I Love You but You Didn’t Do the Reading

The view from 1804 is still pretty bleak, but things in 2019 don’t look all that cheery, either. Here are some of the news stories we found when we crawled up out of the archives this week:

Will the real conservative please stand up? Prof. Patrick Deneen reviews George Will’s new book at WaPo.

Animated by a conservative skepticism of the belief in sufficient human knowledge to control circumstance, and a pessimism about the capacity of human beings to consistently act from noble intentions (or that such noble intentions are likely to lead to noble ends), Will calls for a minimalist state allowing for maximal expression of “spontaneous order.” . . . Nowhere to be found in the 538 pages of text is a discussion of conservative commitments to the unborn, the threats posed by the advance of the sexual liberation movement, and commitments to religious liberty. It is as if the book was written in 1944…

A billionaire offers a new way to give teachers a raise, at Forbes.

An interview with historian Darren Dochuk about his new book, Anointed with Oil: How Christianity and Crude Made Modern America, at R&P.

Amid jungles of derricks and refining fires, risk-filled labor and violent swings of fortune, oil-patch Christians embrace a cataclysmic view of the here and now and of life beyond, as well as a dependency on an all-powerful being who gives and takes and tests his people but is always there.

Why are radical creationists so upset about men in heels? Here at ILYBYGTH.

Ken Ham drag school

It’s not Darwin they’re worried about, it’s “Sparkle Leigh.”

Can a professor teach a class about conservative thought? Portland State says no, at IHE.

How did Teach For America get tied up with charter schools? An expose at Propublica. HT: MM

Liberty U. cuts divinity program, at IHE.

Did anyone think we were done with all this? Trump, Falwell, Cohen, and the “Pool Boy,” at NYT.

That backstory, in true Trump-tabloid fashion, features the friendship between Mr. Falwell, his wife and a former pool attendant at the Fontainebleau hotel in Miami Beach; the family’s investment in a gay-friendly youth hostel; purported sexually revealing photographs involving the Falwells; and an attempted hush-money arrangement engineered by the president’s former fixer, Michael Cohen.

…and boom goes the dynamite. At MH.

Three photographs have been seen by the Herald, however. They are images not of Falwell, of but his wife in various stages of undress. It is not known who took the photographs or when they were taken, and the Herald was not given the photographs and therefore, has not been able to authenticate them independently. Two of the photographs appear to have been taken at the Falwells’ farm in Virginia, and a third at the Cheeca Lodge.

Curmudgucrat Peter Greene tells arrogant ed-reformers what they’ve always needed to hear:

We told you so. . . . Before you launch your next bright idea to reform education, talk to actual professional educators first. You don’t have to talk just to teachers. But talk to teachers (and not just ones that have been carefully vetted to be sure they’re aligned with your values). Every dollar and hour wasted, every fruitless crappy reform idea of the last twenty-some years could have been avoided if people had listened to actual teachers. There’s the lesson that everyone, even exceptionally smart and respectable former Presidents, needs to learn.

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Where Were You Radicalized?

Have you seen it yet? Emily Nussbaum asked a simple question on Twitter: Where were you radicalized? I admit I haven’t read all the responses, but there’s one obvious one that I have heard from lots of my ex-evangelical friends that I’m not seeing.where were you radicalized

Some of the responses are compelling. Patrick Deneen, for example, blamed the effete and impudent snobs. Where was Deneen radicalized?

Princeton University, upon hearing colleagues using the words “flyover country” without irony or embarrassment, and where being anti-Christian was an acceptable and even required prejudice.

Other respondents share stories of feminist, economic, anti-war, or other radicalizing epiphanies. But here’s my puzzle: I’m not seeing tons of responses from people who say they were radicalized in church. I thought I would.

I don’t mean the people who heard a left-wing pastor sing and play guitar. I mean the people who sat in pews and listened to the conservative, maybe fundamentalist spiel over and over until they rejected the whole thing.

As I polish and revise my creationism book, I came across example after example of evangelicals who turned away from creationism precisely because of the young-earth ideas to which they were exposed at church.

For example, as two intrepid evangelical scholars relate, they met plenty of students who were “radicalized” due to the intellectual shortcomings of young-earth creationism. As one student told them,

My parents saw evolution as incompatible with religion; I agree, and when I decided the evidence did not support a 6-day creation, I stopped believing in God.

