David Horowitz has a book coming out entitled Indoctrination U.—a sequel of sorts to last year’s The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America.
In the latter work Horowitz shows how leftist radicals—from Ward Churchill to Angela Davis—have ensconced themselves in campuses throughout the country. Indeed, Horowitz cites two prominent professors, Todd Gitlin and Richard Rorty, who openly declare that “the power base of the left in America is now in the universities”—or as Gitlin puts it, “We [the Left] lost…the politics, but won the textbooks.”
This observation is borne out in a survey conducted by Rothman, Nevitte, and Lichter—a study covering 1,643 faculty members from 183 colleges and universities. These investigators concluded that “over the course of fifteen years, self-described liberals grew from a slight plurality to a five to one majority on college faculties, while the ratio of liberals to conservatives in the general population remained relatively constant.”
One might add that the liberal-conservative ratios in newly-created “Studies” departments—Women’s Studies, African-American Studies, Gender Studies—are considerably higher, assuming any conservative can be found at all.
This dearth of intellectual diversity transforms educational institutions that should be settings for open discussion and reflection into echo chambers ripe for ideological indoctrination. Such uniformity also pushes campuses further to the left—as junior faculty more and more reflect the political orientation of leftist hiring committees.
In such an environment it is a dereliction of duty to declare, as Palomar President Bob Deegan did recently, that his college has “no guidelines in course content” because it trusts the expertise of its faculty. Such an assertion is all the more troubling since a sizeable percentage of the school’s instructors are part-timers.
No responsible institution should look the other way while an instructor in an introductory English class transforms its reading list into a forum for Vagina Monologues politics. Nor should it, as a parent recently reported to me, exhibit no interest in reining in a teacher whose vulgarity and film selections allegedly made her classroom a hostile environment for conservative students.
Having taught in prep school and college for over twenty years, I know the difference between expressing a viewpoint and abusing one’s position of power. No one ever came out of my philosophy class without receiving the strongest of presentations in favor of three philosophers whose ideas I abhor—Marx, Nietzsche, and Sartre. By contrast, leftists whose ideology stands in the place of religion seldom exhibit similar respect for students' autonomy.
It’s hard to say how many teachers at local schools abuse their positions by attempting to indoctrinate students. And it is unlikely that part-time instructors at a community college will be featured in Horowitz’s upcoming book.
What is beyond doubt, however, is that the current academic climate—in which Harvard’s President was forced to resign for raising a non-PC conjecture—isn’t one where administrators, parents, or students should blindly “trust” instructors with curriculum decisions.