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    Why Diversity Programs Need to Be ELIMINATED - Christopher Rufo

    enSeptember 17, 2023

    Podcast Summary

    • Challenging DEI Departments in Public UniversitiesActivist Christopher Rufo is leading efforts to abolish DEI departments in public universities, promoting a return to classical liberal education focusing on free individuals and free society, philosophy, history, art, and practical disciplines.

      Christopher Rufo, an activist and author, is leading the charge against diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) departments in public universities, focusing on restoring classical liberal education. He's had successes in Florida and Texas, with DEI departments being abolished. Rufo's approach is not about conservative education but rather a return to classical liberal education, which emphasizes an education for free individuals in a free society, focusing on transcendental goods like philosophy, history, and art, along with practical disciplines. The intense backlash against Rufo comes from his direct challenge to left-wing orthodoxy and power within academia.

    • Reforming universities to promote intellectual diversityUniversities are undergoing changes to challenge orthodoxies, abolish DEI departments, reform curriculums, and promote merit-based hiring, aiming for a more inclusive and intellectually stimulating environment.

      The ongoing changes at New College and other universities aim to rebalance the academic environment by introducing a diverse range of viewpoints and challenging established orthodoxies. This includes abolishing DEI departments that enforce ideological dogma, reforming the core curriculum to ensure a well-rounded education, and altering the hiring process to promote merit-based appointments. These reforms aim to create a more inclusive and intellectually stimulating environment, where ideas are debated and tested, rather than being echoed and unchallenged. However, these changes have faced backlash from those who have benefited from the current system, as they are losing their grip on power and their ability to control the narrative within academia. Ultimately, these reforms represent a renewal process that seeks to submit left-wing ideologies to a democratic test and promote a more pluralistic and tolerant academic landscape.

    • Improving Political Balance in UniversitiesUniversities with polarized politics hinder intellectual growth. Changes to hiring, limiting discrimination, and fostering diverse perspectives can help create a balanced academic environment. Public universities should prioritize liberal arts, core curriculums, and academic freedom.

      Universities with a heavily polarized political climate hinder free speech, debate, and an intellectual environment. To improve this, changes to hiring processes, limiting discriminatory practices, and giving university presidents more discretion can help create a more balanced and pluralistic intellectual environment. It's crucial for public universities to prioritize the liberal arts, have a core curriculum, and foster a dedication to diverse perspectives. However, there's a concern that politics now influences professor evaluations, making it essential to distinguish between ideology and politics. Ideally, universities should be governed in the public's best interest, with legislators overseeing their administration while allowing academics the freedom to teach their subjects without political interference. As a former teacher, it was understood that politics should not impact one's ability to educate students effectively. Overall, the goal is to create a university system where politics are secondary to the academic mission.

    • Universities should present various perspectives for balanced educationUniversities need diverse curriculums to prevent narrow education and foster critical thinking

      While universities, especially those with a focus on politics and related subjects, may have professors with their own political leanings, the ideal is to provide a balanced education by presenting various perspectives. However, it's important to recognize that universities are inherently political entities, created by politicians. The concern of indoctrination arises when alternative viewpoints are not presented to students. A recent example of this was highlighted in an article by Moira Donegan, a visiting teacher at Stanford, who expressed confusion over the concept of "logos," a central philosophical and religious term in Western thought. This lack of exposure to foundational ideas can lead to a narrow education and hinder students' ability to engage in meaningful discourse. Therefore, it's crucial for universities to ensure a diverse and well-rounded curriculum to foster critical thinking and informed perspectives.

    • DEI bureaucracies hinder the pursuit of knowledge and truth in universitiesDEI policies stifle open discourse, free debate, and meritocracy in universities, transforming them into racial spoils systems and political activism hubs

      The DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) bureaucracies in universities are antithetical to the pursuit of knowledge and truth. They stifle open discourse, free debate, and even the basic process of learning by enforcing orthodoxy and managing language. They serve as a racial spoils system, rewarding and punishing individuals based on ancestry rather than academic capability, and undermine meritocracy. Ultimately, they transform universities away from the pursuit of the transcendentals – the true, the good, and the beautiful – towards current day political activism. In a country like America, which values the success of individuals from all backgrounds, DEI bureaucracies in universities are a destructive force that undermine the core purpose of higher education.

