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A series of near-riots on campuses aimed at silencing guest speakers has exposed the fact that our universities are no longer devoted to the free exchange of ideas in pursuit of truth. But this hostility to free speech is only a symptom of a deeper problem, writes John Ellis. Having watched the deterioration of academia up close for the past fifty years, Ellis locates the c A series of near-riots on campuses aimed at silencing guest speakers has exposed the fact that our universities are no longer devoted to the free exchange of ideas in pursuit of truth. But this hostility to free speech is only a symptom of a deeper problem, writes John Ellis. Having watched the deterioration of academia up close for the past fifty years, Ellis locates the core of the problem in a change in the composition of the faculty during this time, from mildly left-leaning to almost exclusively leftist. He explains how astonishing historical luck led to the success of a plan first devised by a small group of activists to use college campuses to promote radical politics, and why laws and regulations designed to prevent the politicizing of higher education proved insufficient. Ellis shows that political motivation is always destructive of higher learning. Even science and technology departments are not immune. The corruption of universities by radical politics also does wider damage: to primary and secondary education, to race relations, to preparation for the workplace, and to the political and social fabric of the nation. Commonly suggested remedies--new free-speech rules, or enforced right-of-center appointments--will fail because they don't touch the core problem, a controlling faculty majority of political activists with no real interest in scholarship. This book proposes more drastic and effective reform measures. The first step is for Americans to recognize that vast sums of public money intended for education are being diverted to a political agenda, and to demand that this fraud be stopped.


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A series of near-riots on campuses aimed at silencing guest speakers has exposed the fact that our universities are no longer devoted to the free exchange of ideas in pursuit of truth. But this hostility to free speech is only a symptom of a deeper problem, writes John Ellis. Having watched the deterioration of academia up close for the past fifty years, Ellis locates the c A series of near-riots on campuses aimed at silencing guest speakers has exposed the fact that our universities are no longer devoted to the free exchange of ideas in pursuit of truth. But this hostility to free speech is only a symptom of a deeper problem, writes John Ellis. Having watched the deterioration of academia up close for the past fifty years, Ellis locates the core of the problem in a change in the composition of the faculty during this time, from mildly left-leaning to almost exclusively leftist. He explains how astonishing historical luck led to the success of a plan first devised by a small group of activists to use college campuses to promote radical politics, and why laws and regulations designed to prevent the politicizing of higher education proved insufficient. Ellis shows that political motivation is always destructive of higher learning. Even science and technology departments are not immune. The corruption of universities by radical politics also does wider damage: to primary and secondary education, to race relations, to preparation for the workplace, and to the political and social fabric of the nation. Commonly suggested remedies--new free-speech rules, or enforced right-of-center appointments--will fail because they don't touch the core problem, a controlling faculty majority of political activists with no real interest in scholarship. This book proposes more drastic and effective reform measures. The first step is for Americans to recognize that vast sums of public money intended for education are being diverted to a political agenda, and to demand that this fraud be stopped.

30 review for The Breakdown of Higher Education: How It Happened, the Damage It Does, and What Can Be Done

