AHA Releases Statement

The American Historical Association issues the following statement regarding the recently released email correspondence of former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and his staff relating to the assignment of Howard Zinn’s work by an Indiana University faculty member.

The American Historical Association would consider any governor’s action that interfered with an individual teacher’s reading assignments to be inappropriate and a violation of academic freedom.   Some of the relevant facts of this case remain murky, and it is not entirely clear what in the end happened, or did not happen, in Indiana. Nonetheless, the AHA deplores the spirit and intent of former Governor Daniels’s e-mails of 2010, which have now been published online in unabridged form. Whatever the strengths or weaknesses of Howard Zinn’s text, and whatever the criticisms that have been made of it, we believe that the open discussion of controversial books benefits students, historians, and the general public alike. Attempts to single out particular texts for suppression from a school or university curriculum have no place in a democratic society.

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  1. Brian

    “Some of the relevant facts of this case remain murky, and it is not entirely clear what in the end happened, or did not happen,”

    But we’ll go ahead and condemn him anyway.

  2. Lisa Kazmier

    Brian, the emails and their intent is not murky to the AHA. What went on with the syllabus writing and the classroom has not been 100% known. Those are not the same things. The statement is pretty clear to anyone with a modicum of sense — the AHA categorically denounces a politician trying to influence or bully what a professor uses as teaching materials. And if anyone tried to do that to me, I’d be reading the riot act. My class, my choices. I am paid to do what I think is right.

  3. John McNay

    Extremists like Daniels, who have taken over so many of our state governments, like my own in Ohio, need to be exposed and criticized at each and every opportunity. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. It is unbelievable that this guy could be president of a university. Thanks for speaking out.

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  5. Michael Regoli

    OAH Responds to Recent Concerns of Academic Freedom. The Organization of American Historians has received a letter from Purdue University faculty members, many of whom are OAH members, regarding statements made by Purdue University President Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr., during his term as Indiana governor about the use of Howard Zinn’s history textbook (A People’s History of the United States) in K-12 classes in Indiana, which he has recently defended and reiterated as Purdue University President. – See more at: http://www.oah.org/news/20130725_daniels.html

  6. John Franko

    The AHA in their “Statement on Standards of Professional Conduct”, Article 5 (Teaching), page 11 states, “Students should be made aware of multiple causes and varying interpretations.” Zinn, a self-proclaimed anarchist, who has been lifted to the pedestal of “historian” because he supports a certain political agenda, was anything but unbiased. That is all well and good for a history written for public consumption. However, teachers and professors should not be professing their own agendas to their students. That is as unethical as could be. I constantly challenge my children’s school when I believe their teachings are focusing on one political agenda. After all, this is not a question about history. This is a question about advancing the Liberal mantra. Anyone who says otherwise is either blind or unethical.

  7. Christian Belena

    The AHA is completely wrong. Howard Zinn was not a legitimate historian. He was, however, a legitimate anarchist. I do not want my children being forced to read books written by anarchists. Thankfully, I am more involved with my children’s classes to know when to correct the garbage that is being fed to them.

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