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New Study Reveals the Highly Educated Are More Religious Today
Conventional wisdom has it that there is a growing relationship between a person’s level of education and their religion. Most people assume that the more a person is educated, their level of religion goes down because they start forming ideas of their own.
However, a new study indicates that the opposite may be true.
Sociologist Philip Schwadel from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) studied this phenomenon. He discovered that people today tend to become more religious as they further their education.
Schwadel, the author of the new study, will publish his findings in the journal Review of Religious Research.
He said studying the effect of education on religion shows the complexity of defining it. For one thing, contrary to a popular misconception, education has a positive association with church attendance.
Schwadel said: “It all falls down to what you consider to be religious.”
“If it’s simply attending religious services, then no, highly educated people are not less religious. In fact they’re more religious.’
His study cites that each year a person adds to their education, he or she is 15% more likely to attend religious services. The catch in his study determined that when an individual attends a church service, they are less likely to take Scripture literally.
“If it’s saying the Bible is the literal word of God and saying that only one religion is the true religion, then they are less religious,’ he said.
Research tells us that education has a positive impact on not only churchgoing habits, but devotional practices, and support for religious leaders.
Schwadel determined that with each additional year of education, a person is only 9% more likely to read the Bible “at least occasionally.”
The main difference between the educated and the uneducated is that educated people seem to be more open to other ideas including the divine. They basically have a looser approach to faith.
“Education influences strategies of action, and these strategies of action are relevant to some religious beliefs and activities, but not others,” said Schwadel,
“The effects of education on religion are not simple increases or decreases. In many ways, effects will vary, based on how you define religion.”
While approaching religion in a less strict manner may indicate that educated people do not take their faith as seriously as those without education, the study found that this is not the case.
In fact, Schwadel discovered that dropping religion altogether was not a popular option for highly educated people. Having a greater level of education was associated most often with converting to mainline, non-evangelical Protestant denominations.
What educated people are more likely to question is, however, the role of religion in a secular society.
They are more opposed as to what may be seen as religion being forced upon society. On the other hand, they are very opposed to hushing the voices of religious leaders on societal issues and supported those leaders’ rights to influence people’s votes.
“The results suggest that highly educated Americans are not opposed to religion — even religious leaders stating political opinions,” Schwadel said. “But they are opposed to what may be perceived as religion being forced on secular society.”
His study, just released, does confirm that religion plays an important role in the lives of highly educated Americans. And religion still remains relevant to Americans of all education levels.
“Sometimes this is where language limits us,” said Beth Katz, the executive director of Project Interfaith, said in a statement.
“We have to be very careful about making assumptions about what a person believes, and how they practice, or how the role of faith and spirituality may play in their life simply based on the term they use to identify themselves.”
Katz said the looser, and changing, definitions of religious identity, at least among young people, are coinciding with a greater tolerance of religious diversity.
“That’s in part because young people have grown up with greater levels of religious diversity present in front of them in the media, and in their communities, and in schools,” said Katz.
“Exposure to different faiths and the different definitions of faith, should help us, no matter how we define ourselves, to get along.”
Schwadel’s study relied heavily on the General Social Survey, which provides cumulative data collected regularly between 1972 and 2010. The research will be published in an upcoming edition of the journal Review of Religious Research.
By R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
John Tierney of The New York Times offers a really important report on the Society for Personality and Social Psychology’s recent annual meeting. As Tierney writes, “Some of the world’s preeminent experts on bias discovered an unexpected form of it at their annual meeting.”
It all started when Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist the University of Virginia, took a poll of his audience at the meeting:
He polled his audience at the San Antonio Convention Center, starting by asking how many considered themselves politically liberal. A sea of hands appeared, and Dr. Haidt estimated that liberals made up 80% of the 1,000 psychologists in the ballroom. When he asked for centrists and libertarians, he spotted fewer than three dozen hands. And then, when he asked for conservatives, he counted a grand total of three.
Haidt responded with this simple statement - “This is a statistically impossible lack of diversity.” Haidt then pointed to studies showing that while 20% of Americans consider themselves to be liberal, fully 40% identify themselves as conservatives.
The psychologist then proceeded to define his colleagues as a “tribal-moral community” that has its own set of “sacred values.” Those values, he argues, blind the academic tribe to its own forms of discrimination. While they see discrimination against women and minorities without difficulty, they blind themselves to their own prejudice against conservatives. Even their jokes assume that everyone is a liberal.
Professor Haidt went so far as to propose a new form of affirmative action for conservatives. He also suggested that most liberal groups tend to protest yesterday’s forms of discrimination, and often miss the more urgent discrimination problems of the present.
In any event, Professor Haidt’s address represented a rare moment of candor and confession in an academic meeting. The open admission of bias against conservatives was a very rare achievement.
Beyond this, Haidt’s concept of the academic guild as a “tribal-moral community” is genuinely helpful. Indeed, his insights distilled into this phrase are transportable to many other fields of interest. We are all members of some moral tribe. Hats off to Professor Haidt for making that truth so clear - and for documenting the existence of bias against conservatives in academia.
By Chuck Colson
If you are the parent of a public school child, you may be wondering what challenges your children will face at school when it comes to their faith and values. Last year, a research group surveyed a thousand 20–29 year olds who used to attend evangelical churches on a regular basis, but have since left the church. To their surprise, researchers found that, the vast majority of them began having doubts during middle school and high school. [KH: final decision to leave in university]
It’s important that you know what values your children are exposed to in school. At some point you may need to talk to your children’s teachers about a concern you have about a classroom activity or reading selection.
Eric Buehrer, author of Keeping the Faith in Public Schools: How to help your children graduate with their faith and values intact, advises parents how to take a successful approach to talking to a teacher about a concern.
He points out that when it comes to addressing a concern in your school, you can either be a lamp or a blow torch. To be a lamp, Buehrer recommends what he calls the “Help Me Understand” approach.
Before you talk to the teacher, think through why—if what you heard from your child or another parent was accurate—you would like the teacher to change the activity or assignment. Then, use the following four-steps to discuss the issue with the teacher.
First, start the conversation by using the phrase “Help me understand. . .” For example, if you are concerned about a particular reading assignment, you might start by saying, “Help me understand why you chose this book for the students to read.”
At this point in the conversation you want clarification. Don’t jump to conclusions about the motives of the teacher. Don’t be angry. Be sincere in trying to understand the point of the assignment.
The next step Buehrer recommends might, at first, sound unnecessary, but it’s important: Affirm, in general, what the teacher is trying to do. For example, you might appreciate the fact teacher wants the students to learn about the environment, but you are concerned about the particular bias of the book she is using. At this point in the conversation, don’t jump to your concerns. Finding “common ground” is an important part of the discussion.
Buehrer then advises that you transition to your concern by using the phrase, “But have you considered . . .” And don’t assume the teacher will oppose you. In fact, it is better to assume the teacher will agree with you once you explain your concern. It is often the case that a teacher is thinking of one reason for the lesson or book selection, but hasn’t considered what students might learn or be exposed to that the teacher didn’t have in mind.
Finally, if the teacher agrees with you, ask her advice about what might be a good alternative for the class. Of course, the teacher may ask you for your ideas, so be sure you’ve done your homework! Have some alternatives you can present her if she’s open.
Now, if the teacher doesn’t agree to change what the class will be learning, ask for an alternative assignment for your own child.
Two sisters are fighting to stand up for what they believe in, even if it means leaving everything they’ve worked for during the past eight years.
After discovering disturbing connections and curricula of Girl Scouts of the USA, Sydney and Tess Volanski decided to leave their beloved Girl Scout Troop after eight years of involvement, compelled not only to quit, but also to spread the truth about the highly acclaimed organization.
The two Houston siblings share their reasons for leaving in their recently launched site called “SPEAK NOW: girl scouts” and reveal several ways in which Girl Scouts has been promoting Planned Parenthood, promiscuity and abortion to their members.
Trusting that Girl Scouts was a wholesome organization, both Sydney and Tess were extremely hurt when they realized beginning in March of 2010 that they had been unknowingly supporting and promoting a group whose views were in direct contrast with their pro-life, pro-family, Christian views.
The first “eye-opening and jaw-dropping” example of their difference in values occurred in March, when GSUSA allowed Planned Parenthood to distribute brochures containing sexually explicit material.
Entitled “Healthy, Happy, and Hot – A Young Person’s Guide to Their Rights, Sexuality and Living with HIV,” the pamphlet was given to young girls attending a Girls Only Workshop in New York – part of the annual United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.
However, a spokesperson for Girl Scouts denied the allegations and stated, “Girl Scouts does not take a position on abortion or birth control. The national umbrella organization, Girl Scouts of the USA does not have a relationship with Planned Parenthood on a national level and does not plan to have one.”
Sydney, in turn, stated in an interview with Concerned Women for America, “Even though they denied this involvement ... we wanted to make sure that we knew what we were supporting by being a Girl Scout, so we continued to research the connection.”
“We found shortly after this ‘Healthy, Happy, Hot’ issue, that The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts also called WAAG, which is the international organization that Girl Scouts is a part of, had a post on their website demanding safe, affordable, and accessible abortions for women as young as I am, 15.”
At that point, both Tess and Sydney decided to remove themselves from Girl Scouts because it was not compatible with their deeply held beliefs and continued to search for the truth, because so many of their friends were involved in the organization and because Girl Scouts was listed as a ministry in their church.
“Leaving Girl Scouts was not a casual, easy, or convenient decision,” they state on their site. “Girl Scouts was a huge part of our lives that included a bond with our best friends.”
“While we recognized the many good things about Girl Scouts, we had to ask ourselves: Will we stand for our beliefs, for the dignity of life, the sanctity of marriage, modesty, purity? Or will we remain true to Girl Scouts? We cannot see any way to truly do both.”
Motivated to spread the information they learned so as to prevent the same heartbreak for other girls and their families, Sydney told CWA that GSUSA had broken its promises of not taking a stand on such issues as girls’ sexuality, abortion or political affiliation by its connection not only with Planned Parenthood but with other anti-life, anti-purity, anti-family organizations.
“There is a lot of material that is in direct contrast with a pure message and the sanctity of life and the sanctity of marriage,” she added. “Their CEO proudly admitted to partnering with Planned Parenthood in 2005, and the statement has never been retracted.”
Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood clinic director, also confirmed the connection between Girl Scouts and Planned Parenthood, stating that most of Planned Parenthood’s adolescent health material is sponsored by GSUSA.
“Girl Scouts’ support of radical, pro-abortion groups is in direct conflict of the Church’s teachings,” Tess told The Christian Post. “Abortion is the greatest injustice in our society today and we cannot stand with an organization that approves such a gross atrocity.”
“Also, by their endorsing of this issue through their printed material and their website, Girl Scouts is leading the young women that are involved with Girl Scouts directly to the doors of Planned Parenthood.”
Asking Tess how, at such a young age, both she and her sister were able to stand up for their beliefs, she shared, “Being devout Catholics, determined to spread God’s truth, we got practice speaking out for what we believed in at a young age. I think the combination of our parents’ support, God’s urging to share His teachings with others, and the amazing, inspiring lessons of our church youth group have devoted us to our faith.”
Active members of the local parish and involved in the youth group at their church, both sisters commit themselves to turning their beliefs into action and “encourage others to stand up for the sanctity of life in a way that would truly make a difference.”
“We recently took our commitment to the pro-life movement to a new level by joining a local right-to-life group with whom we stand and pray with on the sidewalk of a Planned Parenthood,” Tess revealed to CP.
Though they have received various dismissive and negative comments from within the Girl Scouts organization, Tess affirmed, “This, while not particularly encouraging, will not deter us from spreading the truth.”
“We do our part by sharing the facts and leave the rest up to God.”
Challenging supporters to help share the truth about Girl Scouts with families everywhere, the sisters conclude with one question: “Are you ready to speak now?”
by Thomas Sowell
Many years ago, I was surprised to receive a letter from an old friend, saying that she had been told that I refused to see campus visitors from Africa.
At the time, I was so bogged down with work that I had agreed to see only one visitor to the Stanford campus— and it so happens that he was from Africa. He just happened to come along when I had a little breathing room from the work I was doing in my office.
I pointed out to my friend that whoever said what she heard might just as well have said that I refused to go sky-diving with blacks— which was true, because I refused to go sky-diving with anybody, whether black, white, Asian or whatever.
The kind of thinking that produced a passing misconception about me has, unfortunately, produced much bigger, much longer lasting, much more systematic and more poisonous distortions about the United States of America.
Slavery is a classic example. The history of slavery across the centuries and in many countries around the world is a painful history to read— not only in terms of how slaves have been treated, but because of what that says about the whole human species— because slaves and enslavers alike have been of every race, religion and nationality.
If the history of slavery ought to teach us anything, it is that human beings cannot be trusted with unbridled power over other human beings— no matter what color or creed any of them are. The history of ancient despotism and modern totalitarianism practically shouts that same message from the blood-stained pages of history.
But that is not the message that is being taught in our schools and colleges, or dramatized on television and in the movies. The message that is pounded home again and again is that white people enslaved black people.
It is true, just as it is true that I don’t go sky-diving with blacks. But it is also false in its implications for the same reason. Just as Europeans enslaved Africans, North Africans enslaved Europeans— more Europeans than there were Africans enslaved in the United States and in the 13 colonies from which it was formed.
The treatment of white galley slaves was even worse than the treatment of black slaves picking cotton. But there are no movies or television dramas about it comparable to “Roots,” and our schools and colleges don’t pound it into the heads of students.
The inhumanity of human beings toward other human beings is not a new story, much less a local story. There is no need to hide it, because there are lessons we can learn from it. But there is also no need to distort it, so that sins of the whole human species around the world are presented as special defects of “our society” or the sins of a particular race.
If American society and Western civilization are different from other societies and civilization, it is that they eventually turned against slavery, and stamped it out, at a time when non-Western societies around the world were still maintaining slavery and resisting Western pressures to end slavery, including in some cases armed resistance.
Only the fact that the West had more firepower than others put an end to slavery in many non-Western societies during the age of Western imperialism. Yet today there are Americans who have gone to Africa to apologize for slavery— on a continent where slavery has still not been completely ended, to this very moment.
It is not just the history of slavery that gets distorted beyond recognition by the selective filtering of facts. Those who go back to mine history, in order to find everything they can to undermine American society or Western civilization, have very little interest in the Bataan death march, the atrocities of the Ottoman Empire or similar atrocities in other times and places.
Those who mine history for sins are not searching for truth but for opportunities to denigrate their own society, or for grievances that can be cashed in today, at the expense of people who were not even born when the sins of the past were committed.
An ancient adage says: “Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.” But apparently that is not sufficient for many among our educators, the intelligentsia or the media. They are busy poisoning the present by the way they present the past.
ACLU-designed consent decree banning ‘bless you’ targeted
Teachers say they are literally forced to pray in school closets to avoid contempt charges
A Florida school district is being accused in a lawsuit of making a deal with the ACLU to criminalize “protected religious expression,” banning students from saying “God bless” and forcing teachers to “hide in closets to pray.”
The claims against Santa Rosa County School District come in a complaint filed today by Liberty Counsel, which has been involved in the dispute just about from the beginning.
The original issue was that two students – whose names were withheld – complained that staff or faculty members were expressing their religious views at places such as off-campus dinners to honor school workers.
Liberty Counsel lawyers said they volunteered to work for free for the school to protect the First Amendment rights at issue.
“But the school district decided instead to shake hands with the ACLU, pay the ACLU $200,000 in legal fees, and voluntarily enter into the Consent Decree that obliterates religious freedom and makes a mockery of the First Amendment,” Liberty Counsel said in its description of the conflict.
Since then, three school officials have faced civil and criminal contempt charges demanded by the ACLU and the school district but have been cleared.
The decree, however, still is having impacts.
“Students can no longer say ‘God Bless,’ teachers must hide in closets to pray, parents cannot communicate frankly with teachers, volunteers cannot answer any questions regarding religion, Christian groups cannot rent school facilities for privatereligious functions benefiting students, and pastors are dictated how they can and cannot seat their audiences at private, religious baccalaureate services held inside their own houses of worship,” Liberty Counsel said.
The dispute remains volatile. WND reported only days ago that Liberty Counsel confirmed it was “game over” because the ACLU admitted in court documents that the two anonymous plaintiffs graduated from the district’s Pace High School in May 2009, effectively ending the court’s jurisdiction in the case.
The problem is that the consent decree and a long series of court orders had been continued after that technical stopping point was reached.
At the time, Liberty Counsel Chairman Mathew D. Staver said, “Even a first-year law student knows that federal courts cannot enforce a consent degree absent jurisdiction over the parties. Now that the plaintiffs’ graduation has been confirmed, Liberty Counsel will ask the court to vacate the consent decree and every other decision it has rendered since the graduation of these two plaintiffs.”
Other penalties also are a possibility, the law firm said.
School officials, contacted by WND, refused to comment directly on the case.
Instead, the school issued a statement accusing Liberty Counsel of making errors in its press release, and claimed “staff is only prohibited from promoting their own religious beliefs to students in their capacity as teachers.”
The statement, released to WND by Marilyne Pugh, secretary to Superintendent Tim Wyrosdick, continued, “Further, parents may certainly communicate with teachers as they wish and nothing in the consent decree outlaws such communications. Religious groups may and do have access to district facilities on the same basis as other community groups. The district does not have any say as to how a minister chooses to seat the congregation. The court’s order, however, would not permit group seating of teachers in a manner that would give the clear appearance of the school endorsing the baccalaureate, which is a religious event.”
The statement also complained that “new litigation” was arising that involves the school, “which will necessarily divert the attention of our staff from their primary function of education students and divert already sparse funds away from the classroom.”
WND reported earlier on the case involving an order crafted by the ACLU requiring employees in the Santa Rosa School District to act in an “official capacity” whenever they are at a “school event” – including breaks, after-school events on or off campus and private events held on campus. The “official capacity” would include even when they are attending an athletic competition to watch their own children or grandchildren.
The new case is being brought on behalf of a long list of faculty, parents and students.
Named as defendants are the district and Wyrosdick. The case asks the court for preliminary and permanent relief halting any enforcement of the ACLU’s consent degree.
The complaint alleges violations of the rights to freedom of speech, association, equal protection and free exercise of religion under the First and Fourteen Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
All of the plaintiffs, according to Liberty Counsel, “have been silenced, censored, intimidated or harassed by the school district and its partner, the American Civil Liberties Union.”
The complaint outlined the problems for James T. Waters, an associate pastor at First Baptist Church of Milton.
He previously had organized and led programs called “Youth Alive” at Hobbs Middle School and “Differencemakers” at King Middle School by creating a curriculum and leading the events for students “who voluntarily attended them outside of regular school hours.”
The events taught students responsibility, character, moral values and civil duties.
“Since the Santa Rosa County School Board makes public school facilities available for use by private individuals and groups outside of regular school hours, Plaintiff Waters decided that it would be most convenient to conduct these programs at public school facilities, so that students can attend them without the need for separate transportation to an off-campus facility,” the lawsuit said.
Before the decree, the programs “were a great success.” But after, school officials “felt compelled … to prohibit Plaintiff Waters from regularly attending these programs.”
“They told him that … [he] could not longer be a regular speaker at the very programs he organized,” the lawsuit said.
Among other limitations: “Defendant school board prohibit[s] teachers who attend privately-sponsored, voluntary religious events, held outside of school hours, from sitting together in one bloc, from wearing similar graduation attire … or from leading or directing the baccalaureate services.”
The school even issued a list of words that “should not be used when creating an agenda for a program/event/activity” and that included “devotional pledge” “invocation” and “inspirational message.”
Nor could the word “blessed” be on any school website. And the school banned forwarding any e-mail with any “religious message,” banned references to a baccalaureate on the school calendar and even said this: “In conversation, if someone asks their supervisor, ‘How are you?’ may the supervisor respond with ‘I am blessed?’ Yes, as long as they do not elaborate on the connotation of blessed,” the school said.
According to a report at Values Voter News, a clerk in the school, Michelle Winkler, told of hiding inside a closet in the school when a co-worker sought comfort from her after the loss of the co-worker’s 2-year-old child.
The two hid in the closet because they were worried about being seen and being held in contempt of court under the ACLU-negotiated decree.
Staver said in a Liberty Counsel report, “The errors in judgment by the ACLU and the school district are stunning. The school district agreed to enter into an unconstitutional consent decree that was legally effective for less than one month, then agreed to pay the ACLU a whopping $200,000, and then expended a great deal of additional resources to oppose Liberty Counsel’s intervention and defend the unconstitutional and moot consent decree.”
As WND reported, Winkler faced contempt charges after her husband read a prayer at a private banquet held at a naval base to honor non-instructional school-district employees. The judge eventually found Winkler’s husband’s prayer at a voluntary gathering outside of school did not violate any court order.
During her testimony, Winkler broke down on the witness stand as she told a story about how her co-worker sought comfort from her after losing her 2-year-old child.
Liberty Counsel earlier successfully defended Pace High School Principal Frank Lay and Athletic Director Robert Freeman against criminal contempt charges after the ACLU complained when Freeman gave a 15-second blessing for a lunch meal for 20 adults with no students present.
The men had faced penalties of up to six months in jail and $5,000 in fines each.
The case began in August 2008 when two anonymous students sued with the help of the ACLU over longstanding practices at the school allowing prayer at some events. The school’s separate counsel had agreed to a consent decree that “essentially bans all Santa Rosa County School District employees from engaging in prayer or religious activities,” Liberty Counsel reported.
Members of the 2009 graduating class at Florida’s Pace High School expressed their objections to the ACLU restrictions on statements of religious faith at their school by rising up en masse at their ceremony and reciting the Lord’s Prayer.
Nearly 400 graduating seniors at Pace stood up at their graduation, according to Staver. Parents, family and friends joined in the recitation and applauded the students when they were finished, Staver told WND.
The most comprehensive survey of homeschoolers in America in more than a decade found a large gap between students educated at home and those educated in public institutions.
In the nationwide study conducted by Dr. Brian D. Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute, homeschoolers were found to have scored 34-39%ile points higher than the norm on standardized achievement tests. The homeschool national average ranged from the 84th percentile for language, math, and social studies to the 89th percentile for reading, reported the Home School Legal Defense Association, which commissioned Ray to conduct the survey in 2007.
According to HSLDA, anecdotal evidence of homeschooling’s success has been backed by multiple research studies. However, it has been at least 10 years since any major nationwide study of homeschooling was done.
During that time, the number of homeschooled children has grown from about 850,000 to approximately 1.5 million, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
“Homeschooling is a rapidly growing, thriving education movement that is challenging the conventional wisdom about the best way to raise and educate the next generation,” commented HSLDA president Michael Smith in his group’s announcement of the study Monday.
For the new study, touted as “the most comprehensive study of homeschool academic achievement ever completed,” Ray surveyed 11,739 homeschooled students from all 50 states, Guam, and Puerto Rico, and drew from 15 independent testing services.
Aside from the academic results, the study found that the achievement gaps common to public schools were not found in the homeschool community.
Homeschooled boys (87th percentile) and girls (88th percentile) scored equally well; the income level of parents did not appreciably affect the results (household income under $35,000: 85th percentile – household income over $70,000: 89th percentile); and while parent education level did have some impact, even children whose parents did not have college degrees scored in the 83rd percentile, which is well above the national average for public school students.
Homeschooled children whose parents both had college degrees scored in the 90th percentile.
“These results validate the dedication of hundreds of thousands of homeschool parents who are giving their children the best education possible,” commented Smith.
“Because of the one-on-one instruction homeschoolers receive, we are prepared academically to be productive and contributing members of today’s society,” he added.
According to the study, 82.4% of homeschooling parents identified themselves as Protestant Christian, 12.4 Roman Catholic, 1.1% atheist/agnostic, 0.8% Mormon, 0.4% Jewish, 0.2% Eastern Orthodox Christian, and 0.1% Muslim.
The vast majority (97.9%) of parents in the study was also married and had an average of 3.5 children compared to the general population’s average of 2.0 children.
The title of the study is “Progress Report 2009: Homeschool Academic Achievement and Demographics.”
As I travel the country speaking about my book, Home Invasion: Protecting Your Family in a Culture that’s Gone Stark Raving Mad, I’m met with nearly universal desperation from parents who are sick and tired of the battle for their kids’ hearts, minds and very souls.
As the mother of three teens, I admit that I sometimes “fall back” in my own war with the culture. It’s often tough, tiresome and even tedious. But raising children who will tower above the culture makes the battle well worth my unwavering commitment.
So where to start? Here are five basics:
1) Envision, assess, compare.
Envision the type of adult you want your child to become. Whether you are liberal, conservative or somewhere in between, all decent parents pretty much want the same thing for their kids. We all want them to grow up and have happy families of their own. We all want them to be marked by good character; to be responsible, honest, healthy and courageous; to be respected and respectful. But taking the time to actually picture our children’s best future reminds us that we need to do our best every day to help shape them in to all that they can be.
Next, assess the media your child is consuming. According to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation report, today’s teens consume 6 ½ hours of media every single day. The number-one cable choice for girls is the racy MTV; the number-one music genre choice for kids from all races and socio-economic levels is the often foul rap and hip hop; 90% of kids who go online stumble across hard-core porn, simply because parents have never taken the time to install a filter. (I protect my kids with a great filter from www.bsafe.com). What are your sons and daughters watching and listening to? Do you even know? Time to spend some time in their world — to find out the messages that are being pumped into their still-developing brains.
Now, compare: Do the messages and materials your child is feasting on teach the values and behaviors you want him to embrace as an adult? If the vision and what you’ve discovered in the assessment are at odds, it’s time to move to step two.
2) Commit to the daily battle.
And believe me, it is a daily battle. The attacks of the killer culture are relentless. From the commercials, to the gangsta and street-walker clothing styles, to the movies, magazines, games and music marketed to teens, decency is under attack. Try breaking it down to one day at a time, and you will succeed. I awake every morning with a simple prayer, “Lord, please help me today to uphold the values and standards my husband and I have set for our family.”
3) Teach your child that he has intrinsic value in God’s eyes.
The greatest gift we can give our children is to let them know that there is a God who loves them and knows them by name. We must teach our sons and daughters that the God of the Universe is intensely interested and familiar with every aspect of their lives and wants what is best for them. Today’s culture teaches even the young child that he is here by accident, and that he is just another creature on a big, impersonal planet, no different from any other animal. It’s no wonder that kids today are experiencing depression and loneliness in record numbers.
4) Improve your family life.
A few years ago the mantra was, “It’s quality time, not quantity time, that counts.” WRONG! Kids need a good dose of both from their parents. If we think we can spend one great hour a day with our kids and counteract the negative garbage they’re getting from the culture “24/7,” we’re fooling ourselves. Drop the senseless activities that take everyone’s time and leave your family stressed out and exhausted. Spend more time talking to your kids and less time watching TV. The Heritage Foundation reviewed stats on the tremendous impact that even the simple act of having family meals has on our kids and found that teenagers who eat dinner with their families only two nights a week or less are more than twice as likely to smoke, drink or use illegal drugs than teens who have frequent family dinners.
5) Take a hands-on approach with your child’s education.
Whether your kids go to private or public schools, you should be intimately acquainted with what, and how, they are taught. When was the last time you picked up your child’s English book, or science book, and actually read it? Do you know what she is being taught in history? Exercise your right to opt your child out of misguided sex-ed classes. Challenge the reading lists if the assigned books are pop garbage. The point is to remember that you, as the parent, have every right — and the ultimate responsibility — to make sure your child is taught well, and well taught.
Regular church attendance may boost a student’s GPA, according to a new study.
Students who attend religious services weekly average a GPA of 0.144 higher than those who never attend services, said Jennifer Glanville, a sociologist in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Despite the positive link between church attendance and academic success, the study surprisingly found the importance of religion to teens had “very little impact” on their educational outcomes, Glanville noted, according to the University of Iowa News Services. The study had looked at whether the teens said religion was important to them.
“That suggests that the act of attending church – the structure and the social aspects associated with it – could be more important to educational outcomes than the actual religion,” the sociologist suggested.
Glanville, who led the study, and David Sikkink and Edwin Hernandez of the University of Notre Dame analyzed data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, a nationally representative study that explores the causes of health-related behaviors of adolescents in grades 7 through 12 and their outcomes in young adulthood. Students from 132 schools in 80 communities participated.
While other studies have also noted a link between church attendance and positive educational outcomes, the latest study is one of the first to examine reasons for the academic success.
