March 31, 2011
Statement by Randi Weingarten,
President, American Federation of Teachers,
On Wisconsin Republican Party’s FOIA Requests for University Faculty’s E-mails
The Wisconsin Republican Party and others filed Freedom of Information Act requests for e-mails sent by William Cronon, a professor at the University of Wisconsin who has criticized the recent anti-union legislative actions of Gov. Scott Walker and others. The requests were for e-mails from his university e-mail account containing a wide range of terms, including the word “Republican” and the names of certain Republican politicians.
WASHINGTON—The information requests by the Republican Party of Wisconsin and conservative think tanks such as the Mackinac Center for Public Policy are nothing more than attempts to intimidate university faculty members. Clearly, their goal is not to seek the best solutions for the economic problems we face in the states and as a country, but rather to shut down open political discourse and to limit the academic freedom of professors whose independent voice has always been a critical component of public debate. It is time for politicians and policymakers to stop vilifying educators and public employees, and tackle the real work of strengthening our schools, institutions of higher education and public services so we can get our state economies back on track.
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The AFT represents 1.5 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.