A Blank Check for Education — Mo’ Money!

Let me make one thing very clear up front: Next to public safety, education is the most important thing that the Commonwealth of Virginia can spend money on. Having an educated citizenry is a prerequisite for prospering in a global economy. But that doesn’t mean we can afford to write the education establishment a blank check.

According to a story filed by Tyler Whitley in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Tim Kaine, Jerry Kilgore and Russ Potts all attended a forum at Virginia Commonwealth University yesterday to discuss education policy. All three candidates presented laundry lists of expenditures they propose for K-12 and higher education. Unless Whitley left something out of his bullet-list of initiatives, not one candidate offered a single idea for cutting costs, reallocating funds or holding the educational establishment more accountable.

Unbelievable. Gov. Mark R. Warner has pumped up spending on education by hundreds of millions of dollars a year, the federal government is spending record sums on K-12 support, and Virginia’s candidates are promising more, more, more.

I never expect much from most politicians, but I do expect more from our business and civic leaders. Sadly, most of them have become vapid cheerleaders for more spending. Give me an E! Give me a D! Give me a U…. What’s that spell? If our business leaders ran their own corporations they way they want to run the state — spending recklessly on new products and services without insisting upon productivity, results and accountability — they’d get hammered in the marketplace. The intellectual bankruptcy in Virginia’s leadership cadres is just appalling. I fear for the future of our Commonwealth.

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  1. Anonymous Avatar

    We have accountability now…isn’t that what the SOLs are for? So let’s spend away. Teacher salaries have declined drastically in real dollars since 1980, right?

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    You could have, but didn’t, draw a direct line between this and the recent TD story about UVa hiring a vice president of diversity. Virginia’s higher ed establishment is drunk on spending unrelated to actual education.

    You ought to hear Governor Warner on this topic when the doors are closed. But only when the doors are closed. He extracted quite a bit out of the higher ed establishment in exchange for that charter university bill, perhaps not enough but at least something.

    Its about votes. People love their local schools and their colleges. (If Kilgore wasn’t using UVa colors on everything he prints, he might be even farther ahead.)

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    Did Kilgore go to UVa for undergrad or law school? What is with the UVa connection?

  4. Anonymous Avatar

    He graduated from Clinch Valley College, which was and is a regional division of the University (now called University of Virginia at Wise, I think) and the law school at William and Mary. That orange and blue really grates on some of us (but you’ll notice I’m hitting the anonymous button.)

  5. SCHEV is attempting to provide greater accountability in response to the requirements of the Restructuring Act. The institution presidents are squealing like stuck pigs. Check out the proposed Virginia Scorecard on SCHEV’s website. Things are rapidly changing with this proposal. The Council did not adopt it on Tuesday in order to give the administration more time with it.

    The Scorecard is not about overall accountability, but about the goals in the Restructuring Act and access to some financial benefits.

  6. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Anonyous 9:12: Sounds like you’ve been following the “diversity” drama at UVa. Apparently, there were a series of regrettable events a month or two ago (don’t pin me down on details, I’m drawing from a fallible memory here) in which some jerks either uttered or graffitied some racial slurs. It goes without saying that racial slurs are offensive and the university administration needs to set standards for appropriate behavior. But UVa has gone way overboard. As the offenders haven’t been caught, it’s not even clear if they were students or townies. But that hasn’t stopped the administration from treating the entire student body as an undifferentiated mass of racists or incipient racists. From the tone of the rhetoric, you’d think someone had been lynched. … Meanwhile, William & Mary is celebrating racial differences, too, also under the banner of diversity.

    Our universities, it seems, have long ago abandoned the idea of a color-blind society. Now, it’s “diversity” 24/7. Trouble is, the more we obsess over racial differences, the harder it is to achieve a color-blind society. By any objective measure, society is not getting more racist — it’s getting less racist with every passing year. Or it would if the diversity mongers weren’t constantly pushing race in our face all the time.

  7. Anonymous Avatar

    I’m sure you love Kilgore’s color scheme. Let’s see how you like it when he repaints the Capitol.

    They can celebrate diversity. They can bemoan racism. But why do they need a diversity bureaucracy? That VP has to be getting $150-200K in salary, and a VP has to have a secretary, the oak desk, the parking pass, a seat in the president’s box at home games, some assistant VPs and a webpage. And all it took to cost the tuition- and taxpayers $300K was a moron with a $1.98 spray can from Lowes…

  8. Anonymous Avatar

    No interest in getting into the tit-for-tat about the diversity VP at UVA (it’s $300,000 out of a budget of billions…)

    But to say that the candidates presentations at the VA21 forum yesterday were “a blank check for education” is misleading.

