Community College: Bias at the Grassroots

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

In his state of the union address, President George W. Bush talked of “strengthening community colleges” but taxpayers may want to look at how these grassroots institutions of higher learning flex their muscles before pumping them up.

Community colleges can be every bit as biased to the left as their Ivy League and state university counterparts. Those of us who report on bias in classrooms and on campuses in the United States regularly unearth information on community colleges. lists seven schools that fall in this category. Students for Academic Freedom (SAF) tallies up another seven in its academic abuse list.


Glendale Community College (California)
Houston Community College (Texas)
Long Beach City College (California)
Mesa Community College (Arizona)
Minneapolis Community College (Minnesota)
Monroe Community College (New York)
Northern Virginia Community College (Virginia)

From Students for Academic Freedom

Arapahoe Community College (Colorado)
Brevard Community College (Florida)
Jackson Community College (Michigan)
Macomb Community College (Michigan)
Normandale Community College (Minnesota)
North Seattle Community College (Washington)
Tulsa Community College (Oklahoma)

Please note the neat geographical balance and lack of overlap in the lists. To the rosters of and SAF, we can add at least two community colleges to the list of biased institutions of higher learning—St. Louis Community College and Lakeland Community College.

When Kimberly Level signed up for American History I at the St. Louis Community College (Mo.) Meramec campus, she was dismayed to hear the instructor, Dr. Kay Blalock [pictured], state forthrightly that she planned to look at “the negative side of American history.” Dr. Blalock went so far as to assign a book that compared the religion of the Puritans to the zeal of devil worshippers. When the Level family complained, the school sided with Dr. Blalock.

“The members of our family were told about academic freedom,” Kimberly’s father told the school’s Board of Trustees. “Where is the academic freedom for a Christian to get an education?” he asked. Or give one.

When Dr. James Tuttle told his philosophy class at Lakeland Community College that he was a Catholic Christian, one of his students took offense and suggested that the professor receive “counseling for tolerance.” To address such concerns, Dr. Tuttle had added a “disclaimer” to his syllabi. “Since your teacher happens to be a Catholic Christian philosopher and theologian-and a passionate, controversial (not politically correct), candid and zany/earthy one, for that matter-please be aware of where I am coming from and where you are coming from,” the disclaimer read.

“It has been my experience from the past that those who are most critical of me as a teacher are often those who have personal issues with faith, religion, morals, and ideology (and find themselves on the opposite side of the net from me.)”

“If you initially feel uncomfortable with me as an instructor,” Dr. Tuttle wrote in his disclaimer, “please feel free to talk to me outside of the classroom situation, and we can try to resolve any problems that might arise later.”

Dr. Tuttle’s boss did not appreciate the candor. Dean James L. Brown, who heads the Arts and Humanities division at the Ohio community college, professed to be “more bothered by Tuttle’s disclaimer than by anything I read in the student’s complaint,” according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which also investigated the case.

Dean Brown took three actions in response to Dr. Tuttle’s disclaimer, according to the FIRE. He reduced the professor’s course load, gave him the last pick of classes (despite his seniority) and had his classes monitored by another professor.

At Lakeland itself, other faculty members enjoy relative academic freedom. A sociology professor at Lakeland, for example, teaches class-struggle economics. He discusses “economic inequalities and poverty” and looks at “the relationship between race, gender and poverty.” The class also features a lecture on “Heterosexism” covering “institutional and personal discrimination and homophobia.”
And these are just the schools that we know about, so far…