This topic hits home because I am a product of the California public school system and of the UC college system… And most of my friends and our children went to school and college in California as well. I was a college student in the early 1970’s, when Berkley radicalism was in its hay day and Angela Davis was teaching at UCLA. (Even in the 1970’s the focus was on politics and for the professors to publish… not on teaching the basics. I once had an English professor, who regularly said, “Once you are out of college and have time to get a real education, you should read this book…”) It was a time when all things radical were cool with the young and most parents thought it was just an unsettling fad… that would pass. Instead it was the first open test of the modern American Progressive Movement that changed America forever. But as the turbulent 1960’s and 1970’s drew to a close and the radicals went to work underground to promote their progressive ideas to eventually become mainstream enough to ‘become the man’, mainstream middle-America went back to sleep believing that it was just a minor flare-up.
The radicals of the 1970’s who were inspired by Saul Alinsky and his writings and Cloward & Piven and their strategies are still politically active and are still working to overthrow free market Capitalism and the American system as we know it. They are teaching in our universities where they have trained several new generations of radicals and are teaching them to agitate using the same techniques they used… to reach the planned endgame.
The next generation, inspired by these ‘60’s radical progressives, included the Clintons (Video: Remember Hillary’s famous debate comment in 2007: “I prefer to think of myself as a Progressive!”, after being asked if she was a liberal) and Barack Obama and his Team in the White House. The newest generation are out in the streets as Occupy Wall Street or Occupy all over America and all over the world, being manipulated by Bill Ayers, Bernadine Dohrn, the Radke brothers, Andy Stern, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and many progressives in our government, including in the White House… and their disciples, people like Van Jones.
William Ayers, in a pep talk to an Occupy Wall Street gaggle, said he (still) wakes up every morning thinking about how he’s going to end capitalism — though he acknowledged he goes to bed “every night disappointed.”
The co-founder of the radical, Vietnam-era Weather Underground was videotaped chatting up what was identified as an Occupy Union Square group this past week in New York City. He was out checking on the seeds of his American Bolshevik
For anyone who missed it, Barack Obama started his political career in Bill Ayer’s home and now it seems that Ayers’ family helped Obama with college, as well as Ayers’s being involved in the writing if not the actual author of Obama’s 1995 memoir, Dreams from My Father. Yet Obama tells us he hardly knew him?!?
Peter Berkowitz, a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and a member of the National Association of Scholars board of directors produced a new report on the UC system, “A Crisis of Competence” which documents the plague of politicized classrooms. He says the problem is national in scope. “A Crisis of Competence” is posted at: ww.nas.org/images/documents/A_Crisis_of_Competence.pdf. Also recently posted at the WSJ. See Video.
Berkowitz’s findings confirm what most non-progressives who have spent anytime on a college campus, in California or most anywhere else in the United States, or with college students already figured out. The universities (the UC system) are hot beds for radicals: Progressives, Communists, Marxists who generally proselytize their beliefs in the classroom and at activities on and off campus… and are encouraged to do so. (Conservative ideas, critical and free thinking and individualism are pretty much non-existent and not taught… if even tolerated.)
The politicization of higher education by activist professors and compliant university administrators deprives students of the opportunity to acquire knowledge and refine their minds. It also erodes the nation’s civic cohesion and its ability to preserve the institutions that undergird democracy in America.
So argues “A Crisis of Competence: The Corrupting Effect of Political Activism in the University of California,” a new report by the California Association of Scholars, a division of the National Association of Scholars (NAS). The report is addressed to the Regents of the University of California, which has ultimate responsibility for governing the UC system, but the pathologies it diagnoses prevail throughout the country.
The analysis begins from a nonpolitical fact: Numerous studies of both the UC system and of higher education nationwide demonstrate that students who graduate from college are increasingly ignorant of history and literature. They are unfamiliar with the principles of American constitutional government. And they are bereft of the skills necessary to comprehend serious books and effectively marshal evidence and argument in written work.
Hoover Institution fellow Peter Berkowitz on the politicization of higher education by activist professors:
This decline in the quality of education coincides with a profound transformation of the college curriculum. None of the nine general campuses in the UC system requires students to study the history and institutions of the United States. None requires students to study Western civilization, and on seven of the nine UC campuses, including Berkeley, a survey course in Western civilization is not even offered. In several English departments one can graduate without taking a course in Shakespeare. In many political science departments majors need not take a course in American politics.
Moreover, the evidence suggests that the hollowing of the curriculum stems from too many professors’ preference for promoting a partisan political agenda.
National studies by Stanley Rothman in 1999, and by Neil Gross and Solon Simmons in 2007, have shown that universities’ leftward tilt has become severe. And a 2005 study by Daniel Klein and Andrew Western in Academic Questions (a NAS publication) shows this is certainly true in California. For example, Democrats outnumbered Republicans four to one on University of California, Berkeley, professional school faculties; in the social sciences the ratio was approximately 21 to one.
The same 2005 study revealed that the Berkeley sociology department faculty was home to 17 Democrats and no Republicans. The political science department included 28 Democrats and two Republicans. The English department had 29 Democrats and one Republican; and the history department had 31 Democrats and one Republican.
