A Small Note on Why We Have Stupid People

If you ever wondered why we have stupid people in the United States, Robert Stacy McCain points out the reason:

…Democrats and the media (but I repeat myself) don’t want to admit the real nature of their own irrational prejudices, and Republicans are too polite to call them out on it. Has anyone in the Republican Party asked, for example, how much federal aid to education goes to elite private schools like Swarthmore College (annual tuition $49,104), where students enroll in “Queering God: Feminist and Queer Theology”? Why should the devout Catholic or Baptist be taxed to support such nonsense? Where are the GOP senators and congressmen demanding to know what kind of “education” taxpayers are being required to subsidize?

Because the Republicans are too polite (or too stupid) to call attention to what’s going on in our taxpayer-funded schools, a generation of young people has been indoctrinated in the anti-American prejudices of the Democrats who control university campuses…

Its not just that stupid people teach stupid things to youngsters but, also, because we refuse to stop the stupidity! If we want to stop the stupid, the first step is to stop paying for it…or, if that seems unfair, then at least insist that right next to Queering God there be a course on the works of C. S. Lewis or G. K. Chesterton. I’m all for kids being challenged in their views…and I think that Lewis is far more challenging than anything you’re likely to find in a major college these days (and let’s not even get into St. Thomas, or even Martin Luther, for our Protestant friends…). With the massive amounts of federal dollars pouring into education year after year, we do have a great deal of leverage…because regardless of ideology, the most important thing College Administrators serve is the dollar. We’re paying the piper, we should call the tune. Start making the dollars dependent upon intellectual diversity (ie, hiring even just a couple of moderately conservative professors every now and again) will start to break the stranglehold the left holds on higher education. And as an added benefit, the kids will actually learn something. You know, not just get a credential, but some education to go along with it.

Insanity on Campus

When was the last time a student flunked out of college? I’m not talking about someone who hit the bong so often they just stopped going and dropped out. I want to know when was the last time someone attended class faithfully, attempted to do the course work and was found so lacking in ability that they were forced to leave college due to poor grades. I’ll bet it has been a long time – and if it does happen at all these days, I’ll further bet that such events are very few and very far between.

All of the lunacy we’ve seen on campus of late I trace back to the fact that you don’t need to be hard working or intelligent to get into college: all you need is money; and Uncle Sam will back a loan for you, if you don’t have any of your own. This has flooded colleges with vast numbers of people who don’t know much but who believe they do know quite a bit (after all, they’re in college, right? College people are smart, aren’t they? The current crop, however, is living off the intellectual reputation of those who went to college 50 or more years ago) – and college administrations quake in fear of them. Partially because the administrators are liberal and thus share a great deal of both the ignorance and the certainty of the students, but also because if you try to bring a bit of discipline to campus, you risk the revenue stream (a kid expelled is one less tuition check next semester – and if that happens often enough, there won’t be as much money to pay high salaries to professors and administrators).

It is a toxic stew – can’t risk the money; professors who are aged liberals; students who know next to nothing…and all stirred up by people who either just want a fracas, or who want to game the system to their own advantage (after all, if you’re set to graduate with a worthless “studies” degree next year, it is in your interest to demand that the college hire more people just like you).

There are colleges out there which don’t accept federal money and are thus free from all this – you never hear the kids at Christendom College or Hillsdale College demanding a “safe space”. This is the model we should take as our conservative alternative to the current higher education system. Either that, or make the federal money no-strings-attached – essentially say that as long as it is being used to educate kids, we don’t care what particular sort of education goes on (this has risks, of course – you could get a lot of Kook Universities springing up out there). But one thing is certain is that as long as we keep the current system, the lunacy will only get worse.

UPDATE: One of the events triggering the Missouri dust up was the alleged scrawling of a swastika made of feces. One small problem: no one has any actual evidence that such a thing occurred. We’ll have to see if any does come up. I doubt that it will: we’ve seen plenty of these alleged racist incidents turn out false, or at least entirely uncorroborated.

UPDATE II: Robert Tracinski writes up his own reform proposal – burn the universities to the ground. This is way too extreme, of course: such fires might spread to nearby property, some of which may be owned by sane people. So, I think my proposal still works better.

