1. Tuition in the state universities of Michigan might well be inflated, but the fact remains that, inflated or not, tuition fees pay for about half of a student’s education. The remainder is provided by the taxpayers. In the Executive Budget for fiscal year 1997 this stands at $4,150 per student. Public higher education in Michigan is subsidized higher education, and this subsidy permits the citizens of Michigan, through their representatives, to make demands on the system.

  2. Aaron Steelman and Joseph P. Overton. Advancing Civil Society: A State Budget to Strengthen Michigan Culture (Second Edition). Midland, Michigan: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, 1996. (44)

  3. Interview with Michigan Department of Management and Budget spokesperson Maureen McNulty. Lansing, February 6, 1996.

  4. The actual figures are $145,757,642 for the University of Michigan and $50,156,914 for Michigan State University. These figures were confirmed by telephone calls to the universities’ development offices on October 18, 1996.

  5. The Dissolution of Higher Education. Princeton, New Jersey: The National Association of Scholars, 1996. (62)

  6. SUNY’s Core Curricula: The Failure to Set Consistent and High Academic Standards. Empire Foundation for Policy Research. Clifton Park, New York. July 1996.

  7. The Dissolution of General Education.

  8. The Dissolution of General Education. (3)

  9. These documents are not a small sample of the total available. They represent either a majority of courses discussed in the report of a significant and representative sample thereof.

  10. A study by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching found that U. S. college and university academic professionals ranked second highest in the world, surpassed only by Korea, in the percent who perceive there to be political or ideological restrictions on what a scholar may publish. See International Survey of the Academic Profession, 1991-1993, table 57.

  11. Patrick L. Scheetz, Ph.D. Recruiting Trends 1994-95: A Study of Businesses, Industries, and Governmental Agencies Employing New College Graduates. Lansing: Michigan State University (Collegiate Employment Research Institute), 1995.

  12. Among 545 employers responding to Recruiting Trends are AT & T, Chrysler Corporation, Coca Cola, Coors Brewing, Delta Dental Plan, Dow Corning, Ford Motor Company, Goodyear Tire and Rubber, IBM, the Lockheed Corporation, Michigan Biotechnology Institute, Michigan Consolidated Gas, Michigan National Bank, Motorola Semiconductors, Nabisco, Quaker Oats, Sandia National Laboratories, Teledyne, Thiokol, Vought Aircraft, Westin Hotels and Resorts, and Zenith Electronics Corporation.

  13. Scheetz. (13)

  14. Scheetz. (3)

  15. Scheetz. (16)

  16. Scheetz. (16)

  17. Scheetz. (26)

  18. Scheetz. (2)

  19. William J. Bennett. The Index of Leading Cultural Indicators. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994. (85)

  20. Paul E. Barton and Archie LaPointe. Learning by Degrees: Indicators of Performance in Higher Education. Princeton, New Jersey: Policy Information Center (Education Testing Service), 1994.

  21. Barton and LaPointe. (2)

  22. Barton and LaPointe. (6)

  23. Scheetz. (16)

  24. Scheetz. (2)

  25. Barton and LaPointe. (3)

  26. Barton and LaPointe. (32)

  27. Barton and LaPointe. (6)

  28. Scheetz. (24)

  29. The Dissolution of General Education. (19 & 47)

  30. Among the verbal problems afflicting the prose of upper-division students in a Central Michigan University English course which I recently taught were the following: The verb “to betray” was used in place of the verb “to portray” in a discussion of the movie The Maltese Falcon; the misspelled and dictionally erroneous “wood of” was used in place of the correct “would have” in an attempt at a conditional sentence (“He wood of gone if he had the money”); the plural pronoun “they” was used as the subsequent of a singular noun (this is pandemic among freshmen); there was confusion about the appropriateness of “there,” “their,” and “they’re” and similar confusion about the appropriateness of “then” and “than”; and there was a proliferation of sentence fragments (this, too, is pandemic among freshmen). I emphasize that these were juniors and seniors who had already taken the so-called basic courses and had received passing grades. See my article “Epistemological Correctness in English 101” forthcoming in Academic Questions, February 1997.

  31. Scheetz. (26)

  32. Catalogue of the University of Michigan 1914-1915. (102)

  33. Heather Mac Donald. “Why Johnny Can’t Think.” The Public Interest. Number 120, Summer 1995. (3-13)

  34. Steve Kogan. “‘Discourse Production’: Composition Studies in the Grip of Literary Theory.” Academic Questions. Vol. 7, No. 2, Spring 1994. (55-71)

  35. 4C’s Statement. Published by the Conference for College Compositions and Communication. (3) This document and others in the same vein are required reading in the teaching practicums where graduate assistant writing instructors are prepared for the classroom. The copy cited here, for example, comes from a “course pack” (a collection of photocopied articles) used to train teaching assistants in the Department of English Language and Literature at Central Michigan University. The “course pack” is undated. It was acquired by the author in January, 1995.

