Colleges and universities must return to a “classical view” of higher education built on religion, morality, wisdom, and knowledge. That was the argument proffered by Baylor University President Ken Starr during a speech Oct. 3 in Cary, North Carolina. Sponsored by the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, the talk covered a range of topics. But Starr, an attorney and former federal judge best known for leading investigations surrounding President Bill Clinton in the 1990s, focused on three main steps to revitalize higher education: educating with a rigorous curriculum, educating for wisdom, and educating for freedom. “Higher education needs to be a transformational experience aimed toward the good life, the virtuous life, the wise life,” Starr said. To underscore the need for a more rigorous academic environment, Starr cited statistics showing that today's college students spend an average of 27-hours per week studying outside the classroom, compared to an average of 40-hours per week in the past. Starr also emphasized the importance of students and academics encouraging freedom at home and abroad. One practical way to do that, he said, is by engaging in the free market. “The free market promotes human flourishing in a very practical way,” he said. Peter Hans, Chairman of the UNC Board of Governors, also joined Starr during a panel discussion moderated by Pope Center Director of Research George Leef. Click here to watch a video of the speech and discussion.
Today — Sept. 17 — is Constitution Day. In commemoration, the North Carolina History Project (and its Director, Troy Kickler) offer this fascinating look at the Tar Heel State's presence in a famous painting: A few weeks ago with some friends, I was viewing an online photo of Howard Chandler Christy’s famous painting,Signing of the Constitution of the United States, and we were pointing out this founder and that founder in the painting. (Yes, that actually did happen, and yes, we thought it was somewhat fun.) After five years of research, Christy took seven months to portray the assembly at Independence Hall in Philadelphia on an 20 x 30-foot canvas. Washington is the commanding figure, standing on the platform, behind the desk. Benjamin Franklin is a prominent figure, too, although sitting down. Alexander Hamilton is depicted, leaning forward as Franklin lends an ear to the junior statesman’s opinion--something Hamilton was willing to share to whomever may listen. The South Carolina delegation, including Charles Pinckney and John Rutledge, are also prominent while standing at the back of Independence Hall, with outstretched arms, indicating they are ready to be the next to sign the document. So, who is signing the document in that massive portrait that now hangs in the east stairway of the Capitol building? Well, it is North Carolinian Richard Dobbs Spaight. Standing behind him is another Tar Heel, William Blount. The last member of the North Carolina delegation to sign the Constitution is stepping up on the platform—Hugh Williamson. Often overlooked in histories regarding the Founding, the North Carolina delegation is front and center in Christy’s portrait. I was aware that all three delegates attended the convention and were signatories. But admittedly, it was good to be reminded that all three members of the North Carolina delegation were featured prominently in the portrait.
Karin Agness, a senior fellow with the Independent Women's Forum, contributes a thoughtful column to yesterday's News & Observer. In it, she takes the UNC-Chapel Hill student government to task for declining to allocate money to bring two conservative speakers to campus, while at the same time funding radical speakers from a left-wing perspective: Before reaching age 30, Katie Pavlich is already a news editor, a New York Times bestselling author and a Fox News contributor. But during a debate over whether to give College Republicans at UNC-Chapel Hill money to bring her and Ann McElhinny, a filmmaker and investigative journalist, to campus, student government leaders argued against the funding, calling these women “non-intellectual,” “non-academic” and “unreliable,” according to The Daily Caller. The College Republicans asked for $8,000, which was cut to $3,000. This is less than the $5,100 given to the Siren Womyn Empowerment Magazine, a feminist organization, and the $4,000 for the UNControllables, an anarchist group. It’s also far less than the $12,000-plus the College Republicans received last year. Some in student government might find benign ways to explain the budget process, but it will be difficult to explain away the student leaders who called McElhinny and Pavlich “non-intellectual.” If Pavlich were a liberal journalist, MSNBC contributor and New York Times bestselling author of a book on climate change, for example, it is difficult to imagine student government leaders using the term.
