Pennsylvania Lawmakers Discuss Curricula in Final Hearing on Bias in Classrooms

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In its final hearing on whether Pennsylvania's public colleges indoctrinate students in left-wing ideology and discriminate against conservatives, a committee of state lawmakers went somewhat off-topic on Thursday to discuss whether more emphasis on the traditions of Western civilization would serve as an antidote to any liberal bias in academe.

David W. Saxe, an associate professor of education at Pennsylvania State University at University Park, testified that studies of Western intellectual traditions were being crowded out of college curricula. That's why he wants to create a Center for the Study of Free Institutions and Civic Education at his institution.

"Thirty years ago, higher education in Pennsylvania as well as the nation began a track toward multiculturalism, diversity, and social justice," Mr. Saxe told the lawmakers gathered here at Harrisburg Area Community College for the second day of a two-day hearing. As academe "slowly converted its institutions, missions, faculties, and programs to complement these new initiatives and lines of inquiry, traditional subject matters became less important," he said. "Studies that centered on the Western tradition -- arguably once the backbone of American universities -- were displaced, left to languish, or scattered throughout the university."

Mr. Saxe said that he had been working on such a proposal for two years and that he is in talks with university officials about developing the program, which would also offer academic majors on the study of free institutions and the teaching of citizenship education. He said he would like to model his program partly on the James Madison Program at Princeton University, which sponsors conferences and lectures on constitutional law and Western political thought. Robert P. George, a prominent professor of politics who identifies as a conservative, directs that program.

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