Conservatives must keep fighting leftist indoctrination in higher education
By Ronald M. Nate, Ph.D.
Idaho’s public universities sacrifice excellence in higher education in favor of advancing a woke, leftist agenda. We know it, the universities know it, the education establishment knows it, the media knows it, and the legislature knows it.
Yet, here we are again, reading an article in the Chronicle for Higher Education denying that such agendas exist in universities, criticizing Boise State University for not being left enough, and blasting institutions like the Idaho Freedom Foundation (IFF) for stating the obvious.
Conservatives must ignore the media whining and keep fighting for excellence in education while purging the progressive propaganda.
Universities are leftist indoctrination centers. The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) summarized recent surveys and found students holding conservative values report in much higher numbers than their liberal peers that they are inhibited from speaking truthfully about cultural, social, and political issues for fear of reprisals by students or faculty.
This is likely due to the fact that leftist faculty outnumber conservatives by five-to-one in the classroom (double what it was in the 1980s) and by a whopping 12-to-1 ratio in administrative positions. Progressive thought dominates most university administrations so their leftist agenda infiltrates more than just college curricula.
The American Enterprise Institute reports:
There is arguably an alternative curriculum being advanced through new student orientation and programs with names like ‘Stay Healthy, Stay Woke,’ ‘Microaggressions’ and ‘Understanding White Privilege.’ Administrators, intentionally or unintentionally, are signaling to students which topics are open to debate and identify which questions should simply be overlooked for fear of negative consequences. The irony is that those who are purportedly working to increase diversity are often the ones who are responsible for limiting the scope for diversity of viewpoints. In the words of Nicholas Kristof, colleges and universities “embrace diversity of all kinds except ideological…We want to be inclusive of people who don’t look like us — so long as they think like us.”
The Sketchy Claims
The recent article co-published in ProPublica and the Chronicle of Higher Education by Daniel Golden and Kirsten Berg claims there is no real leftist bias or indoctrination in Idaho universities while unironically praising the new Boise State University President Marlene Tromp for her focus on the woke agenda and DEI. The authors then claim IFF is off-base for pointing out the obvious contradiction.
You can’t claim bias-free education and simultaneously praise the leftist focus of the current administration.
The article even asserts that BSU is a victim somehow because they felt the need to cancel a graduation speech referencing Idaho’s indigenous lands for fear of legislative reaction.
The Legislature directs large amounts of taxpayer money to Idaho universities to achieve excellence in higher education. Unfortunately, our universities, like most others across the U.S., are petri dishes for Critical Social Justice (CSJ) programming and activities cloaked in the language of diversity, equity, and inclusion. (DEI)
For the last three years, the battle against woke indoctrination was on display in the Idaho budget committee (JFAC) and on the House floor. The legislature passed bill HB377, which prohibited the practice of critical race theory, such as treating students differently based on race and ethnicity. It also reduced the increase in college budgets by a mere $2.5 million in 2021 (the overall budgets exceeded $630 million), and this year the Legislature increased the budgets to $643 million and froze tuition. The extremely modest budget restraint was intended to specifically defund and end CSJ activities and promotion on campuses.
Sadly, our universities and colleges did not get the message. Boise State University created its new Anti-Racism Center, and the University of Idaho founded a Black Cultural Center to provide a “safe space for black students” with a new dedicated director. Both have refused to eliminate any existing DEI bureaucracies and still require almost all job candidates to include DEI statements in faculty job applications.
IFF has a whole catalog of activities these two universities have done despite the Legislature’s directive.
Leftist pundits and journalists always defend Idaho public universities but never hold them accountable for useless spending. Idaho universities take in hundreds of millions in state and federal tax dollars, hundreds of millions in student fees and tuition, they rake in tens of millions in endowments, and the leftists at ProPublica and the Chronicle (and even the Statesman) demand the conservative critics back off questioning their woke-indoctrination-filled agenda.
Fortunately, there is a groundswell of concerned parents, students, citizens, legislators, activist groups, and honest journalists sparking fires of freedom and rationality in the minds of those who know what education can and should look like. The Idaho Freedom Foundation is well-equipped and tireless in shining an honest light on CRT, social justice indoctrination, and outright malpractice happening in all levels of Idaho education. We will not stop.
Ronald M. Nate, senior policy fellow at The Idaho Freedom Foundation, is an economics professor at BYU-Idaho, holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Connecticut, and is a state representative for Idaho Legislative District 34.