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Bruce S. Thornton
Mission Lost « Back to Story

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As some posters already said, what started as a critique with a purpose became weighed down by unsubstantial polemics. Yes, I do believe that the Left in general have perverted the quality of college education, especially the liberal arts. As a recent alumni of UCLA, I have to endure rather obvious eye-rolling left-wing propaganda being blatantly introduced in the classrooms, partly because professors just LOVE to assign their own works as mandatory readings.

Yet, while UCCSUs give credit for Underwater Basket-Weaving with Minorities for GE, I believe that the problem is actually the sheer amount of GE classes one must take in order to graduate. In CSUN, which holds one of the most abhorrent graduation rate in America today (at a diabolical 4% four-year rate), one must take almost THREE YEARS of GE classes. Unbelievable. At that quantity, you've pretty much run out of serious GE classes to take in the first year, and you're left with the detritus GE courses like...Sex for Seniors 101 just to fulfill GE reqs. Due to the oversubscription of GE courses, I don't doubt at all that once major courses have been fulfilled, students will stay years just to fulfill GE reqs.

I certainly would like to see GE reqs curtailed substantially in the UCCSU system to minimize graduation time, improve the quality of skills of people graduating with majors, and still keep a well-rounded general education.
so why are they mainstreamed all together? we need divisions between the capable and the others: the ones who may or may not be capable. We cannot dumb down to appease the masses.

At first I was endeared to this article, because it talks about a critical issue in university education that is often ignored, that universities are turning away from their original mission, which was to help people see, and discern better, to make more considered decisions, and expose them to the best that's been thought. Universities are being turned into career training centers, at least at the undergraduate level. There's now a troublesome transition for those who want to enter graduate school, because the priorities and thought processes are different.

Where Bruce Thornton fell short was in describing the CAMP program. He makes a blanket statement that its only purpose is to bring in children of migrant workers, specifically Mexicans (though people who come across our southern border to work in this country don't all come from Mexico) and doesn't back it up with data. It's tempting to infer this, I admit, but in an article where he's advocating for intellectual rigor, it's really ironic to see this. He blatantly prejudiced his argument, and he tarnished what is an otherwise valid subject that I think needs to be discussed in our society. I was going to forward this article to a professor with whom I've carried on a correspondence, but I don't feel that I can, because I'm sure he's going to get distracted by the same thing.
Re Anneke's remarks. It was not clear from her remarks that she was referring to a plurality of Poly Sci courses. I happily stand corrected.
I know perfectly well the distinction between he/she. My use of the masculine 'he' to refer to her was of course, as she points out, a mistake. It is my fault. If I had been more alert, I could have inferred her sex from the whine.
I wonder how much money could be saved if applicants to attend CSU (or UC campuses for that matter) were required to take and pass a REAL test of basic proficiency in reading, writing and math? Students who fail the test would not be denied admission, but merely have their admission deferred until basic proficiency is attained, probably via some excellent classes at their local community college. But maybe that plan is just too radical.
I share Professor Thornton's concern that traditional liberal education is disappearing, at least in the CSU system. At at least one campus, however, the outlook is not so bleak.

I graduated from the Sacramento campus in 2008. I had previously attended Amherst College, one of the more highly regarded liberal arts colleges, for three years before personal issues forced me home to Sacramento. I was skeptical that CSUS would offer professors and coursework that would be similar to what I had experienced at Amherst.

I was pleasantly surprised. It's true that the focus of the university is no longer "the best that has been said and thought," as Arnold had it, but with intelligent course selection one can still receive an excellent education at Sac State. It's a question of personal investment: you really do get out of the experience what you put into it.

