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Take the UC Berkeley history course that majors in that field must take, “The United States from Settlement to the Civil War.” Its course description states its goals: “to understand how democratic political institutions emerged in the United States in this period in the context of an economy that depended on slave labor and violent land acquisition.”
A conservative professor — if there were any — might offer an alternative version of American history: The British colonies defied the mightiest world power by demanding and then fighting for political and religious freedom. They conceived a radical document, the United States Constitution, born out of armed revolution, where for the first time in human history, the new, imperfect country said: “The people rule. Through our Constitution, which we have amended to ensure equal rights of blacks and women, we grant our government limited, non-intrusive powers. The rest is left to the people and to the states.”
Why does this matter?
After all, students expect professors to give opinions. Surely students aren’t potted plants, and can a) read about other points of view and b) freely disagree with professors without fear of classroom ridicule or lower exam grades.
But the report says many students complain that alternative viewpoints are discouraged, scorned or dismissed, sometimes derisively. Students’ complaints to administrators are ignored.
What is the practical effect of this “corrupted” education?
Take today’s debate over whom to “blame” for high gas prices. Without some understanding of supply and demand, voters buy into the patently ridiculous argument that the price of oil results from “manipulation” by oil executives or evil “oil speculators.” Voters ignorant of Econ 101 support populist policies like the minimum wage, which actually hurts the job prospects of the poor — the people minimum wage proponents purport to help.
NAS’s Ellis says the answer is for the UC system to first acknowledge the problem. Then the UC system should stop ignoring its own regents’ “Policy on Course Content.” It states: “(Regents) are responsible to see that the University remain aloof from politics and never function as an instrument for the advance of partisan interest. Misuse of the classroom by, for example, allowing it to be used for political indoctrination … constitutes misuse of the University as an institution.”
Class is now in session.
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