Thorner: Will a resurrection of American higher education emerge from its demise?

Published March 28, 2017

Dr. Richard J. Bishirjian was the featured speaker at a continuing series of free Wednesday night Heartland events on March 1, 2017 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. The Heartland Institute is located at 3939 N. Wilke Road, Arlington Heights, Illinois 60004. Joe Bast is president and CEO of The Heartland Institute, a 33-year-old national nonprofit research center located in Arlington Heights, Illinois. According to a recent telephone survey, among state elected officials The Heartland Institute is among the nation’s best-known and most highly regarded “think tanks.”

Dr. Richard J. Bishirjian was Founding President and Professor of Government at Yorktown University from 2000 to 2016. The vision of Yorktown University was to establish a presence on the Internet for scholarship on free enterprise, market economics, the philosophical ground of a free society, the principles and history of the American Founding, and the history and philosophy of education, religion, and culture.

Bishirjian earned a B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh and a Ph.D. in Government and International Studies from the University of Notre Dame under the direction of Gerhart Niemeyer. While a graduate student at Notre Dame, and later as a member of the Faculty of the University of Dallas, he studied under Eric Voegelin. After completing graduate work at Notre Dame, he did advanced study with Michael Oakeshott at the London School of Economics. Dr. Bishirjian taught at universities and colleges in Indiana, Texas and New York.

Of note is that Dr. Bishirjian, after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, worked with close associates of Poland’s President, Lech Walesa, to assist them to reap the rewards of the collapse of the Soviet Union. For six years Dr. Bishirjian engaged in financing development projects in Poland. That led to launch of American Academy of Privatization, an Internet-based distance learning program offering free lectures. The Poland experience led to the formation of Yorktown University, a for-profit Internet university offering courses in Government, Business and Economics, that operated from 2000 to 2016 when it lost its accreditation. The vision of Yorktown University was to establish a presence on the Internet for scholarship on free enterprise, market economics, the philosophical ground of a free society, the principles and history of the American Founding, and the history and philosophy of education, religion, and culture.

Bishirjian’s newest book, The Coming Death and Future Resurrection of American Higher Education describes how the education establishment erected bureaucratic barriers made it as difficult as possible for him to found the online Yorktown University as a low-cost-regionally, accredited, high-tech institute of higher education, a battle that resulted in the loss of millions of dollars of investors’ equity and 12 years of work and sacrifice on the part of Dr. Bishirjian. Another notable book by Bishirjian published in 2015, The Conservative Rebellion published in 2015, was offered for sale at the event by the author.

Introduction of featured speaker by Lennie Jarratt

Dr. Bishirjian exposed the failing American higher education system through his thoughtful and honest expose of what really constitutes higher education in this nation, where both parents and students are forced into crippling debt due to high tuition costs. His thoughts follow: View here the youtube of Dr. Bishirjian’s lecture: Higher Education: The Need for Reform.

One of the most intrusive federal control leading to Federal Control was the “Negotiated Rulemaking Act 1990”, which allows representatives from a government agency and affected interest groups to negotiate the terms of a proposed administrative rule, without Congress.

According to the Consumer Price Increases from 1980 – 2012, the cost of a college education (college tuition and fees) went up by 89.3%, while the next highest increase came in Medical Care at 45%. Is it any wonder that student debt is exploding? Federal Student Aid in 2016 totaled $1,292 billion. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, January 18, 2017: “Revised Education Department numbers show that at more than 1,000 schools, at least half of students defaulted or failed to pay down debt within 7 years.”

Critiquing Colleges and Universities

About the colleges themselves, they lack intellectual diversity. According to a University of Oregon Eugene Study, when the voter registration files of 506 faculty members were checked, there were only 25 registered Republicans.

Also missing is an absence of Required Curricula where “Western Civilization” is taught. There are only 24 universities where Western Civilization is taught, among them are Hillsdale College, Texas Tech University, University of Houston, Liberty University, Ave Maria University, and Carthage College. This means that out of 3,000 colleges and universities in this nation, there are 2,976 colleges where Western Civilization is not taught.

One of the 10 worst college for Free Speech (FIRE) includes Northwestern University, located here in Illinois, which ranks second on Dr. Bishirjian’s list. Other colleges listed are Mount St. Mary’s University; Louisiana State University; University of CA, San Diego; Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota; University of Oklahoma; Marquette University; Colorado College; University of Tulsa; and Wesleyan University.

Given that Dr. Bishirjian ranked Northwestern University second as the worst college for freedom of speech, I was pleased to read that recently (March 15, 2017) the student government of Northwestern University had passed a series of resolutions aimed at bolstering “viewpoint and intellectual diversity.”

Not only do 99.51% of the contributions made by top liberal arts professors go to Democrats, but in 2015 – 2016 the National Education Association gave almost a combined $21 million to Democrats and Liberal Groups.

Ways to Salvage Higher Education

What can be done to salvage higher education? Suggested were: 1) the removal of bad textbooks; 2) develop new textbooks in American History; 3) create online courses and Certificate Programs; 4) when regulations improve, create new, high tech, universities; 5) return to “The West”; and advocate political reforms.

Recommended as a new textbook for History (Howard Zinn’s A Peoples History of the United States must be abandoned!) is Patriot’s History of the United States: From Columbus’s Great Discovery to the War on Terror, published February27, 2007, by Larry Schweikart (Author), Michael Allen (Author).

The American Academy of Distant Learning, founded in January of last year. American Academy of Distant Learning now has in development a series of college level MOOC courses in Free Market Capitalism, which comprise the following five courses, all modestly priced at $29.95.

Econ 100 – Microeconomnics
Econ 101 – Supply-side Economics
Econ 102 – Intro to Political Economy
Econ105 – History of Economic Thought
Bus 200 – Entrepreneurial History of the United States
Many businessmen are likely to give preference to prospective employee who can successfully demonstrate that they know those principles that create economic opportunity.

Suggested Political Reforms

Dr. Bishirjian advocated Thirteen Political Reforms. Several of these are:

  1. No longer require institutions not participating in Title IV programs to adhere to U.S. Department of Education title IV regulations. Because of Title IV regulations, a university of just Internet courses is practically impossible to establish.
  2. Prohibit members of Congress and congressional staff from employment with colleges and universities.
  3. Lower the percentage of three-year default rates from 30% to 20%. Institutions with three-year default rates will immediately lose access to Title IV programs
  4. Shift Title IV funds to the States to block grants.
  5. Encourage the States to subsidize corporation and create training programs

Abolish the Department of Education.

According to Dr. Bishirjian, abolishing the Department of Education would be impossible because many of the programs handled by the Department would be shifted to other agencies.

Dr.Bishirjian did express concern about Trump’s first line-up of Education Appointment. Only one appointee has “education” experience; one worked in both the Bush and the Obama administrations, Jim Manning; another. Josh Venable, worked on Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign and the Foundation for Excellence in Education founded by Jeb; and yet another, Jason Botel, was executive director of the Maryland education advocacy group MarylandCAN, financed by Bill Gates, and which has a long history of supporting Common Core.

[Originally Published at Illinois Review