Ask any normal person what’s wrong with America right now, and they’re likely to bring up “higher education” fairly quickly. There’s a good reason for that — something is fundamentally rotten in our university system. When parents pay tens of thousands of dollars to drop their kids off at college, it’s reasonable to assume that their sons and daughters will receive a good education, earn a degree, and eventually use their skills to participate in our economy and contribute to society. That’s how it used to be.
But today, colleges and universities appear to be less interested in academic excellence and more interested in fomenting a political revolution. This is why, according to the Heritage Foundation, the average university has 3.4 people working to promote so-called diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) for every 100 tenured or tenure-track faculty members. The indoctrination is the point.
Identity Politics Programming
The university aims to stamp out free thought, separate students from their “backward” values or beliefs, and instead program them to adopt and embrace the “intersectional” identity politics framework as their primary mode of critical thinking. DEI is the gospel, and it is woven into every aspect of the college experience, including classroom instruction, extracurricular activities, residence life, and even athletics.
All of this has led directly to the disturbing “protests” we are now seeing on college campuses. These students aren’t activists — they’ve simply been activated. “Israel is committing genocide!” they announce in unison. They chant this because Hamas terrorists have a higher ranking on the intersectional hierarchy than the Jewish innocents who were slaughtered on Oct. 7. “Osama Bin Laden was right!” they tell pollsters. They praise him because any attack against America — a force for evil founded by “white, cishet Christian men” to oppress people of other races, religions, sexual orientations, and so-called gender identities — is almost certainly justified.
Higher education needs a hard reset, and Republicans should use the power afforded to them by the people to get this done.
Thankfully, a handful of state legislatures have already introduced or passed bills reining in DEI programs in colleges and universities. These bills encourage them to focus their financial resources on departments that improve student outcomes. Legislators in Arkansas, for example, are exploring ways to ban racial discrimination and defund these programs across the board.
Federal Legislation to Save Education
But with so much at stake, we cannot simply leave the states to fend for themselves, especially when the federal government has played a clear role in pushing “woke” on the higher education system by leveraging the power of the purse. The Department of Education, for example, recently released its proposed rule changes to Title IX that would prohibit colleges from banning male athletes from competing in women’s sports. Incredibly, according to the DOE, this would constitute a Title IX violation and could result in the loss of federal funds, even though Title IX was specifically designed to provide equal opportunity and fairness in sports for women.
Last year, House Republicans smartly passed legislation that would essentially flip that rule on its head. Under the law, colleges would have lost federal funds if they refused to protect fairness in women’s sports. President Joe Biden, of course, promised a veto. But Republicans need more legislation to oppose DEI. And more anti-DEI legislative efforts appear to be gaining steam.
One bill, introduced by Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, would ban federally funded colleges from compelling students to write DEI statements. Another bill, introduced by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., would prevent higher education accrediting agencies from considering DEI when evaluating colleges and universities. And Republicans on the House Education Committee, who have spent the last month waging a holy war against woke university administrators, are vowing more legislation in the months to come.
New Standards for Universities
We should applaud House Republicans for taking this issue seriously and making a good start, but former President Donald Trump takes these efforts a step further. In a video released last year, Trump pledged to “reclaim our once great educational institutions from the radical Left” by not only replacing the current accreditors but imposing a rigorous set of new standards on our colleges and universities. The proposal would require universities to protect free speech, defend the American way of life, eliminate all DEI positions in higher education, offer more options for accelerated and low-cost degrees, emphasize job placement, and require both entrance and exit exams to demonstrate the value of a college degree.
Notably, Trump also promised civil rights lawsuits against any school that engages in racial discrimination. And he has an aggressive penalty in mind: “Schools that persist in explicit unlawful discrimination under the guise of equity will not only have their endowment taxed, but through budget reconciliation, I will advance a measure to have them fined up to the entire amount of their endowment.”
Educational Decline and Debt
We need this type of accountability for higher education. Americans have paid a brutal price to prioritize indoctrination. As of today, more than 43 million Americans hold federal student loans — with a collective balance exceeding $1.6 trillion.
And what has America gotten with the most recent crop of college graduates? Not much according to the business community. According to a recent survey, 40 percent of business leaders view recent college graduates as unprepared for the workforce. They blame poor work ethic and communication skills as the main reasons. A whopping 88 percent of business leaders say today’s graduates are more unprepared than graduates of just three years ago.
It’s clear Congress must act. America’s institutions of higher education used to turn out the best and the brightest who could tackle society’s major problems. But today, administrators at these universities are failing their students. The Department of Education deserves its share of the blame as well. It has enabled the decade-long efforts to trap kids in these schools and cut off alternatives like career colleges and trade schools where students learn real, marketable skills.
Republicans have a tremendous opportunity to win the House, Senate, and presidency in 2024. If we’re serious about saving this country and making it great again, then fixing the broken higher education system must be part of our agenda. If the American people choose to give Republicans the power to fix this problem in 2024, then they must be ready to take them up on it.