Chariho School Parents’ Forum

September 14, 2007

The Rhode Island College School of Social Work

Filed under: Higher Education — Editor @ 12:20 pm

There are a few of you out there that follow my efforts in the realm of higher education.  I have two news items. 

The first is a bit of shameless promotion.  Starting later this month, I will be contributing to the Manhattan Institute’s new project Minding The Campus (start praying now for my editor). 

The second news item comes from the National Association of Scholars.  They have been communicating with the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Health and Human Services regarding the accreditation of social work schools.   They have released a report this week. 

The Scandal of Social Work EducationThe Study is Available HERE as a PDF fileReleased 11 September 2007
Executive Summary Press Release

  Notable section in report –  

b. William FelknerRhode Island College’s School of Social Work, provides another case in which the First Amendmentrights of a graduate student collided with politicized academic requirements in the Master’s Degreecurriculum.In this instance, a self-identified “conservative,” William Felkner, was surprised when he received afailing grade for his work in a course project requiring that students actively lobby the Rhode Islandlegislature in reference to proposed statutory measures bearing on social welfare policies. Althoughthe students, including Mr. Felkner, were permitted to select their individual topics from a list ofoptions provided by the program, they were informed that all lobbying efforts – once again includingsuch inevitably controversial issues as homosexual marriage and abortion – were required to reflect aperspective mandated by the department. Thus, he was not free to analyze one of the suggested billsfrom a different point of view – his own -and received a failing grade for attempting to do so.

Mr. Felkner faced continued obstruction and hostility until January, 2007 when the departmentapproved his master’s project and assigned him a professor to work with on it. The master’s projectshould have been completed from September 2005 through May 2006, however during that time thedepartment refused to let Mr. Felkner work on the topic he selected. At this time, Mr. Felkner is notin his internship placement and not a fulltime student, so many of the resources needed for him tocomplete his masters project are not readily available to him. If his project is not completed thisyear, due to time limits placed on those participating in the program, Mr. Felkner will not receive hisdegree.

In September of 2006, the school agreed to hire a consultant to investigate Mr. Felkner’s claims, but to date, no investigation is underway.



  1. It seems that being a “team player” within educational institutions means toeing the party line, regardless of your own values and perspectives.

    I find it fascinating that the need to control exists so firmly among the liberal elites. Step out of line and question their ideology, and they begin to attack. While often credited with self-ascribed open minds, they are some of the most bigotted and close-minded individuals our society has to offer.

    Funny how you went from the Animal Farm mentality of college to the equally Orwellian world of the Chariho administration. Educators will often tell students that no question is a stupid question, but they fail to tell students that uncomfortable questions are punishable by failure or condemnation…especially questions which might expose them for the frauds they are.

    Continue battling for our children Mr. Felkner. The rewards here are minimal, but I’m certain that Someone is keeping score.

    Comment by Curious Resident — September 14, 2007 @ 1:19 pm | Reply

  2. I take the liberty of excerpting from “Mind the Campus” website. While this group’s focus is on college academia, their observations seem apt for Chariho as well. Congratulations Mr. Felkner for being a national leader on academic freedom issues. Here’s the excerpt:

    “There is an undeniable divide between the Academy and larger society; a curtain has been drawn around the academy, inside of which the protection of certain ideas has trumped intellectual exchange and a search for the truth. There should be no easy or protected answers in our schools. In the modern academy, many certainly do not know all of the ideas worthy of consideration.”

    Comment by Curious Resident — September 14, 2007 @ 2:13 pm | Reply

  3. There is little I can add to the comment by Curious Resident other than this. I tip my hat with sincere gratitude to you Mr. Felkner. Thank you for being brave enough to stand strong in the face of such blatant pressure to resign your ability to think freely.

    Comment by Grateful Citizen — December 16, 2008 @ 1:39 pm | Reply

  4. I have a degree in Sociology and work a social work field. I too have conservative views and commend Mr. Felkner for standing up to what he believes in. It does not seem that RIC is very progressive. It seems rather close-minded to me.

    Comment by Joe — December 16, 2008 @ 2:01 pm | Reply

  5. I might be a member of the liberal, lefty elite, but after having heard about this and reading a few articles, it’s because of my political views that I support Felkner in his case. Every now and again, you hear what some people say and you simply can’t believe it actually came out of their mouth. Most professors are smart enough to not be so obvious about their bias. I don’t defend being biased, just offering a bit of analysis.. the fact that Felkner’s professors were so obvious in their bias and even created assignments around it astounds me. I went to law school and I remember being told by the vast majority of my professors… we don’t care as much about your final answer or conclusion as we do about the thought process to get there and the manner in which you defend your position. Now that’s education! I was grateful to have that opportunity inmy graduate work and wish that Felkner had been granted the same opportunity. Go get em… hope you soak the school for a cool million!

    Comment by A Disgusted Liberal... — December 16, 2008 @ 2:45 pm | Reply

  6. Hi Bill,
    I just read about your case on the Fox News website. I am a 1995 MSW graduate. I learned early on to follow the party line or be humilated. I work in medical social work and love my work but I am a conservative and have seen the failures of our liberal social policies up close!
    Go get em!!!

    Comment by Laura Johnson — December 16, 2008 @ 5:11 pm | Reply

  7. If this disgust you, then do a little research on NIH grants.

    Comment by RS — December 16, 2008 @ 7:05 pm | Reply

  8. This is very bad new about that college 😦

    Thank god I had not take an admission in that college.
    I am studying in Canada for my social service education.

    Feeling very bad for Mr. Felkner.

    Comment by School of Social Work — October 13, 2009 @ 1:32 am | Reply

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