This is the time of year when millions of parents send their children off to universities. Unfortunately, one price of getting one's children into a top school these days is that they may be subjected to four years of liberal propaganda.
Those in academia like to call the liberal orientation of most college faculty a red herring. But objective research continually shows that it is not. The latest data appear in the Aug. 29 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education. A solid majority of those teaching at both public and private universities described themselves as being either liberal or far left. Less than a third considered themselves middle of the road, and just 15 percent said they were conservative. Not surprisingly, 50 percent of the general public considers college professors to be more liberal than they are.
Interestingly, this puts most faculty members well to the left of their students. According to the same source, less than 28 percent of them would be classified as liberal or far left. More than half considers themselves to be middle of the road, and 21 percent says they are conservative. A new Gallup poll suggests that this may even understate the case. It found that 29 percent of those ages 18 to 24 consider themselves to be conservatives, with just 30 percent saying they are liberals.
The Chronicle is not the first to document the leftist orientation of most university faculty. A survey by pollster Frank Luntz last year found that just 3 percent of Ivy League professors called themselves Republicans, with 57 percent belonging to the Democratic Party. Among those voting in the 2000 election, Al Gore captured 84 percent of their votes. Just 9 percent voted for George W. Bush, barely more than the 6 percent who voted for Ralph Nader. Among the population as a whole, the presidential vote was almost evenly split between Bush and Gore.
The irony here is that unlike almost all other workers in society, university professors are granted tenure -- a lifetime job from which it is almost impossible to be fired -- precisely in order to guarantee freedom of expression. But in practice, the tenure process has become the means by which the left rigorously weeds out conservatives. In many university departments, opposition from a single faculty member is all that is necessary to deny tenure. These days, such a blackball is most likely to be used against a conservative, especially in disciplines such as sociology, history, English and government.
Bruce Bartlett is a former senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis of Dallas, Texas. Bartlett is a prolific author, having published over 900 articles in national publications, and prominent magazines and published four books, including Reaganomics: Supply-Side Economics in Action.
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