On December 27, 1820, Thomas Jefferson wrote William Roscoe about his vision for the University of Virginia (chartered in 1819), “This institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow the truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error as long as reason is left free to combat it.”
But what should happen 200 years later when our public universities avoid the testing of truths? Or suppress alternate opinions because they are unpopular or politically incorrect? Or no longer tolerate opinions now considered errors by the elite?
What happens when sociopolitical agendas or scientific paradigms dominate university views to the exclusion of a minority even being mentioned? When higher centers of learning fail to be places where all ideas are examined from a variety of reasoned perspectives?
What happens when the political and public educational pendulum swings from concern for the tyranny of sectarianism in Jefferson’s day to secularism in ours?
The new narrow-mindedness of the American university
Dr. Jim Nelson Black, founder and senior policy analyst of the Sentinel Research Associates in Washington, D.C., in his excellent book “Freefall of the American University,” documents well the clear biases pervading our public academic settings. Among this educational lopsidedness is the intentional training of students to disdain America, freely experiment sexually, forcefully defend issues like abortion and homosexuality, as well as become cultural advocates for political correctness, relativism, globalization, green agendas and tolerance for all.
One of the primary ways these educative platforms are propagated is by recruiting and retaining faculty members who reflect and teach them. For example, citing from the polling firm of Luntz Research, Dr. Black notes that 57 percent of faculty members represented in our most esteemed universities are Democrats (only 3 percent Republican) and 64 percent identify themselves as liberal (only 6 percent conservative). Moreover, 71 percent of them disagree that “news coverage of political and social issues reflects a liberal bias in the news media.” And the No.1 answer they gave to the question, “Who has been the best president in the past 40 years?” was Bill Clinton (only 4 percent said Ronald Reagan).
The impact of secular progressive influence is being experienced by students across this land, tens of thousands who have already cried out with complaints of academic inequity. A sampling of hundreds of student grievances from across the academic spectrum can even be found on websites like the Students for Academic Freedom and NoIndoctrination.org.
While I fully realize there are some great conservative people on the staffs of many higher learning campuses, I know virtually all of them would concur that a liberal bias in our academic curricula and system is overwhelmingly dominant and ubiquitous.
Is this present, restrictive and one-sided educational environment that which Thomas Jefferson and other founders intended for the future generations of America? Absolutely not! Rather than encourage free thinking, the U.S. academic system has turned Jefferson’s plans for open education into our culture’s system of indoctrination.
Ways to stabilize the national academic imbalances
Among the list of correctives recommended by experts, I concur that our adherence to the following would bring a better balance to our nation’s public education:
Don’t blindly believe in a university’s broad-base education, based solely upon its past reputation or a descriptive catalogue. Confront the administration. Ask the hard questions of course professors.
If you experience courses that create an intimidating atmosphere for expressing varied opinions, disparage alternative views, or advance one-sided political or social ideologies, report such courses and programs. Inform and educate the online community of your complaints as well. If our government is not going to hold our academic institutions accountable, then its citizens must.
Consider a counter-cultural mission by teaching or assisting in a public school, college, university, or even the U.S. Department of Education.
If proposed changes are not satisfactorily handled, consider alternative means of education. Private, charter and home schools and online educational opportunities not only flourish today but are producing some of the best and brightest in society.
Be an active and vocal part of your school’s board, PTA or equivalent. Volunteer to assist in any way that can positively influence the academic current in the right direction.
Encourage your teens and college-aged children to join The Rebelution – a counter-culture movement led by 19-year old twins Alex and Brett Harris, who are seeking to reinstitute and educate families on traditional values and beliefs. Like their parents Gregg and Sono Harris, we should intentionally educate and build a legacy of leadership in our children, before culture and a secular education zaps it from them. Train your children in the tactics of America’s culture war while they’re at home, so they are equipped to engage it when they leave.
Additional counter-culture Blogs and resources can also be discovered at other teen sites, including pushbackignorance.blogspot.com, christianthink.blogspot.com, agenttimonline.com, and politicallyincorrectzone.blogspot.com.
When in Rome…
Thomas Jefferson was an enthusiastic advocate for public education and believed it was the key to preserving a republican government and society. Yet, he was equally an ardent opponent against “any tyranny over the mind of man.” Whether that dominance is sectarianism or secularism, conservatism or liberalism, Jefferson (and I believe our other Founders) would oppose and seek to correct today’s disproportions of instruction in our nation’s public schools.
If Jefferson supported reform in public education as a prerequisite for a lasting republican nation, would he not expect the same of us today?
But will we follow his lead? Or will we allow the present path of degradation of the American educational spirit? If the latter, then I agree with Dr. Black’s assessment, echoing the warning of Alexis de Tocqueville, in his classic work, “Democracy in America”
Because Roman civilization perished through barbarian invasions, we are perhaps too much inclined to think that that is the only way a civilization can die. If the lights that guide us ever go out, they will fade little by little, as if of their own accord….We therefore should not console ourselves by thinking that the barbarians are still a long way off. Some peoples may let the torch be snatched from their hands, but others stamp it out themselves.
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