So for all those left-leaning evangelicals and ex-evangelicals out there, where were YOU radicalized? Was it in Sunday school? At church? At your religious school?

I Love You but You Didn’t Do the Reading

Another busy week: Here are some ILYBYGTH-themed stories that came across our desk recently:

Can a creationist parent successfully sue a school district for teaching evolution? Not in PA, at NCSE.

READING

Words, words, words…

Are international students a higher-ed security threat? FBI director says yes, at IHE.

Conservative college professor to conservative UCLA students: Don’t invite Milo, at WS.

“Any reasonable person will agree…” At HXA, Musa Al-Gharbi points out that reasonable people are actually better at disagreeing, with three suggestions for better cross-culture-war communication.

How Protestantism shaped the modern world: An interview with Alec Ryrie at R&P.

Was this the most gruesome battle in human history?

RIP Billy Graham, at CNN.

What’s wrong with Black History Month? At The Progressive.

School shootings:

Ted Cruz: The Democrats are the party of Lisa Simpson. GOP is for Homer, Marge, Bart, and Maggie. At USA Today, HT: BM.

What’s wrong with standardizing student assessment at colleges? Molly Worthen tees off at NYT.Bart reading bible

West Virginia teachers go on strike, at CNN.

How Liberalism Failed: Albert Mohler interviews Patrick Deneen.

Conservatives need to confront campus radicalism, by Noah Rothman at Commentary.

I Love You but You Didn’t Do the Reading

A holiday week didn’t slow down the news. Cussing from the Oval Office, aspirations from Oprah’s couch…it was a weird week. Here are some of the top ILYBYGTH-related stories:

President Oprah?

Why do so many white evangelicals love Trump? Darren Guerra says it’s only “Jacksonian Evangelicals,” at First Things.Bart reading bible

Want to stop school segregation? Stop attacking charter schools, says Emily Langhorne at USNWR.

Liberalism is over, by Patrick Deneen at The Spectator.

San Diego State: Lecturer took anti-white attitudes too far, at CHE.

Museum of the Bible: A “safe space for Christian nationalists,” by Katherine Stewart at NYT.

Leadership shake-up at Moody Bible Institute, at CT.

More Trump/evangelical crack-up. How did evangelicals respond to Trump’s “S***hole” comments?

Big-time college sports—the new Jim Crow. So says Victoria Jackson at LA Times.

My Experts Can Beat Up Your Experts

None of us knows what we’re talking about. That is the problem driving much of our culture-war animus. We can’t possibly understand all the nuances of every field of study, so we rely on networks of competing experts and authority figures to tell us what to believe. I do it, you do it . . . we all do it.

This week, we’ve seen it again with the topic of teaching American history. A coalition of conservative scholars and activists has signed an open letter attacking the new framework of Advanced Placement US History guidelines. They hope to use their collective clout to prove that the “experts” are not all on one side of this debate.

Your Experts Will Send Our Kids to Hell!

Your Experts Will Send Our Kids to Hell!

As SAGLRROILYBYGTH are well aware, these new history guidelines have proven intensely controversial. Conservative lawmakers in Oklahoma have proposed nixing the new standards for Sooner schoolchildren. Conservative pundits have blasted the framework as biased and warped. Professional organizations such as the National Council for History Education and the American Historical Association have fought back, insisting that the new framework is exactly the sort of thing we need in America’s history classrooms.

And, as I argue in my new book, these battles over the nature of American history have a long history themselves. In the 1930s, conservatives successfully blocked a popular series of textbooks that they felt told a slanted, anti-American vision of the nation’s past. More recently, the attempt in the 1990s to write a set of national history standards was sunk when conservatives made similar complaints.

In those battles as in this one, culture-war combatants have hoped to win their case by compiling intimidating lists of experts who back their respective positions. This week’s letter includes a mix of signatories. Some of them really are leading academic historians, such as George Marsden and Joseph Kett. And they take their inspiration from a recent diatribe by renowned historian Gordon Wood. Other signers are not historians, but conservative scholars who disagree with the general drift of mainstream academic life, folks such as Robert George and Patrick Deneen. Yet another category of signer is that of activist conservative historians, a rare breed including folks such as Ronald Radosh and Victor Davis Hanson. Plus, there are political signatories such as Lynne Cheney.

