Check out this statement on campus political activity from our friends at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. As the 2012 election year approaches, it'll be helpful to know the academic ideological landscape which, as FIRE's examples illustrate, hasn't been a citadel of free expression for some time now. We can thank FIRE once again for holding academics to the principles they once enshrined, but now often eschew.
This week Neil Gross and his colleagues released two new studies analyzing clues as to why the majority of professors are politically liberal. They focus on graduate school. What sort of person goes to graduate school? Does a certain political orientation boost a person's chances of getting in? Of wanting to go in the first place? Peter Wood discusses both reports in articles at the Chronicle of Higher Education's Innovations blog. In one study, which Peter called "well-intentioned" but "essentially worthless," the authors sent fake letters to graduate admissions officers expressing interest in attending the programs. Some letters mentioned working in either the Obama or the McCain campaign. Gross and his co-authors wanted to see whether these letters would get responses that indicated encouragement or discouragement according to which candidate was mentioned. The other study sought to analyze the reasons people have for seeking Ph.D.s. Peter wrote:
Why is the professoriate predominantly liberal? A. Because “There is an intrinsic link between liberalism and intelligence such that the more liberal views of those with advanced degrees reflect liberals’ greater academic potential.” [The liberals-are-smarter theory] B. “Because cognitive development occurs with additional years of schooling, leading the intelligentsia to find fault with what they see as simplistic conservative ideologies.” [The more-learning-makes-profs-liberal theory] C. Because the professoriate seeks a way to differentiate itself “from both the middle class and business elites.” [The profs-turn-liberal-because-they-resent-the-middle-classtheory] D. Because the entrenched liberals who dominate “knowledge work fields…refuse to hire colleagues with dissenting opinions.” [The liberals-are-biased-against-conservativestheory] E. Because “The professoriate acquired a reputation as a liberal occupation” and liberals today “acting on the basis of this reputation and seeking careers that accord with their political identities, are more likely than conservatives to aspire to become academics.” [The self-selection theory] F. Because conservatives are dogmatic and turn away from disciplines that require open-mindedness. [The liberals-are-more-open-minded theory] G. Because professors tend more than most Americans to reside in cities and have fewer children, which favors their embracing liberal political views. [The lifestyle-liberalismtheory] H. Because professors are, on average, less religious than other Americans, which corresponds with their being more liberal. [The grad-school-appeals-to-seculariststheory] I. Because conservatives are more materialistic and are drawn to private-sector jobs; while liberals, concerned more with their “sense of meaning,” are more likely to be drawn to academic work. [The conservatives-prefer-money-to-learning theory] This catalog of explanations is to be found in the first 11 pages of a new working paper by Ethan Fosse, Jeremy Freese, and Neil Gross, released yesterday. Their answer is an emphatic E. “Self-selection” in their view is the only answer for which they can find robust empirical support. If they are right, this should change one of the longest-running and often most bitter debates in contemporary higher education.
Peter concludes that self-selection by no means rules out the possibility of bias: "The most effective way to keep out a whole class of people who are unwelcome isn’t to bar entry, but to make sure that very few in that class will want to enter."
Dr. Ken Marcus of the Institute for Jewish and Community Research sent me this link to a Scribd file copy of Tammi Rossman-Benjamin's 29 page letter of complaint date to the San Francisco Office of Civil Rights concerning systemic anti-Semitism at the University of California, Santa Cruz. The atmosphere at UCSC sounds terrifying and disturbing, but the facts are not surprising given the reception that I witnessed David Horowitz receive at Brooklyn College. Given the left-liberal orienation at most universities, anti-Semitism increasingly characterizes them. What is puzzling is that the majority of Jews continue to identify themselves as left liberals. Ms. Rossman-Benjamin's complaint hit the headlines on Wednesday in a CBS San Francisco report.
A new book on ideology in academe leaves some questions unanswered. How do the perspectives of students in the humanities compare with those of a more general student body? Doesn't the high percentage of liberal freshmen tell us something about K-12 education? And what about the "received wisdom effect"?
Today in the Chronicle of Higher Education Innovations blog, Peter Wood writes about Martin Gaskell, who contends that the University of Kentucky discriminated against him and did not appoint him as the director of its new observatory because the search committee suspected him of being "potentially evangelical."
Wayne State University recently junked its Helen Thomas Spirit of Diversity in Media award after the former White House correspondent, in a workshop on anti-Arab bias, said that the U.S. Congress, the White House, Hollywood and Wall Street are owned by the Zionists. She also claimed that Jewish influence made it impossible to criticize Israel in the U.S. More of the same from Thomas. Last summer, she publicly ranted that Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine" and go home to "Poland, Germany and America and everywhere else." Robert Cohen, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Metropolitan Detroit, commented that it was "very ironic that she made these comments at an event, the purpose of which was to address stereotyping." Ironic, yes, but hardly surprising in today's academy which, as David Solway writes, is busily and "invidiously programming its students with ... a misplaced tolerance for radical Islamic thought and practice." Neither does it astonish, for the same reason, that Thomas received a standing ovation from workshop attendees. Nor that she has been honored by the Society of Professional Journalists and awarded more than 30 honorary degrees. But we should commend Wayne State for seeing the error of its ways.