We live in an age of declining investment in public education and an alarming lack of care about its future. But there are still professors who care tremendously about their areas of interest and who have a great desire to pass along their passions. They do as best they can with the increasingly limited resources at their disposal.
Bruce Thornton, you have just exposed yourself as someone who nostalgically imagines himself wearing wide wale corduroy and a slightly musty cardigan sweater sitting in your mahogany lined, Ivy League, privately funded neo-conservative upper class institution where you feel you belong. It's more than ironic you're whining about Fresno and the multi-cultural, poor migrants mixing in with the rich white farmers who are happy their spoiled 20 somethings have decided to attend school just enough to get a decent job.
From your statements it's apparent you believe becoming East Coast style academics and intellectuals are the only reasons one should attend college, that is if they are of the "caliber" to even be worthy of a higher education at all.
The common day laborers, the immigrant Chinese railway builders, depression era dust bowl refugees, Filipinos, Blacks from many countries, Wops, all different so called "ethnics", and ideologically derived ideas and hard labor built the system from which you derive your job.
It isn't some odd manifestation that over time Hispanic and Mexican workers came to predominate California's agricultural bread bowl as you infer. Which by the way, now also includes Cuban, South and Central Americans, and a host of other similar "dark skinned" entrants to this country that in your view don't deserve the distraction of social justice or "solicitude" to our Western universities and colleges.
These so called unqualified and lowly people built the San Joaquin valley and the school that employees you with the sweat of their brow in 110 degree heat long before you learned to crawl and develop your taste for class hierarchy and bigotry that drips off your writing like sap from an aphid infested eggplant.
Have you ever heard of NAFTA?
It's a funny thing that part of America's Western History includes a period in the late 1960's and mid 1970's when companies like Monsanto, came to the farmers in the San Joaquin, Fresno and Bakersfield and all the small rural bergs. They paid farmers to try out a new Herbicide(glyphosate based Roundup)in their citrus, cotton, and every other place weeds needed to be hoed by farm labor. This allowed farms to let workers go and expand to thousands of acres with a much smaller and less trained work force.
Along with glyphosate, other new and toxic herbicides and pesticides were used which would become the revolutionary change for global agriculture. This increased California's economy enough to afford brand new college campuses and make it the national leader and most affluent UC system, long before the Silicon Valley became the technology super star of the world.
But this is where the story really gets interesting. Up until that time the upwardly mobile and humanitarian bound, "White's" worked in the fields alongside the migrant workers. In the 60's and 70's summer jobs in the valley for young teens, high school and college students were often chopping cotton, driving tractor, and working in the cotton, almond, potato and onion sheds. Or the "Humanities Worthy Applicants" also could be found working as a crop duster flagman, or filling the farmers tanks with all the new and latest chemicals that were touted as time and money savers.
What happened? People got sick.
A whole new host of neurological and bizarre diseases started being sent to UCLA and the academic hospitals outside the valley and to Stanford. Young people and children started developing leukemia and brain cancers that were later traced back to contaminated farm wells and tremendous over drift and high levels of exposure.
A white migration then silently occurred out of the fields as farmers realized it suddenly wasn't safe to have their son or daughter or neighbors youth employed in the areas of exposure as they'd been before. So government opened up the doors to welcome Mexican labor in.
It's highly convenient and now necessary to the whole of California's agricultural backbone to have the cheap, uninsured, undocumented workforce of Mexican, Latino, Chicano, Latina, whatever you want to call it workers bent over in our fields from 6 a.m. and into the wee hours of the night. Along with their dirty buses that have their own porta potty toilets hitched to the back and their cars and trucks to which they squeeze as many as possible to get to the fields.
These people take their often job related diseases and complaints with them when they go back to Mexico. They don't report their "Padron" or farm managers when they are asked to do humiliating or excruciating, or potentially dangerous jobs because of their fear of being deported or let go at the blink of an eye.
If California suddenly had to pay employment taxes, workers comp, and the true amount of liability insurance for the bulk of its migrant work force, it wouldn't have the money to continue farming the way it is today and it wouldn't have the money to employ complaining academics who feel cheated their humanities classes aren't built up with free interns, like you.
Another whole area of "Humanities" worthy discussion could be had about the now known side effect of glyphosate and other similar organophosphate farm products. They damage the star proteins in humans and other mammals. The star protiens happen to control the functions of the mineralcorticoids and the glucocorticoids. The glucocorticoids, feed and regulate the functions of fetal and brain development. They act on the hippocampus, amygdala, and the frontal lobes.
These are the areas of the brain that affect learning, memory, emotionally triggered memories, facial, emotional and social cues,vigilance and cognitive performance.
So in essence, you live, work and breathe in the midst of a society that is getting dumber by the minute. That perhaps is one of the foundational reasons it is trending toward and educational system that builds practical work skills instead of contemplation of Virgil, and Calvin and Elliot, as a matter of physiology and evolutionary adaptation,
Not due to leftward leaning faculty and a society "obsessed" with social justice for the undeserving as you claim.
By the way, where are all the factories in the San Joaquin Valley? Many of those shut down in the 60's through the 80' and 90's as America found out it was cheaper to send jobs overseas and exploit the workers abroad, than wait for them to come here.
If you've got the attitude and free time on California's meager tax payer dollars to sit around and write condescending articles about your own constituents and school supporters, while also displaying the lack of historical reference and true "open mind" to even make your work truly interesting from a humanities point of view, I'd suggest you quit now before you get fired which is what this article should earn for you.
D.D. Todd - Point 1: It was not "one" PoliSci course but four years of a PoliSci major and three years of a Public Administration grad program. Point 2: It might behoove you to pay closer attention to my name before leaping to "he/him" conclusions... Anneke is a female name.
Anneke thinks, absurdly, that the fact that he was presented with only a leftist perspective in a Poly-Sci course is evidence of a leftist conspiracy to corrupt the universities? Clearly he has no conception whatever of what evidence is and how it relates to some proposition for which it is evidence. A couple of good courses in logic and scientific methodology might have helped him to avoid uttering such nonsense.
I'd say the author is pushing the limits of the conclusion his evidence will support.