The letter complains that the new APUSH framework pushes an “arid, fragmentary, and misleading account of American history.” The new framework, the letter argues,

Is organized around such abstractions as “identity,” “peopling,” “work, exchange, and technology,” and “human geography” while downplaying essential subjects, such as the sources, meaning, and development of America’s ideals and political institutions, notably the Constitution. Elections, wars, diplomacy, inventions, discoveries—all these formerly central subjects tend to dissolve into the vagaries of identity-group conflict. The new framework scrubs away all traces of what used to be the chief glory of historical writing—vivid and compelling narrative—and reduces history to a bloodless interplay of abstract and impersonal forces. Gone is the idea that history should provide a fund of compelling stories about exemplary people and events. No longer will students hear about America as a dynamic and exemplary nation, flawed in many respects, but whose citizens have striven through the years toward the more perfect realization of its professed ideals. The new version of the test will effectively marginalize important ways of teaching about the American past, and force American high schools to teach U.S. history from a perspective that self-consciously seeks to de-center American history and subordinate it to a global and heavily social-scientific perspective.

As a professional academic historian, I’m certainly not neutral in this fight. My sympathies lie with the new framework. Don’t get me wrong: I admit that these conservative charges are not without merit. Academic historians really have isolated themselves over the past forty years. Americans love history, but they find academic history simply beside the point. Academic historians have tended to obsess over issues that only other academics care about, leaving high-schoolers and regular folks to learn their history from journalists and from Hollywood. But that has always been the case with scholarly work and it does not mean that the big lessons of the past forty years should not be taught to high-schoolers.

More important here, though, is the way culture-war issues are often addressed by letters like this one. Because none of us can understand the nuances of every issue, because none of us really understands what all the fuss is about, we rely on networks of competing authorities to give us our culture-war positions.

In the creation/evolution battles, for instance, we’ve seen this time and time again. Nearly every pro-evolution argument these days starts with some statement that mainstream scientists all agree on the fact of evolution. Activist organizations such as the National Center for Science Education compile bulletproof lists of all the scientists who agree that evolution occurs via natural selection. It has always been this way. In the 1968 US Supreme Court case of Epperson v. Arkansas, the National Science Teachers Association submitted a statement signed by 179 leading scientists. Evolution, the signatories told the court, had become a “fundamental scientific principle” supported by all “scientists and other reasonable persons.”

Creationists, of course, have always compiled similar lists of experts. As I noted in my first book, sometimes such lists took over the whole argument. For instance, T.T. Martin’s 1923 book, Hell and the High Schools, was a slim 175 pages. Of those pages, a full 67 were nothing but lists of anti-evolution scientists and experts.

For those few true experts such as Ronald Numbers or Glenn Branch, it is possible to wade through these lists of names to tease out the scientific street cred of each person. For most readers, though, the lists of experts serve only to prove the reliability of writers’ claims.

In every culture-war field, we rely on experts we trust to tell us what to believe. And then we believe it, whether or not we really know what we’re talking about. This doesn’t mean we’re stupid. It doesn’t mean we’re ignorant. As Dan Kahan argues so convincingly, our beliefs about evolution tells us about who we are, not about what we know.

What are we to believe about the new Advanced Placement US History standards? Are they the best wisdom of historians, vetted by true experts in the field and reflecting the latest developments of academic knowledge? Or are they the puerile croaking of a self-satisfied and out-of-touch ivory-tower elite, bent on promoting ideology over true knowledge?

The answer, of course, depends on which group of experts you prefer.

Liberalism Leads to Campus Rape

Well-intentioned liberal rules—plus “binge drinking”—led us to an epidemic of campus sexual assaults.  That is the equation offered recently by conservative intellectual Patrick Deneen.  Deneen argues that the abdication of control by universities in the 1960s, meant to liberate students, has pushed the federal government to step in.

In recent days, we at ILYBYGTH have wondered about the connection between conservative Christianity and campus sexual assault.  Do overzealous reporters try to use uniformed bluster about “fundamentalism” to smear conservative religious peopleOr does there seem to be something peculiarly dangerous about authoritarian institutions such as fundamentalist colleges?

Professor Deneen has different concerns.  He notes the recent announcement by the federal government that it is investigating fifty-five universities for their handling of sexual-assault cases.  When universities and colleges fail to maintain the safety and security of their students, the Office of Civil Rights will step in.

As Deneen points out, this responsibility for the sexual morality of students used to be the responsibility of the universities themselves.  College graduates of a certain age may remember the elaborate rules that enveloped college-student social lives before the 1960s.  Female students at mainstream colleges—even at public institutions—often had to check in with “dorm mothers” at nine o’clock.  In every aspect of student life, the college took on the role of the parent.  In every way, the college acted in loco parentis—in place of the parent.