According to the study, church-going teens tend to do better in school because of regular contact with adults from various generations who serve as role models; their parents are more likely to communicate with their friends’ parents; they develop friendships with peers who have similar norms and values; and they’re more likely to participate in extracurricular activities.
“There are two directions you can go with this research,” said Glanville. “Some might say this suggests that parents should have their kids attend places of worship. Or, if we use it to help explain why religious participation has a positive effect on academics, parents who aren’t interested in attending church can consider how to structure their kids’ time to allow access to the same beneficial social networks and opportunities religious institutions provide.”
In addition to higher GPAs, teens who attended services regularly also had a lower dropout rate and felt more like a part of the school and happy to be a part of it, according to the study, which is published in the winter 2008 issue of The Sociological Quarterly.
“For typical teens in the study, the probability of dropping out of high school for those who attend religious services and youth activities at least once a week is .05,” Glanville noted. “For teens who never attend services, the probability is .084, over 60% greater.”
Jesus was a Palestinian? That’s what one public school textbook says.
Although Jesus lived in a region known in his time as Palestine, the use of the term “Palestinian,” with its modern connotations, is among the hundreds of textbook flaws cited in a recent five-year study of educational anti-Semitism detailed in the book “The Trouble with Textbooks: Distorting History and Religion.”
Authors Gary Tobin and Dennis Ybarra of the Institute for Jewish and Community Research found some 500 imperfections and distortions concerning religion in 28 of the most widely used social studies and history textbooks in the United States.
Ybarra, a research associate at the institute, called the above example “shocking.”
A “true or false” question on the origins of Christianity asserted that “Christianity was started by a young Palestinian named Jesus.” The teacher’s edition says this is “true.”
But even though Jesus is the founder of Christianity, the question ignores the fact that he was Jewish. And Ybarra said, “The Christian scriptures say that he preached in Judea and Galilee, not Palestine,” a term that was used at the time as a less specific description of the broader region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.
Ybarra says part of the problem is that publishers employ or contract with writers who are not experts in the subject, or they may use out-of-date information. Or they may bow to special interest groups.
“They’re under pressure from all kinds of minority groups, religious groups, and they try to satisfy everyone and that results in content that is dumbed down to the lowest common denominator,” he said. “And so, in that process, things can be missed. Errors can survive.”
Ybarra also claims that the textbooks tend not to treat Christianity, Judaism and Islam equally.
“Islam has a privileged position,” he said. “It’s not critiqued or criticized or qualified, whereas Judaism and Christianity are.”
One example is in the glossary of “World History: Continuity and Change.” It calls the Ten Commandments “moral laws Moses claimed to have received from the Hebrew God,” while the entry for the Koran contains no such qualifier in saying it is the “Holy Book of Islam containing revelations received by Muhammad from God.”
But First Amendment scholar Dr. Charles Haynes, who has written extensively on the subject of public schools and religion, says he thinks sometimes the criticisms go a little too far.
“There’s no conspiracy in the textbook industry to favor one religion over another. ... I think the group that bangs the pot the loudest gets the most attention,” he said.
“Having said all that, I think the textbooks are working at trying to treat everybody the same way,” he added. “They made mistakes. They’ve got to work on it.”
Experts agree, though, that part of the problem rests in the fact that there are so few textbook publishers.
Seventy-five percent of public school books are published by just three companies: Houghton Mifflin, McGraw-Hill and Pearson Education. None responded to requests for comment for this story.
“It’s a big problem right now that we have so few choices in our textbooks,” Haynes said. “This is an industry. ... It’s a marketplace. They’re trying to sell their textbooks.”
But Ybarra said it goes deeper than pure economics. He thinks the school books are being used as tools for propaganda, particularly to perpetuate negative attitudes towards Christianity, Israel and pro-Palestinian views concerning the Middle East.
“We fear that this is creating a generation of biased school children,” he said. “Some of our projects in the higher education realm with some of these same subject matters, we find that students do show up at universities with these prejudices.”
Ybarra maintains that, ultimately, parents and communities need to get involved and demand accountability from school boards, publishers and scholars on what goes into the materials being used to teach fresh, young minds.
Peter Gomes has been at Harvard University for 37 years and says he remembers when religious people on campus felt under siege. To be seen as religious often meant being dismissed as not very bright, he said.
No longer. At Harvard these days, said Gomes, the university preacher, “There is probably more active religious life now than there has been in 100 years.”
Across the country, on secular campuses as varied as Colgate University, the University of Wisconsin and the University of California, Berkeley, chaplains, professors and administrators say students are drawn to religion and spirituality with more fervor than at any time they can remember.
More students are enrolling in religion courses, even majoring in religion; more are living in dormitories or houses where matters of faith and spirituality are a part of daily conversation; and discussion groups are being created for students to grapple with such questions as what happens after death, dozens of university officials said in interviews.
A survey of the spiritual lives of college students, the first of its kind, showed in 2004 that more than two-thirds of 112,000 freshmen surveyed said they prayed and that almost 80% believed in God.
Nearly half of the freshmen said they were seeking opportunities to grow spiritually, according to the survey by the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles.
Compared with 10 or 15 years ago, “There is a greater interest in religion on campus, both intellectually and spiritually,” said Charles Cohen, a professor of history and religious studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, who for a number of years ran an interdisciplinary major in religious studies. The program was created seven years ago and has 70 to 75 majors each year.
University officials explained the surge of interest in religion as partly a result of the rise of the religious right in politics, which they said has made questions of faith more talked about generally. In addition, they said, the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, by Islamic zealots underscored for many the influence of religion on world affairs.
And an influx of evangelical students at secular universities, along with an increasing number of international students, has meant that students arrive with a broader array of religious experiences.
Gomes said a more diverse student body at Harvard had meant that “the place is more representative of mainstream America.”
“That provides a group of people who don’t leave their religion at home,” he said.
At Berkeley, a vast number of undergraduates are Asian-American, with many coming from observant Christian homes, said the Reverend Randy Bare, the Presbyterian campus pastor. “That’s new, and it’s a remarkable shift,” Bare said.
There are 50 to 60 Christian groups on campus, and student attendance at Roman Catholic and Presbyterian churches near campus has picked up significantly, he said. On many other campuses, though, the renewed interest in faith and spirituality has not necessarily translated into increased attendance at religious services.
The Reverend Lloyd Steffen, the chaplain at Lehigh University, is among those who think the war in Iraq has contributed to the interest in religion among students. “I suspect a lot of that has to do with uncertainty over the war,” Steffen said. “My theory is that the baby boomers decided they weren’t going to impose their religious life on their children the way their parents imposed it on them,” Steffen continued. “The idea was to let them come to it themselves.
“And then they get to campus and things happen; someone dies, a suicide occurs. Real issues arise for them, and they sometimes feel that they don’t have resources to deal with them. And sometimes they turn to religion and courses in religion.”
Increased participation in community service may also reflect spiritual yearning of students. “We don’t use that kind of spiritual language anymore,” said Rebecca Chopp, the Colgate president. “But if you look at the students, they do.”
Some sociologists who study religion are skeptical that students’ attitudes have changed significantly, citing a lack of data to compare current students with those of previous generations. But even some of those concerned about the data say something has shifted.
“All I hear from everybody is yes, there is growing interest in religion and spirituality and an openness on college campuses,” said Christian Smith, a professor of sociology at Notre Dame. “Everybody who is talking about it says something seems to be going on.”
David Burhans, who retired after 33 years as chaplain at the University of Richmond, said many students “are really exploring, they are really interested in trying things out, in attending one another’s services.”
Lesleigh Cushing, an assistant professor of religion and Jewish studies at Colgate, said: “I can fill basically any class on the Bible. I wasn’t expecting that.”
When Benjamin Wright, chairman of the department of religion studies at Lehigh, arrived 17 years ago, two students chose to major in religion. This year there are 18 religion majors and there were 30 two and three years ago.
At Harvard, more students are enrolling in religion courses and regularly attending religious services, Gomes said.
Presbyterian ministries at Berkeley and Wisconsin have built dormitories to offer spiritual services to students and encourage discussion among different faiths. The seven-story building on the Wisconsin campus, which will house 280 students, is to open in August.
The number of student religious organizations at Colgate has grown to 11 from 5 in recent years. The university’s Catholic, Protestant and Jewish chaplains oversee an array of programs and events. Many involve providing food to students, a phenomenon that the university chaplain, Mark Shiner, jokingly calls “gastro-evangelism.”
Among the new clubs is one established last year to encourage students to hold wide-ranging dialogues about spirituality and faith. Meeting over lunch on Thursdays, the students talk about what happens after life or the nature of Catholic spirituality.
Gabe Conant, a junior, said he wanted to contemplate personal questions about his own faith. He described them this way: “What are these things I was raised in and do I want to keep them?”
Thousands of Jesus-following students who graduated from high school this summer will be claiming independent lives as they enter the big college campus in the fall. A new research study, however, is indicating the majority of those students will also be “graduating from God” upon entering college.
Fuller Theological Seminary’s Center for Youth and Family Ministry launched a three-year longitudinal study, surveying Christian students and their life transition into college and what provides for a better transition especially when it comes to faith. The milestone study is set to confirm the large number of students that youth workers say are leaving the church.
Denominations and youth workers have estimated that between 65% and 94% of their high school students stop attending church after they graduate. But no broad, multi-denominational, research-based calculation has confirmed any number.
Research for the first pilot phase of the College Transition Project began in January 2005. Initial results revealed that 100% of the 234 students surveyed had engaged in risk behaviors including alcohol use. Those surveyed were students who had graduated from the youth ministry of a Presbyterian church within the last four years. The second most frequent engagement in risk behaviors was sexual encounters.
According to the study, the struggles students were found to have when making their shift into college were related to friendships or lack thereof. In addition to not having friends or a community, students also indicated being alone for the first time and having a desire to find a faith community or church as some of the most difficult elements of their transition.
Southern Baptist Convention President Dr. Frank Page expressed alarm over the high number of church drop outs and failures on the part of churches.
“It is a disturbing trend and part of it is that our churches have become one- or two-generation churches, and we’ve failed to learn how to reach out to this younger generation.”
Intergenerational relationships were found to be enormously beneficial to students, according to Kara Powell, executive director of the Center for Youth and Family Ministry. The College Transition study will be measuring components such as intergenerational community, parents, and youth groups that impact the move into college life.
Powell pointed out a significant finding from the initial study. “One of the most interesting findings from that pilot project was the importance of doubt in a student’s faith maturity. The more college students felt that they had the opportunity to express their doubt while they were in high school, the higher levels of faith maturity and spiritual maturity [they had].”
“Whether it was with the youth group overall or with a specific adult leader, students who had the opportunity to struggle with tough questions and pain during high school seemed to have a healthier transition into college life,” stated the study by Powell and Krista Kubiak, youth worker and graduate of the Marriage and Family program at Fuller.
And youth workers play a significant part in such conversations involving struggles and tough questions. But in the big picture, youth groups are leaving out any preparations to help students make a successful transition.
“A lot of youth pastors assume everything goes well with those kids [who graduate],” said Powell. “The reality is that the transition into college is a lot tougher.”
Ben Burns of Campus Crusade for Christ had mentioned that the “send-off” of high school seniors to college is not a part of the youth ministry cycle. And the pilot study revealed the consequences of that.
“Nicole” – a church’s common high school small group student – was an active member of her small group for four years. When she went off to college, however, she and the small group leader lost contact. Soon, she dropped out of the church scene. Three years later, the small group leader found Nicole with a nine-month-old son, unmarried and unchurched.
“We all have our students who walked the narrow path in high school but somehow made a U-turn and stumbled, or maybe even sprinted, in the opposite direction,” stated the study.
Thus, Powell joined a host of other youth ministry leaders and college campus groups to form the Guiding Coalition of the Youth Transition Network, which is just beginning to bud. The coalition is a national effort fostering an effective transition for students from high school.
Despite the lack of college preparation tools in youth groups, Powell commented, “We’re amazed at how many churches, denominations, and national ministry organizations are very concerned about how many students are not transitioning well. This project seems to hit a real need.”
The Fuller study was conceived by Dr. Cameron Lee, professor of Marriage and Family, and final results are expected in 2009. Findings will be published along the three-year track and can be found at www.cyfm.net.
One of the most anticipated books of the year – David Kupelian’s blockbuster “The Marketing of Evil” – is now available at WorldNetDaily.
Already receiving wide and enthusiastic acclaim, the book, published by WND Books, is subtitled “How Radicals, Elitists, and Pseudo-Experts Sell Us Corruption Disguised as Freedom.”
According to “The Marketing of Evil,” Americans have come to tolerate, embrace and even champion many things that would have horrified their parents’ generation – from easy divorce and unrestricted abortion-on-demand to extreme body piercing and teaching homosexuality to grade-schoolers. Does that mean today’s Americans are inherently more morally confused and depraved than previous generations? Of course not, says veteran journalist David Kupelian. But they have fallen victim to some of the most stunningly brilliant and compelling marketing campaigns in modern history.
“The Marketing of Evil” reveals how much of what Americans once almost universally abhorred has been packaged, perfumed, gift-wrapped and sold to them as though it had great value. Highly skilled marketers, playing on our deeply felt national values of fairness, generosity and tolerance, have persuaded us to embrace as enlightened and noble that which all previous generations since America’s founding regarded as grossly self-destructive – in a word, evil.
In this groundbreaking and meticulously researched book, Kupelian peels back the veil of marketing-induced deception to reveal exactly when, where, how, and especially why Americans bought into the lies that now threaten the future of the country.
For example, few of us realize that the widely revered father of the “sexual revolution” has been irrefutably exposed as a full-fledged sexual psychopath who encouraged pedophilia. Or that giant corporations voraciously competing for America’s $150 billion teen market routinely infiltrate young people’s social groups to find out how better to lead children into ever more debauched forms of “authentic self-expression.”
Likewise, most of us mistakenly believe the “abortion rights” and “gay rights” movements were spontaneous, grassroots uprisings of neglected or persecuted minorities wanting to breathe free. Few people realize America was actually “sold” on abortion thanks to an audacious public relations campaign that relied on fantastic lies and fabrications. Or that the “gay rights” movement – which transformed America’s former view of homosexuals as self-destructive human beings into their current status as victims and cultural heroes – faithfully followed an in-depth, phased plan laid out by professional Harvard-trained marketers.
No quarter is given in this riveting, insightful exploration of how lies, both subtle and outrageous, are packaged as truth. From the federal government to the public school system to the news media to the hidden creators of “youth culture,” nothing is exempt from the thousand-watt spotlight of Kupelian’s journalistic inquiry.
In the end, “The Marketing of Evil” is an up-close, modern-day look at what is traditionally known as “temptation” – the art and science of making evil look good.
David Kupelian is the managing editor of WorldNetDaily.com, the world’s largest independent news Web site. He is also a popular WND columnist and the driving force behind the acclaimed monthly news magazine Whistleblower.
The official national launch of “The Marketing of Evil” will be Aug. 22, when Kupelian will appear on both “The Sean Hannity Radio Show” and Fox News Channel’s “Hannity & Colmes.” Until then, every copy of “The Marketing of Evil” sold by WND’s online store will be autographed (at no charge) by the author.
‘Important and groundbreaking book’
Already, Kupelian’s book is receiving high praise from his peers:
“David Kupelian dares to tell the truth about the overwhelming forces in our society which take us far away from our original American concept of freedom with responsibility, happiness with commitments, and traditional values. ‘The Marketing of Evil’ is a serious wake-up call for all who cherish traditional values, the innocence of children, and the very existence of our great country.”
– DR. LAURA SCHLESSINGER, talk-show host and author
“It’s often said that marketing is warfare, and in ‘The Marketing of Evil,’ David Kupelian clearly reveals the stunning strategies and tactics of persuasion employed by those engaged in an all-out war against America’s Judeo-Christian culture. If you really want to understand the adversary’s thinking and help turn the tide of battle, read this book!”
– DAVID LIMBAUGH, syndicated columnist and author
“David Kupelian’s research brings into sharp focus what many have sensed and suspected for a long time: The effort to change America’s mind on issues like abortion, homosexuality, church-state separation, and more, is a well-thought-out strategic campaign that uses the methods of Madison Avenue to market rank lies. But the good news is that the truth will eventually win out, and Kupelian’s important and groundbreaking book makes enormous progress toward that end.”
– D. JAMES KENNEDY, Coral Ridge Ministries
“Every parent in America needs to read this book. David Kupelian skillfully exposes the secular left’s rotten apple peddlers in devastating detail. From pitching promiscuity as ‘freedom’ to promoting abortion as ‘choice,’ the marketers of evil are always selling you something destructive – with catastrophic results. Kupelian shines a light on them all. Now watch the cockroaches run for cover.”
– MICHELLE MALKIN, Fox News Channel
“Over just a few years, life in America has become indescribably more squalid, expensive, and dangerous. Like the dazzling disclosures in the final page of a gripping whodunit or the fascinating revelation of a magician’s secrets, ‘The Marketing of Evil’ irresistibly exposes how it was done. It will elicit an involuntary ‘Aha!’ from you as you discover who did it and your soul will soar with optimism as you discover the only way we can undo it. In years to come Americans will acknowledge a debt of gratitude to David Kupelian for his honesty, courage, and laser-like insight in this must-read book.”
– RABBI DANIEL LAPIN, Toward Tradition
“Marketers are out to get America’s youth, and they’ll stop at nothing to do it. In ‘The Marketing of Evil,’ David Kupelian treats parents to a rare insider look at exactly how our children – and adults too – are being lied to, confused, and seduced by radicals and phony experts. The game’s over, folks – the con men have been exposed. I urge every parent to read this eye-opening book.”
– REBECCA HAGELIN, the Heritage Foundation
“Did you ever want to know – I mean really know – how and why America is being transformed from a unified, Judeo-Christian society into a divided, false, murky, neo-pagan culture? Even if you think you know the answers to those questions, in fact, especially if you think you know the answers, you must read David Kupelian’s ‘The Marketing of Evil.’ So clearly does it expose the incredible con game to which Americans have been subjected that it offers real hope – because when our problems come this sharply into focus, so do the solutions.”
– JOSEPH FARAH, WorldNetDaily
“Excellent! Simply excellent. If you want to solidify your Christian worldview – or just understand what the culture war is all about – you owe it yourself to read David Kupelian’s ‘The Marketing of Evil.’”
– DONALD E. WILDMON, American Family Association
SENSITIVITY HAS TAKEN OVER OUR society, and nowhere more securely than in our universities.
To see what has happened, consider this small fact. Half a century ago, a liberal Harvard psychologist, Gordon W. Allport, published a book, The Nature of Prejudice, that began the social science study of stereotypes. Though of course hostile to stereotypes, he allowed they might have a kernel of truth. For example, he said, fewer Jews are drunks than Irish.
A remark like that could not be made at a university today except in private to trusted friends. And if you made it, you would be testing your trust. Jews and Irish, to be sure, are not protected groups, but to speak so frankly even about them would betray a very troubling levity in your attitude toward groups that are protected.
Sensitivity is today’s version of the soft despotism that Alexis de Tocqueville worried about in democracies, and it would not have surprised him that the worst of it would be found in the halls of the intellect. Only in American universities, some 300 of them, from 1987 to 1992, did the movement for sensitivity go so far as to enact semi-legal speech codes proscribing offensive speech. These codes provoked the ire of a few free speech heroes on the campuses and, more important, prompted them to mobilize opposition to the codes and to attempts by university administrators to enforce them.
One of these heroes, Donald Downs, a professor at the University of Wisconsin, has written an account of his own successful coup there, together with accounts of a comparable victory at Pennsylvania and failures at Berkeley and Columbia. He accompanies his narratives with reflections, which are those of an old-fashioned free speech liberal. At first a supporter of speech codes, Downs changed his mind when he saw them in operation. Readers get a chance to judge the virtues and defects of the free speech position in trying circumstances when many liberals abandoned it for sensitivity.
During most of the 20th century, Downs says, threats to free speech came from the right and from outside the universities. But in the late 1960s they began to come from the left, and from within. At that time, Herbert Marcuse set forth his notion of “repressive tolerance,” an attack on the liberal free speech doctrine which claimed that, while pretending to tolerate free speech, liberals actually repressed it. This was because liberals frowned on radicals like Marcuse. Real dissent would have to challenge the whole of liberalism; in fact, the only true dissent is challenging liberalism. Conformist speech defending liberalism is worthless; in fact, so worthless that it can safely be repressed. No, safety demands that it be repressed, and in making a demand, safety is transformed into morality. Morality requires repressing liberalism. Downs calls this “progressive censorship,” and says it is just as detrimental to free universities as traditional censorship from the right.
Thus, “repressive tolerance” has quite a punch in two words. By the late 1980s Marcuse’s thinking had infused liberals and deflected many of them from liberalism into postmodernism, one feature of which is a soft therapeutic notion of sensitivity. Instead of repressing liberalism, let’s make it sensitive. Between the late ‘60s and the late ‘80s feminism came on the scene and embraced sensitivity as the peaceable, womanly way to victory over liberalism.
Downs’s first case is Columbia, which enacted a “sexual misconduct policy” in 2000 to assuage feminist protest there. Many more rape victims were being treated at Columbia’s hospital than rapists convicted in the university judicial system. Columbia’s solution was to make things easier for the accuser and harder for the accused. This policy related to conduct, and was not professedly a speech code.
At Berkeley, home of the Free Speech Movement of the late ‘60s, “progressive social censorship” was applied against opponents of affirmative action (outlawed in California in 1996 by Proposition 209). A series of incidents arising over cartoons in the student newspaper, law school admissions, and protests against visiting speakers created an atmosphere of intimidation, even though it was not formalized in a speech code.
At both universities, intimidation was directed at conservatives. As one Columbia student said, “You can’t be conservative. If you are, you automatically get notoriety and infamy.” Conservatives were not altogether silenced, but they were made to suffer when they spoke up.
At Penn, a harassment code initiated by President Sheldon Hackney was passed in 1987, allegedly covering conduct, not speech. But harassment included stigmatizing speech, as Eden Jacobowitz, a Penn student, found out. In a famous incident in 1993, he shouted “water buffalo” at a group of black sorority women who were disturbing his study, and was then called to account and punished by the university. The conservative Penn historian Alan Kors took up Jacobowitz’s cause and succeeded, after much travail, in exonerating him and getting the code abolished.
In the chapter on Wisconsin, Downs tells the story of his own exploits. In 1989, President Donna Shalala (like Hackney, later a figure in the Clinton administration) established codes for students and faculty that explicitly punished demeaning speech, later called “hate speech.” The student code was abandoned two years later, but the faculty code remained until Downs, a First Amendment liberal, organized its abolition in the faculty senate in 2001. His book tells a harrowing tale featuring a few heroes like himself and Kors (plus William Van Alstyne of Duke, Nat Hentoff of the Village Voice, Dorothy Rabinowitz of the Wall Street Journal, and civil rights lawyer Harvey Silverglate), a few villains such as Hackney and Shalala, their politically correct administrators, and many easily confused or intimidated faculty liberals.
Downs ends on a note of optimism, urging others to learn from what he and his friends accomplished. One can imagine his dismay at the recent spectacle at Harvard this spring, when progressive social censorship was enforced on President Lawrence Summers by the Harvard faculty. Not only was Summers’s speech on why more women do not enter science rejected in substance, but his mere choice of topic and call for inquiry into the matter were declared insensitive. In a secret ballot, he was branded as lacking the confidence of Harvard’s bold faculty. Summers, with his apologies for raising the issue, did not, to say the least, react as did Donald Downs. Summers is no Hackney and no Shalala; but still, he was overcome by the forces of sensitivity. Perhaps Downs would not be so hopeful if he were writing with this incident in view.
Let us honor the conscience of free speech liberalism and the passion to defend free speech that it inspires. But let’s also take a look at two problems—balance and truth—arising as liberalism faces the demand for sensitivity.
Downs ends his book remarking that maintaining free speech in universities is a “delicate balancing act,” but he also says that its defenders need to have the “requisite passion.” The trouble is that passion for free speech cools off in the act of balancing. Passionate defense of free speech is attracted to extremes that test the bounds of the First Amendment and require a valiant effort by the defender to tolerate speech he loathes, as in the promise never quite kept by Voltaire to defend to the death the right of a speaker he disapproves of. This is drama rather than balance. Downs himself had written a book in 1985 on the Nazis in Skokie, concluding that, on balance, racial vilification does not deserve First Amendment protection. He changed his mind, he says, because he came to doubt the ability of university administrators to strike a fair balance.
This was a reasonable doubt of administrators infused with the idea of enforcing sensitivity. But the speech codes that gave the alarm to Downs were not the worst danger to free speech in the universities, nor are they today. Those codes prohibited racial slurs and unwelcome lewd overtures—unpleasant, to be sure, to blacks and women, but hardly posing grave risks. They were interpreted, however, in a spirit of political correctness so as to produce a numbing homogeneity of opinion at our universities, and that spirit has proved very harmful. The idea of sensitivity behind the speech codes also led to political correctness, because it was necessary to decide to whom to be sensitive. Being sensitive to blacks and women gave them the right to be offended when they pleased and to talk back offensively to their tormentors. They did not have to be sensitive except to the insensitivity they were subject to, and they were encouraged to react with indignation whenever they felt they were put upon.
Thus, the notion of sensitivity led to less toleration rather than more. Those not tolerated were, of course, conservatives. The victims Downs tells of were not conservatives (they were mostly naive and nonpolitical) and some of his faculty and student heroes were conservatives. Conservatives were silenced not so much by speech codes as by not being hired for the faculty and not being invited to give talks or lectures on campus. Some conservative speakers were intimidated by protests; but for the most part, conservatives were simply not there and not invited. First Amendment liberals prefer the cause of the embattled and give little thought to the need for a balance of reasonable or respectable opinion in universities. To exaggerate: They will defend you only if they hate you, or if you are being persecuted. The near-total exclusion of conservatives from the faculties of America’s elite universities does not alarm them. The fact that partisan debate outside the universities is freer and livelier than within may be deplorable, but it does not strike them as a free speech issue. They take for granted the willingness of citizens to speak up. They become indignant at the suppression of speech, but worry much less about speech that it never occurs to anyone to express.
A society of free speech needs lively exchange between the parties and not just loud voices from its eccentric fringe—and this is true, too, for universities. For lively exchange you need balance, as it is easy for a dominant majority to be unruffled by dissent when it is only from a token few. One could seek balance by declaring partisan opinion to be academically irrelevant, as when President Robert Sproul at Berkeley in the 1930s (Downs notes) banned the use of university buildings for partisan purposes. Many social scientists in universities follow a similar logic when they adopt the fact/value distinction: “My science is over here and my values are over there; there’s no connection!” The fact that most all of us are liberals, and hardly any conservative, is therefore irrelevant. Science is what matters, and that is impartial.
This attitude coexists at universities today with the opposite, postmodern view that science is only a mask of impartiality to conceal the partisan exercise of power. True impartiality being impossible, in this view, we should embrace partiality and politicize the university. Either way, whether from positivism or postmodernism, conservatives lose out. They are not necessary to be heard, and if they are heard, they do harm to progressive causes.
Mention of progress brings up the second problem for free speech liberals, the problem of truth. Liberals stand for progress and, for self-protection, sometimes call themselves progressives. They also stand for diversity and speak of it constantly. Yet progress is hostile to diversity, especially to the diversity that conservatives represent. Progress is progress in truth, in the overcoming of prejudice such as racism, sexism, and homophobia. By identifying and refuting prejudice, progress establishes the reign of truth and narrows the range of acceptable opinions. What, then, is to be done about conservatives who hold these prejudices? Today, conservatives do not, or no longer, hold to racial prejudice, and anyone who does has been banished from responsible discussion. But is it the same for sexism and homophobia? Has debate on these matters been foreclosed, and does it deserve to be?
If liberals agree that one can still believe in sex differences and in the superiority of heterosexual life, they then consent to diversity and admit that conservatism in these respects is respectable. If they do, however, they set limits to progress in truth, or in the spread of truth. They justify a society balanced between liberals and conservatives, the party of progress and the party of order, as John Stuart Mill called them. But this seems to be a society of truth and untruth, permanently divided, which prevents the triumph of truth, of liberalism.
How can liberals accept that? Or respect it? Mill says that truth will become dead dogma if it is not challenged by opposing views, which is his reason for tolerating conservatives. But the problem is that if truth is systematically challenged, it will not be paramount. Diversity will replace truth.