    If the candidates pledged to fully fund every need in higher education, it would be a blank check. If the candidates pledge to get Virginia schools to the top nationally in funding per pupil, that might be a blank check. If the candidates pledged to let the college presidents write the budget, that might be a blank check.

    Here’s what they pledge…

    To meet a formula, that the General Asssembly wrote and approves. Guess what the formula, gets us, guess? To have the AVERAGE student teacher ration of peer schools across the nation! GROUNDBREAKING. a blank check whose goal is being average. I don’t know that we are exactly pouring money into higher education.

    $532 million was slashed from higher education in the early part of the decade. $250mil was re-invested in 2004. Now these candidates have committed to doing the rest.

    The money is either going to come from the student or the state – tuition or general fund…

    Just some thoughts on your blank check theory.

    p.s. lets not confuse higher ed with k-12. K12 has recieved funding increases while higher ed was slashed in the early part of the decade.

  9. I am in agreement with your column.

    However I will yet again bring up the VaPAF. Think of the money and attention wasted on this white elephant, when it could have been used on schools. Think of the largesse that these politicians have batted their eyes at and excused (except for Wilder!).

  10. So Anon 11:42, you make the statement:
    “To have the AVERAGE student teacher ration of peer schools across the nation!”

    Do you think this is good policy, to fund institutions based on what others are spending? Regardless of how well those institutions are managed or the state policies in play in those different states? or the fact that institutional peer groups often include private institutions?

    Everything else you say is true, but I don’t think this is sound policy.

  11. SouthoftheJames.com Avatar

    Jim: Your assessment of “diversity” as race-mongering is a serious oversimplification of the issue. Diversity is not simply a matter of race, but also has to do with gender (ex. men in nursing jobs), sexual orientation, geography (ex. reaching out to rural folks), religion (ex. Protestants & Muslims and Notre Dame), and economics (ex. blue-collar Reagan Democrats). Race (black, white) is a social construction with no real biological meaning; ethnic identity is a fact of life that is not necessarily rooted in color (Italian-American, Irish-American, Latino,Southerner/NeoConfederate, etc.) but which endows people with a different view of the world. The problem with diversity and race is that for Blacks and Native Americans, the concept of race has been inextricably been foisted into our ethnic identity due to the history of institutionalized racism and downplaying of the significance of that history, particularly in the South.

    It may seem nuanced, but Corporate America has recognized and advanced the value of true diversity for years because under their “objective measures,” they have found that different cultural predispositions influence consumer behaviors (market segmentation) and executive decisionmaking (strategic management). Putting a premium of incorporating different opinions have helped businesses sell products to new markets and profit. Also, they’ve seen that having diverse perspectives in the decisionmaking process, reaps dividends because different life experiences cause managers to consider factors that others don’t see. It’s not just a racial thing. The success of firms like Bank of America, Wal-Mart and Home Depot are significantly rooted in their “Southerness,” characteristics that they’re competitors don’t have. BoA (and others) saw the rise in the South’s economic power and capitalized on it. Hence why a bunch of country boy bankers from Charlotte were able to outsmart the debonair financiers out in San Francisco, partially leading recruiters at top MBA programs like Harvard, Stanford and Chicago to flock to Atlanta, Charlottesville, Athens, and Chapel Hill to grab talented Southern undergrads.

    As for the colleges in Virginia, UVA and W&M have specific histories of just simply being wrong on race, and it’s only been 35 years or so since Black students were welcomed onto their campuses. Closer to home, my mom was pushed away from applying there in the 60’s because she was Black (but got scholarships elsewhere), and the Commonwealth had a specific policy of paying for talented Black students (like Doug Wilder) to attend graduate school out of state. The more recent incidents at UVA have been a mix of townies and students, including assaults. Having gone to, George Mason, the one public university in VA that is known for being both institutionally pro-diversity and anti-affirmative action (in terms of equal admisssions standards and treatment of all students), I have seen a higher-ed model for diversity that is not a matter of pushing race in anyone’s face all the time.

    Is racism on the decline in our society? Most definitely. Should we all continue to devalue skin color as a meaningful indicator of a person’s worth? Of course. Is the persistence of racism just a matter of shutting up Jesse Jackson? No. Or, at least not until we shut up Jesse Helms, too.