Bill Ayers is back in the news. Robert Kennedy's son, newly on the board of the U of I Chicago, led a move denying Ayers emeritus status as a retired professor. Newsweek covered the story here (they lost a bit of the nuance in my quote but the story is an accurate summation of the controversy). I had not thought of Ayers since I blogged about him two years ago (“Little Red School House”). In retrospect, while the issue was balance, not bias (so I argued) how does one balance someone so far to the Left? Can one even imagine a former member of the John Birch Society sans explosives being welcomed with open arms by education schools? On turning radicals into academic entrepreneurs: The more incendiary, the better (think Angela Davis, Ward Churchill). And think of the speaking fees one can draw as a radical professor! Sure, sure, the student fees are supposed to represent the range of opinions in society at large (U.S. Supreme Court, Southworth, 2000). But who polices such Court decisions? The barbarians within the gates? Hardly. Professor Ayers, erstwhile domestic terrorist, lived on the wild fringe of sixties radicalism. Like so many others, Ayers secured a position in academe that allowed him to bore within education by promoting "social justice" and "revolutionary education." While his ideas on education might seem "out there," they are taught in education schools as part of the canon of "progressive thought"--often in "School and Society" courses required of all future K-12 teachers. Not that I am ungrateful. I must thank the Ayers of the world for making education school so stultifying that I left and entered graduate school to become a historian – for better and worse.
We shouldn't save the humanities as they are now are, argues John Ellis, president of the California Association of Scholars. If we do, we are simply reinforcing the radical, destructive ideology that has been allowed to take over the liberal arts. Instead we should work to restore the humanities as they ought to be.
That seems to be the dismissive approach of The New York Times when it turns out that a professor who favors the free market and opposes crony capitalism is proven to be right. Professor Jonathan Bean writes here about the treatment of his book about the politicization of the Small Business Administration at the hands of a NYT writer. At the Times and many other places in the thrall of statism, work that calls into question the supposed desirability of government expansion is reflexively criticized as "ideological." Why won't they treat arguments on their own merits?
In April, Hamilton College American history professor Robert Paquette published an NAS article describing how the campus left insulates itself and bullies dissenters. As evidence, he cited the case of his former colleague Chris Hill, a libertarian teacher/scholar who was eliminated early from consideration for a tenure-track position. A few weeks later, Hamilton's Dean of the Faculty Joseph Urgo wrote Paquette a letter reprimanding him, demanding that the article be removed from the NAS website, and denying Paquette the right to serve on faculty search committees. National media took notice of the controversy this summer. Mark Bauerlein has a multi-part series at The Chronicle on questions surrounding the incident, and Scott Jaschik published "When Faculty Aren't Supposed to Talk" at Inside Higher Ed. Yesterday Professor Robert Paquette responded to the controversy in a new article, "Dictatorships and Double Standards, Part II." He gives his side of what happened, sets a few things straight, and provides evidence of further double standards at Hamilton. His story is well worth reading.
California taxpayers are now on the hook for $100,000, which the San José/Evergreen Community College District (SJCCD) has agreed to pay an adjunct professor in lost earnings in exchange for dismissal of her First Amendment lawsuit. The background of the lawsuit? Sheldon had led a short discussion about the nature/nurture debate regarding sexual orientation in her Human Heredity course. She was then fired due to a student complaint and went to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for assistance. "This welcome settlement demonstrates that colleges cannot get away with punishing a professor for teaching relevant class material, even if a student finds it offensive," said FIRE President Greg Lukianoff. An aspect of this case worthy of the attention of NAS afficionados is the SJCCD's contention that Sheldon was teaching non-scientific material as science. In any event, congratulations to Sheldon and FIRE for persevering in this good fight. And condolences to CA taxpayers.
Our friends at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education continue their stellar work defending the academic freedom and First Amendment rights of college faculty members - especially untenured adjuncts - who collide with stifiling campus political orthodoxies. This time, they've scored against the San Jose/Evergreen Community College District, which will have to pay 100K in lost wages to an adjunct instructor who was terminated in 2007 after a student complained that her brief classroom discussion of the origins of homosexuality was "offensive." The district will have to pick up the tab for legal expenses as well. Too bad for them - and the taxpayers who will carry theses costs - that they didn't simply respect the instructor's academic freedom in the first place. But while I'm glad that FIRE was able to intervene successfully in this case, I also wish that they and other organizations such as the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) didn't have so much work to do. This is getting to be a depressingly familiar scenario: 1) Instructor in a psychology or ethics course examines homosexuality or sex differences, says something that a student finds "offensive." 2) A complaint is forwarded at the speed of light to the administration, cc to the campus women's center, the dean of multicultural affairs or the LGBT office, who don't necessarily need to interview the instructor, but nevertheless agree that yes, yes, the classroom discussion was indeed "offensive." 3) The administration informs instructor that she's outta here. 4) Board of directors upholds administration, unimpressed by quaint ideas about academic freedom or First Amendment protections. Honestly, I wonder what the worst aspect of cases such as this one is. It's appalling, of course, that such an Orwellian intellectual climate exists on so many campuses, and the examples of outrages such as this one seem to pop up weekly. See Ashley Thorne's recent post detailing the latest incident involving a socal work student whose religious convictions ran afoul of a counseling program at Augusta State University in Georgia. But what about boards of trustees, such as the one in the San Jose/Evergreen case? What could they, as the governing bodies at a public institution have been thinking? Apart from the deserved embarassment their school has incurred and the hefty settlement costs they've handed to taxpayers, what does academic freedom or First Amendment protections mean to them? Not much, I have to conclude, since they upheld the administration's outrage, without apparently seeing it as such. Kudos to FIRE once again, which seems to have a much firmer grasp of the academic enterprise and its mission than do many of the people to whom it's been directly entrusted.
Tom Blumer observes that our leftist universities and their ilk possess and abuse their power to destroy careers and control people's lives. The communists, he says, constructed checkpoints, whereas our leftist leaders use "chokepoints":
Those who occupy positions in university systems, government bureaucracies, as well as certain union and professional organizations, often with the active assistance of the courts, serve as the system’s “Chokepoint Charlies.” You can’t get through or move on unless you jump through their hoops, comply with their demands, or behave according to their established norms.