Orwell Was Only Off by 31 Years

Just wow – from The College Fix, which I am assured is not a satirical website:

“America is the land of opportunity,” “There is only one race, the human race” and “I believe the most qualified person should get the job” are among a long list of alleged microaggressions faculty leaders of the University of California system have been instructed not to say.

These so-called microaggressions – considered examples of subconscious racism – were presented at faculty leader training sessions held throughout the 2014-15 school year at nine of the 10 UC campuses. The sessions, an initiative of UC President Janet Napolitano, aim to teach how to avoid offending students and peers, as well as how to hire a more diverse faculty…

…Other sayings deemed unacceptable include:

● “Everyone can succeed in this society, if they work hard enough.”

● “Where are you from or where were you born?”

● “Affirmative action is racist.”

● “When I look at you, I don’t see color.”

These phrases in particular are targeted because they promote the “myth of meritocracy” or represent “statements which assert that race or gender does not play a role in life successes.” Others are said to be color blind, apparently a bad thing that indicates “that a white person does not want to or need to acknowledge race,” according to the handout, “Tool: Recognizing Microaggressions and the Messages They Send.”

If you’re thinking of going to college, I suggest a career in plumbing or farming – something which doesn’t require a person to be immersed in a place which says that meritocracy is racist.

The good news is that this sort of nonsense just cannot stand for long – the people who are de-educated in such a setting will simply not be able to compete in the real world and so those who managed to get a real education will outplay them for life’s rewards…

A Liberal Professor is Afraid of His Liberal Students

Very interesting:

I’m a professor at a midsize state school. I have been teaching college classes for nine years now. I have won (minor) teaching awards, studied pedagogy extensively, and almost always score highly on my student evaluations. I am not a world-class teacher by any means, but I am conscientious; I attempt to put teaching ahead of research, and I take a healthy emotional stake in the well-being and growth of my students.

Things have changed since I started teaching. The vibe is different. I wish there were a less blunt way to put this, but my students sometimes scare me — particularly the liberal ones…

So, what is happening? This:

I have intentionally adjusted my teaching materials as the political winds have shifted. (I also make sure all my remotely offensive or challenging opinions, such as this article, are expressed either anonymously or pseudonymously). Most of my colleagues who still have jobs have done the same. We’ve seen bad things happen to too many good teachers — adjuncts getting axed because their evaluations dipped below a 3.0, grad students being removed from classes after a single student complaint, and so on.

I once saw an adjunct not get his contract renewed after students complained that he exposed them to “offensive” texts written by Edward Said and Mark Twain. His response, that the texts were meant to be a little upsetting, only fueled the students’ ire and sealed his fate. That was enough to get me to comb through my syllabi and cut out anything I could see upsetting a coddled undergrad, texts ranging from Upton Sinclair to Maureen Tkacik — and I wasn’t the only one who made adjustments, either…

That is all very disturbing, but nothing that we on the right haven’t been aware of for quite some time. I don’t know how old the author is – and he’s using a pseudonym – but given that he says he started teaching in 2006, I’m guessing he’s in his 30’s, and thus went to college early in the 21st century and that means he was born maybe around 1980 or so. I point out the age thing because this means the professor wasn’t around when political correctness first started to rear its ugly head in the 1980’s. He was just a kid and, at all events, the Powers That Be in higher education were just getting rolling on it with speech codes and other things. But the warning was issued by those on the right – if we start trying to classify speech as “good” or “bad”, then it would be those who complain the most who will rule the roost. If a subjective judgement by an individual is all it takes to get a thing condemned, then those who are most sensitive – or who claim to be most sensitive – will have veto power over what everyone else says. Needless to say, it was also easily understood that it would be hard left fanatics who would take most advantage of this because we on the right are not at all interested in stopping someone from talking while our people on the left have always been in favor of blocking speech which disputes leftwing ideology.

Unfortunately for a good liberal like this professor, there isn’t much he can do about it. Later in his article – which is very much worth reading – he traps himself firmly by agreeing that the social status of a person does play a role in the worth of that person’s statements. This flies in the face of two basic, Judeo-Christian concepts:

1. The social status of a person is irrelevant in determining the moral worth of the person – or of what the person says.

