Monday, April 9, 2012

How California Colleges Indoctrinate Students # 2 of 2

How California Colleges Indoctrinate Students # 2 of 2
The relentless pursuit of the truth - - Mon., April 9, 2012

This article appeared Mar. 31/12 on p. A13 in some editions of the Wall Street Journal.

George H. Kubeck “Incomprehensible, treasonous: This must be disseminated in this election cycle.”

“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 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 reasonable 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 Occupy Wall Street movement. Excluding from the curriculum those ideas that depart from the progressive agenda implicitly teach 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 apologist 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 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."

Mr. Berkowitz is a senior fellow at Stanford’s University Hoover Institution and is a member of the National Association of Scholars board of directors. [posted at ]

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