Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Suspicions Confirmed: Academia Shutting Out Conservative Professors

Conservatives have long suspected there is discrimination against conservative professors in academia, and now there is evidence to prove it. Sociology professor Neil Gross, a self-described liberal, reveals the results of surveys showing this bias in his new book, Why Professors are Liberal and Why do Conservatives Care?

Sociologist George Yancy asked professors if they would be more or less likely to hire someone if they were a Republican, evangelical or fundamentalist. Three-quarters said political affiliation would not affect their hiring decision. But the one-quarter that did say it would influence their decision virtually all said they would favor a Democrat over a Republican. Almost half of the sociology professors surveyed said they would look unfavorably upon evangelicals and fundamentalists trying to get a job in their department!

In a 2005 survey, researcher Gary Tobin asked professors how favorably or unfavorably they felt about various religious groups. Fifty-three percent of academics responded that they regard evangelicals unfavorably. The next highest unfavorable rating was 33 percent regarding Mormons.

Professor Gross performed his own “audit study,” sending in fake applications to upper academia at universities around the country. One set of applicants, the control group, had nothing political listed on their resumes. The other two sets of applicants indicated they had either worked on the McCain or Obama 2008 presidential campaigns. He found, “On average, the DGSs (directors of graduate studies) responded less frequently, more slowly, and less enthusiastically to the conservative applicant.”

The average professor is three times as liberal as the average American, and academia is even more liberal now than it was in the 1960s. Gross provides evidence indicating that feminism greatly increased the drift of college faculty to the left, in every field except engineering. Today, 63 percent of female academics describe themselves as feminists. Seventy-three percent of academics describe themselves as moderates, liberals or radical leftists. Gross admits, “…it would be foolish for anyone with truly antifeminist sensibilities to become a sociologist,” due to how liberal that field has become. The Sex and Gender Section is the second largest section in the American Sociological Association. New departments have emerged like Women’s Studies where conservatives would not even bother applying.

Gross’s thesis is that conservatives self-select other professions, independently choosing not to become professors because academia is so liberal. But this sidesteps the clear evidence Gross provides revealing faculty bias in hiring. Gross cites, yet ignores, a study which found that seven percent of conservative academics report having been the victim of political discrimination. Conservative professor Mary Grabar debunks Gross’s thesis, publishing essays from six white male professors who have been blocked out of higher academia, in her new book, Exiled: Stories From Conservative and Moderate Professors Who Have Been Ridiculed, Ostracized, Marginalized, Demonized and Frozen Out. Most of them cannot obtain well-paying full-time work at four-year institutions, and instead are relegated to “perpetual adjunct status, teaching twice as many classes as the average course load, for wages that work out to be less than minimum wage.”

In the second half of Gross’s book, he tries to understand why conservatives care about this bias. Besides the fact that it is unfair to conservatives who want to become professors, the obvious answer is because many professors insert their political biases into their grading and teaching. Gross correctly answers this question on page three in his book’s Introduction and should have stopped there, “Stick an impressionable twenty-year old in a classroom for fifteen weeks with a charismatic instructor who makes the case that conservatives are heartless or deluded and that the United States has evil designs, and the student is likely to veer left.” Gross interviewed professors on whether they engage in political indoctrination, or “critical pedagogy.” Two of fifty-seven professors he interviewed fully admitted they were guilty of it.

Yet Gross cannot understand the conservative mind, and wastes the second half of the book analyzing stereotypes and red herrings. Professor Grabar reviewed Gross’s book and concluded, “Even as he attempts to look fair-minded, Gross presents caricatured pictures of conservatism.”

Gross attempts to make conservatives look bad throughout the book, but much of it backfires. He asserts, “social conservatives tend to come from lower social class origins in the contemporary American context,” and, “Professors tend to come from better educated, higher income families than other Americans.” However, this just goes to validate the complaint by conservatives that academia is composed of elitist liberals who come from wealthy, connected families.

The good news is not all areas of study are heavily dominated by professors on the left. Economics, criminology, and engineering still have a significant portion of conservative professors, although not quite 50 percent.

To his credit, Gross has attempted to put some semblance of fairness into his book, by daring to expose real biases against conservative professors. And for that he was threatened by the very liberal establishment he is a part of. As a result of his audit study, “Two complained to my institutional review board, and one threatened legal action if his case was not removed from our data set (it was).” It is a sad day for academia when the left is not only shutting down conservatives, but also their own who are speaking up about the suppression of free speech and the free flow of ideas at the universities.


Schools of thought vs. the other kind

This morning’s rumination ‘tween awakening and arising was on the objectives and results we get from the various schools we send our children to. I’ve written a bunch on that subject, ran for Idaho Governor with a real cure as one third of my platform *, studied it nearly as much as I have economics and political science, and had our mass-mishandling of youth burning in my head since I observed its effects on my children.

