Grand Old Education Party

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

One of the most startling aspects of life in our nation’s capital is the degree to which Republican lawmakers bend over backwards to secure funding for institutions of higher learning where professors construct programs designed as headlong assaults on both the free enterprise system and America’s national defenses, whatever the facts may be. Case in point: Washington & Lee University’s Poverty Studies program.

“The program has attracted diverse supporters, including Sen. John Warner (R-Va.), a W & L alum,” Brigid Schulte reported in The Washington Post. “He has secured grants for the program and included a provision in the Higher Education Act that would create a poverty studies consortium of 10 universities nationally, along the Shepherd Program model.”

As Schulte lays it out the program includes admirable volunteer work in shelters. Unfortunately, it also includes lectures by Nickel and Dimed author Barbara Ehrenreich.

Nor is W & L the only university to benefit from what its denizens would surely view as unexpected Republican largesse. Notre Dame has received $24 million in earmarked funds since 2000, even though it has an endowment in excess of $3 billion.

There are 17, 000 of these earmarks, according to the Wall Street Journal’s John Fund, and the value has ballooned ten times while Republicans have maintained nominal control of the U. S. Congress. Over the past four years alone, Fund observed, the number of lobbyists pursuing earmarks in Washington, D. C., has tripled from 1,500 to 4,000. Fund, who has served as an editorial writer and an editor at the Journal for more than two decades, spoke at a forum on the 2006 elections sponsored by the Free Congress Foundation.

Notre Dame tried to bring in a scholar from abroad whom the State Department denied a visa because of concerns over terrorist ties. The Fighting Irish also employ the wife of a former congressman who represented that district until 2003.

Unexpected Tribute to Catholicism

By the way, while older Catholic colleges and universities such as Notre Dame are doing their level best to shed themselves of traditional Catholicism, some unlikely secular sources are starting to give the Church credit for positive contributions to the world that it has made. James Ron, a sociologist in the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Canada’s Carleton University, “noted that it was mainly religious organizations such as the Roman Catholic Church— and not largely secular organizations that organize for human rights—that possessed the multiple layers of political, rhetorical, and social power required to move masses of people and their governments,” Richard Byrne reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

“I guess we need more of the Catholic Church,” Dr. Ron told the American Sociological Association at their annual convention in Quebec.

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