2. Human beings are capable of exercising reason to determine what is true.

A beggar can get it right, a king can get it wrong – of course, they can both get it wrong or both get it right. As persons they are capable of finding the truth and, as well, capable of getting lost in the weeds and never figuring out the truth. If the king and the beggar tell us two different things, then it is up to the rest of us to try and figure out if either or both of them are right or wrong…and that takes free inquiry…to give the beggar, say, 50% more credibility on the theory that a beggar must be a morally better person than the king (or vice versa) is to sabotage our inquiry from the start. We just have to take what they say and apply our reason and any ascertainable facts to their statements and come to our best judgement about it.

Liberals, these days, reject this – even our frightened professor; and even though he sees right in front of him – risking his entire career – the results of rejecting the basic concept of inherent moral human equality, regardless of station, and the necessity of applying facts and reason to all disputes. The professors only defense is to subscribe to these concepts…because then when confronted with a student complaining about a “trigger” in his lecture, he could reasonably say, “I’m sorry that what I said made you uncomfortable – let us discuss it further and see which one of us was correct – me in making the statement, or you in feeling uncomfortable hearing it”. After all, not all feelings of discomfort are reasonable – and, in fact, some of them are downright irrational and based upon ignorance or unfair prejudice. But the professor can’t get there – first of all, because the system in place would probably ensure him being fired for trying, but most importantly because the professor, himself, agrees with the underlying basis of someone being able to assert moral superiority to shut down debate.

This is the tail end of 100 years of Progressive thought, now completely in control of our institutions of higher education. You can’t pursue truth – you can only repeat endlessly whatever is fashionable for the moment. If you step out of line, you’ll be hammered down into silence…and as we see in the article, the professor has been hammered down. He now teaches his class only what is fashionable. And if the fashion changes next week, he’ll go with that – the students will be denied the knowledge of anything which may offend any particular student at any time.

I’ll end with one last note – the professor in his article does permit himself one, small bit of venting…when he essentially says that the school administrators are always coming down on the side of the customers – the students. He’s a bit contemptuous of the fact that the college is a business selling products and you know what goes on in a business which sells products: the customer is always right. He’s right to be contemptuous of that – and of Administrators who, even if not full-on Progressive nitwits, refuse to back up the professors and keep the kids in their place (which is, allegedly, that of pupil – meaning, they are there to learn things; not tell the teachers what to teach). There is a great deal of truth in this because higher education has become a bit of a racket. The quality of the students isn’t at issue – it all appears to be about just getting as many of them in there as possible because bags of money are made off of each student duff sitting in a chair. And you don’t want to upset your customers! They might move on to the college down the street…better to just knuckle under. After all, if a professor has to tremble in fear and the kids aren’t really getting an education, that doesn’t matter nearly as much as whether or not the tuition checks are coming in.

I think we can pretty much write-off the existing higher education system – and I think that as conservatives, we need to start making a new one. Initially parallel to the current, but eventually to replace it. A system where there is genuine academic freedom; where education is kept to a low cost; but where admission to the college is governed entirely by ability and continued attendance is based upon educational achievement and proper deportment. Most kids won’t go for it, of course – but the best who aren’t currently going to elite schools will…especially kids from more modest economic backgrounds. And we’ll be turning about genuinely educated kids, who will blow out of the water the products of the current system (and, I think, even outdo those coming from the elite universities in the long run).

UPDATE: Ace gets a bit vigorous about this:

…there is no way to not get one’s ego invested in an idea one pushes. But the code of intellectual inquiry was that people who did so were committing an error, and could (and should) be derided for doing so. The actual capital-T Truth must always exist as an ideal outside of oneself — not just out of humility (can the Truth actually live inside a flawed human being?) but in order to make sure that the Truth could be argued about, without people–

Crying like little babies any time someone’s conception of the Truth disagreed with theirs.

This entire mode shifts the grounds from Intellect — where there are rules and codes and dispassionate standards — to the Emotion, to the Self.