Here is Blumer's take on campus chokepoints:
In university systems, the most obvious chokepoint is tenure. If you achieve it, you have a position for life; if you don’t, your career is essentially over. Not surprisingly, leftist-dominated universities have used denial of tenure as a principal means of culling promising conservative professors, or even usually reliable liberals who utter occasional center-right thoughts, from their faculties’ ranks. Other university chokepoints are in the classroom. For the most part, it’s still true that if you’re bright enough, apply yourself, keep your head down, and avoid making too many waves, you’ll get through. But if you happen to incur the wrath of an intolerant radical prof by expressing a dissenting view, no matter how well-supported, you may find yourself with a failing grade, a lengthy redress or appeals process with less than assured results, and perhaps the inability, at least at that university, to go on to the next step in your desired major. Perhaps the most dangerous chokepoint at universities is in research. If your line of inquiry leads to conclusions that are contrary to established beliefs — say, just for the heck of it, if you find evidence that the earth really hasn’t been warming, or even if it is warming that it’s not significantly influenced by human activity — there’s more than a slight chance that your “peer reviewers” won’t be impressed and that your next funding request may not be granted. Just like that, you’re on the outside looking in.
Is there a strong bias against conservatives in higher education? Researchers have produced numerous studies to examine this question. They have sought to measure bias quantitatively through various surveys. Usually they conclude that there is little evidence of bias, and that people who say there is are merely crying wolf. In a new in-depth essay at NAS.org, NAS Chairman Steve Balch argues that the burden of proof should rest with those who deny bias: they must prove that it does not exist rather than demanding proof that it does. Dr. Balch's timely essay comes the week after NAS published "They So Despise Her Politics - Do Conservative Faculty Members Get a Fair Shake?. That article describes the case of Teresa Wagner, who believes she was denied a teaching position because of her conservative politics. There we published documents from Wagner's lawsuit against the University of Iowa College of Law. What do you think? How can we know for sure whether conservatives face systemic discrimination in the Ivory Tower?
Education needs a manifesto for a new humanism; sadly, Martha Nussbaum’s new book is not that manifesto. I had high hopes for Not for Profit but Dr. Nussbaum’s argument quickly becomes a tangle of faulty logic and ideology and notably stale seventies feminism. Why is she still pumping the wells of female victimization (while referencing the female president of Harvard) and the plight of African American children who lack role models (while noting the African American President of the United States)? At one point, she praises Mr. Obama’s personal values as developed by the progressive education she endorses. Then she indicts him for not supporting such education for others, raising the question of just what sort of person her recommended liberal education actually produces. When Nussbaum pleads for progressive schools (wherein teachers sagely guide students to discover and construct knowledge themselves), I think of Geoffrey Pyke [pictured] and his Malting House School (John Dewey meets William Golding). Although Dr. Nussbaum embraces Socratic self-examination, ideology blinds her to her own biases. She is pedantic when attacking pedantry, and she abhors “the dead hand of authority” yet repeatedly invokes the authority of Nobel Prize credentials. She advocates critical thinking to combat “demeaning stereotypes,” then proceeds to stereotype men, women, whites, and Southerners. Masculinity comes off badly unless it is “maternal” which, she implies, is the true essence of human nature (making masculine behavior an aberration, less than human). In this book, women are saintly and victimized (unless they are named Margaret Thatcher). Nussbaum scorns the image of the self-reliant cowboy, then, on the next page, explains that every child must develop “less need to call on others.” Decrying education that involves mere inculcation of facts (more Seventies flotsam), she later admits to the necessity for “a lot of factual knowledge.” Worse, Dr. Nussbaum extols the individual but avoids any mention of the tribalizing effects of multiculturalism and its diminution of . . . the individual. Among several straw man arguments, she condemns “the facile equation of Islam with terrorism” without mentioning just who ever assumed that equivalence. The values she prizes are particularly Western, giving her desire to spread them globally a whiff of cultural imperialism. And Dr. Nussbaum recommends role-playing to develop sympathy for "the other." I met an eyewitness from one progressive school in Northern California that did just that: to develop sympathy for slaves on a ship, teachers locked students in a Quonset hut, chained to their desks surrounded by rotting fish. In fact, Dr. Nussbaum’s book is a call not for a new humanism but for an old political correctness. She even warns that because artworks are so effective at creating empathy, teachers must exercise “careful selectivity” so that students do not read “defective forms of `literature’” which evoke unsocial feelings and “uneven sympathies.” Yikes! Goodbye Salinger, Twain, Poe, O’Conner, Dostoyevsky, and Kafka. With friends like Dr. Nussbaum, liberal arts education doesn’t need enemies.
In "Why Professors Are Liberal: Explanation or Apologia?" NAS Chairman Steve Balch dissects recent research by sociologist Neil Gross on why so few conservatives choose an academic profession. Gross has come to be seen as an authority on this matter, and his studies are often cited to disprove what are seen as exaggerated claims of bias in higher education against conservatives. Dr. Balch has responded to each of Gross's reports, and his latest analysis is well worth a read.