This problem is more acute in universities as opposed to society in general, because universities are dedicated to the pursuit of truth. Downs notes that the difference between free speech and academic freedom is that the latter, unlike the former, relates to truth. A society can have free speech, pace the ACLU, if it does not challenge its own basic presuppositions, like those in the Declaration of Independence. But a university must, in pursuit of truth, hold those presuppositions open to inquiry. To carry out such inquiry, a university would seem to have greater need of diversity than a society. A university would not want to foreclose questions that a society might consider settled.
Conservatism is therefore closer to the mission of the university than liberalism is. Liberals, insofar as they are progressives, believe that it is possible to eliminate prejudice from society. When prejudice is gone, truth prevails, and there is no need to reconsider the errors of the past. Progress is irrevocable, and inquiry shrinks to whatever questions remain unsettled. Conservatives, believing that it is not possible to eliminate prejudice, are more tolerant than liberals; they expect society to be, and remain, a mixture of truth and untruth. Conservatives may be prejudiced themselves, or they may be just tolerant of prejudice in others. If society will always be a mixture of truth and untruth, it may be necessary to see what sort of untruth is politically compatible with truth, and what sort is not.
This is the problem we face in judging the civil rights of terrorists, a problem Downs alludes to but does not discuss. We surely do not need speech codes to hobble conservatives—they should be listened to!—but we may well need measures to suppress the preaching of Islamic terrorists. There we have true hate speech composed of hateful ideas, and as a conservative once said, ideas have consequences.
But Downs points out that the idea of sensitivity erodes the difference between speaking and doing. The function of speech comes to be preserving the self-esteem of those spoken to, rather than addressing them; and sexual harassment, a certain behavior, comes to include words found offensive.
Harvey Mansfield is professor of government at Harvard.
Author shares harsh campus realities, urges parents to pull children
The man who helped push the issue of public education onto the national agenda of the Southern Baptist Convention has written a new book that blows the lid off government schools, showing parents the kind of worldview and values their children are influenced by 180 days a year.
Bruce Shortt, author of “The Harsh Truth About Public Schools,” presents myriad reasons why government institutions are failing America’s children and thumbing their noses at parents with a religious worldview.
As WorldNetDaily reported, last year Shortt helped spearhead an unsuccessful effort to have the Southern Baptist Convention pass a resolution urging its members to remove their children from public school.
In “The Harsh Truth About Public Schools,” Shortt, writing from a biblical perspective, presents rigorous research about the agenda and effect of government schooling on the nation’s young people.
Shortt especially wants to educate Christian parents, millions of whom send their kids off to public school every day.
“Contrary to what many Christians have been led to believe, there is no such thing as a ‘neutral’ education,” Shortt writes. “All education is religious and conveys a worldview, and there is no more important decision that we make as parents than how we educate our children.”
Continues Shortt: “Unfortunately, Christian parents allow an aggressively anti-Christian institution to form the minds of their children, and the fruit of that choice is bitter. The overwhelming majority of children from evangelical families leave the church within two years after they graduate from high school; only 9% of evangelical teens believe that there is any such thing as absolute moral truth; and, our children are being forcibly indoctrinated to believe that homosexual behavior is acceptable.”
While Shortt wants Christian parents who use the government schools to read the book, he also encourages homeschooling parents to read it.
“Homeschool parents must have this book to minister to their Christian friends and neighbors, pastors and skeptical relatives. Our government-school habit is sowing the wind, and unless Christians turn from this gross sin we will reap a whirlwind that is unimaginable,” Shortt says.
In the book, Shortt documents the pitfalls of public schools, saying the anti-Christian thrust of the governmental school system produces inevitable results: “moral relativism (no fixed standards), academic dumbing down, far-left programs, near absence of discipline and the persistent but pitiable rationalizations offered by government education professionals.”
Shortt also urges pastors to read the book so they might “understand why the church can no longer abdicate its historic role in the education of our children.”
Says Short: “‘The Harsh Truth About Public Schools’ makes it clear why no Christian child should be left behind in government schools. Our Christian children are perishing because parents and pastors lack knowledge. The information in this book exposes the ‘salt and light’ and the ‘our schools are different’ rationalizations for educating Christian children in pagan schools for the contemptible falsehoods they are.
“Any parent or pastor who genuinely desires to be faithful in the education of Christian children needs to find out what the public schools are actually doing, rather than relying on what they are saying they are doing or on memories of the public schools as they may have existed 10, 20 or 30 years ago.”
Shortt makes his argument by citing a school district in Texas.
“There is no public school district in the country that has more Christians in the community or in the schools than that of Plano, Texas,” he said. “In fact, the largest and most powerful church in the state of Texas, Prestonwood Baptist, is located in Plano. Yet, it took a court order to force the Plano schools to allow Christian school children to privately give classmates Christmas gifts that had a Christian message. Moreover, the school district had even prohibited schoolchildren from bringing red and green napkins to the school ‘holiday’ parties for fear the colors might remind someone of Christmas.
“The truth is that the public school policy and curriculum decisions that matter to Christians are not made locally. They are largely dictated by federal and state court decisions, federal and state legislation and regulations, and the teachers’ union and other professional associations connected with the public schools.”
But what about reforming the public schools? Isn’t that a solution?
Responds Shortt: “Public schools cannot be reformed to provide a Christian education, and the evidence is overwhelming that even conventional secular reforms to reinstate traditional academic and moral standards will continue to fail. But even if you think that we should nevertheless try to reinstate traditional academic and moral standards in the schools, taking your children out is the most effective thing you can do to help the children whose parents have left them behind in the public schools. Only the threat of a collapse of the entire public school system offers even the remotest prospect of positive change. Traditional reform efforts are a waste of time.
“Even if you believe that there is nothing wrong with institutionalizing Christian children in public schools, you need to read this book because you may be wrong. Remember, you only get one chance to educate your children. There are no do-overs.”
A new study of K-12 Christian schools shows that Protestant Christian schools do a better job of developing their students’ spiritual formation while Catholic Christian schools do a better job developing their students’ intellect.
These are among the findings of a two-year study of Christian schools in the United States conducted by Cardus, a Christian think tank.
Catholic school students have better academic outcomes, are more likely to attend prestigious colleges, more likely to achieve an advanced degree and have higher income levels as a result. This is consistent with the goals of Catholic schools. Catholic school administrators place much emphasis on academic achievement and Catholic schools have more rigorous course requirements than Protestant schools.
Catholic school graduates do not embrace Catholic social teaching at high rates, however. They are just as likely to divorce as public school graduates. Also, they are not more likely to attend religious services, and they are less likely to become leaders in their church than those who did not attend a Catholic school.
Protestant school graduates, on the other hand, lagged in academic development compared to Catholic school graduates, but were more likely to live out the social teaching of their schools. They show more commitment to their families, church and communities than those who graduated from Catholic, non-religious private, and public schools.
“Catholic schools are providing high quality intellectual development but at the expense of developing faith and commitment to religious practices in their graduates, while Protestant Christian schools are seemingly providing a place where students become distinct in their commitment to their faith, but are not developing academically at any better rate than their public school peers,” the Cardus Education Survey concludes.
The survey also acknowledges that its findings contradict popular images of Protestant schools.
“In contrast to the popular stereotype of Protestant Christian schools producing socially fragmented, anti-intellectual, politically radical, and militantly right-wing graduates, our data reveal a very different picture of the Protestant Christian school graduate. Compared to their public school, Catholic school, and non-religious private school peers, Protestant Christian school graduates have been found to be uniquely compliant, generous individuals who stabilize their communities by their uncommon and distinctive commitment to their families, their churches, and their communities, and by their unique hope and optimism about their lives and the future,” the Cardus Education Survey says.
The survey also contains a “discussion” section where the authors explore the significance of the findings for Christian school administrators. “As encouraging as those findings are, we wonder if Christian schools might yet be able to impact culture more directly without losing the effect of stable families,” the authors ask, and they pose 13 questions for Christian school administrators to consider in light of the findings.
They ask, for instance, “What if Christian school leaders were more audacious in their goals, expecting students to be unwaveringly committed both to their families and to being a part of culture through politics, the arts, and the world of ideas?” and “What if Christian schools would inspire students to develop a ‘whole gospel’ mindset – reverence for creation, acknowledgment of the fall, worship of the Redeemer, and a taste for restoration – rather than a more narrowly-focused understanding of Biblical roles as husbands, wives, fathers, mothers?”
The Cardus Education Survey represents phase one of a two phase project. In phase two, Cardus will facilitate discussion and events to help schools utilize the data from phase one.
The survey used both quantitative and qualitative research methods. The surveys were Knowledge Networks internet surveys conducted over two years by the University of Notre Dame and included approximately 1,000 Christian school graduates, and 500 non-Christian school graduates in the U.S. and Canada. Three separate qualitative studies were conducted using both interviews and focus groups.
Over 2 million children are being homeschooled in the United States, a new study finds.
The National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) has released a study that estimates that there were 2.040 million K to 12 homeschooled students – or 4percent of all school-aged children – in the United States in the spring of 2010.
“The growth of the modern homeschool movement has been remarkable,” commented Michael Smith, president of Home School Legal Defense Association, which contributed data for the research. “Just 30 years ago there were only an estimated 20,000 homeschooled children.”
Research author Dr. Brian D. Ray arrived at the figure after looking at data collected from state and federal education agencies and private home school organizations. According to the study, he has high confidence that the true number of homeschooled children lies between 1.735 million and 2.346 million.
Ray notes in the study that he expects a “notable surge” in the number of homeschooled students in the next five to 10 years as those who were educated at home in the 1990s begin to homeschool their own children.
Contrary to the stereotype that homeschooling provides inferior academic preparation than public schools, another recently released study showed that homeschooled children outperform their peers before and during college.
In a study entitled “Exploring Academic Outcomes of Homeschooled Students,” which covered homeschoolers at a mid-sized college in the upper Midwest, homeschoolers were shown to do better on AP tests, get high GPAs and achieve a higher graduation rate than students of public schools.
During their fourth year at college, homeschooled students earned an average GPA of3.46 when other seniors on average received a 3.1GPA.
While 66.7% of homeschooled students graduate college, a lower percentage of their counterparts, 57.5%, earn a college degree.
Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states but some states have more strict regulations on the conditions for homeschooling than others.
The New Hampshire Supreme Court is set to hear a custody case on Thursday involving a homeschooled girl that was ordered by a state judge to enter public school after a guardian ad litem testified that the girl vigorously defended her Christians beliefs.
Her mother, Brenda A. Kurowski, is appealing the judge’s order on appeal.
“Parents have a fundamental right to make educational choices for their children,” said John Anthony Simmons, an Alliance Defense Fund-allied attorney representing the girl’s mother.
“Courts can settle disputes, but they cannot legitimately order a child into a government-run school on the basis that her religious views need to be mixed with other views.”
HSLDA, which has filed a friend-to-the-court brief in the case, has said that if the trial court ruling is not overturned, it could set a precedent where public schools would always be favored over homeschooling in custody disputes.
By Dr. Tony Beam
What do Eastern Michigan University and Augusta State University have in common? They both recently demonstrated how important it is for the political left to defend diversity even at the expense of being diverse.
Julea Ward didn’t need another degree. She had already earned two master’s degrees along with the respect of her colleagues at a high school near her home of Belleville, Michigan. While working with teenagers, she was struck by the weight of the problems they faced and she wanted to help. When a student would come to her with a sad demeanor, Julea would invite them to stay after class to talk about their problems. She enjoyed the discussions, believing she was making a difference just by listening and trying to impart some of the wisdom passed on to her by her mother. After awhile, she realized her desire to teach was being eclipsed by her passion for counseling. So, she decided to go back to school for another master’s degree so she would be qualified to become a licensed, full-time counselor.
She entered Eastern Michigan University where she quickly demonstrated her skill in the classroom by earning a 3.91 GPA and by offering thoughtful, respectful, but sometimes controversial thoughts to the discussions. When one of her professors suggested students who didn’t embrace EMU’s views on homosexuality should be weeded out of the program, Julea raised her voice. Her Christian worldview would not allow her to remain silent in the face of teaching that completely ignored the possibility that the Bible is right concerning the sin of homosexuality.
But when she voiced her convictions she was branded a “homophobe” by one professor while another openly mocked her beliefs. Some of the students in the classroom would privately admit they agreed with her perspective but they refused to speak out for fear of what would happen to their grades.
Julea decided to weather the storm, believing her ability to excel academically and her overall good rapport with the professors would help her navigate the rough waters caused by the clash of worldviews.
She was wrong.
At the beginning of her practicum, one of the final courses needed for her degree, Julea was given an appointment with a client who was seeking counsel concerning a homosexual relationship. Realizing she couldn’t violate her conscious by either confirming or ignoring the issues of homosexuality, she asked her advisor if she should refer the client right away or meet with client and risk breaking any established rapport if she had to refer the client later. The advisor adamantly told her she should assign the client to another counselor immediately.
In counseling, when the personal convictions of the counselor contradict the potential counseling expectations of a client a “value-based conflict” is created. It happens often in the counseling profession and it is usually addressed by simply referring the client to a different counselor…that is exactly what Julea did.
Shortly after referring her client, she was notified that there would be an “informal review” to evaluate whether or not she could continue in the program. The reason? She was accused of refusing to meet with a client because the person was a homosexual. The problem is, Julea never said she wouldn’t meet with the client. She simply stated she could not in good conscience affirm a client’s homosexuality and she was encouraged by her advisor to refer the client. So, for following the advice of her advisor and for following exactly what her textbooks taught her to do when a “value-based conflict” arises, she was subjected to what amounted to a faculty inquisition.
When it was all over, she was given three choices: 1) take part in a remediation program designed to change her “belief system,” 2) withdraw voluntarily from the master’s program, or 3) request a formal review hearing. Julea choose door number three and once again endured the grilling of a panel of professors without having the benefit of friends or legal support. Although she had followed the proper and accepted procedure the University removed her from the master’s program.
Julea filed suit in federal court. The Alliance Defense Fund represented her arguing that “Christian students shouldn’t be expelled for holding to and abiding by their beliefs.” But U.S. District Judge George Caram Steech dismissed her lawsuit ruling, “The University has a rational basis for requiring students to counsel clients without imposing their personal values.”
So, according to Judge Steech, the University can impose its values on Julea but her values have to go. This is typical left wing thinking where value imposition is only possible when the values being imposed are based on objective truth.
I wish I could comfort myself with the idea that Julea Ward’s case is an isolated example of an overzealous secular attitude toward Christianity, which is often on display in places like Michigan, Washington, and California. But Jennifer Keeton would disagree. She was recently removed from the master’s program in counseling at Augusta State University in Georgia. The reason? You guessed it…she refused to change her views on homosexuality. The thought police at Augusta State went so far as to demand that Miss Keeton attend a gay pride parade and attend sensitivity classes on homosexuality where she would be required to submit monthly reports on her progress in changing her beliefs. Miss Keeton is also headed to court.
“Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:14-16 NASV).
URBANA, Ill. — The University of Illinois has fired an adjunct professor who taught courses on Catholicism after a student accused the instructor of engaging in hate speech by saying he agrees with the church’s teaching that homosexual sex is immoral.
The professor, Ken Howell of Champaign, said his firing violates his academic freedom. He also lost his job at an on-campus Catholic center.
Howell, who taught Introduction to Catholicism and Modern Catholic Thought, says he was fired at the end of the spring semester after sending an e-mail explaining some Catholic beliefs to his students preparing for an exam.
“Natural Moral Law says that Morality must be a response to REALITY,” he wrote in the e-mail. “In other words, sexual acts are only appropriate for people who are complementary, not the same.”
An unidentified student sent an e-mail to religion department head Robert McKim on May 13, calling Howell’s e-mail “hate speech.” The student claimed to be a friend of the offended student. The writer said in the e-mail that his friend wanted to remain anonymous.
“Teaching a student about the tenets of a religion is one thing,” the student wrote. “Declaring that homosexual acts violate the natural laws of man is another.”
Howell said he was teaching his students about the Catholic understanding of natural moral law.
“My responsibility on teaching a class on Catholicism is to teach what the Catholic Church teaches,” Howell said in an interview with The News-Gazette in Champaign. “I have always made it very, very clear to my students they are never required to believe what I’m teaching and they’ll never be judged on that.”
Howell also said he makes clear to his students that he’s Catholic and that he believes the church views that he teaches.
McKim referred questions to university spokeswoman Robin Kaler, who said she couldn’t comment on Howell or his firing because it’s a personnel issue.
According to the university’s Academic Staff Handbook, faculty “are entitled to freedom in the classroom in developing and discussing according to their areas of competence the subjects that they are assigned.”
In an e-mail to other school staff, Ann Mester, an associate dean at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said Howell’s e-mail justified his firing.
“The e-mails sent by Dr. Howell violate university standards of inclusivity, which would then entitle us to have him discontinue his teaching arrangement with us,” Mester wrote.
Cary Nelson, president of the American Association of University Professors, said professors should be able to tell students their own views and even argue in favor of them, provided students can disagree without being penalized.
“It’s part of intellectual life to advocate for points of view,” said Nelson, an emeritus English professor at the University of Illinois. “Hopefully when they go out in the world, they can emulate that. They can argue a case, and do it in a well-informed and articulate way, and can make a more productive contribution to our democracy that way.”
Howell has taught at the university for nine years, and was recognized by his department in 2008 and 2009 for being rated an excellent teacher by students.
He said he and McKim disagree on religious views and believes he lost his job over “just a very, very deep disagreement about the nature of what should be taught and what should not be taught.”
After he lost his teaching job, Howell also was fired as director of the St. John’s Catholic Newman Center’s Institute of Catholic Thought. The on-campus center directed questions to the Diocese of Peoria, which had paid for his position.
Patricia Gibson, an attorney and chancellor of the diocese, said Howell was let go because he could no longer teach at the university.
“We are very concerned and very distressed by what we understand is the situation from Dr. Howell,” she said. The diocese hopes to discuss the situation with someone at the university, she said.
A Christian legal defense group, The Alliance Defense Fund, said it is considering helping Howell.
A proposed plan to teach kindergartners sex education has come under fire in Helena, Montana.
The Helena Public School system is considering a comprehensive plan for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. It includes teaching first graders that people can be attracted to the same gender. In second grade students are instructed to avoid gay slurs and by the time students turn 10 years old they are taught about various types of intercourse.
According to the draft proposal obtained by FOX News Radio, fifth graders should “understand that sexual intercourse includes but is not limited to vaginal, oral, or anal penetration.”
Jeff Laszloffy, of the Montana Family Foundation, is among those outraged that educators want to teach sex education to kindergarteners.
“It’s absolutely insane,” Laszloffy told FOX News Radio. “This is not education. This has crossed the line and has gone from education to indoctrination and that’s the problem parents have.”
What do liberal lawmakers in California share with their conservative counterparts in Texas? Very little. But this week both are watching the 15 member Texas State Board of Education, which will choose the next generation of history textbooks for most American children.
The left-right culture war will play out over the choice of words, photos, who to honor and what events in American and world history should receive a few lines of text. It may sound innocent, when it is anything but.
Years of research, months of editing, hundreds of hours of debate will be boiled down into a single document – a statement of curricula – that will define the parameters followed by virtually every social studies textbook and test for students from kindergarten to through 8th grade for the next decade.
The battle lines are drawn. On one side are conservatives, who contend academia has been hijacked by liberals. A point supported by studies that show 90% of humanities teachers identify themselves as Democrats.
And nowhere is their bias more visible than the one-sided treatment of American history in U.S. textbooks, where words like ‘man’ and ‘mankind’ have been stricken, ‘Founding Fathers’ has been replaced by ‘Framers’ and ‘Founders’ and racial quota’s are applied to the number of photos used in any one book.
“The liberal extreme groups aren’t interested in balance. They want the standards one-sided, that only fits them,” says Jonathan Saenz of the right leaning Liberty Institute. “The other side’s not interested in the truth. And the reality is, they have this mission of distortion and confusion because they have a political agenda. And they’re not really interested in the content. They’re interested in changing the political demographics.”
In the last two years the board, composed of 10 Republicans and 5 Democrats, has been led by 7 influential social conservatives. By the end of this week, the board will have finished rewriting curriculum standards for three key subject areas – English, science and now, social studies.
Liberals contend the board is out of touch and the block of social conservatives have manipulated the process to reflect teachings out of the mainstream.
“They have politicized the textbook process. And I think that our schoolchildren deserve better than politicizing it,” Terri Burke, Texas ACLU Executive Director. “We really believe this curriculum should be turned over to experts who know something about history, about education, about the learning levels of schoolchildren. We ought to have people who really know it being the ones who write it and vet it and tell us that this is what kiddos oughta learn.”
In California, a key state Senate Committee passed a bill Tuesday designed to prohibit any textbook approved in Texas to be used in the Golden State.
“While some Texas politicians may want to set their educational standards back 50 years, California should not be subject to their backward curriculum changes,” said Leland Yee, D-San Francisco. “The alterations and fallacies made by these extremist conservatives are offensive to our communities and inaccurate of our nation’s diverse history. Our kids should be provided an education based on facts and that embraces our multicultural nation.”
A new study by the National Association of Scholars has found that 70% of the summer reading books assigned to incoming college freshmen in the U.S. show a liberal bias and are not academically challenging, setting off a storm of debate in educational circles.
The report, “Beach Books: What Do Colleges Want Students to Read Outside Class?”, surveyed 290 colleges and categorized their summer reading lists in broad terms, such as “multiculturalism, immigration and racism” (the most common category chosen by colleges), or “environmentalism, animal rights and food” (the second largest liberal category selected by colleges). The study found that “the choices by and large reflect leftist political perspectives.”
“Even where the books themselves may convey more complex social views, most of the books on the list fit neatly with the agenda of the campus left: anti-Western, anti-business, multicultural, environmentalist and alienated. The books do signal what lies ahead for students in many colleges: a four-year program of more of the same,” the report concluded.
The study did not look at the alleged bias of the assigned books individually, according to NAS spokeswoman Ashley Thorne, who helped create the list. “We looked at what the books were about,” she said, and then categorized the general subject as either liberal or conservative.
“Only 2% of the books were considered conservative,” she said.
The study also found that the selection of books focused heavily on “pop culture and sports and not core curriculum,” which is where Thorne argued higher education should be going.
“They were not intellectually challenging,” she said.
The report also argued that “the current reading programs take little interest in the classics.” It found that there were no works by Shakespeare or from the Renaissance and that ancient works were completely ignored. Of the 290 assignments by colleges, only five schools came close to assigning classics, according to the report. Those “classics” were: Frankenstein, The Communist Manifesto, Walden and the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn — which was assigned by two colleges.
But educators argue that classics are curriculum material best studied in the classroom, and that students are unlikely to read Rousseau over the summer. They argue that popular books not only build common ground, but help students learn to write better than the textbooks and classics they will be required to read in their courses
The NAS’s use of broad-brush categories also came under widespread criticism from educators. John K. Wilson, an Illinois educator who writes the College Freedom blog, said that the most assigned book was “This I Believe,” a collection of statements of what people believe by a wide array of contributors that could hardly be considered liberal or conservative.
“It doesn’t appear that anyone at NAS has read the book,” he said.
He also challenged the inclusion of “Persepolis,” a graphic novel about the brutal dictatorship in Iran, as liberal, and the failure to list “Freakonomics,” a libertarian book about economics, as conservative.
The report also came under fire from the Chronicle of Higher Education, the major magazine of the academic world, according to an editor who works there and asked not to be named.
“Is that a report, or is it a PR stunt?” Mike Caufield posted on the Chronicle’s website. “Once you look at the methodology of the report and look at the organization releasing it, the story here is apparently ‘Right Wing Organization thinks summer reading is too liberal, according to self-devised classification system.’”
Caufield charged NAS’s funding by the Sarah Scaife Foundation, a Pittsburgh-based funder of conservative causes since the 1980s, and its public opposition to multiculturalism and affirmative action created a bias in the study that made it useless. As another poster wrote, “Does being ‘conservative’ really mean active support for pollution and animal suffering? Not only is this insulting to the concept of conservatism, it is nonsensical.”
But Peter Wood, president of NAS, stood by his group’s report, saying, “Something is wrong when Frankenstein is the best book on the list; the only work of philosophy is The Communist Manifesto; and books on Africa outnumber books on Europe nearly six to one.”
Critics say the board, which influences textbooks around the country, is playing politics with the students’ education, but conservatives say they simply are counteracting liberal bias from years of Democrats controlling the board.
The Texas State Board of Education’s closely watched debate over how to teach social studies and history to the states’ students for the next decade culminated Friday in two votes — one approving the high school curriculum and another approving the curriculum for kindergarten through eight grade.
Both votes fell along party lines.
Critics say that is the problem, that conservatives on the board are playing politics with students’ education. And Texas has large influence over how the same subjects are taught around the country, because textbook publishers who often develop materials for other states based on those approved in Texas.
But conservatives say they simply are counteracting liberal bias from years of Democrats controlling the board.
The ideological debate over the guidelines, which drew intense scrutiny beyond Texas, will be used to teach some 4.8 million Texas students for the next 10 years. Teachers in the Lone Star state have latitude in deciding which material to teach.
The board took separate votes on standards for high schools and kindergarten through eighth grades. The final vote was 9-5 on each set of standards.
The debate has brought national attention, including testimony from educators, civil rights leaders and a former U.S. education secretary.
The ideological dispute contributed to the defeat of one of the board’s most outspoken conservatives, Chairman Don McLeroy, in the March state Republican primary.
In final edits leading up to the vote, conservatives rejected language to modernize the classification of historic periods to B.C.E. and C.E. from the traditional B.C. and A.D. They also required that public school students in Texas evaluate efforts by global organizations such as the United Nations to undermine U.S. sovereignty.
During the months-long process of creating the guidelines, conservatives successfully strengthened the requirements on teaching the Judeo-Christian influences of the nation’s Founding Fathers and attempted to water down rationale for the separation of church and state.
The standards will refer to the U.S. government as a “constitutional republic,” rather than “democratic,” and students will be required to study the decline in the value of the U.S. dollar, including the abandonment of the gold standard.
Conservatives say the Texas history curriculum has been unfairly skewed to the left after years of Democrats controlling the board.
Educators have blasted the proposed curriculum for politicizing education. Teachers also have said the document is too long and will force students to memorize lists of names rather than thinking critically.
Who’s more important: Christopher Columbus or John Smith?
Clara Barton or Ruby Bridges?
Ruby Bridges or Dolores Huerta?
Is the story of Nathan Hale too gruesome for first graders?
Will history books refer to the 44th American president as Barack Obama, Barack H. Obama or Barack Hussein Obama?
Late into the night, the Texas Board of Education considered these and other questions for the state’s social studies curriculum. The debate has set off a culture war, pitting conservatives against democrats in a battle that attracted 40,000 e mails from parents, teachers and academics from around the nation.
The curriculum covers grades kindergarten through high school, and yet after 12 hours of debate the board had only just begun talking about its biggest challenge – high school standards – at 9 p.m. Thursday.
All day long the board dropped, added and swapped the names of historical figures and events into and out of the standards. It began with 1st graders. John Smith was dropped, as was Nathan Hale, not because he wasn’t important, but because, according to one teacher, ‘the kids couldn’t get past the hanging.’
Despite deep political differences, the debate remained polite until the topic focused on President Obama. Then it got personal. Lawrence Allen, a black former high school principal from Houston offered a motion to enter President Barack Obama’s name in a section of the curriculum that recognized significant dates in U.S. History.
David Bradley, a white businessman from Beaumont, motioned that the president’s legal name should be used, Barack Hussein Obama. “I think we give him the full honor and privilege of his full name.”
“I am getting pretty fed up with this,” said Democrat Mary Helen Berlanger. “You don’t have to be derogatory. We don’t always put in Jefferson in William Jefferson Clinton.”
“The intent behind what you are doing I think is pretty obvious,” said Republican Bob Craig.
“This is our first black president,” said board member Mavis Knight, who is black. “You are making it sound humiliating.”
“I ask the member to withdraw the motion and move forward in a dignified manner,” said Democrat Rick Agusto.
Bradley did, but said under his breath, he did so, “to put an end to the whining.”
Knight shot back, “I don’t consider it whining.”
Moments later Craig motioned to add Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor to a list of women who have made significant contributions. It passes, but another motion weakens the language, by changing the wording. Instead of study that “includes” women like Sotomayor, the standards now reads women “such as” her.
Berlanger bristled again. “I have been listening all night to you add names” but the board can’t include her.
At 12:10 a.m. the meeting adjourned, 15 hours after it began, with the board giving preliminary approval to the U.S. History since 1877 curriculum. The so called Block of Seven, a group of social conservatives won almost every battle they fought, strengthening the study of the Founding Fathers, free enterprise, eugenics, the extent of Soviet spies during the cold war that helped explain the ‘Red Scare’ and motivate Sen. Joseph McCarthy.
