The bill introduced in the state legislature is here. (Thanks to Joshua Smith for the pointer.) As one news story (for which I could not locate a URL) stated, the bill would regulate what professors can say in class, and that's exactly right. Here's some illustrative provisions:
A) The institution shall provide its students with a learning environment in which the students have access to a broad range of serious scholarly opinion pertaining to the subjects they study. In the humanities, the social sciences, and the arts, the fostering of a plurality of serious scholarly methodologies and perspectives shall be a significant institutional purpose. In addition, curricula and reading lists in the humanities and social studies shall respect all human knowledge in these areas and provide students with dissenting sources and viewpoints.
Who could disagree? The problem is that it is plainly within the purview of academic freedom for instructors to determine what counts as "serious scholarly opinion" and what counts as "human knowledge." The only way, then, that this provision can have any bite is if it authorizes others (who exactly? the Ohio legislature?) to override the instructor's academic freedom in setting the curriculum.
(B) Students shall be graded solely on the basis of their reasoned answers and appropriate knowledge of the subjects and disciplines they study and shall not be discriminated against on the basis of their political, ideological, or religious beliefs. Faculty and instructors shall not use their courses or their positions for the purpose of political, ideological, religious, or antireligious indoctrination.
This provision is dangerously vague: suppose the student's political, ideological, or religious beliefs with respect to the subject matter of the course are false, i.e., contradicted by "serious scholarly opinion" and "human knowledge" as assessed by the instructor? Does the creationist get a free pass for her ignorance in evolutionary biology simply because she has a "religious belief" that conflicts with the scientific content of the course? Is the NeoNazi entitled not to be graded down when he writes a paper for his Anthropology or Biology class defending his "ideological belief" that "the Jewish race is biologically inferior"? As written, it is not clear why the proposed statute would not, indeed, protect both the NeoNazi and the Creationist. (It would also constitute a massive violation of the academic freedom of the instructor, yet again.)
Let's suppose, though, that a way is found to allow creationists and NeoNazis to be properly graded down for their false beliefs (insofar as they assert them, of course, in a class dealing with the subject of those beliefs). There is still a serious threat to academic freedom here. Must Terence Irwin or Julia Annas or John Cooper not mark down the student in a class on Plato who insists on the correctness of the Straussian reading of The Republic? Is it not within the purview of the instructor's academic freedom to deem a particular scholarly or interpretive method--one that may have strong support elsewhere in the academy--unsound, and mark its application accordingly?
(C) Faculty and instructors shall not infringe the academic freedom and quality of education of their students by persistently introducing controversial matter into the classroom or coursework that has no relation to their subject of study and that serves no legitimate pedagogical purpose.
This is clearly the most egregious of the provisions, the one that inspired the newspaper report about regulating what professors say in class (though the preceding two provisions would have that consequence too, if actually enforced as they are written). Who is it that will determine what counts as "persistent" and as "controversial" and as having "no relation" to the "subject of study"? The proposed legislation calls for the creation of "grievance procedures" at each institution (both public and private, by the way), which means that, in principle, every campus will soon be awash in grievance proceedings, in which instructors are called to task for their "persistence" and their "controversy" and their judgments about "relevance." The whole system will be a disaster, for many of the reasons noted by the New York City Civil Liberties Union in connection with the Massad case. And while it is right-wingers who are behind this initiative, bear in mind that, without a doubt, students from all over the political spectrum will quickly avail themselves of the grievance mechanisms. At that point, academic freedom won't exist, and universities might as well shut down.