  1. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn Kost

    The premise of the book is that indoctrination in radical politics has supplanted the proper purpose of the university and has led to intellectual laziness, lower standards, and "censorious intrusions into speech opinion and personal life." This may strike some as hyperbole; Ellis and I can assure you it is not. In fact, it would be difficult to imagine this "crucial part of the way in which political radicals exercise power on campus and in which identity politics now strangles academia" could The premise of the book is that indoctrination in radical politics has supplanted the proper purpose of the university and has led to intellectual laziness, lower standards, and "censorious intrusions into speech opinion and personal life." This may strike some as hyperbole; Ellis and I can assure you it is not. In fact, it would be difficult to imagine this "crucial part of the way in which political radicals exercise power on campus and in which identity politics now strangles academia" could be disputed by anyone in academia, where I have spent much of my own career and was admittedly one of the social justice warriors to whom Ellis refers. It is often noted derisively that non-college graduates predominate among the Right. The correlation implied is intelligence, when it may well be they have escaped the de facto indoctrination camps. Ellis provides many cases that reveal the radical leftist disposition on campus and could have included many more, but exercised admirable restraint. The instructors exploit students' immaturity and sophomoric self-righteousness, and appeal to emotion and tribal loyalties before students have developed the skills to think independently. "Instead of teaching students to sift evidence and weigh alternative explanations intelligently," they teach them to be firmly fixed in a political perspective. In particular, "The importance of 'diversity' in weakening resistance to radical control of the campuses would be difficult to overstate." It seems innocuous enough, a "noble crusade," but it is not. It erodes all reason and support for excellence and results in the establishment of leadership in the weakest, most immature, the ones who least embody "the academy's core values." Absolutely true. The intellectual giants are no longer in charge; no one dares question the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion teams; they are shielded from legitimate criticism on the moral hill of victimhood. The "injustices of the past" mandate "the need to remake society." Ellis's rationale is unimpeachable and moving when he writes at length about the exceptional nature of U.S. history, in stark contrast to Howard Zinn and The 1619 Project, promoted in schools across the country because it is provocative, but *admittedly erroneous*! Egregious! "Historical study on those aspects of a nation's development that are the least positive, subjected to the worst possible interpretations for wildly exaggerated attribution of the worst possible motives. This is not history; it is political propaganda whose purpose is solely to make the case that the country is so rotten that it must be radically transformed. As such it answers to neither fact nor logic." Yet it is taught ubiquitous in universities and K-12, not just at Berkeley, Reed, Hampshire and Drew. The USA grew "from a few fairly insignificant colonies...to being by far the most powerful nation on earth, militarily, economically, and culturally, in only 200 years, though its population was never more than 1/3 that of India or China....Its citizens have just about the highest standard of living in the world; it is the oldest democracy in the world with the longest-surviving written constitution...American technology and industrial methods have helped to spread a sharp rise in living standards across the globe....Life spans have doubled across the globe due to modern medicine which America had a significant role in developing." Previously only the most radical segment of the Left, but now academia and the Left in general insists on "painting as dark a picture of America as possible, for only if people are persuaded that something is completely rotten will they accept that it needs to be transformed" into the Marxist agenda that has "only led to misery everywhere it has been tried." Why is it that events sponsored by conservatives celebrate the USA and those by the Left disparage and condemn it? What a shame. Why do so many want to immigrate to the USA? There is so very much to celebrate here. Ellis posits that the sciences enjoy new discoveries often. Due to the love of innovation and neophilia, love of all things new, English, languages, history, etc. had to insert some fresh insight. Enter postmodernism and its spawn, Critical Race and Critical Gender Theory, which I discuss in my reviews of How to Be an Anti-Racist and White Fragility. [At least read this on CRT from The Harvard Law Record: http://hlrecord.org/racism-justified-...] These theories are absurd and irrational, but postmodernism affirms the absence of logic and the primacy of emotion and anecdote over empirical facts, which are described as tools of the oppressors to retain the power structure. Nevertheless, I disagree with several of Ellis's assertions. First, it is patently untrue that students are choosing not to major in the humanities because of the politicization of the faculty. The many colleges in danger of closing are not in that predicament because of their radical Left politics but demographics and economics. As a college admissions counselor for high school students, I can state emphatically from multiple studies reflected in the experience I share with colleagues that students and parents are completely unaware of how far gone academia is politically. They have no knowledge of the preferred pronouns name tags that await them at orientation or the one-sided teach-ins, etc. Rather, they increasingly associate the university with career preparation, and merely want to pursue a field that is likely to lead to gainful employment, particularly in view of the outrageous cost. Return on investment is foremost. Further, since the teaching of social science and history is so far to the Left, perhaps we are fortunate so many history departments are closing. *Update 9/26/20: I have 2 students who have told me they want a college with "people who are really liberal like me." This may not indicate an awareness of the environment, however. When I told the students about the preferred pronouns nonsense, they were unfamiliar with it. Moreover, in 2008, the Woessners published research about why conservatives don't pursue doctorates. It's not that they seek to avoid paternalistic radical leftist indoctrination, but that they have different values and As described in www.chronicle.com/article/conservativ... in The Chronicle of Higher Education: "They found that in a variety of ways, conservative students were less interested than liberals in subject matter that often leads to doctoral degrees, and less interested in doing the kinds of things that professors spend their time doing. For example, liberal students reported valuing intellectual freedom, creativity, and the chance to write original work and make a theoretical contribution to science. They outnumbered conservative students two to one in the humanities and social sciences — which are among the fields most likely to produce interest in doctoral study. Conservative students, however, put more value on personal achievement and orderliness, and on practical professions, like accounting and computer science, that could earn them lots of money. The Woessners also found that conservative students put a higher priority than liberal ones on raising a family. That does not always fit well with a career in academe, where people often delay childbearing until after they earn tenure." Second, it is not true that most professors are working toward the endgame of socialism. I did not. I taught as I had been taught, to raise students' consciousness of power structures and criticize and challenge what was then the prevailing status quo. Students were animated by critical race and gender theory and by seeing themselves as conscientized, woke, more aware than others, and for a few years that was sort of fun, until I realized I did not enjoy and it served no higher purpose to transform happy young people into angry young people. I did not, however, intend to lead them to foment socialist revolution, just think more critically. Professors continue to enjoy "waking up" young people without deeper reflection on their impact on society. In this sense, professors are merely useful idiots, armchair Marxists, limousine liberals. In his Theses on Feuerbach, Marx wrote "Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it." The professoriate merely interprets and criticizes, which was my primary complaint while in the mix. It does nothing and sharply denounces any "band aid" assistance, when that is precisely what is often essential to address immediate needs. They don't act. They just pontificate. Action is up to the students. They encourage students to protest in support of BLM and similar but respond angrily when the poorly prepared affirmative action admits struggle to keep up with the work in their courses. They bristle at the suggestion they provide extra assistance. They engage in assortative mating to ensure they have an intellectual and socioeconomic equal. They rant when their own jobs are imperiled by the loss of tenure or the closure of their program or employer. They fail to appreciate the benefits they have reaped from capitalist-funded and capitalism-enabled research grants. It is a deliberate, willful, self-righteous naïveté. Third, it is not true that all professors in public universities know it is illegal for them to use the classroom as a platform for politics. They are not informed of this. Most private universities certainly neither warn nor castigate professors for doing so, presumably under the guise of academic freedom. In light of the Department of Education's well-played recent threat to withdraw federal funds from Princeton for racism on the heels of president Eisgruber's Maoist/Stalinist/woke confession of institutionalized systemic racism, it will be interesting to see whether the public admissions of guilt continue in academe. It should give them pause at the very least. That leads to one of Ellis's most important points, with which I agree, and that is his suggested corrective: cut or withhold taxpayer funding from universities that engage in political behaviors. It may well be the only way to get them back on track. But this may have little impact in light of the Woessners' study. While they suggested that "to attract more conservatives to the professoriate, [higher education] should smooth the way financially, offering subsidized health insurance and housing for graduate students, and adopting family-friendly policies for professors," Solon Simmons of GMU points out, “If it’s true that people are self-sorting, what is to be done?” Read this book along with Former Dean of Yale Law School Kronman's The Assault on American Excellence, who examines the ways in which excellence, freedom of speech, diversity, and our shared past are under siege in American universities, as political society invades and erodes the environment and values particular to academia. Is anyone listening?