    — Conaway

  12. Anonymous Avatar

    i will post this anonymously for a reason. I’m sorry, but i think teachers are paid quite well. And I’m a liberal guy saying this. Look, the average wage out of college for a teacher is nearly $32K statewide, more in some areas. That is not a bad job for a person with a BA who will have a couple of months off during the summer AND a contract.

    Compare what we pay teachers to what we pay starting level government officials in state and local levels of government. DEQ biologists off the shelf make $28K, most counties and cities pay their planners I & II in the upper-twenties to low thirties and a bunch of those jobs require more late night work than imagineable and masters degrees to boot.

    Sorry, had to vent.

  13. Anonymous Avatar

    ” not even clear if they were students or townies”
    The ‘slurs’ were written on message boards inside dormitories. That’s students, not townies.

  14. CosmicMojo Avatar

    You can’t get a teaching job w/just a BA. Teachers at public schools have to have master’s in education.

  15. Anonymous Avatar

    (If I double post, sorry. Either it’s lost or I am.)

    Parents used to tell their kids to finish their dinner ’cause there was a kid in China starving for that food.

    Now I’d tell my kids to finish their homework ’cause there’s a kid starving for his job.

    The US is losing our standing as the best educated nation in the world.

    If we want to retain our comfort and autonomy, we’d better get on the ball, regardless of the cost.
    Cosmic Mojo

  16. SouthoftheJames.com Avatar

    Cosmic Mojo – actually, public school teachers are not required to have a masters degree; only administrators are required to have masters, and superintendents are not required to have doctorates. In VA, you can teach up to 3 years with a BA in any subject before you have to get a 15-18 hour certification in education. Many teachers get their certification while still in undergrad (it amounts to basically a minor in education) and last their entire careers with no more than a bachelors degree. Now, if you want a specific degree in education, then you have to get a masters.

  17. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Anonymous 12:22, I accept your correction. As I noted in the post, I was recalling details from memory… which is all too fallible.

  18. Anonymous Avatar

    the masters may not be REQUIRED, but when you’re interviewing and the other 11 candidates DO have a masters, the market has come to require a masters in order to be competitive, regardless of what it says on the books.


  19. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    Quite well paid? Teachers? I’ve spent almost 30 years married to a teacher and I have worked in various professions and have supervised state employees. There is a variation in quality and dedication in all professions, but when it comes to really good teachers, nobody works harder, puts up with more crap, and gets less appreciation for less money in our marketplace. Starting at $32K is one thing, but where are they after 30 years? (Getting the hell out in the prime years, that’s where.) Sure my wife gets time off in the summer. She is also up at 5:10 during the school year and usually grading papers in front of the TV until 9 or later every night.

    Our daughter is just out of school as a nurse, and within a couple of years she will earn as much as her mom because of one word: overtime. Teachers get no overtime. If they did, your real estate tax would double.

    You think a DEQ biologist or some starting city planner can match the workplace stress of an urban middle school?

    Lots of people work that hard — but not for what she gets paid. Our society doesn’t value education really, because in this country, the measure of value is money.

  20. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Conaway, As always, your comments are thoughtful, and I agree with you on many points. No question, institutions like UVa and William & Mary were, at one time, guilty of racial discrimination. I am ashamed that your mother was discouraged because of her race for applying to any Virginia university. But there is a big difference, I would argue, between ending the vestiges of discrimination and making a fetish of diversity.

    A fixation on diversity, I would suggest, makes people more race conscious, not less. Indeed, I would go one step further. Knowing the proclivity for college students to rebel against authority, I would suggest that the diversity fixation might inspire the very reaction it’s meant to quell — especially if white students are made to feel that the expression of ethnic pride is legitimate for everyone except them. (Young white people today don’t carry around the guilt of slavery, Jim Crow and segregation. They legitimately ask, why should they bear the onus for the sins of their parents and grandparents?)

    Bottom line: Do we want a color blind society, or do we want a society that’s still fixated on race, but just on different terms than 40 years ago? I’m opting for a color-blind society.

  21. Anonymous Avatar

    ha ha, it is so funny, all these WELL paid politicos acting like $32K is a lot of money when I know you all make way more (as do i, as do I).
    It’s NOT a lot of money.
    The per capita income in the Richmond region is $32,879.
    And the median household income that HUD benchmarks for the Richmond region is $60K-something.
    $32K is NOT a lot of money to raise a family on, particularly not for someone with a master’s.

