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Monday, November 28, 2005

The Poisonous Federal Involvement in Education

I have written many times here that federal involvement in education, which used to be an entirely local matter, is poisonous and eventually will undermine the constitutional form of government that protects us all. As a former college professor, I saw up close and personal how federal rules make it more and more difficult to provide a meaningful educational experience and maintain discipline in the classroom. I could not post grades; I could not discuss a student’s educational needs with a parent; I could not object to foot-long, weird jewelry hanging from the ears of male students. I had to provide open-book exams to students considered learning-disabled, and those students received the same degree as all other students.

All incoming freshmen (a forbidden word) had to take a test in writing and understanding the English language. Writing, reading and comprehension skills of high school graduates had fallen so low that Stonehill felt remedial action was necessary to ensure that most could handle college work. (Remember that SAT scores have been degraded since recent test-takers have, on the average, scored so poorly. You can compare current scores with each other, but not to previous scores – another scandalous sham.) The director of this remedial program issued a manual to students and faculty. According to this manual, one could not say “freshMAN”, “salesMAN”, etc., or use the pronouns – “he” or “she”. This was at a relatively conservative college run by the Holy Cross Order of the Catholic Church. I made it through 16 years of teaching there by ignoring this manual completely, and I know my students benefited by exposure to the proper use of the English language.

Or consider the “right to an education.” IMPRIMIS by Hillsdale College reminds us that “education was vital to the people who built our country. In making land grants, our government said, “Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall ever be encouraged.” They proceeded then to provide the most massive subsidy to education that has ever been given in this country. The one exception to the conversion of public land to private was the holding back of 1/36th of the western land for the provision of education locally, and of course under the direction of state governments which had the constitutional power.

Today, by contrast, we have the centralized Department of Education at the federal level. In providing the “right to an education,” it regulates our nation’s colleges in the closest detail (Hillsdale College being an important and rare exception). Since September 11, 2001, defense spending in the U.S. has risen almost 60 percent; spending on higher education has risen more than 200 percent.

What do we get for this money? Not learning. It is notorious that college graduates today know little to nothing of the history of our country or its constitutional meaning. If you doubt this, ask a senior a few questions about the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution.

Nor does the money buy political support for the party (Republican) that has voted these massively increased subsidies. It is notorious that the beneficiaries of federal aid to higher education, namely those who work in colleges, support the other party by embarrassing margins.

Nor do we get patriotism. In fact, a consortium of colleges is suing the federal government right now because they object only to the requirement that military recruiters be admitted to their campuses as a condition of receiving federal aid. Already these colleges are abiding thousands of pages of regulation. They object to this specific one. Perhaps they have forgotten that Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution—which enumerates the powers of Congress—mentions defense eight times. Education is not mentioned at all.”
Reprinted by permission from IMPRIMIS, the national speech digest of Hillsdale College

What these students do know is how terrible our country is and how awful were and are the oppressions laid at the feet of our forefathers and of our current businessmen and some politicians. They learn that the culture of a remote tribe in the jungles of Africa is superior to Western and American culture. They learn to despise the great writers and artists of Europe who provided the foundations of a civil and uplifting society – to be replaced by nonsensical women’s studies, African studies and programs that promote homosexuality. Almost all of this poison can be directly traced to federal rules that follow federal funding.

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