Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Taking Back Academia Begins with the States

 

Academia is broken and needs reform. Much of higher education is thoroughly corrupted by ideology and groupthink, including the STEM Departments, and instead of educated, well-rounded national and global citizens and scholars, are churning out mindlessly chanting, self-righteous, totalitarian, and censorious ignoramuses.

Clearly, just waiting for employment and taxation {chortle} to rectify so many years of maleducation and indoctrination is not a solution. Therefore, more active measures are needed.

This means Republican governors and state legislatures with GOP majorities unapologetically setting about breaking up the left-wing indoctrination fiefdoms that have been established in their state-owned colleges and university systems.

The David French approach of “gentle persuasion” is not going to work here because the most dominant segments of academia reject such niceties as instruments of “oppression.” So it’s bull-in-a-china-shop time. Sometimes a structure is so compromised that demolition and rebuilding is the only option.

Simply put, the Economics Department at the University of North Dakota should not have seven Marxists, three communists, four liberal Democrats, and one Republican Professor (Emeritus). The Literature Department at the University of Utah should not have zero Republican members or every single member’s research focused on sexuality, race, and gender.

It is the responsibility of legislators to ensure that taxpayer money is spent judiciously. With this in mind, it is not only entirely appropriate, but an affirmative duty for legislators to question the value, and the very existence of pseudo-disciplines like Gender Studies, Feminist Biology, Critical Race Theory, etc.

They should conduct a deep dive inquiry into these so-called academic disciplines; the curriculum, the texts, assignments, jargon, etc. Hold hearings with the professors, students, critics, etc. Is there any way of validating what is being taught, in the real world? Is it even comprehensible? Does it provide any marketable skills to its students?

If not, there should be no hesitation in defunding these pseudo-disciplines, and insisting that if the university intends to keep offering them, they must use money specifically raised for them outside of public funds or tuition fees.

University presidents, provosts, deans, faculty, and department heads should be called before the legislature and required to affirm and reaffirm their dedication to the values of merit, objectivity, empiricism, rigor, non-discrimination, freedom of speech, and pluralism.

And then they need to explain and justify, with documentation, the ideological imbalance of their institution. To be blunt, if over 75% of a state university’s professors in a state as Republican as Utah are Democrats, then the burden of proof is on them to prove the lack of a de facto policy of discrimination.

They will need to bring records of every hiring and tenure decision made, including lists of applicants, and the scoring criteria they used to winnow down to their eventual choice for every professor employed by the university.

Ultimately, university leaders will be forced to ideologically diversify their teaching staff dramatically within the academic year. If this means foregoing other capital projects, extra-curricular activities, even letting go of administrators, then so be it.

Where the subject matter is actually useful but genuinely controversial, or multifaceted, particularly in the Humanities and Social Sciences, it is essential that a true advocate is employed to provide the other side.

Regular surveys of the campus climate for free speech and inquiry and reports on disciplinary procedures against students and faculty involving non-criminal activity should also be mandated to ensure punishments are not being levied on the sly against non-conforming individuals.

Furthermore, going forward, university hiring processes — for both faculty and administration — must be based on objective measurable criteria to the fullest extent possible, and their hiring deliberations should also be henceforth made public for the perusal of the people who pay their salaries.

A good idea is to include external parties to participate in the vetting of these hiring decisions — including alumni and other qualified members of the taxpaying public in a manner similar to jury duty. If a candidate’s portfolio of work is a mish-mash of incomprehensible, intersectional jargon, it is far less likely to impress the ordinary person than the faculty lounge.

Shrieks about the loss of academic freedom would certainly ensue. The AAUP, ACLU, etc. will be full-throated in opposition. Professors and administrators will threaten to resign. Students will protest and riot. Lawsuits will be filed in friendly (i.e. Democrat-appointed) federal judges’ courtrooms.

Progressives in charge of university rankings will threaten to drop the state’s institutions down to the bottom, and attempts will be made to rescind accreditations.

The media will trash the state; CNN, MSNBC, and major newspapers all over the country will blare out headlines like “North Dakota Republicans: Black Students Don’t Belong In Our Universities.” And many of the titans of progressive corporate America will level threats and echo the inevitable charges of “racism,” “sexism,” “homophobia,” “white supremacy,” etc.