  22. Anonymous Avatar

    HEre’s words I thought I’d never say:
    well said Steve haner.
    man, I can still breathe.
    No, I don’t experience a fraction of the stress a teacher does. I’d be scared to death! It’s a HARD and CRITICAL job and should be appreciated and well paid. My friends who are teachers speand A LOT more time doing work outside the work day.

  23. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    South of the James: As usual, your writing is well thought out. Yet, I beg to differ on what ‘diversity’ means in VA public Higher Ed. Diversity means institutional racism.

    It begins with quotas (or bonuses based on race that serve as quotas) for admissions that result in (at U VA) about a 200 point delta in SAT scores between Asians and Whites over Blacks.

    It continues with jobs – like the diversity VP – based on color. What a monumental waste of money. The last VP had a meeting last year and kicked the white kids out of the meeting. Would the reverse be tolerated? Never. And neither should this behavior.

    It continues with indoctrination – you can look up the Cav Daily on line – like the overkill for the racial slurs. Those slurs were wrong. Some recent cases of this behavior at colleges were done by Blacks for an agenda. The over-reaction on race and under-reaction on responding to rapes on campus is appalling.

    Furthermore, the holy trinity of liberalism of race, class, and gender(s) is shoved in the face of students in class after class.

    The progress made on race relations in 4 decades in the Commonwealth is at risk because of the inherent racism – read the words and assumptions – of diversity as it is practiced.

    Re: industry. The successes of Walmart etc in business was good marketing not diversity. This summer I was out in LA, CA working with our smart software engineers. Someone brought up some missive from the Corporate Diversity Police at lunch. I noted that I was the minority by race and region and age. FYI, several of the engineers were immigrants. Yet, what did diversity bring to our problem solving?

    The engineers were all trained in higher ed based on the Western European Rennaissance-Reform-Enlightenment tradition. So, we all accepted rational empiricism as the way to do problem-solving. We all spoke and wrote in English and math. Etc. We all had a good laugh that it was completely and utterly meaningless. What works, we agreed, was unity, not diversity as in E Pluribus Unum.

  24. Anonymous Avatar

    “Furthermore, the holy trinity of liberalism of race, class, and gender(s) is shoved in the face of students in class after class.”

    How? Please give an example. I’m sure many of us here are grads of Virginia colleges and I never experienced such a thing. Ever.

    There was the time my professor told me women shouldn’t be architects. Is that what you’re talking about?

    As a liberal I can tell you I know of no “holy trinity”. I’m not sure what you mean anyway since those words are adjactives, not political positions or beliefs. For me I guess it would be: Freedom, Equality and Liberty.

  25. SouthoftheJames.com Avatar

    If you like my writing, thank a teacher – starting with my mom and dad (and grandma, and aunties….)!

    Cosmic Mojo: You must be referring to Metro Richmond and other larger metro districts. From experience, there is much less competition for prospects w/masters degrees in rural areas and small cities. If don’t mind living in or driving to places like Blackstone, Gate City, Bedford, or Galax to get a job, you can find one. Hence why the gubernatorial candidates have given a lot of lip service to helping smaller districts find and retain quality teachers – no one wants to live there. Btw, if you’re looking for a teaching job in good schools with decent pay in places with low cost-of-living and where you’ll be competing with folks w/ BA’s, let me know.

    Jim: You hit the nail on the head when you noted that diversity is a problem “especially if white students are made to feel that the expression of ethnic pride is legitimate for everyone except them. (Young white people today don’t carry around the guilt of slavery, Jim Crow and segregation. They legitimately ask, why should they bear the onus for the sins of their parents and grandparents?)” The answer is that as long as those kids are not continuing to perpetuate the sins of previous generations, then they should not have to suffer because of it. This is my major qualm with the Left and their intellectual dishonesty about cultural pluralism and integration.

    I don’t see color as much as I see culture as the real issue, thus afros, mullets, and turbins should be merely expressions of ethnocultural affinity and choice, not hard-edged racial division. All things equal, the kids of “Cliff & Claire Huxtable” should do better in school and the workforce than the kids of “Dan & Roseanne Connor.” We know that class is the true inhibitor of socioeconomic success. But, as long as the Left insists on racial bean-counting (ex. quotas) and whining (ex. Michael Moore) and the Right relies on fomenting white backlash (ex. Helm’s Senate race against Gantt) or false senses of racial enlightenment (ex. tokenism), and no sensible Center steps up loudly, the racial gamesmanship will continue.

