Skip to comments.Victor Davis Hanson: What I Have Seen. Wisdom from a higher-ed career.
Posted on 10/27/2005 5:22:52 AM PDT by Tolik
The lament about our failed schools and universities is by now familiar. From the left, the complaint is that they are underfunded, even ignored by a shortsighted and heartless public. The pay of teachers and professors supposedly remains poor in comparison with similarly educated private-sector professionals. Schools are asked to educate troubled youth and thereby rectify societal ills, all the while seeking a broad equality of result among departing graduates; universities must also accept students who in the past were simply not college material.
Conservatives answer that the schools and universities have adopted a therapeutic curriculum in pursuit of political objectives. Teachers and professors through powerful unions, archaic tenure protocols, and easy legal redress are largely unaccountable, and the incompetent among them are immune from removal. While the cost of administration has grown, the quality of education as measured by either test scores or the ability of students to meet traditional course requirements has declined over the last four decades. The problem is not too little money, but rather how much money is misspent.
I recently retired from a 20-year career in the California State University system the worlds largest public university, with over 400,000 students. The Fresno campus where I taught was roughly representative of the systems other 22 campuses, which dot the state from San Diego in the south to Humboldt and Chico up north a good cross section, in other words, of public education in the nations bellwether state. Looking back, I think CSU is symptomatic of how vast is the problem of higher education in America and how unlikely it is to be resolved anytime soon.
(Excerpt) Read more at victorhanson.com ...
Let me know if you want in or out.
Links: FR Index of his articles: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/keyword?k=victordavishanson
His website: http://victorhanson.com/ NRO archive: http://www.nationalreview.com/hanson/hanson-archive.asp
I wish the website of this article allowed me to mass email it to by friends and true-beliver freaks at the workplace.
These locals may teach nearly all of the courses in a particular sub area like developmental psychology, but usually have only a shared desk for office space and no say in department policy. One quarter of the pay for a full professor is a fair estimate of what they make, but the locals are paid by the course.
The author is correct in saying leftist professors, otherwise spouting dogma, if they notice the part-timers at all, look on them with disdain.
BUMP! for later
Thanks for posting this article. I only read VDH occasionally and found this one to be well worth my time. I highly recommend it to anyone with a child about to be or currently in higher education or if they themselves are attempting to further their education. I have one child at a university and I am pursuing a graduate degree at the same university. Good to have another perspective from inside the belly of the beast, if you will.
In! He's usually pretty right on!
When I taught at a large midwestern university, the Computer Science Department hired my wife to teach undergraduate CS courses. Mind you, she has a PhD, but not in Computer Science. (At least she was well paid for her services. Most adjunct faculty are not, as you note.)
My wife once received an extraordinary e-mail from the chairman of the Computer Science department, sent out to his faculty. He bragged that the great majority of the undergraduate courses (78%, as I recall) were being taught by people other regular faculty. That, of course, freed up the faculty to do research and teach graduate students.
The modern public university teaches the student that his verbal or analytical shortcomings have little to do with his lack of discipline, effort, or talent, but instead arise from a variety of social and state pathologies ranging from poverty and racism to gender bias and public neglect. Redress can start only when the student realizes why and how he has been victimized and discovers that the same government that harmed him also offers more enlightened public servants to undo the damage. He is expected, after graduation, to proselytize for this creed of entitlement, big government, and victimization.
Bad ju-ju, that!
That philosophy has precisely nothing to do with education as we have understood it in the past. The new goal is rather to create a particular type of citizen. Conservatives are inexact when they decry the absence of civic education in our schools. In fact, there is quite a lot of civic education going on but not of the sort that conservatives envision. The modern public university teaches the student that his verbal or analytical shortcomings have little to do with his lack of discipline, effort, or talent, but instead arise from a variety of social and state pathologies ranging from poverty and racism to gender bias and public neglect. Redress can start only when the student realizes why and how he has been victimized and discovers that the same government that harmed him also offers more enlightened public servants to undo the damage. He is expected, after graduation, to proselytize for this creed of entitlement, big government, and victimization.
Bingo! We have a winner.
Schools are asked to educate troubled youth
I went to Catholic grade school/high school, the the nuns that taught us had a solution for that. YOU WILL LEARN....or else. Hard? You bet, and they weren't afraid to set you back to do a grade over again. But it worked.....at least for me it did.
Who would teach it? Unfortunately, that sort of academic - it used to be called "discipline" but that word has unfortunate patriarchical opressive implications (sniff!) - rigor - nope, same problem - persuasion, perhaps, is becoming less and less prevalent among faculties that have been structured around progressive political enthusiasms. Student bodies have mushroomed in numbers and qualifications diluted. Is it possible for an assistant professor with a PhD in Gender Studies who cannot write a cogent sentence in English possessing a subject and a predicate, to teach Latin? To learn Latin? To spell "Latin?"
Scholars once were private citizens bitterly oppressed by state and by Church if they were not fortunate enough to be running with the hounds in the latter institution. Real scholarship, at least in the liberal arts, has now been marginalized and is being forced underground on the very university campuses that were designed to nurture and promote it. The barbarians aren't at the gate, they were invited in and have taken over arts and letters and are reaching out to grab control of the sciences as well. There they seem to have foundered, at least at the moment, but when we see courses in "Women's Mathematics" we'll know that the end times have arrived for higher education.