Thursday, March 08, 2012

OK, Christian conservatives. Why hasn't Santorum teed you off?

There are a couple things I usually try not to do on my blog.  One is: state the obvious.  A big news story about something (stupid / dangerous / terrible) comes out, and every writer everywhere has to do an entry about how, Yes, it really is (stupid / dangerous / terrible).  Waste of time.

I also try not to give attention to fringe people with only niche influence.  While Rick Santorum is certainly a fairly major candidate for the GOP nomination, he's too extreme -- whether you like his stances or not -- to get elected.  He's a news byte and unlikely to be more, though I guess stranger things have happened.

I'm making an exception.  Not that I have read all the response to his comments about education, so it's likely that I have nothing new to say about it, but...

Never mind his diss of educated liberals -- why aren't conservative Christians themselves outraged and insulted by his sneer at education??

For a man who has earned three degrees in three major universities to tell the rest of us that higher education is screwing up peoples' minds and values, is both absurd and one of the most noxious examples of "I deserve it;  you and your children are too stupid to use it properly."

Because that is exactly what he's saying.  His complaint that increasing opportunites for higher education makes "snobs" and Obama clones is insulting to conservatives as well as to liberals.

He -- with his 3 degrees -- would claim that post-secondary learning is a tremendous danger because the kid, who's over 18, and you, as a parent, aren't quite up to the task of navigating a place like Penn State and coming out with your values intact.

He managed to, but I guess he's much smarter than you are, which is why he thinks you not only will fail to use critical judgment in what you read and hear, but that your/your child's access to a lot of careers, like computers and business and medical technology, is best limited, to keep you from finding out that some professor doesn't believe in God.

He also thinks that you're so stupid that you can't find educational institutions aside from them Godless places.

Never mind that the list of accredited colleges is huge.  Has the Rickster even looked at the size of any college guide??

1739 pages. Six pounds.

Never mind that this hefty volume includes loads of conservative and / or parochial colleges that also offer valuable programs.

And never mind that  "college education"  is a term that envelops a big spectrum of programs, from advanced esoteric subjects to career education certification at tech college level.   Public 2-year colleges need most of their time for teaching things that get you jobs, and don't have a lot left over for advancing the atheist agenda, and are a lynchpin of the opportunity that putting education in reach is all about.

I'm not bothering with arguments as to whether there are major universities pushing a liberal agenda, because it doesn't matter how much or how little truth there is to that.  Let's grant it,  just for argument's sake.

Alternatives to such institutions abound, from smaller schools, to faith-based schools of all sizes, to 2-year colleges that are letting hardworking and highly motivated people gain careers and be part of the dream.

Perhaps he would find comfort in discovering that liberals and Democrats will not select your college for you.

From the National Center for Education Statistics comes an important thing to ponder:
 From 1998–99 to 2008–09, the number of associate's degrees earned by Hispanics more than doubled (increasing by 101 percent), and the number earned by Black students increased by 77 percent, while the number earned by White students increased by 28 percent.
These are people who want a life for their families and the chance to make a difference in the community.  People whose parents work long hours and collect aluminum cans by the roadside to build tuition money and a better life for their kids.  But even with multiple jobs, tuition is getting beyond the reach of the many of the best, most valuable people who could contribute vastly more to this country with developed skills.

If he thinks that faith depends on keeping education levels low, what Christian wouldn't find that insulting in the extreme?

Elitism?  He patronizes people of faith this way, and has the gall to complain about elitism?

Every Christian conservative who has a college education, or wants one for their kid, who has spent 18 years teaching that child values, who thinks he or his child, or both, is bright enough to make choices, should be up in arms about this attack on their ability to think and discern.


Sherwood Harrington said...

The sound you're hearing in your head is cheering coming all the way from California.

Sherwood Harrington said...

I took the liberty of posting a link to this for my friends to look at over on Facebook -- I hope you don't mind. It's gotten some interesting, positive comments. If you're on FB, you can find me and thus them.

Catherine said...

Santorum has no business running for President.

Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

Sherwood - thanks! I got more same-day views than i have since....hmm...since the last time you linked to a post of mine on facebook! Your commenters are quite interesting, and thoughtful.

Catherine - Santorum certainly seems to be exactly what we don't need. I'm of two minds about his running, since i try to believe one of the cool things about this country is anybody getting a chance to go for it, but the extremists and nuts aren't getting weeded out quickly anymore. A news commenter said the other day that it's because the superpacs are keeping these campaigns on life support longer, but i don't know. It does seem that something is prolonging these wasteful and impossible campaigns.

Dann said...

Hiya Ruth,

First the qualifiers....I am not a conservative. I am not a Christian. I am most definitely not a Santorum supporter. And I do not favor abandoning the heliocentric theory of the universe.

But I think your post significantly misrepresents the issues that Mr. Santorum is trying to present.

1) Culture/Values - a short story

We have/had a professor at my local community college. He is a self confessed socialist. In class he dismissed the reasonably well documented fact that one of the initial American colonies had a food problem that was created by a community rule that all food would be "shared" regardless of how much effort a person put into producing the community's food. As a result, many colonists spent their time doing things other than growing food.

Fortunately...from one perspective....the colonists got some help from the Indians.

He referred to the above as a "myth".*

A few years later, he assigned his English students the task of writing a paper as to why the US was wrong to invade Iraq.**

I would submit that both are reasonable examples of a professor attempting to indoctrinate his/her students based on personal perspectives rather than on teachable facts. This sort of thing appears to be pervasive. At least, if my local backwater community college has this problem, then it would appear to be a problem that extends well beyond Harvard, Stanford, the University of Michigan, etc.

*I was a student in the class.
**A good friend and U.S. Navy veteran was in the class.

2) Not everyone needs to go to college.

That isn't the same thing as saying that people should actively avoid college. It is an acknowledgement that some people, due to a lack of preparation or due to a vocational preference, are not well served in a college environment.

Additionally, there are other learning environments where people can develop valuable skills. Being mildly partisan, I will suggest that an average U.S. Marine Corps veteran is more qualified for a broad range of positions than many comparably aged college graduates.

My father, a 50 year veteran public high school teacher, has long been critical of the artificial push to get every high school graduate to go to college precisely because there are professions where sitting in a classroom is a waste of time from a professional perspective. Plumbers, carpenters, mechanics, etc. all provide valuable and lucrative services. None of them needs a full blown 4 year collegiate experience to be successful. Pushing people to attend college when they lack the inclination or talent is a waste of their time and money and the colleges resources.

Of course...just in case...there are certainly many valid reasons for attending college beyond professional qualifications.


Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

Dann, you know i enjoy sparring with you, but i think you made some nice, reasoned statements of your opinion, without them being a response to the post. Which is OK, but i didn't disagree with either of your points.

I did not and could not misrepresent Santorum's statements that increasing college access isn't a good thing because college turns people away from conservatism and God. He said it.

I made a point of saying that the accusation of rampant liberalism in academia could be true and STILL not justify his pretense that there aren't alternatives. I was suggesting that all the kids in state U.'s who attend Young Republicans or Campus Crusade for Christ, and the students who go to Fordham, Wheaton, or Bob Jones, and the single parent who's skipping all the liberal arts cultural indoctrination and getting a community college certificate in automobile transmissions, should tell him where to get off.

Those other vocations, like mechanics and Heating/AC/Refrigeration, are all programs offered in community colleges. Check out my old hometown CC and its list of certification programs. Expanding access to "college" includes them. CCs aren't just the "first half" of Enormous State U.

The cost of any level of this education - MBA, B.S., Associate, or just certification; private, public, community colleges - used to be in reach of even working class families and isn't anymore.

Sherwood Harrington said...

I've got to admit to being mightily annoyed at the continuing characterization of me and my community cololege colleagues as leftist subversives with anecdotes like Mr. Todd's being passed off as evidence for that. It's personally offensive.

