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Paul Reveres of Education Reform

March 22, 2019

In January 2018 and February 2019, the American Academy of Distance Learning, led by Dr. Richard Bishirjian, conducted two conference calls with conservative intellectuals and instructors. Their purpose was to discuss how to reverse a crisis in higher education that threatens to destroy our country. As twenty-four of us took time to participate in these conference calls, we call ourselves the “Committee of Twenty-Four.”

Committees of Correspondence were formed during the years leading up to the War of Independence in order to disseminate information and plan the Rebellion. We conservative writers and teachers stand in, and are successors to, that honorable tradition of American patriots–glorious still and enhanced by digital technology.

Today, none of us—or at least not many–keep horses and ride with the purpose of a Paul Revere. But, we are driven by concern for the damage done to our country by our system of higher education.

During our conference calls, it became clear that there are three views about how to address this deepening crisis in higher education. Bob Paquette, Steve Balch and I represent those three distinct views: Here is a summary of our views of how to address the damage done by our “colleagues” at American colleges and universities.

Steve Balch–Dr. Steve Balch founded the National Association of Scholars in 1987as a way to recall higher education to its genuine principles, the recovery of our ability to think seriously about of our civilization and place of education, properly organized, in sustaining higher culture. At its peak, NAS attracted 4,000 members.

NAS is the successor to two former academic groups, University Professors for Academic Order (UPAO), founded in 1970 and The University Centers for A Rational Alternative founded (UCRA) in 1972.

UPAO was founded by the late Dr. Charles Moser, a Professor at George Washington University, as a conservative response to the politicization of higher education during the disruptions brought about by the anti-Vietnam war movement. UCRA was founded and led by Sidney Hook, Paul Kurtz and Miro Todorovich.

NAS published the journal, Academic Questions, for 32 years, and also publishes studies of higher education problems and issues; files amicus curiae briefs and holds conferences. On November 22, 2016, the Family Research Council  conducted a Webcast of a presentation by Dr. Balch on the decline of required courses in the history of Western civilization. That event was webcast by C-SPAN

Also, Dr. Balch was responsible for the insertion of a provision in Title 8, Section 805 in the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 titled “American History for Freedom.” Dr. Balch is now requesting that the U.S. Department of Education in the Trump Administration help establish and support programs that are dedicated to the study of free institutions, traditional American history and the history of Western Civilization.

Without any federal funding, Steve Balch founded The Institute for the Study of Western Civilization at Texas Tech in 2012.

Bob Paquette–In 2001, Dr. Robert Paquette founded the Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York by negotiating the placing of the Institute on the campus of Hamilton College. When Hamilton College faculty objected.  that agreement was rescinded. Undeterred, he established the Institute off campus, but remained a member of the history Faculty until last year. At some point,  “enough is enough,” he said, and decided his talents were best utilized at his Hamilton Institute.

In our conference calls, Dr. Paquette lamented the decline of the liberal arts at his institution and the plight of aspiring scholars for whom no university appointments have been found. Many  who,  in the past, might have entered college teaching are now not entering graduate programs to qualify for college teaching positions.. They understand that there is little opportunity for employment in Academe, especially if you are not inclined to teach “Politically Correct” subjects.

If they hold unpopular views, those views will be discovered, they will not be hired, or if their views are discovered later, they will not be tenured..For that reason, the Hamilton Institute supports new scholars by providing honoraria and payment of fees for recruiting students to read the Great Books.

Bob Paquette believes that we should challenge the “brands” of colleges that have betrayed their mission. This year he will attempt to put together a program for recovery of the Liberal Arts at colleges where those subjects are in decline.

 Dr. Richard Bishirjian–In 2000, this education entrepreneur founded Yorktown University as an Internet, for profit, university and attained national accreditation in 2008.  Four years later that accreditation was rescinded for failing to meet the financial standards of the accreditation agency. Though Dr. Bishirjian was able to raise $4 million dollars via direct mail over the life of the company, half of that amount was expended on costs related to compliance with state and federal regulations and accreditation agency standards.

Since, there is also a long learning curve that is involved in developing effective courses for distance learning. Experience in classroom teaching, does not prepare you to start an Internet university and design effective “distance learning” courses. It took eight years to learn how to do that..

Now that he knows how it is done. he would like to start new colleges, but he has found that none of the well-known wealthy conservative donors has entered higher education by starting their own university. If they earned their money in business, they know that they should stick to what they know, which is business. Business skills do not help find conservative faculty nor keep them focused and “conservative.”

A major obstacle to starting a new college is a requirement of “regional accreditation” that course be offered from classrooms on a physical campus,

Each course offered today from a classroom on a college campus is burdened by “overhead” costs that push their tuition cost to between $900 and $1,000 per course. Absent that high overhead, a quality education product can be offered for no more than $350 per course.

