Marilyn Writes

Marilyn MacGruder Barnewall began her career as a journalist with the Wyoming Eagle in Cheyenne. During her 20 year banking career, she wrote extensively for The American Banker, Bank Marketing Magazine, Trust Marketing Magazine, and other major industry publications. The American Bankers Association (ABA) published Barnewall’s Profitable Private Banking: the Complete Blueprint, in 1987. She taught private banking at Colorado University for the ABA and trained private bankers in Singapore.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Balance in our institutions of higher learning

September 23, 2003 Grand Junction Free Press Page 10

(c) Copyright 2003, Marilyn MacGruder Barnewall, All Rights Reserved
Grammy's Axioms, Special to the Free Press

By Marilyn MacGruder Barnewall

Axiom: We all have a place in time. Nature achieves balance by pitting two forces of equal strength in opposition to one another.

     One of the more interesting news events recently is the defensive and fearful reactions of liberals to Governor Bill Owens' open minded approach to education.
     The Governor expressed a willingness to consider an idea by one time admitted communist turned conservative, David Horowitz, about discrimination in the ranks of our universities and colleges.
     A local journalist wrote one of the most specious articles about the Horowitz plan I have read. Few facts were present... but much misguided opinion was.
     She did accurately discuss how dominant the Republican party is in this state. She explained that Republicans own the governor's office, Colorado house, Colorado senate, U.S. senate and five of seven U.S. house seats. Reasonable people might see why taxpayers who elect such a Republican majority might want their children to learn conservative political philosophies.
     Unfortunately, there is no reasoning with most liberals and facts apparently count for little.
     When my son took a government course at C.U. in the 1980s, he spent an entire semester hearing about Central American politics from a socialist professor's point of view. It was billed as an American government course... how the executive, legislative and judicial branches function. That's what he paid for. The course description said nothing about Sandinistas and how evil conservative President Ronald Regan was. That, however, was the majority of course content.
     David Horowitz has proposed an Academic Bill of Rights. It is what has so many liberals up in arms. The Horowitz plan forbids university faculty from being hired, fired, and granted or denied promotions or tenure on the basis of political beliefs.
     Most fair minded people who see the broad picture will welcome a balanced presentation of our political culture to young people. Those who view themselves as having progressive attitudes would, one might think, applaud the creation of such a teaching environment. Those who claim to be progressives are anything but in their views about leveling the field for liberal and conservative college and university instructors.
     Objective research clearly shows the liberal domination of our colleges and universities is not the figment of anyone's imagination. A solid majority of professors and other instructors on campuses nationwide describe themselves as being either liberal or "far left." Less than one third consider themselves middle of the road and 15 percent described themselves as conservative. Many times, that translates to fiscally conservative, socially liberal.
     My theory about liberal professors who call themselves moderate is this: college environments are so far left, moderate liberals consider themselves to be conservative. They consider moderate conservatives radical extremists.
     The latest research data can be found in the August 29th issue of Chronicle of Higher Education. It tells us that among those voting in the 2000 election, three percent of Ivy League professors called themselves Republican. We must keep in mind that a large percentage of Republicans are moderate, not conservative.
     Almost 60 percent identified themselves as registered Democrats. Of this mix, 84 percent voted for Al Gore; 9 percent voted for George Bush, 6 percent for Ralph Nader.
     Liberals are still claiming that Gore won the election. They just don't seem to understand how the electoral college works. To settle this issue, keep the following statistics in mind:
          The number of counties won by Al Gore in 2000 was 677; Bush won 2,434 counties.
          The total population of counties won by Al Gore was 127 million; Bush counties totaled 143 million in population.
          Al Gore won an area of soil on which American voters live that totals 580,000 square miles. George Bush won 2,427,000 square miles.
          Al Gore won 20 states; George Bush won 30.
     Maybe we would have heard more of this if fewer than 45 of the 78 political science professors at Colorado's state colleges were registered Democrats. Nine are Republicans.
     The local journalist to whom I earlier referred laughs about how ridiculous it is to think a professor of nuclear physics would have the time or interest to influence students' political attitudes.
     My brother-in-law was the youngest member of the Manhattan Project. He has two Ph.D. degrees... one in physics, another in nuclear physics. He doesn't think it is ridiculous.
     Yale University Professor Bruce Shapiro (who admits to being a card carrying far left liberal) argued on the Fox News program, Hannity and Colmes, that a professor's ideology has no bearing on most courses. (The local journalist agrees with him.)
     Shapiro pressed, "When you say 10 to 1 liberal, are we talking math professors? Is there a liberal way to teach math? Are we talking about Aristotle versus Plato, or Bush versus Gore? Are we talking about, perhaps, biology professors? What is the relevance of how professors or anybody else votes?"
     If he'd had more time, Horowitz could have directed Shapiro's attention to a few examples. He might have mentioned Professor Michael Dini at Texas Tech who refused to write medical school letters of recommendation for students unless they declared their acceptance of the theory of evolution.
     Or, he might have looked into records at San Francisco State University. SFSU decided that Professor Dean Kenyon, a leading national authority in chemical evolutionary theory, was not suited to teach introductory biology. What disqualified him? He exposed students to points of dispute among scientists on theories of evolution versus creation. Many highly qualified biologists, says Kenyon, admit to the existence of evidence for intelligent design in the universe.
     The local journalist or Yale's Shapiro who deny a physics or math professor really has no time or reason to influence the political attitudes of students might want to look at what happened to Professor Nancy Bryson at the Mississippi University for Women. She was asked to resign as head of the Division of Science and Mathematics because she taught students the scientific flaws in Darwinian thought.
     At the University of South Carolina, a course titled "Women's Studies 797: Seminar in Women's Studies," required students to "acknowledge that racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism and other institutionalized forms of oppression exist" or they could not attend the seminar.
     A course in Marxism is offered at the University of Virginia. It proposes that the work of Karl Marx is the "standard against which all subsequent social thought must be judged."
     Politically incorrect (conservative) speech on many campuses is forbidden.
     Thus, though more than half of the nation's conservative population pays the "higher education" tab, they have no control over professors teaching their children liberal philosophies. Didn't we have a tea party about taxation without representation one time?
     I agree with Gail Schoettler when she recently said, "Playing politics with colleges and universities will wreak havoc on our children's education. It is time for the mind police to deal with the serious problems facing our state, not with forcing their own narrow ideology into the minds of children."
     It is time liberals stopped dominating classrooms. It is time they let a little conservative light into classrooms. It is time to stop forcing narrow ideologies into our children's minds. It has, indeed, wreaked havoc on their educations.
     The best we can do is let young people know both sides of issues and trust them to develop opinions best reflective of their personal philosophies.
     It is time to look at what Horowitz proposes. Good for Bill Owens! Right on, Governor!