Of course, in the 1960s campuses in the US and around the world became hotbeds of political and cultural upheaval.  Students demanded more freedom, and they got it.  At many schools, in loco parentis rules were scrapped.  In many schools, indeed, core curricula were also scrapped in the name of freedom.  For instance, at my own beloved school, Binghamton University, students staged the “Bermuda Revolution.”  Not quite up to the office occupations and shotgun-wielding demands that rocked our neighbors at Columbia University or Cornell, but Bearcats managed to come together to protest strict student rules.  At Binghamton, the Bermuda Revolution brought students out to our Peace Quad clad in Bermuda shorts.  At the time, this was against the stern, traditional dress code that required shirts and ties for men and skirts and blouses for women.  As a result, the university changed those rules, giving students more freedom over their own lives.

Campus Revolutionaries, Binghamton Style

Campus Revolutionaries, Binghamton Style

One unintended consequence of this freedom is that more young people on college campuses have been exposed to sexual violence.  When students have more opportunity to drink alcohol and stay out late, more students find themselves in situations that lead to sexual assault.  As a result, the federal government has stepped in to investigate the way universities respond to charges of rape and sexual assault.

Professor Deneen argues that this tale of freedom gone awry can be seen as the history of liberalism in a nutshell.  As he puts it,

Longstanding local rules and cultures that governed behavior through education and cultivation of certain kinds of norms, manners, and morals, came to be regarded as an oppressive limitation upon the liberty of individuals. Those forms of control were lifted in the name of liberation, leading to regularized abuse of those liberties. In the name of redressing the injustices of those abuses, the federal government was seen as the only legitimate authority for redress and thereby exercised powers (ones that often require creative interpretations of federal law to reach down into private institutions) to re-regulate the liberated behaviors. However, now there is no longer a set of “norms” that seek to cultivate forms of self-rule, since this would constitute an unjust limitation of our freedom. Now there can only be punitive threats that occur after the fact. One cannot seek to limit the exercise of freedom before the fact (presumably by using at one’s disposal education in character and virtue); one can only punish after the fact when one body has harmed another body.

Conservative Christian colleges may have a unique set of challenges when dealing with the issue of sexual assault.  But Professor Deneen argues that sexual assault on other campuses has been a result of liberalism, not traditionalism.  Loose rules and permissive attitudes, Deneen notes, have led to an anything-goes culture.  The resulting “sexual anarchy” has left victims vulnerable to attack, with little recourse after the fact.

 

Is the Common Core Un-American? Professor Deneen Says Yes

What should conservatives do with the new Common Core Learning Standards?

Trash them, demands Notre Dame political theorist Patrick Deneen.  In doing so, Deneen makes some fishy assertions about the educational imaginations of our Founding Fathers.

As ILYBYGTH readers are well aware, there is no unified “conservative” position on the Common Core.  Some smart conservatives hate them.  Other smart conservatives hold their noses and endorse them.

Professor Deneen signed on to the recent letter against the standards to the US Catholic Bishops.  Deneen and other prominent Catholic intellectuals voiced their dismay at the intellectual, political, and spiritual implications of the new standards.

In his recent essay in The American Conservative, Deneen spells out in more detail his objections.

The standards, Deneen warns, represent a monstrous over-emphasis on only two of the five main purposes of education.  The standards push schools to focus only on basic facts and logic. They ignore the formation of good citizens with character and a sense of wonder.

In this case, according to Professor Deneen, two-fifths of a loaf is worse than none at all. These standards, he argues, are not simply a good attempt at a difficult task.  Rather, they are fundamentally flawed, since they are based on a “dessicated and debased conception of what a human being is.”

So far, so good.  But Professor Deneen argues that this sort of common educational standard violates the best American traditions, and this doesn’t seem to fit the historical record.

The good professor is a mighty smart guy, well versed in the political thought of our founders.  So I have a hard time sussing out what he means by the following:

Because humans in their social and political communities are various, it was understood by our Founders that the way that these educational purposes to be achieved would be various, and so the commitment to local control of education was not born of a resignation in the absence of a strong central government, but a positive embrace of variety and multiplicity.

