Coronavirus may kill noxious classroom leftism

Leftism started creeping into American colleges and universities beginning in the 1930s.  In the 1960s, it blossomed into the Free Speech and Anti-War movements.  By the 1990s, it had morphed into censorious political correctness.  And in the 2000s, America's institutions of higher education had turned into hard-left organizations with huge administrative staffs, most of whom seemingly were dedicated to ensuring that students graduated directly into the arms of the Democrat Party.

This post isn't the place for "chapter and verse" evidence of the overall leftism in academia.  The old Encyclopedia Britannica probably wouldn't be long enough.  However, here are a few data points to support the claim that there's a leftist tilt in academia.

First, Republican are almost extinct on campuses:

An extensive study of 8,688 tenure-track professors at 51 of the 66 top-ranked liberal arts colleges in the U.S. published by the National Association of Scholars found that the ratio of faculty members registered as Democrats compared to those registered Republican is now a stunning 10.4 to 1. If two military colleges that are technically described as "liberal arts colleges" are removed from the calculations, the ratio is 12.7 to 1.

Second, here are just a few of the latest headlines about higher ed, all from Campus Reform:

Because of the coronavirus, colleges and universities have sent their students home.  Most will finish the semester by holding their classes online.

Charlie Kirk, the dynamo who founded Turning Point USA, the largest conservative group on American campuses, sees an opportunity.  He's asked college students to capture video of indoctrination in their online lessons:

The pushback on Twitter was immediate, with negative responses ranging from personal insults against Kirk (the left's elitist snobbery is stunning) to insults against Trump-supporters to people comparing Kirk's tactics to Maoism.

On the positive side, people noted that this would finally give parents a chance to see what they're paying for, said they see indoctrination in their children's online content, and applauded the idea of transparency.

The most fascinating responses came from academics themselves, who are genuinely worried that their days of indoctrinating, instead of educating, are over.  According to the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Some scholars say they're taking precautions. Dylan Bugden, an assistant professor of sociology at Washington State University, said that after his institution announced it would pivot to online instruction, he decided he would not record lectures. To teach, he'd instead post presentation slides, short quizzes, activities, and an exam, and he'd be available for office hours.

"I find it difficult to teach without referring to important events and issues in the world," Bugden explained in an email. "Doing so is a powerful way to help students see that what we learn in class is not just abstract or a mere intellectual exercise, but matters for the things they and their peers care about."

Bugden's position sounds reasonable on its face, but if you read on, you learn that Bugden teaches about climate change, a leftist notion, and students have already accused him of indoctrinating them:

Unfortunately, he said, that approach opens faculty members — especially women and people of color — to attack. Bugden teaches about such environmental issues as climate change and population growth, and he says he has received course evaluations in which students tell him to leave politics out of his material. His political views aren't a secret, and the likelihood of an online campaign against him seems low, Bugden said. "But the risk is so severe that it's simply not worth it."

Because parents and taxpayers are paying for higher education, Kirk is right that they should have a chance to see what academics such as Bugden are doing.  At a guess, roughly half the population, especially taxpayers, will find it illuminating to see where their money is going.

If nothing else, the coronavirus is proving to be clarifying, whether about the failure of socialized medicine, the dangers of depending on China for just about anything, or the toxic leftism that infuses American higher education.

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