This, when media and corporate power show up slinging smears and ultimatums, is usually when Republican politicians lose their nerve and cave to the baying mob. Precisely when courage is most required.

Courage will allow a governor or legislative leader to see this as a political opportunity. For example, I firmly believe Pat McCrory would be finishing up his second term as governor if he had responded to the corporate threats against NC’s transgender bathroom ban legislation with a defiant “Who the hell do you think you are?!”

This means, all offers by administrators and faculty to resign in response, should be accepted with all due speed, even if the professor is a STEM Nobel Prize winner — the graveyards are full of indispensable men (and women). All students who wish to drop out should be allowed to do so with minimum fuss, along with their course credits and tuition fees.

This presents a valuable opportunity to bring down the exploding costs of administrators on college campuses and even allow a funding formula that puts limits on the number of administrative and teaching staff versus the number of students.

To be clear; the claims about the loss of “academic freedom” by shrieking professors and administrative staff will be thoroughly disingenuous and should be openly dismissed as such using the copious prima facie evidence that their hiring decisions clearly and heavily involve ideological litmus tests. Academic freedom cannot exist in such an environment.

Second, the point needs to be made that the state’s taxpayers expect their universities to uphold the values of merit, objectivity, freedom of speech, empiricism, rigor, non-discrimination, and pluralism, not to be turned into stultifying politically correct indoctrination centers. That’s when to announce that private schools receiving taxpayer funding and tax exemptions are also expected to uphold those same values.

So this is about returning academic freedom to higher education on behalf of the people who pay for these institutions.

The final point to make is that academia has clearly proven that it cannot be trusted to police itself, that the professoriat cannot be trusted with the sole stewardship of academic freedom, and therefore, like in every other institution in America, checks and balances are needed on behalf of taxpayers and, ultimately the students themselves.

Being exposed to only one side of the story is being manipulated, not educated.

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  1. Stad Thatcher

    MartinKnight: The David French approach of “gentle persuasion” is not going to work here because the most dominant segments of academia rejects such niceties as instruments of “oppression”. So it’s bull in a china shop time. Sometimes a structure is so compromized that demolition and rebuilding is the only option.

    Money talks.

    If the Washington Redskins can be forced to change their name using loss of money as a lever, so can public universities. Red states would do well to cut the budgets of every school by an amount equal to their “XYZ Studies” programs and their “Inclusion and Diversity” staff. Better yet, don’t cut the funding – transfer the money to women’s sports. Let’s see the school administrations twist their heads into pretzels trying to come up with arguments against that . . .

    • #1
    • July 16, 2020, at 5:42 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  2. I. M. Fine Coolidge

    I found your post very thought-provoking, and I really want to applaud your detailed and action-based proposal (rather than just a “call-to-thought.”) I also agree with much of your rationale. But I am trying to sort through some of the obvious logistical challenges, and I wondered if you could provide more specifics. These a good-faith questions.

    The biggest issue is this: If you call for diversifying the ideology of a faculty, how do you define “ideology?” And how will it be measured? Are you calling for more conservatives on the faculties, or more members of the Republican party? If you are calling for more conservatives, will this simply be a self-report check-mark on a paper application? Or will there have to be a more nuanced and in-depth determination? (Say, a response to an essay question; and again, who is the judge?) Defining “conservative” is a pretty difficult proposition; we have trouble with that on this web site — I’m wondering how you would find some sort of consensus out there as to what it even means. And if it is membership in the Republican party, are you actually making belonging to a political party grounds for employment? And what about Independents? Or people who decide to switch parties later in their careers? Are we talking about a quota system, based on the party-make-up of a state? And does the quota change with the changing party-membership of the state? A state may be Republican today, but what happens if their ideology shifts a decade later — will professors hired during the Republican era suddenly have their jobs on the line?

    And this just concerns the paper-application process. It is not unusual for there to be over 100 applications for any single teaching position at a college or university. I’m just trying to imagine how you find conservative/Republican candidates to even interview. Actually, I suppose the first REAL question is how you get conservative/Republican candidates to apply in the first place — how many actually do apply, or don’t, and why they don’t. (That may be the first issue to fix … but that’s probably another post altogether.)

