Several years ago, Project Baltimore began an investigation of Baltimore’s school system. What they found was an utter disgrace. In 19 of Baltimore’s 39 high schools, out of 3,804 students, only 14 of them, or less than 1%, were proficient in math. In 13 of Baltimore’s high schools, not a single student scored proficient in math. In five Baltimore City high schools, not a single student scored proficient in math or reading. Despite these academic deficiencies, about 70% of the students graduate and are conferred a high school diploma — a fraudulent high school diploma.
With this presidential election, American history is hanging in the balance, but not as in the past, where we perceived the implementation of unwanted policies if the wrong candidate should win. In this post-election scenario, a Biden administration is much worse than “unwanted” or “wrong-headed” policies. To this writer, we are facing a collapse of natural rights as depicted in the Bill of Rights, the curtailing of individual mobility — upward socio-economic mobility and literally restricted travel mobility (to protect the environment under Green New Deal restrictions). If we have a new administration, we are also facing forced vaccinations and curtailment of property rights on an unimagined scale.
Critical Race Theory will be required in curricula in colleges and high schools. Whites will be strongly pressured thereby to accept that there is endemic structural racism in our institutions, irrespective of what any individuals might think or feel, because of the inherent white privilege in American and Western civilization. There will be national gun policy, national nutrition policy, national electric and gas controls (not state regulatory agencies), and national gun confiscation (a few types of guns at first, then all guns). National health care (private doctors only for the very rich) will be pressed upon us. In foreign policy, there will be re-instatement of the dangerous Iran P5+1 deal, and that in turn will connect with a renewal of the two-state “solution” (that has already failed five times) and a gradual infusion of anti-Semitism masquerading as “fairness for the Palestinians.”
Education will become even more of a monolith. The charade of Common Core (setting standards of achievement and testing but pretending not to encroach on state control of education as required by the Tenth Amendment) will unabashedly override the Tenth Amendment, and nationwide teaching and curricular requirements will be put in place.
The centrality of natural rights in our way of life has already begun to unravel. The rights advocated by the Leftocrats are not rights at all, but preferential laws that advance the lives of some of our citizens at the expense of others under the false rubric of “advancing equality.” Also, environmental rights means controls over so many areas of our lives that we, in essence, become controlled mannequins, supposedly for our own good. And “Palestinian rights” in the Middle East is just thinly disguised anti-Semitism.
rights defined and listed in our Constitution are natural rights. These are “natural” in the sense that they are God-given to the individual. Just as God gave us nature by creating it, in similar manner, God gave us rights as individuals as part of our “natural” inheritance. These rights are thus protected against encroachments by government. Natural rights cannot be removed by passage of law because our Founders understood that law forces us to acknowledge and respect individual rights that exist independent of and prior to law itself. Governments can prevent certain behaviors and promote others, but government cannot withdraw our natural rights. To do so is tyranny. There are no specific “protected classes” under natural rights because all citizens are a protected class against encroachment and oppression by government. A government that fails to recognize that is inherently tyrannical.
However, the Leftocratic Platform of 2020 seeks to implement a host of “rights.” This listing is to place a natural rights aura around the various rights enumerated as though they have a high dignity that resonates with our Bill of Rights. Actually, they are saying rights in addition to natural rights accrue to certain protected classes of persons within our society.
Here is a sample from the Leftocrat platform of the perverse thinking about rights that actually not only fails to protect our rights, but diminishes existing natural rights: “Democrats are committed to standing up to racism and bigotry in our laws, in our culture, in our politics, and in our society, and recognize that race-neutral [gender-neutral is also included] policies are not sufficient to rectify race-based [gender-based] disparities.”
The selfish, sycophantic authors of the above words know they are advancing a purely demagogic, vote-seeking — not a principled —agenda. They recognize in the above quotation that there are race-neutral policies now in place that under a natural rights understanding are the only legitimate policies.
My grandparents came from Russia, where there were laws restricting where they could live, what occupations they could engage in, and how far they could advance in the areas of employment in which they were allowed to participate. In the USA, when they arrived, there were still individual employers who did not want to hire them because of race. There were still places that would not sell them real estate. But the natural rights philosophy of the country, the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, etc., etc. was rights-neutral and sufficient to make the transition possible. This was not because they were white or straight, but because they could enjoy the liberty inherent in the American way of life. This liberty is what the Leftocrats seek to dilute or destroy.
Did they need special treatment to prove that America is really a place that accepts and welcomes people? Should subsidized housing in better neighborhoods have been provided to make their transition easier? Should they have been guaranteed a minimum income? Should they have been told they had automatic admission to college and free tuition? What about my father, who as a young man dropped out of school after 8th grade (free public high schools 9–12 existed even in the 1920s) because his mother had died and he was no longer motivated to achieve? He went to work before there were labor laws and put in 70- to 80-hour work weeks for years to put a roof over his head, buy food, enjoy an occasional movie or book, or take a girl out for a soda.
