To the Editor:
"[Frederick M.] Hess is overreaching when he argues that academe is ‘unrepresentative of the nation as a whole,’ ” says Ron Wolk, the founding editor of Education Week, in a March 8 letter to the editor (“K-12 Scholarship’s Leftward Tilt Is No Surprise and Not a Concern”). Wolk cites liberal Hillary Clinton’s popular-vote victory. “It’s more accurate to say that academe is out of step with the ultra-conservative minority that has moved further right as the world has changed,” he says.
All of Secretary Clinton’s 2.9 million-vote margin in the 2016 presidential election could be chalked up to California. Clinton won that state by 4.3 million votes.
What does liberalism’s massive victory in California reveal? Here’s how urban-affairs commentator Joel Kotkin described California on RealClearPolitics.com in January: The state"suffers the greatest levels of income inequality in the nation. ... If California remains the technological leader, it is also becoming the harbinger of something else—a kind of feudal society divided by a rich elite and a larger poverty class, while the middle class either struggles or leaves town.”
California is a state exemplar of liberalism translated into policy. Yet even California is not so liberal as academe. Hess mentioned several surveys. Here’s another, this one from Perspectives on Psychological Science in 2012, which surveyed social and personality psychologists: “Only 6 percent described themselves as conservative. ... Conservatives fear negative consequences of revealing their political beliefs to their colleagues. ... They are right to do so: In decisions ranging from paper reviews to hiring, many social and personality psychologists said that they would discriminate against openly conservative colleagues. The more liberal respondents were, the more they said they would discriminate.”
Hess has the stronger case.
A version of this article appeared in the April 19, 2017 edition of Education Week as Academe Is Politically ‘Out of Step’ With the Nation as a Whole