Whether writing here or in my formerly weekly and now occasional newspaper column, I've often mentioned the antipathy today's Rs have for education; their unapologetic denigration of expertise at "elitist;" their country-wide efforts to defund public education. And, of course, I've gotten plenty of denialist pushback when I've said such things.
Here's a situation so obvious that I can't see any way to deny it. In North Carolina, the sine qua non of modern teabaggeristic insanity, they've just summarily ousted the Dean of UNC, about whom no one seems to have anything bad to say, even those who showed him the door:
... Intriguingly, this mysterious dismissal of a guy whose enemies insist was fired because he was doing such a great job (or something) has been accompanied by a widely held suspicion that Pope wants the job for himself. (Shades of the "autonomy" that is proposed in Wisconsin as part of a deal with Governor Scott Walker.) Part of the reason that this suspicion exists is because no other reason for firing Ross makes sense, especially not the ones offered up by the people who actually fired him.
Right-wing pundits have accused people who were understandably confused by the decision to fire Ross and asking about Pope replacing him of being conspiracy theorists - which is the height of irony considering the circumstances. A politically appointed board unexpectedly fires a popular and respected president with no notice or no explanation and nobody even owns up to pushing for him to resign. The head of the board then insists that it wasn't politics that prompted the president's dismissal, and says his age wasn't a factor either, and then proceeds to talk about the incredible job the president is doing...
... But it doesn't take much sleuthing to uncover the Republicans' distaste for the centers and institutes dotting the UNC landscape that were created to explore issues of poverty, civil rights, the environment and energy policy. Places like the Center for Work, Poverty and Opportunity at UNC-Chapel Hill and N.C. Central University's Institute for Civic Engagement and Social Change. The board of governors has 34 such centers under scrutiny.
Why? The explanation is found in a paper published two weeks ago by conservatives at the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy—a nonprofit named for Art Pope's father. The paper is entitled "Renewal in the University," and it sings the praises of academic centers which "restore the spirit of inquiry.
But not centers that look into poverty. No, they are the problem, writes author Jay Schalin, because they threaten "thousands of years of Western thought."
What we need instead, Schalin argues, is to replace such disruptive centers with new centers paid for by rich people like Pope—"privately funded academic centers" that reinforce for students the traditional values of "liberty" and "free-market economics." ...
Admittedly I don't know all the ins and outs of NC politics, other than to have noted their legislative tendencies have gone so far over the edge as to be unretrievable any time soon. But this seems a pretty clear demonstration of what's at the heart of R actions against all levels of public education: creating informed people is the last thing they want, for obvious reasons. And it's not just N. Carolina.