  2. 5 out of 5

    M.J. Javani

    This trenchant account of the state of modern academia is confirmation of Dr. Allan Bloom's "The Closing of the American Mind." Fast forward 30 years from Dr. Bloom's diagnosis that American intellectuals have been blinded by "Nietzschean Nihilism" and the current deference toward feelings instead of rational thought makes perfect sense. The mistake that Dr. Ellis and myriad American conservatives make is in labelling the corruption of classical liberalism in the West as the work of "Socialists" This trenchant account of the state of modern academia is confirmation of Dr. Allan Bloom's "The Closing of the American Mind." Fast forward 30 years from Dr. Bloom's diagnosis that American intellectuals have been blinded by "Nietzschean Nihilism" and the current deference toward feelings instead of rational thought makes perfect sense. The mistake that Dr. Ellis and myriad American conservatives make is in labelling the corruption of classical liberalism in the West as the work of "Socialists" or "Marxists." That cannot be further from reality as Corporate America (Nike, Starbucks, NBA/NFL teams) along with a significant portion of the capitalist class (Tom Steyer, Bloomberg, Gates, Buffett ) support this madness. What has happened in academia is the ascendance of New Left thinkers such as Herbert Marcuse and Michel Foucault coupled with the Post-modernist propaganda of men such as Jacques Derrida in addition to the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche over Enlightenment rationality espoused by the likes Francis Bacon, Baruch Spinoza, and John Locke. The key to all this has been the use of "white guilt" as a political weapon. In the 1960's the majority of educated whites in Western Europe, Canada, and the US acknowledged the horrors of colonialism and slavery (which were repugnant). However, the New Left nihilists and the Post-modernists understood that by infiltrating the universities, media, and the arts (institutions that shape hearts and minds) they could manipulate white guilt to slowly erode freedom of thought and expression in the West to bring about an illiberal Utopia where any perversion could be given free reign without guilt. While wealthy limousine white liberals will continue to make billions on Wall Street, and live in their gated communities, they can assuage their guilt by defunding the police, freeing criminals, pitting men against women, and espousing their love of world where biological sex is a figment of the imagination. In conclusion, academia has been subverted not by Socialists/Marxists but by Nietzschean nihilists, supported by wealthy elites, who seek to live in a world where feelings have precedent over rational thought and where morality is what the followers of Marcuse and Foucault say it is. The instrument to bring this about has been white guilt, the most potent weapon ever invented by the mind of man in order to destroy Western liberal democracies in the name of social justice, multiculturalism, and diversity.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Atwood C. Cherry