There’s a reason the left wants to do that. Frankly, most of these people are rather dim, second-raters at best, and are accutely insecure about their place in the academic world, — as they should be.

The Bigotry of Low Expectations

I am still in a state of shock over the following report:

The Alabama Federation of Republican Women (AFRW) strongly opposes “race-based standards for student achievement” pushed by the Alabama Department of Education, as reported in The Tuscaloosa News on Sunday, June 30. Minority students will be held to a lower standard, and would be tracked at a lower standard throughout their academic career from K-12.

Beginning this fall, the liberal Department of Education in Alabama will take their racism and apply it to education – how wonderful. Obviously progressive liberals believe that those children, and adults for that matter, of a minority skin color are handicapped, and incapable living a life on their own without assistance from the government, or a helping hand from the altruistic agenda of the progressives. This is just beyond belief, and I feel so sorry for those kids in that school district who don’t stand a chance if progressive liberals continue to run this country. Instead of offering school choice, allowing parents the opportunity to send their children to better schools, with better teachers, and giving them a real opportunity at success, progressives have decided to dumb things down even more, effectively destroying any chance these kids might have. It’s outrageous.


In My Opinion

America not only has an economy problem, we have an economic educational problem that compounds the issue and our ability to resolve it. Most of our younger generation have been victims of educational malpractice as a result of liberalism and political correctness that infiltrated our educational system going back a few decades, and it will take a concerted effort, and a few more decades to overcome it. The curricula emphasis on diversity and political correctness took the place of history and economics and has produced a generation of ill informed, over emotional people with a distorted understanding of our Constitution and capitalism. One of our resident liberal teachers here has said on many occasion that the Constitution is racist and misogynistic, and even a liberal Supreme Court justice has said that if she were beginning a new country, she would not look towards the US Constitution as a foundational document, preferring instead to look towards other countries philosophy of governance. Unbelievable as that is, it’s true. The US Constitution is inarguably the greatest governing document ever written, and needs to be taught as such. The US Constitution is responsible for this country becoming the most powerful economy in the world, offering the most civil rights and liberties than any other country hands down.

Re: economics, too many people are financially illiterate as to capitalism, the private sector, and the role of government. Let me begin by simply saying that wealth is not a zero sum game, capitalism is the best economic platform hands down as “a rising tide lifts all boats” (think: JFK), and the role of government is simply that of a referee. Free markets are the foundation of the capitalist platform, and the Federal Governments role is to see that the rules are abided by, and the Federal Government has failed at this core responsibility so to think that they can perform any other function properly defies common sense. There should have been investigations, indictments, prosecutions and convictions stemming from the 2008 housing crash, but those investigations would have revealed some very uncomfortable truths for some very well politically connected people so the fact that those investigations never took place, should be disturbing to us all. The fact is, that more people can be lifted from poverty and the lower class via a healthy private sector, than any government program could ever accomplish, and the more money that the government extracts from the private sector, the less ability that private sector has to turn that money, creating wealth, jobs and ….. wait for it …… tax revenue. It’s all about the turns and any retailer, wholesaler and manufacturer can attest to that. The more you turn your inventory, the more income is produced, the more profit is produced, the more jobs are produced, which exposes more dollars to taxation. It’s better to tax a dollar that is turned 5x at 20%, than it is to tax that same dollar turned 1x at 40%, and any liberal that desires more revenue to the federal government needs to understand this basic economic fact. Sadly, this is not taught often enough in our primary and secondary educational levels.

As a country we owe our children an honest education, and there are certainly people who do take advantage of our capitalist system, as the very nature of the system can invite corruption, but if our federal government was more focused on it’s proper role, those instances would be few. Our children need to understand how the blend of our Constitution and our capitalist economy has created the most powerful, free country in the world unequaled by any other. As it is now, the misunderstanding of those two foundational components of our country has resulted in our current slide into malaise and mediocrity.

