Spring 2013 Academic Questions Issue is Out

Ashley Thorne

Our spring issue of NAS’s journal Academic Questions kicks off with a debate on the merits of the Common Core State Standards for K-12 education, a conversation about what civics education should (and could) be, and introductions to a plethora of new books pertinent to higher education. 

Two of these books are explicitly focused on racial preferences in college admissions: Wounds That Will Not Heal: Affirmative Action and Our Continuing Racial Divide and Mismatch: How Affirmative Action Hurts Students It’s Intended to Help, and Why Universities Won’t Admit It.  Other important new books reviewed in this issue are Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate, by Greg Lukianoff; The Victims’ Revolution: The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind, by Bruce Bawer, and Seven Lean Years: Macalester College from 1968 to 1975, by Jeremiah Reedy. 

We have also included a chapter on college sports from NAS member William Casement’s new book Making College Right

NAS members have received printed copies of this issue in the mail. 

Here are the featured articles from this issue (there are additional reviews and poetry not listed here). Three of them (“Uncommonly Bad,” “Common Core as Tactical Advantage” and “Both Wrong and Bad”) are available for free at www.nas.org.  

Uncommonly Bad
Jane Robbins, American Principles Project

In the first assessment offered in “The Common Core State Standards: Two Views” feature, Jane Robbins describes the defects in the latest education initiative—a set of  K–12 standards in English language arts and mathematics designed by the D.C.-based nonprofit Achieve, Inc. Embraced by the federal government as a means of “transforming” American education and made tempting via offers of funds and waivers from other federal mandates, the Common Core standards have been accepted by forty-five states and the District of Columbia. 

Common Core as Tactical Advantage
Mark Bauerlein, Emory University

Responding in part to Jane Robbins, Mark Bauerlein offers his thoughts in “The Common Core State Standards: Two Views,” and sees opportunity rather than pure disaster. Hardly blind to the problems Robbins describes, Bauerlein finds language in the Common Core directives that allows for assigning classic texts long dismissed as the work of “dead white males.” 

Attempting to Balance Wiki-Feminism: A Case Study
Walter Bruno, emeritus, Mount Royal University

Walter Bruno describes his efforts to introduce important facts into two Wikipedia entries and discovers—in both instances—that feminist ideology has barred the path to the truth. In discussing his explorations, Bruno offers a glimpse into how Wikipedia sometimes impedes the search for knowledge and how in some areas bias is built into the editing process. 

The Law Review Approach: What the Humanities Can Learn
Allen Mendenhall, Southern Literary Review

Allen Mendenhall argues that humanities journals can benefit from adopting some of the procedures used by law reviews, which could speed the often glacial rate of review by taking advantage of the online systems that permit authors to make multiple submissions.

College Sports: Revising the Playbook
William Casement, Darvish Collection Gallery of Fine Art

In this excerpt from chapter 5 of his Making College Right: Heretical Thoughts and Practical Proposals (published by the National Association of Scholars and available online), William Casement makes the provocative proposal to eliminate the excesses of college athletics by professionalizing Division I  and keeping all other team sports on a strictly amateur basis. 

Assertive Citizenship and Civics Education: A Conversation with Bruce T. Olson
Ashley Thorne, National Association of Scholars

Bruce T. Olson’s interest in criminology, law enforcement, and local government led him to study the grand jury system in California and later to help establish the American Grand Jury Foundation, which trains citizens for grand jury duty. This nurtured another longstanding interest, civics education and the relationship of the citizen and the state, on which Olson shares insights and practical suggestions in an interview with Ashley Thorne, director of NAS’s Center for the Study of the Curriculum. 

Both Wrong and Bad
Carl Cohen, University of Michigan

In a review essay of Wounds That Will Not Heal: Affirmative Action and Our Continuing Racial Divide, Carl Cohen illustrates the extraordinary comprehensiveness with which Russell K. Nieli details the research exposing the pernicious effects of racial preferences. Cohen adds his own analysis of how preferences are not only bad, but also wrong. 

The Vindication of Thomas Sowell
Russell K. Nieli, Princeton University

Russell K. Nieli himself discusses another new landmark work on racial preferences in this review essay of Richard Sander and Stuart Taylor Jr.’s Mismatch: How Affirmative Action Hurts Students It’s Intended to Help, and Why Universities Won’t Admit It.  

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