Julian Vasquez Heilig considers the protest against Wendy Kopp’s selection to give the commencement address at Berkeley. 

The chancellor of Berkeley responded to protest by saying that the institution does not disinvite controversial speakers.

Heilig points out that the legislature is currently considering a proposal to ban TFA’s inexperienced teachers from schools that enroll low-income students. Berkeley students don’t know that and won’t learn it.

He counters that students should be prepared to consider different views. That’s free speech.

“While I believe it is important that we protect constitutional free speech, I also believe that educational leaders must promote dialogues rather than monologues when discussing controversial topis— this approach allows the power of ideas to prevail. As an educational leader, I have participated in Cambridge-style debates, attend workgroups at the American Enterpise Institute (until they couldn’t handle my free speech) and even participated in a mock trial at the Libertarians Freedom Fest. So for me, it’s malpractice for educational leaders to allow monologues instead of dialogues when there are controversial topics at hand.”

Berkeley will hear Kopp’s self-praise but will not learn why California’s oldest and largest civil rights groups support a bill, AB 221, to exclude TFA from schools that serve their children. Why not a debate?