Our new Liberty Leader focuses on Baker Mitchell, a retired businessman who now devotes his life to helping kids in coastal North Carolina get an excellent education: A tale of two schools. That’s what prompted Baker Mitchell to embark on a journey to bring more education options to families in coastal North Carolina. The story began in the early 1990s, when Baker lived in Houston, Texas, with his family. He had recently sold his computer company and was looking for a new pursuit to spice up retirement. Baker decided to use his affinity for science to volunteer as a teacher in elementary schools. “At the time, Barbara Bush Elementary School in the suburbs of Houston was the big deal,” Baker said. “It was a brand new school with all the gadgets, using all the new education fads, with all the wealthy students. But their scores were terrible. I began to ask why.” Soon, Baker got an answer. A friend suggested that he volunteer at Wesley Elementary in north Houston. In contrast to Barbara Bush Elementary, Wesley’s roll comprised almost entirely African-American students enrolled in the free and reduced-price lunch program. “I pulled into the school’s parking lot and immediately noticed a 6-foot barbed wire fence around the school,” Baker recalls. “It was in a rough area of town.” “Yet each student was well behaved and advanced educationally,” he added. “In the 4th grade, they were reading and studying Shakespeare. Kids weren’t allowed to use calculators. They had to learn phonics and memorize their multiplication and division tables.” Read more Liberty Leaders here.
How did North Carolina's public universities fare in the latest budget? The Pope Center for Higher Education Policy has the details in this report: Few state-level legislative sessions have garnered as much attention as North Carolina’s did his year, as evidenced by the “Moral Monday” protestsand a condescending New York Times editorial. For the first time since Reconstruction, Republicans controlled all branches of government, and, understandably, Republicans tried to get a lot done. On the higher education front, there have been mostly positive (if modest) changes. Among other changes, the new policies include: A small increase in funding Tougher teacher licensure requirements Out-of-state tuition increases Firearms allowed in cars on campus
The Civitas Institute has compiled a list of conservative accomplishments from the 2013 N.C. legislative session: As the dust settles on the landmark 2013 North Carolina legislative session, conservatives can look upon the accomplishments of the state legislature and find much to celebrate. A catalog of policies that conservatives have for years been advocating for finally became reality. The number of reforms and improvements implemented in just one session may be unprecedented for any state government in the modern era. Even consistently “red” states typically take years to accomplish what North Carolina did in the span of six months. With Republican majorities in both legislative chambers combined with a Republican Governor for the first time in roughly 150 years, the time was right to begin unraveling generations of big-government, liberal policies that had become the norm in the Tar Heel State. Conservative policies spanning taxation, education, health care, elections and criminal justice were passed this year, much to the chagrin of liberal elites that now see their stranglehold on power slipping away. While left-wing extremist protesters and liberal media outlets like the New York Times and MSNBC cry out that North Carolina moved “backwards,” it is indeed those liberals who wanted to preserve the failed policies of the past.
Our new Achiever Spotlight tells the story of Terry Stoops, Director of Research and Education Policy Analyst at the John Locke Foundation: The odds have always been against Terry Stoops. As an advocate for expanding parental choice in education, Terry has been a minority in a world dominated by education bureaucrats. He has faced formidable foes in North Carolina — the education establishment, including the powerful N.C. Association of Educators — that stand against parental empowerment and choice and fight to maintain the status quo. But Terry has never backed down from the fight, and recently his commitment has produced results. Since a Republican majority took control of the North Carolina legislature in 2011, Terry has played an even more important role contributing to the policy dialog on schools — and he’s been a leader in reaching common sense reforms. As Director of Research at the John Locke Foundation, a free-market think tank in Raleigh, North Carolina, Terry has cultivated a simple philosophy: provide more options in education so that families and children may flourish. “The public school system isn’t going to meet the needs of every child,” Terry said. “Our goal is to ensure that those children who are struggling in their traditional public school have the option to find a school that better meets their needs.” It’s a unique role in the policy world: bringing a freedom- and choice-centric message to the area of education. Read more Achiever Spotlights here.