Editor's Note: This column was written by Kate Obenshain, Vice President of Young America’s Foundation.
Presidents Day celebrates America’s rich presidential history, yet the people we entrust to teach and write our history books—university professors—have a skewed view of our nation’s past leaders.
On Ronald Reagan’s 101st birthday, Young America’s Foundation released a scientific poll conducted by The Polling Company Inc. of 284 professors on their views on our past presidents—particularly on President Reagan. Those views on Reagan were not surprising. Professors have less of an appreciation for arguably the greatest modern President than do a majority of Americans. What was perhaps more alarming, however, was their disdain of our great founding presidents.
When asked to list their picks for the three greatest presidents of all-time, professors mentioned Franklin Roosevelt significantly more times than George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison—and four times as often as President Reagan.
Little Love for Founding Fathers
Professors expressed clear distain for America’s Founding Fathers and founding documents. A meager 1% of professors thought the Father of the Constitution, James Madison, ranked in the top three presidents (compared to 54% for FDR), and only 30% picked Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence.
While there are 43 presidents to choose from, the fact that Bill Clinton got six times as many mentions as James Madison is disturbing. In the poll, 87% of professors said it was “important to pass on analysis and understanding of previous United States Presidents.” But what kind of analysis are they passing on?
In the poll, three times as many professors identified themselves as liberal than as conservative. For a long time, we’ve known about the widespread liberalism in academia, but many Americans don’t realize the impact this ideological bias has on their children’s education.
30% of professors admitted in the Foundation’s poll that their ideology plays a role in their curriculum. That number is alarming enough, but we know from closely studying the intolerant intellectual atmosphere on college campuses, it is far worse than those numbers admit.
As our poll numbers reflect, the ideological sentiments being passed on to students by many professors on the Left dismiss our Founders as largely irrelevant. Is this really what we want our kids to believe?
I don’t. I want my children to see the founders as the visionaries they were. They set the stage for the greatest growth in personal freedom the world has ever seen. But that’s not the story most kids are learning in history class.