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State Gag Order Bills Increase for Higher Ed

August 17, 2022

State legislative proposals to restrict the freedom to teach and learn have increased by 250 percent in 2022 compared to last year, according to a report released today by PEN America, the free expression and literary organization.

Most of the bills focus on K-12 education, but 39 percent of bills have targeted colleges and universities, compared with 30 percent last year.

The bills generally focus on race and ban the teaching, for example, of critical race theory. But more bills would ban things related to LGBTQ issues. Last year, five bills banned these teachings, but this year 23 did so.

“Educators are under attack from legislators bent on depriving our children of an education that is open to a breadth of perspectives,” said Jeremy C. Young, senior manager of PEN America’s Free Expression and Education program and the lead author of the report. “Vibrant learning opportunities are essential for democratic citizenship to flourish. But this report confirms a grim reality: some elected leaders are marching schools backward, and trampling on students’ free expression in the process.”

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Scott Jaschik

Scott Jaschik, Editor, is one of the three founders of Inside Higher Ed. With Doug Lederman, he leads the editorial operations of Inside Higher Ed, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, career advice, blogs and other features. Scott is a leading voice on higher education issues, quoted regularly in publications nationwide, and publishing articles on colleges in publications such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Salon, and elsewhere. He has been a judge or screener for the National Magazine Awards, the Online Journalism Awards, the Folio Editorial Excellence Awards, and the Education Writers Association Awards. Scott served as a mentor in the community college fellowship program of the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, of Teachers College, Columbia University. He is a member of the board of the Education Writers Association. From 1999-2003, Scott was editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Scott grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and graduated from Cornell University in 1985. He lives in Washington.

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