What about my grandfather who emigrated here and had six kids? Is it up to the government to make it up to me as a second-generation citizen that as a young worker and parent, he had so many trials and struggles? Should the government say to me that because your grandfather was discriminated against in hiring, because he had poor English and few skills, and your father had to work so many excessively long hours for minimal survival, society should make that up to me? Should I be compensated in some way for the struggles of my grandparents or my own struggles? Frankly, such a proposition is idiotic. I am grateful to my grandparents and parents for their fortitude and endurance. I am grateful for their love. I am grateful that the U.S. allowed my grandparents to emigrate to this special country.
The Leftocratic platform is not progressive and enlightened. It is a poorly written, boring, and wicked program projecting tyranny.
E. Jeffrey Ludwig, American Thinker
If today’s poisonous cancel culture is ever to be remedied, the cause must be understood.
When deliberating the origin, most just point to America’s universities and say, “they did it.” And, clearly, that’s where the programming occurs, but it doesn’t explain why.
Selwyn Duke recently noted that vanguard leftists have “indoctrinated the young in schools to transform them into foot soldiers in the leftist campaign of civilizational rape.” Those foot soldiers are today’s cancel culture warriors.
But why did old-time educators morph into purveyors of cancel culture hate? How did it happen?
The Vietnam War did it. Or, more precisely, the campus antiwar activities did.
Most are familiar with the undergraduate student deferments used to dodge the draft in the 1960s. Less well known were the ones for graduate school, in place until 1968. Those led to a 3-fold increase in Ph.D. degrees — men only — in the ‘60s compared to the previous decade. The increases prior to that were a couple percent per decade.
And where are most Ph.D. awardees employed? At universities.
Since their motivation was to avoid government service, it’s not surprising they would espouse principles not supportive of America. Their negative views undoubtedly spilled over into their teaching, thereby providing foundational cancel culture training — Woke Philosophy 101; Introductory Victimology 202; Mobology 303: Advanced Bullying — identified as such or not.
Perhaps even more concerning, though, was another draft dodging option — K-12 teaching deferments. Guys lacking the academic credentials or financial resources for graduate school could add the education courses necessary to become teachers just to avoid the draft. Obviously, more students qualified for that dodge than the Ph.D. route.
How’s that for the wrong motivation to “teach” … to instruct America’s youth?
That gets straight to the point Duke made about “indoctrinated the young in schools.” And, appallingly, this has been going on now for a half century.
Having anti-America messaging in the classroom at an early age would certainly make the kids more receptive to woke cancel culture programming in college. Since many draft dodgers probably taught for 30-40 years, that’s a lot of brainwashing of America’s hope for the future.
Not much hope there. Of course, these were males only; women weren’t eligible for the draft. Equal rights weren’t totally equal back then.
Nonetheless, woke proselytization — K-12 through terminal advanced degrees — likely met all prescribed equal opportunity parameters; i.e., both men and women imparted cancel culture loathing. However, on the female side, my analysis is more qualitative. I can’t explain why women were so vested in the cause at the time, despising America and all those who served.
My introduction to the female “hate America” mentality occurred soon after returning from Vietnam while I was finishing my undergraduate degree. Enjoying a beer in a college bar, a coed noticed the small American flag on my jacket. She pointed at it saying if I had any idea what war was all about, I wouldn’t wear it.
Considering I had (still have) a piece of shrapnel in my left lung, I suggested I might know a bit more about war than she did. Instantly, hatred burned in her eyes — she visibly despised my very being. That look has stayed with me 50 years.
How could someone hate me — in the blink of an eye — for being drafted and damned near dying in Vietnam?
If that was the only time it happened, I’d write it off as an anomaly, but there were multiple instances that same year. It even occurred two decades later at the university where I was a faculty member. I was having a cordial conversation with the head of human resources when she found out I’d been in combat in Vietnam.
Bam! It was as if I’d spit in her face; rabid rage flashed in her eyes.
Regardless, Vietnam draft dodgers and allied haters of those who serve assumed control of U.S. universities decades ago. They and their trainees vilify America and American patriots, making national pride an alien concept on most college campuses. The few remaining won’t hold out much longer.
Woke cancel culture is the haters’ venomous creation and developing an antivenin won’t be easy.
First, freedom-loving Americans must stand their ground and refuse to be cancelled. The hate-filled woke can only function in mobs; individually they’re cowards. Confront them and they’ll have no power.
Fixing America’s education system will be a long war of attrition at best, but knowing the cause is essential to achieving the desired outcome. And success will come down to basic supply and demand economics — education consumers not spending their money at grossly anti-America universities. All have anti-America faculty, but some fewer than others.
It’s the almighty tuition dollars, folks. You control those payments, so control them!
