It's no wonder that students have fled the liberal arts. For centuries, the liberal arts passed on what was best in Western civilization. Agresto explains that what kept Americans from forsaking the liberal arts in favor of the purely utilitarian, despite our practical bent, was that our youth should be encouraged "to pursue inquiry into serious and perennial questions."
But he also notes that the humanities in particular were considered the "Keepers of the Culture" at a time when we actually believed we had a culture worth keeping and passing on to another generation. Since the 1960s, however, our culture has been under attack, our history rewritten as one of unmitigated oppression and the values our Founders and subsequent generations held dear reviled. Humanities courses in liberal arts colleges across the country have replaced the canon of Western civilization with course offerings in gay scholarship, feminism, race studies and the like -- all aimed to show our benighted past and to condition us to a more tolerant future. That is, tolerant of every group except for white, heterosexual males.
Students have fled such course offerings in droves to pursue technical or professional skills in colleges that now award most of their degrees outside the liberal arts. Meanwhile, their parents -- and increasingly the students themselves, through student loans -- are left footing the bill for degrees that neither pay off in the marketplace nor enrich the intellectual lives of those on whom they are conferred.
Not even President Obama's billions will keep this bubble from bursting because it contains nothing but ever-expanding hot air.
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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