    • #2
    • July 16, 2020, at 7:51 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  3. The Cynthonian Member

    The fact that even red states have these monolithic academic institutions, publicly funded to boot, has frustrated me for years. I have wondered why an organization like ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council) (though it’s become a favorite boogey-man of the NPR-listening Left) doesn’t organize an effort like this in the red states. It’s bad enough that this complete Leftist domination of public universities goes on in CA, WA, and NY, but why on earth are the taxpayers of ND, TN, and TX stuck funding this?

    • #3
    • July 16, 2020, at 8:05 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  4. The Cynthonian Member

    I. M. Fine (View Comment):

    I found your post very thought-provoking, and I really want to applaud your detailed and action-based proposal (rather than just a “call-to-thought.”) I also agree with much of your rationale. But I am trying to sort through some of the obvious logistical challenges, and I wondered if you could provide more specifics. These a good-faith questions.

    The biggest issue is this: If you call for diversifying the ideology of a faculty, how do you define “ideology?” And how will it be measured? Are you calling for more conservatives on the faculties, or more members of the Republican party? If you are calling for more conservatives, will this simply be a self-report check-mark on a paper application? Or will there have to be a more nuanced and in-depth determination? (Say, a response to an essay question; and again, who is the judge?) Defining “conservative” is a pretty difficult proposition; we have trouble with that on this web site — I’m wondering how you would find some sort of consensus out there as to what it even means. And if it is membership in the Republican party, are you actually making belonging to a political party grounds for employment? And what about Independents? Or people who decide to switch parties later in their careers? Are we talking about a quota system, based on the party-make-up of a state? And does the quota change with the changing party-membership of the state? A state may be Republican today, but what happens if their ideology shifts a decade later — will professors hired during the Republican era suddenly have their jobs on the line?

    And this just concerns the paper-application process. It is not unusual for there to be over 100 applications for any single teaching position at a college or university. I’m just trying to imagine how you find conservative/Republican candidates to even interview. Actually, I suppose the first REAL question is how you get conservative/Republican candidates to apply in the first place — how many actually do apply, or don’t, and why they don’t. (That may be the first issue to fix … but that’s probably another post altogether.)

    Maybe the answer is simply to make the public universities prove that they’ve removed all ideological litmus tests. No fealty oaths to diversity, LGBT causes, safe spaces, etc. No academic record checking for a history of such allegiances. Let conservatives compete.

    • #4
    • July 16, 2020, at 8:08 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  5. Susan Quinn Contributor

    There’s been a discussion of stopping federal funding of universities, which they would really scream about. More than that, I wonder if the state governors and legislatures have the authority to exercise the power you specifically describe. I’m all for it, if they do!

    • #5
    • July 16, 2020, at 10:23 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  6. DonG (skeptic) Coolidge

    MartinKnight: Academia is broken and needs reform. Much of higher education is thoroughly corrupted

    What is the difference between most non-profit universities and those old scam for-profit universities. Both took money knowing that the students were not going to get a good job. A scam is a scam. The government should require all schools taking federal dollars to give students a cost/benefit-ROI analysis of their degree choice and what their employment prospects are compared with taking the same thing at a community college. We need a lot fewer people spending $70K/year to study art history and more people paying $5K/year to study plumbing.

    • #6
    • July 16, 2020, at 11:22 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  7. RufusRJones Member

    They need to do three things.

    They need to wipe out the accreditation system. This is just a gatekeeping system so people can make money off of higher education. It does not enhance the development of human capital.

    In technical fields or subject they need to simply switch to certifications. It’s your own business how you pass the test.

    The next thing they need to do is make college largely a al carte. There is nothing wrong with liberal arts but they charge too much for it and you should not be forced to take it. If you want to go through a system where they force you to take it that will be available.

    I suppose the main people that can drive this are conservatives and whoever hires the kids.

    • #7
    • July 17, 2020, at 6:22 AM PDT
    • Like
  8. Ray Gunner Coolidge

    RufusRJones (View Comment):
    They need to wipe out the accreditation system. This is just a gatekeeping system so people can make money off of higher education. It does not enhance the development of human capital.