R.W. Trewyn, PhD has been a university faculty member for 42 years, working in central administration the past 26 years.
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One is thriving after switching from online public school to in-person private education. The other is struggling, stuck in her virtual classroom.
The lives of these two girls, Ella Pierick and Afiya Harris, encapsulate the growing divide in U.S. education as more affluent parents flee public schools.
In Connecticut, enrollment fell 3%. Colorado reported a similar decline, with the steepest losses in one of its wealthiest counties. Chicago’s rosters dipped 4.1%, the most in 20 years.
Parents with means are instead homeschooling; joining with other families to hire teachers in so-called pandemic pods; or signing up for private schools. Poor and minority children often have no choice but to attend inferior virtual classrooms, and some are just giving up entirely.
“The pandemic has exposed so many things,” said Amanda Thompson-Rice, a math support specialist in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg public schools. “Our affluent parents, they’ve got what they call pods, they’ve hired teachers or workers to support their kids for the day. They’re paying them like $20 or $30 an hour. Black families are trying to just live.”
A December study by consultant McKinsey & Co. found that students of color in U.S. schools had fallen behind in math by three to five months because of the pandemic; white students trailed by only one to three months. A quarter of kids do not have access to any kind of web-enabled device or broadband at home.
A quarter of kids do not have access to any kind of web-enabled device or broadband at home
Other disadvantaged groups are floundering, too. In Virginia’s Fairfax County Public Schools, the number of middle and high school students earning failing grades in at least two classes nearly doubled to 11% of students, with steeper rises among children with disabilities and those for whom English isn’t their first language.
U.S. public schools educate more than 50 million children, so even modest enrollment declines could add up to hundreds of thousands of kids. National figures won’t be available for a couple of years and class sizes could recover after the pandemic. If a significant number don’t return — or if there’s a lag — it could have an impact on school budgets, which are based on the previous year’s enrollment.
Public schools spent $739 billion in the 2016-2017 school year, or $14,000 per student, 90% from local and state money and most of the rest from the federal government. So schools face a potential challenge: less money to treat students who demand more attention because they’ve fallen behind in virtual classrooms.https://bc192dfac6939d6ccf1cf1f7fce8de32.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html
“Kids are very likely to return to school needing a great deal of enrichment,” said Kevin Welner, an education professor at the University of Colorado in Boulder. “That educational issue runs smack into the school finance issue.”
In the village of Oregon, Wisconsin, near the state’s capital, Jessica Pierick did what she could to make sure her daughter Ella didn’t fall behind in third grade. She and her husband work for a small construction company, so they could afford to switch from public to nearby Saint Ann School, a Catholic institution that charges $5,000 a year tuition.
“I really like it there because there’s a lot of new people I get to meet,” Ella said.
In the New York City borough of the Bronx, Afiya Harris, who is 10, still logs on for school on a laptop. Her father is an elevator mechanic. Her mother recently lost her job an administrative assistant at a law firm. Afiya attends Tag Young Scholars, a magnet school for the gifted and talented in Manhattan’s Harlem neighborhood.
Her parents spend nights tutoring Afiya, and she recently started meeting weekly with a social worker to address her difficulties in concentrating amid computer glitches.
“I have breakdowns because I can’t believe I spent so much time going over this with her,” said her mother, Rasheedah Harris. “I get emotional, because most parents, I know, aren’t able to put in that time.”
Elsewhere in the Bronx, some students are barely showing up. Leton Hall, a science teacher at predominantly Black and Hispanic Pelham Gardens Middle School, said 10 out of 25 students don’t log-in at all on a typical day. Many who do lose connections because of Wi-Fi problems or don’t turn on their cameras, suggesting they may not be participating.Hall records a video of himself teaching for students who missed live instruction but knows some will fall many grade levels behind. More than the three quarters of students at the school are considered economically disadvantaged and 7% are homeless.
“We always have contact with students and with parents that are absent, but it’s just different now,” Hall said. “You can call, but there is not much you can really do.”
Another example of the complete failure of our government-run education system. It’s our national embarrassment. And, unfortunately, only the affluent are able to drop out of the system. The public schools have done irreperable damage to generations of American students, of every race and ethnic group. It’s child abuse. The people responsible for this should be strung from a lamppost. A/D
As the second decade of the 21st century comes to an end, democracy and free speech no longer exist in the Western World. In all its respects, Western civilization no longer exists.
In the United States, which poses as the model for democracy, a presidential election has just been stolen in full view of everyone. There is expert testimony by qualified experts about how the voting machines and software were used to bias the vote count for Biden. There are hundreds of signed affidavits of eyewitnesses who saw the fraudulent use of mail-in ballots to boost Biden’s vote count. We know for facts that dead people were voted, illegal aliens were voted, out of state residents were voted, and some precincts had more votes cast than there are registered voters and even residents in the precincts.
