A number of colleges have set out to prepare incoming freshmen for an advanced education by assigning books for them to read over the summer. But according to a National Association of Scholars investigation, what students are getting instead is an indoctrination into the school's social justice agenda.
The communications director for NAS, David Randall, detailed the findings in a report over at Breitbart.com. His organization is able to show that in at least 350 schools, the "advanced readings" are mostly tales of overcoming some kind of social injustice and are written on nothing greater than a ninth-grade level. These summer reading programs are intended to bring the first-year students a shared experience and also give them an introduction to college-level reading so they are prepared for the new difficulty level. But as Randall explains, those purposes are often wrecked from the start by the books that are chosen.
He lays out the most common "formula" these colleges are using in choosing texts:
[A]n uplifting tale told by a young hero who faces down social injustice, triumphs over adversity, and inspires us to do our part as well. It must be told in words a ninth grader can understand.
Many of the books are young-adult novels and some even comic books, like the one assigned at nine of those schools for the past two years called March:
In it civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), with the help of a co-writer and a graphic artist, tells how he came to march on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama on “Bloody Sunday,” March 7, 1965. Written at a fourth-grade level, March may help “build community,” but it doesn’t have much to do with introducing students to college reading.
"Nearly all the books campaign for progressive causes," Randall adds. There are books on undocumented teenagers that celebrate illegal immigration. While others champion amnesty with a pull at the heartstrings for a young drug-addicted thief that snuck across the border. If that doesn't float anyone's boat, there are plenty of anti-capitalist and environmentalist topics, with a few that tread into transgender activism.
It all gets even more depressing:
Common readings tell us of the coming storms. Colleges are admitting large numbers of semi-literate students who—POW! ZAP!—can’t read much more than comic books. Students stunted by K-12 education that skips over most of American history are ready only for stories of Right Now. Students immersed in Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, and Twitter have little patience for anything but ego-centric story-telling. They want “selfie books”: snapshots of themselves that look good.
Randall suggests that many colleges are targeting "the students' blank minds" as a fresh canvas to paint for them a worldview that garners support for socialism.
Thankfully, though, there are colleges who refuse to follow this social justice formula and are sticking with the classics, but Randall could only name a few:
The University of Kansas assigned Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms. Bates College assigned Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality. Here and there colleges assign a play by Shakespeare or a novel by Graham Greene. Colleges don’t have to sink to the level of their least capable students. Nor do they have to turn every common reading assignment into a progressive morality tale. Let’s help them turn the page.