Saturday, December 09, 2023

Trump Vows to Destroy America's Institutions of Higher Learning and replace them with the "American Academy."

by Rod Williams, Dec. 9, 2023- It did not get a lot of attention, but Donald Trump announced that in his second term he will in effect nationalize American higher education. He says he will tax, fine, and sue large private universities and wipe out their endowments. With the money collected, he will endow a new institution to be called the American Academy. 

This new institution will "make a truly world-class education available to every American, free of charge." And he says he will do this "without adding a single dime to the federal debt."  Here is more of what he says about this new institution:

This institution will gather an entire universe of the highest quality educational content, covering the full spectrum of human knowledge and skills, and make that material available to every American citizen online for free.

Whether you want lectures or an ancient history or an introduction to financial accounting, or training in a skilled trade, the goal will be to deliver it and get it done properly, using study groups, mentors, industry partnerships, and the latest breakthrough in computing. This will be a truly top-tier education option for the people.

It will be strictly non-political, and there will be no wokeness or jihadism allowed—none of that's going to be allowed.

He provides a little more information about this new institution, but not much. He does not say how it would be governed. You can read more about it on Trump's website

This is really big!  This is revolutionary.  Can you imagine how we on the right would react if this had been a Democrat proposing this?  The right's collective head would explode. 

This proposal would destroy America's greatest institutions of higher learning and replace them with a government one-size-fits-all system of higher education. Part of the justification for doing this is the leftward tilt of higher education in America. He says, "Americans have been horrified to see students and faculty at Harvard and other once-respected universities expressing support for the savages and jihadists who attacked Israel." I agree. That has been disgusting. It does not justify this radical proposal. 

Trump says, "We spend more money on higher education than any other country, and yet they're turning our students into Communists and terrorists and sympathizers of many, many different dimensions — we can't let this happen." That is over the top. Many do become liberal or progressive and some no doubt do graduate accepting a Marxist sociology perspective. That does not justify this radical proposal.

I join those who criticize many American universities for being too timid in protecting free speech, too tolerant of anti-Semitism, and too woke.  The solution is not to nationalize American higher education and establish a new massive higher education bureaucracy.  

I also think we are long overdue for education reform that would take advantage of computer technology and lower higher education cost. For many college courses, there is little or no advantage gained from sitting in a classroom to learn the course material. Reform needs to occur but that does not justify creating a federal government controlled "American Academy."

Conservatives might like the new academy when conservatives are in power, but conservatives won't always be in power.  If Trump were to create this new "American Academy" that would be "strictly non-political" with "no wokeness or jihadism allowed," what would keep it that way when Trump was no longer in office?

Can you really believe that it won't add "a single dime to the federal debt?"  Really?

This proposal is anathema to conservative ideology.  To intentionally use the power of government to destroy private institutions is not conservative.  This is the kind of program I would expect from a left wing politician. This is dangerous. After the universities, what next? 

The problem with the leftward tilt on college campuses did not happen overnight and cannot be corrected overnight.  Things need to change. However, we do not need to turn higher education over to the government. We need to be shrinking government, not expanding it. There are other less drastic tools that can be used to begin to correct the problem that has been identified. We don't need to throw the baby out with the bathwater, and we don't need to nationalize higher education and create another permanent entitlement. We don't need to ruthlessly destroy American higher education. We don't need to embrace authoritarianism. 

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