Academic freedom is essential for knowledge creation.
President and provost of Stanford University
Dear President Hennessy and Provost Etchemendy:
On November 1, 2012, Professor Jo Boaler of Stanford University gave a keynote address at the meeting of the North American chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (PME-NA). In her address, Professor Boaler discussed the importance of communicating research with broader audiences and recognizing and facing the challenging political climates in which we work. Professor Boaler made public the troubling attacks to which she has been subjected from a member of your mathematics faculty, Professor James Milgram. She has also posted a detailed account (http://www.stanford.edu/~joboaler/) of these attacks. The response, from the research community around the world, has been immediate and virulent. Shocked reactions are spreading rapidly.
Professor Boaler’s report describes some serious breaches of academic integrity (protecting the confidentiality of human subjects) and of ethical behavior (harassment and personal attacks). We view the behavior that has been reported as a threat to Professor Boaler’s academic freedom, that is, her freedom to conduct research without harassment. Professor Boaler is a valued and respected member of our community, and we cannot stand by and see such activity without lodging a protest. Furthermore, we see the attacks on the work of Professor Boaler, and Stanford’s inaction in response, as threatening to the work of the mathematics education research community.
We the undersigned believe, on the basis of the evidence that has been made publicly available, that Professor Jo Boaler has been the object of a campaign of harassment conducted by Stanford University Professor James Milgram and others that far exceeds the boundaries of scholarly discourse and academic freedom, that these actions have harmed Professor Boaler, and that these actions, if unaddressed by Stanford, will continue to damage Professor Boaler and may well damage the university itself. We ask you to open an official inquiry into the actions taken against Professor Boaler, and to make public the results of that inquiry and the actions that follow from it.