Dean of Liberty’s Business School joins ‘Education for Dummies’ panel

From U.S. congressman to dean of business, Dave Brat has participated in relevant and critical conversations. 

On March 4, Brat spoke at the 2023 Conservative Political Action Conference. He spoke on a panel titled “Education for Dummies” with Jason Rantz, host of the Jason Rantz Show, and Diana Harshbarger, Tennessee congresswoman. 

In the past, Brat attended CPAC as a congressman. This past week, he attended as a university dean, opening up conversations about higher education. 

The focus of the dean’s discussion was America’s current education system, specifically how public schools are lowering education standards and how the book, “Closing of the American Mind” by Allam Bloom, gives the clearest indictment of this decay in higher education. 

“The Judeo-Christian tradition has been leading education for centuries, with Harvard’s Motto of Truth for Christ and Church to producing leaders like James Madison at Princeton Seminary, who authored the U.S. Constitution,” Brat said. “Much of this tradition came under attack in the 1960s.”

Brat describes how, to fix this, we must have conversations both in the political realm and in the academia realm.

“When you’re (discussing) academia, you go back to the classics,” Brat said. “If your education debate doesn’t have words like knowledge, truth, human reason, science, wisdom — if those terms are not coming up, you’re probably not having a debate about education. You’re probably over in the political realm.”

Lieutenant Governor Winsome Sears speaks at Convocation in the Vines Center on October 5, 2022. (Photo by Brooke McDuffee)

In the political world, some believe college degrees are no longer needed and others believe college is so necessary that it should be free. Brat explained that a college degree is  “worth it” as long as the skill or trade one is learning is “marketable.” Similarly, Harshbarger advised students to look at the “return on investment” on the degree they pursue.

As a former congressman, Brat upholds the idea that local and state governments should be in charge of the education system, not the federal government. 

“When the government gets in the middle of anything, you never get an efficient outcome as far as the market is concerned,” Brat said. “Just look at the evidence, NAEP and SAT scores are down, not up.”

The panel then discussed where the change in the education system needs to come from: parents. Brat encouraged parents and people at the local levels of government to take charge of their schools. He described transparency in the schools as the “best medicine” for reforming the education system. 

Both Brat and Harshbarger agreed that parents need to be involved. Brat also noted that our current educational system is responsible for the lower economic growth rates of the United States. According to Brat, human capital matters. 

Throughout his conversation with Harshbarger and Rantz, Brat always brought his points back to God. He encouraged the audience to read the Bible, citing God as a good starting place for opening discussions on education.

“The most important thing I wanted to convey was that God is always the first principle of true higher education when seeking the truth itself,” Brat said regarding the panel. “We are in a period of decay because we do not focus on God as we should as a nation.”

Bear is the feature editor for the Liberty Champion

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