Survey Says: Politicized Profs a Problem

A new Zogby online poll reveals that good, hard-working decent Americans are fretting over professorial political predilections:

As legislation is introduced in more than a dozen states across the country to counter political pressure and proselytizing on students in college classrooms, a majority of Americans believe the political bias of college professors is a serious problem, a new Zogby Interactive poll shows.

Nearly six in 10 - 58% - said they see it as a serious problem, with 39% saying it was a "very serious" problem.

The online survey of 9,464 adult respondents nationwide was conducted July 5-9, 2007, and carries a margin of error of +/- 1.0 percentage points.

And 46 percent of respondents think the edukayshon at kollej is wurse than 25 years ago (29 percent said it was better; certainly, given the rise of mandatory courses and, in my observations, much more reading and writing, it is more time-intensive than it used to be).

More results here.

reason columnist Cathy Young on profs' politics here.

Meanwhile, Ayn Rand-loving academics are finding it tougher to get tenure than to find a soup kitchen in Galt's Gulch. Ohio's Ashland University has apparently given the boot to John D. Lewis due to his love of Objectivism:

Officials at Ashland have made their discomfort with objectivism abundantly clear. In January the university, in Ohio, rejected Mr. Lewis's application for tenure, and officials told him in writing that his support for objectivism was the sole reason for the denial.

More here. (Hat tip: Charles Oliver.)

Is there a lesson in Ratatouille about this?

Jesse Walker and David Horowitz debated the latter's "Academic Bill of Rights," which is designed to address issues of professorial ideological bias, here.

 

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  • ||

    The online survey...

    Oh.

  • D.A. Ridgely||

    Meanwhile, Ayn Rand-loving academics are finding it tougher to get tenure than to find a soup kitchen in Galt's Gulch.

    Nice phrase. I appreciate Prof. Quincy Adams Wagstaff's pic, too.

  • ||

    I did find it interesting that my college political science and philosophy professors were generally Marxists, with one exception. Of course, we're only talking about five classes in my case, having majored in finance. Still, considering that I went to school during the Cold War. . . .

    Oh, I had a quasi-Marxist sociology professor, too.

  • Randolph Carter||

    Ron Paul didn't win the poll?

  • ||

    I agree with those polled that the last thing we need is kids being exposed to in college are new ideas and perspectives.

  • Guy Montag||

    PL,

    I had an Uber-Leftist Finance Professor! Unlike many Leftists, he did not punish students for disagreeing with his political views and did grade fairly on the coursework.

    That 'college of arts and sciences' was a whole other can of worms, but it did not fit the stereotype until my son attended earlier this decade.

  • ||

    barris, that is crazy!!!! That is EXACTLY what college is for!!!!! It is people like you that are so stup.....

    (oh, my bad DT, I didn't know it was you)

  • ||

    Guy,

    Huh. That wasn't the case at my school. Florida's finance program was pretty good and was comprised mostly of capitalists. Whatever one may think of communism, it doesn't do to think capitalism is a joke when teaching finance. Now that is not the case in economics, where I think that attitude might help :)

    One of my political science professors was crazy leftish, but he didn't abuse me or give me a bad grade for being a little arch-capitalist (one of the students actually called me that once). Far enough. The real bias in that class came from our books, and less from the actual lectures and class discussion, which were fairly reasonable.

  • ||

    The most leftist professor I ever had assigned us passages from Hernando de Soto.

  • ||

    I went to college in Florida (UCF, History). I found most of my professors to be center-right. I don't remember politics being a big deal at all, anywhere on campus.

  • Ventifact||

    Apparently it's not like one of those dumb online polls that mean nothing; from the Zogby's site:

    Zogby International conducted interviews of 9464 adults online. A sampling of Zogby International's online panel, which is representative of the adult population of the US, was invited to participate. The online poll ran from 7/5/07 thru 7/9/07. The margin of error is +/- 1.0 percentage points. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups. Slight weights were added to region, party, age, race, religion, and gender to more accurately reflect the population.

  • ed||

    Evidently he was denied tenure not for Rand or Objectivism, but because he is an atheist. And the college in question is Officially Christian.

  • x,y||

    If Ashland is a private university, I don't have a problem with them denying Mr. Lewis tenure for any reason.

    From Ashland's website: "The educational and social environment is built upon a long-standing commitment to Judeo-Christian values and a tradition that stresses the importance of each individual."

    http://www3.ashland.edu/about/

    Stresses the importance of each individual?

    And I'd like to know how many pro-choice professors at Ashland openly agitate for the pro-choice lobby?

  • Grotius||

    I guess Leo Strauss was right.

  • ||

    Zogby International conducted interviews of 9464 adults online. A sampling of Zogby International's online panel, which is representative of the adult population of the US, was invited to participate. The online poll ran from 7/5/07 thru 7/9/07. The margin of error is +/- 1.0 percentage points. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups. Slight weights were added to region, party, age, race, religion, and gender to more accurately reflect the population.

