At a recent meeting of the President’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education, David Ward, president of the American Council on Education, commented as follows about allusions made during the commission hearings to “A Nation at Risk,” a report which lambasted the breakdown of American K-12 schools: “[T]he pathology of the public schools in the 1980’s is not comparable to higher education today. Our colleges and universities are successful….”
In fact, since the 1960’s, evidence of pathological trends in higher education–relating to curricula, campus activities, educational outcomes, academic freedom, ethics, and finances–continues to mount. So who’s to say which educational sector is most diseased or abnormally functioning?
Moreover, not only does the pathology in public schools endure, but a convincing case can be made that their “constitutional breakdown”–failure to teach basic skills, disdain for knowledge, divisive multicultural studies, and collapsed discipline–was incubated on our campuses.
The ideas and practices born in the academy are seminal to all other institutions. In particular, the greatest conduits of pathology to our elementary and secondary schools in recent decades have been our degenerate humanities, social-science, and teacher-education programs.
Yes, honorable Commission members, this nation remains at risk, and higher educators deserve much blame for the dangerous pathology afflicting it.