The Foundation for Individual Rights has announced that the University of Minnesota, in response to a letter from FIRE, promised that "[n]o University policy or practice ever will mandate any particular beliefs, or screen out people with 'wrong beliefs' from the University." The FIRE letter was prompted by a proposal for the university's school of education, to be voted on in January, that would require all ed students to study “white privilege, hegemonic masculinity, heteronormativity, and internalized oppression.” NAS wrote about it here. FIRE is cautiously optimistic about the university's response. While warning that "The next version of the college's plans must reflect this promise," it has declared a victory for freedom of conscience. The letter from General Counsel Mark B. Rotenberg, however, gives cause for continuing concern. Rotenberg asserts that the university holds the right, under academic freedom, to "engage in creative thinking, dialogue, and advocacy with respect to a broad range of ideas for improving P-12 education." He added, "Academic freedom means little if our teaching faculty is inhibited from discussing and proposing curriculum innovations simply because others find them 'illiberal' or 'unjust.'" Rotenberg is right to praise the exchange of different and competing viewpoints. But U Minnesota needs to be more thoughtful about its proposals. Even illiberal brainstorming can take root when it results in public documents ready for approval. Take Virginia Tech, for example. Its College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences recently came out with a "Strategic Diversity Plan" that aimed to put in systems for logrolling; provide incentives (some monetary) for faculty and staff to take part in diversity activities and for departments to make faculty hires; implement College-wide diversity course requirements; and enact racial preferences in spite of a Virginia Tech ban on affirmative action. It is not clear what bureaucratic hurtles remain for the Diversity Plan's approval or when it is likely to be granted (although the general CLAHS Strategic Plan has already endorsed the Diversity Plan), but it is clear that such a plan, if approved, will leave Virginia Tech's intellectual integrity in ruins. So no, proposing illiberal or unjust "curriculum innovations" is not as benign as Rotenberg would like it to sound. But for now, we join with FIRE in encouragement over the University of Minnesota's promises not to mandate particular points of view.
Herewith a link to the most recent posting by the excellent legal journalist Stuart Taylor. In a book co-authored with K.C. Johnson, Taylor had chronicled in detail the enormous travesty of justice at Duke when a black stripper falsely accused white male lacrosse players of rape -- the denial of due process to the laxers was reminiscent of Jim Crow days, but with racial roles reversed. [I discuss the case and the book in an Academic Questions article entitled "Durham's Disgrace" - subscription required]. Taylor's recent posting details the continuing rise to glory of the Duke academics who had tried to "lynch" the laxers. It makes for riveting and depressing reading. Duke alums, if you haven't yet suspended your donations, now's the time.
In this week's Pope Center Clarion Call, I review the new AEI book The Politically Correct University. I recommend the book highly. It provides an excellent analysis of the problem of ideological imbalance and politicization that besets our higher education system and the closing chapters explore the prospects for change.
An article in the Chronicle of Higher Ed (subscription required) highlights the Abbeville Institute, which is "an association of scholars in higher education devoted to a critical study of what is true and valuable in the Southern tradition." Here are some quotes from the article: Professor Donald W. Livingston (Institute's founder): "Academics who claim to find something valuable in the Southern tradition are sure to suffer abuse." "The university should be the place where the unthinkable can be thought and the unspeakable said as long as it is backed by civil conduct and argument. It is not that today" Heidi Beirich (Southern Poverty Law Center): "At the end of the day, they are just trying to revise the history of the South in favor of whites." Clyde N. Wilson (Charter Abbeville member): ""The academic tendency now, because of America's preoccupation with the race question the last half-century or so, is to put the whole Southern history into a dark little corner of American history." Check out the Abbeville website and see what you think.
Now that our leaders have taught us that opposing nationalized health care is supporting slavery, I think it's pretty clear that high school students should be taught that denying global warming is supporting slavery. Come to think of it, opposing affirmative action and partial birth abortion is clearly supporting slavery. I might have difficulty persuading the Senate that rooting for the Yankees constitutes supporting slavery -- though that seems more pleasing to me than any of the other innuendos.
See Inside Higher Ed:
Both sides in the case before the court argue that they are defending students from discrimination. "Often university officials don't like the religious groups and we see [colleges' anti-bias rules] as one more mechanism for keeping religious groups off campus," said Kim Colby, a lawyer for the Christian Legal Society, which wants the right to organize chapters at public law schools even if those law schools ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. The society excludes gay people -- and others who do not share its faith.
See also FIRE:
FIRE will be filing an amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief with the Court in support of the Christian Legal Society's appeal, asking the Court to continue its longstanding protection of expressive association.
University administrators, moreover, seem to have a lot a trouble complying with the First Amendment. Let us pray that the Supreme Court will vindicate the foundational principles underlying our first freedom.
But just as the right to abortion, speech, or private education doesn’t yield a right to government funding of abortion, speech, or private education — and isn’t even violated by rules that expressly exclude abortion, certain subject matters of speech, or private education from generally available benefit programs — so the right to expressive association isn’t violated by rules that give benefits only to groups that organize themselves in a certain way. And while these conditions on funding would be unconstitutional if they discriminated based on the viewpoint of the groups’ speech, a ban on discrimination in selecting members or officers is a ban based on conduct, not on the viewpoint of the groups’ speech.
Here's a nice discussion of a proposal from the University of Minnesota's College of Education that aspiring teachers there must repudiate the notion of "the American Dream" in order to obtain the recommendation for licensure required by the Minnesota Board of Teaching. "The report advocates making race, class and gender politics the "overarching framework" for all teaching courses at the U. It calls for evaluating future teachers in both coursework and practice teaching based on their willingness to fall into ideological lockstep. The first step toward "cultural competence," says the task group, is for future teachers to recognize -- and confess -- their own bigotry." No, this is NOT from The Onion.
A common fear about the accountability movement is that edu-babble such as “alignment,” “assessment,” and “best practices” will erect an authoritarian, standardized, dumbed-down national curriculum which could mandate that on March 12, every high school student in the United States be on page 27 of To Kill a Mockingbird and that the following week, a computerized test may measure student reading comprehension by asking “Was the main character a Mockingbird or a Finch?” But haven’t advocacy teaching and the liberal preponderance among educators already produced a de facto national curriculum? Having sat on many hiring and evaluation committees, I can testify that applicants for English positions always find ways to confess their faith in the liberal sacred texts. One says, “I always assign Brent Staples’s `Black Men and Public Space,’” while another recites “I use Fast Food Nation and Nickel and Dimed” as if chanting a mantra. They screen Outfoxed, An Inconvenient Truth, Jesus Camp, and Baraka. And everyone assigns a paper analyzing an advertisement so that students will learn that [gasp] ads are just trying to sell you something and that “big corporations” are trying to make money. Social justice, multiculturalism, health and wellness, sustainability, what the New York Times reported that morning and what they just heard on NPR provide each day’s lesson plan. An officer of my bank recently whispered that she had been required to read Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States “in several different classes” at a nearby state university. Zinn’s Marxist polemic is also required by the entire history department of a local community college. With such uniformity, we needn’t fear a future national curriculum—we already have one.