    Godzilla in the University. How the heck did that happen? I rated this book at Five-Star because the thesis presented: Corruption of Academia in the US, has been a suspicion of mine for some time. Dr. Ellis has opened the door to my understanding on how far the University systems have fallen from Grace and subsequent extent of the issues required to reform it. Each Chapter heading encapsulated the content. The content opened the door to my greatest fear that of, the impact of the radical Left on h Godzilla in the University. How the heck did that happen? I rated this book at Five-Star because the thesis presented: Corruption of Academia in the US, has been a suspicion of mine for some time. Dr. Ellis has opened the door to my understanding on how far the University systems have fallen from Grace and subsequent extent of the issues required to reform it. Each Chapter heading encapsulated the content. The content opened the door to my greatest fear that of, the impact of the radical Left on higher learning and the extend their impact is felt in the public school systems. My curiosity about methods, the "fix", left me questioning the University Administrations inability to do anything about stopping the ebb toward complete radical takeover. Obviously, they have been co-opted into the Left's agenda either by commission or omission. This is a very frightening state of events in academia. My final question was answered concerning the role that State Governments played in the "fix." Again, I believe Dr. Ellis not only pointed to the depth of the issues, but also identified the many obstacles that must be hurdled: State Legislators who are radicalized themselves, often I am assured by being products of these institutions, and the power that families have, if they have the wherewithal to use it, to send their college bound students, and money, to those institutions that have bound themselves to the principles of higher learning. Great book. I would place this book on the reading list for parents who truly want their students to develop inquiring minds. Arming parents with the information, I would hope the parents would send their children, and money, only to those institutions that foster the development of critical thinking skills. As a parent I would want reviews by independent organizations that will tell me the truth about institutions that have become bastions of identity politics and pathetic notions of reality

  4. 4 out of 5

    Johannes

    It's been a couple decades since my days as an undergraduate at a public university in a rather liberal humanities college, so Ellis's research and conclusions gave me pause to consider and assess my own educational experiences from that period. I agree that many professors seemed hell bent on their own pet politics. I learned more about Karl Marx via Terry Eagleton essays in my Shakespeare courses than I ever did about Shakespeare, and that was disappointing. I also got the sense in several cou It's been a couple decades since my days as an undergraduate at a public university in a rather liberal humanities college, so Ellis's research and conclusions gave me pause to consider and assess my own educational experiences from that period. I agree that many professors seemed hell bent on their own pet politics. I learned more about Karl Marx via Terry Eagleton essays in my Shakespeare courses than I ever did about Shakespeare, and that was disappointing. I also got the sense in several courses that if students didn't parrot back the highly-favored political positions of their professors our grades would have been affected. But, I can't say a regret the education I received. I suspect most college departments are overwhelmingly biased toward a political bloc, but Ellis is right. The general public is not stupid, and when you're stuck in an "Old Testament as Literature" class listening to the radical left wing professor talk about the Disciples of the New Testament, you know something is sorely amiss! You just day dream and bide your time.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Raven

    Good background on why and how things are the way they are on college campuses. Not much in the way of what can be done to change it - his method would work, but it would require almost unanimous public support which is unlikely.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Laurence

    Disappointing fumble by knowledgeable expert I really enjoyed Professor Ellis’s “Against Deconstruction” and was hoping he would apply the same keen analysis to the PC university. Instead he recycled old horror stories and refused to indict the GOP Establishment which knowingly permitted Communists and Islamists completely to take over American higher education in the aftermath or 9/11–at a time when national security required a purge of subversives. The results have been predictably disastrous.. Disappointing fumble by knowledgeable expert I really enjoyed Professor Ellis’s “Against Deconstruction” and was hoping he would apply the same keen analysis to the PC university. Instead he recycled old horror stories and refused to indict the GOP Establishment which knowingly permitted Communists and Islamists completely to take over American higher education in the aftermath or 9/11–at a time when national security required a purge of subversives. The results have been predictably disastrous...yet not discussed seriously in this sad and inadequate essay, that could have provided an honest account of Republican intellectual politics, given the author’s conservative bona fides as a leader of the California Association of Scholars, American Society of Literary Scholars and Critics, and contributor to numerous conservative publications.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Bruce Newsome