The Texas Education Miracle

From The American Interest:

The Department of Education has just released its first state-by-state comparison of education statistics, and the report has a few surprises. Texas performed extremely well, tying five other states for the third-best graduation rate in the country, at 86 percent.
And Texas isn’t the only high-performing red state: Indiana, Nebraska, North Dakota and Tennessee all place within the top ten as well. Meanwhile, New York, Rhode Island, and California, all of which take a traditional, high-spending, blue model approach to education, are closer to the middle of the pack , with graduation rates in the mid-70s.
This is convincing evidence against the popular notion that we can fix the public education system if only we are willing to spend more money. Not only does Texas do a better job of graduating its students than its blue state competition; it does so at a fraction of the cost per student.

More and more of that and then go out and explain to the American people – especially poor and middle class Americans who live in areas which usually vote Democrat – that we have a better plan and that their current education problems are the deliberate and malicious result of Democrat education policies. Pull no punches – tell them (again and again and again) that liberal Democrats want lousy education because badly educated kids become government dependents.  Don’t let them off the hook by saying nonsensical, idiotic statements like “all of us want excellent education for our kids” because Democrats – by their actions – prove they don’t want it.  They want bloated education budgets.  Well paid union workers.  Graft and kickbacks.  But not education.  We bring this to the American people and we’ll start to do the main thing needed:  prove that we are on their side while Democrats are not.

Fight the long fight and never give the left an inch.  That is the path not just to victory, but a reformed America.

The Decline and Fall of College Education

From Market Watch:

Late summer is when parents bring their children to college. As they drive to campus they’re worried about tuition increases, the burden of student debt and whether their children will find jobs when they graduate.

Some parents and high-school students are beginning to question the value of a four-year college degree in this post-Great Recession world.   And you can certainly understand why they have these concerns…

…The job market for recent college grads is grim and incomes are down. The unemployment rate for all college graduates over 25 years old is currently 4.1%, less than half of the national unemployment rate of 8.3%.  But a recent Economic Policy Institute study reports that the unemployment rate is 9.4% for college grads ages 21 to 24 (not currently seeking a post graduate degree), and the underemployment rate for this group is 19.1% (this includes part-time workers who want full-time jobs). In 2011, those grads lucky enough to have a full-time job earned an average of $35,000 a year, a 5.4% inflation adjusted decrease from 2000 average income.   Finally, it is estimated that nearly 4 of 10 grads are working in fields that don’t require a college degree (the college-grad barista syndrome)…

The article details far more than that about what is wrong with getting a college degree – and then, in typical (for modern times) Alice-In-Wonderland mode, still goes on to claim that getting a degree is worth it.  I hold, though, that it is only worth it if you are going for a degree in medicine or one of the hard sciences (I don’t even count law school as worth it any longer as we have a glut of lawyers in the United States).  We have, in our higher education system, far too many people pursuing far too many degrees of doubtful immediate utility and the whole thing is financed with a trillion dollars (and growing) of student debt which is increasingly impossible for the college grads to repay.  What happened?

Government happened.  Government (lobbied by the education establishment) decided that everyone should go to college and so set up education systems designed to feed colleges as opposed to educate kids.  Government then set up a student loan program (initially via the private sector under government control, not entirely under government control) which provided easy funding (literally, an 18 year old with no income and no credit rating can borrow tens of thousands of dollars to go to college) for anyone who is willing to put his butt in a college seat.  Colleges love this because they get the money up front so it doesn’t matter if the kid ever graduates or whether the kid learns a marketable skill.  Colleges additionally love it because by providing loans the government allows the colleges to continually hike tuition rates outside of market variable – the kids aren’t thinking of having to pay that back four years later (four years to an 18 year old is forever in the future) and so aren’t actually calculating the loan cost against possible future returns; they are just told by guidance counselors that a college education will allow them to make more money than a non-college education.  No one ever tells them that there are college educations and then there are college educations…and education in medicine will immediately allow you to make a bucket of money per year while an education in post-feminist studies not so much.  As is typical whenever government gets in involved a tiny elite profits (in this case the education system) while the people get screwed.

