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The Breakdown of Higher Education: How It Happened, the Damage It Does, and What Can Be Done Kindle Edition
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About the Author
―Gary Saul Morson, the Lawrence B. Dumas Professor of the Arts and Humanities at Northwestern University
“There are few writers as knowledgeable and clear-eyed about the precipitous and dangerous decline of American universities as John Ellis. Everyone who cares about the future of our country should read this book.”
―David Horowitz, author of Reforming Our Universities
“America’s public universities are engaged in large-scale theft, observes John Ellis trenchantly: they fraudulently divert funds appropriated for education to the improper purpose of political indoctrination. Private colleges are no less deceptive about their activities, holding themselves out as disinterested purveyors of skills and knowledge while inculcating in students a hatred of Enlightenment values and the American project. Ellis plumbs the history that corrupted the country’s once peerless colleges and universities and proposes a radical but necessary plan of action to restore education to its central role in preserving our precious civilization.”
―Heather Mac Donald, the Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of The Diversity Delusion
“In this deeply researched and devastating indictment, John M. Ellis contends that decades of radicalization have turned America’s once-great universities into a monoculture of authoritarian leftist orthodoxy. The left-right ratio among faculty is now nearly 12 to 1, with most professors far to the left of ordinary liberals. Conservative voices are openly disdained and often suppressed as campus ideology becomes ever more extreme, and tribalist identity politics holds priority over academic excellence. Administrators and trustees, says Ellis, are ‘too cowardly or too complicit’ to stand up for apolitical scholarship and teaching. Many students are afraid to express their opinions, and they spend far less time studying than in the past. One might hope that Ellis exaggerates in calling the state of higher education ‘a national crisis of vast proportions,’ but the evidence he musters is too potent to be dismissed.”
―Stuart Taylor, Jr., coauthor (with KC Johnson) of The Campus Rape Frenzy: The Attack on Due Process at America’s Universities
- ASIN : B08SKKFW9J
- Publisher : Encounter Books (August 10, 2021)
- Publication date : August 10, 2021
- Language : English
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Not Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Not Enabled
- Print length : 224 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #738,133 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I would suggest reading one chapter at a time, and putting the book down for several days....to think over what he's written. It has a lot of implications about the future of the nation, and where the value of a degree might not exist anymore.
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.
Why does this distinguished author warn us about this imminent catastrophe? Because our way of life is built upon science, reason, a marketplace of ideas, free enterprise, the rule of law, due process, freedom of speech, and inalienable rights as guaranteed in our Constitution. All these things are being undermined in the minds of millions of young people who are required to take “social justice” classes at college while not being taught even the basic fundamentals of citizenship. We as taxpayers are funding whole departments that do nothing but train political activists determined to overturn our constitutional government in favor of socialism, with specific actions to bring it about. The author demonstrates this ably and persuasively.
Why are there riots at UC Berkeley when a conservative speaker tries to come to speak? Because students are taught the Marxist ideas of Marcuse who proclaimed that only “powerless” and “victimized” groups should be allowed to speak. Why has Bernie Sanders, the openly avowed socialist gained a large following twice, running for president? Because college students by the millions are being trained that his ideas are the only good, moral, and right way of thinking.
No, you say, surely both sides are being presented. That’s what universities are for, are they not? To teach critical thinking, analysis, dialogue, debate, and the disinterested pursuit of truth? The academy since Plato has been founded on these ways of thinking that have advanced our civilization. They were still taught when I took classes as an adult at Stanford in the 1990’s, but the Western Civilization reading list had recently been cut at that time. Jessie Jackson and the feminists had demanded it, and there was a big outcry, (which I joined).
At that time there were still a lot of professors who believed in presenting both sides and allowing discussion. However, because of unease, I and many others felt the need to join the National Association of Scholars that was just organizing. It is a group of professors who oppose the abuses in academia. These include using taxpayers money to promote a one-sided political ideology that is regarded as failed and dangerous by most people outside the academy, the misuse of science to promote radical political goals, and especially the cult-like atmosphere that now prevails in so many liberal arts and social science departments.
Dr. Ellis demonstrates that we are paying ideologues high salaries to promote group-think instead of critical thinking. Studies show that radical leftist professors outnumber conservatives 49-1 in many departments. Surveys of professors reveal their lack of support of free-speech. Ellis uses statistics, court cases, incidents on campus and his own personal experience as a professor, dean, and academic for over forty years. He has served as president of the California Association of Scholars and is now chairman of its board.
He is not the only author decrying these problems. I have developed a list of over 35 books on amazon that tell much the same story, including two titles by Anthony Kronman, the former Dean of Yale Law School. Dr. Ellis’ book is one of the best of these books sounding the emergency bell.
One of Ellis’ best chapters explains how our universities have become havens for cultural Marxists. He also explains how it is against the California state constitution to use the university for political or sectarian purposes.
Dr. Ellis shows that universities are beyond the point where we might hope that change will come from within. That would be like expecting the medieval Catholic Church to stop selling indulgences on its own.
No, we need Martin Luthers who will step forward to insist on reforms. We need parents and students to refuse to pay high tuition and indebt themselves for years so they can be indoctrinated in a failed, dangerous ideology. We need to demonstrate to the higher courts that universities are violating state laws and constitutions. We need to get high level, excellent professors like Victor Davis Hanson and Jordan Peterson to give on-line lectures to millions, and pay them good salaries for doing it. We need to increase the prestige of gaining first rate on-line instruction and let the radical Marxist departments collapse, like all socialist systems eventually do. Read this book and come up with your own ideas. And then put them into action!
Top reviews from other countries
We either reverse this decline or our society is doomed.
Can't recommend it enough to all those who sense the decline but have had difficulty articulating it. After absorbing this you will demand that it be stopped while there's still time.