Don't Cut-and-Run on Campus, Either · 11 December 2005

By Professor

For most people, the phrase "I'm taking my ball and going home!" should bring back similar memories of childhood play. Most of us have at one time or another engaged in a game, felt slighted, and chosen as our course of action to take our ball and stomp away. By leaving in such an abrupt manner, we hoped the game would no longer be possible without our presence. Unfortunately, this adolescent behavior is carried out in our professional lives and occurs too frequently especially in K-12 and higher education professions. Please understand that I am not labeling those who departed academia as childish. However, I do understand that exiting an organization as an act of dissention is often exercised as the first and only viable option. What I want you to consider is that when conservatives choose exiting academia as their act of dissention, they are in effect causing long-term harm. I understand that life for a conservative in academia is not easy. Resorting to my previous job as a scout for the U.S. Army, I refer to my academic life as "actions behind enemy lines" which must be carried on in a covert manner.

I am a part-time professor in a large Community College (Cerritos College) in southern California. As a conservative I am surrounded by radical liberals who are extremely hostile to my views. This makes my work environment very hostile. In meetings, I dare not openly express anything outside the expected liberal party lines or I can be sure that I will not be invited back for any more classes. I am sure there are a few other conservatives on campus, but it is too risky to seek them out for fear of being exposed. While my attendance at meetings and interactions with colleagues is risky business, I do have much more freedom in the classroom. In the classroom, I have the opportunity to introduce outside material which exposes the students to more than the standard indoctrination received from virtually all text books. In other words and as the Students for Academic Freedom web sites states "You can't get a good education if they're only telling you half the story." And I enjoy providing a "whole" education to my students by presenting them a wealth and balance of classroom material. My first request is that if you are a conservative that you do not choose to leave education as your act of dissention within this system. My second request is to those not yet employed in this field, but who would like to see change. I would like you to consider teaching as a second or supplemental career so that the conservative voice can be heard and reintroduced back into the academy.

As stated above, this working environment is hostile towards conservative points of view and absolutely does not welcome open and challenging discussions. As an untenured conservative in academia you will not have any or many friends and will often feel alienated. Since this is the case, I frequently see or read about the voluntary departure of conservative teachers and professors from the academy because of the bellicose political environment. I understand that exiting an organization as an act of dissent is frequently the first option exercised, but the dissenting teacher or professor has absolutely no effect on the organization. Do you really believe that a school, college or department will cease to function with the departure of a knowledgeable or seasoned instructor? Certainly not! All that dissension achieves is the creation of a vacant position to be filled. Instead of dissenting by exiting the organization, taking your football and going home, I want you to stay to effect real change. Those like me (untenured part-timers) in education need more allies and that will only be achieved when conservatives stop exiting and decide to stay and endure. For those currently outside academia and who desire to join in this important endeavor, I want to offer some suggestions.

First, if you already have a Masters degree or higher you are in a position to offer immediate assistance. Many public/private universities and colleges frequently hire adjunct faculty. These positions are great to supplement your current income or begin to build a second career. If you do not have a Masters, but have a Bachelor degree and if your current employer promotes, as many now do, continuing education, then take advantage of this to complete the Masters degree and seek employment as an adjunct faculty member. On the other hand, if you have a Bachelor degree and do not wish or can't pursue a Masters, then pursue the K-12 credentialing process in your state and consider a career change or pick up a second career after retirement.

I am not convinced at this time that a total abandonment of public education is the solution to correct the system. Therefore, it is time to effect change from within and this change will only come from faculty members who endure the hostile work environment with an optimistic view of the future. Join me no and let's work toward change together.