Academic Freedom

April News from the Academic Freedom Coalition of Nebraska

A new issue of the AFCON Sentinel just came out and gives some April News from the Academic Freedom Coalition of Nebraska. 

Vicki Wood, President-elect of AFCON, reproduces her statement to the Nebraska State Board of Education concerning attacks on teachers and school librarians accusing them of providing obscene materials to children. Her statement emphasized that librarians are professionally trained to provide collections that serve the needs of all students and that determining whether a work is obscene must be based on the entire work and not on a small number of sentences taken out of context. 

The AFCON testimony critical of LB1077 is summarized. LB1077 is a bill before the Nebraska Legislature that seeks to ban the teaching of certain ideas related to race and sex. The AFCON testimony emphasizes the following reasons for rejecting the bill:

  • the proposed legislation infringes on the work of local school boards, the State Board of Education, the University of Nebraska Board of Regents, and the Nebraska State College System Board of Trustees and represents micromanaging education by the Legislature;
  • Disclaimers requiring that teachers censor certain ideas while respecting academic freedom create an incoherent and impossible to achieve policy.

There is a summary of AFCON’s rejection of LR278CA, which would eliminate the State Board of Education and place control of primary and secondary education in the hands of the governor. 

David Moshman, Professor Emeritus of Educational Psychology at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, discusses his testimony concerning a particular program of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion training conducted in Vermont. His testimony includes a discussion of how education differs from indoctrination and includes examples from the Vermont training that he believes show indoctrination instead of education. Exploring this distinction, clarifying how to recognize it, and applying this understanding to our own teaching would be valuable activities for us to have at Doane.

AFCON Website

Academic Freedom

Nebraska Legislature Moves to Limit Academic Freedom

In the current 2022 legislative session, Nebraska joined 36 other states to introduce an academic gag order that would apply to public schools and public postsecondary institutions. These attacks on academic freedom seek to forbid teaching about race and sex in ways that suggest any systemic or historic problems in American culture with respect to these categories. The Nebraska bill introduced in January 2022 is LB 1077, which can be found on the Nebraska Legislature website at 

Nebraska Legislature: LB1077.

One of several problematic aspects of the Nebraska bill is the forbidding of teaching topics or concepts that cause a person to feel “discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of the individual’s race or sex”. To forbid teaching a subject because it may cause psychological distress is highly problematic since a consensus on standards of proof does not exist and is inimical to free inquiry. To avoid controversy, a faculty member will likely remove many important topics from the curriculum. Removing subjects from the curriculum simply because they may cause students psychological distress is to destroy the concepts of education for the common good and open inquiry that is necessary for a democratic society.

The Executive Committee of the Nebraska State Conference of the AAUP submitted testimony critical of LB1077 when it was discussed by the Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee of the Nebraska Legislature on February 24, 2022. The testimony can be downloaded at

NE State Conference of AAUP Executive Committee Testimony on LB1077

Here are some helpful links to remain updated on the educational gag order issue from an AAUP perspective:

AAUP listing of active Education Gag Order legislation

AAUP Statement on Legislation Restricting Teaching about Race

AAUP FAQs on Educational Gag Orders

AAUP Issue Summary: Educational Gag Orders: Legislative Interference in Teaching About Race

Additional academic freedom resources available on the Doane AAUP website can be found at

Doane AAUP: Academic Freedom