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As Long As Universities Are Identity Obsessed, America Will Have A Surplus Of Stupid Students

Many university professors have an intellectually close-minded mentality and produce ill-informed, civically ignorant students.

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American civilization with its wealth has built an educational system beyond anything imagined in the past. We have staffed our universities with more than 1.4 million full- and part-time teachers. Of those instructors, 60 percent of college instructors identify as “left” or “far-left.” Many of them have an intellectually close-minded mentality based on racial and sexual identity. One result is that we are producing ill-informed, civically ignorant students.

A year-long study conducted by researchers at the Center for American Institutions at Arizona State University, where I am a professor, found that many teachers in introductory American history survey classes in colleges filter the curriculum around racial, ethnic, sexual, and so-called gender identity, usually to the detriment of a well-balanced and comprehensive understanding of our nation’s past. The use of identity-focused terms, primarily the defining terms for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), e.g., “white supremacy,” “toxic masculinity,” and “homophobia,” infuse course instruction. In a review of 75 introductory history course syllabi found in large and small public and private colleges, DEI is the focus.

American higher education is producing students who not only despise America itself and our nation’s values, they’re also ignoramuses. A survey conducted by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni in 2019 showed that 63 percent of students did not know term lengths for U.S. senators or congressmen, only 15 percent could identify James Madison as the “Father of the Constitution,” and nearly 20 percent thought Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was the author of the New Deal. Things have not gotten better. In a recent survey, one in five Gen Zers believed Osama bin Laden’s views were good. Let’s be clear: Bin Laden wanted to destroy Western civilization by any means possible.

Much of the blame for what is occurring in our universities should be placed on the woke professoriate that appears more intent on pursuing a political agenda than imparting basic knowledge and critical thinking skills to their students.

Addressing the Problem

Regents and state legislatures should insist on educational transparency by requiring all academic units to place on the first page of their websites current syllabi, class enrollments, faculty minutes, and administrative announcements. There is no reason that students and the general public should not have access to this information.

Former Gov. Scott Walker, who headed the National Commission on the Study of American History in Our Colleges, has called for reformation of our universities. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who served on the commission along with former Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, told Fox News that if a student leaves college without a basic understanding of the roots and foundation of American values, that student has no roots, no sense of identity, and becomes “like a leaf in the wind.”

Some colleges and universities are addressing the problem by offering new degree programs that emphasize civics and classical education to better root students in American values. We see this in the creation of schools focusing on civics at Arizona State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, New College in Florida, Flagler College, and the University of Texas, Austin.

These programs should be supported, but they are only a small start. Of more than 15 million students in American colleges, only a small number of these students will declare majors in a civic degree program. This is especially the case with so many students being rightfully concerned about job opportunities.

Appointing a few hundred faculty to teach in these programs, as important as it is, will only put a minute dent in overall faculty numbers. Tenured faculty remain a bulwark against meaningful university reform in a system that protects them from even being reprimanded for being little more than propagandists. Furthermore, tenured far-left faculty members end up hiring other tenured faculty and contract instructors along identity and/or partisan lines.

This hiring system prevents the appointment of young scholars who might have conservative views or even applicants researching what were once considered traditional topics. This is especially the case in the humanities. These narrow job searches and the tenure system are supported by university administrators who are themselves disposed to left-wing agendas. Tenured faculty might be a dying breed as cost-conscious universities appoint more contract full-time and part-time instructors who are just as woke as their privileged tenured peers, but they are a significant part of the problem.

So what can be done to ensure intellectual diversity in our universities and colleges? The first step is for regents and state legislatures to insist that all faculty searches include broad areas of expertise and not be restricted to candidates focused on racial, ethnic, sexual orientation, or gender identity. In the humanities and social sciences, faculty appointments should be made in presidential studies, as well as economic, business, and military areas of instruction. Such searches in themselves won’t ensure that identity-focused faculty will still not be hired, but broader searches provide an opportunity for more intellectually diverse applicants and hires. State legislatures and boards of regents can establish broad outlines for faculty appointments without subverting faculty governance.

An even more radical approach to reforming the American university is to begin to reimagine (a favorite word of the left) the university curriculum itself — beyond just requiring students take civic courses. The modern university curriculum emerged in the late 19th century and evolved in the 20th century based around departments with highly specialized trained faculty. These departments can be combined and reintegrated into new interdisciplinary programs with more expansive curricula.

Why not have a multi-disciplinary program on human transformation that includes anthropologists, child psychologists, animal behaviorists, historians, and sociologists? Such a curriculum would provide students with access to broader knowledge, opportunities to engage in critical thinking, and better preparation for a changing world. This enlarged curriculum challenges instructors to leave their academic silos and move beyond narrow identity topics. It would also force them to learn and confront confounding evidence from other fields.

Our modern university structures are having destructive effects on our students and society. They need immediate reform.  


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