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Everyone loves to talk about academia, but the most profound damage is being done to our children's minds in K-12. In many blue state districts, teachers are required to attend DEI trainings, and leftist ideology is enforced through "equity" vision statements and curricular mandates. They make ever-changing lists of problematic words, and police-led presentations admonish teenagers that innocent jokes can be misconstrued and ruin their lives for ever if someone finds them hateful. Not every family can afford to, or has the time and system savvy to, find alternatives to their local public schools and why should they? Why are we letting public schools teach anti-American and extremist propaganda with our taxes? Moderates are hoodwinked by mainstream media saying there's nothing happening, no CRT or pornographic queer theory here, but I urge parents and grandparents to get involved, ask questions and see for themselves. Our public education system should prepare students for engaged citizenship, college, careers, and trades, not the quasi religious zealotry of social justice activism.

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100%. We currently homeschool but our home school district is crazy town. They have a DEI page that has straight out anti-white content on it. Their primary focus seems to be on pronouns and changing the word parent/guardian to “trusted adult”, while the reading and math skills have plummeted. Assemblies that parents aren’t told about and the only way the kids could get out of it was by writing a ten page paper, and there is a slide with a picture of Anne frank next to George Floyd (come to find out it was sponsored by a radical group). The same school did an anti gun assembly and the kids were told the doors were locked so they couldn’t leave.

They just changed the start and end times for schools, and they constantly tout their “new healthy and equitable start times”, I suspect as a way to ward off any complaints (since anyone who would argue against something equitable is clearly racist!)

We just saw a para that my son had in kindergarten and mentioned we are homeschooling and she said, “That’s really smart, it’s crazy town over there now.” I would say that’s the case for many schools.

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Exactly right and good choice. My heart breaks for conservative families I know who aren't able to homeschool and feel they have no alternatives, in one case a military veteran and his wife who are working several jobs to make ends meet and others for whom English is a second language. As a long time educator, I'm shocked at the newfound arrogance of state and local school administration and some staff who decided that "caregivers" have no right to instill the values they see fit in their children. It's un American! It's so much worse than people realize, and we need to hold state superintendents of education responsible.

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"Why are we letting public schools teach anti-American and extremist propaganda with our taxes?"

The public schools are staffed by teachers who are credentialed by schools of education in American universities. And teachers have degrees from these same universities, so they come into the classroom ready to build their own cadres of neo-Marxist social activists teaching critical social justice in math class or counseling students by advising them to change sex.

Reform the universities and the public schools will follow. In the meantime (which is probably indefinite), monitor your kids' schooling as closely as you can and act accordingly.

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You're right on many points, but we must also hold politicians and state administrators accountable. Schools are run by state departments of education, not teachers. Highly paid bureaucrats, often with ties to academia, push ideology into schools through grants and programs requiring DEI type trainings. It's a multi faceted problem that requires pressure from many fronts, and time is of the essence.

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You're right here too and what you say about K-12 is nothing short of chilling. But the point can't be drummed in enough that the epicentre of all this poisoning of our civilisation has always been in the petri-dishes of lefty academe and spread out from there. The tragedy is that, although this has been festering for decades (exponentially in recent years), conservative politicos have only just started noticing. (Also see my post below).

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Bingo! Children can be manipulated and have their thoughts shaped in the classroom, but most adults require threats or brute force to comply. Clamp down on the adult dissenters while simultaneously working in the schools to shape the next generation into revolutionaries and train them to turn in their parents and others who raise their heads. The goal is to destroy diversity, and the Progressives are using K-12, and even pre-K, to shred our diversity and press every child into the same mold.

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"The Diversity Delusion (by Heather Mac Donald) is an invaluable resource of myth busting fact and a reality-check on the siren calls of identity-based ‘social justice’ now so insistent in all Western societies. Detailed, rigorous and copious, it is a devastatingly compelling expose of “how race and gender pandering corrupt the university and undermine our culture.”...... This competitive victimhood narrative originated in academia but now oozes daily from the liberal media........It is so relentless, in ‘news’, entertainment, in officialdom and institutions of all kinds, that individual examples, though legion, are quickly consigned to the memory’s ashcan. This is why an evidence-rich book like The Diversity Delusion is so necessary, if only as a historical record of the madness." https://grahamcunningham.substack.com/p/how-diversity-narrows-the-mind

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You wrote 'originated in academia but now oozes daily from the liberal media'.

