My Final Word on Ward Churchill
The problem lies in a monopoly - a "monopoly" spread fairly evenly over more than 5000 different institutions in the United States and Canada. Colleges have a percieved "monopoly" on higher education. There's been a sea-change in college and university employment, where more and more people whose ideas are considered "progressive" have been employed, where the push is toward more "open", or "modern", or "enlightened" approaches to everything from teaching to history to philosophy and culture.
It's a problem that hasn't affected the sciences, engineering, and technical education, because the subject itself limits those that teach it to a select set of proven truths, or to the acceptance that theories must be backed by substantial evidence to be considered valid. That's not the case when one begins examining the so-called "soft" subjects, as Mark Goldblatt so ably demonsrates.
The "radicals", the "liberals", the "socialists", and the "communists" who spew anti-religios and frequently racial trash, capitalism-hating rants, and freedom-distorting diatribes get away with it because they're the only voice allowed to speak for almost a generation now. The result has been a weakening of the fabric of American society, the destruction of reasoning, and the alienation of large parts of our society from one another.
That needs to change.
It's time to end the monopoly of the "Academics". There are just as many intelligent, capable people outside of our universities as within them - people who have capabilities untapped by the classroom environment. As the Internet found a way to hold Government and Big Media accountable, it's time to hold "Academia" accountable. We, the people paying the bills, can do it in four steps:
- Starve the beast
- Demand openness and public accountability.
- Require colleges and universities to post a list of supported student organizations online, complete with their charters and membership requirements.
- Encourage those active in the Internet community to post an alternative to every course, class, lecture, and lesson online, complete with the same information required of colleges and universities.
Withhold funding to colleges and universities that promote such idiocy as that spewed by the Ward Churchills of the world. Money talks. Withdraw funding, and the universities will become more self-correcting.
Require teachers to post their course materials online. Require them to include the titles and publishers of required classroom and outside reading. Require them to post online their methodology of grading and evaluating classroom material. Require them to be more precise in their online curriculum vitia.
Include a posting online of the rules for establishing new organizations acceptable to the college. Post the final evaluation of new organizations, both accepted and rejected, with a list of the members that voted both for and against.
Give every student a chance to find information on every subject from a different source other than the one pushed by the college or university. Create an index of course material by subject, including multiple entries from different perspectives. Use extensive external links, book lists, article lists, and original research. Encourage those that use the material to donate to the author, to encourage the maintenance, update, and continued presence of the alternative and additional material.
Colleges and universities have a monopoly only as long as we allow them to. Just as the best course of action to gain excellence in industry is to promote competition, this method will be the best way to force excellence in education.
None of these steps will be effective on its own. It's either all or nothing. Together, however, they can force colleges and universities to both enter the 21st century, and bring the same type of accountability to "soft" subjects that are currently required for the sciences.
Once colleges and universities have been forced to compete, the next goal should be alternatives and competition in elementary and secondary education.
College, University, elementary and secondary education are only a few areas where alternatives and competition from the Web would be good. There is no field in which learning can take place that should be exempt, from flower aranging to hobbies and crafts, from home decor to music appreciation, from household chores to financial management. Some of the information is available, but difficult to dig out of a huge Google search with 10 million hits. There will need to be some form of review, validation, and indexing to reduce the confusion caused by hunting for a tiny nugget of information which might possibly be found within a list of a thousand sources. I think once the idea starts rolling, however, it will grow and expand on its own.
Ward Churchill would find it extremely difficult to spew his idiocy if there were readily available sources from hundreds of others to refute his assertions and call attention to his lack of research. With alternative information available, colleges and universities would be more hesitant to promote such charlatains to positions of prominence. People who can't afford to take the time to attend classes, or who can't afford the ever-spiraling cost of education would have an alternative they could trust. The overall effect would be to strengthen the entire education establishment.