31.7.17

TURF THEM OUT.

Here's another excerpt from my quarter-century old "The Costs of Correctness."  "The employers who hire our students and the legislators who underwrite our efforts are questioning our effectiveness."  Yes, when Fredrik deBoer picks up the theme, you can't very well trash him as in thrall to The American Spectator.  The reckoning will have to concentrate minds, according to William Voegeli.
There is, in short, a strong case apart from anti-conservative bias for state legislatures to make far more skeptical, rigorous, and targeted funding decisions about post-secondary education. The political question all but cinches it. And the political question is not about exerting power or exacting revenge but affirming fairness. Non-coercion and intellectual pluralism really are valuable principles.

The fact that, with little optimism, deBoer appeals to self-preservation to get professors to respect these standards shows how contemptuously they are regarded in the academy. Elected officials who fail to uphold academic principles in the only language academics understand—by eliminating faculty lines and slashing budgets—will vindicate academia’s contempt for intellectual freedom, and for the taxpayers who subsidize higher education.
When you deny coherent beliefs ...  And the contempt higher education has brought upon itself?  Self-inflicted, notes Peter Wood.
My thanks to all the social-justice warriors, race hustlers, faculty ideologues, and administrative enablers who have brought about this change in public opinion. I couldn’t have done it without you.

But I don’t want to organize a victory parade on the basis of one small poll taken in the wake of several years of really atrocious behavior.

The Pew question demands a gestalt answer, and the gestalt answer for me is that American higher education, taken all in all, has put itself in opposition to America’s best principles, its most admirable aspirations, its open-mindedness, and its capacity to a create a generation of worthy civic and political leaders. That opposition has public consequences, the most important of which is the malformation of students who mistake their anger for clear thinking and who have developed contempt for their country and their countrymen.

Anger and contempt will, of course, be met with anger and contempt, and what colleges and universities have provided is a radical intensification of our partisan divide.
And Republican voters particularly, Mr Wood suggests, are not going to fund work that demeans and hectors and condescends and engages in intellectual arabesques to undermine bourgeois convention.  Not when, as Mr Wood notes, there is no civic-mindedness left.
Republican voters have at last begun to relinquish their fond hope that our colleges and universities are, despite numerous defects, still a net good for the United States. The exorbitant costs, the student-debt crisis, the immolation of the humanities, the trivialization of much of the curriculum, the turn to making an accusation of "sexual harassment" into proof of guilt — none of that was enough to cancel the patience of conservatives with an institution they are by nature inclined to love. But Middlebury?
The discontent was there before Middlebury.  Back to Mr Voegeli.
Not only is America closely divided between two parties, but Republicans are especially powerful at the state level, where funding decisions about higher education are made. No, he doesn’t expect that the Republican governor and legislature of Wisconsin, for example, will shut down its flagship state university. But he does think that the Republican voters’ new consensus—higher education no longer merits deference or the benefit of the doubt—portends that states will start to close down identity-politics departments like Women’s Studies, and make taxpayer support contingent on enforcing “harsh restrictions on campus groups and how they can organize.”
Wisconsin's legislature is not yet ready to shut down The Great State University of Wisconsin, although they have revised tenure protections in a way that have more than a few scholars running for the exits.

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