Friday, May 07, 2010

WY Education Czar Jim McBride worried that Ayers' visit could ruin UW brand

Amazing how the University of Wyoming president and rich donors and former Sen. Al Simpson and Gov. Dave Freudenthal and Republican gubernatorial candidates all got into the act in opposing Bill Ayers' visit to the state's only public university.

Now we hear that State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Dr. Jim McBride, also was scared to death by having former sixties radical and educational reform expert Ayers appear in Laramie.

Shouldn't Dr. McBride be spending more time addressing the state's sky-high high school dropout rate? Didn't he recently voice his concern about the education system's over-reliance on standardized tests?

Here's the news item I plucked this morning from the Wyoming Public Radio web site:

Top education official pushed for Ayers cancellation Molly Messick (2010-05-06)

LARAMIE, WYO. (wpr) - Documents released last week through a public records request show that the state's top elected education official called for the cancellation of William Ayers' visit to the University of Wyoming based on the potential for lost donations. Ayers is the former militant activist turned education professor who was originally scheduled to speak at UW in early April.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jim McBride said in three separate emails that Ayers' visit could cost the university "millions." Reached this week, McBride described his thinking this way. "If you were the Board of Trustees of Coca-Cola, and someone inside Coca-Cola was going to damage your brand name and maybe make it more difficult for you to make money, would it be wise to call the CEO of Coca-Cola, call it to his attention and ask him to do something about it?"

Whether Ayers' initial visit was cancelled in part due to threats of lost donations has been a question since the decision was made. Many have voiced concern that the university might have weighed academic freedom and free speech against the potential financial cost of upsetting prominent university donors.

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