Opinion
Federal Letter to the Editor

K-12 Scholarship’s Leftward Tilt Is No Surprise and Not a Concern

March 07, 2017 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

Frederick M. Hess is right when he notes in his recent Commentary (“Its Leftward Tilt Leaves Ed. Scholarship on the Sidelines,” Jan. 11, 2017) that America’s colleges and universities lean heavily to the left. That should not be surprising.

Institutions dedicated to the search for knowledge, understanding, tolerance, and truth are quite likely to be progressive and liberal. Looking backward—the natural stance of conservatism—is not a natural view for professors or their eager students who are gearing up to change the world.

But Hess is overreaching when he argues that academe is “unrepresentative of the nation as a whole.” As I recall, a few million more voters chose liberal Hillary Clinton last November over the candidate on the right. It’s more accurate to claim that academe is out of step with the ultra-conservative minority that has moved further right as the world around it has changed.

Hess writes: “While education school scholars may almost uniformly regard a race-conscious focus on practice and policy as essential for addressing structural racism, a huge swath of the country sees instead a recipe for fostering grievance, animus, and division. ... Many on the right experience university initiatives intended to promote ‘tolerance’ and ‘diversity’ as attempts to silence or delegitimize their views on immigration, criminal justice, morality, and social policy.” No surprise there, either.

Hess says “our views are principled.” Depends on who the “our” includes. Based on their actions and pronouncements, I would argue that the views of a great many conservatives in the United States are hostile to the fundamental values of our democratic republic and its Constitution, starting with the new Conservative-in-Chief.

The practical consequence of academe’s leaning to the left, Hess suggests, is that the Trump administration, and the president’s supporters in statehouses and think tanks, will not look kindly on education researchers in the academy. Wow, now that is really shocking.

Except for the studies by education school faculty that correlate learning and achievement to standardized-test scores or insist that funding is not really relevant to quality, conservative policymakers have largely ignored the work of education scholars. But then liberal policymakers haven’t paid much attention to education research either.

The writer is the founding editor of Education Week and the board chair emeritus of its nonprofit parent corporation, Editorial Projects in Education. The views in this letter are his own.

Ron Wolk

Warwick, R.I.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the March 08, 2017 edition of Education Week as K-12 Scholarship’s Leftward Tilt Is No Surprise and Not a Concern

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Classroom Technology Webinar
Academic Integrity in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
As AI writing tools rapidly evolve, learn how to set standards and expectations for your students on their use.
Content provided by Turnitin
Recruitment & Retention Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Chronic Teacher Shortage: Where Do We Go From Here?  
Join Peter DeWitt, Michael Fullan, and guests for expert insights into finding solutions for the teacher shortage.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
The Science of Reading: Tools to Build Reading Proficiency
The Science of Reading has taken education by storm. Learn how Dr. Miranda Blount transformed literacy instruction in her state.
Content provided by hand2mind

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Teachers Shouldn't Have to Drive Ubers on the Side, Education Secretary Says
In a speech on priorities for the year, U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said teachers should be paid competitive salaries.
5 min read
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona delivers a speech during the “Raise the Bar: Lead the World” event in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 24, 2023.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona delivers a speech during the “Raise the Bar: Lead the World” event in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 24, 2023.
Sam Mallon/Education Week
Federal A Chaotic Start to a New Congress: What Educators Need to Know
A new slate of lawmakers will have the chance to influence federal education policy in the 118th Congress.
4 min read
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., talks on the House floor after the first vote for House Speaker when he did not receive enough votes to be elected during opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, Jan 3, 2023, in Washington.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., talks on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on Jan. 3 following the first round of voting for House Speaker. McCarthy fell short of enough votes to be elected speaker in three rounds of voting on opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol.
Andrew Harnik/AP
Federal Historic Changes to Title IX and School Safety Funding: How 2022 Shaped K-12 Policy
Federal lawmakers sought to make Title IX more inclusive, respond to school shootings, and crack down on corrupt charter schools.
6 min read
Revelers march down Fifth Avenue during the annual NYC Pride March, Sunday, June 26, 2022, in New York.
Revelers march down Fifth Avenue during New York City's annual Pride March in June. Proposed changes to Title IX would explicitly protect students from discrimination based on their gender identity or sexuality.
Mary Altaffer/AP
Federal What Education Issues Did Voters Care About Most? Hint: It Was Not Critical Race Theory
An NEA poll shows voters' education priorities in the midterm elections.
5 min read
People fill out ballots to vote at Benjamin Banneker Middle School during Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, in Silver Spring, Md.
People fill out ballots to vote at Benjamin Banneker Middle School on Nov. 8 in Silver Spring, Md.
Jose Luis Magana/AP