OUR SENIOR CONTRIBUTOR HAS A BONE TO PICK WITH ACADEMIA
By ART CHANCE
The Left already owned the “elite” schools by the 1920s and 30s.
When I entered college in a then-small state school in rural Georgia in 1967, the Leftists were there waiting for me.
I could do math and science and make decent grades, because in my circles you didn’t not make decent grades, but I was even in those early days a liberal arts kind of guy. I liked history and literature, and I liked to read and write.
My freshman English professor, in the only time I ever saw him, addressed my class and told us that educated people didn’t think that freshmen in college had anything to say that educated people would be interested in so we would be graded not on what we said, but how we said it; a comma splice or a sentence fragment was an F, and a misspelled word was a letter grade. Papers were written in fountain pen on unlined paper. You could strike through, but you wouldn’t dare. I became a big Hemingway fan and learned to write in simple declarative sentences.
I’m a lot sloppier now and revel in compound complexity that I sometimes get right, but I no longer have to worry about staying in school and keeping my 2-S draft deferment so my little pink ass wasn’t getting shot at in Vietnam.
That was the beginning of the end of the American Academy. In the liberal arts the professors ranged from conventional liberals to outright open communists. They didn’t always push their ideology in class but you knew who you saw at student parties with a joint in their hand and a sophomore girl on their arm.
On that count, “Animal House” is very real; a lot of “Otters” lost their girlfriends to the tweedy English professors. The professors knew that if a guy flunked out, (and you could do that back then), his local draft board would make him 1-A and it was “Good Morning Vietnam.”
If you paid your tuition, showed up from time to time, and weren’t too stoned, you would not fail the class. Between the draft and affirmative action admissions any notion of academic rigor vanished between the late Sixties and early Eighties.
Fast forward 20 or 30 years and outside the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) areas, the university has become a leftist indoctrination camp. In the liberal arts, the “studies” degree programs have been invented to ensure that anybody who showed up occasionally and paid or had someone pay for them would get the precious piece of paper.
After Griggs v. Duke Power, most employers abandoned most employment skills testing and substituted the “a degree” minimum qualification for many, many jobs.
At least “a degree” indicated that you could show up someplace for four or five years. Government is probably the worst, but large corporations aren’t far behind in hiring the semi-literate with no work skills because s/he has “a degree.” The schools have become very good at conferring “a degree,” and charging handsomely for it.
Now we have the crazy world of “safe spaces,” “white privilege” and all the other lefty crap. One cannot voice an opinion on a college campus that isn’t consistent with the Leftist catechism. If you don’t adhere to the catechism, they’d burn you at the stake if they could, and they’re working on being able to.
I really don’t care what they teach at Harvard and the other private universities, though I’ll do my dead level best to discourage any Republican elected or appointed official from ever hiring an Ivy League grad unless s/he’s known the family for four or five generations — and even then I’ll advise to be wary.
Now let’s turn to publicly funded schools and colleges. The world really doesn’t look the way academics have been describing.
A public school teacher or a college instructor or professor is a public employee. This high-status “educator” has no more legal rights than the janitor who cleans his/her classroom. All those vaunted notions of freedom of speech and academic freedom are creatures of statute, policy, or union contract; the government gave them and can take them away. Absent these statutory or policy/contract rights conferred by legislatures or university administrations, the school teacher or college professor has the same rights as the janitor; s/he can do as s/he’s told.
If the school board or board of regents tells the “educators” that they must teach that the Earth is flat and was created 6,000 years ago, the “educator” has a simple choice; teach it, quit, or get fired.
And I’ll admit, arguendo, there might be other constitutional issues with such a policy, but the basic premise holds.
Ironically, the controlling authority on this issue is a Ninth Soviet, excuse me, Circuit decision, Garcetti v. Ceballas. Ceballas was an assistant attorney under Garcetti, of O.J. Simpson trial fame.
Cebellas was disciplined or dismissed by District Attorney Garcetti, and sued alleging violation of his First Amendment right to free speech. The Ninth held that he was speaking as the government and thus was not entitled to First Amendment protection.
The holding is true for any public employee acting in the course of his duties; he speaks as and for the government, not as an individual citizen expressing his own opinion.
The same applies to public school teachers and public college instructors and professors; they speak for the government. The First Amendment protects the students and the public from them, but does not protect them. To the extent that it exists at all, their academic freedom and freedom of speech in their jobs comes from statute, policy, or contract, not from the Constitution.
Republican governors and legislatures control over half of the states and thus have authority over the university systems in those states, if not over their management directly, at least over their budgets. University heads are like every other bureaucrat; if you have them by the budget, their hearts and minds will follow.
A governor or a finance committee chairman calling in a university system head to do a carpet dance would very quickly stop most of this craziness in the Republican states. If the Blue states want to keep on producing mind-numbed lefty robots with “studies” degrees, let them; the world needs more baristas.
If we in the Red states paid half as much attention to who got on school boards and boards of regents as we do to who gets on municipal assemblies or in state houses of representatives, the craziness would end.
Art Chance is a retired Director of Labor Relations for the State of Alaska, formerly of Juneau and now living in Anchorage. He is the author of the book, “Red on Blue, Establishing a Republican Governance,” available at Amazon. He only writes for Must Read Alaska when he’s banned from posting on Facebook. Chance coined the phrase “hermaphrodite Administration” to describe a governor who is both a Republican and a Democrat. This made Democrats irritable and hermaphrodites insulted.