Students seeking to avoid left-wing homilies delivered in classroom lectures by making use of distance education might be in for an unpleasant surprise, as we have noted before.
Indeed, as veteran Washington correspondent John Gizzi reports, the largest distance learning facility in the United States—Phoenix University—was started by a former college professor—John Sperling—who dabbled in politics for most of his nine decades on the planet.
To be sure, at least an internet search of databases that maintain such information shows no political abuse on the part of Phoenix University instructors. Nonetheless, its founder’s history is worthy of note.
“As a state and national officer in the American Federation of Teachers, Sperling became the pivotal organizer of a sister union, the United Professors of California,” Gizzi writes. “In 1968, he led a strike of San Jose State [University] professors to demonstrate solidarity with their counterparts at San Francisco State College.”
“To some, it wasn’t clear why they were going on strike but it was fun,” one of Sperling’s colleagues at the time remembers.
Sperling is one of a trio of billionaires who contribute enormously to “527” organizations such as the groups active in the last election mostly on behalf of Democratic standard bearer John Kerry, Gizzi notes in the Capital Research Center’s July issue of Foundation Watch. The other two plutocrats are George Soros and Peter B. Lewis.
Sperling’s rise to prominence in America has been nothing short of meteoric. After an abusive childhood, during which Sperling struggled with severe dyslexia, Sperling became a merchant marine. With the money he saved while in the merchant marines he was able to put himself through school at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. He subsequently earned his master’s degree in English history before moving on to earn his PhD from Kings College at Cambridge University.
After a stint as a professor, he eventually grew bored with academia. He left to organize the Apollo Group, which is a NASDAQ-traded Internet corporation which earned $1 billion in revenue in 2004. After rising to financial success through the Apollo Group, he went on to take up unusual ventures, most famously the online for-profit University of Phoenix.
Sperling is currently dumping much of his money—over $50 million—into anti-aging research. His other financial ventures include donating millions of dollars to cloning research. Despite outrage from groups such as the Humane Society, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Sperling envisions fully automated pet cloning factories in the future. Cloning piques Sperling’s interest because of his desire to clone his pet dog Missy.
Now 84, Sperling was introduced to marijuana while undergoing radiation treatment for prostate cancer almost 50 years ago and has since been a strong supporter of the use of the drug for medicinal purpose, and has likewise donated large sums to causes which support the drug’s legalization.
Christine Inauen [pictured] is a rising sophomore at the Catholic University of America. She is currently an intern for Accuracy in Academia.
Malcolm A. Kline is Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.