Many of our once revered and most hallowed institutions are failing us. To mention only the most significant ones: our top-ranking military echelon, the leadership of our federal investigatory and intelligence agencies, the government medical establishment—and of course the universities.
For too long American higher education’s reputation of global academic superiority has rested mostly on the sciences, mathematics, physics, technology, medicine, and engineering—in other words, not because of the humanities and social sciences, but despite them. The humanities have become too often anti-humanistic. And the social sciences are deductively anti-scientific. Both quasi-religious woke disciplines have eroded confidence in colleges and universities, infected even the STEM disciplines and professional schools, and torn apart the civic unity of the United States. Indeed, much of the current Jacobin revolution was birthed and fueled by American universities, despite their manifest hypocrisies and derelictions.
Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) introduced a bill to stop the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from conducting espionage on American college campuses.
According to a press release from his office, Sen. Cotton re-introduced the “SECURE CAMPUS Act” on April 22. The bill would “prohibit Chinese nationals from receiving visas to the United States for graduate or post-graduate studies in STEM fields and would ban participants in China’s foreign talent recruitment programs and Chinese nationals from taking part in federally-funded STEM research.”
Sen. Cotton remarked that “Allowing China unfettered access to American research institutions is akin to granting Soviet scientists access to our critical laboratories during the Cold War.”
On March 1, Eric Kaufmann published a remarkably detailed and comprehensive study of bias in academia, “Academic Freedom in Crisis: Punishment, Political Discrimination, and Self-Censorship.” Kaufmann’s writing is a product of California’s Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology, a small think tank set up to do research forbidden in today’s Academy. His research uncovering rampant leftist political bias in publication, employment, and promotion in the academy—and discrimination against anything right-of-center—qualifies as that kind of work.
In the academy, the free interchange of competing ideas creates knowledge through cooperation, disagreement, debate, and dissent. Kaufmann finds that the last three are severely suppressed and punished. This repression’s pervasiveness may be a death sentence for science, free inquiry, and the advancement of knowledge in our universities.
I am led to that dire conclusion because there doesn’t appear to be any way for universities to prevent it. No solution can arise from within the academy, as it self-selects lifetime faculty that are largely left-wing, making promotion of dissidents highly unlikely. Kaufmann demonstrates profoundly systemic discrimination by leftist faculty against their colleagues who disagree with them politically.
With classrooms finally reopening and hundreds of billions of federal dollars earmarked for public schools, the issue of teacher pay will soon re-emerge. Before the pandemic, public school teachers were fighting against a widely perceived “teacher salary penalty.” President Biden vowed to “correct this wrong,” promising a dramatic increase in federal education funding to “give teachers a raise.” But what causes these pay differences? New Census Bureau data suggest that most teachers are paid roughly what they’d receive in other jobs. But if public schools wish to attract the best-qualified graduates to teaching, they need to stop paying the physics teacher the same as the gym teacher.
The Economic Policy Institute, a teacher-union-affiliated think tank, reports that public school teachers receive salaries about 20 percent lower than non-teachers with equal levels of experience and education.
But what does it mean for education to be “equal”? College graduates attended different institutions, majored in different fields, and received different GPAs, leading to different salaries later in life. That’s why parents encourage their children to attend more competitive colleges and, increasingly, to favor STEM fields over liberal arts majors.