by Dr. Terry Stoops
Former Director of the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
The feds are taking a closer look at a Duke-UNC event that used taxpayer money as one of its funding sources.
The U.S. Department of Education will investigate a Middle East conference co-sponsored by Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill to see if the schools’ consortium violated the terms and conditions of its federal grant.
In April, Rep. George Holding, a Raleigh Republican, asked the department to investigate the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies’ event for its “Conflict Over Gaza: People, Politics, and Possibilities” conference that was held in late March at UNC. Holding said he’d seen “reports of severe anti-Israeli bias and anti-Semitic rhetoric at the taxpayer-funded conference.”
“I am troubled by the concerns outlined in your letter,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos wrote to Holding in a letter dated June 18, 2019, and provided to The News & Observer by Holding’s office. “In order for the Department to learn more about this matter, I have directed the Office of Postsecondary Education to examine the use of funds under this program.”
The conference used $5,000 in grant money from the Department of Education for the conference, according to UNC. It came from a four-year, $235,000-per-year grant to the consortium that is part of the agency’s international and foreign language education grants.
I understand why the U.S. Department of Education will undertake an investigation of the “Conflict Over Gaza: People, Politics, and Possibilities” conference. But as objectionable as the conference may have been, the real problem is that the universities received taxpayer money, through federal grants, for it. Surely there are better ways to spend tax dollars.