Conventional wisdom has long claimed that campuses are hotbeds of leftist thought with professors far more likely to be Marxists than Republicans. Recent research has taken steps to substantiate these claims. Eight separate studies of faculty politics and campus climate have demonstrated that professors with a leftist philosophy vastly outnumber those with a conservative or libertarian philosophy at four-year universities across the nation. The various studies address two major themes: that faculty members are liberal and that their liberal inclinations can affect classroom performance.
Now, a new study conducted by John B. Lee for the American Federation of Teachers concludes that those studies documenting liberal bias on campus might be incorrect, or at least inconclusive. “The ‘Faculty Bias’ Studies: Science or Propaganda,” takes eight of the recent studies on faculty politics and judges them by five general tests of social science research. According to Lee, “basic methodological flaws keep a critical reader from accepting the conclusions suggested by the authors.”
Unfortunately, Lee misses the point. Instead of refuting the results, Lee devotes his time to dissecting the methods employed by the researchers who have found evidence of leftist domination. Quibbling over details shouldn’t detract from the seriousness of the problem. Whether the number of professors who use their classrooms to peddle their own socio-political views is in the millions or in single digits, it shouldn’t be tolerated at all.