Partisanship Has No Place in Education

Image courtesy of CNN

By Julia Donnelly

On November 9, 2016, I arrived at my American Government class at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. The day before this, President Donald J. Trump had been elected President of the United States. As a freshman Political Science major, I was excited about the opportunity to talk about this historic moment with my professor and peers, but to my dismay, the professor informed the class that we would not be discussing the election at all. He acted as if the election had not happened. 

Is it appropriate that those who are tasked with educating the future leaders of America exploit that position by letting their own political opinions impact curricula? In doing so, educators are manipulating their students into believing that what is being taught is fact rather than opinion.  

A 2016 study conducted by Econ Journal Watch surveyed 7,243 professors at 40 top universities. The results showed that of social scientists who are registered to vote there was an 11.5:1 ratio of Democrat professors to Republican professors, respectively. Within this study, economics professors saw the smallest variation, with 4.5 Democrats to one Republican, and history teachers are among the group with the largest divide of 33.5 Democrats to one Republican. 

Sadly, most people may not see these statistics as alarming or as something that needs to be addressed. However, since 2004, these ratios have grown, and I think it is safe to assume that they will continue to grow due to the immense polarization seen in today’s political climate.  

A study conducted by Matthew Woessner demonstrated that in most cases students are not swayed politically either way by their professor, making the argument that perhaps having a professor with different views would actually be beneficial to students.  

On the contrary, based on my experience, there can be serious repercussions felt by students who don’t align with their professor’s views. The conservative students I know often feel paralyzed in the classroom when taught by a professor who is consistently praising the liberal agenda. We are left thinking our beliefs are arbitrary and incorrect. We are silenced by fear of facing some kind of consequence from disagreeing with our liberal professors.

There are also academic disadvantages felt by conservative students. A released working paper from the University of Arkansas found that conservative students start college with higher GPAs and SAT scores than liberal students. However, by the time these students graduate from college their GPAs are lower than that of liberal students. I believe this demonstrates the negative effects felt by conservative students when their professor openly expresses the liberal agenda as fact rather than opinion.  

There is an obvious liberal bias in academia. This divisive political climate is harmful and our academic institutions are failing their students because of it. 

I personally experienced this the day after President Trump’s election. That day I left the class feeling as though I had been deprived of the opportunity to learn more about the election and to discuss such a historical moment in politics with my peers. Because of my professor’s one-sided views, he refused to accept the outcome of the election and take advantage of this important educational moment. 

Looking back at this situation, I wish I would have spoken up.

Conservative students, we must not sit by quietly and allow liberal bias to threaten our education. The best way to combat this bias is to continue speaking out and ensuring that we are heard in the classroom, on our campuses, and in our communities.  

Julia Donnelly is a recent graduate of The Catholic University of America where she got her degree in Political Science and Media studies. She is the finance chair for NeW at The Catholic University of America and a Student Media Fellow with the Network of enlightened Women (NeW).

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