Of course, in order to design a degree program costing $350 per course, you must know how to design distance learning courses and have mastered the principles for instructional design for distance learning. You must be able to raise a minimum of $1 million dollars in the first two years of operating your college startup and raise whatever is required to sustain operations in future years. Also, you must master the marketing of education products and be prepared to invest a minimum of $200,000 in advertising about the time you are ready to enroll your first students and half that amount each subsequent year..

Because these “new” colleges will challenge the survival of all the high cost colleges in the United States, formidable obstacles stand in the way of a startup college. Not the least of challenges are the two committees of Congress with oversight of higher education whose Republican members are “liberals.”

But, some good changes are underway at the Department of Education in the Trump Administration, so there may be hope for reversing the damage done to higher education during the last fifty years. President Trump’s people better hurry those changes before it is too late!

 

 

 

“Best Practices” for Selecting a College

March 20, 2019

Bribing your way into a prestigious university is not good. So here are some “Best Practices” to keep in mind while choosing a college that is best for you.

 

Facebook is Forever

March 19, 2019

I have a Facebook page and some 327 “friends.” Most are friends I’ve known professionally or met in the Conservative movement. I learn from Facebook aspects of their personal and professional lives and view pictures of them and family members. And some are deceased. One very nice person died in 2018 but recently received birthday wishes. So, in a way, Facebook is forever though I wonder if I can remove my Facebook page after I’m dead and gone. I suppose I should do that before, but I don’t want to rush things. All suggestions are welcome.

 

Charles Sykes’ Bulwark and “B.S.”

March 14, 2019

B.S. is an abbreviation of Bachelor of Science, but in the case of Charles Sykes, that abbreviation stands for that smelly stuff that bulls in fields drop with abandon.

To be fair, I do not like Charles Sykes who gave every appearance of being a traditional conservative when, in 1990, he published The Hollow Men: Politics and Corruption In Higher Education.

During the 27 years from publication of The Hollow Men and his participation in a conference organized by University Professors for Academic Order to his latest book, How the Right Lost Its Mind, Sykes has gone soft. I detected Sykes’ true colors when I asked him to mention my new conservative university in his daily radio program on Milwaukee’s WTMJ. No interest.

During his career, Sykes has kept his distance from himself and political conservatives and is now firmly in the Progressive Left orbit of MSNBC where he appears daily and is described as a “Conservative talk show host and self-professed ‘Never Trump’ crusader.” MSNBC and CNN apply the word “conservative” to negative anti-GOP commentary in order make it palatable.

Charles Sykes has now launched “The Bulwark” which gives the impression that this is a sequel to The Weekly Standard. The Bulwark is a project of Defending Democracy Together whose directors include Bill Kristol, Mona Charen, Linda Chavez and others with Republican credentials. I’m glad for Bill Kristol that he has been able to get Sykes to make a commitment–to something other than himself. But, Sykes’ participation in a third formulation of Neo-conservatism from its origination in the 1970s to the publication of The Weekly Standard in 1995 places the Neconservative banner on weak ground. But, at least now there’s a place we can track the ideas of pseudo-political conservatives like Charles Sykes.

 

Don’t Read The Times of London

March 8, 2019

Last week I received a message from Timeshighereducation published by The Times of London, England’s premier paper. Willmoore Kendall subscribed to the Times of London and when asked why he said, “When he dies, I want to read his obituary.” “He” was Sydney Webb, a prominent British intellectual and Fabian socialist in England in the 1930s to 1940s. Many years ago, when I spent a year in London, I read The Times, but preferred The Daily Telegraph where Peregrine Worthshorne and other conservative writers were prominently featured.

I knew when I read that first Timeshighereducation report that I would not be reading something that good old Peregrine Worthshorne would write, but John Morgan’s assessment of Leftist bias in American universities was, at best, stupid.

Perhaps Mr Morgan needed assistance, so I immediately wrote to him:

Dear John,

The late Paul Ramsay’s bequest establishing a foundation dedicated to fostering understanding of Western civilization touches an area of education in “the West” that is deeply troubling. “We” denizens of Western civilization began to lose interest in the truths of Western civilization that we trace from ancient Israel, through ancient Greece and Rome and the Middle Ages.

Along the way, our academic institutions no longer emphasized classical languages–Latin and Greek–that open our intellect to these philosophic and theological eras. When at university in the 1960s, prior to the eventful student disruptions against the war in Vietnam, most universities required that students take a two semester course in the History of Western Civilization.

Religious colleges and universities required more, studies in philosophy, that explored the truths  at the center of Western civilization.