Concerning the Republican opposition to the Obama administration's higher education initiatives: if it's based on opposition to the expense (a thoroughly legitimate position), then why is it couched in such divisive and inflammatory posturing? If you've got a good position, messing it up with stuff like that seems counter-productive.

Here's a local take on the community college aspect of the initiative. I see no snobbery or leftist indoctrination in it. If people like Santorum are telling folks that they shouldn't want their young adult children to want that kind of job preparation because it's some sort of socialist trick, then they're lying, pure and simple.

Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

The liberal-professor thing was a topic i really really didn't want to get into, since i see the problem with Santorum's statement as being his lie that choosing college *is* to choose immersion in liberalism, and that's a lie whether there's a liberal bias in the majority of classrooms or not.

However, the fact is that surveys showing a majority of professors identify themselves as left-leaning are being used along with anecdotes, to "prove" something that it's actually not proof of at all.

The surveys are of personal beliefs, and don't even speak to the issue of whether those profs use their class time to indoctrinate students in political/religious views. Did the one Dann experienced do it? Does it happen? Of course. But how many of these anecdotes would it take to show it happening more than a tiny percentage of the time?

It's one of those lies that seems true - "well of course their personal beliefs must come into their teaching!" - when it's not a real cause>effect. First, the topic would have to come up, and would have to come up without a curriculum to to guide the class through it, and then the teacher would have to (a) lack personal integrity and professionalism, and (b) have time to waste on sidetrips when there's a limited amount of time to cover a lot of material.

Real teachers know teaching and indoctrination aren't the same thing. The guy in the story wasn't one. He's a jerk who sees students as little mirrors of his Magnificence, and might be too tenured to be fired, but he isn't typical.

If we're doing anecdotal evidence, my brother is a fundamentalist Republican who teaches biology in a community college.

Santorum cited some study about how most students "don't lave college with the faith they came with" (or some such wording) which is another crock, since it takes a snapshot of where people are at a breakaway time in life when ditching the traditions you grew up with is pretty typical, and it doesn't look at how many go back to their roots, which is also pretty common.

The focus described in Sherwood's article link is what it's really about.

Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

OK, i obviously *did* want to get into it and just needed an excuse. Thanks, guys!

Sherwood Harrington said...

Thanks for putting your finger on why my colleagues and I find these characterizations so personally offensive, Ruth. You said that in order to do the kind of indoctrination that broad-brush smears accuse us of doing, we "would have to (a) lack personal integrity and professionalism, and (b) have time to waste on sidetrips when there's a limited amount of time to cover a lot of material." Exactly.

We are being accused of not doing our jobs, and the justification for that is that a few college teachers can be found who are not doing their jobs. That, to use Santorum's wording, makes me want to throw up.

Dann said...

I've got a ton of thoughts fulminating, but the first one was that I obviously neglected to point out that I had many, many other instructors that were not like the one guy.

In fact, I had one contract teacher that was mildly left of center, Viet Nam vet, pony tailed, etc....that loved having me in the class room so he wouldn't have to take the Libertarian position on issues. We had a great time in that class.

I've got more, but the above really needed to be said before anything else.

Oh...and Mr. Todd is an elderly gentleman...plays a lot of golf. I can't be Mr. Todd until he passes on. [wink]

southernyankee said...

Wow, what a battle. Glad y'all keep the gloves on :-).

Most of the jobs that once were apprentice oriented, like plumbing, etc, now are too complicated by state and federal building codes, and modern tech, so require some degree of formal education.

I never knew, nor have I ever spoken to any college/univ grad who suddenly expressed liberal views they did not already have. People do not change that easily. Specially those intelligent enough to seek further education.

As to the Mr Todd thing: Max Allen Collins (writer) once told Mickey Spillane that he was the next Mickey Spillane. To which Mickey said, "You can't be."
"Why Not?" asked Max.
"Because I'm still alive," Mickey replied with his usual dry humor.

Now that Mickey has passed, Max Allen Collins has co-written one or two Mike Hammer mysteries.
Let me tell you. I knew Mickey Spillane and Max Allen Collins is no Mickey Spillane. not even close.