You are correct. Many jobs require a college degree, thus the people filling those positions in industry, in the media, etcetera, all have gotten the full indoctrination from the universities. Whether they become lawyers, journalists, computer programmers or whatever, they have been required to get the indoctrination before they could earn a salary. And those who are teachers then pass it on to their students, whether those are pre-school, kindergarten age, elementary, high school, technical school students or college students. Thus, those at the top of academia are changing the world (in this case, not for the better).

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Exactly so. Shame that right-of-centre elected administrations across the West have spent the last 5 decades in denial about all this. Even chucking buckets of tax dollars their way.

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Thank you for the thoughtful, well reasoned essay. Fundamentally, I agree with you. However, from my perspective as a lifelong academic, I would disagree that "the purpose of the university [is] to produce scholarship in pursuit of the true, the good and the beautiful." Rather, I think that the purpose is to produce scholarship in pursuit of information which leads to knowledge, and critical thinking skills which transform knowledge into what we might call "wisdom." It may or may not be "good," or "beautiful." That's the individual's call. One of the unspoken problems in this pursuit is the fact that so many in the Academy (from faculty to students) have such a restricted knowledge base that they are hobbled from the start. If you've never read anything that was published prior to the 1990s, if you have no real understanding of the fundamental principles on which a science is based, if you've never critically analyzed the foundational writings in your field, if you are unable to "steal man" the points of view with which you disagree, you simply cannot participate in the traditional tasks of the university. Thank you, again, for your poignant op-ed. Sincerely, Frederick

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Yes. As Bill Pound here puts it, universities were once oriented toward "the discovery, propagation, and preservation of knowledge." This is now being subordinated to the social justice mission (if not abandoned completely) and all the horrible features that go along with it, one such feature being the rejection of reason itself as "white" or "colonialist."

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I think pushing the race nonsense has made my kids more aware of race (in a bad way). My kids (teenagers) used to barely notice race but now it’s not uncommon for them to notice it more and make generalizations about races. We were trending towards a truly colorblind society until the wokesters tried to “fix” things.

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Absolutely, the relentless focus on racial difference has been a disaster for young minds, as anyone who knows anything about social psychology could have predicted. What I see with so called white kids subjected to DEI is an *increased* sense of white identity and superiority. In the past, in my area of the NE anyway, they would have thought of themselves as Irish- or Italian- or Polish-American etc. with many historical, religious and cultural differences among them. Now they're taught their "whiteness" is the most salient thing about them, and that their ancestors mercilessly subjugated so called "people of color" who are portrayed as childlike, innocent victims. Well, for a lot of young men that translates to "Sorry (not sorry) we won" and a kind of noblesse oblige attitude of faux contrition. In fact everybody's ancestors have been enslaved and enslavers, colonized and colonizers, raped and rapists and why the f$%@ are we talking about ancestral guilt anyway?? Focus on what you accomplish in your own damn life. We need a positive uniting message for young people to try to repair the damage that's been done. Meanwhile white (and black) nationalists are getting their recruitment done for them.

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You say it all very eloquently. [I see you don't subscribe to anyone. I'd be delighted though if you'd make an exception of: https://grahamcunningham.substack.com/]

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The awareness of race seemed to return with the election of Obama. I've been around long enough to have seen president Eisenhower, the demonstration of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the results. Everything regarding race seemed to be fading into the background until the election in 2008.

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Kinda wild how supportive the comments are on the Times article. Almost like, when you offer reasonable reporting and ideas, uberlibs will actually respond in kind.

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This is a great op ed in a very woke newspaper.Your book is superb but the influence of Howard Zinn a charlatan posing as a historian cannot be underestimated

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💯 My brother-in-law, who is an educator, had nothing but praise for that pile of trash book.

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Your brother was probably brainwashed by the American Marxists who pose as professors of education

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founding

Your question - what is the point of university - is such an important one. It’s the same for all education, even elementary. Our founding generation understood. As the most important document in the nation’s public schooling history, the Northwest Ordinance, explained in 1787:

“ religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”

To connect this essay with your great essay on Hungary, if you don’t take the Orban step and make the religious purpose explicit, if you try instead to pretend education is “values neutral,” you are living a lie and doomed to fail. Without a clear purpose, of course it will fall apart.

More on the northwest ordinance and the myth of educational neutrality here:

https://gaty.substack.com/p/mcculloughs-mistake-and-ours

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Except our founders created a secular democracy with an explicit Constitutional separation of church and state, so we have no business promoting religion in our public institutions including schools. Religious values can be instilled at home, but Christian nationalism cannot be the answer to our educational crisis in the United States.