  36. In fact, as Professor Arthur White notes in his accompanying essay, an emergent “postmodern” approach to mathematics education actually does de-emphasize correct answers and the details of procedure.

  37. Christy Rishoi Minadeo and Larry Juchartz. “The Rhetoric of Enfleshment: Teachers as Constructed Selves Engaged in the Discourse of Others.” Michigan Academician: Papers of the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts & Letters. Vol. 27, No. 3, May 1995. (362)

  38. Mac Donald. (3-4)

  39. Standards for the English Language Arts (For the Profession, by the Profession: A Guide for Discussion) . Urbana, Illinois: National Council of Teachers of English, 1996. (25)

  40. College Composition and Communication. Vol. 23, No. 3, October 1972. (325)

  41. Executive Statement of the Conference on College Composition and Communication. In College Composition and Communication. Vol. 23, No. 3, October 1972. (325)

  42. Collection of state university freshman composition syllabi acquired by the author in 1994.

  43. College Composition and Communication. Vol. 23, No. 3, October 1972. (323)

  44. Quoted in Academic Questions. Vol. 8, No. 2. Spring 1995. (48)

  45. Kogan. (61)

  46. Kogan. (60)

  47. Kogan. (61)

  48. Kogan. (56)

  49. Standards for the English Language Arts. (20, 41, 37)

  50. Mac Donald. (5)

  51. Scheetz. (13)

  52. The professor prefers to remain anonymous.

  53. Mac Donald. (11)

  54. This model assignment is included as part of a “course pack” for Central Michigan University’s English 519. It was acquired by the author in 1994.

  55. My system-wide collection of freshman composition course syllabi turned up only a half-dozen syllabi that explicitly reject the process-oriented pedagogy favored by NCTE, 4Cs, and the International Reading Association. There might be more of those than the collection suggests who reject the process approach, but they are very probably not a majority by any means. It is also unfortunately the case that those who do shy away from postmodern pedagogy run a risk of censure in doing so and therefore are not especially eager to publicize their activity.

  56. Mac Donald. (6)

  57. Mac Donald. (7)

  58. Mac Donald. (9)

  59. No author given. The article bears the title “Students’ Right to Their Own Language.” The particular course in which the article is used is English 519, “Teaching Composition.”

  60. Standards for the English Language Arts. (75)

  61. This syllabus for Eastern Michigan University’s freshman composition course, English 120, was acquired by the author in 1994.

  62. Document acquired by the author. The language of this syllabus, which belongs more properly in a sociology course than in a freshman composition course, betrays the political biases of its author: No one, according to the radicalized compositionists, is an individual whose goal ought to be self-reliance, both intellectually and practically; but people are, rather, constructed and programmed by an oppressive system; even the notion of being an individual possessing a unique character unlike any other is supposed to be a delusion fostered by the system. Even as sociology this is dubious. After reading scores of such freshman composition syllabi, one wants to ask why the compositionists cannot commit themselves in plain terms to teaching their students how to express themselves in objective language following the rules of logic and evidence?

  63. Lynne Cheney. Telling the Truth. Why Our Culture and Our Country Stopped Making Sense—and What We Can Do About It. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995.

  64. Cheney. (79)

  65. Steve Kogan. “‘Discourse Production’ : Composition in the Grip of Literary Studies.” Academic Questions. Vol. 7, No. 2, Spring 1994. (57)

  66. Document acquired by the author in 1994.

  67. J. L. Robinson. “Literacy in the English Department.” College English. Vol. 47, No. 5, September 1985. (485)

  68. Robinson. (485)

  69. Scheetz. (17)

  70. Personal memo from Koper to the author, October 17, 1995.

  71. Document acquired by the author in 1995.

  72. CM Life is the campus newspaper for Central Michigan University.

  73. George C. Leef. “How Well Do Schools Prepare Their Students?” Viewpoint on Public Issues, No. 93-22, October 4, 1993. Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

  74. Scheetz. (17)

  75. This term, “élitist,” seems to be inevitable nowadays in academic discourse, although the tiny minority who use it seem not to regard themselves as constituting an élite despite the fact that they have Ph.D.’s, teach in prestigious institutions, and receive handsome salaries from the state.

