Bob Thomas: Public-funding source is why many colleges lean to the left
For decades I’ve been bugged by the growing contradiction of what we as a nation think we are vs. what higher education is influencing us to become. Originally we were in bondage to the Crown, gradually developing into free-market traders, further becoming a capitalist product of the industrial revolution and again of the high-tech revolution.
Colleges in early years not only taught the sciences and liberal arts, but also commerce and banking at undergraduate levels. You also can bet that students got a healthy dose of economics, per the British system of public (private) schooling. Today we do teach business in our colleges at the lower-division level, which isn’t required unless for a business-administration major.
In case you haven’t figured out where I’m headed, I’m exposing the oxymoronic aspects of our so-called capitalist system where outside of business courses, our colleges teach zero courses at the undergraduate level that might influence students to become conservatives, but they do teach all kinds of courses that influence students to become compassionate liberals. Examples: Look at the courses required to receive a BA in liberal arts or teaching or mental health. Most have social roots.
Is there any reason to expect public school or college teachers to become conservatives? They are tax earners, not taxpayers. They exist on private-sector tax dollars. Most are protected by tenure and a web of barriers against termination, all in the name of academic freedom. How can we conservatives expect teachers who are immersed in socialized surroundings to understand, much less teach, private enterprise capitalism when they’ve never been near it?
Now, you may be wondering, as have I, if this contradiction is accidental or by design. I believe it’s both. Private-sector parents pay little attention to the courses their kids are being taught in college. Some of this may have to do with parents being afraid their kids may ask for help with some of those courses, exposing parental ignorance. It also may be that parents don’t want to distract their kids when studying. These are accidental, careless parts of failing to see their kids being socialized.
The “by design” part is where many of our education system practitioners are dedicated socialists who believe that all of us should be materially equal. It’s no wonder we have hard feelings between liberals and conservatives. We are living a lie. The private sector takes the risks, its members being subject to bankruptcy or being fired for failure. Teaching-establishment members take zero risks for failures and are almost impossible to fire for any reason, thanks to tenure and a web of protective barriers. This must change if we’re to close this gap between our socialist structured teaching establishment and the conservative capitalist nature of the private-sector establishment.
How would privatized public education systems, including college, be structured? These typically would be a nonprofit corporation in each state that would be independent from any other state and ideally from the federal government. The federal Department of Education is the most useless financial drag on the American taxpayer. There is no reason states should have to teach the same basic curriculum. Our state education systems were far better academically when they were in competition with one another before the feds took over in 1951.
Another contradiction, typical of our liberal politicians and bureaucrats: “Diversity is what makes our country great.” Nonsense! They preach that drivel when they want more minorities admitted into our country to speed up the socialization process. But they scream, “Oh, no!” when it comes to diversifying public education between the states. They are completely ignorant of the fact that our greatest technological advances and feats, so far, were all seeded in those days when our then-48 states had public education systems independent of Washington, D.C.
Bob Thomas is a retired high-tech industrialist who served on the Carson City School Board, the Nevada Welfare Board and the Carson City Airport Authority and as a three-term Assemblyman.