I first met state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) three years ago, when a former St. John's University student and I marched into his district office with a complaint about unfair grading practices on college campuses. Growing up in this community, I felt Padavan was unapproachable, but once I got to know him, I found him a man with a big heart.
Padavan champions many big issues involving education, lowering taxes and fighting crime, drugs, human trafficking and over-development, but I never thought he would be so concerned with our complaint, which probably does not affect many constituents.
My friend shared his story of receiving failing grades for expressing a conservative viewpoint in class, which brought down his grade point average just under the cutoff for entrance into graduate school, crushing his future plans. While it is not feasible to reverse past grades, the senator proceeded to sponsor the Academic Bill of Rights, which would prevent this travesty from happening to other students.
Being familiar with similar legislation active in other states, I brought this proposal to his attention. Many complaints have been surfacing in New York and throughout the country of anti-American professors using the classroom to impose their political, religious or anti-religious beliefs and unfairly grading students who disagree.
Teachers' salaries are funded by taxpayers and the generosity of numerous grants and scholarships. They are thereby expected to teach students to think critically and grade fairy without using the classroom as a soapbox to indoctrinate and strip students of their constitutional rights to free expression. Thanks to Padavan's efforts, the Academic Bill of Rights is now a bill in both houses of the state Legislature awaiting a floor vote for passage.
We are fortunate to have such open access to our state senator, whose seniority promises that ordinary citizens like myself can make a difference.
©2008 Community News Group
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