That traditionalist approach was challenged by events in France in 1789 that unleashed an ideology that Tocqueville called esprit revolutiionaire.. This ran directly counter to the Western philosophic tradition and throughout Spain, England, and to some extent Germany, a rear-guard war was waged in defense of tradition. In Spain Donoso Cortes, in England Burke, and others established and grounded opposition to esprit revolutionaire.

More than two hundred years later that same rear guard action was sustained by Oakeshott in England, Kirk in the United States, and a host of émigré scholars forced to leave Europe as Nazi and Marxist totalitarian movements destroyed civil society in the West.

I played a small role in the United States by founding a solely Internet university dedicated to the teaching of law, philosophy and the history of Western civilization. Others, principally at the National Association of Scholars commissioned a study that tracked the decline of courses in the history of Western civilization. Always present was a “Great Books” movement present in a handful of colleges where scholars committed to the learning found in Great Books taught generations of American students.

Here in the United States, we were not surprised that Australian National University would reject overtures to adopt a Great Books curriculum developed by the Ramsay Foundation’s director, Simon Haines. That expectation was confirmed in correspondence with Keith Windshuttle at Quadrant who replied to my concerns, long before Professor Haines was chosen to lead the Ramsay Center.

I’m afraid to say that the situation in Australia is much the same as in the US where leftists have taken over our universities, certainly in the humanities and social sciences, so that a traditional liberal arts degree to give students a grounding in Western civilisation is no longer available at any of them. This is just as true in our two nominally Christian universities, Notre Dame University and the Australian Catholic University, as it is in the giant state-run universities where most students go.”

Because this problem is not consigned to Australia, nor to the United States, alone, it makes sense to invite our Australian brothers and sisters in this good fight on behalf of the West to join in a transcontinental effort.

I’ve argued that we must begin by starting new colleges, not attempt to reform ones that have gone bad, and I would urge the Ramsay Foundation to found its own Great Books college. In the United States where there are more than 3,000 colleges and universities, it should not be too extraordinary to suggest that we can easily found 10 new colleges a year.

Dick Bishirjian

I received no reply from John Morgan, but I received an automatic reply indicating that he was away from the office, probably, I deduced, attending a Timeshighereducation Summit in New South Wales. “THE World Summit Series” are advertised as “the essential forum for leaders from across the academic community to meet and shape the future for international higher education governance and innovation.”

Just what we need, a body of Leftist university “leaders” to shape the governance of higher education! The arrogance of that statement reveals why I preferred The Daily Telegraph.

 

 

 

 

Donald Trump’s Bad Grades

March 4, 2019

Depending on what business you’re in, you may ignore someone’s academic record. Donald Trump had bad grades and, most likely, was compelled to leave Fordham University because his dyslexia made it impossible for him to complete the reading, writing and foreign language requirements.

In 1964, a Freshman at Fordham was required to complete the following reading intensive courses: English (6) credits; Sociology (6) credits; Theology (6) credits

In a Fordham student’s Sophomore year the requirements were: English (6) credits; Philosophy (6) credits

Based on observation of the President’s reading habits, he would have failed to receive barely passing grades in those courses.

At the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, there was little required reading and no foreign language requirement, just be good at mathematics and you might be able to graduate from Wharton’s undergraduate program. Even at that, I will not be surprised to learn that Donald Trump didn’t earn a degree from Wharton. Christopher Finn, an education consultant came to much of the same conclusion in an essay published in Forbes on February 28.

That may explain some of the behaviors of President Trump: easily frustrated, quick to assign blame, little concern about his subordinates’ feelings, aggressive sexual appetite, and great concern for how others view him.  With those characteristics, I would hire Donald Trump for a position in marketing, especially if marketing himself gave added value. But, would I want him to administer the government of the United States or conduct American foreign policy?

 

 

Kindergarten White House, Pt. 2

March 1, 2019

If the testimony yesterday of President Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, was not bad enough, today’s report that President Trump overruled a decision by the FBI to deny a Top Secret security clearance to his son-in-law, Gerald Kushner, is more evidence that this Administration is run like a kindergarten.

If Kushner’s business interests were in conflict with his White House duties, then he should not be serving as Special Assistant to the President. Unfortunately, the President’s business interests are also a source of conflict of interest. His interest in building a Trump Tower in Moscow clearly constrained whatever actions he might take to defend America and our allies in the West from Vladimir Putin’s goal of reestablishing the Russian Empire.

It is painful to watch conservatives at CPAC this week as they confuse political principle and loyalty to the GOP with a foolish and ignorant President of the same Party. When all is said and done, by 2021 the GOP will no longer exist as a viable counter to the Progressive Left. By then it will be too late to rebuild the conservative “movement” nor reestablish a viable GOP. We political theorists see this as the first step in a process leading to “Loss of Country.”