The origin of this post is in response to a few tweets I had with Ari Cohn, Lawyer for FIRE, after I tweeted my support of this bill and opposition of FIRE's efforts to prevent it. The medium doesn't really allow for a proper discussion and nothing more insightful than a few barbs were exchanged, however it did inspire further thought into why I supported this bill.
Firstly though, some background. An Arizona lawmaker recently introduced a bill to ban taxpayer funding for social justice classes. The exact wording of the bill includes denying funding to a class that "violates civil rights laws" or "promotes division or resentment". Source
Now before making my argument, I should disclose that I strongly oppose the popular concept of Social Justice. That being said, I strongly believe in academic freedom and would not support this class being banned.
My argument however is that classes which do not provide a benefit to the state should not be funded by taxpayer dollars. This benefit might be in the form of job skills, reducing unemployment and building the workforce or socially, building communities and empowering individuals to better not just themselves but everyone around them.
But then, even if you might agree, how do we measure the benefit and ensure unpopular ideas are not censored? We already have and collect information on the most needed employment fields and designing a flexible quota with a fixed baseline would serve to prevent classes unrelated to employment from dying out entirely unless there was simply no interest in taking them.
I'm sure there will be holes that can be spotted in this and maybe it's the wrong approach, but I'd love to hear constructive criticism. The common joke is that getting a degree in the arts such as acting for example is a wasted degree, yet we have so many students encouraged to invest both state and personal money/time before getting a full-time minimum wage job. I'd love to hear ways to help prevent this without just banning classes and certainly without further dividing our country.
We live in the age of the internet where we can video call someone anywhere in the world, share anything with anyone and yet in many ways we're more divided than we've ever been before. I'd personally like to see schools as a place people from all backgrounds can join together and make connections that will last a lifetime as they go out into the world. I'd like to think this is something everyone can agree with.