    So true! I deeply appreciate the thoughtful action plan for recovering these lost institutions, but from my view, the corruption of higher education is beyond reform. Better to bypass it entirely. The best way to do that is to make it obsolete. And the best way to make it obsolete is to take away its monopolistic power to “credential” a person.

    Ever since Griggs vs. Duke Power Co., businesses have been effectively banned from giving job applicants aptitude tests for high level jobs. That turned out to be boon to colleges and universities. American business had suddenly lost its discretion to screen applicants by its own lights. It had to effectively outsource its employee screening processes to the higher ed establishment. That’s why everyone has to go to university. That’s why universities have grown so powerful. An American business cannot let you walk in the door and sit for a few days of testing even if you both want to. That’s how high the civil liabilities are under Griggs.

    If Congressional Republicans are interested in NOTHING ELSE, they should pass a federal law overturning the effect of the Griggs decision. Imagine a kid graduating from high school, going straight to some high tech company and sitting for a week of tests. The tests show a strong aptitude for “X” and they offer him an apprenticeship and off he goes. No more mass anti-American indoctrination at Second Tier U!! Getting rid of Griggs would do more to break the power of our anti-American colleges and universities than anything I can think of.

    • #8
    • July 17, 2020, at 3:21 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  9. RufusRJones Member

    Ray Gunner (View Comment):
    Ever since Griggs vs. Duke Power Co., businesses have been effectively banned from giving job applicants aptitude tests for high level jobs.

    Right. I forgot about that.

    Really good post, sir. 

    One of the best things I’ve ever heard on this is Nick Gillespie of Reason Magazine interviewed Thaddeus Russell. He has a website called Renegade History. Great podcast. He just nails accreditation. He’s hiring all kinds of professors that can’t get jobs they are satisfied with and setting them up to teach online. 

    All education should be about developing human capital at a fair price. That is not what is happening in any way. Yesterdays Dan Proft podcast laid out all of the crazy social demands and money demands of the LA teachers union or something like that. Why can’t people see the education system is just an edifice for theft.

    • #9
    • July 17, 2020, at 3:31 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  10. CJ Inactive
    CJ

    The Universities can’t be saved. Your prescriptions expect a lot from politicians, and frankly, I haven’t seen any evidence in my lifetime to suggest that there is any more than a tiny fraction of them that would have the guts required to take on this sort of effort. Therefore a political solution is virtually impossible.

    You can’t rely on politicians to take action. You must take action yourself.

    • Step 1: Take your kids out of government schools. Homeschool, unschool, join a co-op.
    • Step 2: Train your kids to have real skill and think about alternatives to degree-to-corporate cubicle assembly line. Developing a trade or service is a pathway to owning your own business.
    • Step 3: Discourage your kids from attending university unless they know what career they are going to pursue and it is absolutely necessary for the proper credential (doctor, engineer).
      • If you do send the to University, choose one specifically for liberty-minded professors in their intended field of study.
    • Step 4: Persuade your conservative friends and family to do the same.

    Mindlessly sending your kids to University is like feeding them toxic garbage. Why would you do that to your children?

    • #10
    • July 17, 2020, at 3:39 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  11. RufusRJones Member

    CJ (View Comment):
    The Universities can’t be saved. Your prescriptions expect a lot from politicians, and frankly, I haven’t seen any evidence in my lifetime to suggest that there is any more than a tiny fraction of them that would have the guts required to take on this sort of effort. Therefore a political solution is virtually impossible.

    It’s unfortunate that there is no place to get a “liberal” education. Supposedly this develops the mind and character and is good for the country. I suppose homeschooling and some co-ops are really the only thing. They have a great private school here in Minnesota I forget what it’s called. Very Judeo Christian and sort of constitutionally oriented. Traditional education. 

    The country needs a lot of sharp libertarians and conservatives.

