Phi Beta Cons

Re: Where Academic Bias Really Is

Mark’s post hits the nail on the head. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard leftist professors say, “What bias? I’ve never seen politics discussed in any hiring committee.” When you understand how thoroughly ideological the hiring process is (as Mark describes below), it is easy to see why politics don’t come up. By the time a candidate has completed undergrad, gotten an M.A., and finished his or her dissertation, they are usually either thoroughly integrated into the dominant culture or heading somewhere else. Hearing an education-school professor say, “I’ve never discriminated politically” would be like hearing a Baptist seminary president saying, “We’ve never discriminated against atheists.” Conservatives are about as welcome in modern education faculties as are atheists at conservative religious seminaries, and they apply about as often.


To see how thoroughly ideological many departments have become, one only needs a decent search engine. Check out this nice little excerpt from the University of Alabama College of Education’s “Conceptual Framework”:


The College of Education is committed to honoring diversity, respecting difference, and promoting social justice. Many problems and issues confronting professionals lie beyond the classroom or clinic. An understanding of the larger social, political, cultural, and economic influences and reflecting upon this complexity is necessary. Inquiring about the knowledge base(s) for practice requires seeking the participation from other knowledge communities and sharing power in decisions that affect them. The College acknowledges and celebrates the diversity that exists in educational settings and considers it as particular source of strength and possibility rather than an obstruction to normal practice (Banks, 1993; Dilworth, 1992; Ladson-Billings, 1994; Valencia, 1997).


The College of Education regards color-blind approaches to educational service that ignore the race, gender, sexuality, disability, and class of students as inadequate for addressing contemporary inequities (Giroux, 1994; Kivel, 1996; Linn, 1993) and recognizes several levels at which it prepares its students to celebrate diversity, respect difference, and promote social justice. The College of Education conceptualizes the promotion of social justice in an education setting as an issue of prejudice reduction and equitable service to individuals (Banks, 1993) with attention to the social and historical roots of cultural difference and emphases on empowering members of marginalized communities in decision making.


The College of Education is committed to preparing individuals to promote social justice, to be change agents, and to recognize individual and institutionalized racism, sexism, homophobia, and classism (Abelove, 1993; Fine, 1993; Fordham, 1996; Post, 1998). It includes educating individuals to break silences about these issues, propose solutions, provide leadership, and develop anti-racist, anti-homophobic, anti-sexist community and alliances.


“Honoring diversity.” ”Promoting social justice.” Rejecting ”color-blind approaches to educational service.” ”Recognizing individual and institutionalized racism, sexism, homophobia, and classism.” Is this a state education department or an ideological pep rally? And bear in mind that this is the primary college of education in Alabama, not Massachusetts. Even in the heart of Red America (it is the Crimson Tide, after all), the preferences could not be clearer if they posted a sign that said “conservatives need not apply.” 

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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