    I do wonder exactly how most adults would really know what kind of politicized professors exist on campus and what kind of problems they are causing. Are American colleges really churning out Marxist graduates?

    Of course, there is something interesting about the idea that Americans assume that really smart people must be liberal.

  • Grotius||

    Are American colleges really churning out Marxist graduates?

    Unlikely.

    I would imagine that it is great number of secularists and the like amongst professors that gets their goat. Just another example of Jerusalem v. Athens.

  • D.A. Ridgely||

    Fortunately, most college students don't listen to their professors any more than they listen to their parents. Now, if we could only get them to stop listening to blathering celebrities and lying politicians, I think we'd really have something!

  • x,y||

    barris: "I do wonder exactly how most adults would really know what kind of politicized professors exist on campus and what kind of problems they are causing."

    They might have kids in college. Their kids might have mentioned it. Or their neighbor's kids. Same for grandchildren/nieces/nephews/etc.

    Maybe they're recent graduates.

  • D.A. Ridgely||

    Of course, there is something interesting about the idea that Americans assume that really smart people must be liberal.

    As Bertrand Russell once noted, there is no contradiction in the sentence "Smith is a Don [professor] and an idiot."

  • Paul||

    That 'college of arts and sciences' was a whole other can of worms, but it did not fit the stereotype until my son attended earlier this decade.

    Yeah it did, you just didn't notice it until your son attended.

  • ||

    "The real bias in that class came from our books, and less from the actual lectures and class discussion, which were fairly reasonable."

    I'm currently experiencing this with a comparative politics class that I'm taking online (I've noticed no bias in anything that the prof has written). Overall I've learned a lot from the text, which presents a mountain of good information about different political systems and philosophies, but at times the author can't keep his opinions from slipping out. He fairly objectively (almost sympathetically) describes the ideas of Marx, while he describes those of Adam Smith as "dreamy". Keynes gets a big writeup, while Friedman and Hayek get brief one sentence mentions.

  • ||

    Since less than 46% of Americans took even a year of college 25 years ago and only about a quarter took 4 or more years, the people polled are full of crap. How do they know the quality of college education if they've never even been?

  • ||

    It would have been a lot more interesting if the poll had attempted to learn WHY the respondents held the opinion they expressed. Did they have direct experience with liberal profs? Second hand info from a family member? Or were all the "yes it's a problem"-people just Fox News watchers?

  • ||

    And I'm no statistician, but are 9464 participants adequate to represent the population of US adults with +/- 1% accuracy? Especially when it's a subset of an "invited" group? I'm skeptical.

  • ||

    From the article:

    Mr. Suggs wrote that Mr. Lewis's publications, teaching, and service all met or exceeded the university's tenure standards, but said that his support for objectivism, an atheist philosophy, "stands in unreserved opposition to the Judeo-Christian values found in the university's mission and the beliefs of the founding organization, the Brethren Church."

    Sounds a lot more reasonable in light of that.

  • x,y||

    Surveys of college professors consistently show that registered Democrats significantly outnumber registered Republicans. Surveys also show they're much more likely to call themselves "liberal" instead of "conservative."

    Regretably, the number professors who are registered Libertarians or who call themselves libertarian is quite low -- somewhere in the low single digit range.

    Based upon my recent experiences, many (event most) professors have no problem allowing their political biases to slip into the classroom.

  • x,y||

    I should note that I went to a large, public, midwest university.

  • ||

    A private religious college denied Lewis tenure because of his "atheist philosophy" -- not exactly evidence for left-wing bias in academia.

  • ||

    A private religious college denied Lewis tenure because of his "atheist philosophy" -- not exactly evidence for left-wing bias in academia.



    A private religious college is not funded with my tax money. What is so hard to understand about that?

  • ||

    yeah, this is sloppy.

    zogby is sloppy in general, if i remember right.

  • ||

    If you are stupid and malleable enough to have your lifelong political philosophy dictated to you by a teacher, parent, professor, friend, pastor then you will end up with what you deserve.

    If you are afraid of having your children (adult aged, mind you) exposed to beliefs that differ from your own you are a coward who also has little respect for your own kids.

  • Federal Dog||

    There is no reason for any math teacher, e.g., to be wasting time at every class meeting ranting against Bush. That's just someone with basic emotional self-control problems. If the dumbasses would just do the job they contracted to do, there'd be no problem. I don't get paid for ranting against Bush in court, and I don't screech bloody murder when people expect me to just do my job. Who cares what they think anyway, and why do they think it's so damned vital that everyone know their two-bit political opinions?

    It's not. End of story.

