In what seems to be a trend, another college is being urged to rescind its invitation to a graduation speaker.
This time the school is the Harvard Graduate School of Education, which is scheduled to hold its commencement May 28.
The target is Democratic Colorado state Sen. Michael Johnston, an education reformer, who was invited last month to give the school's 2014 commencement address, the Washington Post reported Saturday.
Dozens of students and alumni at the school are unhappy over the selection. They have issued a statement that accuses Johnston of embracing “a vision of education reform that relies heavily on test-based accountability while weakening the due process protections of teachers.”
The Post said that when the invitation was announced, Dean James Ryan called the legislator a “nationally recognized advocate for school finance reform, fair teacher evaluations, and education equity.”
Other commencement address invitations this spring have sparked anger on several campuses, leading several prominent individuals to cancel or be disinvited.
Just last week former UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau opted out of speaking at Haverford College, a liberal arts college outside Philadelphia.
Some Haverford students and faculty members wanted to stop Birgeneau from speaking over his handling of Occupy Wall Street protests on the Berkeley campus.
Others who have withdrawn as commencement speakers include Bush administration Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde.
“Over the past two years, it’s really been intense,” said Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education told the Los Angeles Times in a May 15 story. The newspaper said Lukianoff’s group monitors free-speech issues on college campuses.
“I think universities are being more cautious about this and politely approaching speakers to say it’ll probably be really messy if you speak here,” he said.