Friday, January 18, 2008

Kentucky-Education Wastefulness

Much is being made of the bad (at least alleged) state of financial affairs in Kentucky, with Governor Beshear threatening to cut deeply into the state’s education budgets on all levels while insisting that only casinos are the answer to the problem, thus permitting the suckers to save the education system, but probably not before 2009, when a possible constitutional amendment might allow their acquiescence in being so noble.

Failing passage of that amendment this year, which Senate President Williams has said will not fly in this biennial main-session (though only the Shadow knows), it might be well to see if education dollars are wisely spent, in the first place. Take, for instance, the tax-supported endeavors in a state institution such as Eastern Kentucky University, which has a department of women’s studies, a university-diversity office, and a unit for African-American studies. In the Fall of 2004, EKU approved the formation of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered, Queer, and Questioning (GLBTQ) Faculty and Staff Mentoring Program and affiliated it with the Diversity Office.

Okay…none of these compares to English, chemistry, physics, languages, history or many other fields that have long held a place in university curricula. All of them have come on line within the past three decades or so, which can be labeled the “politically correct” period that affects all areas of endeavor throughout the nation, especially that of the university, in which one must be careful about what he says or even how he says it.

Other fields such as computer science and communication-technologies have also come on line during this period, so why make an issue of the ones noted above? The answer: MONEY. Are these facets of the university valuable enough to warrant their existence, or do they exist as social-engineering projects masquerading as academic elements of importance…and costing millions each year, taking into consideration that all six state universities probably have circumstances similar to that at EKU, some even more extensive.

According to the EKU Web-site, the University Diversity Office is a campus wide resource that facilitates the diversity initiatives of the University to promote a climate and culture that respects and celebrates diversity. A significant responsibility of the office is for the recruitment and retention of a diverse student, faculty and staff population.” The head of this unit is a special assistant to the provost and oversees three graduate-student employees and five student-employees.

To celebrate diversity is to give the lie to the “melting-pot” aura traditionally accorded American society. The university should celebrate togetherness, i.e., encouraging its students to be Americans, not some sort of hyphenated ethnics or special-case humans (that GLBTQ) thing. The actual reason for this unit is recruitment, and it’s doubtful that an entire separate department is needed for that purpose. In other words: waste.

According to the EKU Web-site, Women's Studies is a rapidly growing academic field. Women's Studies has the dual purpose of recognizing the experiences and contributions of women in society and of bringing women more fully into college curriculum.” One wonders, especially since men make up only 44% of university enrolments nationwide, why there aren’t departments of men’s studies. The reason, of course, is that men generally don’t give a hang about political correctness and certainly don’t want to be subjects of it.

The women’s studies department is rather extensive, including a number of courses, one such being “Historical Costume and the Social Order (3),” described as, “History of dress from ancient Egypt through the 20th century. Emphasizes how socioeconomic status and sex roles are expressed through dress and how this expression reflects the influence of religion, politics, and economics.” Egad! Ever since the feminist movement (women’s lib) took hold a few decades ago, women have wanted to be treated as the equals of men but insist on their own academic departments to explain why they’re equal…instead of just being equal.

According to EKU: “African/African-American Studies broadens understanding of global affairs and equips students with the knowledge and skills to succeed in a multicultural workplace.” There’s no argument with African Americans studying Africa, just as other students study China or the Eskimos as a main objective, but their understanding of Africa and global affairs can better be acquired in the usual history/geography/political-science classes, not in a separated, obviously ethnically-warped atmosphere.

African-American history (notably slavery) and important African Americans have been in public school and college history books for scores of years, at least in Kentucky. This is the same as for the Irish, Italians, Chinese, and east-Europeans who suffered through their entries into this country but whose progeny do not clamor for special university departments to be dedicated to them and their important forbears. To demand special treatment is to enhance diversity, which in turn points to differences, which in turn causes social problems.

No university would suffer if these entities were either drastically curtailed or cut out altogether. In most cases, their activities can easily be accommodated in other departments, thus saving money without doing any harm.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

1 comment:

Kentucky Progress said...

Brilliant post, Jim. Thanks!