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Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Title VI in Congress

Martin Kramer says "NOT ON OUR DIME"
I'll try to synopsize:
Title VI is a program of government subsidies for "area studies" in universities, which began as a national defense program in 1958. Its original purpose was to enhance the "national interests" and meet the "national needs" of the United States.

Over the years it has become a semi-entitlement, a fund for "arcane research by grad students bent on academic careers." According to Kramer, universities use Title VI monies "to produce more academics - and nothing else."

Moreover, Title VI has enjoyed a general exemption from any outside input, and has been run by academia.

Back in June the House Subcommittee on Select Education convened hearings on bias in Title VI. These hearings led to the introduction of legislation which would establish a board for Title VI. The bill in question, the International Studies in Higher Education Act (H.R. 3077), does three things:

1. It recalls the original purpose of the program, stating that the country's post-9/11 security requires trained Americans who are "willing to serve their nation" and charges Title VI with assisting in those efforts. Grantee institutions will have to allow unencumbered government recruiting.

2. The bill establishes that academic programs supported by Title VI should "reflect diverse perspectives and represent the full range of views" on international affairs" and activities thereunder should "foster debate on American foreign policy."

I never knew, until lately, that academia was so frightened of real diversity of opinion. The Coalition of International Education is already assuring its members that it is lobbying for "eliminating the language about diverse perspectives." Perverse, isn't it? Kramer puts it this way: "Diversity is one of the great mantras of academe - provided the diversity isn't intellectual." These last years, I never suspected . . . I never knew.

3. Most importantly, the bill establishes a seven-member advisory (not supervisory) board empowered to "study, monitor, apprise and evaluate" activities supported under the Title. It would meet once a year, hold public hearings and then make recommendations to Congress and the Department of Education.

Such an advisory board would provide an instrument, now lacking, to monitor and influence the policies that guide Title VI. At this time of pressing national need (not acknowledged by all), it would take Title VI out of the ivory tower and into a much-needed partnership with the government and the public.

The American Council on Education says this: "The higher education community still is fearful that this board, rather than being just an advisory body, would have too much authority to interfere in the curricular activities of individual institutions and might set a precedent for further federal involvement in the conduct and content of higher education. The American Council on Education will continue to seek further improvements to the bill as it moves to the House floor for consideration. "

As Kramer suggests, read the bill - click here and enter HR3077 for the bill number. The board has power only to make recommendations, which the Secretary of Education is not even obliged to accept. This is "too much authority"?

I always regarded academia so highly; I am appalled to learn how arrogant and disconnected, even nationally suicidal, it has become. It seems to me they have abused their freedom - as well as our federal funds - by circling the wagons around academia, fascistly insisting on strict conformity to (liberal) opinion and policy, and becoming evermore unused to being held accountable.

I understand how threatening the bill will seem to academics; anyone would fight to retain their power. But when I fear sending my son to an American college campus next year, when I expect that -wherever he goes- he will be forced to contend with pervasive institutionalized anti-Zionism, then enough is too much already.

KRAMER SUGGESTS the following:

* Write to the author of the bill, Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich) at tellhoek@mail.house.gov - he needs to hear that there is a consituency that opposes any further erosion of the board's advisory powers.

* Write to Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, at mailbox@gregg.senate.gov - his Committee is the next stop once the bill clears the House.

* Copies to your own congressmen and senators.

This bill is not meant to punish anyone, though universities may see it differently. The hoped-for purpose seems to be to "deepen America's resources for coping with the world." (Amen to that. And if it humbles academia in the process, all the better. They could use it.)

If universities want federal funds without federal purview, then they can do without. I know some Arab countries that would be more than happy to endow them . . . in exchange for the big bucks, our universities have only to poison our children with an Islamic jihadist view of the world. You know, views that are anti-Israel, anti-Zionist, anti-Jewish, anti-semitic . . . .