FUTUREU FORUM, MARCH 29, Noon-1:30p: The Culture War Targets Higher Education

The Right is targeting Public Higher Education, and it is not hyperbolic to say, “I’ve never seen anything like it!” 

A series of legislative actions by Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Legislature lead the way. Similar actions are being undertaken in North Carolina, Virginia, Texas, and Ohio, among other states. The legislative overreach includes reconstituting governing boards and restricting, if not delisting, campus-based Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs/initiatives. A proposal before the Ohio Legislature would mandate what and how American history is taught to all students attending state public institutions of higher education.

The incursion of higher education is not dissimilar from what is happening to and in K-12 education and in the public domain writ large. Public school board races have become one of America’s most highly contested political sectors. Battles rage nationally about what books can and cannot be available in public libraries.

Today’s panel will discuss those realities and give their take on what needs to be done to oppose and rectify these pernicious attempts to subvert public education in America.

We are pleased to introduce our panelists, Marty Ambrose, Roger Barbee, and Cindy Banyai.

Marty Ambrose

Marty Ambrose completed her M.Phil. at the University of York (England) and has taught English at Florida Southwestern State College for over three decades. She won the NISOD award for faculty excellence, is an Assessment Chair, an ARC grant recipient, and was named a Master Teacher. Her specialty is nineteenth-century British literature, and she is also a historical mystery author of fictional works set around the Byron/Shelley circle. Find a list of her novels at Goodreads.

Roger Barbee

Roger Barbee is a retired educator living on Lake Norman in North Carolina with his wife, one hound, and four cats. His words have appeared in the Washington Post, the Birmingham Arts Journal, Page & Spine, Memoir Magazine, New Southern Fugitive, and other print and online publications. His poetry chapbook, Applewood Street, was published in 2022 by Plan B Press. He regularly contributes to The Sports Column, EncouragingU, and FutureU.

Cindy Banyai

Cindy Banyai was born in Bay City, Michigan, and earned a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and graduate degrees (master’s and Ph.D.) from Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University. Her career experience includes working as an evaluator in community and organization development. She served as president of the international Community Development Society and was a candidate (Democratic Party) for the U.S. House of Representatives (FL-19) in 2020 and 2022. Progressive in philosophy and practice, Banyai was an outspoken critic of the Trump Administration and is an activist opposing policies of the current DeSantis Administration.

Rubén O. Martinez

Professor Rubén O. Martinez will host today’s session. He is a professor emeritus of sociology and former director of the Julian Samora Research Institute at Michigan State University. His scholarly interests include Latino community issues, diversity leadership, education and ethno-racial minorities, youth development, Latino labor and entrepreneurship, environmental justice, neoliberalism, academic freedom, and institutional and societal change. He is the author of numerous articles and books and is the editor of the Latinos in the U.S. book series published through Michigan State University Press.

Frank A. Fear, professor emeritus at Michigan State University and Managing Editor of FutureU, will produce today’s program.

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