Via Campus Reform, I read an interesting post today on a blog called Hugo Schwyzer. The author, an anonymous "community college history and gender studies professor, animal rights activist and Episcopal youth minister with a passion for Christ, chinchillas, trail running, poetry, gender justice, country music, and reconciling contradictions," writes about his realization that some of the most engaging and articulate students he has taught have been politically conservative. Of course, his admission is tempered with lots of qualifying remarks to his liberal colleagues ("Not for one second will I concede the intellectual superiority of conservative ideas or values"), but he sees conservative students as the ones filling the good role of "counter-cultural rebelliousness" on campus today. Even through his bless-your-heart condescension, the professor clearly enjoys his repartees with such students. He views conservative students who "come from turbulent and impoverished backgrounds," and "'ought' to be reliable Democrats," but "become infatuated with the Republican gospel of stern self-reliance and the 'up by your bootstraps' mentality" as misguided and ultimately arrogant. But he still loves having them in class.
In this Pope Center piece released today, Charles Johnson, a student at Claremont McKenna College, writes about the contrast on his campus: Lots of attention for the Stonewall Inn incident of 1969, but no interest at all in the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The Berlin Wall was a testament to the dismal failure of socialism. It's easy to see why campus leftists would rather forget about it.
The NAS has long and wisely opposed the use of racial, ethnic, or other criteria unrelated to merit in (among other aspects of campus life) student recruitment and admissions. Those who support this view will find troubling the following requirement embedded in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's 1,990-page health-care bill, which as I write she is trying to bring to a vote, and which fomer Lt. Governor of New York Betsy McCaughey, writing in The Wall Street Journal, has unearthed:
Secs. 2521 and 2533 (pp. 1379 and 1437) establishes racial and ethnic preferences in awarding grants for training nurses and creating secondary-school health science programs. For example, grants for nursing schools should "give preference to programs that provide for improving the diversity of new nurse graduates to reflect changes in the demographics of the patient population." And secondary-school grants should go to schools "graduating students from disadvantaged backgrounds including racial and ethnic minorities."
The academic community en masse should, but of course won't, reject such heavy-handed and unfair federal manipulation of student admissions in the name of diversity. This bill - among its other ill effects - will only add to division and lowered academic standards throughout our educational institutions.
During the recent election season I met two Republicans who told me about instances of Ulster County, NY public school teachers' using schools to ideologically brainwash children. In one case a middle-aged man from Kingston, NY described a fifth grade teacher who repeatedly told his class to support specific left-wing political candidates. In a second, an Olive, NY woman and advertising copy writer wrote me that "my son was told that Snow White's dwarfs represented the disaffected union workers, that conservative judges wanted to steal freedom from the people." She writes that she was "shocked, in denial, and ineffective". As a business professor at the City University of New York and adjunct at New York University I have frequently heard from undergraduate and MBA students who have been brainwashed. Last year on the first day of an MBA-level management class, a young Wall Street trader raised his hand and said that the only thing that matters for business now is "whether the United States should become a socialist country." That was not the first instance of a first-day-of-class revolutionary declaration. On another occasion an undergrad raised his hand and asked in all seriousness about the implications for business of the coming proletarian revolution. One reaction to the politicization of elementary schools and their use for brainwashing of children has been withdrawal and home schooling. The woman who contacted me has proposed a different approach--a systematic training program for parents to enable them to respond to the use of schools for political purposes.
Those of us laboring for academic reform often feel like Sisyphus, rolling a rock up the hill only to have it come crashing down again. The gods of academe seem to have condemned higher education to inevitable decay. That thought came to me as I read about the demise of an institute (at Hamilton College) that did everything right, yet the overlords of Political Correctness purged themselves of enemies and "deviationists." I use these terms because the notion that all-is-political, enemies-must-be-destroyed is linked so strongly to communism and its close cousin national socialism. In the above unhappy story, Mark Bauerlein tries to see a silver lining by noting that the Institute survives outside the college. Students can go there and read books for which they receive no academic credit, of course. If ever there was a case study in how much the Left prizes control of higher education, this is it. The next time you are tempted to think that much of what happens is a "misunderstanding" or "good intentions gone awry," please banish the thought. When push comes to shove, there are those who would put a bullet in your head if this were a different place and time. Instead, they kill ideas by depriving them of air space on campus. No institute, no nonconformist faculty. Or, as Stalin put it: "no people, no problem." We, the few, will retire some day and then there will be nobody to speak out against the barbarians. That is our problem. Postscript: Robert Weissberg nails the problem(s) exceptionally well in this article.
A reader from Australia commented on Tom Wood's article "The Marriage of Affirmative Action and Transformative Education":
This year, I was in a compulsory BA class that used transformative education. Without warning us, the teachers tried to transform us into adopting their political worldview, using all the passion they could muster. Since then I have been searching the web for critiques of transformative education, and found one of your articles, and I will read more. I have written many arguments against transformative education, but I am keen to find arguments from education professionals, lawyers, etc. I thank you for speaking out. I am astounded that a university would force all BA students to be transformed "to create a better world". I thought I was purchasing knowledge and skills, but instead they considered me to be mere fodder for political transformation. University should be about teaching critical thinking, but instead I've had to teach my teachers critical thinking! Their main problem is unquestioned assumptions. They assume students have been brainwashed by society, that education is about the whole person, that teachers have the answers to the meaning of life, that globalisation is all bad, that the West (particularly USA) is colonising the world, that everything is basically political, etc. On the good side, they are idealistic and enthusiastic. But idealism and enthusiasm based on unquestioned assumptions leads to spreading delusion, not to improving the world. It seems to me that transformative education teachers do not trust that freely chosen unbiased knowledge can produce good results. So they force students to study the teachers’ worldviews.