Despite the abundance of evidence, except for members of state legislatures in some of the swing states, no one is acquainted with the evidence. The presstitutes speak with one voice and deny that any evidence exists. So do the Democrat election officials in the Democrat-controlled counties in the swing states where the presidential election was stolen. The courts have refused to even look at the evidence. The presstitutes misrepresent the courts’ refusals to examine the evidence as the judiciary’s ruling against the validity of the evidence despite the fact that no court has looked at the evidence.
The level of hostility of Biden supporters toward those who protest the electoral fraud is extraordinary. Biden supporters threaten Trump supporters with loss of employment and with arrest and prosecution. Tucker Carlson on Fox News reviews the extraordinary situation here.
Radicalized blacks, unaware that they are being used by the Establishment, see the stolen election as their chance to rule and to displace white people. That the winner is the Establishment is beyond their grasp.
It is obvious that if the evidence of election theft were bogus, the media would seize the opportunity to discredit President Trump and his supporters’ claims of electoral fraud by investigating the evidence for that purpose.
The Supreme Court knows that that the evidence is real. Being an Establishment institution, the Court does not want to damage America’s reputation by ruling that the election was stolen. Moreover, the Supreme Court Justices know that the American Establishment and its presstitutes would not accept a decision that the election was stolen. The Supreme Court understands that the Establishment intends to rid government of a non-establishment president who is hostile to the Establishment’s agendas, which include globalism, destruction of the American middle class, war, more profit and power for the ruling class, and fewer civil liberties for the governed class.
The American Establishment includes the Republican Party. In order to protect its agendas—war and US hegemony, the concentration of income and wealth, the elimination of the middle class which gave stability to the country and limited the ability of the Establishment to exercise complete control, and the overthrow of the First Amendment and our other civil liberties which limited the Establishment’s ability to control all explanations—the Establishment is willing to pay the price of the destruction of public confidence in American institutions. The Establishment assumes that it can use the ensuing conflict to its advantage. The country will be further split apart and less able to unite against the Establishment’s self-serving agendas.
Conservatives blame the presstitutes for the Russiagate hoax that for three years kept Trump from his agenda and the subsequent attempt to impeach Trump over false charges that he bribed the Ukrainian president. In actual fact, these efforts to destroy an elected president of the United States were orchestrated by the CIA and FBI. It was CIA director John Brennan who alleged Trump was a traitor in league with the Russians, and it was FBI director James Comey who contrived false indictments and false prosecutions of General Flynn, Roy Cohn, Paul Manafort and Roger Stone hoping to extract in exchange for leniency false testimony against Trump. It is difficult for patriotic conservatives to get their mind around the fact that the CIA and FBI, which they think protect Americans against Russian and Chinese communists and Muslim terrorists, are in fact internal enemies of the people of the United States.
Except for a few Internet websites unknown to the majority of the people in the Western world, the only information people in the West receive is controlled explanations that serve the agendas of the Establishment. Consider Covid, for example. All experts who are critical of lockdowns, mask mandates, the suppression of effective treatments and the focus on vaccines, and who are skeptical of the seriousness of the pandemic are censored by the print and TV media and by Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube. As far as I can tell, there are more real experts—and by experts I do not mean doctors and nurses brainwashed in their training by Big Pharma—who are skeptical of the agenda of public health authorities than experts who support lockdowns and vaccines.
The presstitutes serving Fauci portray the dissenting experts’ views as “conspiracy theory.” But clearly Dr. Kamran Abbasi, executive editor of the British Medical Journal and editor of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, is not a conspiracy theorist. As I recently reported, he has this to say:
“Science is being suppressed for political and financial gain. Covid-19 has unleashed state corruption on a grand scale, and it is harmful to public health. Politicians and industry are responsible for this opportunistic embezzlement. So too are scientists and health experts. The pandemic has revealed how the medical-political complex can be manipulated in an emergency—a time when it is even more important to safeguard science.
“The UK’s pandemic response relies too heavily on scientists and other government appointees with worrying competing interests, including shareholdings in companies that manufacture covid-19 diagnostic tests, treatments, and vaccines. Government appointees are able to ignore or cherry pick science—another form of misuse—and indulge in anti-competitive practices that favour their own products and those of friends and associates.”
Yet in place of such expert informed opinion, Western peoples only hear the ignorant propaganda from the bought-and-paid for whores on CNN, NPR, MSNBC, New York Times, Washington Post, and the rest of the paid liars.
There can be no democracy, no accountability, when people only have controlled explanations that serve the ruling agendas.
The disrespect for free inquiry, the only known basis for the discovery of truth, is so powerful today throughout the Western world that even in the West’s most famous universities—Oxford and Cambridge—censorship is entrenched. Any student, especially a privileged “person of color” can brand any scientific fact, any historical fact, any expressed view or opinion to be “offensive.”
