Manual Imagining a Disneyland: From Affirmative Action Hiring to the Globalization of Legal Academia

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Soon, neither colleges nor parents were watching out for the kids.

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The supervision gap resulting from ending in loco parentis and legally preventing parents from getting information about their kids gave the sexual revolution—as well as the lending industry—even more steam. Now students could easily borrow money without parental knowledge. Unfortunately, among the pushers were their own colleges. Students were urged to support their school, the teams, the clubs, etc. By , over 80 percent of students had credit cards; 47 percent of them had four or more.

Parents need access to official student records. They pay the bills; they are responsible to clean up the mess if their children have problems. More colleges are encouraging parents and students to discuss allowing parent access to student records by having students sign a waiver. Colleges should not be offering credit cards to current students whose parents are paying their bills. It may be legal to do so, but it is not ethical. For some, parents pay the bill. For others, their tuition is paid by taxpayers, private donors, or by their fellow students.

Students take out loans, with little appreciation for the magnitude of their debt or the strain it will place on them later in life. As a result, college students are not cost-sensitive consumers and the price of higher education continues to grow. If students were required to work for a percentage of their college tuition, the demand for efficient education would drive down the price of higher education.

Indeed, colleges are wise to cater to these demands; those who do not often lose students to their more fashionable competitors. Yet, more than two-thirds of undergraduates receive some form of financial aid.

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The goal of the required course is to provide all students with the objective truth of American history, especially of our Constitution, and the basic principles upon which America was founded and which have enabled it to become a truly great nation of free citizens. No student in an American institution of higher education should be allowed to continue college studies without having received a passing grade in this course in American history. After protected information is redacted, the justifications shall be made available to advisors, deans, professors, and department chairs.

I call for truth in advertising in academia. Accrediting agencies could simply add an asterisk to their accreditation of a college or university if a prescribed number of students and parents complain that the institution is not living up to its advertising. One thousand seems a good ballpark number.


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Please note that the proposal does not come with an enforcement mechanism. Nor am I calling for any action by any level of government—federal, state, or local. And we certainly do not want to get the U. Department of Education involved.

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Look at what a great job they did with No Child Left Behind. Pervasive political correctness makes this impossible. Dissenting students tend to keep their reasons to themselves. The faculty is hired according to the standards of the various disciplines, but will—via the self-selection that comes by choosing the southern sticks—be slightly more conservative and religious than American professors generally. The faculty, however, will generally see themselves as more enlightened than their believing students.

This balance circumvents denominational enthusiasm and edginess, and keeps the content of religion from being an endless source of curricular dispute.


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Truth of religion is considered in the classroom—no law prohibits it—but professors approach discussion in a variety of contradictory ways without fear of dismissal. Our model school, nonetheless, considers the religious lives of students a positive good and encourages diverse forms of religious expression through student-run organizations.

Student religious life is vibrant and seriously observant, amidst plenty of open doubt and dissent. This is rarely the case. If colleges were serious about critical thinking—and they ought to be—they would require students to take a course in logic. A logic course teaches students to distinguish between valid arguments and invalid arguments, a capability that will serve them well throughout their lives, as citizens, as consumers, as parents.

Other people are constantly trying to persuade you to accept their beliefs, buy their products or services, vote for their candidates, and so on. Students who have learned logic are able to distinguish flawed arguments. The CLA is a standardized test that measures how much students increase in general collegiate skills during their time in college. The growth in its use is a welcome development in light of the depressing results reported in the landmark national study, Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses, by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa.

Using the CLA, Adrift surveyed students across the country. After four years, 36 percent of students continued to show small or empirically nonexistent gains in learning.

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Instruction would be based on finding thematic linkages, i. Rather than narrow disciplinary pursuits, such a program would give genuine texture to a curriculum most students observe as a hodgepodge of faculty preferences dereliction. In an age of Google, JSTOR, and Wikipedia students quickly cut-and-paste their way to the finish line of an assignment without experiencing the joy and wonder of the intellectual journey—and they learn little along the way to boot!

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The problem today is that students often lack context, self-discipline, and a guiding principle to help them navigate the vast sea of information into which they have been dropped. Thanks to the Internet, they have easy access to almost everything ever written. Their time is more often than not consumed not by great books but by mundane tweets. There is no easy solution to this problem, but teaching students to seek out those with differing views for rational debate on important topics would foster their intellectual development.

The modern academy teaches students through word and, more powerfully, through example, the exact opposite of independent thought. An academy that takes its intellectual obligations seriously would strive to reverse this trend. Educated people should see it as a duty to poke their heads outside their echo chambers and cultivate the habits of a curious, skeptical mind. Instead, our campuses create consequences for having divergent or irreverent opinions, legitimize cheap tactics for getting out of meaningful debates, and create awkward and unproductive energy around issues that should be freely discussed.

If we could succeed in teaching students the value of actively pursuing intelligent debate with thinkers who do not share their current views, we might begin to reverse the calcification of ideas on campus, and even elevate the tedious national discourse to which we have all become accustomed. In the state university where I teach, many first-year writing course students admit that they read exactly four books in high school: the one assigned each year.

We need to teach them a radical and simple appreciation of the sentence, the active verb, the named object, the capital, and the period. The first half of a freshman composition course can and should concentrate on just one thing: the style of vividness: fairly short sentences with concrete objects and active verbs. Yet with their usual inattention to undergraduates, faculty leave orientation to student affairs administrators, who emphasize recreation, vocation, and victimization—not learning.

Faculty must take over student orientation, using it to teach students that they are lucky to attend college and that their attendance is being subsidized by others, that integrity matters, that the life of the mind is vital, that with hard work they will grow smarter while with little work they will flunk out or emerge after four years none the better. Student orientation cannot work without follow-through, so our best rather than our worst faculty must teach first-year courses, which must have high standards and set demanding expectations for the years ahead.

Since undergraduates constantly turn over, it would take only four years of this regimen to re-instill the culture of learning in our colleges and universities. To get at least some useful mileage out of this often well-meaning but clearly superfluous group: send the administration to student sporting and cultural events. About the same applied to less glamorous sports like softball or rowing. Golf, who knows? I suggest requiring a weekly minimum of three to four hours attendance at sports and cultural events throughout the academic year. Show students you really do recognize their efforts.

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Who knows, it might set a good example for the teaching faculty—they should start showing up, too. Require all undergraduates in American colleges and universities—irrespective of major—to memorize and publicly recite from memory certain classic American texts, in full or excerpted form, as a partial fulfillment of their general education requirement. Why memorization?