In a recent op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, Rush Limbaugh defends his record (“I am not a racist”) and further points out the double standard allowing left-liberals off the hook for statements that are clearly racist. Mr. Limbaugh, be glad you didn't go into academe! Limbaugh's defense highlights several problems for any one who dissents from the Leftist party line, particularly on race: First, playing defense 24/7 is no way to move forward. It places dissenters in the untenable position of answering "when did you stop being a racist?" Repeated denials inspire the race hustlers to keep asking the same question. To Rush Limbaugh: You wanted to purchase a football team that played both offense and defense. There is a lesson here. Second, the Left dominance of higher education really does matter. Many individuals are in a state of denial about the insidious influence K-16 education has on the professions that shape public opinion: schools of journalism, education, law, social work are monoliths of the Left. Add the power of left-wing accreditation bodies and you have "the sound of one hand clapping"--the left hand, of course. Above all, there is the problem of ignorance and miseducation of our youth. Yes, surveys may show that graduates retain some of the values they had prior to entering college. Yet they are not educated well enough to refute left-wing attacks. Let me give you an example: Since 1995, I have advised College Republicans and Campus Libertarians. The knowledge base of libertarian and conservative students has seriously eroded. If I ask "why are you a libertarian? Why are you a conservative?" The answer is superficial: "because I am not a liberal." Oy vey! These students may retain a vague belief in individual freedom, nondiscrimination, and meritocracy but they fail to argue effectively against the Left. Why? Because they have never been exposed to information subverting the smug assumption that Leftists have always have been "the angels of history." Conservatives and libertarians are (and always have been) the villains, according to this fairy tale. That brings me to my book Race and Liberty in America: The Essential Reader (University Press of Kentucky, in association with the Independent Institute, 2009). This reader debunks the crazy notion that belief in individual freedom, capitalism, and colorblind law = racism. The book highlights how Frederick Douglass, Branch Rickey, Zora Neale Hurston, Clarence Thomas and others consistently championed the bedrock belief that all discrimination is wrong--and they embraced a philosophy of limited government. They experienced first-hand how the State acts as sponsor of discrimination. Back to the football analogy. Here is the offense: those "angels of history" on the Left--labor unions, Woodrow Wilson, FDR, and LBJ--committed some of the worst racist actions in our history. Labor unions demanded a ban on Chinese immigration--the first race-based exclusion of an entire race. Wilson segregated the federal government. LBJ declared that an anti-lynching bill was worse than lynching itself. FDR defended quotas to keep Jews from overwhelming Harvard (where he sat on the Board of Trustees). Roosevelt also wrote that interracial "mingling" (marriage) produced "horrific results." As president, FDR blocked Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany and interned Japanese Americans during World War II. Not surprising. In each of these cases, the classic liberals in my book fought against those typically portrayed as "angels" in history. It is time for so-called liberals to give up the race hustle and learn their history. In so doing, they may discover some heroes of the classic liberal sort--neither Left nor Right--but committed to racial freedom and equality.
Jim Gilchrist, president of the Minuteman Project, an anti-illegal immigration organization, has been dis-invited from speaking at Harvard in an immigration symposium. The decision not to have him speak, announced with only five days notice after five months of planning for his appearance on campus, was made in reaction to radical students' threats of disruptive protest. Here is the Minutman press release on the rescinded invitation. The same Jim Gilchrist was hustled off the stage in the middle of his 2006 speech at Columbia University, as protesters stormed the platform. Well, Harvard, so much for freedom of speech and the pursuit of veritas.
A couple of months ago Carlin Romano of the University of Pennsylvania wrote an excellent review of Stephen H. Norwood's Third Reich in the Ivory Tower: Complicity and Conflict on American Campuses in the Chronicle of Higher Education. At the time, I noticed that the word fascism is repeatedly used in the review to refer to Hitler's ideology. It was rather Mussolini who was the proponent of fascism. Hitler advocated national socialism. In his book Democracy and Populism: Fear and Hatred John Lukacs points out that the ideologies of Hitler and Stalin were eerily close. Hitler advocated "national socialism" while Stalin advocated "socialism in one country". The old saying that the extremes meet is inaccurate. The two were the same all along. But to cloak the obvious unity of national socialism and socialism in one country (an ideology intimately linked to Progressivism, which is why conservatives like James Burnham in his Managerial Revolution, socialists like Gunnar Myrdal, and New Deal Democrats like Joe Kennedy admired Hitler), the media used the term fascism to inaccurately denote Hitler's national socialism. In fact, it would have been more accurate to call Mussolini's fascism national socialism. The continued use of fascism to refer to Nazism suggests that the ideology that piqued the interest in protecting Stalin, a killer of equivalent proportions to Hitler, is alive and well in universities.
Mark Bauerlein has an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education today in which he shows how illegitimate the academic left's denials of "liberal-bias-in-higher-education" can be. Bauerlein contrasts the avowal of Duke professor Cathy Davidson:
"Either as a department member or a member of the APT committee, I've not encountered any Duke faculty member being harassed or discriminated against because he or she is conservative." ("APT" stands for Appointments, Promotions, and Tenures.")
with the famous case of discrimination against NAS at Duke:
This is an odd statement, for one of the better-known cases of discrimination against conservatives during the academic culture wars of the late-80s and early-90s took place precisely at Duke University not far from her office. It surfaced when some Duke folks started up a chapter of the National Association of Scholars on campus and several professors reacted with alarm. The most prominent example was a letter to the Provost and five others, including the President, by Duke's most famous professor, English Department chairman Stanley Fish. The letter stated, "I am writing you to say that in my view, members of the National Association of Scholars should not be appointed to positions on key university committees such as APT, Distinguished Professor, or any other committee dealing with academic priorities and evaluations."
