False Values Proliferate in Higher Ed

Riding the New York City subway this afternoon, this deplorable saw a sign advertising the new City University of New York (CUNY) ASAP program.  ASAP stands for Accelerated Study in Associate Programs. This program provides additional support and funding for students in two-year community college programs and is supplemented by another program for four-year students.  These are giveaway programs to incentivize more students to go to college and stay in college and to participate in the leeching mindset that has attacked our culture.

These programs are an extension of the premise that students are kept from their true goals because of economic stresses.   Money is thus the main obstacle to progress towards a degree, either towards an AA degree (Associate's two-year degree) or a B.A. degree.  Thus, students with special needs, minority students, students of color, non-English speaking students (as a first language), students without means to attend school without working, students with criminal records, students who cannot decide what to major in, students who have low level reading or math abilities, students who have trouble organizing their time in order to get their work in on time, students with drug or alcohol problems, students without regular access to a computer, students whose parents repeatedly tell them they will never amount to anything, students who have served time in any local juvenile or adult detention facility, and students who are raising one or more illegitimate children will get additional financial incentives that may enable them to stay in school and hopefully finish at either a two-year or four-year City University institution. The taxpayer will pay for the additional emoluments to these student sub-groups.

The thinking behind the establishment of these programs has a longstanding and dishonorable history.  In education, we can trace the progressive vision embodied in these programs to Jonathan Kozol's best-selling book Death At An Early Age published in 1967. Just as Dr. Benjamin Spock's book at the end of WWII, Babies and Child Care published in 1946, eventually sold 50 million copies and revolutionized child care in the direction of greater permissiveness, Kozol's book convinced educators and parents throughout the country that in order to fulfill the promises inherent in education we needed to throw much more money at our schools, especially in our urban areas which were overwhelmingly racist.

Further, Spock and Kozol were both openly leftist in their politics.  Kozol was thrilled by the educational experiences he witnessed in Castro's Cuba.  A focused article about his political allegiance appeared in City-Journal in the year 2000 which stated, "Taking as his starting point the crude Marxist view that education in all societies is 'a system of indoctrination,' …. he worked out a method by which teachers could subvert capitalist America's bad indoctrination and—cleverly and subtly—substitute some good left-wing indoctrination in its place."

Lastly, in 1943 one of the leading founders of so-called humanistic psychology, Abraham Maslow, came out with his "hierarchy of needs."  These were human needs that had to be met as the individual sought self-actualization.  Although Maslow did not identify with a particular politics, the emphasis on needs strangely identified him with Marxism because of Karl Marx's saying that under communism the principle that would be fulfilled would be "from each according to his ability to each according to his needs." This was at odds with classical Western thinking that, going back to the Greeks, emphasizes rationality, goodness, and justice as the highest intellectual and moral goals of humankind, and with Christianity which emphasizes the revealed moral law of an omniscient, everlasting, and perfect God – a law based on love for neighbor and love and obedience to God made possible by Jesus Christ. 

Although Maslow never expressly embraced the leftist position this writer is attributing to him, by putting self and actualization at the center of his theories, Maslow was actually a revolutionary trying to overthrow the historical foundations of society, not unlike Marx and his ilk.  Yet at the same time, he preferred the term humanist to the term communist.

The above theories represent three errors in post-WWII America.  We see the elevation of self (Maslow), contempt for urban school systems supposedly mired in neglect and racism (Kozol), and the sophomoric view that indulgence and affection should take first place in parenting (Spock here undermined the building of good character which comes from the centrality of spirituality in the family). These errors are repeated in the new ASAP and ACE systems of CUNY.

Before even looking at the list of some of the benefits being offered, it should be asked if financial dependency is consistent with the goal of intellectual and professional independency that inherently has a claim on college graduates?  Thus, one of the benefits listed by CUNY is "a dedicated advisor to guide your progress from entry to graduation." To what extent will a student who has had this so-called "dedicated advisor" be able to function competently once they graduate as a teacher, nurse, computer adept, radiology technician, etc.?  Or will they continue to need a dedicated advisor to take them through the specifics of their employment minute-by-minute and day by day once they get through this program dependency. 

This writer had to have a test administered in a New York City hospital a few months ago, and the nurses assisting the doctor could not get the equipment put together for the test. A third nurse had given me a dressing gown to put on after taking off my clothes, but the doctor told me I did not have to take off my clothes.  It was a comedy of errors from beginning to end.  Will we see a further explosion of these confusions as students increasingly depend on "dedicated advisors?"  Teaching in a four-year CUNY, I was asked by a student before the Covid pandemic "How many sentences in an essay?" and another student asked about an exam question, "Do you want an introduction and conclusion?"  Will the dedicated advisors answer questions like these before they arrive in class? 

Here is a list of some of the other promised benefits of this new program:

(1)Free unlimited MetroCards [used in NYC public transportation]; (2)Textbook assistance to reduce (or eliminate) the cost of textbooks; (3) A scholarship covering tuition and mandatory fees for any gap left after applying your financial aid award (for students receiving financial aid); (4) Special registration options that help you get the classes you need that also fit your schedule; (5) Opportunities to take classes with fellow ASAP | ACE students to foster community and build your network.  The students are thus totally financially dependent on the system.  And we can wonder if they will receive these benefits even if they cut classes.  "To foster community" in the previous list likely means the administrators will make sure that you are able to contact other students to find out what work you missed, and perhaps get assistance from your peers to be able to complete the work.  You see: the message of the ASAP initiative is "your problems are our problems."  You are part of a village now.  Yes, Hillary Clinton is hidden behind the curtain orchestrating your success.  She and the whole community will make sure that you get through.

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