  76. Patrick McConeghy. “The New Paradigm and International Education: Of Babies and Bathwater.” ADFL Bulletin. Vol. 23, No. 3, Spring 1992. (34-41)

  77. McConeghy. (34)

  78. Document acquired by the author in 1994.

  79. Many, perhaps even most, of the prevailing theories in language and literature studies are Marxist by derivation if not by outright declaration. Marxism has been obsessed from the beginning with the dualistic warfare (the “class war”) between “the oppressors” and “the oppressed.” The two opening sentences of Marx’s Communist Manifesto (1848), Part I, are “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles” and “Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes” (Taylor’s translation 79). Ideologically, then, the prevailing theories in language and literature studies obsessively sacrifice mainstream traditions to marginal (what they sometimes call “oppositional”) elements usually at odds with the mainstream traditions. From the Marxist viewpoint, then, Turkish workers in Germany represent an oppressed class and are therefore more important to study than the German element in German culture. An “internationalist” course in Turkish language and literature would presumably devote itself to the study of the Kurdish minority in Turkey. Analogous decisions appear everywhere in today’s university curricula, not just in language and literature studies. Anomalously, however, massively victimized groups, like the Jews in the German context, arouse relatively little interest among contemporary academics.

  80. McConeghy. (35)

  81. McConeghy. (35)

  82. McConeghy. (35)

  83. McConeghy. (35)

  84. Susan M. Bacon. “Coming to Grips with The Culture: Another Use of Dialogue Journals in Teacher Education.” Foreign Language Annals. Vol. 28, No. 2, 1995. (193)

  85. Renée Scott and Barbara Rodgers. “Changing Teachers’ Conceptions of Teaching Writing: A Collaborative Study.” Foreign Language Annals. Vol. 28, No. 2, 1995. (234-246)

  86. Letter from Delaney to the author, July 15, 1995.

  87. The speaker prefers to remain anonymous.

  88. Scheetz. (17)

  89. Scheetz. (17)

  90. Matthew Arnold. “Literature and Science.” In Poetry and Criticism of Matthew Arnold. New York: Houghton and Mifflin (Riverside Editions). 1961.

  91. Matthew Arnold. “Literature and Science.” In Poetry and Criticism of Matthew Arnold. New York: Houghton and Mifflin (Riverside Editions). 1961. (393)

  92. Multiple authors. “The Humanities, In Memoriam.” Academic Questions. Vol. 8, No. 1, Winter 1994-95. (60-66)

  93. Conquest. “The Humanities, In Memoriam.” (60)

  94. Girard. “The Humanities, In Memoriam.” (62)

  95. Wilson. “The Humanities, In Memoriam.” (65)

  96. Wilson. “The Humanities, In Memoriam.” (65)

  97. Presentation given at the 1995 meeting of the Michigan Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters in Big Rapids, Michigan. See Michigan Academician, Vol. XXVII, No. 3, May 1995. (358)

  98. The Dissolution of General Education.

  99. A syllabus for a CMU course entitled American History to 1865 promises that, under the particular instructor’s tutelage, “the important events of the past will be understood [by students] through the prism of gender, race, ethnicity, and class.” In a list of “themes” to be discussed during the term, “witchcraft” and “the struggle for hegemony in North America” figure prominently. The War of Independence is characterized tendentiously as “Britain’s Vietnam.” Document acquired by the author in 1994.

  100. Gertrude Himmelfarb. “What to do about Education: The Universities.” Commentary. Vol. 98, No. 4, October 1994. (25)

  101. See for example the special issue of Continuity (No. 19, Spring 1995), in which eleven historians discuss the peculiar biases of the standards.

  102. Himmelfarb. (25)

  103. Himmelfarb. (24)

  104. Phone conversation between Zürcher and the author, April 1995.

  105. Documents supplied by Rita Zürcher and the National Association of Scholars, April, 1995

  106. The Dissolution of General Education. (61)

  107. Central Michigan University General Education Council internal memo authored by Professor of Philosophy George Stengren. Document acquired by the author in 1995.

  108. Internal memo critiquing proposed CMU English curricula. Document acquired by the author in 1993.

  109. Document acquired by the author in 1995. Regarding, as I call it, the intellectual emptiness of the “diversity” movement: What passes for “diverse” on contemporary college and university campuses is, in fact, ideologically monolithic. The “diversity” movement cynically uses the indices of color to make itself look like a celebration of geographical origin and ethnicity, but its putative representatives of “other cultures” invariably turn out to be subscribers to the radical agenda. Like so much in Newspeak of educationese, the term “diversity” means in practice the diametrical opposite of what it says.

