This New Year of 2020, one will hear the drone from the far left that our President, Donald Trump, must be removed from office because he’s an “existential threat” to our nation. Most with an ounce of common sense know better. Chief among our threats is the fact we’ve graduated more than three million students from high schools and colleges, including those who’ve endured the rigors of professional studies in dentistry, engineering, law and medicine, according to the National Center for Education, 2018 statistics, who haven’t a clue of the actual threat. How can one estimate, not their productivity or contribution, but their support of our Republic’s founding documents and first principles, that make our country the envy of the world? For the sake of making a case, let’s assume half of those graduates, that’s wildly generous, understand and support this remarkable Republic, possessing a whit of understanding of the value and innumerable benefits of our roots in Western Civilization. Assume they too believe socialism’s inimical to all that make America exceptional in this orb. Many may agree that the God of the Old and New Testament had His hand on us since our nation’s beginning. It begs the question: “What about the other half?” Doesn’t that represent an imminent threat to our national stability?
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Are we undermining our own stability by being duped by a leviathan education process that churns out a horde of students with heads full of facts, but souls bereft of those long-held values that have been systematically denigrated, marginalized or lost by recent graduates who can’t recall what they never knew? It raises the scepter of how morally strong are we internally? We’ve been warned by sage historians that countries crumble and perish from within primarily by moral decay, and unrestrained prosperity. One may halt regarding multiple exterior threats around us such as Iran and North Korea saber rattling, launching rockets, and that boiling cauldron in the Middle East stoked by Iranian and Russian proxies. Communist China, who, until President Trump called their bluff, was “eating our economic lunch.”
Since WWII and the Korean conflict, we’ve had few credible threats in terms of an external attack on our soil, except during the Cold War when Russia breathed ominous threats, and the Cuban Missile Crisis was a seriously closer call than most citizens knew at the time. President Trump, contends our militarily’s stronger than ever in terms of readiness. Internally, porous borders continue to threaten national security and sovereignty. Statistics are sketchy, and likely inaccurate, regarding Isis jihadist infiltration of our fifty states, and equally alarming, their menacing presence on social media, despite al-Baghdadi’s death. According to the RAND Corporation threat assessment, China has already invaded us with their products and cyber espionage warfare for nearly thirty years. Asian experts and pundits claim it’s better to fight over tariffs than in a military encounter where China, capable of marshaling up to 3.3 million troops-three times our active military. Russia’s continued meddling into our voting vex many. However, analyst at RAND advise us to keep those two powers separate in terms of our strategies and risk assessments.
Back to the original premise that the potential threats from outside our borders, are less ominous and dire as the internal one, while millions of students, who’ve rarely considered or understand the menacing consequences of those who’ll occupy teaching classrooms, social agencies, legislatures, military, hospitals, news media and social platforms; they’re unlikely to advance longstanding verities, values, traditions, and moral underpinnings that’ve served as a linchpin for our society for over two centuries. Those who’ve gone before them secured each graduate the benefit of relative freedom to choose their educational path.
Hoover Institute scholar, Victor Davis Hanson distinguishes between economic vibrancy and the modern university’s dismal failure of preparing students to function with degrees that are marketplace relevant. He maintains they’ve failed on four fronts. First, generally students are unable to reason inductively and deductively, absent a rigorous undergraduate liberal arts curriculum. Second, the loss of legitimate diversity of thought and vigorous exchange of ideas. Third, a four year degree once trained students for a career with some assurance that it was a wise investment is no longer true. Fourth, universities at one time weren’t monopolistic price gougers, and sought affordability to permit access to a broad middle class that had neither federal subsidies or unbridled wealth. Davis claims they’ve lost their way on all four. Socially universities now resemble greenhouses where “fragile adults” are coddled as if they are “hothouse orchids,” constantly warning of “micro-aggressions” that are imperceptible to the average feet-on-the-ground citizen. Institutions hide landmark authors like Mark Twain, Joseph Conrad and William Golding, and cover paintings of Christopher Columbus. This desultory masquerading’s an extension of “safe spaces” shielding “snowflake” students from topics or issues that threaten their implacable reverie. This reveals the educational elite’s endless attempts to pamper Generation X, Y and Z sensibilities, juxtaposed by students actively listening to endless coarse rap lyrics, engaging in sordid spring break indulgences, sexual promiscuity, epidemic drug and alcohol abuse, and often turning a four year trip into a six year excursion, or more.
The Chronicle of Higher Education reports campuses have a higher administration-to-student ratio than ever before. Bloated at the top. Counter-intuitively, staff actively involved in teaching are a decreasing minority. The outlook is bleak. Most prominent on the agenda are equity and gender studies, minority and race studies, social justice and “VP’s of Diversity and Equity,” all of which bear no measurable relationship to educational outcomes. Another compelling reason for a new emphasis on affordable vocational education; many states recognize that master mechanics, paramedics or skilled electricians and welders are at least as valuable as cultural anthropology.
Consider these bewilderingly absurd credit courses at major colleges; “Demystifying the Hipster,” “What if Harry Potter is Real,” and “Sociology of Miley Cyrus.” Too many university board’s of trustees are nearly as daft as the presidents running the institution. Political persuasion of the institution’s president’s no longer a mystery. Public university speakers shouldn’t be dis-invited because they’re “too conservative” or God forbid, a notable Evangelical. Many liberal campuses are havens for malcontents. The only unforgivable “sin” is disagreeing with them-civility and tolerance are campus folklore. Conservative faculty remain on the endangered species list.
Any solutions? Ironically, most institutions demand performance tests like the SAT or ACT to get in the door. What about instruments to accurately assess outcomes when students exit these “bastions of learning?” Most public university boards are appointed by governors. Parents must be engaged in their investment. Push colleges to publish employment rates of their graduates. Did students and parents get a good deal for their money? Recent admission scandals remind us we’re dealing with a burgeoning elitism that rears its ugly head when confronted about transparency and outcomes. Donors, legislatures and tax payers must be vociferous, demanding transparency and accurate outcome metrics.
It’s uncanny how some colleges perform extremely well with the fraction of the resources of elite ones. Harvard’s thirty billion dollar endowment’s no guarantee one’s offspring won’t sacrifice their soul on the altar of elitism. Hillsdale College and Liberty University are notable exceptions for fanning the flame of learning, while inculcating the values and wisdom of our Founding documents. It’s the social sciences that are most susceptible to mischief in academe. Parents shouldn’t deposit their offspring at the student union, and remain un-engaged. We aren’t called to proffer more quixotic ideas. Our calling is to uphold permanent things with Godly diligence, while unambiguously speaking truth into the public square, by championing the merit of first principles in education. Will this threat jeopardize our internal security? What do you think?
Mike Pyatt’s a Ravalli County resident. His email’s email@example.com