Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Groupthink Reigns Supreme in America's K-12 Schools and on America's College Campuses as Well ... Free Choice and Free Speech Aren't Welcome

All lives matter. Therefore, each life matters. And that very much includes young lives.

And if each life matters, then each individual's opportunity to pursue and obtain a solid education while young must matter, because a solid education is the acknowledged great American income and opportunity equalizer. And that squares the circle and brings us back to the starting point that all lives matter.

So why do political leaders such as Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama and others send their kids to prominent schools and colleges while denying that very same opportunity of free choice to other parents and their kids?

And more importantly, why do so many other parents and their kids continue to support Hillary and Barack on this issue of school choice while Hillary and Barack choose to ignore them and instead pledge their allegiance to the teachers unions?

The teachers unions are in it to win it for their members and not to help the taxpayers, the parents or the kids. Instead they're in it strictly to represent the well being of their members, the teachers. And the best interests of the teachers don't always include freedom of choice for the parents regarding where their kids will be educated.

The teachers fully enjoy this butts in the seat monopoly and don't want to have to compete in a marketplace where free choice might cause them to lose students. In other words, they don't like to have to endure too much of what happens when the Clintons and the Obamas are free to choose where their children will be educated, for example.

Detroit schools, Chicago schools and countless other troubled American school systems, both financially and academically, are turning out graduates and dropouts unprepared for global competition, let alone college. So what's the answer, according to the Clintons and Obamas? Well, they say let's make college tuition free (for the student but not the taxpayer) while not better preparing the entering student to graduate. And they also say let's allow the entering unprepared student to freely choose which college to attend, but let's not allow him to freely to choose which K-12 institution he will attend. Confused yet? See Teacher Protest Shuts Almost All Detroit Public Schools.

Let's switch from free choice to groupthink.

The connecting linkage between free speech and groupthink should now enter the conversation -- except that we can't openly discuss these matters on college campuses today lest we upset the politically correct poisoned atmosphere. It's a really sad and sick situation, but it's true.

Although he didn't actually say it exactly as we choose to remember it being said, most people attribute the following quote on freedom of speech to Voltaire, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to my death your right to say it." But today freedom of speech is under attack and especially so on America's college campuses where politically correct and progressive groupthink reigns supreme.

On the other hand, Wikipedia describes Groupthink in relevant part as "a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people, in which the desire for harmony or conformity within the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome. Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative viewpoints, by actively suppressing dissenting viewpoints, and by isolating themselves from outside influences.

Groupthink requires individuals to avoid raising controversial issues or alternative solutions, and there is loss of individual creativity, uniqueness and independent thinking. . . ."

Now let's look at today's situation at Virginia Tech, and what's happening on far too many college campuses these days. It's sick and it's sad, but it's true. And We the People, including those who are now young, are and will be paying dearly for it (in oh so many ways) for many years and decades to come.

I Was Disinvited on Campus is subtitled 'The anti-free speech takeover is so complete that now the fear of stirring a protest can determine what ideas students can hear:'

"‘Progressives rule higher education,” write political scientists Jon Shields and Joshua Dunn Sr. in “Passing on the Right,” a new book on the dearth of conservative professors. . . .

In the humanities and social sciences, they note, surveys show that the percentage of self-described Marxist professors is around 18%, or nearly double that of self-described Republicans.

Nor is it merely classroom instruction that leftists tend to control. Liberal faculty and college administrators also closely monitor outside speakers invited to campus. The message conveyed to students is that people who challenge liberal dogma are not very welcome. A 2010 report by the Association of American Colleges and Universities found that only 40% of college freshman “strongly agreed that it is safe to hold unpopular positions on campus” and that by senior year it’s down to 30%.

In more recent years the intimidation has not only continued but intensified. . . . Last month I was invited by a professor to speak at Virginia Tech in the fall. Last week, the same professor reluctantly rescinded the invitation, citing concerns from his department head and other faculty members that my writings on race in The Wall Street Journal would spark protests....

I have been writing about racial and various other issues in the Journal for more than two decades and lecturing at colleges for almost as long. I give around 15 campus speeches a year, and the venues vary: public schools, private institutions, liberal arts colleges, historically black schools, community colleges and graduate schools. Typically, I’m invited to offer an alternative perspective on an issue—to expose students to a way of thinking that they are unlikely to experience from, say, the 25% of sociology professors who also happen to identify as Marxists. The topics have ranged from politics to immigration to education and economics. . . .

The Obama presidency, high-profile police shootings, the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and the national debate surrounding mass incarceration have led to more invitations from schools to offer my opinion on race relations. Many of the students I encounter tend to believe that white racism largely explains racial disparities in the U.S. I encourage them to consider other possible explanations given black history. Large parts of these speeches are devoted to what was happening in black America in the first half of the 20th century with respect to employment, schooling, crime and parenting and why so many positive black trends either slowed dramatically or reversed course beginning in the 1960s.

Students who disagree with my lectures don’t hesitate to speak out during the Q&A. The back-and-forth is spirited but civil, and I have never been shouted down or physically threatened.

Still, a disinvitation at some point may have been inevitable.

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been approached by conservative students after a lecture to a mostly liberal audience and thanked, almost surreptitiously, for coming to speak. They often offer an explanation for their relative silence during question periods when liberal students and faculty are firing away. “Being too outspoken would just make it more difficult,” a Wellesley student once told me. “You get to leave when you’re done. We have to live with these people until we graduate.”. . .

We’ve reached a point where conservatives must have their campus speakers preapproved by left-wing pressure groups. If progressives aren’t already in absolute control of academia, they’re pretty close.

Mr. Riley, a Manhattan Institute senior fellow and Journal contributor, is the author of “Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed” (Encounter Books, 2014)."

Summing Up

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads in part as follows: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, expression, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech . . . ."

That seems crystal clear to me. How about you? But evidently not to Virginia Tech and other institutions of higher learning.

That said, maybe we've arrived at the point where the Constitution doesn't mean what it says, at least on 'politically correct' Groupthink issues.

And on many other issues as well today across and over this great land of the free and home of the brave.

Do we dare to advocate for school choice for one and all lives that matter?

Or for free speech for one and all lives that matter?

 Or for taxpayer rights for one and all to get our money's worth?

Lets hope so, if only for the sake of today's otherwise underachieving and 'Groupthinking' encouraged American students and tomorrow's leaders.

As Spud Said, "If you can dream it, you can do it." Sounds right to me.

That's my take.

Thanks. Bob.

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