I read this story with a bit of a chuckle, and I also urge you to link to the full report in which the National Association of Scholars (NAS) argues pro-liberal attitudes or agendas are being advanced in summer reading programs.
With all due respect, give me a break.
Interestingly, and for what it is worth, I've been in higher education for 10 years (including my time in the doctoral program at the Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University), and before today I had never heard of the NAS.
Perhaps the most important statement in the NAS report is this one:
"We found the preponderance of reading assignments promotes liberal social causes and liberal sensibilities. Of the 180 books, 126 (70 percent) either explicitly promote a liberal political agenda or advance a liberal interpretation of events. By contrast, the study identifies only three books (less than 2 percent) that promote a conservative sensibility and none that promote conservative political causes."
At the risk of sounding sarcastic, if such books are not being selected perhaps it is not because of their political agenda but because they are incompatible with the aims of schools' summer reading initiatives.
Of course, there is another side to this story -- college students are interested in such "liberal" books. Consider this quote from this InsideHigherEd.com report:
Mabel G. Freeman, assistant vice president for undergraduate admissions and the first year experience at Ohio State University, said that students have embraced the books the association report criticizes. Last year's selection was Three Cups of Tea and there was so much interest in the visit by the author, Greg Mortenson, that he was asked to stay an extra day.
They asked him to stay an extra day. To me, that appears to be a solid endorsement of the selection of that book by that school.
In fact, Three Cups of Tea is a wonderful book, and one that I recommended the summer reading program at Point Park University adopt for this year. Instead, Journal for Jordan was chosen. (A link allowing you to purchase either book is available below.)
If Three Cups of Tea supports a liberal agenda, then call me shocked. It supports an idea of one person working hard, overcoming obstacles and not succumbing to dangerous opponents to get what he wants. That's liberal?
I am on the committee that selected Journal for Jordan, and I can assure you that as our group examined the options available to us this year no one -- not a single person -- overtly promoted or condemned a book because of its political ideology. In fact, our discussions focused on what the students would get out of a book, what potential assignments would flow from it, and whether we were selecting a book that students would want to read.
The author of Journal for Jordan will be coming to campus to speak to our incoming freshmen. Perhaps the same response -- please stay another day -- will happen.