They also succeeded in including study of the Black Panthers during discussion of the Civil Rights Era, the internment of Germans and Italians, as well as the Japanese during WWII, and the economics standards now require teachers to consider the “solvency” of entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare.
By Charles Lewis
The social conservative leaders who led the charge against Ontario’s now-postponed overhaul of the province’s sex-education curriculum were among many who had complaints about the explicit nature of some of the subject matter, and the young age of some of the children who would be taught it.
But the leaders went a lot further with their concerns, charging the reforms were part of a larger political agenda to make homosexuality more acceptable to society and to influence young children to “practise” homosexuality.
Charles McVety and Brian Rushfeldt, both representing conservative Christian groups, raised warnings this week about Ontario’s new Health and Physical Education Curriculum for Grades 1-8, saying it would corrupt children and society. They were calling for a one-day boycott of students and a massive demonstration at Queen’s Park.
But yesterday, Dalton McGunity, the Ontario Premier, said he was putting the plan on hold for further study and wider consultation.
The new plan, which would have come into effect in September, would have introduced discussions about gender identity and same-sex relationships in Grade 3, masturbation in Grade 6 and the dangers of oral, vaginal and anal sex in Grade 7, as well as descriptions of safe-sex practices.
Mr. McVety, president of Canada Christian College in Toronto, said the curriculum must be seen in the larger context of liberal social engineering. “It’s not about this curriculum, it’s about changing the culture in our schools, Mr. McVety said. “We warned the country about this when same-sex marriage came in. We changed the laws in this country, redefined marriage, the end result now this is coming into our classrooms.
“This is part of a militant homosexual agenda to normalize homosexuality in everyone’s mind and thereby promote homosexuality. If we teach our children these things ... guess what? That’s what they’ll practice.”
A number of religious groups — from Catholics to evangelical Christians — have also raised concerns about the new curriculum, though few have been as vocal as Mr. McVety and Mr. Rushfeldt in suggesting it would bring social corruption.
“This was an attempt to shape society and young minds,” said Mr. Rushfeldt, of the Calgary-based Canada Family Action Coalition. “And to shift society away from the concept of male-female and husband-wife. They want to make society believe that two men and two women having sex is normal.”
Mr. Rushfeldt and others also pointed out that introducing “gender identity” — the idea that someone look like one sex on the outside but feel like the opposite sex — would create confusion and anxiety in young children. But Mr. Rushfeldt believed there was an additional agenda of indoctrination.
“They’re trying to ingrain in children a concept that society has never accepted before and that’s why they’re looking to children. Clearly they are trying to teach children so they can shape them at a young age.”
However, a spokesman for the Ministry of Education said this week that the subject of gender identity was simply a way to help students understand the world around them.
“This is not a how-to,” Michelle Despault said. “This is not teaching kids a way of being. This is teaching kids information they need to know for their health and well-being. So the expectation is to understand differences and what makes different people unique.
“Some of those differences in our society are around sexual orientation.”
Questions about the teaching of homosexuality in classrooms are particularly sensitive in Catholic schools, and there was controversy this week over whether they would have had to follow the new plan.
Mr. McGuinty said that Catholic schools in Ontario would have had to follow the new curriculum as written. However, the Ontario Association of Catholic Bishops stated that Catholic schools have the constitutional right to rewrite any policy that goes against Catholic teaching. That idea was also confirmed by a spokesman for the Ministry of Education earlier in the week.
Sister Joan Cronin, of the Institute for Catholic Education, which helps shape Catholic teaching across the province, said Catholic schools already have a teaching on homosexuality, which is taught in Grade 8.
The Catholic Catechism does teach that homosexual behaviour is “objectively disordered” but she said that concept is too complex to be introduced to students.
“What we say is that every person, gay or straight, is created in the image of God and deserves respect. But while the Church supports gay people it does not support homosexual acts or lifestyles.”
She added it would be wrong to introduce Grade 3 students to complex notions of gender identity, not because it would do them harm, but because the children would have no interest in what was being taught.
“You’re presenting them with information they haven’t even asked questions about.”
She did not believe that the province had an agenda or ulterior motives for presenting the new curriculum and that it was done with the best of intentions. [KH: perhaps, just used by the devil]
“I have great regard for the educators at the Ministry of Education. I would say from their point of view they would have widely researched the topics and received vast research before they would design that program. The would have done it with the best research available.”
By R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
Uwe and Hannelore Romeike may have been considered outside the norms of civil society in their native Germany, but not in Morristown, Tennessee, where they and their five children now live. The Romeikes are homeschoolers who are determined to provide the education for their children, ranging in age from two to twelve. In Morristown, that is about as controversial as bass fishing, but in Germany it is a crime.
The Romeike’s tale is big news today, with both TIME Magazine and The New York Times devoting major stories to their plight, and to the fact that a federal immigration judge in Memphis granted them asylum — and homeschooling is the reason.
As Campbell Robertson reports in today’s edition of The New York Times, the Romeike’s determination to homeschool their children ran into direct collision with German laws banning the practice: “Among European countries, Germany is nearly alone in requiring, and enforcing, attendance of children at an officially recognized school. The school can be private or religious, but it must be a school. Exceptions can be made for health reasons but not for principled objections.”
The Romeikes are described in the paper as “devout Christians” who decided to homeschool their children after they became concerned about both behavioral and curricular issues in the German state schools. A fellow church member alerted them to the possibility of homeschooling, and the Romeikes determined that homeschooling is right for their children.
It was not long before they were threatened with prosecution, fines, and the possible removal of their children from the home. The couple was fined over $11,000 and threatened with losing custody of their children. At one point, the Romeike home was visited by the police, who took the Romeike children to school in a police van.
The Romeikes decided to act before losing their children, and after meeting an official from the Home School Defense Fund, based in Virginia, they moved their family to Morristown, Tennessee, where another German family had recently moved for the same reason.
Upon arriving in the United States, the Romeikes filed for asylum, claiming that they and their family were under threat of persecution due to their Christian convictions concerning homeschooling. Judge Lawrence O. Burman agreed with the couple, declaring them to be under threat of persecution in Germany due to their “principled opposition to government policy.”
Indeed, it is Judge Burman’s decision that has brought attention to the Romeike case. Most observers believe that this case may be the very first in which a judge has ruled for asylum on the basis of a determination to homeschool. Judge Burman also found that homeschooling parents are “members of a particular group” experiencing the threat of persecution in Germany.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement has appealed the decision, and the Romeike’s case may not be over. Nevertheless, their plight has brought attention to the homeschooling issue and the rights of parents to determine the education of their children.
In Europe, homeschooling is not the mass movement it is in America, though numbers are rising. In the United States, the homeschooling movement was pioneered by parents who were both liberal and conservative in worldview, joined together in dissatisfaction with other educational alternatives — primarily the public schools. In Germany, it is now estimated that some 1,000 families may be homeschooling their children, and most of them are thought to be conservative Christians.
The German government schools date back to the era even before the unification of Germany under Bismark. The Prussians designed the German public schools as a means of raising children in a context of German patriotism and common knowledge. In more recent times, the schools have been seen as central to the German project of avoiding the development or encouragement of what some call “parallel societies.” Tristana Moore of TIME reports:
In Germany, mandatory school attendance dates back to 1717, when it was introduced in Prussia, and the policy has traditionally been viewed as a social good. “This law protects children,” says Josef Kraus, president of the German Teachers’ Association. The European Court of Human Rights agrees with him. In 2006, the court threw out a homeschooling family’s case when it deemed Germany’s compulsory-schooling law as compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights, an international treaty drafted in 1950. Given this backdrop, it’s little wonder the Romeikes came up against a wall of opposition when they tried to talk to their school principal about the merits of homeschooling.
The plight of the Romeikes is a sign of the times. Many Americans are likely unaware that the public schools in this country were founded on a similar vision. This is especially true in the late nineteenth century and throughout the twentieth. Public school advocates preached a message of cultural disaster if children were not raised in a common culture. Concern over the assimilation of immigrant children fueled the sense of crisis, but more was at stake. John Dewey, one of the most influential figures in the development of the public school ideal, explicitly argued that children should be educated in public schools so that the schools could help them break with the traditions and perspectives of their parents. [KH: secularism]
That is exactly what propelled the rise of the homeschooling movement in America, and it is what drove the Romeikes to Morristown. Christians must recognize and contend for the right of parents to determine the education of their own children. Otherwise, we subvert both parental authority and parental responsibility. The Romeikes are determined to educate their children according to their Christian convictions, and to do so through homeschooling. Not all Christian parents will make the same choice, but all Christian parents do share the same responsibility to raise their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. On this ground, all Christians should contend for the right to make the decision the Romeikes made. Otherwise, we quietly accept conditions for the forced indoctrination of our own children.
Time will tell if Judge Burman’s decision stands. In the meantime, Uwe and Hannelore Romeike are busy living their lives and teaching their children in Morristown, Tennessee. May God bless them as they do.
In the lead up to Valentine’s Day, students around the world are making a stand against the cultural message that encourages sexual promiscuity and promoting their choice of purity.
Young people are observing the seventh annual Day of Purity on Friday by rebelling against popular culture and educating the public about the dangers of promiscuous behavior.
“The heartache surrounding the tragedy of sexual promiscuity demands that we offer clear moral guidance and encouragement for our youth to stay sexually pure until marriage,” Amber Haskew, coordinator for the Day of Purity, said in a statement. “The consequences of sexually transmitted diseases in our nation’s youth are devastating, and abstinence is the only effective action.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2007 nearly half of high school students (48%) had ever had sexual intercourse, and 15% had had four or more sex partners during their life.
Every year, 19 million new STD infections occur and nearly half of these new cases happen to young people between the ages of 15 and 24. Among teenage girls, one in four has a sexually transmitted disease, the CDC reported in 2008.
This year’s Day of Purity also comes after the release of a new report by the Guttmacher Institute which revealed that teen pregnancy and abortion rates rose in 2006, ending a 15-year decline.
Amid such dismal statistics, students are making public commitments to remain sexually pure.
Liberty University, the world’s largest Christian university, plans to celebrate the Day of Purity with a campus-wide gathering where they will raise awareness about the dangers of sexual promiscuity.
“It is time to take a stand against behaviors that cause disease and death,” said Haskew. “Youth who have already engaged in sexual activity can make a fresh start on the Day of Purity. Young people are ready to send a positive message to their friends, parents, churches, communities, legislators, and the media. It’s time for a positive change in our culture.”
Applauding the effort, World Congress of Families Managing Director Larry Jacobs said the message communicated through the Day of Purity is “truly countercultural.”
“The culture tells teens it doesn’t matter what they do, as long as they use a condom,” he noted. “The dubious wisdom of this approach may be seen in skyrocketing rates of venereal disease, teen abortions and out-of-wedlock births; not to mention the high rates of teen depression and mental illness.”
“With the culture – including the news and entertainment media, public education, and government – constantly pushing teen sexual experimentation, it’s refreshing to have a day specifically dedicated to promoting premarital abstinence,” he added.
The Guttmacher Institute has insisted that the rise in the teen pregnancy rate is partly a result of the promotion of abstinence programs, but a new study released last week found that abstinence education was more effective than other programs in reducing sexual activity among youths.
One-third of students who completed an abstinence program had sexual intercourse within two years of the class. By comparison, more than half of those who participated in safe sex and condom use programs said they had sexual intercourse. The study appears in the February 2010 Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine.
Over 300 secondary schools, colleges and universities in 44 states are participating in the Day of Purity, a project of Liberty Counsel. Hundreds of churches, ministries and civic organizations, including American Family Association, are also joining the effort.
By R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
The International Planned Parenthood Federation [IPPF] has a plan for your child — and for every young person on earth. The influential group is calling for compulsory comprehensive sexuality education for every child and young person ages 10 to 24 on the planet.
The report, recently released by the IPPF, gets right to the point: “Young people today have the right to be fully informed about sexuality and to have access to contraceptives and other services.” That statement, offered by Bert Koenders, Minister for Development Cooperation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, is indicative of the “rights speech” that pervades the document. Citing international agreements and documents, the IPPF calls for children and teenagers, along with young adults, to be recognized as having a basic right to engage in sexual activity in virtually any form.
“Stand and Deliver: Sex, Health, and Young People in the 21st Century,” is a document that demands attention and deserves close scrutiny. Interestingly, the document estimates that the current population of young people in this age group now numbers more than 1.75 billion — the largest cohort of young people in human history. Thus, it suggests that comprehensive sexuality education must be offered to this generation immediately, or the opportunity will be lost forever. The “youth bulge” or “demographic bonus” is, the IPPF says, “a one-time opportunity.”
As the report states:
Sex and reproduction are central to our lives, this is a basic truth. Here is another: young people are sexual beings. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that sexuality education promotes individual well-being and the advancement of broader societal and public health goals. Comprehensive sexuality education is perhaps the single most important gift that parents can offer to their children — and to adolescents everywhere — as they approach the age at which they will begin to have sex.
That paragraph demands a careful analysis. No thoughtful person will deny that sex and reproduction are central to the human experience, nor that young people are sexual beings. But what this statement assumes, given the emphasis on “comprehensive sexuality education,” is that being a sexual being means having sex. The IPPC is frighteningly clear about the kind of “broader societal and public health goals” to which this document refers. These include universal access to government-funded abortion, contraceptive services, and the full acceptance of homosexuality.
“Comprehensive sexuality education” is about far more than sex and reproduction. It includes education about contraception and the entire range of human sexual possibilities. It also includes advice on how sexual intercourse and other sexual acts can be made more pleasurable. In other words, sex advice for young people ages 10 to 24.
Note also that the IPPF suggests that comprehensive sexuality education “is perhaps the single most important gift that parents can offer to their children” — a statement that says more about the authors of the document than the parents who may read it. But the statement does not just call for parents to offer comprehensive sexuality education to their own children, but “to adolescents everywhere.”
Thus, the document later asserts that “comprehensive sexuality education must be mandatory in school” and also delivered to those who do not attend school.
“Stand and Deliver” also offers direct criticism of religious opposition to the IPPF agenda. “Culture, religion, and traditions are some of the biggest obstacles in implementing sexual and reproductive health programs for young people,” it asserts. Further:
Young people’s sexuality is still contentious for many religious institutions. Fundamentalist and other religious groups — Catholic Church and madrasas (Islamic schools) for example — have imposed tremendous barriers that prevent young people, particularly, from obtaining information and services related to sex and reproduction. Currently, many religious teachings deny the pleasurable and positive aspects of sex and limited guidelines for sexual education often focus on abstinence before marriage (though evidence shows this strategy has been ineffective in many settings). The reality is, young people are sexual beings and many of them are religious we well. There is a need for pragmatism, to address life as it is and not as it might be in an ideal world.
In other words, any religious teachings that restrict sex to marriage must be abandoned in favor of a more pragmatic approach that simply assumes that young people will be sexually active. Parents — just deal with it.
So much is revealed in this document. The International Planned Parenthood Federation, like its American member association, is tied to the dark legacy of Margaret Sanger, the movement’s founder. Sanger was a radical advocate for abortion and eugenics — the movement to discourage or deny reproduction among population groups identified as “bad stock.” The Planned Parenthood movement is also a major abortion provider, making millions of dollars each year through the abortion industry.
The ideology of sexual liberation pervades this document and the group that produced it. The idea that teaching children and teenagers to save sex for marriage is treated as outdated, repressive, and unrealistic. Instead, parents are told that they must become sexual and moral pragmatists, hoping that their young offspring will enjoy sex to the fullest, while avoiding pregnancy or a sexually transmitted disease. In light of the fact that many, if not most parents refuse to follow this line, the IPPF calls for mandatory comprehensive sexuality education in the schools and wherever young people are to be found - including your children.
The International Planned Parenthood Federation does not have the institutional authority or power to make this happen unilaterally. Instead, it functions as a recognized non-governmental organization [NGO] that advises national and international governmental bodies. Do not discount that power and influence. International agreements and treaties increasingly threaten parental rights in this country and around the world.
Sexuality education is one of the most powerful tools in the arsenal of social revolution and transformation. Parents had better wake up fast and realize what is at stake. Is this the kind of sex education you want for your children? If not, we had better be ready to stand and deliver our own views on this subject, and counter the arguments found in Stand and Deliver.
By R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
Lisa Miller of Newsweek begins her article with what would seem to be a statement beyond dispute: “It doesn’t take a degree from Harvard to see that in today’s world, a person needs to know something about religion.” Note that she does not make any specific religious or theological claims, and that her horizon of concern is decidedly this-worldly. She simply makes the common sense observation that a knowledge of religion is important in these times. This would make perfect sense to any journalist, and to just about any other person of intelligence and curiosity.
Nevertheless, that opening sentence about it not taking “a degree from Harvard” to see all this is filled with intentional irony, for Lisa Miller is taking Harvard University to task for its “crisis of faith” — which amounts to a crisis in its curriculum for undergraduates. As Miller explains, “the Harvard faculty cannot cope with religion.”
As she looks around the globe, Miller sees religion as a driving force of world events. In her words:
The conflicts between the Israelis and the Palestinians; between Christians, Muslims, and animists in Africa; between religious conservatives and progressives at home over abortion and gay marriage-all these relate, if indirectly, to what rival groups believe about God and scripture. Any resolution of these conflicts will have to come from people who understand how religious belief and practice influence our world: why, in particular, believers see some things as worth fighting and dying for.
But a 2006 proposal to require Harvard undergraduates to take at least one course in religion was flattened by faculty opposition. In that year, Harvard was considering a revised curriculum for undergraduates. Louis Menand, an influential English professor, and Steven Pinker, a well-known evolutionary psychologist, locked horns in a battle that went public, but ended with no religion requirement. Pinker argued that the modern university should be a completely secular space, where reason, and not faith, was the only legitimate concern.
In the end, Menand & Co. backed down, and the matter never made it to a vote. A more brutal fight was put off for another day. But that’s a pity-for Harvard, its students, and the rest of us who need leaders better informed about faith and the motivations of the faithful. Harvard may or may not be the pinnacle of higher learning in the world, but because it is Harvard, it reflects-for better or worse-the priorities of the nation’s intellectual set. To decline to grapple head-on with the role of religion in a liberal-arts education, even as debates over faith and reason rage on blogs, and as publishers churn out books defending and attacking religious belief, is at best timid and at worst self-defeating.
In the midst of that fight, Pinker wrote a column for The Harvard Crimson that roiled the waters at Harvard. In that column he chided Menand and other colleagues for even contemplating a “faith and reason” component of a Harvard undergraduate education. First, he suggested that “faith” is just a code-word for religion. Then, he added:
Second, the juxtaposition of the two words makes it sound like “faith” and “reason” are parallel and equivalent ways of knowing, and we have to help students navigate between them. But universities are about reason, pure and simple. Faith-believing something without good reasons to do so-has no place in anything but a religious institution, and our society has no shortage of these. Imagine if we had a requirement for “Astronomy and Astrology” or “Psychology and Parapsychology.” It may be true that more people are knowledgeable about astrology than about astronomy, and it may be true that astrology deserves study as a significant historical and sociological phenomenon. But it would be a terrible mistake to juxtapose it with astronomy, if only for the false appearance of symmetry.
In other words, even the use of “faith and reason” is illegitimate for Harvard (or for any other university) because faith has no place at all in the secular space of modern academia.
Miller recognizes the awkwardness of this claim, given Harvard’s history. “Harvard’s distaste for engaging with religion as an academic subject is particularly ironic, given that it was founded in 1636 as a training ground for Christian ministers,” Miller notes. “According to the office of the president, Veritas was only officially adopted as its motto in 1843; until then it had been Christo et Ecclesiae (“For Christ and the Church”).”
She also notes that other major universities, including schools such as the University of Texas, Arizona State, and Indiana University, do include religion in the undergraduate curriculum and enroll a considerable number of majors.
Peter Gomes, Harvard’s chaplain, told Miller, “My colleagues fear that taking religion seriously would undermine everything a great university stands for . . . . I think that’s unfounded, but there it is.”
The secularization of the modern university is one of the most significant intellectual developments of the past century. The most elite institutions of higher education have, by and large, been the most ardent secularizers. Many of these, like Harvard, were established on explicitly Christian beliefs and for the purpose of educating future ministers. To professors like Steven Pinker, this is an embarrassment.
Pinker’s evolutionary psychology, well documented in his many writings, is one of the most reductionistic models of thought to be found. He reduces the human being and all human experience to the merely physical — everything experienced or imagined by the human being is nothing more than the work of biochemicals and physical entities that emerged out of the evolutionary process. Nevertheless, Pinker’s insistence on keeping Harvard free of any noteworthy study of religion at the undergraduate level prevailed.
Lisa Miller is perplexed by the Harvard faculty’s “anxiety about religion.” She is rightly distressed that students “can graduate from Harvard without having to grapple directly with questions about a world in which people define themselves and their histories according to their views of God.” Idolizing reason, the university has become unreasonable.
By now, evangelical Christians are well aware of the secularization of modern academia. Nevertheless, the secular extremism of faculty members like Steven Pinker — who won the battle at Harvard, after all — is unknown to many outside the modern university.
Lisa Miller is right to call this ideological secularism “unreasonable.” It is more than that, of course. It is a clear and undeniable example of what might best be described as secular fundamentalism.
Amanda Kurowski is a 10-year-old homeschooled girl who performs well academically and is socially well-adjusted. But her strong Christian beliefs were reason enough for a New Hampshire court to order her out of homeschooling and into a public school.
The daughter of divorced parents, Amanda has been homeschooled by her mother, Brenda Voydatch since first grade. Her father, Martin Kurowski, is opposed to homeschooling, arguing that it prevents “adequate socialization” for Amanda with other children. He requested that she be placed in a government school.
In the process of renegotiating the terms of a parenting plan for the girl, the Guardian ad Litem – who acts as a fact finder for the court – reported that Amanda was found to “lack some youthful characteristics,” partly because “she appeared to reflect her mother’s rigidity on questions of faith.”
The GAL concluded that Amanda “would be best served by exposure to different points of view at a time in her life when she must begin to critically evaluate multiple systems of belief and behavior and cooperation in order to select, as a young adult, which of those systems will best suit her own needs.”
Although there is no dispute that Amanda is excelling academically and is generally interactive with her peers, her religious beliefs were seen as being held a bit too sincerely, Alliance Defense Fund allied attorney John Anthony Simmons explained to The Christian Post.
“What this has become is an assault on the child’s faith,” Simmons said.
Judge Lucinda V. Sadler approved the GAL’s recommendation earlier this summer and ruled that it would be in Amanda’s best interests to attend a public school in the 2009-2010 academic year.
“[E]ducation is by its nature an exploration and examination of new things,” the court order reads. “[A] child requires academic, social, cultural, and physical interaction with a variety of experiences, people, concepts, and surroundings in order to grow to an adult who can make intelligent decisions about how to achieve a productive and satisfying life.”
Sadler stated in the order that the court did not consider the merits of Amanda’s religious beliefs but only the impact of those beliefs on her interaction with others.
And while the court is “extremely reluctant to impose on parents a decision about a child’s education,” Sadler noted that there was an absence of effective communication between the parents.
Simmons filed a motion this week asking the court to reconsider and stay its decision. He contends that the mother enrolled Amanda in three public school courses and got her involved in extra-curricular activities such as gymnastics and softball in an effort to acknowledge the father’s concerns.
Evidence also reveals that homeschooling has not deprived Amanda of socialization, as the father has argued. The order issued by the court also acknowledged that Amanda is “generally likeable and well liked, social and interactive with her peers, academically promising and intellectually at or superior to grade level.”
“Parents have a fundamental right to make educational choices for their children. In this case specifically, the court is illegitimately altering a method of education that the court itself admits is working,” Simmons stated. “It is not the court’s role to decide whose beliefs are right or whether or not someone is as skeptical as the court thinks she should be.”
“Can anyone imagine a court ordering a child out of a government school and into homeschooling because the child is a ‘rigid’ secularist? Of course not,” he noted. “The court has intruded on the child’s most fundamental liberties and should reconsider this unconstitutional encroachment.”
A Michigan high school is investigating allegations that one of its teachers berated and belittled a student for taking part in what the teacher considered an unacceptable activity: reading FOXNews.com.
A young man who identified himself only as Mitchell, an 18-year-old senior at Traverse City West Senior High School, called in to Rush Limbaugh’s radio show Thursday and said he was yelled at in front of his classmates for reading the “wrong” news.
The teacher of his video production class saw what he was looking at and “proceeded to give me a 10-minute lecture on why I can’t read FOX News ... and that I can only listen to BBC and other news venues,” the student said.
James Feil, superintendent of Traverse City Area Public Schools, told FOXNews.com that any attempts to pressure students politically would go against his schools’ policies.
“It would be inappropriate. I would clearly tell you that is not something that we would do anything to indoctrinate students here,” he said. “That would clearly be a violation of our policies and guidelines, written or non-written.”
Traverse City West principal Joe Tibaldi declined to comment about the inquiry he was leading, but school officials said the student hadn’t violated any computer-use rules in his class.
But the school has a strict policy against bullying, which it says “may in circumstances be a violation of federal or state law” and goes against its commitment to provide a safe learning environment.
“Bullying, taunting, stalking, hazing and other forms of harassment ... by any member of the staff are strictly forbidden,” according to the school handbook. “Any student or staff member found to have bullied, taunted, stalked, hazed or harassed another person in any form will be subject to discipline.”
Traverse City West has several art and science teachers, but it was unclear who leads the video production class. The superintendent wouldn’t confirm the involvement of any specific teacher.
Feil said the student never filed a complaint to the school and Tibaldi was following up “in a very responsible and a timely manner.”
By R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
The U.S. Department of Education has released its periodic review of schooling in America, and it offers a revealing look at the growth of homeschooling. The picture of contemporary homeschooling offers some real surprises and raises some new questions.
“The Condition of Education 2009” is produced by the National Center for Education Statistics, and it contains a wealth of statistical data. Approximately 50 million children are enrolled in the public schools for grades K-12. In 2007 5.9 million children were enrolled in private schools and the percentage of those enrolled in “Conservative Christian schools” increased from 13 to 15% of that total.
Homeschooling was the choice of families for 2.9% of all school-age children in the United States in 2007, involving 1.5 million students. By comparison, in 1999 only 850,000 children were homeschooled. By 2003, that number was up to 1.1 million. This report indicates significant jumps in homeschooling as compared to other educational options. In fact, the report reveals that the actual number of American children whose parents choose homeschooling for at least part of their education exceeds 3 million. According to the report, 1.5 million children are exclusively homeschooled while another 1.5 million are homeschooled for at least part of the school week.
At this point, the picture grows even more interesting. When parents were asked why they chose to homeschool their children, 36% cited a desire to provide children specifically religious or moral instruction. After that, 21% of parents pointed to concerns about the environment of schools, 17% cited dissatisfaction with educational quality in the schools, and 14% cited “other reasons.” Among those “other reasons” was a concern for more family time together.
Higher numbers of parents with college educations and greater family incomes are now homeschooling. This trend points to the fact that homeschooling is increasingly the option of first choice for many parents. This pattern is also revealed in increasing numbers of college students, primarily young women, who indicate that they desire a college education so that they will be better equipped in years ahead to be homeschooling parents.
One area of concern is also revealed in the study. In 1999, 49% of homeschooled children were boys and 51% were girls. Now, boys account for only 42% of homeschooled students. This represents a significant shift that raises a host of questions. Why the drop in the percentage of boys?
One reason often cited is a desire on the part of boys to play team sports. This becomes especially acute during the high school years, when schools emerge as the main arena for organized team sports. But there are surely other factors in play here. Mothers often cite greater difficulty in teaching boys as they move into middle school and high school levels. For this reason alone, most fathers should be far more engaged in the homeschool experience. Homeschooling will suffer a significant loss if a gender imbalance among students continues or increases.
An interesting aspect of this report is the fact that so many parents cite a desire for more time with their children as a motivation for homeschooling. The average child is awake for just over 100 hours a week. During the school year, traditional schooling requires students to be at the school for about 35 of those 100 waking hours. Add to that the additional hours involved in transportation to and from the school and then homework assignments, and the total investment of time can easily claim half of the child’s waking hours - and these are usually the prime waking hours as well.
