Wednesday, September 21, 2005


More Money to Poorer Colleges and Universities

Not a bad idea
Why should the rich kids at the Ivy League schools and such get all the money. If we spread the money around to all schools the overall quality of education would rise. The typical college graduate would be better educated. The entire country would benefit the better operation of the businesses, schools, governmental agencies, etc. that these college graduate run.

Well, I can't comment on such prestigious schools, though of all the schools on that list, I thought that only University of California Berkley was a public institution. My only experience with Berkley has to do with analyzing their football team and coach, and a bothersome academic liberal who taught me at my high school. I only know four people who studied at Harvard: one is staunchly conservative, one is very conservative, one was an old school Southern Democrat, and one didn't really care because he was from a faraway culture where such distinctions are far more complex. I do know someone who graduated from George Washington Law, and he is far left. My brother, and many of his more liberal classmates, all applied to Georgetown.

But I always thought endowments went to pay for both students and research at these institutions. Harvard and Princeton and Yale do a lot of research and fund a great deal of research grants. University of Georgia does the same. We also have an Athletic Association with nine figure budgets. I can tell you that Furman University doesn't even come close to our figures in either category, and UGA is nowhere near Ivy League.

What I can comment on is the perception that 'liberal' college professors somehow create 'liberal' students.

When I was at UGA, my most liberal professor caused some significant outrage in class. What did she say? "I'm from Texas, and I just don't get this 'sweet' barbecue y'all have down here in Georgia." You can bring up politics all you want, but talking trash about our barbecue nearly touched off a riot.

The event most protested on the Georgia campus recently was the dismissal of our beloved Athletic Director.

UGA has the largest College Republicans chapter in the country.

The conservative faculty and staff constantly complained about liberal faculty and staff at other universities and where we were going downtown for beer.

The liberal faculty and staff constantly complained about not enough bike lanes in Athens and where we were going downtown for beer.

In my experience, having gone through the education system down south, is that we run into a great deal of different politics from our instructors. Those politics usually have very little to do with what goes on in class. Those few notable exceptions that garner headlines are only abberations, as far as I can see. The only two individuals who fit the "if you don't toe the 'liberal' line, you get bad grades' motif were teachers of mine in high school. (And as the prank pulling troublemakers, we ended that regin of terror with less a 'student bill of rights' and more Beastie Boys albums.)

There are really only two kinds of teachers: good teachers and bad ones. Bad ones don't really want to be teaching, and would rather be someplace else.

Good teachers, on the other hand, conservative and liberal, encourage us to think for ourselves, and want us to learn. They don't care about changing our beliefs, they care about us being able to defend our beliefs thoughtfully and with facts and evidence. They want us to have reasons behind our opinions, and blindly follow no one. Thinking critically is not a liberal or a conservative process.

Some of the most deeply faithful Christians I know teach religion classes at colleges, and they teach them as survey classes. They have studied all religions, and have a deep seated respect for other faiths. For example, there are far more students who object to learning about Islam in their religion classes, because they think even talking about other beliefs in a respectful way is tantamount to heresy.

I was in a history class one time, and a student walked out, complaining about the 'liberal' professor. He was describing the history of Protestant - Catholic relations in 19th Century America. She was Catholic, and took exception to what was being said. She never opened her mind enough to understand that the professor wasn't talking about what he thought of Catholics, the class wasn't talking about what they though about Catholics, we were talking about what Protestants thought of Catholics in New York two hundred years ago. History is history, especially when we have the newspapers that show Protestants in 19th Century New York did not like Catholics very much.

Sometimes I think that those students do need to take survey classes, because one of the main pillars of education is to expose the student to ideas they may not have come in contact with in their 18-22 years. That should not be confused with ideology being used as a weapon.

American and world history, Christian history, these things aren't easy. We've had dark episodes all over the place. There is no vast conspiracy to rewrite or disparage history, but there is a desire to take away the sugary coat. George Washington owned slaves. That doesn't make him less of a hero, and it doesn't make me any less proud to be American; it proves that George Washington was a man of his time just like I'm a man of mine, with all the virtues and vices that entails. But people get upset when that history is explored. I just don't understand why.

A lot of that learning happens at colleges and universities, so that makes academics easy targets. So what if college professors gave more to certain political candidates? Oil companies and big buisiness gave to Republicans at 6 to 1 odds, I'm sure. What does that mean to me? Rich people, on the left and right, spend money to protect other rich people who agree with them.

All of us 9-5, low five figure cats are on our own, just like we've always been.

(And redistribuition of wealth - a stupid idea - should not be confused with tax justice - a liberal idea - but I understand there's been some confusion on that based on the words of self proclaimed 'liberals' who are quite wealthy. I have a simple rule: anytime you hear the words regressive, progressive and tax in the same sentence, you're generally dealing with someone who is fabulously wealthy and looking to make themselves more so, or someone who doesn't pay taxes yet.)

My opinion anyway. Neat article.
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