The Chronicle of Higher Education began a recent report on perceptions of politics in the academy “the older Americans are, and the less time they have spent on a college campus, the more likely they are to believe that professors are politically biased.” This framing minimized the subsequent revelation that 29 percent of respondents aged 24-34 reported that their professors used the classroom “often” to espouse their political views. As Erin O’Connor pointed out, this is a “whopping number.” The Chronicle skipped lightly over the figure, in order to build a narrative more favored by the academy – about the political paranoia of non-academics.
After ignoring the likely recent student opinion, what figures on politics in the classroom did The Chronicle then go on to value implicitly? Well, those of professors:
Indeed, scholars who do research on what students and professors say actually happens in the classroom report that politicization is much less of an issue than Americans believe. Mr. Mayer [a George Mason professor] questioned a random sample of 1,300 professors from all disciplines in 2007 and found that 95 percent reported they were “honest brokers” among competing political views. About three-quarters said they don’t let students know their political beliefs.
Sure. I’ve no doubt that most professors consider themselves honest brokers; 95% of prison inmates likely identify themselves as “innocent.” Either some of the students, or some of the professors are wrong; it’d be nice if the Chronicle would look into that question, but I suppose it’s easier to simply paint those who suspect campus politicking as senile and uneducated Horowitz dupes.