Why not the best?
Spencer Irvine, July 16, 2012
Spencer Irvine

John Howard’s book America’s Best Colleges, Really? is a must-read for any American who is concerned about the future of America. Why? He brings a different perspective to the table about why America’s colleges are failing students and, therefore, America’s future.

Howard laments the downward slide of American society and especially education, and he directs blame to educational institutions—colleges and universities— as the main culprits. As federal subsidies began to fund US colleges and universities, they crowded out the moral values that had made US colleges distinct from other countries’ higher education systems. Many colleges, clamoring for federal funds, abandoned teaching and instilling Christian values in their students to appease federal regulators. University presidents have become lobbyists and administrators more than educational and moral role models.

Ever wonder why crime, pornography, and other previously-abhorred practices are on the rise? One only needs to examine the lack of moral values that colleges preach to their students. What made America great, contends Howard, was the moral compass and guide that colleges provided to their young students, who would then carry these moral values into family life, the workplace, society and the community. That, Howard mentions, has greatly diminished since his college years before World War Two. And somehow, it is offensive today to suggest and teach moral principles and family values in the educational workplace, all in the name of ostensibly protecting all Americans’ First Amendment rights.

Families used to be important to society and colleges, where administrators and professors would encourage selfless service over selfish and individual endeavors. This is no longer the status quo or commonplace practice at higher education institutions, where marijuana use and sexual promiscuity (Howard calls it “sexual liberation”) run rampant. He notes that the Marxist-tinted revolution started at Cal-Berkeley has almost single-handedly led to the decline of morality in America’s colleges and, with them,  American society. Howard attacks the marijuana legalization efforts and affirmative action as greatly changing the college landscape and America’s moral (or lack of moral) fiber. Young Americans are carefree and irresponsible when their minds are altered by mind-altering drugs. Minorities feel they cannot accomplish great things without a handout, which leads to a vicious cycle of little self-worth and academic unpreparedness.

He provides  many anecdotes and personal stories about his time with a World War II tank battalion,  and as a college president, along with several of his speeches that illustrate his major points. A pleasant surprise for this author was how Howard integrated his Christian beliefs into the framework of his argument regarding moral decay. Several times he quoted the Bible and Christian teachings, which puts a significant emphasis on how society has devolved since the days of Howard’s youth.

I would strongly recommend this book to any concerned American, religious or not. It provides a fresh perspective, though some may consider Howard’s views “old-school,” he outlines problems and gives solutions to those problems. He rails against secularism, arguing for more morality in education, in order to restore America’s youth and future to its previous glory years of integrity and societal unity. Why are things so bad, you may ask? According to Howard, it is the lack of moral clarity in American society, and he has a plan to fix it.

Spencer Irvine is a research assistant at Accuracy in Academia.

If you would like to comment on this article, e-mail mal.kline@academia.org.

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