AP Exclusive: Emails show ex-Gov. Daniels sought to quash political opposition in Ind. schools

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels pledged to promote academic freedom, not stifle it, when he became president at Purdue University in January.

But emails obtained by The Associated Press through a Freedom of Information Act request show Daniels took rare steps during his second term as governor to eliminate what he considered liberal breeding grounds at Indiana's public universities, requesting that historian Howard Zinn's writings be banned from classrooms and asking for a "cleanup" of college courses he called "propaganda." In another exchange, Daniels talks about cutting funding to a program run by one of his sharpest critics, Charles Little, executive director of the Indiana Urban Schools Association and an Indiana university professor.

The efforts to silence voices he disagreed with as governor have raised new questions about Daniels' appointment as president of a major research university just months after critics questioned his lack of academic credentials and his hiring by a board of trustees he appointed.

Ken Paulson, president of the First Amendment Center, said it's not unusual for governors or mayors to denounce art, music or popular culture. He cited Mayor Rudy Giuliani's against provocative art in New York City. But he said he couldn't find any other examples of governors censoring political opponents.

"What sets this apart is what appears to be a back-channel effort by the governor to limit access to ideas," said Paulson, who also is the dean of the College of Mass Communication at Middle Tennessee State University. "Under the First Amendment, the government is prohibited from trying to suppress expression with which it disagrees."

Daniels didn't appear to share that view in a Feb. 9, 2010, email sent to top state education officials, including then-Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett.

"This terrible anti-American academic has finally passed away," Daniels wrote , referring to Zinn. "The obits and commentaries mentioned his book 'A People's History of the United States' is the 'textbook of choice in high schools and colleges around the country.' It is a truly execrable, anti-factual piece of disinformation that misstates American history on every page. Can someone assure me that is not in use anywhere in Indiana? If it is, how do we get rid of it before more young people are force-fed a totally false version of our history?"

Daniels' concerns about Zinn's book punctuated a sharp, rapid-fire exchange between the governor and his top aides.

Scott Jenkins, Daniels' education adviser, was the first to respond to the governor's question about Zinn's book. He noted it was being used at an Indiana University course for teachers on the Civil Rights, Feminist and Labor movements.

"This crap should not be accepted for any credit by the state. No student will be better taught because someone sat through this session. Which board has jurisdiction over what counts and what doesn't?" Daniels asked, three minutes after Jenkins' note.

David Shane, a top fundraiser and state school board member, replied seven minutes later with a strategy directing Bennett and Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers to review university courses across the state.

"Sounds like we need a cleanup of what is credit-worthy in 'professional development' and what is not. Who will take charge," Daniels replied seven minutes later.

Shane replied that a statewide review "would force to daylight a lot of excrement."

Just seven minutes later, Daniels signed off on it.

"Go for it. Disqualify propaganda and highlight (if there is any) the more useful offerings. Don't the ed schools have at least some substantive PD (professional development) courseware to upgrade knowledge of math, science, etc," Daniels wrote.

In a separate round of emails, Daniels called for an audit of Little, who teachers at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. Little was highly critical of Daniels' education overhaul in internal emails and often critiqued the governor's performance at public meetings.

Daniels directed, in an April 11, 2009 , email that Little's program be audited and potentially be cut out of state funding.

Daniels on Tuesday stood by his demand that Zinn be excluded from Indiana classrooms but said his request was limited to K-12, where the state has control of the curriculum.

"We must not falsely teach American history in our schools," he told The Associated Press in an email. "Howard Zinn, by his own admission a biased writer, purposely falsified American history. His books have no more place in Indiana history classrooms than phrenology or Lysenkoism would in our biology classes or the 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion' in world history courses. We have a law requiring state textbook oversight to guard against frauds like Zinn, and it was encouraging to find that no Hoosier school district had inflicted his book on its students."

However, the Association of American Universities, which represents Purdue

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels pledged to promote academic freedom, not stifle it, when he became president at Purdue University in January.

But emails obtained by The Associated Press through a Freedom of Information Act request show Daniels took rare steps during his second term as governor to eliminate what he considered liberal breeding grounds at Indiana's public universities, requesting that historian Howard Zinn's writings be banned from classrooms and asking for a "cleanup" of college courses he called "propaganda." In another exchange, Daniels talks about cutting funding to a program run by one of his sharpest critics, Charles Little, executive director of the Indiana Urban Schools Association and an Indiana university professor.

The efforts to silence voices he disagreed with as governor have raised new questions about Daniels' appointment as president of a major research university just months after critics questioned his lack of academic credentials and his hiring by a board of trustees he appointed.

Ken Paulson, president of the First Amendment Center, said it's not unusual for governors or mayors to denounce art, music or popular culture. He cited Mayor Rudy Giuliani's against provocative art in New York City. But he said he couldn't find any other examples of governors censoring political opponents.

"What sets this apart is what appears to be a back-channel effort by the governor to limit access to ideas," said Paulson, who also is the dean of the College of Mass Communication at Middle Tennessee State University. "Under the First Amendment, the government is prohibited from trying to suppress expression with which it disagrees."

Daniels didn't appear to share that view in a Feb. 9, 2010, email sent to top state education officials, including then-Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett.

"This terrible anti-American academic has finally passed away," Daniels wrote , referring to Zinn. "The obits and commentaries mentioned his book 'A People's History of the United States' is the 'textbook of choice in high schools and colleges around the country.' It is a truly execrable, anti-factual piece of disinformation that misstates American history on every page. Can someone assure me that is not in use anywhere in Indiana? If it is, how do we get rid of it before more young people are force-fed a totally false version of our history?"

Daniels' concerns about Zinn's book punctuated a sharp, rapid-fire exchange between the governor and his top aides.

Scott Jenkins, Daniels' education adviser, was the first to respond to the governor's question about Zinn's book. He noted it was being used at an Indiana University course for teachers on the Civil Rights, Feminist and Labor movements.

"This crap should not be accepted for any credit by the state. No student will be better taught because someone sat through this session. Which board has jurisdiction over what counts and what doesn't?" Daniels asked, three minutes after Jenkins' note.

David Shane, a top fundraiser and state school board member, replied seven minutes later with a strategy directing Bennett and Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers to review university courses across the state.

"Sounds like we need a cleanup of what is credit-worthy in 'professional development' and what is not. Who will take charge," Daniels replied seven minutes later.

Shane replied that a statewide review "would force to daylight a lot of excrement."

Just seven minutes later, Daniels signed off on it.

"Go for it. Disqualify propaganda and highlight (if there is any) the more useful offerings. Don't the ed schools have at least some substantive PD (professional development) courseware to upgrade knowledge of math, science, etc," Daniels wrote.

In a separate round of emails, Daniels called for an audit of Little, who teachers at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. Little was highly critical of Daniels' education overhaul in internal emails and often critiqued the governor's performance at public meetings.

Daniels directed, in an April 11, 2009 , email that Little's program be audited and potentially be cut out of state funding.

Daniels on Tuesday stood by his demand that Zinn be excluded from Indiana classrooms but said his request was limited to K-12, where the state has control of the curriculum.

"We must not falsely teach American history in our schools," he told The Associated Press in an email. "Howard Zinn, by his own admission a biased writer, purposely falsified American history. His books have no more place in Indiana history classrooms than phrenology or Lysenkoism would in our biology classes or the 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion' in world history courses. We have a law requiring state textbook oversight to guard against frauds like Zinn, and it was encouraging to find that no Hoosier school district had inflicted his book on its students."

However, the Association of American Universities, which represents Purdue

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