Those found to be the most offensive are white people whose statues and memorials are being taken down at both Oxford and Cambridge. The founder of the famous Oxford University Rhodes Scholarships himself has been erased. Cambridge University’s white academics and administrators have accepted a person of color as their political commissar to control their lectures, choice of words, and reading lists in order to ensure that no truth can emerge that might be declared by some ignorant student “offensive.” Of course, white students cannot complain that it is offensive to denigrate the white creators of British accomplishments as racists. The use of political commissars to control what can be spoken was the way Stalin controlled Russia. This Stalinist practice has now been institutionalized throughout the Western world in schools, universities, media, corporations, and government.
Oxford University, in an act of contrition, has proudly announced that admission to Oxford will no longer be based on the outmoded and racist concept of merit. Oxford University declared that the university is reserving 25 percent of its annual admissions to those unqualified to be at Oxford.
How are those unqualified to be at Oxford to succeed in graduating? According to Oxford, before they begin on their degree studies they will be given up to two years in remedial preparation so that they become qualified to attempt receiving a degree. In other words, they will be coached through the process. Such an act of contrition cannot possibly be permitted to fail.
In other words, Oxford has abandoned merit and is discriminating against those students who displayed merit (and their parents who fostered merit) in favor of those who did not. Twenty-five percent of those qualified to be at Oxford will not be permitted to be there in order that those not qualified to be there can be. This is what “affirmative action” amounts to.
Cambridge has abandoned academic freedom and subjected the knowledge of its distinguished faculty to censorship in subservience to the idea that truth can hurt feelings and be offensive. A university that values feelings more than truth is not a place where learning can take place.
In the event you think I am exaggerating the direness of the situation, here is an emeritus professor at the University of Kent in Canterbury explaining the factual situation. The situation is so bad that even the professor himself is trapped in his opponents’ use of language. He refers to the truths under attack as the “dissident views.”
In the Western World the policing and censorship of thought and expression has now been institutionalized. As the native-born white inhabitants of these countries have no right or privilege to censor the attacks on them, they are set-up for second class citizenship leading eventually to extermination. Their civilization will proceed them in extermination. Indeed, it is already gone. White people are people without a culture and without a country.
Paul Craig Roberts, UNZ Review
Seattle Public Schools recently held a racially charged teacher-training session that convicted US schools of committing “spirit murder” against black kids and demanded that white teachers “bankrupt [their] privilege in acknowledgment of [their] thieved inheritance.”
According to whistleblower documents from the session that I’ve reviewed, the trainers began by claiming that teachers are colonizers of “the ancestral lands and traditional territories of the Puget Sound Coast Salish People.” Later: “The United States was built off the stolen labor of kidnapped and enslaved black people’s work.” The image of a black-power fist removed any lingering hope that the presentation might involve a modicum of nuance.
Organizers identified themselves by gender pronouns and race. For example, one speaker was identified as “He/Him, White.” It has become commonplace in academia and corporate settings to list gender pronouns, but this was perhaps the first example of an institution promoting workplace race-labeling. (The district didn’t reply to my request for comment.)
The main message: White teachers must recognize that they “are assigned considerable power and privilege in our society” because of their “possession of white skin.” To atone, they must self-consciously reject their “whiteness” and become dedicated “anti-racist educator[s].”
Any resistance, no matter how well-argued or factually grounded, was dismissed as a reflex of white teachers’ “lizard-brain,” which makes them “afraid that [they] will have to talk about sensitive issues such as race, racism, classism, sexism or any kind of ‘ism.’ ”
In the most disturbing portion, teachers discussed “spirit murder.” Schools, according to “abolitionist” pedagogue Bettina Love, who invented the concept, “murder the souls of black children every day through systemic, institutionalized, anti-black, state-sanctioned violence.”
What’s the goal here? Simply put, to transform Seattle schools into activist organizations.
At the conclusion of the training, teachers had to explain how they will practice “anti-racist pedagogy,” address the “social-justice movements taking place” and become “anti-racist outside the classroom.” They were told to divide the world into “enemies, allies and accomplices” and work toward the “abolition” of whiteness. They must, in other words, abandon the illusion of neutral teaching standards and get in the trenches of race-based activism.
Unfortunately, this kind of training is not an aberration — but a reflection of deep ideological currents within Seattle Public Schools and the wider teacher-training industrial complex. In recent years, the district has rapidly expanded its Department of Racial Equity Advancement and deployed “racial-equity teams” in dozens of neighborhood schools. The stated goal is to “advance educational racial equity,” but in practice, these programs often serve to introduce, perpetuate and enforce a specific ideological agenda and a new racial hierarchy.
This is a tragedy for students. Seattle public schools have been closed to on-campus learning since the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak. In September, the school district reported that fewer than half of students attended any of the school’s remote-learning offerings, with even worse attendance rates for minorities. Rather than address this crisis, which has doubtlessly expanded racial disparities, the district prioritized “white-privilege” training for teachers.
