Advisory Board Would Not Dictate Teaching


In “Foreign Studies Poisoned by Politics” (Opinion, Nov. 23), Paula R. Newberg would have readers believe that the creation of an advisory board for university programs that receive federal funds under Title VI of the Higher Education Act would somehow infringe on classroom teaching. The proposed legislation specifically forbids any government control of curriculum or teaching. Newberg’s maliciously selective quotation of a public letter I wrote in support of his bill suggests that I endorse government intrusion in the classroom, which I do not.

As a recipient of generous Title VI grants for my own graduate education, I know the value of such funding. I also know how many universities and area-study programs have abused it for purposes far from the noble one for which it was intended, i.e., to advance language proficiency, academic expertise and community awareness of foreign policy issues in the service of U.S. national security interests. The sole purpose of this proposed board is to advise the Department of Education, whose legal responsibility to perform oversight of Title VI recipients remains unchanged by this bill. Since no one compels universities to ask for taxpayer dollars to fund their area-study programs, a little scrutiny over how that money is spent is not too much to ask. That’s not a liberal or conservative idea; it’s a reflection of traditional American fair play.

Robert Satloff