More Teachable Moments

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

The latest poll from the Chronicle of Higher Education shows that conservatives make up only 15 percent of faculty and staff at surveyed colleges and universities while most polls show that more Americans than ever before are identifying themselves as right-leaning.

Given this dearth of Tories, it is hardly surprising that in the Washington Post outlook section on Sunday August 30, 2009, found two profs—One from Occidental College and the other from Harvard—who observed that “Ted Kennedy passed the liberal torch to Obama” and then urged “Let’s run with it.” The ratings on one of the professors—Occidental’s Peter Dreier— indicate that he has been doing just that. “He assigns outdated articles from The Nation as reading,” one reviewer reports.

Also, on September 2, 2009, ousted Honduran president Manuel Zelaya, a protégé of Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro, spoke at George Washington University. “Cynthia McClintock, the director of the Latin American and Hemispheric Studies Program at the Elliott School, said at the beginning of the event that GW is a university where all cultures are respected and called for the audience to continue that tone,” according to the GW Hatchet online story on the event by Madeleine O’Connor.

“It is obvious she teaches the class to promote her books,” one reviewer wrote on ratemyprofessors.comafter taking a course with McClintock. “Prof. McClintock’s previous books include The United States and Peru: Cooperation—at a Cost (co-authored with Fabián Vallas; Routledge, 2003 and Spanish edition, Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, 2005); Revolutionary Movements in Latin America: El Salvador’s FMLN and Peru’s Shining Path (U.S. Institute of Peace Press, 1998) and Peasant Cooperatives and Political Change in Peru (Princeton University Press, l981),” her GWU web site reveals.

Universities don’t exactly have a shortage of communists, visiting or in residence. Arguably, the most well-known of the latter are currently former Weather Underground operatives Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn.

Their son, Zayd Dohrn, has written a play entitled Reborning, “involving a woman trying to recreate and rewrite her past,” according to The New York Times. One wonders where he got the source material for that drama.

Nevertheless, the Chronicle poll does have at least one surprise in store for those who care to peruse it. In its survey, 57 percent of the faculty and staff at colleges and universities “agreed strongly or somewhat that” “Western civilization should be the foundation for the undergraduate curriculum.” This finding is nothing short of remarkable in that nowhere near that proportion of pedagogues teach as though they hold such a belief. Indeed, a recent survey by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni shows a marked rush from Western Civilization on the part of some colleges and universities that U. S. News & World Report rates highly.

Meanwhile, students are showing markedly left-wing tendencies as freshmen, the Chronicle Almanac found. Previous tallies usually display such notions as prevalent primarily among upperclassmen.

More than 70 percent of freshmen whom the Chronicle surveyed “agree strongly or somewhat that:

• “The federal government is not doing enough to control environmental pollution;

• “Addressing global warming should be a federal priority;

• “The federal government should do more to control the sale of handguns and

• “A national health-care plan is needed to control everybody’s medical costs.”

Where are these perspectives coming from? Taken syllogistically, if most Americans are educated in public schools, and they are, then maybe that is where some of their viewpoints are formed. Consequently, what the nation’s largest teachers’ union has to say about such matters could be of some import.

As it happens, the Eagle Forum dispatches reporters to cover the annual conventions of the National Education Association (NEA) . The Eagle Forum was founded by attorney, author and activist Phyllis Schlafly. “Why are these conservative and right-wing bastards picking on NEA and its affiliates?” outgoing NEA counsel Bob Charnin asked the crowd. “I will tell you why: it is the price we pay for our success.”

“NEA and its affiliates have been singled out because they are the most effective union in the U. S.,” Charnin alleges, but effective at what? For instance, at this year’s confab, the NEA agreed that “The Association supports educational programs that promote—

• “An awareness of the effects of past, present, and future population growth patterns on world civilization, human survival, and the environment;

• “Solutions to environmental problems such as nonrenewable response depletion, pollution, global warming, ozone depletion, and acid precipitation and depositions; and

• “The recognition of and participation in such activities as Earth Day.”

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