Unless there is a change of course, this new orthodoxy — gradually replacing academics with activism — will yield an educational disaster. School districts will aggregate students on the basis of identity and subordinate traditional learning to the latest fads from woke academe. When those inevitably fail, desperate teachers and administrators will be tempted to drop the old “three Rs” (reading, writing, arithmetic) in favor of the new: racism, racism and racism.
In this sense, the educational woke regime mirrors the corporate one in function: All this ideological garment-rending and chest-beating serves to disguise the social and material failures of institutions. Teachers can ostentatiously “bankrupt their privilege” in front of their colleagues, but it will do nothing for third-graders who are struggling to read or graduating high-school seniors who can’t solve a single algebra problem or compose a legible sentence.
Sadly, if past is precedent, the racial fever gripping Seattle schools will soon spread to the nation.
Christopher Rufo, Discovery Institute
DEC 21, 2020Shannon Watkins
There’s a chasm between the purpose of a liberal arts education and how many colleges and universities actually operate. Throughout academia, excessive value is placed on efficiency, research publications, and prestige—things that are, at best, ancillary to a liberal education’s central purpose of growing in wisdom and pursuing truth.
Consequently, instead of focusing on nurturing students’ intellectual and moral development, much of the modern academy functions as a business that sells a product (credentials) to consumers (students), with professors dedicating most of their time to pursuing their own narrow research interests.
Many professors are content with this arrangement. And why wouldn’t they be?
Higher education’s current structure doesn’t incentivize professors to be excellent and attentive teachers. Instead, academics’ job stability and professional prestige is much more dependent on producing a steady output of “original” research than on mentoring students—no matter how obscure or arcane their subject of inquiry might be.
Some professors, however, prefer academic settings that prioritize teaching over research. One such professor is Zena Hitz, a classical philosopher at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland. She is the author of Lost in Thought: The Hidden Pleasures of an Intellectual Life, which came out in May 2020.
On November 17, Hitz was a guest speaker at an online event co-sponsored by Duke University’s Arete Initiative at the Kenan Institute for Ethics and by Yale University’s Elm Institute. The Elm Institute’s scholar-in-residence, Peter Wicks, moderated the conversation.
Wicks began the event by asking Hitz to elaborate on her conception of the “intellectual life.” In response, Hitz said that the intellectual life is about thinking, pondering, reading, contemplating—using one’s mind—for its own sake. In other words, the act of learning is “something grand or lofty” and intrinsically worthwhile, not merely a means to an end.
Unlike many scholars, Hitz experienced two very different models of education in her academic formation. Her experiences prompted her to think deeply about the nature of the intellectual life and how the modern-day academy often inhibits its development.
As an undergraduate, Hitz attended St. John’s College (where she now teaches). St. John’s is a “great books” college where students’ education is dedicated to reading a common curriculum of the great works of the Western canon, as well as studying language, science, mathematics, and music. There, professors are called “tutors” and their primary role is to help facilitate students’ understanding of the material.
According to the college’s website, “there are no large classes, teaching assistants, or introductory lectures; conversation among students and faculty is the heart of every class at St. John’s.”
Hitz recounted how St. John’s nurtured the love of learning and reading that she’d had throughout her childhood, “but in a much more strict way.” The education she received at the college helped her develop good intellectual habits such as persevering through difficult readings and asking a lot of questions.
She concluded that schools like St. John’s foster true learning by placing a heavy emphasis on mentorship and student-led inquiry.
After graduating, Hitz studied classics and philosophy at Cambridge University and the University of Chicago, and completed her PhD at Princeton University. She later went on to teach at McGill University, Auburn University, and the University of Maryland-Baltimore County.
Unfortunately, Hitz found that St. John’s student-centered and intellectually rigorous approach to education was somewhat of an anomaly in the higher ed landscape.
At the other universities, for example, there were significant pressures on professors to dedicate the bulk of their time to resume-building, not working with students.
On the one hand, Hitz said she enjoyed her professional training as a philosopher because it allowed her to delve deeper into her field. Yet, at the same time, she disliked how she became a part of an institution that didn’t seem to sufficiently value “learning for its own sake.”
Hitz said that her work as a scholar seemed to be more about climbing the “professional status ladder” and appearing impressive, instead of earnestly engaging in “that core human activity of seeking to learn and understand for its own sake.” She admitted that she became so wrapped up in achieving professional prestige that she started to forget about the fundamental questions that drew her to the profession in the first place.
Hitz also expressed dissatisfaction with the large class sizes she encountered at several universities, explaining that “the large lecture hall was not suited to the type of learning that I had received as an undergraduate, that [I wanted to] pass on to my students:”
Most of what I was doing was [condensing] knowledge into bullet points and spitting them out. And when students spat them back to me I would give them either a B+ or A- depending on how well they did it.
