Colleges Column

September 30, 1992 2 min read

In the latest attack on what some view as the politicization of the academy, Lynne V. Cheney, the chairwoman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, warns in a new report that some humanities professors are eschewing “trying to tell what is true’’ for political activism in the classroom.

“To abandon truth and objectivity as goals and put political expediency in their place is to move perilously close to the world of George Orwell’s 1984, the world where two and two make five--if it’s politically useful,’' Ms. Cheney writes in “Telling the Truth: A Report on the State of Humanities in Higher Education.’'

The politicization of the academy is centered on such themes as “truths are subjective,’' “history is propaganda,’' and “there are no objective standards,’' Ms. Cheney writes in the report, which was released last week.

“Telling the Truth’’ asserts that elementary and secondary students are affected by the political influence in higher education, and that students that age are much less likely than are college students to challenge political activism in the classroom.

Ms. Cheney has issued reports on the state of American education annually since she became chairwoman of the endowment in 1986. Limited copies of “Telling the Truth’’ are available from the N.E.H.'s public-information office at 1100 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Room 406, Washington, D.C. 20506; (202) 606-8438.

The amount of financial aid available in the 1991-92 academic year from federal, state, and institutional sources reached a high of $30.8 billion, according to a new report by the College Board.

That amount represents, after adjusting for inflation, a 5 percent increase over the 1990-91 academic year, and a 33 percent increase over a decade ago, the report, “Trends in Student Aid: 1982 to 1992,’' states.

During that period, the report says, the share of aid coming from the federal government dropped from more than 80 percent to 74 percent, while the amount of institutional aid rose from 12 percent to 20 percent and the amount of state aid remained steady at about 6 percent.

The ratio of grants to loans as a portion of all aid remained relatively stable during the period under study, the report says. Grants represented 50 percent of all aid in 1982 and 49 percent in 1992 after peaking at 79 percent in 1975 and bottoming out at 45 percent in 1987. Loans represented 46 percent of all aid in 1982 and 48 percent in 1992. In both cases, federal work-study funds made up the balance.

Copies of the report are available for $7 each from College Board Publications, Box 886, New York, N.Y. 10101-0886.--M.P.

A version of this article appeared in the September 30, 1992 edition of Education Week as Colleges Column