Tuesday, May 6, 2008

OU's leftward tilt points up the need for choice

It's no secret that there's a left-wing bias at most of our nation's universities, including my alma mater in Norman. Thus, "it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that academics give more money to Democrats than Republicans," Professor Jay P. Greene writes. "But when you actually examine the political donations data, it is shocking to see just how uniformly one-sided the contributions are."

Dr. Greene (Ph.D., Harvard University), the endowed professor of education reform at the University of Arkansas, went to the Open Secrets website last week and searched for the political contributions made during the 2008 election cycle. He discovered that at the University of Oklahoma (whose president recently endorsed Barack Obama), a full 93 percent of all dollars contributed by employees go to Democrats.

Greene’s analysis calls to mind something that happened back in 1999 when my friend Kyle Harper (then an OU student and OCPA intern, now an OU classics professor) was editor of The Fountainhead, an alternative (in the good way) student newspaper. Kyle went down to the Cleveland County election board and checked the voter registrations of professors in 19 departments (mostly in Arts and Sciences: economics, history, political science, etc.). He discovered 208 Democrats and 36 Republicans.

Universities pride themselves on their "diversity," yet the most important kind of diversity—intellectual diversity—is sorely lacking.

As I've said before, it's time for state legislators to fund students, not institutions. College students should be given a voucher redeemable not only at Oklahoma's public colleges and universities, but at nonpublic ones as well. After all, why should policymakers discriminate against education obtained at private institutions? Why should Oklahoma's (overwhelmingly conservative) taxpayers subsidize tuition at bastions of secular liberalism, but not at, say, institutions which seek to honor Christ?

As the late Milton Friedman argued, restricting higher ed subsidies "to schooling obtained at a state-administered institution cannot be justified on any grounds. Any subsidy should be granted to individuals to be spent at institutions of their own choosing."

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