    • #11
    • July 17, 2020, at 3:45 PM PDT
    • Like
  12. Gatomal Member

    CJ (View Comment):

    The Universities can’t be saved. Your prescriptions expect a lot from politicians, and frankly, I haven’t seen any evidence in my lifetime to suggest that there is any more than a tiny fraction of them that would have the guts required to take on this sort of effort. Therefore a political solution is virtually impossible.

    You can’t rely on politicians to take action. You must take action yourself.

    • Step 1: Take your kids out of government schools. Homeschool, unschool, join a co-op.
    • Step 2: Train your kids to have real skill and think about alternatives to degree-to-corporate cubicle assembly line. Developing a trade or service is a pathway to owning your own business.
    • Step 3: Discourage your kids from attending university unless they know what career they are going to pursue and it is absolutely necessary for the proper credential (doctor, engineer).
      • If you do send the to University, choose one specifically for liberty-minded professors in their intended field of study.
    • Step 4: Persuade your conservative friends and family to do the same.

    Mindlessly sending your kids to University is like feeding them toxic garbage. Why would you do that to your children?

    This is exactly what we are doing with our four kids: Homeschooling all. We aren’t even saving for college, rather we just started stock accounts that they may use for buying property, buying or starting a business, paying for the higher education they choose, or travel. There is not value in college like there used to be, especially in second or third-tier schools. I think young people’s time would be better spent learning a trade or starting a business. 
    Higher education is due for a big disruption soon, between COVID showing that most learning can take place remotely, and employer’s knowledge that a college degree doesn’t guarantee even minimal competence in math, writing, or critical thinking. 

    • #12
    • July 18, 2020, at 6:22 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  13. RufusRJones Member

    Gatomal (View Comment):
    There is not value in college like there used to be, especially in second or third-tier schools.

    99th percentile overpriced. It costs way too much for what you get.

    • #13
    • July 18, 2020, at 6:27 AM PDT
    • Like
  14. Stad Thatcher

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    There’s been a discussion of stopping federal funding of universities, which they would really scream about.

    Even the ones with huge endowments . . .

    • #14
    • July 18, 2020, at 6:30 AM PDT
    • Like
  15. Stad Thatcher

    DonG (skeptic) (View Comment):

    MartinKnight: Academia is broken and needs reform. Much of higher education is thoroughly corrupted

    What is the difference between most non-profit universities and those old scam for-profit universities. Both took money knowing that the students were not going to get a good job. A scam is a scam. The government should require all schools taking federal dollars to give students a cost/benefit-ROI analysis of their degree choice and what their employment prospects are compared with taking the same thing at a community college. We need a lot fewer people spending $70K/year to study art history and more people paying $5K/year to study plumbing.

    I would like to see the Federal government get out of the business of guaranteeing student loans altogether. Put lending organizations totally on the hook financially for student loans, and we’ll see if Little Allie Antifa can get a $100,000k loan for her BA in Women’s Studies at the University of Woke . . .

    • #15
    • July 18, 2020, at 6:32 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  16. Stad Thatcher

    Ray Gunner (View Comment):
    Ever since Griggs vs. Duke Power Co., businesses have been effectively banned from giving job applicants aptitude tests for high level jobs. That turned out to be boon to colleges and universities. American business had suddenly lost its discretion to screen applicants by its own lights. It had to effectively outsource its employee screening processes to the higher ed establishment. That’s why everyone has to go to university. That’s why universities have grown so powerful. An American business cannot let you walk in the door and sit for a few days of testing even if you both want to. That’s how high the civil liabilities are under Griggs.

    And now we have basketball coaches and others asking the NCAA to end the SAT/ACT requirement for athletes:

    https://footballscoop.com/news/basketball-coaches-association-calls-for-ncaa-to-stop-considering-sat-act-scores/

    Just another bigoted way of saying black athletes can’t cut it academically . . .

    • #16
    • July 18, 2020, at 6:35 AM PDT
    • Like
  17. I Walton Member

    They cannot fix themselves and we don’t want the government taking over, and if parents don’t pay enough attention to guide their children to sensible schools, what do the rest of us do? As a minimum stop paying a cent for any of them, no federal money for college at all but fix the public schools immediately by eliminating all, that’s all as in every single person, of the public school bureaucratic over structure, i.e. make them all independent, run by teachers and parents and dependent on enrolement so they have to compete with each other for kids. Bad teachers cost and get replaced. New Zealand did this and went from the bottom of the west to the top almost overnight. This is perhaps the most urgent issue we face.

