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Addressing P-20 Education Censorship Washington Week

As of May 2, PEN America has noted that 34% of Live Educational Gag Order bills affect Institutes of Higher Education, and 100% of the teachers in the 15 states that have signed gag orders into law feel the impact on their work. In addition to these laws and the more than 80 live gag-order bills, rampant illegal and legalized banning of books is restricting the rights of educators to serve diverse students and their equally diverse needs. It is necessary for educators to understand and address this coordinated attack to protect students’ quality of education, human rights and mental health.

This year, at AACTE’s 2022 Washington Week, AACTE has dedicated one of its three strands to education censorship. The strand was developed based on feedback from members and AACTE’s research report on education censorship. Highlights from the report will be released at Washington Week. Sessions will cover the following objectives:

  1. The scope, tactics, and themes within education censorship policies
  2. Which policies implicate IHE, and how faculty can organize to address them
  3. How these policies and the moral panic surrounding them affect the work of teachers, and therefore teacher educators

AACTE is committed to supporting its members through this evolving crisis, which could exacerbate the teacher shortage and lack of diverse teacher pipelines. AACTE also looks forward to opportunities that will arise from collaborations and lead to improvement and innovation across educator preparation programs. Join your colleagues and esteemed censorship experts who will speak at Washington Week on June 6 and 7 in our nation’s capital.

Jeremy C. Young, PEN America

Jeremy C. Young is the senior manager of free expression and education at PEN America. In this role, he advances PEN America’s advocacy for free expression in educational institutions, advocates against censorious legislation and politically motivated efforts to ban books and curricular materials, and supports academic freedom in higher education and the freedom to read, learn, and teach in K-12 schools.     

Jennifer Ruth, African American Policy Forum Higher Ed Faculty Lead, Portland State University

Jennifer Ruth is a professor of film studies at Portland State University. She is the Higher Education Working Group Faculty Lead for the African American Policy Forum senate resolution campaign. She is the co-author, with Michael Bérubé, of It’s Not Free Speech, Race, Democracy, and the Future of Academic Freedom (JHUP, 2022).

Mica Pollock, UC San Diego

Mica Pollock, an anthropologist, is professor of education studies and director of the Center for Research on Educational Equity, Assessment, and Teaching Excellence (CREATE) at the University of California, San Diego. Most recently, she co-authored The Conflict Campaign: Exploring Local Experiences of the Campaign to Ban “Critical Race Theory” in Public K-12 Education in the U.S.

Ashley L. White, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Ashley White is an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Fellow for Equity Access and Opportunity with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). She researches the intersectionality of ethno-racial identities and disability across the educational continuum through the consideration of student and educator experiences in P-20 educational settings, applicable federal legislation and policy, and related socioeconomic impact with attention to the historicized context and the sociological construction of race. Most recently, she authored AACTE’s commissioned report on education censorship.


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