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De Omnibus Dubitandum - Lux Veritas

Monday, May 13, 2024

Defund College

By Daniel Greenfield @ Sultan Knish Blog


 1 in 10 college students answered that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez had created the New Deal. And only 1 in 10 knew James Madison’s role in shaping the Constitution.
That survey from the ‘American Council of Trustees and Alumni’ was one of several warnings about the catastrophic illiteracy of college students and graduates.

The Intercollegiate Studies Institute did its own survey of over 28,000 undergraduates from 80 colleges and the average score on the civic literacy exam was an F. At top schools, including Yale, seniors actually knew less than freshmen. A Collegiate Learning Assessment found that after two years almost half of students showed “no significant gains in learning”.

As terrorist riots rage on campuses and Biden’s latest student loan bailout approaches $1 trillion, a basic question that isn’t being asked is whether college is even good for anything.

The Hamas riots like the surveys showing that less than a third of college students are capable of handing everyday literacy and barely half will ever read a book after graduation are all symptoms of a much larger problem that is destroying the country and tearing us apart.

A liberal arts education, originally intended to broaden the minds of the children of the elite, has been applied to the widest possible population while narrowing the minds of a nation. Few college students graduate with their minds broadened and fewer still with usable skills. Employers have been warning that college graduates are not ready for the workforce, but neither are they ready to pay off their debts or coexist with family members and the country.

Higher education in many fields has become an indoctrination factory in which students imbibe values and attitudes rather than ideas. Like Soviet education, American education works only in technical areas while the rest of it is dedicated to analyzing the world through Marxist paradigms. Literature, history and nearly every ‘studies’ field train students to analyze and denounce the past through the same oppressor/oppressed paradigm no matter the subject.

College students apply by citing their activism, engage in activism as part of their education and graduate knowing little more than how to be activists. The Hamas riots are currently happening on campuses, but previous riots, including BLM, disproportionately drew on college students in the role of activists, planners and organizers because college is synonymous with activism.

Universities have always been hubs of radicalism, but they also distributed ideas, knowledge and skills. Aside from some besieged scientific and technical departments, who are less than a decade away from being ‘DEIed’ into the dark ages, that is no longer what colleges do anymore.

The risk-reward ratio for higher education has never been worse and the arguments for its existence have never been poorer. Trundling off the sons of elites to a theological school made perfect sense centuries ago and there were still some arguments to be made for a liberal arts education before the old schools and their campus culture ushered in the counterculture.

But in a world where higher education can be remote and adult professionals often pursue degrees while they work, telling arrested development teens to put their lives on hold for another four years so they can graduate with a worthless degree and a pile of student debt makes no sense. And that would be true even if the system conveyed knowledge instead of radical hate.

Even as the old four-year college has become irrelevant, federal and state governments have led the way in spending more money on it while trying to shove everyone through its doors.

“I, like an awful lot of people in this audience, was the first in my family to go to college,” Biden claimed at a student loan bailout event.

Not only isn’t this true, but Biden was the scion of a wealthy family, a poor college student and a failed lawyer who was managing a swimming pool before he figured out how to make the jump into politics. Biden and his wife “Dr. Jill”, are the perfect poster children for mediocre elites with no skills except politics who brandish their college diplomas as if they were badges of authority.

Did the Bidens gain anything except a sense of entitlement from their college careers?

During the Hamas campus riots, we’ve seen a professor insist that she couldn’t be arrested because she was an academic and at UCLA, a bearded student being arrested during the pro-terror riots shouted, “I’m an English major” as if that made him immune to law enforcement.

But if it wasn’t Hamas, it would be BLM, abortion, the environment or some other cause.

The purpose of college is no longer education, but radicalization. Generations of faculty who bonded with the university experience because it ‘turned them on’ to leftist politics have made it their mission to transmit their politics to new generations. Occupations and campus radicalism are not aberrations, they have become the larger mission of higher education.

One survey showed that the average college student spends less than 3 hours a day attending class and studying. That’s it for education. What does he or she do the rest of the time?

It’s a myth that woke goes broke. More accurately, the broke turn woke. Broken institutions that can no longer credibly pursue their original missions, but are determined to keep on cashing in, embrace radical politics for the same reason that ideologues tend to be the least productive members of society. Higher education surrendered to wokeness because the death of liberalism and the extinction of ideas gives it little other purpose or mission beyond leftist agitprop.

Professors, when they aren’t checking themselves for microaggressions and trigger warnings, complain that students are unable to read even the shortest assignments and can’t process what they read. And that was even before ChatGPT came to be routinely used by college and even graduate students to distill every work or reference into a summarized bullet point list.

Ideas are complicated, but riots are easy. And cheering for Hamas while assaulting Jewish students provides a nice distraction from the work of running Audrey Lorde or free market economics through ChatGPT and then using AI to generate essays they will then rewrite.

Do we as a society need to be spending hundreds of billions of dollars on this failed system?

The four-year college is a miserable failure. If wealthy families want to subsidize a liberal arts education for their kids at Yale or Columbia, they’re more than welcome to, but the rest of us should not be stuck with the bill. The vast majority of professions do not need degrees, they require training and competence: two things a college degree no longer assures employers of.

The only areas of higher education taxpayers should ever consider subsidizing are in scientific or medical fields in order to ensure that they are taught in a depoliticised manner. The rest of it has become little more than a goulash of Marxism, racialism, sexuality and other identity politics activism. Defunded, perhaps traditional knowledge and learning may once again return to fields that are no longer comfortable and unaccountable hubs for the Marxists who hollowed them out.

Defunding college may be the only way to save it. It certainly is the only way to save America.

Daniel Greenfield is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. This article previously appeared at the Center's Front Page Magazine. Click here to subscribe to my articles. And click here to support my work with a donation. Thank you for reading.

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