    This autumn, publishers have released several critiques of higher education. Here I review a critique that is almost a memoir, by a fellow British émigré to American academia, and a fellow survivor of the University of California system (UC). John M. Ellis is almost twice my age, and in this context I am jealous, because he experienced the heyday of academia. His formative experiences and training were in the 1950s, in London, “before ethnic divisions had yet become a significant factor in polit This autumn, publishers have released several critiques of higher education. Here I review a critique that is almost a memoir, by a fellow British émigré to American academia, and a fellow survivor of the University of California system (UC). John M. Ellis is almost twice my age, and in this context I am jealous, because he experienced the heyday of academia. His formative experiences and training were in the 1950s, in London, “before ethnic divisions had yet become a significant factor in politics there.” Later in the book, he adds this lament: “I began my career as a university teacher over 50 years ago. I remember well how cheerful it was at the beginning of each academic year to see eager young faces about to begin their university education…In the past, virtually everyone agreed that universities needed to be protected from political influence because it would corrupt them. That consensus is now gone. Today’s campuses are so predominantly and brazenly left-activist that nobody could regard them as politically neutral.” Ellis joined UC Santa Cruz in 1966, a year after its establishment. Thus, Ellis was part of the greatest expansion of higher education. The UC was already the largest university system in the world. Higher education was expanding all over America, to accommodate the baby boomers. The results were falling standards and rising partisanship. A surge in students meant a surge in demand for faculty. Filling this demand meant lowering standards. Meanwhile, Marxists organized to use universities as a base for cultural and thence political revolution. The Vietnam War helped to radicalize the student demographic (for whom higher education was an alternative to the draft). The true liberal educators were too reasonable to contemplate Marxist hyperbole, and too individualistic to counter Marxist organizing. The Marxists discriminated in favour of blacks, Hispanics, women, and fellow radical leftists. While equal opportunity is meritorious, affirmative action is not. Affirmative action to one is inherently negative discrimination to the other. In theory, this negative discrimination was illegal at federal, state, and institutional levels. However, institutions hypocritically claim academic freedom to do whatever they want. Some white men took their cases of negative discrimination to the Supreme Court, which in 1978 fatefully reached a split decision. It confirmed that discrimination by race was unconstitutional. However, it allowed that “diversity” could be a worthy objective. The social justice warriors used this ruling to justify their prejudices. Thence, academia became dominated by Marxism – culturally, politically, intellectually. The Marxists “deconstructed” and “decolonized” everything, denied logic and empiricism, relegated social sciences behind new “studies” (ethnic, women’s, queer, peace, war), and normalized shout-downs, cancellations, and censorship as signals of intellectual and moral virtue. During this tumultuous period, Ellis was employed as professor of German literature, Dean of his university’s graduate division, chair of the UC Council of Graduate Deans (twice), and chair of the UC report on personnel policies. After retirement in 1994, Ellis founded the California Association of Scholars (as a branch of the National Association, which campaigns for classical liberal education). Ellis condemns all higher education for politicization, but most of his cases come from the UC. This is where he is most effective. Indeed, the book builds to his post-retirement confrontation with the UC. Perversely, the UC’s infuriating obfuscation is entertaining. The UC is partisan from top to bottom. The President reports to the Board of Regents, most of whom are not educators, but wealthy contributors to the governor’s political campaign. The governor appoints most of the 26 voting members, each for 12-year terms. The UC President is appointed by a search committee composed of regents and chancellors. In 2012, Ellis, acting as President of the California Association of Scholars, lodged with the Board of Regents a report on the many cases of politicization. The Chair of the Board of Regents refused to admit it on the agenda. (The chair then was the former actress and head of Paramount Pictures, Sherry Lansing.) The UC President (Mark Yudof) told Ellis that the UC Academic Senate would study the report. Months later, Ellis discovered on the Senate’s website a one-page letter to the UC President. The letter dismissed Ellis’ “anecdotes,” without specifying any, and quoted UC policies on hiring as evidence that nothing could go wrong. In fact, Ellis had cited those same policies as discrepant with actual hiring biases. Ellis reiterated to Yudof a list of questions based on his report’s major findings. Yudof ignored them. Coincidentally, two professors at UCLA complained about a colleague using a classroom to promote a boycott of Israel. The chair of UCLA’s Academic Senate, ignoring due process, ordered the department to stop the colleague. The colleague appealed to the UCLA Committee on Academic Freedom, which found nothing wrong with his behaviour and rebuked the Senate. The chair of the Senate then ignored the issue. Ellis wrote to Yudof, citing the case as evidence that the UC Academic Senate had been wrong to deny any partisanship or lack of institutional safeguards. Yudof pivoted to a claim that he could not intervene at UCLA. Ellis explained his point again. Yudof responded that one classroom did not prove anything. Ellis asked Yudof to stop dodging. Yudof replied that he was ending the correspondence. The chair of the Board of Regents (Lansing) claimed that the Regents must defer to the UCLA Academic Senate. Ellis pointed out that the state constitution obliges the Board of Regents to reach an independent judgement. Lansing replied that the Regents had agreed not to act on his first report. Ellis replied that the Open Meeting Act requires the Board of Regents to reach decisions publicly. Lansing then said that the Regents had never discussed and never would discuss his report. There ended Ellis’ lobbying, but not his writing. In subsequent years, his views on reform clearly hardened. Ellis is an idealist about academic objectivity, but a realist about reform. Ellis does not prescribe that serving academics should raise their voices against the tyranny. He expects such bravery to be foolhardy. Individuals won’t stimulate a movement in academia. (The few cancelled academics who have found a niche in social media are the exceptions that prove the rule, such as Bret Weinstein, hounded from Evergreen State College in 2017 for opposing a day of absence for white people.) Ellis wants to purge the radicals and fakers. Reforming the procedures would be insufficient, because the radicals manipulate the procedures. For Ellis, the leftists should not be balanced by affirming conservatives, because his ideal is non-partisanship. Ellis suggests the first step is public pressure on state legislatures via “a report from a committee of inquiry composed of some distinguished elder statesmen of the real academy.” That sounds like what he already tried as the California Association of Scholars, which failed. Ellis goes on to recommend that partisan academic departments should be taken into “receivership.” A new chair would be imposed, independent of the department’s legacy members, to make new hires. The department could be abolished, thereby abolishing current employees, including tenured professors, before restoring the department with new hires. Whole universities could be taken into receivership, so that the “diversity bureaucracy” could be dismantled. Ellis imagines a state government setting a precedent, restoring merit and excellence to its state university system, attracting students and faculty from out of state, and encouraging other states, by competition, to follow suit. Clearly, such ambition requires political intervention. Ellis imagines federal accreditation agencies withholding accreditation from universities that are partisan, while functional agencies withhold funds from the unaccredited. Strangely, Ellis does not endorse the precedent set by Trump in March 2019, when he issued an executive order linking funds with performance on free speech. Trump threatened to remove federal funds for partisanship and educational failures too. However, Congress controls the purse, and no such use of funding is possible while the Democrats control the House of Representatives. The likeliest state to fulfil Ellis’ prescription is Florida. In 2019, a Republican state representative (Ray Rodrigues) twice introduced a bill with provision to survey students and faculty on their politics, in pursuit of intellectual diversity, amongst other reforms. However, that provision was repeatedly voted down by Democrats. Instead, Rodrigues got assent to a non-partisan Florida Institute of Politics at Florida State University, whose mission includes the promotion of intellectual diversity. Republican gains during November’s election indicate that in 2021 the state could become the precedent that Ellis hopes. Short of political intervention, Ellis imagines students and parents seeking cheaper and more competitive teaching from private schools online. Commercial competitiveness promotes merit over politics. However, higher education won’t feel competitive if public universities continue to be subsidized beyond utility.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kristopher Driver