    • Risk of ideology overtaking universities' missionUniversities risk prioritizing DEI ideology over their mission to pursue knowledge. Two methods to help underprivileged students access higher education are the Top 10% rule and scholarships based on socioeconomic status.

      The DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) bureaucracy in universities risks undermining their fundamental mission of pursuing knowledge, instead pushing for ideology and partisan activism. This is a betrayal of liberal education. Meanwhile, in a different context, the importance of providing opportunities for underprivileged students to access higher education is discussed. Two methods suggested are the Top 10% rule in Texas and awarding scholarships or tuition reductions based on socioeconomic status. These methods aim to help those at the lower end of the socioeconomic class, including many minority students, in a colorblind, equal manner. Back to the first topic, the conversation also touched upon the importance of self-care and the convenience of using tools like MANSCAPED's handyman for efficient and painless face grooming. The handyman's skin safe technology reduces nicks and cuts, allowing for a close shave even when traveling. It's a simple but meaningful example of making life easier and more efficient, just like the suggested methods for attracting underprivileged students to universities.

    • Addressing financial barriers for disadvantaged studentsTo ensure equal opportunities for all students, address financial barriers to public university education and promote social justice without creating resentment or violating the constitution.

      Standardized tests like the SATs were initially designed to provide equal opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds to compete for university placements against their peers objectively. However, it's essential to address the financial barriers faced by students from disadvantaged backgrounds, ensuring they have access to public universities without undue financial burden. This approach acknowledges merit while promoting social justice, aligning with the consensus of both left and right, without creating resentment or violating the constitution. The intellectual ecosystem of podcasts, journals, and social media is necessary but not sufficient to bring about change. To make it effective, it's crucial to take political action, addressing issues like critical race theory and DEI while opposing measures that restrict their implementation in public institutions.

    • Anti-democratic stance against government power in public institutionsThe argument against government regulation of public institutions is a threat to democracy, as it concentrates power in the hands of bureaucrats rather than the people and their elected representatives. Encouraging a pluralistic society and hiring more classical liberal arts professors can help promote balance.

      The argument against using government power to regulate public institutions, such as schools, is a fundamentally anti-democratic stance. This perspective suggests that permanent bureaucracies and bureaucrats have more power than the people and their elected representatives. Traveling around America and observing the differences in states and values reinforces the importance of state rights and a pluralistic society. However, it's important to acknowledge that certain professions, like teaching and college professors in the liberal arts, tend to attract more liberal individuals. While this trend may be pervasive, it's not inevitable, and efforts should be made to hire more classical liberal arts professors in universities to promote a balanced perspective.

    • Creating a network for unrepresented academicsNetworking can lead to change in academia, including hiring neutral professors, reforming departments, and launching new journals. However, practical challenges exist, and influencing public universities through legislative control may be a more feasible approach.

      Creating a network of academics who share classical notions and feel unrepresented in academia can lead to significant change. This could involve hiring professors with neutral pedagogy, reforming departments, universities, and launching new academic journals. However, some argue that restricting political arguments in classrooms or even founding new universities are solutions. While these ideas have merit, they face practical challenges such as cost and difficulty in implementation. A more feasible approach may be to influence public universities through legislative control. Ultimately, the goal is to provide protection, patronage, and publication opportunities for those who dissent from the left-wing orthodoxy in academia.

    • Influencing liberal sectors through proactive measuresInvest in conservative research centers, take over smaller universities, reform hiring processes, eliminate harmful programs, focus on competition in media, and use financial incentives to influence private institutions.

      In order to influence and improve sectors like education and media that are dominated by liberal ideologies, a proactive approach is needed. This can involve investing in conservative research centers, taking over smaller universities, reforming faculty hiring processes, and eliminating or revising programs that don't serve the public good. However, in areas like media, which are primarily private enterprises, the focus should be on competition and creating high-quality content. The role of policy is more limited, but interventions may be necessary under conditions of private monopolies. Regarding private institutions like Ivy League universities, they can be influenced through financial incentives such as making universities liable for student loan defaults, and investigations for illegal discrimination in hiring and admissions.

