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Ron DeSantis Wants to Make Colleges More Conservative

  
Via:  Bob Nelson  •  last year  •  64 comments

By:   German Lopez

Ron DeSantis Wants to Make Colleges More Conservative



Conservatives are trying to do to higher education what they did to the news media and think tanks.

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S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



Conservatives denounced left-wing bias among the news media and elite thinkers for decades before acting to alter the landscape. By founding Fox News and think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute, they expanded the reach of conservative voices in America — and counterbalanced what was once a liberal tilt.

Now, some conservatives are following a similar playbook to change higher education. Hillsdale College, the small, conservative Christian school in southern Michigan, has expanded its Washington, D.C., campus to try to reach more students. Conservatives have also claimed victories over more established institutions: After the College Board altered its Advanced Placement course in African American studies this month, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suggested his administration had driven the changes.

But DeSantis has aimed broader than the College Board. He recently announced proposals to transform Florida's public universities. He has called for an end to diversity programs and for weaker tenure protections for professors. And he installed conservatives as leaders of New College of Florida, a small public school in Sarasota.

"The new leadership has said explicitly that they want to change the ideology of the school," said my colleague Patricia Mazzei, The Times's Miami bureau chief. "It's become a test case."

Today's newsletter will look at what DeSantis is doing — and why he may have a hard time succeeding.

Real bias

Higher education faculty is predominantly liberal. On this point, there is not much debate among experts. About 60 percent of undergraduate teaching faculty identify as liberal or far left, compared with about 12 percent who identify as conservative or far right. The gap has grown over the past few decades.

original

Why does it exist? There is less agreement on that question. It could be a self-fulfilling prophecy: Because colleges are viewed as liberal institutions, fewer conservatives strive to join their staff. Or it could be that faculty hiring boards discriminate against conservative applicants. And since college graduates are more likely to identify as liberal, the pipeline for conservative professors is narrower.

What is the impact? Surprisingly, some studies suggest that college classes may actually moderate students' views. As liberal as they may be, professors generally encourage students to engage with different, and sometimes conservative, viewpoints. "There's a tendency for movement conservatives to overstate the problem," said Jon Shields, a conservative and a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College.

Still, professors' left-wing bias most likely leads to some self-censorship by students and faculty and limits political discussions on campuses. A lack of interaction with conservative mentors could also push students to fill the void with more extreme right-wing sources, Shields said.

There is a harm to progressive students too, said Amy Binder, a sociologist at the University of California, San Diego. In her research, conservative students told her that they were constantly challenged by liberal teachers and students, helping them sharpen their abilities to think about opposing ideas and debate them. Progressive students generally get less of that experience.

The public appears to agree that this is a problem: A majority have said that campus politics lean toward one direction and that there's too much concern about protecting students from views they might find offensive, a 2019 Pew Research Center poll found.

So DeSantis is rallying not only his core supporters with this issue but potentially swing voters as well.

original
Sarasota, Fla.
Octavio Jones for The New York Times

Difficult challenge

DeSantis nonetheless may struggle to accomplish his goal of transforming higher education. It is a sprawling sector where many people with power — namely, professors — have tenure and cannot easily be replaced.

The dynamics are different with higher education than in the news media. Conservatives did not have to take over CNN or MSNBC to alter the balance of coverage; they simply created Fox News and built an audience there. But a single conservative university can serve only so many students. Conservatives need to change the culture of perhaps thousands of campuses without scaring away students and their parents — an onerous task.

DeSantis is pursuing two paths. He is taking steps to change major tenets of higher education. His proposal to weaken tenure, which the legislature must approve, could make it easier for his appointees to fire liberal teachers. But those professors would have to be replaced. There may not be enough conservatives for all of those jobs, especially as the pool of potential hires — college graduates — has shifted further left over time.

The second part of DeSantis's push is narrower: transforming New College of Florida, which has nearly 700 students. Its new leadership hopes to turn the school into a model for a conservative education by, for example, developing a new core curriculum. But scaling that model statewide or nationally would be a much bigger undertaking.

Of course, even if DeSantis fails to overhaul higher education, his efforts could have another benefit for him: They could give his expected presidential campaign a boost in Republican primaries that are likely to get very contentious.


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Bob Nelson
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1  seeder  Bob Nelson    last year

By posting to this seed, you are  agreeing  to abide by the  Group's Rules .