    Let's start with the obvious criticisms: if you want to write a book denying racial injustice maybe your editor should have started by referring to people rather than "blacks" and "whites". "A black" is a color, not a man or a woman. A black person is a person of skin color, and a white person is a person of skin color. Next - if you're going to suggest the radical left is over running academia you might do well to use fact rather than hyperbole. It's pretty inconsistent to suggest "one study fou Let's start with the obvious criticisms: if you want to write a book denying racial injustice maybe your editor should have started by referring to people rather than "blacks" and "whites". "A black" is a color, not a man or a woman. A black person is a person of skin color, and a white person is a person of skin color. Next - if you're going to suggest the radical left is over running academia you might do well to use fact rather than hyperbole. It's pretty inconsistent to suggest "one study found blacks have higher rates of criminality and lower iq... " while denying the overwhelming evidence for fraud, exploitation and abuse of black PEOPLE's communities like access to credit, neighbourhood social services, access to healthcare and healthy food, the lower standards of minority community public schools, the actual rates of criminality of white offenders being on par but drastically less penalized for same crimes, access to proper defense attorneys to avoid permanent records for petty offences, never mind acknowledging that police brutality has been a real issue for decades. There's data on all of this but he casually dismisses reality in favor of portraying some villainous leftist movement based on the radical left (a small minority of the left, just as the right also has a small minority of radicals). He wants to talk big about not imposing affirmative action on faculties, which is fine and I agree it's racist to suppose we need more women or more minorities here and there by ignoring the volition of the students and teachers themselves, but then goes on to whine about how underrepresented conservative views are in universities. If our goal is educating students, then an ignorant opinion on racial injustice would not technically be education - it would be precisely the indoctrination of antiquated ideologies meant to rally support to the "white's" cause by definition of his own terms. This book is so full of incoherent innuendos and pity partying it turned my stomach. He has a valid argument about the failures of the education system, but he's so dense as to not even understand the latent causes or reasons such developments ever occurred. It's incomprehensible to me, as an indie author, how he could have published so much trite nonsense on a subject so easy to cut down. If you want to read a book to glean insight into the minds of the self absorbed, selfish and overtly uninformed conservative perspective - matters entirely unrelated to the book's intended subject and title, then read this at your leisure. If you want to learn something, though, I'd recommend anything by Dr Seuss to start with because you'll find more depth of thought in children's poetry than by reading this ill thought gibberish. It's riddled with double standards, hipocrisy and erroneous references, while pontificating at length to denounce improperly contrived reasonings while employing them compulsively within the same pages. I can appreciate discussion of differing views and read ideas I disagree with, but I can't stand logical fallacies being used as springboards to sensationalize rational arguments when there are ample resources from which to verify or substantiate claims. He doesn't even try to form an scientific impartial analysis, he just whines about the people who disagree with his fantasies. It's a shameful piece of work and will be recorded by history as an example of a generation's utter incompetence and self gratification.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Brian Sachetta

