Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Monday, April 11, 2005

It would be good if they dropped from the top ten lists altogether

Stanley Kurtz sees as a hopeful sign the fact that parents, who write the checks, are beginning to be fed up with the rampant politicization at American campuses (particularly the big ones). He envisions a change in the big universities so that they are not so left oriented:

Stories of campus political correctness first flared in the mid-1980s. Then, sometime in the ‘90s, people stopped paying attention. Everyone knew that campuses were bastions of political correctness, but the public wrote off the leftist professorate as a bunch of hopeless, irrelevant cranks. Lately, though, things have changed. As the Left’s monopoly on campus has become nearly total, the abuses have grown (think Lawrence Summers and Ward Churchill). At the same time, 9/11, generational change, and the rise of alternative media have produced a more conservative cohort of students. And now a series of empirical studies have provided evidence to back up the widely shared sense that the professorate — particularly at the elite schools — has been monopolized by the Left. (See here and here.) The rebellion against campus p.c. may finally be nearing critical mass. Once prestigious schools actually stand to lose applicants, administrators may finally wake up and do something to balance their one-sided faculties.
I see a different vision. I think they ought to go away altogether, or at least recalibrate themselves so that the middle-class (and, more specifically, middle-class incomes) are once more welcome within their "hallowed" halls. As the same Goodman article points out, not only have colleges and universities gotten more politic (hopelessly so), they've also gotten revoltingly expensive. Your sons and daughters are not leaving college any better educated -- indeed, they're probably much less well educated than preceding generations of students -- but you can rest comfortable knowing that you've depleted your retirement and they've been burdened with decades of student loan debt. Twenty-something years ago when I left one of the big public universities, the situation was already pretty bad. Tuition increased 10 or 12% annually -- far in excess of tuition -- but the "name" professors for whom we were ostensibly paying had little to do with our education. Instead, we were taught by TA's, many of whom had an inadequate grasp of English, or by professors who had nothing to recommend them but their tenured status. At the very least, tenure should be abolished because it does not promote intellectual freedom, but does promote academic laziness, elitism, and the kind of Ward Churchill-ish behavior we're seeing more and more often. Even better, though, in my dreams, market forces operate so that parents rebel against the big colleges (public and private), and move their money elsewhere. With luck, in a decade or so, the big schools will be utterly depleted, and will be forced to scale back to a reasonable tuition in exchange for a solid scientific and liberal arts education. Regarding the professors and the flim-flam job they've pulled on Americans, I recommend a slightly dated book by Charles Sykes, called Profscam. (See the link over to the right somewhere.) As I said, it may be dated, but it actually sounds as if the situation has only gotten worse.