Another letter Fish wrote to the student newspaper asserted that NAS ''is widely known to be racist, sexist and homophobic."' These attacks were specifically intended to effect the exclusion of NAS at Duke and to smear its reputation on the whole. Cathy Davidson's untroubled memory disserves her now, as did her letters defending Fish back then. The university should be a place where intellectual freedom is cherished, not where those who hold unpopular views are kept out.
Brown University this fall added Chinua Achebe to the faculty of its Africana Studies Department. Achebe is a prominent postcolonial writer from Nigeria who has called Joseph Conrad a "bloody racist" and claimed his classic work, Heart of Darkness, celebrates the dehumanization of Africans. Achebe believes this reflects a widespread, deep-seated atttitude by Westerners toward Africa. This is all the more alarming because the university says Achebe is the first of many hires it plans to make, in order to expand Africana Studies, according to the Brown Daily Herald. As the Foundation for Intellectual Diversity points out, it's not like the University has been ignoring Africana Studies:
At the Foundation for Intellectual Diversity, we have to wonder what could possibly lead Brown administrators and faculty to think they have neglected Africana Studies. Brown has a Department of Africana Studies with 14 full-faculty members—not counting seven visiting and affiliated professors. In addition, Brown has the Third World Center, The Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America, the Africa Group Colloquium, and the university recently sponsored the Focus on Africa speaker series as well as the Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice. All are related to Africana studies.
For the full press release click here. The Providence Journal also ran a story in today's paper about this issue and the Ocean State Policy Research Institute has been blogging about it as well.
Ron Lipsman writes at The American Thinker on the life of a conservative faculty member. Unlike some, he came to the university (he does not identify his institution) as a liberal but became conservative through experience. He then finds, as many do, that his views leave him marginalized and, in pursuit of an administrative post, Lipsman stuffs his opinions for about 15 years. Now at lower cost to himself as he approaches retirement, he is speaking out. At the end he identifies three novel observations that, in my experience, are not so novel. First, he says that he is largely ignored when he speaks out, that the faculty said "Oh, that's just Ron being Ron." After a time that is, however, how most of us are treated. Only when you wish to seek a new post in the university do your views come up. Indeed, a way for the university to marginalize you is to put you on a committee to get a blessing that something is "OK because the conservative guy was on that committee and he didn't squawk (loudly)." (See my post from 2005 on tokenism.) Lipsman also observes that there are not enough people making waves, including himself. I hope this isn't true -- I think NAS, FIRE, et al. are making waves! But there is the fact that in the 6+ years of my blog I've had several co-bloggers, many of whom were also conservative faculty at St. Cloud. They have all left; there are few others willing to take up the cause. We have known about the chilling effect of political correctness for years; ice does not make waves. His last observation is that the liberal hegemony exists in many places, but seems easiest in academia. But where else does tenure exist? Stanley Kurtz has noted that "tenure turns into an incredibly efficient tool for enforcing political conformity" when controlled by one elite. That is, tenure is the means by which the hegemony perpetuates. Lipsman's article does not provide us with something new, but it does provide those unaware of our campuses today with a useful summary.
Peter Wood's piece on the speech by Macalester College president Brian Rosenberg elucidates an interesting point. The academic left loves to talk about how most of America has a backward, irrational aversion to "The Other" -- people who are "different." That's mostly hogwash, but it's evident that people like Rosenberg have their own backward and irrational aversion. For them, "The Other" consists of people who don't share their faith in the ability of the government to solve all our socio-economic problems. Just as we non-leftists are assumed to wish to keep our distance from "different" people, academic leftists do keep their distance from what they regard as an ignorant, malevolent mob of town hall shouters who reject the plans of their intellectual betters to make the country more just. Rosenberg says he's for openness, but he'd much rather keep those unpleasant people and their foolish opinions away.
Jay Schalin has an excellent piece examining one of the dirty secrets of higher education: the generous funding of left-wing speakers and the exclusion of other viewpoints. See his essay "Radical Rhetoric on Somebody Else's Dime."
As a faculty adviser to College Republicans, we have asked--and been denied--student-fee funding repeatedly. One year, we raised $7,000 in private funds to bring Ward Connerly to our law school. We needed another $1,500. Guidelines encourage students to raise some money on their own rather than simply milking the cash cow of student fees. Surely, $7,000 more than matches $1,500?
Answer from student government: a) we don't think graduate or professional students would be interested in your speaker; b) yes, you raised private funds (through donations) but normally we prefer bake-sale type events (although I am sure they did not have "affirmative action bake sale" events in mind!). After much buttonholing on my part, we got our $1,500, Connerly arrived to a packed house and it was one of the best events in many years.
Meanwhile, the College Democrats went to student government and asked for $22,000 to bring James Carville to campus. Answer: "No problem, here you go!" THEY promised to raise another $1,500 by charging nonstudents a $3 admission fee. No doubt the group made money on the event.
Again and again, speakers far to the Left come to campus; student fees give them $10,000 to $100,000. Look up speaker bureaus online and you will see that the more militant the speaker, the more money they make. At his peak, Ward Churchill raked in $20K per rant.
Why is this important? Because it is illegal under the Southworth decision of 2000. The Supreme Court ruled:
"When a university requires its students to pay fees to support the extracurricular speech of other students, all in the interest of open discussion, it may not prefer some viewpoints to others."
Follow the money, document the money, and bring a case against unequal funding of speakers. Otherwise, the law is nothing more than words--and those who control the money know they can present one-sided viewpoints.