In Community Vision over 5 years ago, I wrote on a community-development seminar the whole town of Grangeville was invited to. An impressive, heartening turnout and inspiring seminar flopped face-down in the mud of the same old people guiding the process into the same old ruts.

Waving at the grand display of trophies ringing the high school auditorium, David Beurl asked what would we get if we encouraged kids to develop their creativity and entrepreneurship as much as we did their athletics? Perhaps instead of sending athletic teens away [from our community], we might retain clever young business people and leaders. I would now add “and artists, inventors, creators, musicians, happy and ambitious people.”

As I said, “our” education system was churning in my brain when I got up. This morning’s news (I get mine online when I want it, on topics I select and from sources who have earned my trust) had this article: Homeschooling Growing Seven Times Faster than Public School Enrollment, which was full of good and bad news … good for the growing number of families and communities that are escaping the Prussian mold.

It is not just home schoolers who escape the dehumanizing, mechanical, rote training model, but the Waldorf system I experienced with my youngest daughter does it well too. I recall hearing of others and am confident they are out there. We as parents, grandparents and people who care about our communities need to encourage them to exist and thrive.

New York state Teacher of the Year, author and educational reform champion John Taylor Gatto explains a big chunk of the problem in Why Schools Don’t Educate. Homeschooling advocates as well as many non-governmental schools highlight and correct a destructive system that was designed to create obedience rather than thoughtfulness.

segregate children by age rather than interest and ability

move from room to room by time and bells rather than completion of task

listen and recite rather than analyze, challenge and comprehend

fit in rather than stand out

spectate rather than participate

defer to experts rather than develop expertise

obey authority rather than morality

There’s more. It’s worse. But it is HUGE. It will take an inspired group to effect serious change in any community. That is why it is so wonderful to see that homeschooling is now at 4% and growing at 7-times annually. Here is one good forum on homeschooling that discusses many of the advantages. There are certainly a lot more resources and encouragements out there.

My ‘great idea’ this morning was to highlight the results of the Prussian model our public schools use compared to homeschool and other models via a survey focusing on valued developmental results. While homeschoolers seriously kick butt in standardized testing, spelling bees, math bees, and college performance, even those are not ideal measures. Others are much more universally important. I would love to see a survey of youths by educational system that asked truly relevant questions.

What do you see as your career opportunities?
What would you like to do to support yourself?
Where do you think you will be as an adult?
What do you think you will be doing as an adult?
What do you enjoy doing?
What do you think of your community?
What do you think of your education?

I don’t really think my list is the end-all of lists, but merely seeds for a good survey. I also don’t think I can or will get it done, but I would love to help. More importantly, I would like others to create their own and get them done in their neighborhoods. Anything but continuing to accept our public educational system as the only model we can imagine.


Tougher texts, advanced algebra and no coursework... British Education Secretary raises the bar on GCSEs as he unveils plans to reform 'discredited' exam

In the biggest exam shake-up in a generation 16-year-olds will have to study classic texts, advanced algebra and sit traditional end-of-course papers rather than being assessed on coursework.

Education Secretary Michael Gove will today unveil details of his plans to reform ‘discredited’ GCSEs, which he says will make them more like the O-levels still taken in Singapore and elsewhere.

He believes a return to traditional academic subjects and the slashing of coursework and resits will ‘restore rigour’ to the education system.

Exams watchdog Ofqual is to consult on a new grading scale based on numbers one to eight, with eight the top grade.

There will be fewer awards, to reflect the harder content, and greater differentiation among more able candidates.

Education Department sources said coursework and ‘controlled assessment’– a kind of supervised coursework, which now accounts for 25 per cent of the final mark – had been ‘very badly abused’ and would be almost entirely replaced with written exams.

A small number of subjects such as science, will still involve practicals.  ‘In what is considered a “pass”, now widely thought of as a C, there will be an increase in demand to reflect that of high-performing jurisdictions like Shanghai and Finland,’ said a source.

The new GCSEs in English language and literature, maths, the three sciences and combined science, history and geography, will start to be taught in September 2015 with exams in 2017.

Other subjects will follow a year later.

Mr Gove’s allies insist Labour will not be able to stop the new exams if they win power in May 2015.

A new curriculum will be in place from September 2014 and exam boards will prepare for the new papers years ahead.

Ofqual is also unlikely to agree to undo the reforms.

Wales and Northern Ireland have made clear they do not want the reform and Ofqual will have to rename the GCSE in England to distinguish it from their exams.

Sources close to Mr Gove did not recognise the name ‘i-Level’, which had been rumoured, and said no decision had been made on what the new exam should be called.

GCSE pass rates have soared in recent years. Last year, 22.4 per cent of passes were at A or A*. In 1988, when the exam began, 8.6 per cent got a top grade.

A study by King’s College London and Durham University found attainment in maths had changed little since the mid-1970s, despite results.

Mr Gove was forced to retreat from a plan to replace the GCSE with an English Baccalaureate Certificate, set by a single exam body, but today’s reforms still represent the biggest shake-up since the GCSE was introduced.


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