Academic Bill of Rights & Intellectual Diversity

Government Oversight of Teaching and Learning

With all freedoms come responsibilities. While participants in academic life have a right to retain and express (in appropriate venues) their beliefs and opinions, the AAUP holds that teachers and researchers are responsible "by example and practice, to abide by the best scholarly and ethical standards of their disciplines" as the AAUP Statement on Professional Ethics says. Students, for their part, are responsible for "maintaining standards of academic performance established for each course in which they are enrolled" (Joint Statement on the Rights and Freedom of Students).

In the United States, neither teachers nor students are responsible to the government for the content of their teaching or learning.

But since 2004, nearly two dozen state legislatures have considered legislative proposals challenged the fundamental concept that higher education in the United States is and should be free of government control or interference.The ABOR push has greatly lost steam; the number of states with introduced legislation has dropped dramatically. No state has approved the so-called Academic Bill of Rights, which would involve the state and/or federal government in oversight of curricula and teaching, and faculty hiring and promotion in both public and private institutions of higher education.

The AAUP has sharply criticized the so-called academic bill of rights as unnecessary and almost certain to compromise academic freedom rather than defend it. At their core, its measures would place decisions about faculty appointments and the content of academic programs in the hands of political officials, thereby jeopardizing not only the independence of faculty members and their institutions but also their capacity to advance knowledge and educate our students.

Learn more about ABOR legislation introduced in the states.

See relevant AAUP policies, testimony, resolutions, and other resources.