    Let me start by saying this book is not for everyone. It’s rather politically charged and accusatory and reads a bit like a conspiracy theory piece at times. However, I must say I still really enjoyed it, and here’s why. The book looks into how college campuses, over the past several decades, have become, at least to a non-negligible degree, intolerant places where radical ideas flourish and free speech is suppressed. As the title suggests, author John Ellis breaks down exactly how and when this Let me start by saying this book is not for everyone. It’s rather politically charged and accusatory and reads a bit like a conspiracy theory piece at times. However, I must say I still really enjoyed it, and here’s why. The book looks into how college campuses, over the past several decades, have become, at least to a non-negligible degree, intolerant places where radical ideas flourish and free speech is suppressed. As the title suggests, author John Ellis breaks down exactly how and when this shift took place. The reason I say this one is rather accusatory is that the author uses the term “radical left” (referring to the political group) quite a bit. I’m not saying he’s wrong to use that term, just that it will likely alienate anyone on the left who might want to read such a book. Oh well, I guess he knows his audience and is sticking to it. Why I liked this book, however, was because I’ve seen society become less tolerant and less willing to support free speech over the last decade, and I’m not a big fan of either of those things. Personally, I wish we’d all “live and let live” and stop getting offended over everything under the sun. But, I digress. Though I obviously can’t know for sure if everything Ellis talks about in this one is completely factual, he makes good arguments as to why it is. At the very least, and as Ellis suggests, we should take the arguments he makes, research them, and have dispassionate discourse about them. Employing such a rational process is the only reliable way to find out if what anyone is putting forth is correct or not. It’s also a powerful way to make progress on difficult issues, and it’s exactly what academia used to be best known for. Unfortunately, it now tends to dogmatically hold onto certain perspectives on sensitive topics because it’s afraid of offending. That’s a disservice to us all, in my opinion. Ellis’ return to facts, reason, debate, and research, despite coming off as angry at times, is what makes this one so good. It’s also what helps bring to light many of the issues plaguing our campuses and society right now. If you’re politically moderate or on the right, you will likely enjoy this book. If you’re on the left, I would be a bit more cautious before picking it up, as this one could very well offend you. I consider myself moderate, and even I got a little tired of hearing the term “radical left” over and over. But that didn’t spoil this one for me, at large — I still really enjoyed it. -Brian Sachetta Author of “Get Out of Your Head”

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Interesting. As a teacher for 25 years, I was a witness to "something" going on in secondary education, yet I couldn't understand why it was happening. Our curriculum eliminated important classes like Civics and Western Civilization. English classes had to stop teaching the classics (Joyce, Chaucer, Donne) to make room for contemporary authors of color. Many new faculty hires preached "woke" ideas that were adamantly one sided and they refused to listen to opinions other than their own. Ellis re Interesting. As a teacher for 25 years, I was a witness to "something" going on in secondary education, yet I couldn't understand why it was happening. Our curriculum eliminated important classes like Civics and Western Civilization. English classes had to stop teaching the classics (Joyce, Chaucer, Donne) to make room for contemporary authors of color. Many new faculty hires preached "woke" ideas that were adamantly one sided and they refused to listen to opinions other than their own. Ellis reminds readers that true education exposes students to many opinions/ideas; after studying and debating issues, they will learn to formulate their own conclusions (not being told/indoctrinated what to think). In addition to explaining how the universities got to this point (where students are not being educated in the traditional sense) Ellis offers suggestions to help put education back on the road to excellence rather than on its current polarizing political path.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

    I was curious about this book because I saw it on one of my favorite websites, Learning How to Learn. I have not completed the book yet so my review at this point is only partial. I was able to check it out online via the marvelous LAPL (Los Angeles Public Library) online services. While I believe the book is well written and has many valid points, I am concerned that it also tends to be a bit fatalistic and overly conservative in its views of what is a good education. I agree that the hijacking I was curious about this book because I saw it on one of my favorite websites, Learning How to Learn. I have not completed the book yet so my review at this point is only partial. I was able to check it out online via the marvelous LAPL (Los Angeles Public Library) online services. While I believe the book is well written and has many valid points, I am concerned that it also tends to be a bit fatalistic and overly conservative in its views of what is a good education. I agree that the hijacking of higher ed to simply be a platform for liberal views is not good and that the need to have civil discourse is vital but I'm not sure if the solutions given are...open doorways for all. I will continue to read further. What I do think is important is being able to read various viewpoints and find what is valid and important to consider in the shaping of our society.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Varnado

