Saturday, July 12, 2014

ACADEMIC TENURE -- IDEOLOGICAL BIAS LEFT

Editor/owner's note: Quote from a 2004 article I wrote and published: "Colleges and universities are no longer sanctuaries  for learning but are now havens for political activism." The article here by Dr. Robert Warren is but one of many examples of how this is true. The quote was pulled from the article and run as a banner headline across the top of the page. JAM

Tenure and Ideological Bias:
By Dr. Robert A. Warren, PhD

The Young American’s for Freedom (YAF) recently surveyed the Forbes “top 50” colleges and universities. They reported “of the schools that institute a freshman reading program, no conservative books were assigned to incoming students over the past three years”. Although I don’t have access to the YAF data, its conclusion supports conservative complaints about a progressive bias in higher education.

Assuming it exists, what is the origin of such bias? Is it as a result of a tenure process that has protected a particular ideology and discouraged different points of view? If so, then tenure, once intended to protect academic freedom, is now suppressing it. Admittedly, ideological bias swings on a pendulum from right to left and back again. Nevertheless, when such bias is discovered, corrective action should be taken. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

A lawsuit involving the University of North Carolina at Wilmington shows that institutions can and do punish advocates of opposing points of view. Mike Adams was denied promotion to full tenured professor of sociology. Adams alleged that this denial was because of his conservative positions, and that his personal ideological conversion from atheist liberal to Christian conservative was involved. The university countered this claim by alleging that Adams hadn’t done enough to meet promotion standards and that political bias did not occur. Adams provided evidence showing that he met the university standards. He also produced documents showing ideologically based criticism from other faculty and the university administration itself. At the conclusion of the trial, the jury agreed with Adams.

Tenure is now being challenged in the courts by parents of public high school students who are concerned that it is depriving their children of equal access to quality teachers. Although the situation is different at the college and university level, a legal challenge to tenure on the basis that it is depriving students of equal access to an unbiased and classically apolitical education may be appropriate. In closing, I pose the following question: Who is “John Galt” and what is “Atlas Shrugged”, and do students know the answer because they learned it in the classroom.

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