Homeschooling is now a major force in American education, and Christian parents have been in the vanguard of this movement. For many Christian parents, homeschooling represents the fulfillment of the biblical mandate for parents to teach their children. These parents deserve our respect, our support, our advocacy, and our prayers. This movement is a sign of hope on our educational horizon, and a phenomenon that can no longer be dismissed as a fringe movement.
As president of a seminary and college, I can attest to the fact that questions about the educational aptitude of homeschooled students are now settled. These students can hold their own as compared to students from all other educational backgrounds. One other fact speaks loudly to me concerning their education. Most of the homeschooled students I meet at the college and graduate levels indicate an eager determination to homeschool their own children when that time comes.
Education cannot be reduced to statistics, but the trends revealed in this new report from the Department of Education deserve close attention. In our day, education represents a clash of worldviews. Increasingly toxic approaches to education (or what is called education) drive many schools and many school systems. In that light, the fact that so many Christian parents are taking education into their own hands is a sign of hope. As this new report makes clear, we should expect homeschooling to be a growth industry in years ahead.
Over the course of four years (2003-2007), the number of homeschooled students increased by more than 36%, according to recently released estimates from the National Center of Education Statistics (NCES).
And over the last 8 years (1999-2007) since the National Household Education Surveys Program (NHES) was first conducted by the U.S. Department of Education’s NCES, homeschooling has witnessed a 77% growth.
“Homeschoolers can now be found in all walks of life,” commented Michael Smith, president of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), which advocates homeschooling.
Data for the most recent NHES was collected for students ages 5 through 17 with a grade equivalent of kindergarten through 12th grade. Interviews were conducted with the parents of 10,681 students, including 290 homeschooled students. For the survey, students were considered to be homeschooled if their parents reported them as being schooled at home instead of at a public or private school for at least part of their education and if their part-time enrollment in public or private school did not exceed 25 hours a week.
According to data from the 2007 NHES survey, an estimated 1.5 million students (1,508,000) were homeschooled in the United States in the spring of 2007, making up 2.9% of the school-age population in America. In the spring of 2003, the survey reported that an estimated 1.1 million students were being homeschooled, or 2.2% of the school-age population. Data from the first NHES, in 1999, showed an estimated 850,000 homeschooled students in the United States — about 1.7% of the school-age population.
“Homeschooling is a mainstream educational alternative. It will continue to flourish as parents and children continue to experience the social and academic benefits of a home based education,” said HSLDA’s Smith.
Aside from simply estimating the number of homeschooled children in the United States, the 2003 and 2007 NHES went one step further and asked parents whether particular reasons for homeschooling their children applied to them. The three reasons selected by parents of more than two-thirds of students were: concern about the school environment, to provide religious or moral instruction, and dissatisfaction with the academic instruction available at other schools.
In the 2007 NHES, parents also were asked which one of their selected reasons for homeschooling was the most important. The reason reported by the highest percentage of homeschoolers’ parents as being most important was to provide religious or moral instruction (36%). For an additional 21%, the most important reason was concern about the school environment, and for 17% it was dissatisfaction with the academic instruction available at other schools.
The remaining homeschoolers had parents who reported another reason as being most important, including the physical or mental health problems of their child (2%); the special needs of their child (4%); interest in a nontraditional approach to education (7%); and other reasons such as family time, finances, travel, and distance (14%).
Estimates of homeschooling in 2007 were based on data from the Parent and Family Involvement in Education Survey (PFI) of the 2007 NHES.
NEW YORK – In the past year, 30% of U.S. high school students have stolen from a store and 64% have cheated on a test, according to a new, large-scale survey suggesting that Americans are too apathetic about ethical standards.
Educators reacting to the findings questioned any suggestion that today’s young people are less honest than previous generations, but several agreed that intensified pressures are prompting many students to cut corners.
“The competition is greater, the pressures on kids have increased dramatically,” said Mel Riddle of the National Association of Secondary School Principals. “They have opportunities their predecessors didn’t have (to cheat). The temptation is greater.”
The Josephson Institute, a Los Angeles-based ethics institute, surveyed 29,760 students at 100 randomly selected high schools nationwide, both public and private. All students in the selected schools were given the survey in class; their anonymity was assured.
Michael Josephson, the institute’s founder and president, said he was most dismayed by the findings about theft. The survey found that 35% of boys and 26% of girls — 30% overall — acknowledged stealing from a store within the past year. One-fifth said they stole something from a friend; 23% said they stole something from a parent or other relative.
“What is the social cost of that — not to mention the implication for the next generation of mortgage brokers?” Josephson remarked in an interview. “In a society drenched with cynicism, young people can look at it and say ‘Why shouldn’t we? Everyone else does it.’”
Other findings from the survey:
_Cheating in school is rampant and getting worse. 64% of students cheated on a test in the past year and 38% did so two or more times, up from 60% and 35% in a 2006 survey.
_36% said they used the Internet to plagiarize an assignment, up from 33% in 2004.
_42% said they sometimes lie to save money — 49% of the boys and 36% of the girls.
Despite such responses, 93% of the students said they were satisfied with their personal ethics and character, and 77% affirmed that “when it comes to doing what is right, I am better than most people I know.”
Nijmie Dzurinko, executive director of the Philadelphia Student Union, said the findings were not at all reflective of the inner-city students she works with as an advocate for better curriculum and school funding.
“A lot of people like to blame society’s problems on young people, without recognizing that young people aren’t making the decisions about what’s happening in society,” said Dzurinko, 32. “They’re very easy to scapegoat.”
Peter Anderson, principal of Andover High School in Andover, Mass., said he and his colleagues had detected very little cheating on tests or Internet-based plagiarism. He has, however, noticed an uptick in students sharing homework in unauthorized ways.
“This generation is leading incredibly busy lives — involved in athletics, clubs, so many with part-time jobs, and — for seniors — an incredibly demanding and anxiety-producing college search,” he offered as an explanation.
Riddle, who for four decades was a high school teacher and principal in northern Virginia, agreed that more pressure could lead to more cheating, yet spoke in defense of today’s students.
“I would take these students over other generations,” he said. “I found them to be more responsive, more rewarding to work with, more appreciative of support that adults give them.
“We have to create situations where it’s easy for kids to do the right things,” he added. “We need to create classrooms where learning takes on more importance than having the right answer.”
On Long Island, an alliance of school superintendents and college presidents recently embarked on a campaign to draw attention to academic integrity problems and to crack down on plagiarism and cheating.
Roberta Gerold, superintendent of the Middle Country School District and a leader of the campaign, said parents and school officials need to be more diligent — for example, emphasizing to students the distinctions between original and borrowed work.
“You can reinforce the character trait of integrity,” she said. “We overload kids these days, and they look for ways to survive. ... It’s a flaw in our system that whatever we are doing as educators allows this to continue.”
Josephson contended that most Americans are too blase about ethical shortcomings among young people and in society at large.
“Adults are not taking this very seriously,” he said. “The schools are not doing even the most moderate thing. ... They don’t want to know. There’s a pervasive apathy.”
Josephson also addressed the argument that today’s youth are no less honest than their predecessors.
“In the end, the question is not whether things are worse, but whether they are bad enough to mobilize concern and concerted action,” he said.
“What we need to learn from these survey results is that our moral infrastructure is unsound and in serious need of repair. This is not a time to lament and whine but to take thoughtful, positive actions.”
By Mike S. Adams
If your kid comes home from college one day and tells you that your Christian faith is stupid, welcome to the world in which I live. The college environment does that to our kids. It makes good Christian students stupid. By that I mean it turns them into liberals, atheists, or both. Three out of four Christian kids (that’s 75% for those of you who attend UNC-Wilmington) abandon the church when they go to college and only about a third of them return by age 30. In other words, most stay stuck on stupid.
Christians and conservatives could simply whine about this, but then we would just sound like liberals. Instead, we need to take action. Before I tell you what you can do to help fix this problem, let me clarify what we’re facing.
Two Jewish researchers went on campus (this is not a joke) last year to see just how anti-Semitic the faculty were. Their findings? In a survey of over 6,600 college professors across the country, they found virtually no anti-Semitism. Instead, they found a distinct bias against evangelical students: More than half (53%) of college faculty view evangelical students unfavorably. Mormons are next at 33%, followed by Muslims at 22%.
Let me put this in proper perspective: In the United States of America, professors are two and a half times more likely to view evangelical Christian students unfavorably than Muslim students.
The study also found that: Professors are five times more likely to be atheists than the general public: 19% vs. 4%; There are far fewer Evangelicals among the faculty than the general public: 11% vs. 33%; Professors are more than twice as likely to identify themselves as liberal than the general public: 48% to 22%. (This is consistent with an earlier study which found that Democrats outnumber Republicans ten to one on college faculty.)
But enough with the statistics - what are Christians doing about this? Just take a moment to imagine the following:
There’s someone speaking on college campuses capable of - without quoting Bible verses - showing students solid evidence why Christianity is the most reasonable worldview. Imagine further that the four-point presentation this person gives is so provocative and entertaining that not only Christians attend, but atheists and skeptics show up as well (swelling some audiences to over 1500 like a recent N.C. State presentation). Imagine that during Q&A atheists are treated respectfully, but their arguments are exposed as fallacious. And imagine that there is a book, DVD series, website and TV show available for follow up that strengthens Christians and challenges skeptics to consider Christianity.
You don’t need to just imagine it happening because it already is. Dr. Frank Turek, founder and President of www.CrossExamined.org, is leading a team of Christian apologists to conduct I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist seminars on college campuses and at churches across the country. The seminar, based on Turek Geisler’s award-winning book of the same name, is outstanding (back in September 2006, I told you that this is the book that helped bring Jimmy Duke to Christ).
I hosted Frank here at UNCW a couple of weeks ago, and I can tell you that the Christians were emboldened and the atheists were respectfully but firmly refuted. In fact, we’ve already invited Frank back for next semester, which will coincide nicely with UNCW’s three-year celebration of Charles Darwin (“diversity” demands that we have an opposing view, I’m told).
Please go to www.CrossExamined.org to invite Frank or someone from his team to your campus or church. If you can’t get into the fight directly, then maybe you can help others do so by donating on the website (Frank and his team charge students nothing for campus events—they rely on tax-deductible donations). At the very least, get the book, watch the TV show (Sundays at 6 p.m. Eastern on DirecTV Channel 378), and visit the website to equip yourself and your kids with the truth.
It’s time for conservatives and Christians to stop whining about how secular liberals are dominating our college campuses. It is time to take action and reach out to college students who are stuck on stupid.
Author’s Note: Despite the results of last weekend’s game, Dr. Adams will still speak at UNC-Chapel Hill this Thursday, April 10th at 7 p.m. in 209 Manning Hall. Protestors will not be permitted to bring food into the auditorium. Feminists will be charged $10 admission. Adults and homeless veterans will get in free.
By Dennis Prager
Before you take out a second mortgage or otherwise deplete your savings in order to pay for your child’s college education, you might want to ask the colleges to which your child is applying some questions.
1. Can one obtain a Bachelor of Arts degree at your college without having read a single Shakespeare play, one Federalist Paper or one book of the Bible?
If so, why attend such a college?
2. Does the college allow military recruiters on its campus?
Before being threatened by Congress with a cutoff of federal funds, many colleges denied military recruiters access to their campus. They did so either because of their hostility to military in general or specific hostility to the war in Iraq, or because of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding gays. If you believe, as reason and history argue, that the American military has done more to preserve liberty on earth than all the professors in all the universities combined, you might not want to send your child to a university that is hostile to the military.
3. In the political science, English, sociology, anthropology and history departments — or any other liberal arts department — what is the ratio of Democrats to Republicans among the professors?
Over 10 years ago, the Rocky Mountain News reported that registered Democrats on the faculty of the University of Colorado at Boulder outnumbered registered Republicans 31-1. If such a ratio exists in the social science departments of your child’s prospective college, why would you want your child to attend such an institution?
4. What are the names of the speakers invited and paid with college funds to speak last year at the college?
Just ask to see the previous year’s speakers list. Colleges set aside funds for visiting speakers. One would assume that a good college seeks to encourage thinking and to that end invites speakers throughout the political spectrum. If your prospective college has a speakers list that is balanced 10 to one in favor of speakers from the political left, that will help you decide whether indoctrination rather than exposure to great ideas is the university’s real agenda.
5. Can my child live in a same-sex dorm and are the bathrooms co-ed?
One generation ago and for all of American history, the university acted in loco parentis, in the place of the parent. You could send your daughter to college more or less assured that the college would act on behalf of her welfare as you would — meaning, for example, that boys had to leave girls dorms by a certain hour. Now, most colleges have no boys or girls dorms and do everything they can to enable boys and girls to fraternize in each other’s rooms at any hour of the night and even share bathrooms.
6. Is Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” the most widely assigned American history book?
If the answer is yes, you should consider sending your son or daughter to another university or at least be aware that you will be paying a lot of hard-earned money for your child to be manipulated into believing that America is a bad country, certainly no better than others, as he or she reads what is essentially a proctologist’s view of American history. Zinn believes, as he told me in an interview on my radio show, that America has done “probably more harm than good in its history.”
7. Would a typical graduate of your university be able to say anything intelligent about Josef Stalin, Louis Armstrong, Pope John XXIII or Pope John Paul II, differences between Protestantism and Catholicism, Cain and Abel, the Gulag Archipelago, Franz Josef Haydn, Pol Pot, Martin Luther, Darfur, how interest rates affect the dollar, dark matter, and “Crime and Punishment”; explain what the Korean War was about and when it was fought; identify India on a map; and know the difference between the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council?
If not, why not? How could someone be considered in any way educated and not be able to intelligently answer all or nearly all of those questions? If they don’t know about such essential and basic things, what do they know? Movies? The supposed dangers of global warming? The importance of race, gender and class? The meaning of menage a trois (or “threesomes”)? Great gay writers?
Unfortunately, the chances are that if you receive any response at all to these questions, it will be a discouraging one. Outside of the natural sciences, colleges are either more interested in liberal indoctrination than in a liberal arts education, or they enable students to take courses that are so narrowly focused that your child graduate will likely graduate as a cultural and historical illiterate. Why so many Americans go into debt paying so much money to such failed institutions is one of the riddles of the universe.
It is time to demand that universities teach. Forcing them to answer the above seven questions is a good way to begin. Because granting a Bachelor of Arts degree on someone who never heard of Cain and Abel and never heard a Haydn symphony is a fraud.
One of the more mild photos featured on Wikipedia in the “striptease” entry
Wikipedia, the online “free encyclopedia” written and edited by its users that contains 9 million articles in 253 languages, now includes detailed photos of nude homosexual men engaging in sex acts and a variety of other sexually explicit images and content.
One Wikipedia entry states, “A fluffer is a hired member of the crew of a pornographic movie whose role on the set is to sexually arouse the male participants prior to the filming of scenes requiring erections.”
A photo of two nude men having anal sex on a bed, and a “fluffer” handing them a towel, is shown to the right of the entry.
Matt Barber, a constitutional law attorney who serves as Concerned Women for America’s policy director for cultural issues, expressed outrage at Wikipedia’s decision to allow sexually explicit images.
“Children use Wikipedia all of the time for reports for school, and this stuff is not just pornography, this is hard-core pornography,” he said. “Much of it may even be in violation of our nation’s obscenity laws.”
Barber said many of the filtering devices people have in their homes and schools are not geared to protect against Wikipedia’s material.
“Children are often able to bypass these filtering devices and view hard-core, vile pornography,” Barber said. “There is raw, unedited homosexual pornography and other videos on this Wikipedia website, a site that so many Americans and people around the world rely upon.”
Mark Pelligrini, regional representative for Wikipedia, told WND, “Wikipedia’s goal is to provide an encyclopedia that contains the sum of all human knowledge. To that end, Wikipedia does not censor objectionable material.
“[I]f someone goes to the articles on ‘sex,’ ‘penis’ or any graphic topic, we do provide frank descriptions and images,” Pelligrini said. “For images, we aim for clinical pictures of the sort you would find in an anatomy or medical textbook.”
However, in addition to textbook anatomy images, the following can also be found on Wikipedia:
* Recordings of women experiencing orgasms
* Videos of nude men participating in “ejaculation educational demonstrations”
* Detailed photographs of men and women masturbating
* A man ejaculating on a woman’s neck
* Images of mammary intercourse
* Close-up images of topless women and male and female sexual anatomy
* Large-scale photos of men performing oral sex on one another (and performing oral sex on themselves)
* An illustrated list of sex positions
* Photos of nude strippers
* An image called “Virgin Killer” depicting a naked little girl from the cover of a Scorpions album
“They say they are not in the business of censorship, but it’s not censorship to remove photographs or make a decision not to place pornography on your website,” Barber said.
The site even boasts a “porn star” award template for “outstanding contributions to pornography articles on Wikipedia,” awarded by Wikipedia: WikiProject Pornography.
Jay Walsh, head of communications for the Wikimedia foundation, told WND, “We don’t censor any of the content. There are a number of images that people might be alarmed by. … You could open up a classic Britannica or World Book Encyclopedia, and you’d find entries on sex and sexual topics, perhaps not as deep or prolific as you might find on Wikipedia, but that’s kind of a reality of the 21st century.”
Barber said he will be contacting the Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s office to determine whether Wikipedia may be engaging in the dissemination of illegal obscenity.
“Unfortunately, by allowing this type of material, Wikipedia has really sullied its name,” Barber said. “If it wants to be viewed as being in the business of pornography, it is certainly doing a good job of labeling itself as a bunch of hard-core pornographers.”
Family advocate: ‘Just when we thought indoctrination couldn’t get any worse’
A new plan by a California lawmaker would allow schools to be used to promote the overthrow of the U.S. government, and let teachers in public district classrooms “inculcate in the mind of any pupil a preference for communism,” according to a traditional values advocacy organization.
“Just when we thought the indoctrination in California’s public schools couldn’t get any worse, state lawmakers introduce bills that will further brainwash innocent children,” said a statement from Capitol Resource Institute, a traditional values and family advocacy organization based in California.
“We’re in California. Of course it has a chance of succeeding,” CRI spokeswoman Karen England told WND. “These people get bolder and bolder every year.”
Her organization, along with several others, already has been battling over lawmakers’ orders, already placed in law, that public schools in the state teach nothing but positive messages about homosexuality, transsexuality, bisexuality and other alternative lifestyles.
Those plans are being challenged in court, by citizens’ attempts to place the issue on the 2008 election ballot and by family advocates who say the best option is for families to abandon public schools for private schools or other alternatives.
Now comes the plan, SB 1322, from state Sen. Alan Lowenthal, a Democrat elected from the state’s 27th District, including the towns of Artesia, Avalon, Bellflower, Cerritos, Downey, Lakewood, Long Beach, Lynwood, Paramount, Signal Hill, South Gate and others.
“This bill would actually allow the promotion of communism in public schools,” CRI said.
That’s because the state’s Civic Center Act already requires a school district to grant the use of school property, when an alternative isn’t available, to nonprofit groups, clubs or associations set up for youth and school activities.
“But the law also states that the property may not be used by anyone intent on overthrowing the government,” CRI said. Now, the group said, “SB 1322 would delete the requirement that an individual or organization wanting to use the school property is not a Communist action organization or Communist front organization.
“This bill would also strike the law that a public school or community college employee may be fired if he or she is a member of the Communist Party,” the group said.
Worse yet, the group said, “the bill would also strike the law that prohibits a teacher giving instruction in a school or on public school property from teaching communism with the intent to indoctrinate or to inculcate in the mind of any pupil a preference for communism,” CRI said.
“SB 1322 is simply shocking,” said Meredith Turney, legislative liaison for the affiliated Capitol Resource Family Impact. “The socialist members of the legislature are now advocating that communism, one of the most brutal forms of government in history, be taught favorably to government school students. Anyone espousing communism, which does advocate for the violent overthrow of existing government, will be permitted to not only use government property, but work in schools and colleges, and teach their freedom-hating propaganda to impressionable young people.”
“Less than 20 years after the fall of the communist Soviet Union, California lawmakers are eager to once again begin advancing a political ideology responsible for the deaths of millions of innocent people,” England said. “Instead of promoting communism in our schools, lawmakers should be focused on actually teaching students to read, write and think for themselves.”
On a blog on the Red County website, Mike Spence concluded: “I know there is plenty of indoctrination goin’ on already but I gues (sic) they won’t be staisfied (sic) until all school children are gay loving (SB777) and Communist. If only they could all read at grade level.”
The bill itself explains that it would delete provisions “regarding a person who intends to use school property on behalf of an organization to deliver a statement, signed under penalty of perjury, that the organization is not a Communist action organization or Communist front organization required to be registered with the Attorney General of the United States or does not, to the best of that person’s knowledge, advocate the overthrow of the government of the United States or of the State of California by force, violence, or other unlawful means.”
The plan also outlines it would drop provisions that school and college employees could be dismissed for being a part of the Communist Party and drop a ban on “teaching communism with the intent to indoctrinate or to inculcate in the mind of any pupil a preference for communism.”
The proposal itself noted that the teaching about the facts of communism was allowed, and the previous requirement banned teaching “for the purpose of undermining patriotism for, and the belief in, the government of the United States and of this state.” However, the new plan drops that.
Also deleted was: “For the purposes of this section, communism is the political theory that the presently existing form of government of the United States or of this state should be changed, by force, violence, or other unconstitutional means, to a totalitarian dictatorship which is based on the principles of communism as expounded by Marx, Lenin, and Stalin.”
Also deleted was the conclusion from the California Legislature other nations already had fallen into totalitarian dictatorships through the establishment of communism as well as the recognition that “the successful establishment of totalitarian dictatorships has consistently been aided, accompanied, or accomplished by repeated acts of treachery, deceit, teaching of false doctrines, teaching untruth, together with organized confusion, insubordination, and disloyalty, fostered, directed, instigated, or employed by communist organizations and their members…”
Also tossed out of California law was the recognition that communism even presents “a clear and present danger.”
The earlier school indoctrination into alternative sexual lifestyles has prompted creation of Rescue Your Child a coalition of various groups encouraging parents to withdraw their children from the state’s public school system.
That’s the result of the California Legislature and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who wrote and signed into law Senate Bill 777 and Assembly Bill 394 as law, plans that institutionalize the promotion of homosexuality, bisexuality, transgenderism and other alternative lifestyle choices.
The Discover Christian Schools website reports getting thousands of hits daily from parents and others seeking information about alternatives to California’s public schools.
WND reported leaders of the campaign called California Exodus say they hope to encourage parents of 600,000 children to withdraw them from the public districts this year.
The new law itself technically bans in any school texts, events, class or activities any discriminatory bias against those who have chosen alternative sexual lifestyles, said Turney. But there are no similar protections for students with traditional or conservative lifestyles and beliefs, however. Offenders will face the wrath of the state Department of Education, up to and including lawsuits.
“SB 777 will result in reverse discrimination against students with religious and traditional family values. These students have lost their voice as the direct result of Gov. Schwarzenegger’s unbelievable decision. The terms ‘mom and dad’ or ‘husband and wife’ could promote discrimination against homosexuals if a same-sex couple is not also featured,” she said.
England told WND that the law is not a list of banned words, including “mom” and “dad.” But she said the requirement is that the law bans discriminatory bias and the effect will be to ban such terminology.
“Having ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ promotes a discriminatory bias. You have to either get rid of ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ or include everything when talking about [parental issues],” she said. “They [promoters of sexual alternative lifestyles] do consider that discriminatory.”
While reports have confirmed a mass exodus of young adults from the church, one local pastor and researcher says secular universities are not to blame.
Sam S. Rainer III, who heads Rainer Research, says it’s a myth that universities push believers away from the church.
“No significant different exists between the dropout rates of those who attend at least a year of college and those who do not,” he said in his latest weblog.
Sixty-nine percent of active churchgoing youth stop attending church for at least a year between the ages of 18 and 22, Rainer stated. Yet 71% of active youth who do not go to college stop attending church during the same period. Results are based on a three-part research project on why 18- to 22-year-olds leave the church and how to get them back.
But many Christians, including youth ministry leaders, have pointed to colleges as a major influence in the departure of young believers from the church or Christian faith altogether.
For many young adults, transitioning into college life means falling into the party scene as they try to make friends on an unfamiliar campus. And apart from parents, for the first time for many, students experience the freedom of making their own decisions. A lot of times, those choices leave out God and church.
An earlier study by LifeWay Research found that 25% of young adults said transitioning into college was a major reason for quitting church.
However, a more likely reason they listed for dropping out of church was “I simply wanted a break from church,” with 27% of young believers saying so.
A University of Texas at Austin study also found that the highest rates of decline in church attendance were among those who never attended college.
“The college itself is not prompting students to drop out of church,” said Rainer.
Dispelling a second myth about young church dropouts, Rainer said high school students do not plan to leave the church once they go to college. An overwhelming majority (80%) of high school students do not plan to leave their church once they graduate high school, according to Rainer’s research project. Only 20% of high school students have preconceived notions to leave the fellowship once out of their parents’ nest.
“Students are not fleeing the church because of deep desires for personal freedom,” Rainer noted. “Nor are they scheming to leave once out of the house.”
And they’re not fleeing because they are disenchanted by a host of church scandals publicized in the media, the researcher added.
Despite several high-profile sex scandals in church leadership and money fraud allegations, only 15% of young believers who feel displeasure with the church say it’s because of a moral or ethical failure of the leadership, according to Rainer.
These findings are released ahead of the release of a book co-authored by Rainer and his father – Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources. The tentative title for the upcoming book is Essential Church. The release date is planned for fall 2008.
[KH: danger in things students read in schools, even Junior Scholastic]
By Mona Charen
If you want to keep up with what’s happening in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Michael Rubin performs a public service in National Review Online’s Corner by offering periodic updates. This morning’s post contains, among others, these items:
— Ahmadinejad tells war veterans and families of martyrs of the Iran-Iraq war: “Development of this country is dependent on us showing the ethos and principles of the martyrs.” . . . “Pressing need for martyrdom culture.”
— Filmmaker held in Iran after stumbling upon mass grave of prisoners executed by regime.
— Interior Minister: “Our nation resists imported ideas . . . such as liberalism and moral decay . . . Japan and China have lost their traditional values and have become Westoxifated . . . but Iranian women resist the ugly temptations of liberalism.”
— Madrasa, a quarterly journal reflecting views of moderate religious intellectuals such as Mojtahed Shabestari and Abdol Karim Soroush, banned.
It happens that just after glancing at one of Rubin’s dispatches the other morning, my sixth-grader drew my attention to his homework assignment. He was to read an article about Iran in Junior Scholastic magazine and answer questions about it. You surely recall Junior Scholastic from your own school days. It’s been around for 85 years and reaches about 25 million children.
The Oct. 1, 2007, issue featured a cover story titled “Iran: The Other Side of the World?” The piece begins by introducing Mohammad Reza Moqaddam, a 15-year-old resident of Qom, who “speaks quietly and respectfully” and prays five times a day. “A lot of young people these days have distanced themselves from religion,” he relates. “I would like them to be much closer to it.” Mohammad pays close attention to the news though, and offers the view that “Even if Iran wants nuclear weapons, it’s none of the other countries’ business. Some of them have nuclear weapons themselves.”
Okay, so when do we get to the part where it is explained that even if young Mohammad wants a neutral take on the news, he cannot get it in Iran where the press is rigidly controlled by the regime? Nowhere. Where does it explain that Iran is the world’s fourth-largest oil supplier and therefore scarcely in need of “peaceful nuclear power”? You won’t find that either.
The article (written by Roxana Saberi, a reporter for National Public Radio) explains that Iran has been “at odds” with America since the revolution of 1979, which forced out the “U.S.-backed Shah” and brought to power a government “based on strict Islamic principles.” But she doesn’t mention that Ayatollah Khomeini and his mobs denounced the United States as the “great Satan” and chanted “Death to America.” The hostage crisis, in which armed militants, possibly including the current president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, held 52 American diplomats for 444 days, goes unmentioned until a glancing reference at the end of the article under Iranian history.
Omitting the nature of the revolution and vehement America hatred of its leaders, the article then instructs students that “the war in Iraq has further increased those tensions” because the U.S. commanders “claim” that Iran is supporting militias but the Iranian defense minister has labeled these accusations a “sheer lie.”
There’s much more along these lines. “Some members of the Bush Administration want to take military action against Iran.” But nary a word on Ahmadinejad’s threat to annihilate Israel or to see a world “without the United States.” Nor is there any mention of the thousands of casualties of the revolution, the public stonings or the virtue police. We meet more Iranian youngsters who defend their regime: “The U.S. thinks we are dangerous. Why shouldn’t we think the U.S. is dangerous?” asks a pretty, scarf-clad 13-year-old. Tania “is devoted to her country. Her wish for her people is that they become wise and well-educated.” She “hopes to help” her nation someday “by becoming a lawyer.”
