Just when we thought colleges could not spout loonier ideas, we have a new one from American University. They hired a professor to teach other professors to grade students based on their "labor" rather than their writing ability. The professor that American University hired to teach that nonsense is Asao B. Inoue, who is a professor and associate dean in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts at Arizona State University. He is also the director of the university's writing center. Inoue believes that a person's writing ability should not be assessed, in order to promote "anti-racist" objectives. Inoue taught American University's faculty members that their previous practices of grading writing promoted white language supremacy. Inoue thinks that students should be graded on the effort they put into a project.
The idea to bring such a professor to American University, where parents and students fork over $48,459 a year in tuition charges, could not have been something thought up by saner members of its academic community. Instead, it was probably the result of deep thinking by the university's diversity and campus life officials. Inoue's views are not simply extreme but possibly hostile to the academic mission of most universities. Forgiving and ignoring a students' writing ability would mostly affect black students. White students' speaking and writing would be judged against the King's English, defined as standard, pure or correct English grammar.
Professor Noam Chomsky, called the father of modern linguistics, formulated the generative theory of language. According to his theory, the most basic form of language is a set of syntactic rules that is universal for all humans and that underlies the grammar of all human languages. We analyze and interpret our environment with words and sentences in a structured language. Oral and written language provides a set of rules that enables us to organize thoughts and construct logical meaning with our thoughts.
Not holding students accountable to proper grammar does a disservice to those students who overall show poor writing abilities. When or if these students graduate from college, they are not going to be evaluated in their careers by Inoue's tailored standards. They will be judged according to their objective abilities, and it probably follows that if they fail to meet those objective standards, the standards themselves will be labeled as racist.
There's another very dangerous bit of academic nonsense happening, this time at the K-12 level of education. One America News Network anchor interviewed Mary Clare Amselem, education specialist at the Heritage Foundation, about the California Department of Education's proposed ethnic studies curriculum. The proposed ethnic studies curriculum would teach children that capitalism and father figures are racist.
The Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum also includes gross anti-Israel bias and teaches about a Palestinian-led anti-Israel initiative called Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. The curriculum also has students study issues of police brutality and asks teachers to find incidents of bias by police in their own communities. According to an article by Shelby Talcott in The Stream, California's proposed curriculum called for students to study lawmakers such as Democratic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar and Democratic Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, both of whom have supported the BDS movement and have been accused of anti-Semitic rhetoric.
The proposed ethnic studies proposal has been removed from the California Department of Education website. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said, "While I am relieved that California made the obvious decision to revisit this wholly misguided proposal, we need to know why and how a blatantly anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, factually inaccurate curriculum made its way through the ranks of California's Department of Education." He added, "This was not simply an oversight -- the California Department of Education's attempt to institutionalize anti-Semitism is not only discriminatory and intolerant, it's dangerous."
Brainwashing our youngsters is a serious matter. The people responsible for the California Department of Education's proposal ought to be summarily fired.
Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University.
Editor's note: This column has been updated to correct Asao B. Inoue's current tenure.