Study: UC Education is too Leftist

    The study claims to examine the causes and consequences of the growth of leftism in the University of California system by looking at factors such as the number of leftist faculty members and the curriculum of classes. The report claims that courses offered throughout the UC system — such as five UC Santa Cruz classes dedicated to Karl Marx — promote radical activism.  

    According to the report, UCSD’s political science faculty member ratio stands at 27 Democrats to zero Republicans. It also states that UCSD’s history department shows 26:1  Democrat-to-Republican ratio.

    Public Education Coalition member and March 1 protest leader Kevin Quirolo said that he does not find these numbers shocking. Quirolo, who was involved in organizing “Radical Rush Week,” said that although faculty may be leftist, the UCSD student body is not leftist enough.

    “One thing I would note is that the more education you have above undergraduate, the more left-wing you tend to be,” he said. “If the curriculum and professors are very leftist, it doesn’t seem to be picking up among the students because it is challenging to get students involved in activism.”

    According to the study, UC graduates are unprepared for the workplace, study an average of less than 12 hours a week and have poor civic knowledge and basic skills. For example, in a survey conducted by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, 81 percent of seniors received a grade of ‘D’ or ‘F’ on basic American history questions.

    The study claims that politicization is directly responsible for the decline in the quality of graduates. The rationale is that students increasingly take social science (i.e. political science, sociology) courses instead of classics and humanities classes. Since students in these departments are assigned more journal-style articles to read, as opposed to classical political theory works, they are not challenged by texts that develop important critical thinking skills.  

    According to education-focused website Minding the Campus, the report stated that UCSD students had complained about the freshmen writing sequence and professors who spoke disparagingly about “contemporary American imperialism” and “Western fascism.”

    Public Education Coalition member Sean Estelle said that the quality of education may be declining throughout the UC system, but increased politicization is not to blame.

    “Our education is suffering, but it’s not suffering because of a leftist bias in the UC but because [the UC Regents] aren’t thinking about where their funding is going,” he said. “[When] the Regents and administrators are getting their bonuses and the schools are closing libraries, the quality of education is going to suffer.”

    The study claims there are a growing percentage of liberal faculty members, although it does not show a specific time frame for comparison. Additionally, it states that the more a field relies on politics, the higher the concentration of liberal faculty members are likely to work in that field.

    “In some areas, [leftism] is so extreme that it amounts to virtual exclusion of any but left-of-center faculty,” the report states.

    The report also claims that the type of leftism seen in faculty members has become more extreme since the late 1960s, possibly as an effect of younger faculty members being more solidly left-oriented. These findings suggest that as younger faculty members replace retirees, the imbalance will continue to grow.

    In addition, CAS concludes that faculty members are becoming more likely to admit that political activism is one of their goals of teaching.

    “I don’t think that the classes leaning to the left are really that far to the left, and even if they were, they aren’t having that much influence on students,” Quirolo said. “I don’t know how you would enact on [this problem] other than by encourage more conservative-leaning people to get involved in high-caliber academics like the university system.”

    UC spokesperson Steve Montiel said that the UC Office of the President disagrees with the findings of the report.

    “We don’t agree that the University [of California] is the monoculture portrayed in the report,” Montiel said. “Aside from that, the report is from the idea that the exchange of diverse opinions is necessary for education.”

    The UC Academic Senate, a body representing faculty in the shared governance of the University of California, will be conducting a review of the study, Montiel said. The study has been sent to three different committees to analyze the veracity of the report’s findings. 

    “The most thorough review will be by the academic senate and that [review] will take some time,” Montiel said. “We have confidence that the academic senate will give a fair assessment of [the study].”

    While there is no specific timeline for the release of the academic senate’s study, it will likely be finished in two weeks, Montiel said.

    According to Montiel, UCOP also considers other similar studies conducted periodically by professional organizations.

    “We do well with those [other studies] and our schools and programs are among the highest rated in the country,” Montiel said. “I think we have pretty good quality here.”

    CAS is a part of the National Association of Scholars, which is a network of scholars that analyzes and publishes a quarterly journal and reports, such as this one, evaluating higher education policy and academic trends. The organization’s mission statement claims that it aims to stimulate academic improvement.

    While the NAS study specifically refers to the University of California, it also stated that these trends are occurring at institutions of higher education across the country, including technical institutions and community colleges.

    The full report can be found online at http://www.nas.org/articles/a_crisis_of_competence_the_corrupting_effect_of_political_activism_in_the_u

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