The Right To Learn: Resisting the Right-Wing Attack on Academic Freedom

Ellen Schrecker

Beacon, 2024

Agent: Elise Capron

Co-Edited by Ellen Schrecker, Jennifer Ruth, and Valerie C. Johnson.

From leaders on the front lines of the battle for academic freedom in higher education, an empowering collection on fighting back against anti-CRT policies, book banning, and more.

Spanning over 40 years of contested history through to today, The Right to Learn speaks out fearlessly against the far right’s decades-long war against intellectual freedom. This essential anthology outlines and contextualizes the culture wars’ demonization of critical race theory, Ron DeSantis’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, and other hot-button issues.

With an introduction that places the current crisis within the broader context of the ongoing attacks on American democracy, The Right to Learn features the testimony and analysis of activists, scholars, and attorneys with first-hand experience in the struggle against well-funded conservative groups’ assaults on academic freedom. An impassioned, inspired resource for those fighting on the ground for the right to learn, this anthology is structured in three parts designed to equip educators with the necessary tools to understand the battle—and to fight back.

—PART 1 explores educational gag laws, featuring, among others, PEN America staff members Jonathan Friedman, Jeremy C. Young, and James Tager.
—PART 2 offers perspectives on key issues from those on the front lines: activists, educators, and attorneys like Dennis Parker, director of the National Center for Law and Economic Justice.
—PART 3 investigates the implications of undermining academic freedom, with insight from experts such as Sharon D. Wright Austin, one of the professors barred by the University of Florida from testifying against a restrictive voting rights law and a plaintiff in the main legal case against Ron DeSantis’s “Stop WOKE Act.”

As they confront today’s attack on higher education, The Right to Learn’s expert contributors reveal that what’s at stake is the pursuit of the real-world and contemporary knowledge a democratic polity requires.