We get the point. Only xenophobes would find this country hostile or frightening. The more we get together the happier we’ll be.
I’m not urging that Junior Scholastic gird our kids for war with Iran. But this happy patter is insipid and unworthy of them.
College students are the least likely to abandon their faith than those who never pursued a college degree, a recent study revealed.
Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin found that college attendance appears to prevent young adults from losing their religion, contradicting widely held assumptions that students leave the church or their faith altogether during their college years.
The surprising research went further to find that those who never attended college had the highest rates of decline in church attendance (76.2%), diminished importance placed on religion (23.7%), and disaffiliation from religion (20.3%). Students who earned at least a bachelor’s degree, on the other hand, had the lowest rates on those three factors with 59.2% indicating decreased church attendance and 15% placing less importance on religion and disaffiliating from religion.
“Simply put, higher education is not the enemy of religiosity that so many have made it out to be,” researchers wrote in their “Losing My Religion” report which is featured in the June issue of the journal Social Forces.
Many church and youth leaders have expressed wide concern and fears that they are losing the younger generation. Jeff Schadt, coordinator of Youth Transition Network, says thousands of youth fall away from the church when transitioning from high school to college. He and other youth leaders estimate that 65 to 94% of high school students stop attending church after graduating.
Some point to the dangers of secular worldviews that are imparted onto students when receiving a college education. David Wheaton, author of University of Destruction calls secular college campuses “the most radical aspect of society” with many students losing their understanding of what it means to be a Christian.
“Many people assume college is public enemy number one for religion,” said Mark Regnerus, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin and author of the book Forbidden Fruit: Sex and Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers.
“But we found young adults who don’t experience college are far more likely to turn away from religion,” he highlighted.
About 62% of Evangelical Protestant young adults attend a religious service less often than they did as adolescents, the latest study showed. But far fewer (19%) indicated a decline in the importance of religion and even fewer (16%) disaffiliated from religion.
Only religious participation suffers substantial declines in young adulthood, researchers noted.
Groups that are least likely to drop out of their religion are Jews, Catholics, black Protestants, women, Southerners, young adults whose parents are still married, and married young adults.
Overall, the overwhelming majority (82%) of college student maintain at least a static level of personal religiosity in early adulthood and 86% retain their religious affiliation.
“Religious faith is rarely seen as something that could either influence or be influenced by the educational process,” researchers stated.
One reason researchers provided was that “while higher education opens up new worlds for students who apply themselves, it can, but does not often, create skepticism about old (religious) worlds, or at least not among most American young people, in part because students themselves do not perceive a great deal of competition between higher education and faith, and also because very many young Americans are so undersocialized in their religious faith (before college begins) that they would have difficulty recognizing faith-challenging material when it appears.”
Also, universities are no longer viewed as being hostile to religion. Recently, they have been described “not as a breeding ground for apostasy, but as ‘a breeding ground for vital religious practice and teaching,’” researchers noted.
Some of the nation’s largest campus ministry groups are expanding their campus chapters and exploring new colleges, recognizing the growing interest in religion and spirituality on campuses.
Campus Crusade for Christ spokesman Tony Arnold says there is a “deep hunger for something” in students’ lives.
“Losing My Religion” is based on data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which tracked more than 10,000 Americans from adolescence through young adulthood from 1994 to 1995 and from 2001 to 2002.
by John Leo
Rachel Corrie, a young American woman accidentally flattened by an Israeli bulldozer during a protest in Gaza three years ago: is a hero to Palestinians and the anti-American left. When she died, a photo of her burning an American flag sealed her high status on the left. Her honors included many vigils, memorials, buildings named for her, at least two plays, an annual pancake breakfest and the Rachel Corrie Award for courage in the teaching of writing. Why helping people learn to write should require courage is not explained.
I have been planning for some time to write about America’s peculiar awards, prizes and memorials, and the flourishing of Rachel Corrie awards is a good excuse to list some of them.
Stanford University gives the Allan Cox medal each year for faculty excellence in guiding student research. Cox was a professor of geophysics and dean of the school of earth sciences at Stanford. He committed suicide in 1987 while under investigation for sexually molesting the son of a former student. The molesting allegedly went on for five years, starting when the boy was 14.
One of the most elegant prep schools, Phillips Exeter Academy, gives an annual Edmund E. Perry Award for “diversity and cultural awareness.” Perry was an outstanding black student at Phillips Exeter who was shot to death in Harlem while trying to mug a plainclothes cop.
Convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jama has been honored as a commencement speaker (via audiotape) at Antioch College, Evergreen State University, Occidental Univresity and the University of California-Santa Cruz. Warren Kimbo confessed to shooting a fellow black panther in the back of the head. After his release from prison, he was accepted at Harvard, then served as a dean at Eastern Connecticut State University. Susan Rosenberg, an advocate of “collective violence” against the U.S. government, was caught with nearly 700 pounds of explosives in 1984, and went to prison to begin serving a 58-year term. She was pardoned by Bill Clinton, then hired as a writing instructor by Hamilton College in upstate New York, the institution that gave us Ward Churchill. Her course was in “Resistance Memoirs: Writing, Identity and Change.”
Bard College notoriously maintains a chair in social studies named for Alger Hiss, the Communist spy, traitor and perjurer. This is perhaps the stupidest honor given anywhere in America. The University of Washington’s Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies is named for the late and powerful labor leader, who was a Communist, a perjurer and an apologist for Stalin.
Last year the Borough of Manhattan Community College in New York announced a new scholarship named for Ho Chi Minh and another honoring Joanne Chesimard, the former Black Panther and convicted murderer of a New Jersey police officer. Both scholarships were quickly renamed after protests.
Stanford law school paid Lynne Stewart, the lawyer who had been indicted for aiding Islamic terrorists, to speak and mentor students at a conference. After loud complaints, the school withdrew the word “mentor” from her conference title, but let her conduct mentoring and deliver her lecture anyway. Since then, she has been convicted on all five counts of conspiring to to aid terrorists and lying to the government.
Jeffrey Eden, a 17-year-old Rhode Island student, created a high-school art project comparing President Bush and Adolf Hitler, complete with three swastikas, little toy figurines and several slogans. One slogan was “Hitler’s own justification was his own hatred.”
The Bush=Hitler artwork was just what some people wanted to see. It got an A from his teacher and a silver key at the Rhode Island scholastic art awards.
Villanova University installed a memorial plaque honoring a professor who killed her Down syndrome baby and herself in 2003. After protests, including some from parents of Down children, the plaque was removed. A spokesman said, “At no time did the university nor anyone associated with the university intend to devalue the sanctity of life.”
And we have the awards that many Austrians and other Europeans wanted to bestow on Tookie Williams, the unusually vicious multiple murderer who was executed in California late last year. He was nominated for a Nobel Peace prize, and when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger denied Williams clemency, a drive began to remove Arnold’s name from an Austrian sports stadium and dedicate the building to Tookie instead. Awards are the new frontier of moral confusion.
The significant loss of students from the Christian faith in their transition from high school to college has put youth and ministry leaders to work to bring a halt to the trend. Major youth groups and college campus ministries are gearing up to strategize for a milestone national campaign that they plan to launch next year.
Before the campaign propels forward, the Youth Transition Network (YTN) is forming a group called the Guiding Coalition to bring together national leaders to help young people transition from high school and still be a vital part of the body of Christ. A second conference to get all the major ministries onboard is being held today.
“I’ve never seen ... the response and the level of cooperation that we’re seeing around this,” commented Jeff Schadt, a major coordinator for the Guiding Coalition and national facilitator of the YTN. “We started dreaming of having a Guiding Coalition of national leaders at a meeting in March of this year.”
In a matter of months, the coalition has already received the commitment of such national college campus ministries as Chi Alpha, the Coalition for Christian Outreach, Campus Renewal and Campus Ambassadors. Major campus player Intervarsity is also on the verge of solidifying its commitment. These groups are in addition to the youth ministries already involved including Youth for Christ and Young Life. And more are to join.
Schadt and other coordinators hope some 40 to 50 national leaders from high school and college ministries will join the major effort to reach every high school student.
Schadt quoted Bill Tell, deputy U.S. director of The Navigators, who said that he sees more potential in this than anything he’s seen in his 30 years of youth ministry.
Studies have shown that 70 to 85% of Christian students exiting high school lose their faith. There are over 4,000 four-year schools in the country and reportedly less than 900 have on-campus ministries, according to the Youth Transition Network. One of the major problems Schadt pointed out is that most students are not even aware of the existing ministries on campuses.
“Most of the students leaving the high school environment do not have name recognition or even know the names of most of the college and career ministries across the country,” stated Schadt. “They don’t even know when they see a sign for The Navigators, what The Navigators is. They think it’s a sailing club.
“They don’t think it’s a place to get connected to the body of Christ.”
Currently in the works, the national campaign will help motivate students to want to get connected to college ministries and be prepared for their new chapter in life. It will also serve to spread awareness to parents of the fallout of Christian students upon their entrance into college life.
Meetings addressing the critical youth issue began last spring and are continuing with an expanding network.
“The meetings that have been held related to the Youth Transition Network are the first ever significant large-scale meetings between youth and college ministry leaders,” Schadt stressed. “So what we’re working on is the handshake...that the high school leaders will ‘pitch’ their students and the college and career ministry leaders across the country will be in position and prepared to ‘catch’ students before they leave home.”
What Students Need to Know
Is it possible to be an educated person without knowing about the Bible? That’s the question that was posed to thirty-nine English professors at some of our leading universities. Their answers should not come as a surprise, although given our culture’s “Christophobia” and the politically correct attitudes on campuses, they probably do.
The relationship between biblical literacy and education was the subject of a survey conducted by the Bible Literacy Project. The study, whose subtitle is “What University Professors Say Incoming Students Need to Know,” found that every professor surveyed agreed with the following statement: “Regardless of a person’s faith, an educated person needs to know about the Bible.” Every professor!
By way of elaboration, Professor George P. Landow, from my alma mater, the very liberal Brown University, said, “[Without the Bible] it’s like using a dictionary with one-third of the words removed.” Professor Ulrich Knoepflmacher at Princeton said that the lack of “Bible knowledge is almost crippling in students’ ability to be sophisticated readers.”
Case in point: A preparation workbook for the Advanced Placement Literature exam lists 67 biblical allusions among the 105 allusions that it recommends students know. Yet, only 8% of public high schools teach about the Bible even as literature.
Then there’s the Bible’s central role in Western civilization. As David Kastan of Columbia said, “The Bible is the foundational text, certainly of the West . . . We need to know more, and we need to know it better.”
Given the Bible’s status, it shouldn’t be “too much to ask,” as Gordon Braden of the University of Virginia put it, for students to read what he called a “core Bible.” This would include “Genesis, Exodus, the Psalms, the four Gospels, and the Book of Revelation.” In Braden’s words, “If they have that, then we can get started.”
If leading academics agree on the importance of the Bible, regardless of one’s faith or lack thereof, why isn’t it being taught more? Why are we raising the first generation to have lost the biblical narrative that was second nature to prior generations in America?
The answer certainly is not for lack of a suitable curriculum. The Bible Literacy Project recently released a textbook called THE BIBLE AND ITS INFLUENCE. The textbook has been well received, not only by evangelical leaders, but by Catholic, Orthodox, and Jewish leaders as well.
The text enables students to learn about the role of the Bible in an accurate, scholarly, and constitutional way. It helps teachers and administrators feel more confident about their ability to do justice to our “foundational text.”
The problem lies in getting past the “Christophobia” I mentioned earlier. Whether the problem lies in overt hostility or a misunderstanding of what the law actually says, many schools are reluctant to teach the Bible.
That’s where you come in. There is overwhelming evidence of the need for biblical literacy in public education. You need to bring this evidence to the attention of those running your local school boards. You need to help them understand that the goal is not spreading a particular religion but preventing the spread of something far worse: a crippling kind of ignorance.
[KH: fun to read]
by Mike S. Adams
Dear Spring 2006 students:
The mainstream media isn’t on to it yet, but there is a new psychological malady sweeping the nation - especially prevalent in our institutions of higher learning. I call it Attention Surplus Syndrome. Perhaps the media will start to discuss it once they find an appropriate acronym. Until then, you’ll just have to rely on my brief description of the syndrome, which is based upon my observations as a college professor.
Attention Surplus Syndrome is characterized by the four major symptoms I will discuss in the next few paragraphs. Interestingly, few people suffering from Attention Surplus Syndrome exhibit just one or two of the symptoms. Where one is present, the other three usually follow.
Lateness. In order to be on time to class one must first recognize that there is an actual objective reality independent of one’s feelings. The Office of Campus Diversity does not feel that this is correct but they are wrong. They are wrong about almost everything including the notion that there is no such thing as right or wrong.
So, in my class, students are required to buy a watch and set it to the real time that is easily accessible on the Weather Channel. Students cannot come in late and tell me they really felt like they were on time. Nor am I interested in any excuses for their tardiness. I made it through a Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctorate program without ever being a single second late for any class. You can make it to my class on time this semester. We only meet 42 times. You can just skip class on the days that you are overwhelmed by the oppressive white, patriarchal, heterosexist, Bourgeois concept of punctuality.
Of course, there is one drawback to my policy. Since you are required to be on time, you won’t be able to draw attention to yourself by running into class huffing and puffing after my lecture has already started. But that’s okay. This class is all about learning. It’s not all about you.
Interruptive-ness. For some reason, the kindergarten hand-raising lesson I learned when I was five years old is no longer taught in our public schools. It’s really quite simple so just pay attention to the following:
It is better to raise your hand and allow the professor to call on you than it is to simply blurt out your commentary before the professor has completed a thought or sentence.
It is also a good idea to get the notes you missed (from all the days you skipped) from a fellow student outside of class. When you pass notebooks back and forth during class saying “dude, I can’t read your @#$%ing hand-writing” you tend to call attention to yourself and away from the lecture.
But, of course, that is really the goal for some of you, isn’t it. It is more fun to be the center of attention than it is to be one of 40 passive listeners in a college classroom. But, regardless, in my class you won’t be a blurter, a constant hand-raiser, or a notebook passer. That’s just not okay. This class is all about learning. It’s not all about you.
Cell phone addiction. You know who you are. You can’t live without your cell phone. It is your security blanket. After every class, you run out into the hall and pull it out to check the “calls received” function. When you have no missed calls, you feel blue. When you have them you feel good enough, you feel smart enough, and you feel like - dog-gone-it! - people might just like you.
But there is a problem. I don’t allow cell phones in class. The reason is really simple: You can’t seem to remember to turn off the ringer and so your phone interrupts me.
And, of course, there’s another problem: Those who do turn off the ringer sometimes like to text message friends during my lectures.
And, there’s a third problem: People are starting to cheat on exams by storing test information in their cell phones. You didn’t think I knew that, did you?
That is why cell phones are banned in my class. I know you don’t like it because you get less attention when you are without your cell phone. But that’s okay. This class is all about learning. It’s not all about you.
And, by the way, if I see you with a cell phone during an exam, you are presumed guilty of cheating until you can prove yourself innocent. Your trial will have one juror. That juror is named Mike Adams.
Excuse-making. There’s really no excuse for making excuses, is there? So, in my class we just don’t do it. Maybe you really did have an abortion last week. Maybe your girlfriend really did give you herpes. Maybe you really are too stupid to set an alarm clock. But, by refusing to listen to your excuses, I protect you from communicating to me the extent of your inability to take responsibility for your own conduct. Since you won’t be bothering me with these excuses, chances are I will not, at any point, come to the conclusion that you are a whiner or a loser. Instead, we will just focus on learning.
I know you don’t like it when you can’t share your excuses for failure. That’s because you get more attention (and sympathy) when you do. But that’s okay. This class is all about learning. It’s not all about you.
The good news about Attention Surplus Syndrome is that most of you don’t have it. You will be punctual, cell phone-less, non-interruptive, non-excuse-making scholars over the course of the next few months. And, for your consideration of others, you will be richly rewarded. In fact, of your three exams, I will double the highest grade you make this semester and divide by four – instead of just dividing by three.
But, those of you suffering from Attention Surplus Syndrome will suffer a different fate. Every time you exhibit your psychological problem – by being late, or interruptive, or toting a cell phone in my class, or by simply wasting my time with idiotic excuses – I will calmly email you a list of my class rules. The copy you are reading today is free. Each subsequent copy will cost you two points on your final average.
My philosophy of teaching is so simple it can be summarized in these two sentences: I only care about learning and retention, not your yearning for attention. If students show their ASS in my class, they do not pass.
Are there any questions before we start?
by Marvin Olasky
The University of Kansas (KU) did some damage control last month when it announced cancellation of a class taught by an overt hater of Christians — but let’s not let it and other universities get away so easily.
Paul Mirecki, who chaired KU’s Religious Studies department and later claimed he was beaten up for his beliefs by two men in a pickup truck, wrote that he wanted to teach the course to give “the fundies ... a nice slap in their big fat face.” He also bashed Catholics, but a university spokeswoman said Mirecki’s “offensive” and “ill-considered” comments did not represent the values of the university or its faculty.
Hmmm ... I suspect they do represent the views of many professors, and Mirecki suspects the same: He wrote to a discussion group last year, “The majority of my colleagues here in the dept are agnostics or atheists, or they just don’t care. If any of them are theists, it hasn’t been obvious to me in the 15 years I’ve been here.”
Theism among professors throughout this land is rare, but agnosticism and atheism are common, and I know one reason why — the academic blacklisting of any who show Christian belief outside of an hour on Sunday morning. (It’s sadly amusing that college students by the time they’re seniors have heard of “blacklisting” during the dreaded “McCarthy era” a half century ago, but they don’t know about the contemporary blacklist.)
I’ve heard about the current blacklist for years, and until I became mildly notorious, I occasionally received calls from chairmen of academic departments asking for my view of graduate students whose dissertations I had supervised. One call included this hesitant inquiry: “There’s, uh, one question that arose concerning [the candidate’s] background … just a hunch, something that came out of my going through his vita .... assistant managing editor, Good News magazine.”
When I asked what the hunch was, the departmental chairman whispered the horrid possibility: Is the candidate a “fundamentalist”? His concern, he hastened to say, was not with religious belief as such, but “we would not want a person who held beliefs that would interfere with his ability to do mainstream scholarship ... We are so very, very eager to have someone doing mainstream research and publication. We want someone who will be nationally recognized, who will have stature in the field.”
The professor’s caution was logical. Given the biases of leading academics and their journals, a fundamentalist (unless he stays in the closet) will be frozen out, and a university’s national reputation will not grow. What’s illogical is the tendency of many Christian or conservative college alumni to enable the bias against Christians and conservatives by sending contribution checks made out to the institution’s general fund.
Christians particularly, instead of writing undesignated checks, should direct funds to Christian groups on campus such as Reformed University Fellowship, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, or Campus Crusade for Christ. They should also support Christian study centers adjacent to universities. Any donors except liberals should avoid general funds and instead find out about, and support directly the research of, professors who challenge the academy’s left-wing orthodoxy.
Donors who have lots of money and want to make a big difference might work to set up new, non-leftist programs within universities. Some moderates and conservatives, with great determination, have already done that at institutions like Princeton, Duke, Brown, Colgate, the University of Colorado, City University of New York, the University of Nebraska-Omaha, and the University of Alaska. The National Association of Scholars, based in Princeton, N.J., is helping to midwife some efforts.
Some potential contributors pessimistically think that university guardians won’t allow such centers of opposition to arise. It’s important to remember, though, that many academic officials who have turned their backs on God now serve Mammon, and cannot help salivating at the sight of checks waved in front of them. If funding emerges, breakthroughs will come.
More Evangelicals are attending Ivy League universities where spiritual interest is growing more than ever, according to university faculty and campus fellowship officials.
More Evangelicals are attending Ivy League universities where spiritual interest is growing more than ever, according to university faculty and campus fellowship officials.
“People are more hungry than I’ve ever seen; people want to know if it’s true or not,” said Craig Parker of The Navigators, according to CBN. “I’ve seen a growing spiritual interest.”
Noting the increase in Evangelicals at Ivy League schools, Michael Lindsay, a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University, said, “This is the unintended consequence of having a more diverse student body. As these elite institutions have recruited geographically…they’ve also produced religious diversity, so there are more Evangelicals going to places like Harvard, Dartmouth, Princeton, Yale, than there were in the past.”
Campus fellowship groups have in turn experienced a growth surge.
The number of students involved with Campus Crusade for Christ rose 163% over the past 20 years at Brown University. At Harvard, participation has grown more than 500% and 700% at Yale.
“The amount of Christian groups has totally proliferated,” said Nicole Leonard, a 1988 Dartmouth graduate, according to CBN. “There were only a couple to choose from when I was a student, and now there’s four to six evangelical groups … it’s just grown so much, that you can’t deny our presence, and it’s really been a positive presence.”
Christian students highlighted their faith in Christ as a fuel for their hard work.
“For me, as a follower of Christ, I’d say that the excellence of my work is motivated by my Christian convictions,” said Lindsay.
Brittany Pheiffer, a senior at Dartmouth, said, “It’s the only part of me that trickles into everything else. It’s something that I want to be able to be express in my academics, be it just that I want to work hard, knowing that I represent Christ.”
While Christians remain a minority at Ivy League schools, many see a spiritual renewal and its impact on society.
“Ivy leagues are really influential. People from all over the world come here, and leaders in society are influential in that. If we can have revival in these schools, it’s going to have an impact not only on our society, but the world as a whole,” said Dr. Richard Denton, a professor at Dartmouth.
Meanwhile, as more Evangelicals have made their way into the Ivy League, enrollment in Christian higher education institutions has also seen soaring numbers over the past 14 years.
According to numbers from the U.S. Department of Education, total fall enrollment at member campuses of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU) grew significantly more than enrollment in other segments of higher education from 1990 to 2004. CCCU campuses grew 70.6%, from 134,592 students in 1990 to 229,649 students in 2004. In the same time frame, all public four-year campuses grew only 12.8%, all independent four-year campuses grew 28% and all independent religious four-year campuses grew 27.5%.
CCCU President Bob Andringa, in October, attributed the growth trend to a number of different factors. One big factor that he noted was academic quality.
“More evangelicals embrace higher learning,” he said.
Dartmouth College is older than the United States of America, having been established in 1750 as “Moore’s Indian Charity School.” That’s a part of Dartmouth’s history that would be unknown to most Americans, but the school was established by Reverend Eleazar Wheelock, a leading figure in the nation’s first Great Awakening. Wheelock established the school with the purpose of evangelizing American Indians, and he intended for the school eventually known as Dartmouth College to compete with Harvard and Yale in terms of academic distinction. In other words, Dartmouth College is an Ivy League institution originally established for the evangelization of Native Americans.
Keep that in mind as you learn of more recent developments. On September 20, Dartmouth’s student body president, Noah Riner, delivered the customary convocation address—a responsibility that comes with his elected position. Mr. Riner’s speech was relatively short, intensely personal, and intellectually courageous. All that explains why Mr. Riner, a home-schooled native of Louisville, Kentucky, soon found himself at the center of controversy.
The response to Riner’s speech included vitriolic outrage. He was denounced, criticized, and lambasted for the content of his controversial address. The Student Assembly’s vice president for student life resigned the very next day, indicating that she could not serve with Riner because of his “appalling” speech to incoming freshmen.
What in the world did Riner say? “You really are special,” he told the Dartmouth class of 2009. But Mr. Riner didn’t stop there.
“But it isn’t enough to be special,” he continued. “It isn’t enough to be talented, to be beautiful, to be smart. Generations of amazing students have come before you, and have sat in your seats. Some have been good, some have been bad. All have been special.”
Just a few words into his convocation address, Riner signaled that he intended to address the incoming students with something more than emotionalism, congratulations, and simplistic affirmation. He had another issue in mind—character.
His speech took a fascinating turn when Riner recited a list of Dartmouth graduates who had ended up as examples of deficient character. A member of the class of 1939 became a Soviet spy, even as a later graduate committed murder and yet another was arrested for sexually assaulting a fifteen-year-old student.
“These stories demonstrate that it takes more than a Dartmouth degree to build character,” Riner asserted. Even at this point, we must recognize that Riner’s convocation address must have broken the norm. After all, he was addressing the bright, privileged, and ambitious new class with the message that a Dartmouth education, while important, was not ultimate.
From that point, Riner expanded his focus to include developments such as looting in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and a crisis of character that affects the entire nation.
“We have the same flaws as the individuals who pillaged New Orleans. Ours haven’t been given such free reign, but they exist and are part of us all the same.”
We can be fairly certain that at least some of those bright young people sitting in the audience would have been surprised, if not offended, to be told that they are sinners. “Let’s be honest,” Riner insisted, “the differences are in degree.”
But if Riner’s assertion that character is primary was not offensive enough, his example of character set many to squirming in their seats.
“Character has a lot to do with sacrifice, laying our personal interests down for something bigger,” Riner argued. “The best example of this is Jesus. In the Garden of Gethsemane, just hours before His crucifixion, Jesus prayed, ‘Father, if Thou be willing, remove this cup from Me: nevertheless not My will, but Thine, be done.’ He knew the right thing to do. He knew the cost would be agonizing torture and death. He did it anyway. That’s character.”
Noah Riner went on. “Jesus is a good example of character, but He’s also much more than that. He is the solution to flawed people like corrupt Dartmouth alums, looters, and me.” As he later explained, “Jesus’ message of redemption is simple. People are imperfect, and there are consequences for our actions. He gave His life for our sin so that we wouldn’t have to bear the penalty of the law; so we could see love. The problem is me; the solution is God’s love: Jesus on the cross, for us.”
The response was immediate, vitriolic, and revealing. The cartoonist for the college’s campus newspaper, The Dartmouth, drew a comic strip depicting Riner as a crusading theocrat and Jesus as a marijuana smoker. Kaelin Goulet not only resigned as vice president for student life, but also condemned Riner for his speech. “Your first opportunity to represent Student Assembly to the incoming freshmen was appalling,” she wrote. “You embarrassed the organization; you embarrassed yourself.” In an email message cited by the campus newspaper, Goulet charged, “I consider his choice of topic for the Convocation speech reprehensible and an abuse of power.”
“I have been looking forward to working with you all and thought we were in agreement for what SA stands for,” the former vice president wrote. “Apparently, I was incorrect.” Her spirit of cooperation evidently did not extend to Mr. Riner’s right to speak his mind in his convocation address.
Leaders of Hillel and Shanti, the Jewish and Hindu religious groups on Dartmouth’s campus, wrote a letter to the campus newspaper that described Noah Riner’s convocation address as a “disrespectful action” which represents “the complete antithesis of the value that Dartmouth espouses.”
The editors of The Dartmouth acknowledged the college’s roots, reminding readers that Dartmouth had been founded “to bring Christianity to Native Americans.” Nevertheless, the paper celebrated the fact that “Dartmouth has more recently eschewed this goal in favor of providing a balanced, secular and inclusive education to its students.”
According to the editors, “The problem with Riner’s address was his insinuation that turning to Jesus is the only way to find character. Indeed, Jesus was the only positive example of character Riner offered. While many of the ideas Jesus exemplified and his followers espoused stretch across faiths, statements such as, ‘Jesus is a good example of character, but He’s also much more than that. He is the solution to flawed people like corrupt Dartmouth alums, looters, and me’ and, ‘The problem is me; the solution is God’s love: Jesus on the cross, for us,’ are explicitly Christian and, as such, managed to alienate many in the audience regardless of their faiths.”
Note clearly—the very fact that Dartmouth’s student body president would espouse convictions consistent with the college’s founding vision was considered an act virtually tantamount to treason against Dartmouth’s current “secular and inclusive” vision.
Brian Martin, guest columnist for the campus newspaper, described Riner’s convocation address as “fire-and-brimstone remarks” that demonstrated “casual disrespect for the diversity of the captive audience.”
“We are a community that welcomes and respects all its members, no matter what your creed,” Martin insisted. Evidently, this means welcome and respect to all members and all creeds—except for the founding creed of the institution.
Martin pushed his point one step further, arguing that “Jesus would not have wanted to make new students feel unwelcome, to make faculty feel uncomfortable or to make alumni question whether this was the same Dartmouth that they had attended.” Are we to assume that Jesus Christ would have felt himself constrained by Ivy League etiquette? So much for cleansing the Temple.