    • #17
    • July 18, 2020, at 6:35 AM PDT
    • 1 like
    • This comment has been edited.
  18. RufusRJones Member

    Stad (View Comment):

    And now we have basketball coaches and others asking the NCAA to end the SAT/ACT requirement for athletes:

     

    The University of Minnesota Duluth just did this. In my opinion, this is simply about keeping the gravy train going as long as they can. They don’t care what happens to these kids except for them being brainwashed.

    • #18
    • July 18, 2020, at 6:40 AM PDT
    • Like
  19. MartinKnight Coolidge
    MartinKnight

    This is exactly what we are doing with our four kids: Homeschooling all. We aren’t even saving for college, rather we just started stock accounts that they may use for buying property, buying or starting a business, paying for the higher education they choose, or travel. There is not value in college like there used to be, especially in second or third-tier schools. I think young people’s time would be better spent learning a trade or starting a business. 

    Higher education is due for a big disruption soon, between COVID showing that most learning can take place remotely, and employer’s knowledge that a college degree doesn’t guarantee even minimal competence in math, writing, or critical thinking.

    Homeschooling has its place, but sooner or later, it becomes just another surrender option – repeating the same abandoning of the institutions that brought us here. 

    Many conservatives think they can avoid the fight by choosing to homeschool or pay for private schools – even though their taxes are paying for the public school down the street. These people are totalitarians – very soon, even that avenue of surrender will no longer be an option. 

    Some woke education department or child services bureaucrat may just decide that your child is spending too much time on Booker T. Washington and James Madison instead of Harvey Milk and Jazz Jennings. 

    Save your children and grandchildren.

    To the extent you can, get on the school board, got to school board and PTA meetings, review school curricula and text books amd watch over your kids’ education like a hawk.

    Or the millions more kids who don’t get homeschooled, who instead get indoctrinated at public schools will get to have their way with your children and grandchildren when they grow up.

    • #19
    • July 18, 2020, at 7:39 AM PDT
    • Like
  20. CJ Inactive
    CJ

    MartinKnight (View Comment):

    This is exactly what we are doing with our four kids: Homeschooling all. We aren’t even saving for college, rather we just started stock accounts that they may use for buying property, buying or starting a business, paying for the higher education they choose, or travel. There is not value in college like there used to be, especially in second or third-tier schools. I think young people’s time would be better spent learning a trade or starting a business.

    Higher education is due for a big disruption soon, between COVID showing that most learning can take place remotely, and employer’s knowledge that a college degree doesn’t guarantee even minimal competence in math, writing, or critical thinking.

    Homeschooling has its place, but sooner or later, it becomes just another surrender option – repeating the same abandoning of the institutions that brought us here.

    Many conservatives think they can avoid the fight by choosing to homeschool or pay for private schools – even though their taxes are paying for the public school down the street. These people are totalitarians – very soon, even that avenue of surrender will no longer be an option.

    Some woke education department or child services bureaucrat may just decide that your child is spending too much time on Booker T. Washington and James Madison instead of Harvey Milk and Jazz Jennings.

    Save your children and grandchildren.

    To the extent you can, get on the school board, got to school board and PTA meetings, review school curricula and text books amd watch over your kids’ education like a hawk.

    Or the millions more kids who don’t get homeschooled, who instead get indoctrinated at public schools will get to have their way with your children and grandchildren when they grow up.

    It is interesting that you characterize homeschooling as an “avenue of surrender.” We are not “avoid[ing] the fight,” we are peacefully resisting and undermining the government monopoly. It is something practical that just about any conservative can do right now. Most don’t because they unthinkingly surrender to the inertia of cultural convention on what constitutes “proper education” (it’s how they were educated as kids, and how all other normal kids are educated now), or they just need to surrender their children to indoctrination day camps so that both parents can go to their corporate jobs to support their suburban middle-class lifestyles.

    • #20
    • July 19, 2020, at 9:31 AM PDT
    • Like