    JAB: I agree that higher-ed admissions policies pre-Bollinger went way overboard in their corrective measures. I would surmise that, in part, this because colleges and universities gives the academic community a chance at experiementing on itself and not necessarily the rest of the world. So, instead of focusing energies on helping get the poor (white or black) kids in disadvantaged families and communities help at the early stages (education, nutrition, stability, etc), they focus on the colleges and universities that they can dominate. Thus, as you say “Diversity means institutional racism…It begins with quotas (or bonuses based on race that serve as quotas) for admissions that result in (at U VA) about a 200 point delta in SAT scores between Asians and Whites over Blacks.” This is where the civil rights movement jumped the shark – the activist class left the communities behind to focus on politics, media and academia, and no one was left to do the hard work of helping the people.

    — Conaway

  26. SouthoftheJames.com Avatar

    Jim: By the way, I truly believe that the way that we’ll really overcome the evils of “racialism” is for folks of all stripes, especially White people, to talk openly and honestly about their feelings and thoughts on the issues without fear of retribution or being called racists. We all have something to learn from each other.

    Referencing that first set of comments that I made to the BR blog last month, in my book, for what it’s worth, you can officially add Bacon’s Rebellion to Comedy Central and HBO….

  27. CosmicMojo Avatar

    “UVA and W&M have specific histories of just simply being wrong on race, and it’s only been 35 years or so since Black students were welcomed onto their campuses. Closer to home, my mom was pushed away from applying there in the 60’s because she was Black”

    I mostly agree with you, but UVA did not even admit women til 1970, so regardless of her race, she would not have been admitted to UVA in the 1960s because she was a woman, her race would have been moot. Maybe a black man would have been steered elsewhere, but all women of all colors were REFUSED admittance.

  28. Absolute dittos to Steve Haner. My wife also is a teacher. Steve’s opservations are absolutely on the mark. In a previous life as a congressional aide, after a single day of “teaching” five high school classes on government, I was hoarse and exhausted.

    As for higher ed spending and accountability, look for some interesting proposals coming out of the SJR74 study on higher ed accessibility and affordability.

  29. Anonymous Avatar

    Haner – in my experience, there the only difference between a planning commission, board of supervisors, or city council meeting and an 8th grade classroom is that the board meetings have paid lawyers in hand to egg people along.

    May God have mercy on planners.

  30. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Cosmicmojo: Sorry you missed Liberal Catechism class on the Liberal Trinity. You must have gone to college in the 70s? 80s?

    Please send an email letter to the editor to the school newspapers at The University, Tech, Wm & Mary, JMU, GMU, VCU, Longwood and Mary Washington as follows:

    Dear Editor:
    Recently I read “Furthermore, the holy trinity of liberalism of race, class, and gender(s) is shoved in the face of students in class after class.”

    How has this ever happened at your school? Please give an example – email (your address)


    Also send on the Virginia College Republicans. You can do all this in a jiffy on line.

    Then forward all the responses to Jim Bacon so he can start a new Blog “DoubleThink In Virginia”

    I really look forward to the responses.

  31. CosmicMojo Avatar

    All the pithy talk means nothing without real specific examples experienced by you (not a friend of a friend).

    I asked you for examples and since you’re can’t provide any, you misdirect by throwing out vague sarcasm.

    Well, give me an example you experienced in college.

    I gave an example of sexism I experienced in class when my professor said women shouldn’t be architect’s cause they couldn’t get construction jobs.

    Now your turn. Tell me when you were forced to treat people with equality even though you didn’t want to. For the second time, I look forward to YOUR response, don’t palm it off onto someone else. You declined to prove your point once, please tell me how the holy trinity of gender was forced down your throat in Virginia.

  32. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    I have sat through some rowdy planning meeting. In fact back in my Roanoke Times days I myself was threatened by an angry Alleghany County landowner (long story) over something I wrote. But the difference between dealing with school kids and planning commissioners is you can’t hit school kids.

  33. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    CosmicGuy/Gal: I wasn’t being sarcastic in the least. Sorry cyberspace doesn’t show tone of voice and body language. I am deadly serious and earnest. Send the letter to the editors and then send the responses to Jim Bacon. It will be illuminating to no end. Look forward to reading the first person, current responses.

