What's happening to academia in Florida demands national attention. Billionaires Charles and David Koch are infringing on intellectual freedom and independence in colleges and universities. It's an old fashioned quid pro quo where the Koch brothers get allied professors who'll preach Ayn Rand, supply side economic policies and the values of the 19th century Guilded Age to students and the college gets some funding.
Every year, thousands of individuals move through the Koch-supported classes, lectures and fields of study, which in their totality amount to an ideological assembly line bought and paid for by the Koch brothers. There are Koch-funded agreements at more than 150 American colleges and universities.
"The Koch brothers have paid tens of millions of dollars to get their point of view instilled in classrooms, amongst faculty members and in students," said Cary Nelson, President of the American Association of University Professors. "Programs they start tend to be one point of view only."
The Koch brothers' business has annual revenue that are about 200 times the size ($100 billion) in one year than the entirety of Florida State University's endowment ($423 million). At a time when governors like Florida Gov. Rick Scott are slashing spending on education, colleges and universities are virtually forced into restrictive and ideological funding agreements with questionable sources to meet students' demands. Instead, they're meeting the Koch brothers needs and the students are paying the intellectual price.
Enter the Charles Koch Charitable Foundation, which has given more than $14.39 million in grants to universities like Florida State, Auburn, Clemson, West Virginia and Utah State. All five campuses are in financial agreements with Koch-supported groups requiring the university to hire candidates who adhere to defined ideological guidelines. In some cases, the Koch-supported groups recommend candidates to the faculty or have sway over the college's hiring committee.
Conflicts of interest of this magnitude cannot be ignored, and Florida State students and professors didn't swallow the Koch agreement willingly. There was an uproar on campus when the Koch brothers began infringing on academic freedom.
A campaign to organize the campus against the Koch brothers and wealthy so-called "philanthropists" who seek to use their wealth to influence academia is under way. Student leaders are fanning out across Tallahassee to organize against the Koch brothers and their ilk who would infringe on academic independence if given the chance. If the students are successful, they'll have earned enough support to take action against the Koch brothers' influence.
Their work deserves national exposed. We can do our part if we all tweet @ Ed Schultz and ask expose the Koch brothers' psycho talk.
I invite you to join the conversation at our Koch Brothers Exposed page on Facebook.
Follow Robert Greenwald on Twitter: www.twitter.com/robertgreenwald