  110. In the winter semester 1995, CMU’s English department offered courses in women’s literature, African-American literature, science fiction, and other specialized and trendy topics, but only two regular courses in traditional literature.

  111. Internal memo critiquing proposed CMU English curricula. Document acquired by the author in 1993.

  112. Letter to the author, December 6, 1994.

  113. The Detroit News and Free Press, Sunday, January 15, 1995. (1A)

  114. The Detroit News, Friday, September 20, 1996. (1A)

  115. The Detroit News, Friday, September 20, 1996. (5A)

    Public K-12 student test statistics referred to in this article are as follows:
















    Source: Michigan Information & Research Service, Volume XIV, Issue 178

  116. Robert Money. Michigan Academician. Summer 1995. (258)

  117. The famous McGuffy’s readers had middle school students reading texts which they would not be expected to be able to read in today’s high schools; the high-school level McGuffy’s readers involved students in political and philosophical prose ranging from Plutarch and Cicero to Lincoln and Emerson.

  118. Thomas Sowell. Inside American Education: The Decline, the Deception, the Dogmas. New York: The Free Press, 1993. (27)

  119. Michigan State University Description of Courses 1994. The reference to the “construct[ion] of subject-specific meanings” echoes the language now used by the NCTE to describe how students learn—The theory is that students “construct” knowledge by themselves. This violates the common sense observation that learning consists of the transmission of knowledge from those who know to those who do not yet know.

  120. Central Michigan University Bulletin 1994.

  121. Sowell. (25)

  122. Description of proposed Central Michigan University teacher education course, Elementary Education 305, Issues in Multicultural Education. College of Education, Health, and Human Services memo, 1995.

  123. Johnson, Dupuis, Musial, and Hall. The Foundations of American Education. (153)

  124. As one part of the examination, students watch a film, The Dead Poet’s Society, and are asked to comment on it; the questions, reported to me by a student who went through the process, make it clear that students are expected to affirm the slanted message of the film, namely that traditional education is an evil and oppressive experience and only radical theories of education are truly liberating.

  125. In other education textbooks too numerous to mention title by title, I find regularly repeated many dubious and simply false claims. Among the most flagrant of these is the claim that education before the advent in the 1960s of “new” and “progressive” pedagogies was tyrannical and ineffective—that students did not learn in America’s mid-twentieth century schools. This fails to explain why I knew grammar by the eighth grade, whereas the college students whom I teach today remain totally innocent of it; it again fails to explain why my mother, who graduated from high school in the early 1940s and never went to college, knows more about geography, history, math, English, and politics than most of the graduate students with whom I have contact. In fact, the historic decline in SAT and ACT scores began precisely when the “new” and “progressive” pedagogies began to take hold in the public schools.

  126. Martha Rapp Ruddell. Teaching Content Reading and Writing. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1992. (170)

  127. Ruddell. (104)

  128. Rita Kramer. Ed School Follies: The Miseducation of America’s Teachers. New York: Free Press (MacMillan’s), 1991.

  129. Kramer. (75)

  130. Michigan State University Descriptions of Courses. Teacher Education. 1995. (167-171)

  131. Kramer. (83)

  132. Kramer. (83-84)

  133. Kramer. (95)

  134. Kramer. (97)

  135. Kramer. (97-98)

  136. Kramer. (101) This prejudicial analysis of H. C. Andersen’s classic story provides another example of the ubiquity of what I would call low-grade Marxism, or Marxism-by-the-numbers, in the postmodern curriculum. As the holder of a B.A. in Scandinavian Languages and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature, I would like to note that Kramer’s teacher has not understood the first thing about “The Ugly Duckling” which, like much of Andersen’s work, is symbolically complex, artistically rich, and ethically impeccable. In fact, “The Ugly Duckling,” taught by someone who understood it, would be a singularly appropriate study-text for teachers-in-training, since it urges individuals not to be satisfied with pat answers to important questions, with conformism for its own sake, or with bullying of any kind by those who, for reasons good or bad, are “in charge.”

  137. See The Detroit News and Free Press. Sunday, March 5, 1995. (1A)

  138. James V. Hoffman. “Leadership in the Language Arts: Am I Whole Yet? Are You?” Language Arts. Vol. 69, No. 5, September, 1992. (366-371) In respect of Hoffman’s anti-authoritarian rhetoric: Radical pedagogues often claim that teachers are an “oppressed class,” deprived of the “power” that would somehow transform their existence if the “oppressor class” would ever let them get their hands on it. Even university professors regularly claim to be “oppressed.” Just as grammar is supposed “to oppress” students, so teaching grammar is supposed “to oppress” teachers. Such claims suggest whole new categories of “oppressed people”: the Volvo-driving oppressed, the split-level oppressed, the oppressed-on-sabbatical, and the fully tenured oppressed.

