14.7.17

THEY COULD HAVE LISTENED TO ME, YEARS AGO.

Cold Spring Shops documents a lot of the foibles and failures of higher education, but always with the hope that the People In Charge come to their senses.  They haven't.  What comes next will not be amusing, according to National Review's Elliot Kaufman.  "The next successful Republican politician will rally the Right by making America’s universities his punching bag — and the universities will prove even more vulnerable to that politician’s attacks than the media were to Donald Trump’s."  In a country where less than half the population has a four-year degree, and many of the degree holders might be underemployed (we'll look at the reasons for that another day) or carrying a lot of debt, there might be something to what he says.
Imagine how many more Republicans would come to view the nation’s academic enclaves negatively if their party’s standard-bearer complained daily about the indoctrination of our children, the ceaseless rise in tuition costs that bleeds regular folks dry, the decline in pedagogical rigor, the political bias, the lies. Imagine what would happen if such a politician branded universities as the “enemy of the American people.”
That might be a bit much, and expect the defense-of-the-academic-enterprise public service announcements that accompany the bowls and the basketball tournaments to increase in frequency and urgency.  All the same, it might be hard for higher education to live down this perception.  "Radical professors, race-obsessed provocateurs, gender-studies grifters, anti-Israel fanatics, weak-kneed administrators, disgusting libertines, angry feminists, and illiberal student protesters."  Unfortunately, the faculty and administrations of the land-grants and mid-majors and community colleges are likely to miss the opportunity to distinguish themselves from the hothouses.
The elimination of core curricula in the ’80s and ’90s has destroyed the foundation of American liberal-arts education. The “studies” majors have themselves drawn students in without being able to offer a promise of real erudition or substantial job prospects. Many disciplines have shifted dramatically toward the study of race, gender, and class.

The bias is undeniable: Left-wing professors and students predominate, while conservative thought is often ignored, sometimes marginalized, and occasionally forbidden by oppressive speech codes or threatening mobs. Political correctness and identity politics rule many campus student groups. And college life reliably promises socialization into progressive ideas and sexual mores, as well as a confrontation with the most relaxed attitudes toward drinking and drugs.
Away from the hothouses, the -studies majors are there, but the students are in engineering or business or allied health, and likely working a job or two to keep the finances together.

But the administrators and faculty are more likely to protect their commercial interests, which align with those of the hothouses, rather than to suggest that the accusations are misplaced.

It would help, dear reader, if those people did have something resembling a rigorous core curriculum to point to, and if they didn't bundle those relaxed attitudes with the bowl bids and the tournaments.

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