I’m no expert in early America, but that just ain’t so.  Prominent founders such as Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Benjamin Rush all pushed for greater systematization and centralization of schooling.  Each of them hoped to organize a chaotic network of educational opportunities into a more coherent centralized system of schooling.

Perhaps none of these founders would have wanted a single system for all of the states, as the Common Core standards hope for.  But each of these founders, at least, would have applauded the attempt to make education less happenstance and more predictable.

I understand Professor Deneen’s disgust at the lopsided nature of the Common Core State Standards, even if I don’t agree with it.  But I don’t see the basis for his claims that this sort of effort violates the spirits of the Founders.  On the contrary, this sort of rationalization and systematization is just the kind of thing those big-idea men would have drooled over.

 

Catholics against the Common Core

Don’t do it, a group of Catholic academics advised their bishops recently.  Don’t let Catholic schools follow the new Common Core Learning Standards.

As with everything Catholic, the signatories of this letter were a diverse bunch.

They were led by Notre Dame’s Gerard Bradley and included prominent conservatives such as Anthony Esolen, Robert George, and Patrick Deneen.  Also signing on was Lehigh University’s intelligent-design black sheep, Michael Behe.

Why did this group want to keep the new standards out of Catholic schools?

For one thing, they argued the new focus on nonfiction threatens to water down the rich cultural heritage of Catholic schooling.  “Common Core,” the letter charges,

shortchanges the central goals of all sound education and surely those of Catholic education: to grow in the virtues necessary to know, love, and serve the Lord, to mature into a responsible, flourishing adult, and to contribute as a citizen to the process of responsible democratic self-government. . . . Perhaps a truck-driver needs no acquaintance with Paradise Lost to do his or her day’s work.  But everyone is better off knowing Shakespeare and Euclidean geometry, and everyone is capable of it.

But there is more at stake than just a profound, moral education.  Bradley’s letter worries that future new standards will directly contradict the specifically religious values at the heart of the Catholic faith.  As the letter put it,

In science, the new standards are likely to take for granted, and inculcate students into a materialist metaphysics that is incompatible with the spiritual realities—soul, conceptual thought, values, free choice, God—which Catholic faith presupposes.  We fear, too, that the history standards will promote the easy moral relativism, tinged with a pervasive anti-religious bias, that is commonplace in collegiate history departments today.

As Richard Perez-Pena noted in the New York Times, the letter-writers do not represent the entirety of Catholic opinion.  Sister John Mary Fleming, executive director for Catholic education at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said she viewed the new standards as an opportunity, not a threat.  And Sister M. Paul McCaughey, superintendent of Chicago’s Catholic schools, agreed that Catholic schools must maintain their high educational standards, but did not see the standards as a problem.

 

 

College Needs Christ

What is the purpose of higher education?  Patrick Deneen argued recently that colleges lost their traditional purpose when they lost their connection to organized religion.

Deneen, the high-profile conservative professor of political thought at Notre Dame, didn’t just say this about higher education.  He argued that both health care and higher education lost their way when they became unmoored from Church control.

Both hospitals and universities, Deneen points out, had origins as charitable institutions run by the Church.  The current sense of crisis in both higher education and health care, he argues, has its roots in the fact that neither institution can function properly when cut off from its religious roots.

Deneen critiques both liberal and conservative analyses of higher education.  Many of today’s conservatives go wrong, he says, when they assume that market solutions will save colleges.  For their part, liberals pin too much faith on the ability of the state to regulate and direct higher education.

The market can’t be trusted to do the job, Deneen insists.  “The very idea,” he writes,

that doctors and teachers are or ought to act out of the motivations of self-interest, and provide services to their “consumers,” seems fundamentally contradictory to the kind of work and social role performed by each.

As for state control, Deneen thinks such leftist fantasies miss by an equally wide mark:

At the same time, the State is rightly suspected of being unable to fundamentally improve or even maintain the quality of either sphere. It is doubtless the case that it can assure access by the heavy hand of threats, but many rightly worry that, as a consequence, the quality of care and education will deteriorate as a result.

Neither side in America’s stunted liberal/conservative divide has grasped the essence of the underlying problem, Deneen says. College, like health care, must reconnect with its churchly roots.  As Professor Deneen puts it,

it seems increasingly evident that practices such as health care and education are likely to fail when wholly uninformed by their original motivation of religious charity. Neither functions especially well based on the profit-motive or guided by large-scale national welfare policies.

