Protect academic freedom at RCS
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*N.B. Please sign this petition if you consider yourself a member of the RCS community (e.g., student, alum, parent, faculty)! If you are not involved with Riverdale, we thank you for your support, but this petition is not for you!
Dear Mr. Randolph,
We, the undersigned members of the Riverdale Country School community, write to express our outrage and disappointment regarding the administration’s recent cancellation of Joel Doerfler’s seminar and to demonstrate our support for Mr. Doerfler, a beloved teacher who has inspired Riverdale students for 26 years.
We affirm the urgent necessity of teaching “controversial” current events, as well as our indignation over attempts to censor teachers. In a July 2nd email, you wrote that Riverdale would “formulate more specific guidelines to foster constructive and respectful debate around controversial subjects and how we manage the teaching of facts versus interpretations.” We are deeply concerned about the implications of such guidelines for students’ intellectual growth, teachers’ academic freedom, and the school's professed commitment to “thinking creatively, critically, [and] flexibly.”
In light of the circumstances, we make the following demands:
1) Continue to offer a comparable biennial course on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for as long as a faculty member chooses to teach it.
2) Guarantee RCS teachers the right to teach and to design their curriculum freely and with no new restrictions or guidelines
3) Actively curtail any future efforts on behalf of parents to censor teachers’ course offerings.
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