    Re: Tell me when you were forced to treat people with equality even though you didn’t want to.

    Huh? I haven’t been forced to treat people one way or the other. I choose to treat people equitably. For most Virginians it is the mannerly thing to do. Fair play and all that.

  34. CosmicMojo Avatar

    So you still never will give me an example of how YOU have expereinced the horror of whatever it is you were railing about.

    I have no need to send a letter asking for input when I have my own expereince and that of all these bloggers. The very fact that after repeated requests you can’t provide one example proves that they don’t exist.

    Sorta like the friend of a friend who is always the one who meet the bloodly hook murdered in urban myths.

    If you know of q case, tell us. Otherwise I have to assume you made it all up.

  35. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    I made an earlier post, but it didn
    ‘t go through.

    Check this out.


    Freshmen Orientation

    by: Malcolm A. Kline, September 19, 2005

    Going back to school at the end of summer vacation has always been a bittersweet experience for college students. Now it can be just bitter.

    “My first class as a college student proved to be typical of my college experience,” Nicole Kooistra writes in the latest issue of Chronicles. “A mandatory course for freshmen, it was intended to introduce us to a wide range of disciplines, yet the focus was on all that is non-Western and irrelevant.”

    “The one classic work we read was Plato’s Republic; the rest of the term took up everything from the poetry of Bedouin women to Chinese philosophy.” Miss Kooistra is currently studying English literature at Northern Illinois University: “Why did I exchange an elite school for a workaday state university? My reasoning was that, if I was going to get the same education at both, I should choose the one that would cost my parents less.”

    Although the toll that reeducation exacted on Miss Kooistra may not come out neatly in dollars and cents, her disillusionment comes through in her account:

    • “At the state university, I took an American novels class that included Hannah Foster, Kate Chopin, and Toni Morrison but had no room for Mark Twain and Ernest Hemingway.”

    • “My American literature professor spent more time on race and homosexuality in Moby Dick than on any other aspect of the story.”

    • “The most disturbing aspect of the university is the savage hostility of professors and administrators toward Christianity. I have had several agnostic professors and one bitter atheist but not one who is known as a believer.”

    • “I once had to meet with a professor to discuss my use of a biblical quotation in a paper arguing the commonalities between a passage from Dostoyevsky’s Notes From The Underground and a passage from Scripture. Despite the fact that Dosteyevsky was a Christian and that I was using the Bible as a literary source, my professor only allowed me to use the quotation, with great displeasure, after two meetings.”

    That bias which Nicole describes permeates academia, even at colleges and universities originally established as religious institutions of higher learning. Polls consistently show that professors attend worship services in inverse proportions to the public as a whole.

    “As a born-again Christian since 1999, I have encountered overt and subtle forms of intimidation,” writes Carol Swain, a professor of Political Science and Law at Vanderbilt University. “Often this takes the form of openly disparaging remarks made by colleagues about the intelligence of believers.”

    Professor Swain is the founding director of the Veritas Institute for Racial Justice and Reconciliation. Writing in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Professor Swain notes that the bias experienced by students is nowhere near as subtle as that which faculty members encounter.

    “I have watched helplessly as bright, conservative students are victimized again and again by faculty members who use the power of grading to push them toward Conformity,” Professor Swain writes. “Those students who fight back usually end up with reduced grade-point averages and fewer opportunities to matriculate at elite professional institutions.”

    To a degree that underlines the problematic, even traumatic, trends Kooistra recounts with dismay, English professors seem to take pride in their invincibility to outside influence. And not just the more flamboyant ones who strut their stuff at the annual Modern Language Association conferences that Accuracy in Academia has covered for decades.

    “I also tried to teach material that I cared about deeply rather than literary works that the English department recommended,” Murray Sperber, a professor emeritus at Indiana University-Bloomington writes. “Fortunately, my boss encouraged my excursions.”

    And what material did the professor care about most deeply? “The single best course I taught in 40 years was the last one: an undergraduate class on Beat Generation writers.”

    Miss Kooistra gives us a poignant coda on higher education today. “Since American universities are in a deplorable state, we must learn to educate ourselves,” Miss Koositra, who was homeschooled, writes. “Perhaps that is the most valuable lesson the professoriate has to teach.” Perhaps.

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

    I really which you would write those VA college newspapers and ask for feedback.

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