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
1.1  Texan1211  replied to  Bob Nelson @1    last year

[]

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
2  Texan1211    last year
[Your Comments are off-topic because they in no way refer to the content of the seed. Any further like these will be deleted... and these also.]
 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
2.1  Sparty On  replied to  Texan1211 @2    last year

Agreed, let’s make colleges more educational and less indoctrinational.

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Principal
2.1.4  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Sparty On @2.1    last year

Comments removed for off topic and no value.

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
3  Sparty On    last year

Those who can, do

Those who can’t, teach

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
3.1  Texan1211  replied to  Sparty On @3    last year

[]

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Principal
3.2  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Sparty On @3    last year

I find that pretty insulting Spaty.

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
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3.2.4  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @3.2    last year

Comments removed for off topic and no value.

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
3.2.7  Sparty On  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @3.2    last year

And yet in my experience, I have found it to be generally true. 

You’re a teacher.   So your opinion on the matter is not really all that surprising.

 
 
 
afrayedknot
Junior Quiet
3.3  afrayedknot  replied to  Sparty On @3    last year

“Those who can, do

Those who can’t, teach”

Those who complain, do…and when nothing else makes sense, blame the teacher. Such an easy out, such a miserable misrepresentation, such a tired trope. 

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
Professor Guide
5  seeder  Bob Nelson    last year

Texan1211 ,   Sparty On      

Your Comments are off-topic because they in no way refer to the content of the seed. Any further like these will be deleted... and these also.

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
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5.1  Sean Treacy  replied to  Bob Nelson @5    last year

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Texan1211
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5.2  Texan1211  replied to  Bob Nelson @5    last year

original

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
5.3  Texan1211  replied to  Bob Nelson @5    last year

[]

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
5.4  Sparty On  replied to  Bob Nelson @5    last year

[]

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Principal
5.4.1  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Sparty On @5.4    last year
Comments removed for off topic and no value.

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Principal
5.4.4  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to    last year

Then make an actual comment pertaining to this seed. Otherwise, leave the seed and stop with the meta. I am not going to warn you again.

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
6  Ender    last year

Seems Florida wants to replace my state as the most regressive.

Just read this from another article...

Last week, after a backlash, the Florida High School Athletic Association backed away from forcing female students to chronicle their menstrual histories on medical forms, a requirement seen by many as a thinly-veiled attempt to keep transgender athletes out of girls’ sports.

Exactly one week later, a Republican House committee proposed allowing DeSantis to turf out those who made the decision and replace them with his own appointments.

Seems he has a super majority there in Florida that basically caters to his whims.

I don't see the crap he is pulling working on a national stage. He is in my mind untested working with a divided state house.

 
 
 
George
Junior Expert
7  George    last year

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Sparty On
Professor Principal
8  Sparty On    last year

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Texan1211
Professor Principal
8.1  Texan1211  replied to  Sparty On @8    last year

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Sparty On
Professor Principal
8.1.1  Sparty On  replied to  Texan1211 @8.1    last year

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Texan1211
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8.1.2  Texan1211  replied to  Sparty On @8.1.1    last year

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Texan1211
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8.1.3  Texan1211  replied to  Texan1211 @8.1.2    last year

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bugsy
Professor Participates
9  bugsy    last year

[deleted]

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
10  Buzz of the Orient    last year

I was thinking that the curriculum for Florida universities, such as New College (mentioned and pictured in the article so I hope this is on topic) should consist of starting off each day in compulsory chapel for a super-Christian sermon.  All history courses should be banned since, as Santanyana said "History is a pack of lies about events that never happened told by people who weren't there.", notwithstanding that he also said "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it".  Compulsory reading should include The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand and The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood in order to prepare the students for their subsequent lives.  Training on AR-15s and target shooting should be a required sport.  Would this not contribute to an ideal education for conservatives?

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
10.1  Ender  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @10    last year

Sounds a lot like what they want. Just read this...

As Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis continues   picking fights with the College Board over “wokeness,”   the state’s Department of Education is searching for an alternative to the board’s SAT and ACT college entrance exams.

State officials have been meeting with Jeremy Wayne Tate, who founded the company Classic Learning Initiatives in 2015 as an alternative way of measuring student ability,   the Miami Herald reported   Friday. 

Tate’s educational philosophy centers around using the Socratic method to teach the traditional Western literary canon, largely made up of works by white men. A company board member  said  the test follows the “great classical and Christian tradition.” 

 
 

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