In response to our article noting the arrival of CampusReform.org, a reader commented:
The recent article on CampusReform.org has the following statement: "NAS is politically non-partisan. We do not take positions on issues such as health care, immigration, and foreign policy. And we believe that reason, civilization, intellectual freedom, civil debate, and the pursuit of the truth are principles that transcend the political lines that have traditionally divided most Americans. But we also believe that CampusReform.org has a potentially vital role to play in helping the beleaguered partisans of American conservatism get a fair intellectual shake at our universities and colleges." I strongly agree with the first two sentences, above. However, I have been increasingly disturbed that the NAS has a reputation of being a politically conservative organization, and the tentative endorsement of CampusReform.org will tend to strengthen this widespread belief . Further, statements like, "At each college subsite, students can also identify 'leftist faculty' and review 'biased textbooks,' while they may be appropriate to a conservative organization, are not appropriate to ours. I think this endorsement should be rewritten to make it clear that we are not endorsing a witch hunt of any kind and that our kind thoughts towards this organization has nothing to do with its conservatism, but only seeks to bring some balance into what has become a growing tendency to make liberalism an approved doctrine on college campuses. - John C. Wenger
John C. Wenger’s comment raises some important points. NAS indeed has a reputation as a “conservative organization.” I’ve tried in numerous posts to address this, most conspicuously in an article titled, “Is NAS Conservative?” Plainly in the sense of the word used by most Americans when speaking of politics, NAS is not a conservative organization. We have been labeled “conservative” by opponents as a tactic aimed at de-legitimizing NAS in the eyes of fellow academics. The tactic itself displays the extraordinary level of bias in academe. Calling a person or a group “conservative” should on its face be neutral, but it is not. The matter is further complicated by the other, non-political meanings of the word “conservative.” NAS is not about to abandon its commitment to enduring principles, such as the foundational importance of the pursuit of truth in the university or the need for the university to find its place among free institutions, even if these principles are caricatured as dowdy and out-of-date by fashionable ideologues. So NAS is conservative in this larger civilizational sense. I disagree with John C. Wenger on the question of whether, to prove our purity, we ought to distance ourselves even further from groups such as CampusReform.org. We declined an invitation to participate in CampusReform.org, just as we would decline to participate in any organization that defines its primary purpose as political. CampusReform.org, however, promises to bring a badly needed element of ideological balance to campus debates, and we welcome that prospect. NAS can stand on its own record on the question of “witch hunts.” We’ve been around for 22 years without ever engaging in behavior that could be credibly characterized that way. At the same time, I have no objection to an explicitly partisan group such as CampusReform.org attempting to make its case by inviting students to identify “leftist faculty” and to review “biased textbooks.” The university left has made a central part of its activity over the last several decades the effort to identify (and often demean on spurious grounds) scholars who dissent from leftist positions, and fields such as women’s studies have long promoted the practice of combing textbooks for instances of “bias.” I don’t see a particularly good argument that these tactics should be allowable to the left but not to the right. They aren’t NAS’s tactics. Our ideal would be a de-politicized university. But the reality is that we now have a university that is overwhelmingly dominated by the political left, and with that in view, we welcome the challenge that CampusReform.org poses to the status quo. Will this arm’s-length welcome deepen NAS’s reputation as a “conservative” organization? I doubt it. We are routinely mentioned in the Chronicle of Higher Education, The New York Times, and other publications as conservative. Nothing we say or do seems to shake this caricature. Not long ago, a liberal professor tried to involve us in a project to promote “civic literacy” on the terms that we would represent the “conservative” view of things. We declined on the grounds that we aren’t conservative and don’t speak for conservatives. He was incredulous, then angry. “Everybody knows…” Well, no everyone doesn’t. Distinctions need to be drawn. That is supposedly what scholars are good at. No fair-minded scholar looking at the facts would say that NAS is politically conservative. The label is inaccurate, but I am not going to form NAS policy in a deliberate—and no doubt futile—effort to disprove it. We will continue to make decisions on the basis of where we see the most benefit for the core principles of higher education. On that ground, CampusReform.org looks to be, on balance, a wholesome organization, and we do indeed welcome it.
At NAS.org, we noted that St. Louis University recently disinvited David Horowitz from a speaking engagement on campus. We also noted that the AAUP—not usually on the same side of issues as Horowitz—has defended Horowitz's right to speak, as has the left-leaning College Freedom blogger John K. Wilson. What you might not have already heard is that St. Louis U's mascot, the Billiken, seems to have played a role in censoring David Horowitz. To read the whole story - and find out what in the world a Billiken is - click here.
Bill Felkner was a graduate social work student at Rhode Island College who never received his diploma – not for flunking out or committing any criminal or inappropriate act, but for holding views contrary to those of RIC’s School of Social Work. NAS has written about Felkner in the report The Scandal of Social Work Education, as well as in an article detailing his story: “The ‘I Revel-in-my-Biases’ School of Social Work – And What It Does to a Student Who Declines to Join the Revelry.”
Our recent posting, "Residence Life and the Decline of Campus Community, Part 1," aimed to place Res Life programs within the wider context of the contemporary American college and university, and in particular to highlight the central role Res Life programs have been given in the creation of "campus community."
Previous postings in this series have examined the ideological and pedagogical pathologies of Res Life programs at U Delaware and U Mass-Amherst. More programs at other institutions will be uncovered and discussed in future postings. Before we proceed any further with that, however, it is a good idea to step back briefly and place these programs in perspective. These rogue programs need to be seen within the larger context of Residential Life programs at residential colleges generally.
"The Social and Political Views of American Professors," a working paper released recently at a Harvard symposium by Neil Gross and Solon Simmons, is being vigorously spun by its authors as a new, sophisticated take on the intellectual alignments of American academe, undercutting exaggerated claims by conservatives of liberal/left hegemony. But if defenders of the academic status-quo expect Gross and Simmons's discoveries to rescue them, they're in for a crushing disappointment.