No “Progressives” Left Behind

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

It is interesting that the very people who urge you to “speak truth to power” get annoyed when you actually do.

Of all of the defenses mounted by the higher education establishment to criticism that it is failing in its mission, perhaps none is so annoying to those of us on this beat as the claim that such broadsides are only based on “a bunch of anecdotes.” Last year, on one website, Accuracy in Academia posted stories on about 300 professors from nearly as many colleges and universities.

Moreover, there is precious little overlap among the horror stories catalogued by AIA and a host of other groups, including the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), a network of pro bono lawyers which stands ready to take their anecdotes to court.

What’s noteworthy about this overview is that these collected incidents number in the thousands on top of a base of more than four thousand institutions of higher learning. Thus, we begin to see, not a collection of anecdotal evidence but the suggested outlines of a trend.

In like fashion, One-Party Classroom by David Horowitz and Jacob Laskin features few of the pedagogues that the lead author profiled in his 2006 book, The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America. In One-Party Classroom, Horowitz and Laskin examine 150 courses at a dozen universities.

In The Professors, Horowitz profiled 1960s radical operative Bill Ayers and his perhaps even more prolific wife Bernardine Dohrn. Ayers, whose friendship with the current occupant of the White House made headlines last year, makes a cameo appearance in One-Party Classroom as well.

“One can learn a good deal about the Teacher’s College educational philosophy from a series of books titled Teaching for Social Justice, published by Teacher’s College Press,” Horowitz writes of one of the premier schools at his alma mater—Columbia. “The fourteen-book series—the brainchild of Maxine Green, a professor emeritus of philosophy and education at the college, and her protégé William Ayers, a one-time leader of the terrorist group called the Weather Underground, an unrepentant bomber, and a graduate of the college—focuses on K-12 education and shows the extent to which teaching ‘social justice’ means promoting left-wing activism.”

“One particularly telling example is the book Teaching Science for Social Justice, which is forthright in its aim: to replace science with political activism.” The exact quote from the textbook authors is: “By illustrating how science brings about different kinds of change, we make the claim that all teaching and learning science is political.”

Such an approach is not likely to boost U. S. standings in international scientific achievement comparisons anytime soon. Although the courses that Horowitz and Laskin look at tilt towards the exotic, arguably they are merely tracking an ever-growing academic trend.

“The first Black Studies program was created in 1967, during a general strike that shut down San Francisco State College,” Horowitz and Laskin recount. More than 300 such programs would be launched by colleges and universities within the next three years, “all without the academic standards and guidelines that might ensure that their scholarship and teaching would be professional,” Horowitz and Laskin argue.

In response to a recent AIA posting on, a reader alleged that any field of study with the word “studies” attached to it is suspect. The freeper may be onto something.

“These ideological programs include Women’s Studies, African-American Studies, Peace Studies, Cultural Studies, Chicano Studies, Gay Lesbian Studies, Post-Colonial Studies, Whiteness Studies, Community Studies, and recently politicized disciplines such as Cultural Anthropology and Sociology,” Horowitz writes in the conclusion to One-Party Classroom. Ultimately, the very people who could pull the plug on such questionable scholarly undertakings will not.

“Most disturbing of all is the unwillingness of administrators and trustees to defend their institutions and enforce the professional standards of a modern research university,” Horowitz and Laskin write. They could have gone on to blame the reluctance to “just say no” to federal funds for such establishments displayed by a Republican president and a Congress dominated by his party over the past decade while both were being rallied against on those same campuses.

“Outside of Hollywood, there can be no greater holdout from the Republican message than the Ivory Tower, yet the information trickling out of surveys and studies shows that it did not come up short in the controversial practice of earmarking federal funds that the congressional elephants became associated with,” I wrote the year that the Republicans lost control of Congress.

Malcolm A. Kline is the executive director of Accuracy in Academia.