In addition to that, except for those learning a hard science (in other words, those who are really in nothing more than a high-grade trade school), the kids aren’t even being educated.  100 years ago, a college education included learning Latin and Greek, just to tip-of-the-iceberg what isn’t being done in schools any longer.  We’ve massively dumbed-down college education to the point where I hold it mostly in contempt – because after all that time and money in the class room, I see no ability of a college graduate which is superior to my abilities.  I don’t know Latin or Greek, either…and I’d stack my non-college education knowledge of history, economics, philosophy and theology against anyone who graduated college in the last 50 years.  For most kids, it would be better if they went to a trade school rather than college – it would be cheaper and, for instance, if you are a tool and die maker you are in massive demand, even in this down economy.

When Obama talks about how he wants to spend more on education all he’s really saying is “I want to subsidize this massive failure because it provides campaign funds for me”.  The Education people know which side butters their bread – they know that as long as they keep the donations flowing to the Democrats the Democrats will keep the money flowing to the education system, no matter how lousy the product is and no matter how many poor kids are burdened with massive debt (nothing like starting out in life as a debt slave, huh?).  Its all a crock, a scam and a national disgrace – end the student loan program and you’ll pull the lynchpin out from under this rotten edifice.  It’ll collapse in a heap if there’s not a flow of loan money in to colleges – they’ll have to cut staff (and the staff most likely to be cut is the heavily liberal areas, such as the aforementioned feminist studies), cut tuition and start offering a more meaty education program which provides something you can’t get in high school or trade school.  We’ll also cut off a huge source of funds for the Democrat party and the larger left.  There’s no downside to eliminating student loans – certainly not for the kids who won’t be $30,000.00 in debt for a useless degree.

But, will we?  Not yet.  We’re still in a cowardly phase where we’re afraid of a Democrat “Republicans hate education” attack line.  But the fall of college education proceeds apace and maybe when we’ve got kids sitting under $2 trillion in worthless education debt there will come the will to change.


Regarding One-Trick Ponies.

The cover from this month’s edition from my teacher’s union magazine:

Minnesota, like many other states, is about to become a “Right To Work” state, and it is the unions themselves that are unwittingly helping it to happen.

The unions and the democrat party have long had a nearly exclusive, symbiotic relationship. As long as the democrats remained in power, the unions were protected by the democrats; and in turn, the unions were free to act in a blatantly partisan fashion and be an unrepentant, militant arm of the democratic party.

Because of this relationship, the unions never had to worry about public relations. They could afford to be as-in-your-face-nasty-as-they-damned-well-wanted-to-be. Conservative rank-and-file members were summarily ignored. They didn’t care what the average non-union person thought. They didn’t care about winning the hearts and minds of the average American voter. They were quite comfortable in their roles as the enforcement/thug/footsoldier arm of the democratic party. But now that the democrats are largely out of power in Minnesota, as well as in a host of other state legislatures, the unions are suddenly finding themselves in the precarious position of being the toady left on a street corner whose protector has suddenly left the scene.

Now, given that “Right To Work” will no doubt make it on the ballot this November as a Constitutional amendment in Minnesota (and other states) , one would think that the unions’ very survival would depend on improving their public image. One would think that the unions would be running a full court press on public relations, running ads 24/7 extolling their virtues, and the services that their members provide to the public.

But instead, the public unions, including the teacher’s unions (of which I’m a member) have doubled-down on their self-serving, narcissistic thuggery. They haven’t yet awakened to the fact that with Right to Work going to the ballot this fall, it will no longer be the legislators (whom they used to have in their hip pocket) that they’ll have to convince. They’ll have to convince the very voters of Minnesota why they should remain a viable, omnipotent, political force.

Ergo, when the union leadership organize angry demonstrations like so many 60s hippie throwbacks or cadres of Bolsheviks running roughshod in near-riotous mobs, they’re not doing themselves any favors. At the same time,  they just don’t seem to have a clue as to just how precarious their position is, or how to fix it.

Up to this point, Minnesota’s teacher and other unions, having had the luxury of being able to act like spoiled teenagers; largely without consequence, have been virtual one-trick ponies in terms of defaulting to in-your-face, thuggish tactics to get demands met.

But as Minnesota native Bob Dylan once crooned, “Oh the times, they are a changing.”

If Minnesota’s unions want to survive, they better damn well change with them.