EDLP704 EDLP704HE Policy and law

The Power of Speech

Speech is a superpower used to move individuals, societies, armies and kingdom for tens of thousands of years. Whether in quiet conversations between family, public rallies on the eve of significant events, or the rallying cries of military leaders spurring on troops into battle, leveraging speech has been a critical component throughout recorded history. Likewise, changes in society have often been in reaction to the impact of hurtful speech.

Lies hiding behind the shield of speech are not new. From Herodotus to almost every modern American President, protecting lies as speech has led to fundamental changes in society. At the beginning of the Trump administration, the former president’s propensity for lying often generated references to compare just how unusual those times were. In in the early days, comparing 100+ lies told by Trump in a few months against the 18 told by former president Obama seems quaint. After a presidency that generated over 30,500 lies in four years, as well as two impeachment trials surrounding elements of speech (abuse of power and obstruction of Congress via powerful speech with foreign governments, incitement of insurrection via powerful speech), the legal rulings will continue to be felt as we parse exactly what kinds of powerful speech are protected by elected officials.

The legacy of hurtful and extremist speech has been taken to new heights in last 20 years by rapid spread through Internet, social media, talk radio, and the surface-level acquiring of information by individuals with limited knowledge of history, geo-politics and ethics. Often over the last few decades powerful speech has been invoked by highly ignorant individuals or by individuals manipulating these ignorant masses for personal gain.

Powerful speech is meant to enflame, intended to spark. Protecting that power is critical to our institutions. It is fundamental to liberal (as in pursuing liberty, not in modern political affiliation) republics to protect the voices of minority opinions. Sometimes these are the voices of dissent that become the founding sentiments of popular opinion. But, often, these minority opinions demonstrate the power of speech: helpful speech should be able to withstand the onslaught of even the most hurtful minority speech. Helpful speech is fundamental for reasoned debate toward improving society.

The power of the speech is that although it protects hurtful speech, it also protects those who push back. The push back can be as powerful, if not more so, than the hate speech. Take LGBTQ rights: for all the effort of the Westboro Baptist Church, a recent survey by Gallup indicated that 1 in 6 Gen Z adults identified as LGBT, with numbers of all generational groups identifying as LGBT increasing. Protecting speech offers an opportunity for voices to present counter speech to radical and hurtful speech.


Opinion | Trump’s Lies vs. Obama’s – The New York Times (

LGBT Identification Rises to 5.6% in Latest U.S. Estimate (

EDLP704 EDLP704HE Policy and law

My experience of making policy and/or law: professional reflections

Throughout the 19 years of my career in education, students have always been front and center. Yet, laws impacting education and policies developed to implement or abide by those laws were always on the margins.

As a K12 teacher, in the second year of my teaching career, I faced the intersection of policies and attempts to subvert policies by politicians. One situation involved a parent of one of my students who also happened to be a school board member. The board member parent made requests from me to take custody of testing documents intended for the child, against established policy. This led to local news investigations, internal investigations, and the opportunity for me to be a part of the review committee to determine whether the policy was adequate.

With early interest in the implementation of technology initiatives, I often found myself on committees writing policy to implement new technology or systems. These opportunities establish rules and routine that professional educators used to review statutes, case law and pending legislation. These opportunities enhanced my perspective as an educator since I had the opportunity to apply concepts both in my professional practice in the classroom, but also in my mind to shape my short and log term actions as an educator.

In the realm of higher education, I was fortunate to transition from K12 with these experiences fresh in my mind. Also, I joined a unique sector of higher ed within a unique time for that sector. By working in the proprietary sector of private higher education during the 2010s, laws to regulate and restrict this sector reached a pinnacle. The politics around higher education funding for the sector required frequent policy adjustments and forward-thinking operational planning to anticipate possible legislation on the horizon.

With the last reauthorization of the Higher Education Act in 2008, the proprietary sector awaits and anticipates changes in each Congressional cycle. During times of single party control of Congress and the Presidency, the sector most anticipates a new reauthorization and, depending on political winds and party control, either favorable or punitive outcomes. As an academic director and now a campus president, my 11 years in higher ed have focused on working with university administrators, faculty, and staff to develop and implement policies based on ever-changing guidelines.

Whether policies from regional accrediting bodies, veterans’ administration, federal department of education, state higher education councils, or programmatic accrediting bodies, I am involved daily in reviewing, implementing, staff development or disputes surrounding implementation of policy and development of policy to satisfy statute requirements.

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