Fascinating, and very ugly, insider story of anti-Catholic bias and academic politics behind the recent dismissal of Ken Howell. If this account is correct, then it’s pretty clear that the complaint that Howell’s teaching was anti-gay was merely a pretext.
As it turns out, I’ve had a few conversations in the past week with various friends professionally involved with academia. The picture they collectively paint — low salaries, high stress, intensely political — make teaching at the college level sound like going into the lion’s den. A college teacher I had dinner with the other night was telling me about how poorly compensated most faculty members are, even at elite universities — and yet, tuition keeps exploding. He said he doesn’t know how much longer this model of the university can sustain itself. He teaches in the liberal arts, but he said he doesn’t know how parents can justify sending their kids off to college, and taking on heavy debt loads to have them come out four years later being pretty much unemployable, and unable to begin paying off the tens of thousands — and perhaps even over $100,000 — in debt they’ve accumulated for a degree that’s not worth much, practically speaking.
This bleak judgment meant a lot to me, coming as it did from a professional scholar of politics and philosophy. We both agreed that we had no idea how we were going to be able to afford to send our kids to college. I tell you this, though: I wouldn’t spend a single farthing to send my children to a college whose faculties and administration operates the way described in this back story. If I were considering the University of Illinois for my child, I would start making calls and do my best to get to the bottom of this case. If the critics were proved correct to my satisfaction, I’d cross that college off my list. College is far too expensive to accept politicized shenanigans passing as pedagogy.
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About Rod Dreher
Rod Dreher is director of publications at the John Templeton Foundation, a philanthropy that focuses on science, religion, economics and morality. A journalist with over 20 years of experience, Dreher has written for The Dallas Morning News, the New York Post, and other newspapers and journals. He is author of the book "Crunchy Cons." Archives of his previous Beliefnet blog, "Crunchy Con," can be found here. He and his family live in Philadelphia.