    In the Breakdown of Higher Education, Prof. John Ellis argues that higher education has strayed far from its original purpose of teaching students how to think, but instead what to think. The cause of this shift, according to Ellis, was the infiltration of leftist/Marxist radicals into college classrooms and departments. To bring back the golden days of higher education, we must purge college campuses of “social justice warriors” and bring in conservative voices to the classroom. There are many In the Breakdown of Higher Education, Prof. John Ellis argues that higher education has strayed far from its original purpose of teaching students how to think, but instead what to think. The cause of this shift, according to Ellis, was the infiltration of leftist/Marxist radicals into college classrooms and departments. To bring back the golden days of higher education, we must purge college campuses of “social justice warriors” and bring in conservative voices to the classroom. There are many issues with this book. The most glaring is that Prof. Ellis does over and over exactly what he accuses left-wing faculty of doing – Asserting opinions and conjectures as facts. Ellis provides little evidence to validate his arguments throughout. He argues correlation with no proof of causation. Roughly past the mid-point of his book he seems to run out of steam, when he resorts to airing out grievances with his own university. This book is a muddled mess, and will only appeal to someone blinded by their own confirmation bias. SPOILER ALERTS ahead. Here are some of the examples that are made in this book. - In one section, he points at the change of political identity from 1960s and to present. Progressive faculty have always outnumbered conservative, but now conservatives are small minority. He also points that professors have voted overwhelming for democrats in the last several elections. Why is this? Ellis believes it because radicals took control of the campus, and now they refuse to hire conservative faculty. Yet, he provides no evidence. No survey data. No interviews with unemployed conservative professors. He doesn’t mention that Republican administrations have largely been responsible for some of the deepest cuts to higher education. Why on earth would professors vote against their own self-interest? He also trots out the now common stories of Brett Weinstein, Charles Murray, and Heather MacDonald being shouted down on college campuses. While regrettable, one would think if this were all too common, there would be more stories than these. - In another section, he complains that students are not taught how to think. This is a point I agree with him on. Yet, it’s hard to take his grievances seriously when he goes on to complain that students are no longer taught to be patriots, but are instead exposed to negative aspects of their country’s history. In reality, the college classroom is the first time many students encounter the ugly side of their country’s foundation. - In another ridiculous argument, he blames radical Marxists for the decline in rigor in not just college campuses, but also secondary education. To make his point, he points at declines in writing ability, reading comprehension, and knowledge about the US Constitution among college and high school graduates during the same time college campuses became more left leaning. Nowhere in this book does he mention how many public universities, especially in red states, have had to increase their tuition to make up for lost government funding, which now incentivizes keeping students in classrooms regardless of their academic achievements. That schools have shifted towards a business model of “selling” an education, with the students as “customers.” There may very well be a breakdown of higher education, and Prof. Ellis seems to at least at his finger on the problem, but unfortunately his preoccupation with Marxists radicals overrides his analysis and common sense.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Alexander Van Leadam

    For many years I thought that my dissatisfaction with universities was a personal matter, my growing into a grumpy old man, mildly frustrated by the failure of so many dreams and ambitions. More recently, I've been coming across publications that tell me that it was actually universities that have been deteriorating during my own lifetime. So I picked up this book expecting a better understanding of the problems. Unfortunately, it is just a conservative polemic that makes the same mistakes as th For many years I thought that my dissatisfaction with universities was a personal matter, my growing into a grumpy old man, mildly frustrated by the failure of so many dreams and ambitions. More recently, I've been coming across publications that tell me that it was actually universities that have been deteriorating during my own lifetime. So I picked up this book expecting a better understanding of the problems. Unfortunately, it is just a conservative polemic that makes the same mistakes as the radicals it attacks: the problems it identifies may be real and accurately described but the diagnosis and cure proposed are one-sided and intolerant. I've also been in humanities meetings where everybody drones on about capitalism, failing to investigate possible underlying reasons, more close to the fundamentals of our species, but that's not worse than conservative mantras like the return to established norms and values, as in the happier, more balanced 1950s. Blaming everything on the campus radicals is hardly believable and the SDS conspiracy theory suggested in Chapter 3 does not develop further in the book. There are other forces at work, too, like the commercialization of higher education and the devaluation of education in general. This book bothers me because, while it's not convincing, it cannot be dismissed completely. If there's any value in it, it comes from the dangers of political monoculture it describes. Seeing good intentions turn into oppression and proscriptiveness is not just disappointing but deeply worrying. Universities have always been places of orthodoxy and consequent restrictiveness. If all we manage with reform is to replace one orthodoxy with another, then there's little hope for universities.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ronald Aylward

    Heather Mac Donald gives a very accurate portrayal of the sorry state of the United States Higher Educational System.

  15. 4 out of 5

    BETTY FISCHLE

  16. 4 out of 5

    Catharine M. McClure

  17. 5 out of 5

    Gerard N Aubrey

  18. 5 out of 5

    Micah

  19. 5 out of 5

    Wilhelm

  20. 5 out of 5

    Brian Oglesbee

  21. 4 out of 5

    martin R. Helgerson

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tim Key

  23. 4 out of 5

    Milieu

  24. 4 out of 5

    Palmer Stacy

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jaime

  26. 4 out of 5

    Katie Mokhtarzadeh

  27. 5 out of 5

    Neil

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Duffy

  29. 4 out of 5

    Michael Ray

  30. 5 out of 5

    David

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