While political affiliation alone need not carry classroom implications, the overwhelmingly left-leaning faculty openly declare the inculcation of progressive political ideas their pedagogical priority. As “A Crisis of Competence” notes, “a recent study by UCLA’s prestigious Higher Education Research Institute found that more faculty now believe that they should teach their students to be agents of social change than believe that it is important to teach them the classics of Western civilization.”
Some university programs tout their political presuppositions and objectives openly. The mission statements of the Women’s Studies program at UCLA prejudges the issues by declaring that it proceeds from “the perspectives of those whose participation has been traditionally distorted, omitted, neglected, or denied.” And the Critical Race Studies program at the UCLA School of law announces that its aim is to “transform racial justice advocacy.”
Even the august American Association of University Professors—which in 1915 and 1940 published classic statements explaining that the aim of academic freedom was not to indoctrinate but to equip students to think for themselves—has sided with the politicized professoriate.
In 1915, the AAUP affirmed that in teaching controversial subjects a professor should “set forth justly without suppression or innuendo the divergent opinions of other investigators; he should cause his students to become familiar with the best published expressions of the great historic types of doctrine upon the questions at issue.”
However, in recent statements on academic freedom in 2007 and 2011, the AAUP has undermined its almost century-old strictures against proselytizing. Its new position is that restricting professors to the use of relevant materials and obliging them to provide a reasonably comprehensive treatment of the subject represent unworkable requirements because relevance and comprehensiveness can themselves be controversial.
On the boundaries, they can be—like anything else. However, it is wrong to dismiss professors’ duty to avoid introducing into classroom discussion opinions extraneous to the subject and to provide a well-rounded treatment of the matter under consideration. That opens the classroom to whatever professors wish to talk about. And in all too many cases what they wish to talk about in the classroom is the need to transform America in a progressive direction. Last year the leadership of AAUP officially endorsed the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Excluding from the curriculum those ideas that depart from the progressive agenda implicitly teaches students that conservative ideas are contemptible and unworthy of discussion. This exclusion, the California report points out, also harms progressives for the reason John Stuart Mill elaborated in his famous 1859 essay, “On Liberty”: “He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that.”
The removal of partisan advocacy from the classroom would have long-term political benefits. Liberal education equips students with intellectual skills valued by the marketplace. It prepares citizens to discharge civic responsibilities in an informed and deliberate manner. It fosters a common culture by revealing that much serious disagreement between progressives and conservatives revolves around differing interpretations of how to fulfill America’s promise of individual freedom and equality.
It is certainly true that not all progressive professors intrude their politics into the classroom, but a culture of politicization has developed on campus in which department chairs and deans treat its occurrence as routine. “UC administrators,” the California report sadly concludes, “far from performing their role as the university’s quality control mechanism, now routinely function as the enablers, protectors, and even apologists for the politicized university and its degraded scholarly and educational standards.”
In California, this is more than a failure of their duty as educators. It is also a violation of the law. Article IX, Section 9, of the California state constitution provides that “The university shall be entirely independent of all political or sectarian influence and kept free therefrom.”
It is incumbent upon the UC Board of Regents, not to mention the governing bodies of other institutions of higher education across the country, to begin the long and arduous work of depoliticizing our universities and renewing liberal education.. and critical thinking.
Our daughter attended Chapman University, a small private college in California and went off to Semester at Sea as part of her college experience, a fabulous adventure of traveling around the world and studying along the way that we managed to provide for her. They even had Desmond Tutu join them onboard for one leg of the journey where he lectured and the students had one on one access to him. I think the vicarious journey was as exciting, if not even more exciting, for us as it was for her. The professors and staff onboard were rotational from all over the United States and in some cases the world. When our daughter returned home from her sail, she was full of exciting stories but our somewhat apolitical artsy daughter also came home espousing all that is wrong with America, our free-market system and an over-night expert on all that horrors and ills of the world either caused or not fixed by the country that her parents loved, gave her the opportunity to make this amazing journey and that her maternal grandparents sacrificed and left everything behind for to bring their families to the land of freedom and opportunity.
While mainstream America went back to sleep, was hypnotized by the left-controlled media and worked tirelessly to send their children to college, the likes of George Soros, the Rockefellers, Bill Gates and other wealthy progressives funded the radical transformation of America from college campuses to the White House that culminated in the election of Barack Hussein Obama in 2008 and has been working in overdrive ever since.
April’s Whistleblower magazine, “THE COLLEGE ILLUSION,” this almost sacrosanct belief in college is currently disintegrating before our eyes. It talks about why chasing a degree so often ends in financial and educational chaos. In light of this new study and what those of us paying attention realize, it seems they are right. Unless your child wants to be a doctor, lawyer, engineer or something that absolutely requires specialized college education skills looking at trade school, entrepreneurship or working yourself up from the bottom and volunteering for internships may be better and definitely cheaper alternatives. And if college is the path, while the college system rebuilds itself, check out the institution you are sending your child off to. Hillsdale College is a good place to start.
It is time that Americans put aside their other activities and interests (including and especially TV) and take a stand. The subscribers to the Progressive Movement have been busy since the early 1900’s and even more so since the end of the open revolution of the 1960’s and 1970’s, now infiltrating every aspect of our lives… from media to education, to control of the food we eat to the White House and Congress… all the while dumbing us down generation by generation… radicalizing and sexualizing our kids. It is time for us all to stand and work or we will surely fall as we sit on our couches watching the hypnotic screen(s)… TV, computers, games…