Thursday, April 26, 2012


“A Crisis of Competence” is the 81-page document produced by the California Association of Scholars that was recently presented to the California Board of Regents.

While the study illustrates, as I noted in my prior column, the utter dominance of leftist beliefs in higher education, its focus is not on political opinions per se, but rather on “the associated question of competence and quality of education.” Moreover, the report doesn’t claim that “most” educators are derelict in their duties but rather that politicization is widespread, unprofessional, and mostly ignored by administrators.

Put succinctly, the document asserts that the one-sided leftist tilt of colleges and universities undermines quality education, especially in the humanities and social sciences. Below are some UC-centered observations:

On most UC campuses courses in Western Civilization aren’t offered at all. Similarly, at UC San Diego a literature major need not take a course on Shakespeare but must complete a survey course in Chicano, African-American, or Asian-American literature.

“At UC Davis a history major can avoid American history entirely, and the same is true of the Santa Cruz, Irvine, and San Diego campuses,” the report notes.

By contrast, at UC Santa Cruz (where Communist Party Vice-Presidential candidate Angela Davis was a professor from 1991 to 2008) courses on Marx are offered in five separate departments. (According to a national study by Neil Gross and Solon Simmons, almost 20 percent of professors in the social sciences self-identify as Marxist.)

Several anecdotes in the CAS report illustrate the corrupting influence of political activism on specific courses:

A student in a writing program at UC San Diego’s Warren College, for example, reported that she composed an essay that called for legal abortion, but with restrictions. She was informed that in order to pass the course she needed to revise her essay “to support abortion in all circumstances.”

Even a computer science class at Berkeley included regular course-irrelevant harangues directed at George W. Bush and California’s “Nazi” Gov. Schwarzenegger.

The study also provides data indicating that the politicizing of higher education is getting worse—as younger faculty are more explicitly committed to leftist activism than older faculty. In addition, the report cites a study that links poor primary and secondary education with “the political preoccupations that now drive teacher training in the nation’s colleges.”

In calling for enforcement of the academic standards in the Regent’s own charter (and in California’s constitution) the CAS report sides with the view of John Stuart Mill that students must be able to hear arguments “from people who actually believe them” and that “he who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that.”

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Most college-bound seniors have now received their letters of acceptance from admissions offices around the country. A lengthy document submitted last week by the California Association of Scholars (CAS) to the California Board of Regents offers compelling evidence that these incoming freshmen will be paying more money for a lower quality education that’s heavily corrupted by leftist activism.

The report notes that “the amount families pay for college has skyrocketed 439 percent since 1982” while “an astounding proportion of students” are completing their studies “without measurable gains in general skills.”

Case in point: According to the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, 80% of seniors from fifty-five of the country’s most prestigious colleges and universities (including Berkeley and UCLA) received a D or F when asked basic questions about American history like identifying the Gettysburg Address or recognizing fundamental constitutional principles.

The CAS report views the politicization of higher education as a major factor that’s fostered this state of affairs. After all, instructors besotted with ideology focus on indoctrination—not on dispensing a balanced portrait of complex issues and developing a student’s ability to critically evaluate competing perspectives.

In the words of the CAS study: “political activists tend to have a very different attitude to alternatives to their own convictions.” In their view competing beliefs “do not deserve sympathetic consideration, for they are at best wrong, at worst evil.”

Those who believe that the academy has always been structured as it is today should consider the difference between the political makeup of schools in 1969 (when, according to a Carnegie Commission report, there was a 45-27-28 percent liberal-moderate-conservative split) with the 5:1 liberal dominance observed by Stanley Rothman in 1999. Since that time the imbalance has gotten much worse—especially in the Humanities.

At UC San Diego the CAS report shows a clean 27-0 leftist sweep in Politics and a 26:1 split in History—ratios typical within the UC system. The report also provides examples of the way ideology permeates instruction and affects the hiring of new faculty—where there’s significant bias against hiring Republicans but no measurable prejudice against self-identified Marxists.

Even non-political courses are often used as platforms for leftist indoctrination—as Luann Wright (founder of the website discovered when she investigated a UCSD writing course that ignored composition and instead became a “sociopolitical soapbox.” Wright was amazed that administrators were aware of but tolerated such malpractice.

The aforementioned CAS report is designed to get Regents to take seriously Article IX, Section 9 of the state constitution at their May 15 meeting: “The university shall be entirely independent of all political and sectarian influence…”