Mr. Riner was not without his defenders. “Had Noah Riner opened his convocation speech with ‘I’m gay,’ this wouldn’t be happening. That’s not Noah, but if it were, no one would have resigned. No one would be organizing protests. Such a reaction, according to our rigid social standards, would be bigotry. If there were any Op-Eds or outcries, they would be praising his ability to encourage individualism and progressivism in Dartmouth.” Those are the words of Stacey Kourlis, who defended Riner in a column published in The Dartmouth. “We chose a leader who is willing to stand up and articulate his or her beliefs,” Kourlis argued. “We didn’t default to someone who’s doing this for a resume. That’s a testament to how special we [are] as a community. So let’s take it one step further and allow Riner to say precisely what he thinks, without fear of political correctness.”
The charter that established what we now know as Dartmouth College was granted by King George III of England, who stated that the purpose of the institution should be “for civilizing and Christianizing the children of pagans, as well as in all liberal arts and sciences, and also of English youths and any others.” Noah Riner’s crime was to fulfill that mission by speaking honestly, courageously, and sincerely about his Christian faith. It was a bold and powerful demonstration of Christian witness, and it was one young man’s demonstration of the very strength of character that authentic education is to stimulate and strengthen, not subvert and marginalize.
The controversy over Noah Riner’s convocation address at Dartmouth is a bracing reminder of the fact that America’s most prestigious academic institutions have become openly hostile to the very convictions upon which they were established. In the name of diversity, voices such as Noah Riner’s are decried and condemned. Just sixty years ago, Ernest M. Hopkins, then president of Dartmouth, said, “Dartmouth is a Christian college founded for the Christianization of its students.” One wonders whether Reverend Wheelock and President Hopkins would be welcomed today on the campus of the college they respectively founded and led.
R. Albert Mohler, Jr. is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.
A convocation speech made last Tuesday by Dartmouth College’s Student Body President with references to Jesus has sparked controversy on the Ivy League campus, leading to the publishing of a retaliating cartoon and the resignation of the Assembly’s Vice President.
Addressing Dartmouth students at the university’s convocation, Student Body President Noah Riner delivered a speech on the importance of character.
“[I]t takes more than a Dartmouth degree to build character,” said Riner, pointing to stories of corrupt Dartmouth alumni such as murderer Daniel Mason from the class of ‘93 and indicted rapist P.J. Halas from the class of ‘98.
“Character has a lot to do with sacrifice, laying our personal interests down for something bigger. The best example of this is Jesus,” continued Riner, praising Jesus’ decision to take up the cross despite the consequences.
“He knew the right thing to do. He knew the cost would be agonizing torture and death. He did it anyway. That’s character.”
Some students took offense to the speech’s references to Jesus, saying that convocation was an inappropriate forum for the topic.
One of them was the Student Assembly’s Vice President for Student Life, Kaelin Goulet, who announced her resignation last Thursday.
“I consider his choice of topic for the Convocation speech reprehensible and an abuse of power,” Goulet wrote in a BlitzMail message obtained by The Dartmouth – America’s oldest college newspaper.
In an interview with The Dartmouth on Wednesday, Riner said his speech had nothing to do with his agenda for the Student Assembly but was to get students thinking about character.
“I realize that I have a very specific perspective on the issue of character,” Riner said. “And by adding my perspective, I hope that it’ll give other people the opportunity to examine their own perspectives and to add those to the Dartmouth dialogue.”
Others applauded Riner for his courage and defended his freedom of speech.
Chris West, college director of Christian Impact – the Dartmouth chapter of Campus Crusade for Christ – told the Christian Post, “I believe they were appropriate, humble, and heroic.”
He added, “Noah demonstrated the very character of which he spoke when he alluded to Christ’s sacrifice for us all. Jesus is still controversial to this day. The central question of ‘Who do you say I am?’ has divided the academic world, and every other world from the time Jesus walked the earth.”
David Glovsky, a Jewish student, wrote in a guest column to The Dartmouth, saying that he was not offended by Riner’s speech.
He argued that although the speech may have been “preachy” and led to disagreements among the Dartmouth community, “our disagreements do not give us the right to limit his speech.”
The Editorial Board of The Dartmouth condemned the speech, writing, “The problem with Riner’s speech was his insinuation that turning to Jesus is the only way to find character.”
While Riner had every right to speak freely about what matters to him, wrote the Board on Friday, “the forum he chose, however, was inappropriate.”
Patirick Dunn, a member of Christian Impact, noted that there were no restrictions placed on the speech’s content. While he expressed regret from the quarrel and division caused by the speech, Dunn told the Christian Post, “I make no apology, however, for the content of the claims made by Jesus Christ, nor would I apologize for Jesus’ specific commandments to speak openly about the good news of his death and resurrection as the remedy for humanity’s sin.”
“My suspicion is that those who believe convocation is an inappropriate place for the gospel message find few appropriate places for the gospel to be publicly expressed, and that limitation is not possible for those of us who believe in God’s saving grace through Christ Jesus,” added Dunn. “I respect Mr. Riner for his courage and I believe Dartmouth is a wonderful institution capable of encompassing a wide variety of viewpoints.”
Some pointed out the hypocrisy of students and the newspaper that had no qualms about a comic strip by Paul Heintz, who lost to Riner in last spring’s Student Assembly race. The cartoon, which appeared in The Dartmouth, portrayed Riner as a crusader who wants “to vanquish all those infidel looters and rioters” and Jesus as a pot-smoking hippie who tells Riner to “Take a hit off this s— and chill the f— out.”
In a letter addressed to The Dartmouth’s editor, John Stern from the class of ‘05 wrote, “I understand that some students may not enjoy hearing beliefs espoused at Convocation that conflict sharply with their own; and students have every right to raise respectful objections. But, especially in this atmosphere of tolerance and open-mindedness, Heintz’s response was egregious.
“I dare say it was equally offensive to Christians, if not more so, than Riner’s speech was to non-Christians,” Stern continued. “When will we finally learn the lesson we claim we know so well: to treat the people and ideas with which we disagree with respect?”
Dunn admitted to finding the cartoon “offensive,” saying it does nothing to contribute to a legitimate discussion of religion and spirituality in the university. Nonetheless, he defended Heintz’s freedom of speech.
“Mr. Heintz is free to express his opinions, and rightly so,” said Dunn.
Although Dartmouth College was founded in 1769 for the purpose of providing Christian-based education for Native Americans, Christian Impact’s West notes, “Today Dartmouth is a diverse institution representing many voices, and varying beliefs.”
“Opinions differ but we ought to be able to present our views without apology and discuss them with civility,” he said. “Pluralism may be here to stay and in this milieu everyone has a voice. But a plumb line of truth remains.”
“There was a day when Dartmouth truly was a Vox Clamantis in Deserto (Voice calling in the wilderness),” West continued. “I believe Noah is a remnant of that voice calling to the wilderness Dartmouth has become.”
From time to time a scholarly study comforts one in that the study confirms, or tends to confirm, what one perceives he has observed all along. (Of course, sometimes it’s the opposite but we won’t dwell upon that.) The writer has friends – and indeed, also professional colleagues – among academics; himself has one college (in history) and two law degrees; has lectured at programs of a number of law schools; has served as president of his law school alumni association; reads some law review articles and other academic publications, as well as the popular press; has published some such pieces; and so forth. That’s enough empirically to conclude that academe disproportionately is liberal.
Guess what? A study by prominent George Mason University Professor S. Robert Lichter, Ph.D. (in government, Harvard University), in collaboration with two other academics (Retired Smith College Political Science Professor Stanley Rothman and University of Toronto Political Science Professor Neil Nevette), published by the Center for Media and Public Affairs, of which Dr. Lichter is President, offers a scholarly study which confirms empirical observation: Academe disproportionately is liberal.
The study is based upon a survey of 1,643 full-time faculty at some 180 full four-year colleges. To a point even scholarly surveys must be evaluated with a touch of skepticism but they are far more apt than popular polls to reflect accuracy. When the statistics are overwhelming it matters less because the overall message, not arithmetic precision, is reflective of the facts.
Consider, then, a few such statistics.
As to social issues: Women have a right to an abortion – 67% are said strongly to agree, another 23% somewhat agree. Extra-marital cohabitation is acceptable – 50% strongly agree; another 25% somewhat. The practicing homosexual lifestyle is as acceptable as the heterosexual: 44% strongly; another 23% somewhat. As to political issues: Environmental protection predominates over cost increase and job diminution – 48% strongly agree, another 40% somewhat. Government should reduce the income gap: 38% strongly agree, 34% somewhat. Government should guarantee employment – 25% strongly agree, another 41% somewhat.
By self-description 72% of such faculty is liberal, 15% conservative; 50% is Democratic, 11% Republican.
Do we wonder that a Duke University philosophy professor publicly opined that liberals generally are brighter than conservatives? Or that Harvard President Lawrence Summers, considered liberal-to-somewhat-liberal when in Washington as a Clinton Secretary of the Treasury, transmogrified into a faculty-censured conservative after uttering a (supposedly private) comment about the relative ability of women as compared to men in mathematics and the sciences?
Do we wonder that 51% never, or seldom, attend church or synagogue?
Are we surprised that the percentages summarized above run generally higher in the so-called “elite” schools than in others?
Are we surprised that the quest for “diversity,” powerful in academe and widely touted (or forced) in employment and elsewhere, refers only to differences in racial, sexual, sociological and environmental background, but never ever to differences in political complexion?
Messrs. Lichter, Rothman and Nevitte are due ample congratulations for their research, notwithstanding, alas, it merely further substantiates that which is obvious to those who choose to observe. Truly knowledge of the academic disparity accords new meaning to the adage that “There are none so blind as those who will not see.”
Part of the solution, of course, individually difficult though often it may be, is for more scholars of moderate and conservative bent to pursue academic careers. Academe greatly influences a civilized society, as indeed it should – but with some balance.
Marion Edwyn Harrison, Esq., is President of, and Counsel to, the Free Congress Foundation.
What our children is learning?
SEVERAL CENTURIES AGO, some “very light-skinned” people were shipwrecked on a tropical island. After “many years under the tropical sun,” this light-skinned population became “dark-skinned,” says Biology: The Study of Life, a high-school textbook published in 1998 by Prentice Hall, an imprint of Pearson Education.
“Downright bizarre,” says Nina Jablonski, who holds the Irvine chair of anthropology at the California Academy of Sciences. Jablonski, an expert in the evolution of skin color, says it takes at least 15,000 years for skin color to evolve from black to white or vice versa. That sure is “many years.” The suggestion that skin color can change in a few generations has no basis in science.
Pearson Education spokesperson Wendy Spiegel admits the error in describing the evolution of skin color, but says the teacher’s manual explains the phenomenon correctly. Just why teachers are given accurate information while students are misled remains unclear.
But then there’s lots that’s puzzling about the science textbooks used in American classrooms. A sloppy way with facts, a preference for the politically correct over the scientifically sound, and sheer faddism characterize their content. It’s as if their authors had decided above all not to expose students to the intellectual rigor that is the lifeblood of science.
Thus, a chapter on climate in a fifth-grade science textbook in the Discovery Works series, published by Houghton Mifflin (2000), opens with a Native American explanation for the changing seasons: “Crow moon is the name given to spring because that is when the crows return. April is the month of Sprouting Grass Moon.” Students meander through three pages of Algonquin lore before they learn that climate is affected by the rotation and tilt of Earth—not by the return of the crows.
Houghton Mifflin spokesman Collin Earnst says such tales are included in order to “connect science to culture.” He might more precisely have said to connect science to certain preferred, non-Western, or primitive cultures. Were a connection drawn to, say, a Bible story, the outcry would be heard around the world.
Affirmative action for women and minorities is similarly pervasive in science textbooks, to absurd effect. Al Roker, the affable black NBC weatherman, is hailed as a great scientist in one book in the Discovery Works series. It is common to find Marie Curie given a picture and half a page of text, but her husband, Pierre, who shared a Nobel Prize with her, relegated to the role of supportive spouse. In the same series, Thomas Edison, inventor of the light bulb, is shown next to black scientist Lewis Latimer, who improved the light bulb by adding a carbon filament. Edison’s picture is smaller.
Jews have been awarded 22% of all Nobel Prizes in science, but readers of Houghton Mifflin’s fifth-grade textbooks won’t get wind of that. Navajo physicist Fred Begay, however, merits half a page for his study of Navajo medicine. Albert Einstein isn’t mentioned. Biologist Clifton Poodry has made no noteworthy scientific discoveries, but he was born on the Tonawanda Seneca Indian reservation, so his picture is shown in Glenco/McGraw-Hill’s Life Science (2002), a middle-school biology textbook. The head of the Human Genome Project, Francis Collins, and Nobel Laureates James Watson, Maurice H.F. Wilkins, and Francis Crick aren’t named.
Addison-Wesley, another imprint of Pearson Education, is so keen on political correctness that it lists a multicultural review board of nonscientists in its Science Insights: Exploring Matter and Energy, published in 1994 but still in use. Houghton Mifflin says it overemphasizes minorities and women to “encourage” students from these groups. A spokesman for Pearson Education blames the states for demanding multiculturalism.
If it’s the states that impose multiculturalism, however, they’re only doing the bidding of the National Academy of Sciences. In 1995, the academy published the National Science Education Standards, which, according to academy president Bruce Alberts, “represent the best thinking . . . about what is best for our nation’s students.” The standards (which explicitly place religion on a par with “myth and superstition”) counsel school boards to modify “assessments” for students with “limited English proficiency” by, for example, raising their scores. They tell teachers to be “sensitive” to students who are “economically deprived, female, have disabilities, or [come] from populations underrepresented in the sciences.” Teachers should especially encourage “women and girls, students of color and students with disabilities.”
This “best thinking” of the nation’s scientific elite is being used by nearly all the 50 states as they centralize their science standards. With 22 states now requiring statewide adoption of textbooks, big-state textbook markets are the prizes for which publishers compete.
A study commissioned by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation in 2001 found 500 pages of scientific error in 12 middle-school textbooks used by 85% of the students in the country. One misstates Newton’s first law of motion. Another says humans can’t hear elephants. Another confuses “gravity” with “gravitational acceleration.” Another shows the equator running through the United States. Individual scientists draft segments of these books, but reviewing the final product is sometimes left to multicultural committees who have no expertise in science.
“Thousands of teachers are saddled with error-filled physical science textbooks,” wrote John Hubisz, a physics professor at North Carolina State University at Raleigh and the author of the report. “Political correctness is often more important than scientific accuracy. Middle-school text publishers now employ more people to censor books than they do to check facts.”
The aim of President Bill Clinton’s Goals 2000 project, enacted nine years ago, was to make American students first in science literacy. It didn’t happen. A study by the National Assessment governing board in 2000 found that only 12% of graduating seniors were proficient in science. International surveys continue to show that American high school seniors rank 19th among seniors surveyed in 21 countries.
Members of the scientific elite are occasionally heard blaming religion for the sorry state of science education. But it isn’t priests, rabbis, or mullahs who write the textbooks that misrepresent evolution, condescend to disadvantaged groups, misstate key concepts of physics, show the equator running through the United States, and come close to excising white males from the history of science. Young Americans need to learn science, and they need to distinguish it clearly from Algonquin myth.
Pamela R. Winnick is an attorney and journalist based in Pittsburgh. Her book A Jealous God: Science’s Crusade Against Religion is due out later this year.
For decades, network television, public schools, and abortion clinics were some of the main fronts in the nation’s culture wars. Now, however, college and university campuses are becoming a major battleground, as Christian and conservative students are fighting what they call an entrenched and ferocious liberal and humanistic monopoly that tries to silence all dissent.
USA Today highlighted a recent study by researcher Daniel Klein of Santa Clara University in California. He found that, nationwide, Democrats outnumber Republicans 7-1 among university faculty members in the social science and humanities departments. In departments like anthropology, the disparity grew to 30-1.
Do such overloaded faculties make any difference in the classroom? In an attempt to document what students thought, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) commissioned a survey which questioned students on 50 top U.S. college and university campuses.
According to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), the ACTA report found that 49% of all students said their professors use classroom time to advance their personal political views and “frequently comment on politics in class even though it has nothing to do with the course.”
Even worse, said the WSJ article, 29% of students responding in the ACTA survey said they felt they had to agree with the professor’s political or social views “in order to get a good grade.”
Anne Neal, ACTA president, told WSJ: “If these were reports of sexual harassment in the classroom, they would get people’s attention.”
Conservatives are fighting back. Students for Academic Freedom provides information for students and student groups who feel besieged by the liberal atmosphere on campus. And the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) defends students who have had their constitutional rights violated by colleges and universities. World magazine noted that FIRE has been involved in more than 600 such cases since 1999.
Another option for Christians: foregoing the secular campus altogether. In the WSJ, author Charlotte Allen said, “America’s 700-plus religiously affiliated colleges and universities are enjoying an unprecedented surge of growth and a revival of interest.”
In a review of the new book God on the Quad, written by Naomi Schaefer Riley, Allen said statistics reveal that the number of students attending the 100 schools that make up the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities has risen 60% between 1990 and 2002.
These religious colleges and universities have pumped some 1.3 million graduates into the culture — making them what Riley calls a “missionary generation.”
A new survey funded by the Lilly Endowment found that most American teenagers are religious, pray while alone, feel close to God, and follow their parent’s faiths, but at the same time have difficulty expressing the faith’s teachings.
“Teenage religiosity for the vast majority is highly conventional,” said Christian Smith, who co-wrote Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers. “That may mean that compared to previous generations, teenagers today are more conventional and bound to mainstream values and cultures compared to, say, the ‘60s. They seem pretty content just going with how they were raised.”
The book, to be released in March by Oxford University Press, is the compilation of the first major finding by the National Study of Youth and Religion (NSYR).
The NYSR project involved a telephone survey of 3,300 randomly selected English and Spanish speaking American teenagers over a period of three years. Smith, a sociology professor at the University of North Carolina and Chapel Hill, with the help of a team of researchers, also conducted 267 in-depth interviews with the youth.
Of those surveyed, 82% said they are affiliated with a religious congregation and 71% said they felt “extremely,” “very” or “somewhat” close to God. Sixty five percent also said they pray alone a few times a week or more, and sixty one percent said they “definitely” believe in divine miracles from God.
In a larger picture, the survey found that most teenagers are greatly influenced by that of their parents’: less than one third of one percent reported that they were part of “alternative” religions such as Wicca. Three fourth of the religious teens said their beliefs were somewhat or very similar to that of their parents, and only 6 and 11% of teens said their beliefs are very different from their mothers’ and father’s beliefs, respectively.
Smith, an Episcopalian with three children said to AP that the results gave him greater assurance that he plays a key role in the religious lives of his teenagers.
“After doing this research I feel more authorized as a parent to teach my kids,” he said. “A lot of parents tell me, ‘My kid doesn’t listen to me anyway.’ It really just lets them off the hook.”
At that light, Smith said the survey “speaks more broadly about the direction of American religion. God is something like a combination of Divine Butler and Cosmic Therapist.”
Teens, like their American Baby Boomer parent generation, have a strong sense of religious identification, but are unsure of what the identification means in relation to their faith.
“What I find most interesting about the trend is the wide gap between religious knowledge on the part of most teens and their strong sense of religious identification and affiliation, as indicated by this survey,” said Mary Kupiec Cayton, a history professor at Miami University and a specialist in American spirituality.
“I agree that this trend isn’t unique to teens: it increasingly characterizes how many American adults feel about religion as well,” Cayton said. “Contemporary Americans are often looking to religion to meet their personal needs for community and emotional comfort. ‘Belief’ seems to depend a great deal on the degree to which these needs get met.”
The survey also found that religious teenagers are more emotionally healthy, academically successful, involved in community and trusting than those who are not religious.
A mixture of often contradictory ideas frames the popular imagination and, to a great extent, the contours of the American mind. One of the most cherished of these ideas is of fairly recent vintage, though its philosophical roots go far back into the American experience. This idea can be called simply the “self-esteem myth”—the idea that an individual’s self-esteem is central to success, happiness, performance, and behavior.
The idea that self-esteem is an essential part of a healthy personality is now virtually institutionalized in American culture. A quick visit to the local bookstore will reveal a myriad of titles loosely arranged under the category “self help.” The entire educational structure, especially at the elementary level, takes self-esteem as a basic imperative for the educational process.
The state of California even set up a task force in the late 1980s, charged to raise self-esteem in young people. State Assemblyman John Vasconcellos took the lead, convincing then-Governor George Deukmejian to establish the task force as a state project.
Now, a team of researchers has taken a closer look at the idea that self-esteem is a crucial factor in personal happiness, achievement, and behavior. Their research conclusively destroys the self-esteem myth and demonstrates that the nation’s obsession with self-esteem was never based on science in the first place.
The researchers, Roy F. Baumeister, Jennifer D. Campbell, Joachim I. Krueger and Kathleen D. Vohs, published their findings in the January 2005 issue of Scientific American. As the magazine explains, “Boosting people’s sense of self-worth has become a national preoccupation. Yet surprisingly, research shows that such efforts are of little value in fostering academic progress or preventing undesirable behavior.”
This article deserves wide attention, and should serve as a reminder that the reign of pop psychology has produced social effects that continue to influence the minds and lives of countless Americans. Many of the most cherished assumptions of secular psychology run into direct conflict with the Christian worldview. The self-esteem myth is a prime example of how unbiblical thinking can lead to countless problems. At the same time, these researchers are out to prove that the self-esteem myth was never based on any credible scientific evidence at all.
The team aims their sights at the self-esteem movement and, in particular, at the National Association for Self-Esteem [NASE], a group which aims to “promote awareness of and provide vision, leadership and advocacy for improving the human condition through the enhancement of self-esteem.” But, as these researchers counter, “regrettably, those who have been pursuing self-esteem-boosting programs, including the leaders of NASE, have not shown a desire to examine the new work, which is why the four of us recently came together under the aegis of the American Psychological Society to review the scientific literature.”
What did they find? Well, for one thing, these scientists discovered that many of the advocates of self-esteem have no idea what self-esteem is, and have no means of measuring it. It turns out that most of the theorists and investigators who have been dealing with the issue have simply asked persons what they think of themselves. As these researchers argue, “Naturally enough, the answers are often colored by the common tendency to want to make oneself look good.” As these scientists see it, “psychologists lack any better method to judge self-esteem, which is worrisome because similar self-ratings of other attributes often prove to be way off.”
Interestingly, this quartet of scientists reviewed the literature that argues for a correlation between physical attractiveness and self-esteem. As it happens, those who register self-esteem also report themselves to be physically attractive. The complicating factor in all this is that others do not see these individuals in the same way—at least in terms of their physical attractiveness. As these authors explain, “What seemed at first to be a strong link between physical good looks and high self-esteem turned out to be nothing more than a pattern of consistency in how favorably people rate themselves.”
If all this seems like a parody of a self-esteem seminar, hold on. The researchers argue that both high self-esteem and low self-esteem are rooted in a person’s larger worldview and self-concept. Those with low self-esteem, in the authors’ term, those prone to “floccinaucinihilipilification,” are not merely negative about themselves, they are negative about everything.
There’s more. While self-esteem advocates have argued that high self-esteem leads to a lowering of social prejudices, these researchers found exactly the opposite: “people with high self-esteem appear to be more prejudiced.”
This team also accused self-esteem proponents of confusing correlation and causation. “If high self-esteem brings about certain positive outcomes, it may well be worth the effort and expense of trying to instill this feeling. But if the correlations mean simply that a positive self-image is a result of success or good behavior—which is, after all, at least as plausible—there is little to be gained by raising self-esteem alone.”
When it comes to academic performance, the evangelists for self-esteem have argued that raising students’ feelings about themselves would lead to greater academic achievement. The team admits the early work did show a positive correlation between self-esteem and academic performance. Nevertheless, the research did not sustain the claims. Researchers Sheila M. Pottebaum, Timothy Z. Keith and Stewart W. Ehly, all then associated with the University of Iowa, tested over 20,000 high school students in both the 10th and the 12th grades. “They found that self-esteem in 10th grade is only weakly predictive of academic achievement in 12th grade. Academic achievement in 10th grade correlates with self-esteem in 12th grade only trivially better. Such results, which are now available for multiple studies, certainly do not indicate that raising self-esteem offers students much benefit. Some findings even suggest that artificially boosting self-esteem may lower subsequent performance.”
In other words, telling children they are doing well when they are actually doing poorly is a destructive lie that misleads the student and, if anything, leads to even further frustration.
Another claim routinely made by self-esteem advocates is that adolescents are likely to show more sexual restraint and behavioral control if they demonstrate high self-esteem. “All in all,” these researchers report, “the results do not support the idea that low self-esteem predisposes young people to more or earlier sexual activity. If anything, those with high self-esteem are less inhibited, more willing to disregard risks and more prone to engage in sex. At the same time, bad sexual experiences and unwanted pregnancies appear to lower self-esteem.” Is this surprising? When it comes to alcohol consumption, another common adolescent form of risk-taking, the data appear to conflict. Nevertheless, at least some studies have shown that high self-esteem is linked to frequent alcohol consumption. All this suggests that adolescents with high self-esteem may translate much of that confidence into risk-taking behavior.
An individual’s high self-esteem does seem linked to a personal sense of happiness. “After coming to the conclusion that high self-esteem does not lessen the tendency toward violence, that it does not deter adolescents from turning to alcohol, tobacco, drugs and sex, and that it fails to improve academic or job performance,” the researchers “got a boost when we looked into how self-esteem relates to happiness.” They found that people with high self-esteem seem to be happier than others, and are thus less likely to be depressed.
Nevertheless, this team raises again the question of correlation versus causation. Does self-esteem produce happiness, or does happiness tend to boost self-esteem?
What about all those self-esteem programs? This research team concluded, “We have found little to indicate that indiscriminately promoting self-esteem in today’s children or adults, just for being themselves, offers society any compensatory benefits beyond the seductive pleasure it brings to those engaged in the exercise.”
This is an amazing article, but it is not likely to receive the attention it deserves. Those pushing the self-esteem agenda hold sway throughout the educational establishment, the psychological community, and the culture at large. An entire industry of self-esteem enhancing seminars, conferences, books, and therapeutic programs means big business and big money. Furthermore, the idea that self-esteem—simply feeling good about ourselves without reference to reality, achievement, virtue, or behavior—is a prerequisite to contentment is itself both seductive and dangerous.
The Christian worldview completely reverses this cycle. The Christian finds satisfaction, not in a sense of self-worth, but in knowing the one true and living God. Human beings are indeed made in God’s image, and every single human life is thus worthy of respect and dignity. Nevertheless, the gospel makes clear that the Christian’s identity is found in Christ—not in the self.
As a matter of fact, this is one of the most transformative and liberating realities of the Christian faith. It’s not about us—even as we are the recipients of God’s grace and mercy.
Scientific American has done us all a great service by exploding the self-esteem myth, and indicating just how superficial and baseless the claims of self-esteem advocates are now shown to be. Expect an energetic retort from the self-esteem industry. They won’t go down without a fight.
R. Albert Mohler, Jr. is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.
CBN.com – (CBN News) - Many of America’s leading universities were started by Christians as places to teach the Bible, train students for the ministry, and nurture the values needed to strengthen America. But today, things are very different. On many college campuses, professors are teaching a radical left-wing anti-American point of view.
There is no question that leftist views have infiltrated our colleges and universities. But what most people may not know, is just how far left the pendulum has swung.
Ben Shapiro is a recent graduate from UCLA. He is also the youngest syndicated columnist in the United States. What he says has crept into American universities is astonishing.
Sharpiro said, “You go on campus, you pick up the campus newspaper and see editorials comparing Ariel Sharon to Adolf Eichmann. And then you walk outside class and you see the Muslim Student Association handing out pamphlets actively fundraising for Hamas and Hezbollah, and you figure, boy, I better do something about this.”
When he tried to do something, he was fired from the UCLA Daily Bruin, the campus’ newspaper.
Shapiro commented, “It had something to do with insensitivity, they actually later would claim that I was a racist for attempting to expose the fact that student dollars were going to the promotion of terrorism.”
So how did our colleges and universities become havens for anti-American thought and rhetoric?
Some say the Leftist agenda that is running rampant today got its roots in the 1960s. The radicals of the Sixties Revolution are the same men and women at the head of our educational institutions and are in charge of shaping the minds of our young people today.
And it is not just anti-Americanism that has escalated. Just look at this list of courses taught at some of America’s top universities:
At Columbia, Sorcery and Magic
At Dartmouth, Queer Theory, Queer Texts
At Cornell, Gay Fiction
At Swarthmore, Lesbian Novels Since World War II
At the University of Wisconsin, Goddesses and Feminine Powers
And, at the University of Pennsylvania, Feminist Critique of Christianity,
to name just a few.
