January 31, 2009

Again: Teacher bias

Steve Newton at DE Libertarian has some thoughts on what one should do if your kid's teacher allows some of his/her political views escape into the classroom. I've written about this more times than I can count, most recently here and here. The ironic thing about the incident Steve addresses is that it deals with an anti-Joe Biden teacher. Say whaaa ...?? A teacher [supposedly] espousing anti-liberal views in a classroom?? A true rarity!!

Which brings me to what typically we hear about when it comes to political bias in the classroom: Loyal CoR reader Fred Gregory brings me word of a preposterous situation at Elon University. Freshman Joe Malone had a beef with how his "Global Experience" professor dealt with the conservative/Republican point of view:

The textbook for the course, "Democracy's Edge," by Francis Lappe, is an outrageous example of left-wing indoctrination.

Lappe expends gallons of ink hurling invective at Reagan, Bush, "the far right" and its "mean-spirited, ends-justify-means mind set." The "far right," the author claims, opposes "the democratic premise that citizens use government as our tool to provide basic security for ourselves and express solidarity with our neighbors."

To begin with, anyone who suggests that President Bush is a member of the "far right" is ignorant of conservative principles. And second, we can only wonder if Lappe has ever read the Constitution, or any of our founding documents, which say nothing about expressing "solidarity with our neighbors." Obviously, the author's paranoia about conservatives distorts her vision of "the global experience." For Joe Malone, things would only get worse.

Malone's instructor in "The Global Experience" was Stephen Schulman, assistant professor of philosophy, who, in the first week of class, proclaimed that President Bush, upon completion of his term, should be tried for war crimes and convicted by the International Criminal Court. Upon voicing a contrary position -- in a course that allegedly thrives on dialogue and the exchange of ideas -- Joe Malone was scolded and advised to alter his behavior. This exchange was verified by Wendy Warren, a classmate of Malone.

Shortly thereafter, Professor Schulman suggested that his students undertake, as a class project, the gathering of signatures to increase the minimum wage in Greensboro. It would be inappropriate for a "far right" professor to expect his students to gather signatures for tax cuts or to abolish affirmative action; likewise, isn't it inappropriate to expect students to participate in a partisan, progressive cause?

Students were asked to write a "response" to the minimum wage initiative, about which Malone's paper was critical. Although his arguments were valid and his tone respectful (I have read the paper), Professor Schulman, in an e-mail to Malone, declared the paper "unacceptable" because of the author's "overblown statements" and "general tone of distaste." In the same message, Schulman warned Malone that his "behavior in class comes across as borderline hostile to others."

Joe Malone Jr. was charged with "disorderly conduct" and ordered to appear at a hearing before Elon's Honor Board, which found him "responsible," meaning guilty as charged. (He has appealed the decision.) The aforementioned Wendy Warren wrote the board on Malone's behalf and argued that he was "never intimidating" in class. But Malone, she wrote, was "about the only one passionate enough about his beliefs to question Schulman's extremely liberal thoughts and ideas."

Now, this is college, so I personally don't have as much of an issue with a prof spewing his personal views about topics in his class. I do have an issue, 'tho, with the sort of assignments he put out. But that's not the issue. The issue is Schulman's [alleged] reluctance to allow Malone's contrary views to be expressed. In a word, it's ridiculous. It seems Schulman has been thoroughly schooled in that collegiate PC inanity known as "creating a hostile environment" merely when one voices disagreement with the prevailing liberal heterodoxy. (For example, we're witnessing a form of this right now nationally as those who disagree with Barack Obama's and the Democrat Congress's "stimulus" package are dubbed "anti-American" and "unpatriotic.")

I had my share of liberal profs in my undergrad and grad days, but thankfully none of them were anything like this idiot Schulman. Indeed, in one of my grad classes (dealing with student behavior and classroom management) I wrote a lengthy paper pretty much trashing the philosophy of the course and our assigned textbook. It was thoroughly researched and, as such, I got an "A." But the professor wasn't very happy with my views (since she wrote a full page of comments ripping me in return!), but the point is that she allowed me to express my points and didn't penalize me academically or in a disciplinary manner.

The sooner the Schulman's of the college world realize what asses they are, the better off academia will be.

Posted by Hube at January 31, 2009 10:00 AM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

You've got a long wait, Hube. What we call indoctrination, they call education.

Posted by: ShadowWing Tronix at January 31, 2009 10:48 AM

I had a liberal teacher in 7th & 8th grade who was not shy about sharing his views with us. Now, he was fair and would allow disagreement and it helped that one of the most outgoing guys in the class was a conservative, but he helped make more conservative. (Up to that point, to the extent that I was politically conscious, I leaned left.) But hearing him defend liberalism pushed me to the right because I felt that if that's the way the liberals thought, I wanted no part of it.

Posted by: Paul Smith at January 31, 2009 02:49 PM