Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Pew study on national institutions is being reported as an education issue. It’s sort of bigger.



The world melted a couple of days ago when a Pew report stated that Republicans hated education. 

Ok, not really but the report does say that the partisanship between Democrats and Republicans has exploded into national institutions that have significant influence on social, political, and economic landscape of the United States.  Here’s the whole enchilada:



There’s a lot of information that’s insanely unfortunate on that chart but the focus is really on this:

A majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (58%) now say that colleges and universities have a negative effect on the country, up from 45% last year. By contrast, most Democrats and Democratic leaners (72%) say colleges and universities have a positive effect, which is little changed from recent years.

When you dive deeper into the data you find that this swing was within the last two years, that the swing was much more pronounced with older Republicans, and that even college educated Republicans saw an eleven point drop.  The fact that even the consumers of college find a problem with college is disturbing.

On the other side, and significantly less reported, is the Democratic distrust in religious institutions.  More and more Americans are sliding away from faith based institutions but it’s unaffiliated, highly educated Democrats that seem to ignore their overall value to society.  More people still see value in the Church because more people are attached to religion than attend universities, so it makes sense that the overall trust of the Church is higher than the School. 

It’s safe to say that universities and churches contributed to their own negative evaluations but the focus is much, much too narrow.  While it’s true that many Humanities and English departments at colleges are decidedly left of center and show evidence of lacking academic diversity, the idea that college overall has a negative impact on society is fairly absurd.  Ideas, dynamism, and the combining of some of the best and the brightest takes place on college campuses and while the actual classroom education might create marginal benefits, the experiences that take place around the atmosphere of college create massive economic and societal potential for growth.  It’s also true that religion has had it’s moments of gross intolerance, political sermonizing, and sexual scandal but yet again, it’s a narrow sample as compared to the rest of organized religion.  Organized places of worship still provide positive bastions social inclusivity and community stability.  Social programs organically (sort of) form out of religious institutions from the Civil Rights Movement to homeless shelters to drug rehabilitation.  It’s not a coincidence that families and communities that are seeped in religion are usually happier than those are not.  And this is for all religions, not just Christianity. 

The likelihood that this comes up in my class is low although there is a good chance that I might use some of the data in my Political Socialization Unit.  My community (and many of the educators) are incredibly left of center and often portray more Conservative thinkers as a bunch of slack jawed yee-haas.  Religion is a bit different.  The large amount of Catholic Latino influence has created the interesting  dynamic of a

pro-Democratic base (the Republican immigration stance has turned off Latinos) that has fairly conservative religious values.  It creates fascinating classroom discussions that remind the Progressives of the country that party does not all think like they do.