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founding

That’s what your self-interested public school might have taught you but it is definitely not true…

What is your favorite line of the constitution establishing Godless education?

If you don’t trust the actual words of the Northwest Ordinance, or the words in my linked post of the founders of our public universities, you might find a book like this enlightening!

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1400211107/ref=ox_sc_saved_image_2?smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER&psc=1

Or this one:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0199987939/ref=ox_sc_saved_image_8?smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER&psc=1

Stuff you definitely will never learn in modern public school!

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Our universities, the media, and the Democrat Party lead the charge to political correctness and groupthink. We must have uniformity of thought, language, and behavior. Uniformity, uniformity, uniformity goes the cry. I spent more than 40 years in manufacturing, all of it involving technology and quality assurance. A saying in my field attributed to Edward Deming is considered to be profound :

Uncontrolled Variation is the Enemy of Quality

We’re all in favor of quality aren’t we? Deming is surely right so let’s control or eliminate variation.

There is another side to that coin of my own formulation:

Uniformity is the Enemy of Knowledge©

Scientists learn by conducting experiments in which they change input conditions and study output results. If a plant manager hires engineers only from one college or university he greatly weakens design and problem solving capability. If our schools succeed with their current drive to uniformity, they will simultaneously defeat their primary purpose, the discovery, propagation, and preservation of knowledge. We taxpayers should not allow government to continue pouring money into the current education system. Uniformity in hiring is not helpful, nor is tenure. Peer review is of no value once reviewers are weeded to be of like mind. If "publish or perish" is the maxim, no one will care if published work can't be reproduced. Professional societies are of little value if they serve only to enforce conformity, say by having outgoing officers serve as a nominating committee for next year's officers, or by nominating a single individual for each office, i.e. offering no real choice. Getting a PhD degree requires original research, i.e. research on a unique topic after having reviewed "all" the prior literature on the topic. Then your advisor says you now know more about this topic than anyone else in the world. Thus you are now an expert or elite with a credential to prove it. With this certificate most simply move to a different university to start teaching and in many cases advising new graduate students to repeat the process. This constantly moves a profession into the realm of extremes.

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Wait a second. Why did The NY Times accept your piece?

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Maybe they were bored and wanted to read letters from their subscribers, should be interesting.

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I was rather surprised, too!

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All of this DEI stuff will just rebrand when banned

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Aug 7, 2023·edited Aug 7, 2023

Regarding the purpose of a university, formerly it was understood to include formation of contributing, “productive members of society.” This is no longer the case at all: Contemporary orthodoxy advanced in DEI, SJW and CRT programs aims to produce activist sleeper cells - destructive members of society.

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As a Christian, conservative college professor at a state university I can tell you that DEI offices are about advocating for a singular perspective and not ensuring respect for a plurality of views. I wrote a Christian perspective on pride month on my personal blog and a campaign against me was launched on social media after a student complained. A person from the university DEI office reached out to talk to me “as a colleague” (not in her role) for “dialogue” because she had “questions.” I declined but thanked her for reading what is the common view of many Christian faculty, alumni, students and others. (Ie actually be mindful of diversity).

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Mr. Rufo our side has to also recall re: education, that science is a dialogue between common experience and new, special experience and so the nature of this dialogue changes depending on the nature of the questions asked. Thus on simple questions, general knowledge has even greater weight in this dialogue ie "what is a woman?" is better answered by the majority than by the (sexually perverted) minority. In general minorities don't have the intellectual right to question basic facts.

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education aims at the truth, so that a party which aims at the truth must be best for education.

How could education then be apolitical? A society based on truth must form an school system based around it.

The democrats create a weak, pseudo-scientific academy, because they are a party of falsity, a party whose main thinkers, have called truth useless and w/o value.

The republicans need to look to truth if they want to create an educated society, yet they need not claim infallibility to do this; they need only lay hold of the most basic, fundamental, essential and axiomatic truths in order to claim authority over schools, and make a real contribution to culture and science far and above what liberalism is capable of.

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As you say, the university's basic mission has always been to discover and disseminate (teach) knowledge, till recently, that is. Now, it seems, many of them, and particularly so in the US, have -- quietly, without publicly announcing their altered course -- reinvented themselves as institutions on a mission to IMPROVE THE WORLD. What is more, their conception of what that means in practical terms is entirely beholden to the partisan politics of the left, as implemented in DEI activism. The consequences of this for research and teaching are, as you say, catastrophic.

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I do not subscribe to the NY Times.

I will not give that firehose of partisan lies my money.

Publish your whole piece here with additional commentary, or in the City Journal

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