  139. Detroit Free Press, Tuesday, September 24, 1996. (7A)

  140. Thomas F. Bertonneau. “Alice in Mandate Land.” Viewpoint on Public Issues. No. 95-02, January 9, 1995, Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

  141. The Detroit News and Free Press, Sunday, January 15, 1995. (1A)

  142. The Detroit News and Free Press, Sunday, January 15, 1995. (1A)

  143. Allan Bloom. The Closing of the American Mind. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987. (1)

  144. Camille Paglia. Vamps and Tramps. New York: Vintage, 1994. (XXI)

  145. Friedrich A. von Hayek. The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988. (75)

  146. William J. Bennett. The De-Valuing of America: The Fight for our Culture and our Children. New York: Simon and Schuster (A Touchstone Book), 1992. (172)

  147. Bennett. (172)

  148. Himmelfarb. (24)

  149. NAS Update (National Association of Scholars Newsletter). Vol. 6, No. 2, Summer 1995. (1)

  150. NAS Update. (1)

  151. NAS Update. (5)

  152. The figure of 90 percent is conservative and is based on the author’s review of 144 freshman composition syllabi from the state universities of Michigan.

  153. Standards for the English Language Arts. (38) In light of the dictum, it might be judicious to rename certain classic examples of writing. For example, Shakespeare’s Sonnets could be redesignated Shakespeare’s Tentative Sonnets and his play Hamlet could become Sketches Toward a Possible Drama Provisionally Entitled Hamlet.

  154. Tracey Lee Simmons. “Transcendental ‘Meditations.’” National Review. September 12, 1994. (40-46)

  155. Simmons. (40-46)

  156. Simmons. (40-46)

  157. Allan Bloom. Giants and Dwarfs. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1990. (290)

  158. Charles J. Sykes. Profscam: Professors and the Demise of Higher Education. New York: Regnery Gateway, 1988. (40)

  159. Jonathan R. Laing. “Campus Unrest.” Barron’s. November 22, 1995. (25-27)

  160. George Roche. The Fall of the Ivory Tower. Government Funding, Corruption, and the Bankrupting of American Higher Education. New York: Regnery Publishing, 1992. (217)

  161. Laing. (27)

  162. Roche. (219) Specific Michigan examples of this sort of academic discourse are found in Publications of the Modern Language Association, Volume 111, Number 6, November, 1996. Individuals from University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University, and Michigan Technological University are either delivering the following papers or presiding over the following panels at the 112th annual meeting of the Modern Language Association in December, 1996 in Washington, D. C.

  163. The panel, “Constructing Sexual Identities” includes the following papers: “Revisioning Images of Women with a Medical Lens,” “Purging the Female, Constructing the Male: Theorizing Monstrous Femininity in the Early Modern,” “The Shadow of the Tribades and the Construction of Lesbianism in the Seventeenth Century.” (“Tribade” is an arcane term for “lesbian.”)

    The papers, “Belgium in Politics and Print: Feminist Underground Journals,” “Portrait of an Invert? Vita Sackville-West, Freud, and the Sexologists,” and “Sex in Strindbergian Drama: Creating new Myths Out of Old Realities” will be given by representatives of Michigan public universities.

    The panels, “Historicizing Queerness,” “Culture War and Peace: The Dialogues of Chronotope in a Multicultural World,” “Victorian Sexual Dissidence,” “German Culture in Multicultural Perspective: Germans and Turks,” “Alterity and its Discontents: Locus of Otherness Across Boundaries,” “The Sociopathy of Domestic Space,” “Scandinavian Sexuality: The Myth and its Fictions,” and “Urnings, Inverts, and Beastly Acts of Female Indecency: Interwar Negotiations of Sexological Theories” are all either presided over by Michigan public university representatives, or contain papers given by them.

  164. Sykes. (109)

  165. Paglia. (101)

  166. Sykes. (309)

  167. Bertrand Russell. The Study of Mathematics. Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1910. (73)

  168. Gertrude Himmelfarb. “Academic Advocates.” Commentary. Vol. 100, NO. 3, September 1995. (47)

  169. A recent article concludes that decreasing scientific literacy in the United States is in part attributable to the dominance of postmodernism in higher education. See Janet Raloff. “When Science and Beliefs Collide.” Science News. Vol. 149, No. 23. (360-361)

  170. For an example, see Paul Ernst. The Philosophy of Mathematics Education. London: The Falmer Press, 1991.