To Hitz, teaching students in that fashion didn’t seem conducive to a genuine intellectual life—for either the instructor or the students. Somewhat disillusioned, she left academia for a period of time. But after a few years, she came back and began teaching at St. John’s College.Higher education’s current structure doesn’t incentivize professors to be excellent and attentive teachers.
Although St. John’s provided Hitz with the rich intellectual atmosphere that she craved, she emphasized that it isn’t the only institution where one can receive a meaningful education. She noted that there are other “safe havens” in the university community, such as some small liberal arts colleges, that facilitate intellectual development and are outside of the “achievement machine” built into many universities.
Another “safe haven” Hitz pointed to was the co-host of the event, the Elm Institute. Located near Yale University, the Elm Institute is “an intellectual and cultural venture dedicated to examining and cultivating the ideas, values, and practices that sustain flourishing societies.”
As for mainline colleges and universities, Hitz noted that not all hope is lost. She said that “there’s tons of real learning” that’s offered in universities, it’s just that it’s “hidden and hard to find.”
“Unfortunately, it’s sort of a matter of luck and hearsay as to how you find your way into those pockets, but they’re there,” she said.
In conclusion, Hitz offered a few recommendations on how colleges and universities can be more faithful to their educational mission. First, she said it would be wise for universities to shift away from their over-emphasis on research and focus more on teaching and interacting with students. One way institutions can do this is by incentivizing good teaching, such as offering more teaching awards.
Furthermore, Hitz stressed that teachers need to model the intellectual habits they want to see their students develop. She believes that the most important thing professors can model for their students is to learn in front of them, in the classroom—to “model learning, not just expertise.”
“To share with your students the questions that, to you, feel open, so that they can see that not everything is sound bites and slogans and digestible pieces—bullet-points for the Powerpoint presentation,” she said. In addition, they should model “a certain kind of seriousness, a commitment to certain kinds of ideals.”
Doing so, in Hitz’ view, won’t only benefit students, it will enrich professors’ own intellectual life and academic pursuits.
Shannon Watkins is senior writer at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.
In the age of COVID, parents are taking a stand against public school identity politics and indoctrination by removing their kids.
December 19, 2020 (FRC Action) — With school shutdowns, logistical complexities with online classes, and rampant uncertainty due to the coronavirus, it’s been a monumentally difficult year for students, their parents, and teachers. But there has been a silver lining in all of this: more and more parents are having their eyes opened to the leftist agenda that has embedded itself in many of our nation’s public schools.
Just last week, a school board in Fairfax County in northern Virginia unanimously decided to remove the names of Thomas Jefferson and George Mason from the city’s elementary and high schools, despite the fact that the local community is strongly in favor of keeping the names.
Now, parents are taking a stand against public school identity politics and indoctrination by removing their kids and finding better alternatives like private schools and homeschooling. In fact, over the past year, the Fairfax County school system has seen a 5 percent drop in enrollment, which means that nearly 9,000 students will no longer be exposed to the leftist propaganda and sexualization that has run rampant.
Yesterday, Maria Keffler, Co-founder of the Arlington Parent Coalition and Partner and Media Representative at Partners for Ethical Care joined Tony on “Washington Watch” to discuss the growing dissatisfaction among parents with educational establishments that are failing to educate and striving to indoctrinate.
“I think more parents are starting to wake up to it and see what’s going on,” she said. “Arlington Public Schools is down about 3,000 students from what was expected this year. I think that is one of the silver linings of the coronavirus — that parents are seeing what’s going on and they’re not happy about it and they shouldn’t be.”
The question is, will public schools begin to listen to the concerns of parents when their tax revenue falls due to declining enrollment? The answer appears to be “no.”
“The school boards are simply not concerned,” Keffler observed. “They’re simply not concerned with the student’s needs. They’re not concerned with the parents’ concerns. In Fairfax County, in 2018, they voted to add the LGBTQ curriculum to the Fairfax County Family Life Education Curriculum. They received 941 emails against approving that curriculum, only 192 for. And they just went right ahead and did it. They’re not listening to parents.”
Not only are public schools not listening to the concerns of parents, they are also failing in their primary duty: education. “Students are falling off the radar,” Keffler pointed out. “Students are falling behind … As long ago as 2015, Pew Research said among developed nations, the U.S. ranks 24th on science and reading and 39th in math. But it’s not new that the public schools are failing — [they’ve] been failing for a while.”
And when taxpayer dollars are being ineffectively used, it’s time to redirect the money elsewhere. “I think we do need school choice,” Keffler said. “I think parents need to have the money that the federal government gives to public schools to go with the child. If the parents take the child to a private school, to homeschool, to a military school — that money needs to go with the students.”