In his new book, “Freefall of the American University: How Our Colleges are Corrupting the Minds and Morals of the Next Generation”, Jim Nelson Black says it will take a massive uprising of concerned citizens, students, parents and allies to turn the situation around.
Recently Albert Hunt’s last column for the Wall Street Journal mentioned how he was recruited by the late and great Robert L. Bartley, who made that newspaper’s editorial page unsurpassed in quality. What made the hiring of Albert Hunt especially significant was that Bartley was a staunch conservative in the Reagan tradition, while Hunt is a standard issue liberal.
It was precisely for that reason that Bartley wanted Hunt to write for the Wall Street Journal, so that readers would be sure to get more than one side of the issues discussed.
Many years ago, when I was teaching economics at UCLA, we likewise had a staunchly conservative department. We were sometimes called the west coast branch of the University of Chicago, because so many of us had studied under Milton Friedman and other leaders of “the Chicago school” of economists.
Like Bob Bartley, we wanted our students to see more than one way of looking at economics. One young, liberal-minded economist was regarded by some as a possible permanent member of the department, to add variety.
He never really measured up to our expectations, but he was probably kept on longer than he would have been if he had been a conservative economist, because of hopes that he would turn out to be better than he did.
Even though the word “diversity” has become a mantra on the left, there is no such drive for intellectual diversity in bastions of the left, such as academia or the mainstream media.
In recent years, the liberal media have at least added some token conservatives, but our colleges and universities are content with whole departments consisting solely of people ranging from the left to the far left. In academia, “diversity” in practice too often means simply white leftists, black leftists, female leftists and Hispanic leftists.
Perhaps it was the remarkable popularity of conservative talk radio and the meteoric rise of the Fox News channel that led liberal TV networks to begin adding some conservatives to their lineups. No such competitive pressures operate in academia.
There are a few good small conservative colleges like Hillsdale or Grove City, but Ivy League schools have no conservative rivals of comparable size and prominence, and neither do most state universities.
A student can spend four years at many colleges and universities and graduate with no real awareness of any other viewpoints than those on the left.
College and university faculties do not simply happen to be leftist. Too often ideological questions are asked at faculty job interviews and ideological litmus tests are applied in hiring.
One reason for the prominence of conservative think tanks is that so many top scholars who are not leftists do not find a home in academia and go to work for think tanks instead.
Not even visiting speakers with a conservative viewpoint are tolerated on many campuses. It seems incredible that there would be fears that a one-hour lecture would undo years of indoctrination. But perhaps it is just sheer intolerance that creates hostility to anyone expressing ideas contrary to the prevailing notions of the left.
Students often report that their professors react against them for stating a viewpoint different from the prevailing orthodoxy of the left. They can be ridiculed in class discussions or given low grades on exams.
Dartmouth College has been carrying on a running battle with the conservative student newspaper, the Dartmouth Review, from the moment it was founded many years ago. On some campuses, conservative student newspapers are destroyed by leftist students or even burned publicly, with little or no effort by the college administration to maintain freedom of speech.
A student at Lewis College in Colorado was actually kicked by a professor for wearing a sweatshirt proclaiming his Republican views. This happened at a birthday party, of all places, and the professor has been quoted as saying that her only regret was that her kick was not “harder and higher.”
The American Council of Trustees and Alumni, which monitors campus intolerance, is trying to get some action taken against that professor. Good luck.
Although conservatives complain loudly and often about liberal bias in the mass media, the truth is that one is far more likely to read a conservative perspective in the New York Times than hear it from a college professor. At least the Times publishes an occasional conservative on its op-ed page. At many universities, just finding a Republican anywhere on the faculty is problematic.
Two recent studies by Santa Clara University economist Daniel B. Klein prove my point. In one study, Klein looked at party registration of the faculty at Stanford University and the University of California at Berkeley. He found 7.7 registered Democrats for each Republican at the former and 9.9 Democrats per Republican at the latter.
In certain departments, Republicans are literally nonexistent. There are no Republicans in either the anthropology or sociology departments at Stanford or UC-Berkeley. At Berkeley, the ratio of Democrats to Republicans is 11 to 1 in the economics department and 14 to 1 in the political science department. Stanford is a model of intellectual diversity by contrast, with a Democrat/Republican ratio of 7 to 3 in economics and 9 to 1 in political science.
In a larger study, Klein looked at voting patterns from a survey of academics throughout the country. He found that in anthropology, there are more than 30 votes cast for Democratic candidates for each 1 cast for a Republican. In sociology, the ratio is 28 to 1. Republicans do best among economists, who only vote Democratic by a 3 to 1 margin. In political science, the ratio is 6.7 to 1. On average, across all departments, Democrats get 15 votes for every 1 going to Republicans.
Not surprisingly, the ideological orientation of the U.S. college faculty skews heavily toward the left. According to a survey in the Chronicle of Higher Education, 47.9% of all professors at public universities consider themselves to be liberal, with another 6.2% classifying themselves as far left. Only 31.8% say they are middle of the road and just 13.8% are conservative.
Obviously, this puts the vast majority of professors far to the left of the population as a whole. But, interestingly, they are even well to the left of their students. A survey of last year’s incoming freshmen found that only 24.2% call themselves liberals and 2.8% classified themselves as far left. More than half said they were middle of the road and 21.1% were conservative.
Liberals pooh-pooh these data, sometimes implying that they result because conservatives aren’t bright enough or sufficiently intellectual to make it as university professors. The truth is that it is very, very hard to get a tenured faculty position at a university. And the hiring process is unlike anything in a private business. In most cases, one needs a unanimous vote of the professors in one’s department to get tenure. This puts a high priority on intangibles like collegiality, which often translates into sharing the same politics and ideology.
Bias works in other ways as well. It is extraordinarily difficult to get an article in a top academic journal or get a book published by a university press unless it slavishly parrots the liberal line. That is because such things must be peer-reviewed by experts in the field before they can be published. This makes it very easy for anonymous reviewers to blackball those with a conservative point of view, effectively killing the careers of those who must publish or perish.
Finally, it is essential these days to be taken under the wing of an established professor in your field and be mentored if you have any hope of getting a teaching position at a good school. With so few conservatives on the faculty — and many of those hiding their politics to avoid retribution — the deck is very heavily stacked against any conservative hoping for an academic career, no matter how qualified he or she may be.
Students pay a heavy price for this state of affairs. In certain fields like political science, it is simply impossible to receive a good education unless exposed to conservative thought. Students are also not likely to receive an adequate appreciation or understanding of the conservative perspective if it is only taught by those hostile to it. According to a new survey by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, almost half of students reported hearing only one side of political issues in their classrooms, with professors often using their positions to promote personal political views.
Unfortunately, fixing this problem will take a long time. It is certainly not amenable to a legislative fix, such as a quota for conservatives. It would help, however, to shame universities into treating intellectual diversity the same way they now treat race and gender. But first they have to admit they have a problem. That hasn’t happened yet.
— Bruce Bartlett is senior fellow for the National Center for Policy Analysis.
No Excuses: Closing the Racial Gap in Learning, by Abigail Thernstrom and Stephan Thernstrom (Simon & Schuster, 352 pp., $26)
Odd that Abigail Thernstrom and Stephan Thernstrom should be considered big conservatives today. Mrs. Thernstrom spent the first part of her career as an earnest liberal, a civil-rightsy liberal. Mr. Thernstrom is a history professor at Harvard, and a winner of the Bancroft prize (the number-one award in the writing of American history). I don’t mean to shock you, but they usually don’t give the Bancroft prize to conservatives. And, indeed, the book for which Mr. Thernstrom won—The Other Bostonians: Poverty and Progress in the American Metropolis (1973)—is not exactly a conservative tract.
When I was a student under Mr. Thernstrom in the 1980s, I did not detect a rumbling conservatism. I recall that he said to me one day, “I see that you’re interested in conservatism, Jay — have you tried talking to Ed Banfield?” (meaning, the great political scientist who wrote The Unheavenly City). But Professor Thernstrom was a fair and broad-minded historian and teacher, and he did assign one book by Thomas Sowell. He knew that his students should be familiar with that extraordinary man’s work.
It is, to me, the most touching thing about the Thernstroms’ current book—No Excuses: Closing the Racial Gap in Learning—that it is dedicated to Sowell: “for his pioneering scholarship and unflagging courage.” It is a perfect dedication, in its wording and in its matching of book to dedicatee.
So, did the Thernstroms move right, or did American politics — particularly the Left — just go sort of crazy on them? Probably some of each. Reagan loved to tell audiences, “I didn’t leave the Democratic party — the Democratic party left me.” That was a little too pat, but there was some truth to it. Both Abigail and Stephan Thernstrom took hard looks at the country as it stood in the ‘80s and ‘90s and found themselves roughly in the conservative camp.
And I make my usual point that it takes amazingly little to qualify as “conservative” these days. This couple has clung to their old values, in particular their love of E pluribus unum and their hatred of racial inequality. Their passion in this direction is probably more intense than ever. But their analyses and arguments are deeply offensive to the Left as it has developed, and they have therefore been made pariahs by their old crowd.
No Excuses is a follow-on to their monumental America in Black and White: One Nation, Indivisible (1997). In it, they explore the awful but critical question of why “non-Asian minorities”—that is to say, blacks and Hispanics, though particularly blacks — lag so far behind others in learning. It is their conviction that “the racial gap in academic achievement is an educational crisis,” and also “the main source of ongoing racial inequality”—which is “America’s great unfinished business.” They say that “for too long,” this gap has been treated as “a dirty secret — something to whisper about behind closed doors. As if it were racist to say we have a problem.”
How bad is it? Extremely bad. By the time senior year in high school rolls around, black kids “are typically four years behind white and Asian students, while Hispanics are doing only a tad better.” In other words, “these students are finishing high school with a junior high education.”
Oh, they’re receiving a high-school diploma, all right, and they’re enrolling in college — in very large numbers. But because they are ill prepared, a comedown awaits: the misery of failure, resentment, and stunted life opportunities. And the Thernstroms make clear that time alone will not heal this national condition: The racial gap in education has worsened severely over the last decade and a half. Politicians, voters, educators, and parents — and students themselves — will have to make a decision to do better.
The Thernstroms maintain that nothing works like standards, testing, and accountability (which happen to compose a mantra for President George W. Bush). The couple takes on the enemies of testing, who include the education writer for the New York Times who sniffed, “There is no standardized test for tolerance” (“tolerance” being a holy grail in the modern education biz, along with “diversity”). Yes, but there are standardized tests for reading and math, without which life can be intolerable.
Not wishing to paint a picture of total bleakness, the authors devote a section to “Great Teaching”—to schools that should be models for others. All of them involve more instruction, more parental cooperation (or at least non-obstruction), less nonsense. Also, these schools are more orderly — saner even in a physical way. They present an atmosphere conducive to learning. Trash is picked up, graffiti are effaced, and students dress decently. The famous “broken windows” theory applies in education, as elsewhere. Kids are made to look others in the eye, to say “please” and “thank you,” and to be on time. They are required to behave in ways that used to be unremarkable.
Moreover, schools that work—”break-the-mold” schools — teach a real curriculum. They don’t indulge misspelling, they don’t go in for “rain-forest math” (!), they don’t read the Founders — and Lincoln — out of American history. They actually expect students to acquire genuine knowledge, which is viewed by many educators as radical and fanciful.
The Thernstroms devote a chapter to Asians, those great American achievers, “minorities” though they are. They have no secret—”ancient Chinese” or not: They — the parents — simply require their children to work and study hard, with no excuses, and, miraculously, they do. Asians — who constitute 4% of American students — constitute about a quarter of the freshman classes at MIT and Stanford, and who knows how much higher that percentage would be if not for hidden, though widely and reasonably assumed, quotas?
We absorb an interesting point about Hispanics: that whatever gains they might make are overwhelmed by the constant flood of Latin American immigration. Hispanics as a group — if you will forgive the group-think — are constantly having to start afresh, so to speak. And unlike Asians, they are often trapped in linguistic ghettos, where they can get by (if only barely) without knowing English.
But it is the story of black Americans that is the most heartbreaking and maddening. Many people, when they look at the numbers — the numbers that reveal this yawning racial gap — want to “run for more comfortable ground”: to economic explanations, to geographic explanations, to class-size claptrap, and so on. None of it works; none of it is right. Black students are lagging far behind whether they’re rich or poor, whether they live in the suburbs or in a city, whether their parents are educated or not. What would help is an end to excuse-making and a renaissance in expectations.
The authors explode the superstition — and the wish — that more money for education is an answer. Billions have been lavished on schools, with no results. Class size is another shibboleth: First, small class sizes do not increase learning, and, second, class sizes have become quite small anyway. More integration? The Thernstroms decline to believe that “a black child must sit next to an Asian classmate in order to learn arithmetic.” What counts in a school “is not the racial mix, but the academic culture.” Interestingly, some activists claim that a) black kids must have black teachers, because others can’t be “role models” for them, and b) they must have white classmates. All of it is phony.
The Thernstroms hold out some hope for the Bush-driven act known as “No Child Left Behind”—at least it will demand accountability for the expenditure of federal money. But there are mammoth “Roadblocks to Change” (the title of their final chapter). It will surprise no reader of National Review that the biggest roadblock of all is the teacher unions. No matter how dim your view of these unions is, it will get dimmer after reading this book. Also, the picture — the picture of why we have had persistent failure — will get clearer.
Starkly put, “the job of unions is to protect the interests of teachers,” and “the job of schools is to protect the interests of students.” It is hard — discouragingly hard — to please unions while serving students. And these unions are scared to death of even the tiny number of charter schools in the midst of all the regular public schools. It is rather like a non-tyrannical Iraq in the Middle East — just one counter-example, and everyone else says, “Uh-oh.”
The Thernstroms have written an important, bracing, and deeply conscientious book. It is a combination of cool scholarship and passionate caring. One word we read over and over again is “appalling”: This statistic is “appalling,” and that rationalization is “appalling.” With unrelenting data, they prove what your intuition and common sense tell you; they confirm that what you know in your bones is true.
Their old friends may despise them, but the rest of us — the nation at large — should be grateful. If this pair has “moved right,” it is perhaps because they recognize that the old barriers to progress have been removed, and that there are now “no excuses.” Lester Maddox doesn’t live here anymore; time to get rollin’. They administer reality checks to liberals — and to everyone else — purveying the facts, weighing the options, and pointing out the way. They write, “A decent society does not turn a blind eye” to gross educational inequality. That conviction shouldn’t qualify as “conservative,” but given the furious resistance to reform from the other side — you wonder.
By Peter Wood
The official notice just arrived: Summer is over. I am referring, of course, to the annual “Almanac Issue” of The Chronicle of Higher Education, thick with charts and graphs, that arrives like an un-seasonal arctic breeze in the sultry last days of August.
Care to know the average SAT scores by sex and by racial and ethnic group of last year’s freshmen? The proportion of 18- to 24-yead-olds in college? The attitudes of full-time faculty members? How about the largest private gifts to higher education? Total return on college endowments?
I admit I turn the pages eagerly. Here is American higher education reduced to its industrial organization and consumerist profiles. Here is the dust in industry (43.8% of college presidents have “education” degrees; 89% of 4-year public colleges offer “distance-education” programs) and the sum in consumerism (43.7% of dependent college students get federal aid; 36.9% of college women chose their college partly on the basis offers of financial assistance, but only 30.7% of college men.) I don’t mean to imply the ideals that make higher education higher are completely absent from this portrait. Here they are on page 17: only 4% of last year’s freshmen said they attended college because “there was nothing better to do.” A whopping 42.1 said “to make me a more cultured person,” which isn’t after all too far away from the 70.5% who said “to make more money.”
I wonder if the Chronicle publishes this compilation as a humility lesson for the overweening professoriate? A faculty member looking in this mirror gets little encouragement for his work as a scholar. Some 83.9% chose to pursue an academic career because of the “intellectual challenge,” but 41.6% have published nothing in the last two years and only 13.3% had published more than four “professional writings” in that time. If publish or perish were really the rule, the academic cemeteries would be crammed.
And if the faculty member’s amour propre is propped more on his teaching than his research, he encounters other disquieting notes. How is it, for example, that 59% of American adults think that “some time in the next 10 years, students who want a college education will take most of their courses over the Internet?”
The Chronicle’s tables are not all turned against academic complacency. Indeed in some areas, he Almanac issue is highly reassuring. The faculty member whose politics trend Left can take solace in knowing that 47.6% of his peers describe themselves as “far left” or “liberal,” and only 17.7 as “conservative” and .3 as “far right.” The prospects get even rosier in public universities, where 54.1% who are far or not-as-far left, and 13.8% conservative.
These labels translate fairly seamlessly into social attitudes. More than half of faculty members in American colleges and universities (55.3%), for example, agree that “racial and ethnic diversity should be more strongly reflected in the curriculum.” Think about that. In most colleges and universities, the curriculum is already a charm bracelet of ethnic-studies courses and special pleading on behalf of minority subcultures, but the majority of the faculty nationwide are saying “not enough.”
Faculty members hitched to the “diversity” agenda can take comfort in group solidarity. Some 67.9% want their college to “hire more faculty members of color” and 51.6% want their colleges to hire more women faculty members. Only 28% say that “promoting diversity leads to the admission of too many under-prepared students.” I guess that means that 72% don’t mind the gross disparities in academic failure and dropout rates between regular students and those admitted because of racial and ethnic “plus factors.” Of the 40 or so topics covered in the survey, only one registered over 90-percent agreement: 90.7 of faculty members agreed that “a racially/ethnically diverse student body enhances the educational experience of all students.”
That’s a breathtaking level of agreement on what amounts to an ideological claim. The real diversity that results from attracting students regardless of their parentage may enrich the experience of some students, but “all” students? Even the academic hacks hired to conjure evidence of diversity’s pedagogical merits at the University of Michigan stopped short of such implausibility. In fact, except for some slipshod surveys put together by diversity advocates, there is no empirical evidence that “diversity” on campus creates any educational benefit, but we do have good evidence that it fosters animosity, self-segregation, and group resentment. Turn a few pages and you discover that 90.7% of faculty members who think diversity is such a good thing compares with the 5% of the general public who believe, “Colleges and universities should admit students from racial minority groups even if they have lower high school GPAs and standardized-test scores than other students.” The truth is we can’t have it both ways, at least at this moment in the nation’s history, and the professoriate has collectively staked a position radically outside what is acceptable to mainstream society.
In reading the Chronicle’s Almanac, I wonder about the 9% who dissent from this great orthodoxy. Are we kindred souls? How many of them, like me, would like to see real racial integration in American society? How many believe that higher education should hew to intellectual standards that are heedless of race and ethnicity but are generous about talent and open-minded about ambition? How many of those 17.7% who say they are “conservative” are putting up a good fight, and how many actually think we can win?
Conservatives outside the academy are often all to ready to cede higher education to the Left, as though it were hopeless and irrelevant. But it is neither. In fall 2000, 15,312,289 students were enrolled in college, and the numbers will keep growing to a projected 17.6 million in 2012. As beginning freshmen, 20% of these students consider themselves “conservative” and 50.8% as “middle of the road.” As it stands, those students are about to be subjected to four years (and often longer) of immersion in a world that is bizarrely out of step with the traditional values of American life. They will find themselves among fellow students, some 40.3% profess to be “bored in class,” and 46.7% of whom “participated in organized demonstrations.” They will be taught by faculty among whom 44.2% believe, “Western civilization and culture should” not “be the foundation of the undergraduate curriculum.” And they will navigate their own way through a system that hypocritically enunciates the importance of free inquiry and intellectual striving while fostering conformity to Leftist political goals.
Americans tend to tolerate campus nonsense out of a spirit of pragmatism. The kids will get their credential and get on with their careers, regardless of what the feminists/Chomsky-ite/anti-globalists do and say. Common sense will indeed prevail with most students but that doesn’t mean they have entirely escaped indoctrination. I see no other likely explanation for the ascendancy of the anti-democratic ideal of “diversity” among educated men and women in this country. It is an ideal that simply did not exist before it was taken up by colleges and universities in the 1980s, and that has since then grown so in the affections of college graduates that it overshadows — at least rhetorically — their love of both equality and freedom.
Confronted with a novel proposition such as gay marriage, educated Americans fall back on the principles not of the Constitution but of the college campus: tolerance is the first virtue; civil rights is the only sensible framework within which to weigh competing claims for the public good; and history is a record of dominant elites oppressing minorities.
But I’m wandering from the neat columns of numbers into the stories they evoke, as numerous as autumn leaves. Here is the donor’s page. What moved Eli and Edyth Broad to give $100 million for biomedical research this year? How did Arizona State University get William Polk Carey to carry $50 million into its coffers? I see Cornell topped Harvard in 2001-2 for alumni support, with $158.9 million to Harvard’s $139.1 million.
Well, either you find the boastful cupidity of colleges interesting or you don’t. For years I pored over the Chronicle’s Almanac Issue with the tender eye of a sportsman fishing with dynamite. But I have mellowed. I now have a more gentlemanly interest in the sport. Though a little dynamite isn’t bad.
By Stanley Kurtz, a fellow at the Hudson Institute
The deeper cultural costs of affirmative action are rarely recognized or debated. Liberals frame the issue as a choice between bloodless legal principle and the actual social harm of racial and sexual inequality. Thoughtful conservatives point to the toll affirmative action takes on its supposed beneficiaries, who must always doubt their dessert. But do we really understand how profoundly affirmative action has already undermined America’s respect for excellence, or our faith in the framework of democracy? The fateful decision by the president of the University of California to press for the elimination of the SAT as a requirement for admissions compels us to face the frightening truth about affirmative action.
When “right thinking” liberals first introduced affirmative action to our universities, they knew very well that it violated fundamental principles of individual rights and academic excellence. No one at the time imagined that these cherished principles — or the institutions that depend upon them — could truly be threatened. It was simply thought that, for the sake of racial progress, a small and temporary exception to the ordinary rules and standards could be made. Oh what a tangled web they did weave when first they practiced to deceive…themselves. For at every turn, this small, supposedly temporary and exceptional program forced deeper and deeper changes in the fabric of university life.
No one wants to think of themselves as a temporary exception to proper academic standards. So the beneficiaries of liberal condescension quickly became the carriers of a new ideology. The rise of academic postmodernism, with its assumption that classic democratic principles are just a cover for white, male, heterosexist, first-world power, is directly attributable to affirmative action. The only way to preserve self-respect as an exception to standards of academic excellence and democratic principle was to mount an attack on those very principles and standards. So affirmative action didn’t simply admit a few disadvantaged people to the academy. It effectively devastated nearly every discipline in the humanities and social sciences by replacing the old pursuit of knowledge with the new vogue for political-cultural “subversion.” And through innovations like our ever more vague and sweeping sexual harassment laws, and the increasingly common belief (especially among judges) that the courts are entitled to turn aside established constitutional principle for the sake of social engineering, these undemocratic ideas have seeped out of the academy and begun to transform society as a whole.
Only last week, Harvard’s distinguished and courageous professor, Harvey C. Mansfield, reached a watershed in his long and lonely battle against grade inflation. For years, Harvey C. Mansfield was called Harvey C- Mansfield, as he alone refused to change his grading standards while grades at the rest of the university inexorably rose. But grade inflation is so pervasive now that Mansfield, so as not to punish his students, has been forced to give out two grades — an inflated grade, for the transcript, and a true grade. Years ago, Mansfield brought down a torrent of criticism upon himself, simply by telling the truth — that the move toward grade inflation had come with affirmative action. The right thinking liberals who wanted to make just a small exception to their own cherished principles couldn’t bear — any more than those they had “helped” could bear — to face the consequences of their own actions. They could not hand out bad grades to students admitted under affirmative action, and so they had to stop handing out bad grades to anybody. The front-page New York Times story on the move to ban SAT quoted ex-Harvard president and passionate supporter of affirmative action, Derek Bok, to the effect that Harvard would resist a change in its use of SAT. But don’t kid yourself, Harvard’s standards have already been dramatically lowered by affirmative action — through both admissions and grade inflation — for years.
Although the words “affirmative action” never appeared in the Times story on the SAT, the push to abandon the test has everything to do with that sadly misguided program. The move to dump the SAT is clearly an attempt to circumvent the decision by the voters of California to ban the use of affirmative action in college admissions, as was all too evident from the coded reference to “diversity” in the Times’s story. Could we ask for more dramatic proof that affirmative action destroys standards — that a seemingly harmless exception to ordinary academic requirements ultimately undermines the very foundations of our belief in excellence itself? Unhappy with the results of the test, the test itself is now summarily dropped.
These are dark days in the academy. The sixties radicals who entered our colleges and universities with the avowed goal of “subverting” them are now at the apogee of their influence. Whether the Bush administration or the country as a whole has the courage or capacity to reign them in is an open question. We simply don’t know the extent to which the sixties generation is the leading edge of a permanent cultural change, or the high water mark of a destructive but passing trend. But this much is certain, the misguided attempt to bring about equality, without going through the hard work of actually improving early educational performance, can only destroy the legacy of liberty and excellence upon which our country depends.
From The National Education Goals Panel (NEGP) Weekly, Thursday, October 19, 2000 — Volume 2, Number 76
In releasing preliminary data from the 2000 “Report Card on the Ethics of American Youth,” a comprehensive national survey on the ethics of young people, Michael Josephson, founder and president of the Josephson Institute of Ethics and the CHARACTER COUNTS! Coalition, called on politicians to recognize the vital importance of dealing with “shocking levels of moral illiteracy” as part of any educational reform package. Saying the survey data reveals “a hole in the moral ozone,” Josephson added: “Being sure children can read is certainly essential, but it is no less important that we deal with the alarming rate of cheating, lying and violence that threatens the very fabric of our society.”
The statement and data were released in conjunction with the seventh annual National CHARACTER COUNTS Week, October 15-21. Ron Kinnamon, Chairman of the CHARACTER COUNTS! Coalition, pointed out, “There is a solution: more pervasive and proficient character education at home, at schools and on the sports fields. Character education is here to stay,” he added, “and it’s getting stronger and stronger.” The CHARACTER COUNTS! Coalition was launched in 1993 with 27 organizations. Today, more than 450 national, regional and local organizations are members and millions of school children in over 2,000 schools and hundreds of youth groups are learning about the Six Pillars of Character - trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship.
The third week in October was designated by Congress as National CHARACTER COUNTS! Week to focus the nation’s attention on the importance of teaching, enforcing, advocating and modeling good character. The states of Arizona and Texas have recently launched statewide character-education initiatives using the CHARACTER COUNTS! model to train teachers to implement character programs in their schools.
Among the highlights of the preliminary results of the nationwide survey of 8,600 high school students:
. Cheating. 71% of all high school students admit they cheated on an exam at least once in the past 12 months (45% said they did so two or more times).
. Lying. 92% lied to their parents in the past 12 months (79% said they did so two or more times); 78% lied to a teacher (58% two or more times); more than one in four (27%) said they would lie to get a job.
. Stealing. 40% of males and 30% of females say they stole something from a store in the past 12 months.
. Drunk at School. Nearly one in six (16%) say they have been drunk in school during the past year (9% said they were drunk two or more times).
. Propensity Toward Violence. 68% say they hit someone because they were angry in the past year (46% did so at least twice), and nearly half (47%) said they could get a gun if they wanted to (for males: 60% say they could get a gun).
The full 2000 “Report Card” will be released later in a series of three reports: honesty and integrity, violence and responsibility, and values and attitudes. The margin of error is +/- 3%.
In addition to producing the biennial “Report Card on the Ethics of American Youth,” the nonpartisan, nonsectarian, nonprofit Josephson Institute of Ethics operates programs in three principal areas:
The CHARACTER COUNTS! Coalition is the nation’s largest comprehensive character education program for young people, reaching millions of young people through thousands of schools and youth groups across the country.
CHARACTER COUNTS! Sports, founded in 1999, seeks through the “Pursuing Victory With Honor” campaign to return sportsmanship to all levels of nonprofessional sports. It has already earned the support of a majority of the “big time” college athletic programs.
Through “Ethics in the Workplace” training programs and Mr. Josephson’s appearances and consultations, the Institute each year reaches thousands of leaders in business, government, journalism and law. Clients have included the CIA, FBI, IRS, a dozen state legislatures, many Fortune 500 companies, leading news media organizations, as well as judicial, legal and public safety organizations.
Supplemental Articles in a separate file (click here to read)