At their root, he writes, college and hospital must claim an authority over its students that neither a market-model nor a state-directed model can provide.  “Both spheres,” he says,

also require a concomitant shared commitment to commonweal on the part of those who benefit from the contributions of the professions. Doctors and teachers are not simply to be viewed as providing a service for pay, subject to the demands of “consumers.” Viewed through this market-based lens, the “buyers” make the demands on the providers. However, this understanding undermines the proper relationship between trustee and beneficiary—the doctor or teacher is actually in a relationship of responsible authority with the recipient, and ought rightly to make demands and even render judgments upon the one who is paying for the service. The trustee has a duty and a responsibility to enlarge the vision of the recipient—in matters of health (how certain behaviors might have led to a state of illness, in what ways the person ought to change their lives outside the doctor’s office), and formation (thus, a student should be challenged by the teacher not only to do well in the subject at hand, but to become a person of character in all spheres of life). Both the market and the State, however, increasingly regard the recipients simply as “consumers,” a view that is increasingly shared by every member and part of society.

 

Deneen on Bloom, Conservatism, and Multiculturalism

What does it mean for schools to embrace “multiculturalism?”

One of the sternest and most popular condemnations of the implications of multicultural ideology was Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind (1987).

Political philosopher Patrick Deneen recently evaluated the book and its legacy.  Deneen concludes that the book could have done much more to condemn the pernicious influence of “multiculturalism.”

As Deneen notes, Bloom explicitly refused the label “conservative.”  Nevertheless, his book became a favorite of those culture-war activists who battled over the cultural content of higher education.  Should colleges teach Plato, Locke, and Shakespeare?  Or should they instead teach Fanon, Derrida, and Gloria Anzaldua?

Bloom plaintively argued that American higher education had abandoned its central mission.   In order for young people to doubt, Bloom argued, they must have some ground from which to question.  They must understand themselves as inheritors of a cultural tradition.  Higher education, Bloom argued, had willfully denied its central role as caretakers of students’ souls.  Instead of teaching young people to explore and question Truth, higher education shamefully evaded its responsibility and taught students instead that Truth was an illusion.

It is easy to see how this argument endeared Bloom to many conservative activists.  Yet Bloom himself did not argue for any specific tradition.  He was not a religious man himself, nor did his book insist that any religion embodied the truth.  Rather, he argued that students must be recognized as yearning souls, rather than transformed into indifferent spiritual husks.

Deneen’s critique raises many intriguing points and is worth reading in its entirety.  Deneen wishes Bloom might have pursued the analysis of multiculturalism to its logical conclusion.  As Deneen writes,

The stronger case would have been to expose the claims of multiculturalism as cynical expressions from members of groups that did not, in fact, share a culture, while showing that such self-righteous claims, more often than not, were merely a thin veneer masking a lust for status, wealth and power. If the past quarter century has revealed anything, it has consistently shown that those who initially participated in calls for multiculturalism have turned out to be among the voices most hostile to actual cultures, particularly ones seeking to maintain coherent religious and moral traditions.

If Bloom could have seen the current state of American higher education, Deneen argues, Bloom would have seen that his 1987 book underestimated the scope of the problem.  In the late 1980s, Deneen believes, advocates of multiculturalism shared Bloom’s sense of the importance of curriculum.  These days, even that awkward defense of multiculturalism has been eclipsed by what Deneen calls “an age of indifference.”  The cultural left no longer insists on a left-leaning set of counter-readings.  Instead, Deneen points out,

not only is academia indifferent to whether our students become virtuous human beings (to use a word seldom to be found on today’s campuses), but it holds itself to be unconnected to their vices—thus there remains no self-examination over higher education’s role in producing the kinds of graduates who helped turn Wall Street into a high-stakes casino and our nation’s budget into a giant credit card. Today, in the name of choice, non-judgmentalism, and toleration, institutions prefer to offer the greatest possible expanse of options, in the implicit belief that every 18- to 22-year-old can responsibly fashion his or her own character unaided.

Whatever Bloom’s personal views, the notion that schools at every level must teach a set of core values has been and remains central to conservative thinking about schooling and education.  The central issue remains the question of the function of schooling.  Conservatives embraced Bloom the skeptic because he made a powerful argument in favor of school as a transmitter of cultural values.  “Multiculturalism,” in contrast, became a label for a very different vision.  For multiculturalists, the purpose of school was to help students overcome their inherited cultural values, clearing the way for a logical, tolerant, reasonable set of beliefs.