    • Exposing and punishing universities for violating constitutional principlesThe government can use its power to investigate and punish universities for violating free speech and nondiscrimination, and tie federal funding to these principles to bring about change in private universities' admissions policies and culture.

      To bring about meaningful change in private universities' admissions policies and culture, the government could use its power of investigation to expose and punish universities that violate the constitution, specifically regarding free speech and nondiscrimination. Additionally, federal funding could be tied to these principles. Attacking the prestige and reputation of academics and institutions is another effective method for instigating change. However, it's crucial to be cautious about potential overreactions and excessive backlash when addressing controversial curriculum in educational institutions. The key is to find a balance between protecting children from inappropriate content and preserving the importance of a well-rounded education.

    • Manipulating Rules for Negative Headlines: Malicious ComplianceUnderstanding context is vital when interpreting laws, especially regarding education. Be cautious of distorted narratives and ensure essential education remains accessible.

      There's a technique called malicious compliance, where individuals manipulate rules to generate negative headlines, often surrounding controversial issues like education and literature. For instance, in Florida, some have flagged Shakespeare for supposedly explicit content to embarrass officials, but the real intention is to distort the reading of the law and create a false narrative. This discussion also touched upon the importance of understanding the context of laws, particularly in regards to sex education. The Florida law, for example, prohibits instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation in certain grade levels, but allows for state-mandated sex education, including prevention and reporting of sexual abuse. It's crucial to differentiate between these aspects and ensure that essential education remains accessible. Additionally, this conversation emphasized the need for a broader societal conversation about how democracy functions and the potential dangers of misinformation.

    • The Importance of Democratic Governance and Open DialogueRecognize the power of the people in a democracy to govern their institutions and join the conversation on education and university reform to reclaim this power.

      There's a crucial need for a clear and compelling vision of democracy and justice from all political perspectives. The words have been weaponized and misunderstood, leading to a dangerous erosion of the people's power to govern their institutions. The speaker emphasizes the importance of democratic governance, where the people determine the ends and values of their institutions, and encourages open dialogue about education and university reform to reclaim this power. It's essential to recognize that in a democracy, the voters decide how their institutions function and what they transmit to future generations. By losing sight of this fundamental principle, we risk a dangerous future. The speaker's goal is to be an unapologetic champion of democratic governance and encourages everyone to join the conversation.

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    Author Roxanna Elden discusses her new satirical novel Adequate Yearly Progress, which tells the story of the teachers’ lives across one year in the fictional Texas high school of Brae Hill Valley. Roxanna’s book draws on her own experience as a K-12 public school teacher and her conversations with other teachers around the country. Roxanna says that past portrayals of teachers in popular media can be very unrealistic, and her book is meant to challenge that. Related to this episode: • Roxanna Elden, author: https://roxannaelden.com/ • “Adequate Yearly Progress” on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Adequate-Yearly-Progress-Roxanna-Elden/dp/1732098700/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8 • Adequate Yearly Progress as described by the Texas Education Agency: https://tea.texas.gov/ayp/ • “See Me After Class: Advice for Teachers by Teachers” on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/See-Me-After-Class-Teachers/dp/1402297068 • “The Office” TV show, on IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0386676/ • Tom Wolf, author and journalist, on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Wolfe • Zadie Smith, author: http://www.zadiesmith.com/ • Alisa Valdez Rodriguez, author, on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alisa_Valdes • “Freedom Writers” film, on IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0463998/ • National Novel Writing Month: https://nanowrimo.org/ • Vote for our proposals for SXSW 2019! "Podcasting Meetup: Educator Give & Get" (https://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/90770), and "Teachers in Tech: Talking With Career Changers" at SXSW EDU (https://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/91608) and SXSW (https://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/91091) Our closing music is “Yes And” by Steve Combs, used under a Creative Commons Attribution License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ Subscribe and find more podcast information at: http://www.k12engineering.net. Support Pios Labs with regular donations on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/pioslabs, or send one-time contributions by buying us coffee: https://ko-fi.com/pioslabs. Thanks to our donors and listeners for making the show possible. The K12 Engineering Education Podcast is a production of Pios Labs: http://www.pioslabs.com.