live and work in isolation of the rest of the economic and social world. Though many complain about the ivory tower, it’s foundations are well fixed in the common clay.

  • Steven2

    March 14, 2011

    Wow! I never thought about academic repression. Now that you mention it I could see how the FOX News minded folks could infiltrate the school systems.

  • Kelly3

    March 9, 2011

    academic repression even occurs in the unexpected areas of alternative education. I have been a montessori elementary teacher for years and left this year because of increasing pressure from parents and administration to asses and standardize the students.

    maria montessori worked very hard to develop a pedagogy that respected the child’s needs and planes of development. it is a system that encourages free thought and creative problem solving. this method is about following the child and trusting a system that has been proven to work for the past hundred years. when you have students protesting leaving school on friday afternoon you know something is right!

    now i am in grad school at a school that practices john dewey’s method. it is a refreshing environment that hints of the modern school movement and reflects the work of progressive education reform and that it can last and does work.

    hopefully alternative schools like montessori, waldorf, deweyian, and free schools will hold true to their roots and values and not succumb to pressures to asses. standardization only proves you’re as creative as the least creative person in the bunch!


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