Keffler also underscored another enormously concerning trend in public schools: the violation of the First Amendment free speech rights of students and teachers. “I just received from [an] Arlington County teacher the new guidelines for transgender students. And what really disturbed me is a clause in there that says that students or teachers who refuse to comply [with] policies such as enforced pronouns and deceiving parents about their own children’s sexuality and their gender ID will be disciplined.”
But despite all of these disturbing trends and coronavirus shutdowns, parents should take heart. The multitude of educational choices and resources that are available continue to expand and grow. “Homeschooling has had a big boom this year,” Keffler noted. “The HSLDA, the Home School Legal Defense Association, has written and talked about the thousands and thousands of parents who’ve been calling them for assistance.” She went on to describe the success she has had in homeschooling her own three children.
Clearly, it’s time to rethink public education. “[The public school system is] a monopoly,” Keffler said. “Parents don’t have another choice and you don’t negotiate with a monopoly. You have to break a monopoly. And the only way we’re going to break the public school monopoly is by taking away their students.”
THE recent explosion in the reach of federal government has made limits on federal power once again the central political issue. Unfortunately, ignorance of our founding severely impoverishes that discussion. A good example is Richard Henry Lee. Lee made the motion calling for the colonies’ independence. He was a leader in the Continental Congresses, including as president. He was elected senator from Virginia, despite opposing the Constitution’s ratification for lacking “a better bill of rights.”
Particularly important were Lee’s Letters from the Federal Farmer, an important impetus to the Bill of Rights. Today, when what the federal government is permitted to do is again central, his arguments merit reconsideration. I can consent to no government, which … is not calculated equally to preserve the rights of all orders of men.
A free and enlightened people … will not resign all their rights to those who govern, and they will fix limits to their legislators and rulers…[who] will know they cannot be passed. [Hope] cannot justify the impropriety of giving powers, the exercise of which prudent men will not attempt, and imprudent men will … exercise only in a manner destructive of free government. Why … unnecessarily leave a door open to improper regulations? We cannot form a general government in which all power can be safely lodged. Should the general government…[employ] a system of influence, the government will take every occasion to multiply laws … props for its own support.
Vast powers of laying and collecting internal taxes in a government … would be … abused by imprudent and designing men. We ought not … commit the many to the mercy, prudence, and moderation of the few. National laws ought to yield to inalienable or fundamental rights—and … should extend only to a few national objects.
Men who govern will … construe laws and constitutions most favorably for increasing their own powers; all wise and prudent people … have drawn the line, and carefully described the powers parted with and the powers reserved … what rights are established as fundamental, and must not be infringed upon.
Our countrymen are entitled … to a government of laws and not of men … if the constitution … be vague and unguarded, then we depend wholly on the prudence, wisdom and moderation of those who manage the affairs of government… uncertain and precarious.
Liberty, in its genuine sense, is security to enjoy the effects of our honest industry and labors, in a free and mild government. The people have a right to hold and enjoy their property according to known standing laws, and which cannot be taken from them without their consent.
In free governments, the people … follow their own private pursuits, and enjoy the fruits of their labor with very small deductions for the public use. Our true object is … to render force as little necessary as possible.
The powers delegated to the government must be precisely defined… that, by no reasonable construction, they can be made to invade the rights and prerogatives intended to be left in the people.
We must consider this constitution, when adopted, as the supreme act of the people … we and our posterity must strictly adhere to the letter and spirit of it, and in no instance depart from them.
The first maxim of a man who loves liberty [is] never to grant to rulers an atom of power that is not most clearly and indispensably necessary for the safety and well-being of society. It must never be forgotten … that the liberties of the people are not so safe under the gracious manner of government as by the limitation of power.
According to Forrest McDonald, Lee was “imbued with an abiding love of liberty and a concomitant wholesome distrust of government.” In an era when the founding generation’s determination of the proper, narrow limits to impose on federal power has eroded to whether it is subject to virtually any limits, his insights are important. He knew that “The first maxim of a man who loves liberty” was “never to grant to rulers an atom of power that is not most clearly and indispensably necessary for the safety and well-being of society,” and that “It must never be forgotten … that the liberties of the people are not so safe under the gracious manner of government as by the limitation of power.” Americans today need to relearn those same lessons.
The differences between student-led movements in this country and in Hong Kong are striking. One need look no further than their respective demands and the ideas that animate their protests. When American college students are moved enough to organize, they are almost always calling for more “freebies,” not more freedom, as the courageous students today in Hong Kong are doing. The students in Hong Kong are speaking truth to serious power, with all too serious consequences for questioning and challenging their ruthless masters in Beijing. When the Hong Kong protests have subsided, those lucky enough to avoid imprisonment will likely face a bleak future. With their government dossiers stamped “Counterrevolutionary” or “Traitor,” their once-bright job prospects and promising careers will, in many cases, have evaporated. Continue reading