  • ||

    I don't think my professors influenced me in the least. I was a libertarian in high school, in college, and since. I moved from thinking that the GOP was the only party of limited government in high school to the realization that it was as bad as the Democrats later on, but no school or professor affected that judgment.

    Interestingly, law school was even less influential on my thinking, despite the whole indoctrination component. Which my undergraduate education wholly lacked, incidentally.

  • ||

    "A private religious college is not funded with my tax money. What is so hard to understand about that?"

    I found it easy to understand. What's your point?

  • ||

    I think its great that college students get some exposure to marxism...just in case they didn't attend public high school or see Michael Moore's latest movie. Or, what if, by chance, they attended a public school run by patriotic jerks who believe in free enterprise, private property, INDIVIDUAL rights, etc. That would really suck ass. A well rounded individual is one that was fed socialist propaganda for at least 12 years as a kid, plus maybe a little in college just in case they still don't understand all people have a godless given right to FREE healthcare.

  • Ventifact||

    alwsdad -- yes, that is statistically correct, actually. You may not know, but those +/- 5 percentage point polls that you see on the news a lot come from about 300 people across the country!

    And I think de stijl and Federal Dog sum up the situation: it's an arrogant waste of resources to spew your political thoughts in front of a geology class (one of my experiences), but it's also moot in terms of indoctrination. Hopefully by the time your kids leave for college you've given them plenty of practice thinking critically of your political ranting.

  • Scooby||

    Does the Ayn Rand Institute offer indefinite term employment contracts to evangelical christian temp employees who spend a portion of their work time prosthelitizing?

    I'm not sure that I'd be too upset about this even if it were a public university. He's not being jailed or fined; he's being denied tenure.

  • ||

    If you are stupid and malleable enough to have your lifelong political philosophy dictated to you by a teacher, parent, professor, friend, pastor then you will end up with what you deserve.



    If you are stupid and malleable enough to have your lifelong religious philosophy dictated to you by a teacher, parent, professor, friend, pastor then you will end up with what you deserve.

    So it is OK if schools teach religion then? After all, (in your opinion) only brain dead idiots would have their views influenced by public schools!

    I found it easy to understand. What's your point?



    The point is, government funded universities have a legal and moral obligation to respect the first amendment. A private religious university has no such obligation.

  • ||

    "The point is, government funded universities have a legal and moral obligation to respect the first amendment. A private religious university has no such obligation."

    I understood that too. I still don't get why you responded hostilely to my post.

  • NP||

    The most leftist professor I ever had assigned us passages from Hernando de Soto.

    joe, I'm not sure what department your former professor was in, but the economics department is an exception to the university setting as a whole in that most of its practitioners are neoliberal in economics. In other areas they hold widely divergent views. The fact is that the majority of professors in the humanities and social sciences (again save economics) do lean to the left.

    That said, this leftist indoctrination thing is pretty much a nonissue. It is one thing to say that professors prefer one viewpoint over others; it's quite another to say that they are biased towards it. Most professors do a good job of distinguishing between teaching and propaganda in the classroom.

  • ||

    this whole comment thread is begging the question.

  • ||

    I attended a private college in upstate NY about 10 years ago, majoring in Economics with a minor in Astro-Physics. ALL of my non-econ professors were liberal, and about half of the econ department were liberal as well. For the most part, none of them brought politics into the classroom.

    However, I did take one anthro class (Native American Studies) where the prof clearly hated me because of my libertarian views. He gave me an F in the course, which didn't bother me because I took the class pass/fail so it didn't impact my GPA. If I had taken the class for credit I would have been pissed that he screwed up my 4.0

  • ktc2||

    Most of the whinning I hear about bias in college is by religious nuts because the colleges and most of the staff refuse to accept ID/Creationism as science.

    Which, of course, is not bias at all.

  • ||

    NP,

    She was in the Geography department, and she really was a leftie.

    Lesson: proclaiming that people are biased and unprofessional exploiters of their position because of their political affiliation is sloppy thinking.

  • Paul||

    proclaiming that people are biased and unprofessional exploiters of their position because of their political affiliation

    Word. I'm saving this one for later.

  • ||

    Um, OK. You do that.

  • NP||

    Lesson: proclaiming that people are biased and unprofessional exploiters of their position because of their political affiliation is sloppy thinking.

    Agreed.

  • That kid with all the toys||

    It's 2007... college professors have been liberal for, what, 40-45 years now? Get over it already. Besides, this still isn't really a public matter; even at state-funded colleges, the kids (or their parents) pay many thousands to participate. So it's more of a consumer's-choice issue. If you don't like all the Leftyism, go to fucking Bob Jones U. or somewhere similar. Vote with your wallet.

  • ||

    In the Grand Compromise of 1969, the Left got the colleges and the Right got talk radio.

  • Wei-wei||

    There's more on the story here:

    http://www.thefire.org/index.php/article/8226.html

  • han||

    This should make it obvious

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