WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - The Associated Press reports Purdue president and former governor Mitch Daniels tried censoring and taking academic freedom away from higher education while he was governor in 2010.
"No one's academic freedom was affected in any way. No one was censored. It was a complete misuse of that word to suggest otherwise," Daniels said.
The AP report said Daniels sent state education officials an email asking if the works of historian and anti-war activist Howard Zinn were used in Hoosier classrooms. Daniels said Zinn's book, "A People's History of the United States," is a biased account of American history.
"It was a false version of American history," Daniels said. "It had no purpose in our classrooms just as bogus science would not. That was my only concern."
That's why he said he wanted to make sure it wasn't used in K-12 classrooms. Daniels denies ever trying to remove Zinn's work from higher education. However, the AP reports Daniels tried to ban the use of Zinn's book in a professional development course at Indiana University Daniels said that report is untrue and erroneous.
"This course that I just saw described in this email didn't sound like anything that would make anybody a better public school teacher, and if they were using false history in that course, we would be misleading some of our teachers we wanted to educate our young ones," Daniels said.
Daniels said he only suggested upgrading the professional development courses to focus on math and science. Daniels said he has no intention of hindering academic freedom on Purdue's campus where he said "anything goes."
Even with academic freedom, Daniels said scholars aren't free from criticism.
"If someone wants to use it on this campus I think their scholarship is in serious question, but they have a right to do it," the former governor said.
State Representative Sheila Klinker (D-27) said after working with Daniels through the years she was surprised to hear about the reports.
"I think probably in retrospect he was trying to do the best thing for the state of Indiana and for the children of Indiana, and I think in the long run, this will be much ado about nothing," Klinker said.
Purdue Senate chair David Williams says the faculty controls the academic side of Purdue. He said Daniels has no interest in controlling or influencing academic freedom at Purdue and would fail if he did.
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