BRUCE KESLER: IMPORTANT REPORT ON THE SINKHOLE THAT IS HIGHER EDUCATION
In recent years, study after study has found that a college education no longer does what it should do and once did. Whether these studies look directly at the capabilities of graduates, or instead at what employers find their capabilities to be, the result is the same: far too many college graduates have not learned to write effectively, they can not read and comprehend any reasonably complex book, they have not learned to reason, and their basic knowledge of the history and institutions of the society in which they live is lamentably poor….
Is it possible that the University of California is an exception to these national trends? Unfortunately, we can be certain that it is not. First, these national studies all include California, and none of them note any fundamental differences across states. Second, local studies of these issues always confirm the findings of the national studies….
Students are being asked to pay considerably more and get considerably less. We are now seeing much increased concern with student debt and rising tuition costs. As this concern about cost joins with the growing concern about quality, the University must soon face a major crisis of public confidence….
The findings of these studies match all too well the specific complaints that are now commonly heard about the manifestations of a politicized higher education: that requirements for coursework in American history and institutions have been dropped, that writing courses often stress writing far less than tendentious political topics; that prescribed books are frequently no more than journalistic presentations of a simple political message instead of the more complex writings appropriate to an academic context; and that faculty teach what to think rather than how to think: that is, they demand correct attitudes and beliefs of students more than they require independent reading and thought.
This report is concerned with the corruption of the University of California by activist politics, a condition which, as we shall show, sharply lowers the quality of academic teaching, analysis, and research, and results in exactly the troubling deficiencies that are being found in the studies to which we have referred.4 We shall show that this is an inevitable consequence of any substantial influence of radical politics in academia, because its characteristic interests and modes of thought are the very antithesis of those that should prevail in academic life.
The Regents are held responsible for not enforcing its own rules, contributing to the sinking of the university system they are appointed to direct and protect.
We recognize that these measures will provoke unrest. Those who have slowly built themselves a protective refuge from the marketplace of ideas will not give it up easily. But the main outlines of the protest are easy to predict, and they are all easily dealt with. It will be said that this is political interference in the university; but coming from people who have made the university a home for their political activism and politicized so much within it, this criticism need hardly be taken seriously….The return to a functioning marketplace of ideas will mean only that the focus is again on the merit of ideas, political and other, not on agendas. When ideas are made to compete, those that are unfit will not survive. Only those who have no confidence in the viability of their ideas will be anxious about this.
There are 26 members of the Regents, 18 appointed by the Governor, most political donors to the Governor, plus 8 others who are either beholden elected officials or self-interested in the status quo. Yes, fish stink from the head in this heavily liberal Democrat state. Even liberal mayors and governors across the country are now forced by huge deficits to finally confront teacher unions to limit unaffordable benefits and runaway work rules. So too must the U of C Regents and governing boards of other universities elsewhere soon face up to the sinkhole they’ve allowed on campuses and fill it in with sound instruction instead of indoctrination.
If they don’t, better and less costly alternatives are rapidly emerging, routing students and investment around the sinkhole, to end the reign of the benign neglect of and sabotage of higher education by the current higher education establishments. Free competition will, as usual, cleanse and replace the incompetent, the willfully incompetent even faster.
The entire report, linked above, is a must read for anyone looking for the best current research into this deepening higher education sinkhole. A brief summary is available in this column at the Wall Street Journal,How California’s Colleges Indoctrinate Students: A new report on the UC system documents the plague of politicized classrooms. The problem is national in scope.
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