A student who goes to a school in the Cal State system can still get that classical liberal education, if she or he wants it.

Ancient and medieval art includes a healthy portion of the best that has been said and done.

A degree in, say, mathematics would include another such portion, as well as a trained ability to distinguish mere rhetoric from sound logic.

The same would go for a major in any of the hard sciences, or engineering. Quite possibly, for history.

Granting that a student can avoid a classical liberal education if that's not what he/she wants, it's still [offered].
"There is no 'Leftist' conspiracy about all this."

Then explain to me why I was only presented with the leftist view points in PoliSci? I wasn't given the corporatist party line.
Which universities are making sure their students learn what they need to know?

This free resource does just that, focusing on seven key areas of knowledge. It's designed to help you decide whether the colleges you're considering prepare their graduates to succeed after graduation.

This is site that provides ratings of many 4 year colleges on how their required courses cover 7 key academic areas of study. Check it out.
I graduated from Cal. State University, Northridge with an MA in Music Composition. I don't know about any other school but am somewhat familiar with the music department and the theater department. Both of those were considered top rate departments and they graduated some incredible musicians, actors and artists. I have been told that those were the "golden days" of the university. Ron Purcell created a fantastic guitar program. The string department and the composition department had dedicated, professional faculty. In the theater department, Will Bellman and other professors helped create some fantastic productions. I'm not slighting the vocal programs. David Scott and John Alexander both made fantastic music. Maybe the current situation at the school downplays the arts but in my experience, it has always been that way. Programs can only be built when someone like a Clarence Wiggans comes in and defines a level of student performance that must be met to graduate. The subschool heads did the same. I would hope that the music program, at least, retains the same level of excellence.
Oh for crying out loud! The Left is NOT in charge of the U.S. and does not run American Universities. The old adage that he who pays the piper calls the tune still applies. Apart from ever diminishing funds from the State, U.S. universities are heavily financed by big corporations and corporation funded endowments and foundations, and it is they who have turned American education away from the Liberal Arts and classical studies. They want well trained technologists and business oriented drudges, and that is what they are getting for their money. As for the decay of the Liberal Arts etc. this is the work not of 'Leftists' but of presidents and deans trying to maximize enrollments in order to maximize funding. They find eager collaborators in the intellectually less demanding precincts of academe looking for every opportunity to establish popular (easy) courses attracting the intellectually less energetic. There is no 'Leftist' conspiracy about all this.
Thank you for this article. Well-described. I graduated from a CSU in 1999. Many students needed remedial assistance in reading and math. I had to work full-time and go to school at night. I had to take out Stafford loans for which I am still paying. Many students got Pell grants which they never had to repay and got other special financial and personal assistance.

The year I graduated, the local newspaper featured a story on a "special needs" student who had "gloriously" excelled. This woman had mental issues and terrorized other students during her years at CSU. All of this was tolerated by the college in the name of social justice and inclusiveness.

I paid what to me is a precious amount of money and effort to get a Political Science degree. The saddest day of my life was the day I discovered that I had only been told half of the story. I was never taught about Edmund Burke, Russell Kirk or the myriad other conservative and libertarian theorists. Everything I was taught was from a liberal or progressive world view. I paid a tremendous price only to have CSU cheat me out of a solid, balanced education. What a shame.
B. Samuel Davis May 04, 2011 at 10:48 AM
Such a sad state of affairs - the left perverts all it touches. The left is exactly what it claims not to be - racist since "diversity" is double speak for exclusionary policies based on race, gender and ethnicity, since that is the only way to achieve the self imposed "goals" of those involved in the diversity charade. It's a world that makes the government described in "1984" seem tame by comparison. And it is a world unto itself, generously subsidized by taxpayers.

And where is the traditional media in all this? Why no mention of the transformation of our system of higher education - where is - and where were - "60 Minutes", PBS, NPR et als while this was going on? Unfortunately, in the twisted logic of today's media somehow what is going on in higher education is something to be, if anything, celebrated - criticism would be unthinkable since to do so would be against a self imposed code of silence on such matters, grounded in political correctness.

What a strange world we live in!