February 29, 2008

February 29, 2008

Chicago Tribune Editors:

We write to voice our support for our colleague, Bill Ayers, who was the target yesterday of Jonah Goldberg’s mean-spirited muckraking journalism. Goldberg asks why Bill Ayers is allowed to have a job as a college professor, despite his leftist views and political activities from some forty years ago? The answer is simple. Professor Ayers has degrees from University of Michigan and Columbia University’s Teachers College. Over the past twenty plus years he has earned the reputation of a cutting edge scholar of education, and made major contributions to our understanding of schools and the institutions impacting children. Ayers has authored, co-authored or edited 14 books and dozens of scholarly articles and book chapters, some of them award-winning. His books have received praise from the likes of Jonathan Kozol, Studs Turkel and Scott Turow. He has been invited to lecture around the country and internationally on pedagogy, curriculum, the politics of education, and the small schools strategy for educational excellence. He has served on numerous university and community-based committees. These professional accomplishments meet and exceed the threshold of what is required to teach at the University of Illinois (UIC). Moreover, the Academy does not exclude or persecute prolific and hard-working faculty for unpopular beliefs or controversial ideas. During the McCarthy era of the 1950s one could be fired simply for the hint of left of center views or association with people who held those views. Perhaps Mr. Goldberg is nostalgic for an earlier time. We are not.


Barbara Ransby, Associate Professor of African American Studies and History, UIC

Beth E. Richie, Professor of Criminology. Law and Justice and African American Studies, UIC

Lisa Yun Lee, Director, Jane Addams Hull House Museum at UIC

10 Responses to February 29, 2008

  1. John Campbell says:

    It is not surprising to read that left-wing educators and writers will close ranks with and defend “Professor” Ayers. Much is said here about his contributions and credentials here. Of what use is an advanced degree from a left-wing echo chamber, where rigorous and disciplined scholarship is shelved in favor of dogma and feel-good rhetoric?

    And where is the data to support this assertion that Ayers has improved instruction, increased literacy, enhanced measurable skills or otherwise improved educational quality in our schools?

    To demand quantitative data is a waste of time. We will be told that standardized tests are unjust or racially biased. We will be told that children are more than statistics or numbers. We will certainly not be shown any concrete evidence of their effectiveness in education….Why? Because the political left has hijacked the education field for the purposes of indoctrination of our children.

    We should be grateful that Johnny can’t read. If he could, imagine what Ayers would teach him….

  2. Rebecca Rivera says:

    Jonah Goldberg’s point had nothing to do with Bill Ayres qualifications as an educator; it had to do with why someone with his anti-American values and violent criminal past should be allowed the opportunity to influence future generations with this same ideology.

  3. John Janski says:

    Hey ladies,

    So if Usama bin Laden decides to become a college professor 30 years from now, you would let him off the hook for the 9/11 attacks?????

    Get your heads out of your asses. Billy is a domestic terrorist who refuses to denounce his violent past.

  4. Bob Esponja says:

    It’s not Ayers’ beliefs, you assholes, it’s his actions. A murderous terrorist who has never apologized for the deaths and injuries he caused should be in prison, not getting his rich ass kissed as a professor (of what? childhood hate?)

  5. Sam Pierce says:

    Not only that, but he blows away some negative comments like he tried to blow away those buildings. It probably is easier to delete the comments of decent people as opposed to bombing government facilities.

  6. CharlieMansion says:

    The letter from Bill’s fellow employees of the state have as much credibility as the letter signed by members of the Duke faculty libeling the lacrosse team.

  7. Jessica says:

    Is Bill Ayers not a human, an American?
    Is he not “guaranteed” the same rights as the rest of us?
    I know plenty of people who have done “bad” things in their past – some regret them, some don’t – but either way, they’re all able to LIVE. Someone’s past does not determine everything they are capable of doing or pursuing in the future. If that we’re so, I’m sure many of you would be deemed incapable or unworthy of doing things which you do everyday.

    Is this not the land of opportunity?
    Bank of America’s ads I see everyday on buses seem to think it is, and I’ve heard it all over from tons of patriotic Americans.
    Or, is it like the days when the preamble was written, and it’s only opportunity for some?

  8. Susie D says:

    There are “rights” and there are “opportunities,” Jessica. Sure, Ayres has his rights. That doesn’t mean he should have all opportunities that might be available to people who were never long-term enemies of the state.

  9. Lee Templeton says:

    The essential difference between Bill Ayers and Timothy McVeigh is that McVeigh was better at what he did — but no more murderous in intent.

  10. John Janski says:

    Hey Jessica, Billy Boy got away with murder. You ok with that??

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