Did Santorum Strike Nerve?

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

Whether he wins the Iowa Caucuses or not, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum has apparently hit a raw nerve in higher education. “Let’s look at colleges and universities,” he said in Mason City, Iowa. “They’ve become indoctrination centers for the left.”

“Should we be subsidizing that?”  Evidently, merely calling for shutting off the federal spondulix is tantamount to repression.

“Santorum shows his great commitment to the First Amendment by declaring that the federal government should punish institutions for their ideology,” John Wilson writes on the academe blog. “If colleges aren’t supporting Republican ideas, Santorum tells us, the government should de-fund them.”

“I’m not sure how that would work: perhaps every college would be required each year to fill out the proper bureaucratic Ideology Forms and be accredited by Republican officials as sufficiently conservative to receive government funds.” Wilson is with the American Association of University Professors (AAUP).

Tellingly, Wilson’s paraphrase is longer than the original quote. Santorum’s broadside comes on the heels of the release of two interesting studies.

Campaign Money.com tracked the political contributions of college professors since 1999. The web site reveals that only 10 percent of their gifts went to Republicans.

Meanwhile, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) graded more than 1,000 colleges and universities on their course offerings. “Fewer than 20 schools out of 1,007 receive ‘A’ ratings, while almost 90 receive an ‘F,’” ACTA reports. “Less than 20 % of schools require students to study American government or history—even though the U. S. Department of Education recently found that 55% of graduating high school seniors lack even basic knowledge of the subject.”

“Less than 40 % require a literature survey; only 16 % require foreign language; only 5% require economics.” The foreign language dearth is particularly curious given the academic bent towards multiculturalism.

“Despite the universally acknowledged importance of science and mathematics, more than a third fail to require even a single course in college-level mathematics.” So what do they offer?

“The University of Wisconsin-Madison, for instance, allows students to fulfill their ‘Humanities, Literature and the Arts’ requirement with ‘Introduction to Television,’ while at Vassar the freshman seminar—what passes for a composition course—may be fulfilled by courses in Hip Hop or Chick Lit.”

The crowning irony is that these may be the most apolitical classes students at these institutions can find, although they meet the substantive scholarly standards set by higher education today.

Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.

If you would like to comment on this article, e-mail mal.kline@academia.org

 

Leave a Reply

(*) Required, Your email will not be published