Cultural Revolutions

"Affirmative Action Curriculum" Returns

The "Affirmative Action curriculum" returns east: T. Edward Hollander, New Jersey's higher education chancellor, has argued that college teachers should "rethink what they teach and . . . seek ways of bridging the gaps between their areas of expertise and the diverse student populations in New Jersey colleges and universities." What this obscure language means is that Hollander wants New Jersey's higher educational institutions to have faculty members introduce teaching "practices" and curriculum reform that reflect the contribution of nonwhites and women to this culture.

If embraced, New Jersey will be the first state system of higher education to introduce the notion of an "affirmative action curriculum." Hollander has conceded the controversial nature of the plan, but has insisted this measure is needed and "the step is morally right." He also noted that he would not coerce faculty to change the content of their classes. He says he plans to use the carrot, not the stick—employing a reward system for those colleges that subscribe to the new approach.

Nonetheless, there is little question that the chancellor is sending a message to the faculties in state-supported colleges and universities. He contends, "We must do that which is both morally right and educationally sound to ensure that our students are intellectually and culturally equipped to function...

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