Thursday, March 02, 2006

Peter Beinart writes about the Summers resignation at Harvard. He points out that Summers real problem involved his standing up to the tenured professors. Some examples:
Summers wanted tenured professors to teach. And not just that; he wanted them to teach large undergraduate survey courses. Summers noticed what people have been noticing for a long time: Students at Harvard--and at other prestigious universities--often graduate without the kind of core knowledge that you'd expect from a good high school student. Instead, they meet Harvard's curricular requirements with a hodgepodge of arbitrary, esoteric classes that cohere into nothing at all.

...Summers certainly wasn't opposed to research. But he was impolitic enough to ask various departments to explain why their research mattered....He even had the temerity to ask West, one of only 19 "university professors," a rank supposedly reserved for the greatest scholars in the world, what he was doing.

...Summers thought it was a problem that roughly 90 percent of Harvard seniors were graduating with honors...By giving almost everyone very high grades, Harvard promotes the fiction that virtually all of its graduates are academic superstars--and obscures those who actually are.

...It's why he made it easier for students to participate in ROTC. It's why he waived tuition for families making less than $40,000 a year. It's why he wanted professors to do useful research and students to learn basic knowledge.
What's wrong with this picture? Nothing, except that it appears as if Summers was demanding much of what the right-wing has been calling for in education for the last umpteenth years. A focus on teaching vs. bloated, unnecessary research, the standing up to arrogant intellectualism, stop grade inflation which does nothing for scholarship and everything for just revolving out the door the less learned with the learned. Yet where's the right-wing folks to applaud his gutsy efforts in siding with many of these embraced views?

Nowhere. Why? Because he's a Clinton guy. Sadly, it always comes down to that. Partisan baloney and team mentality always comes first with the right. The same goes for global warming, an Al Gore issue. Sickening.

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