How conservatives can reshape education

I have a third idea. In their widening conflict with an academic complex that’s become more uniformly liberal, Republicans claim that they are standing up for intellectual and ideological diversity. But their weapons are almost always punitive: the threat of firings or funding cuts, or else haphazard attempts to block specific hires, like the recent battle over whether the University of North Carolina should grant tenure to my colleague Nikole Hannah-Jones.

What if conservatives used the power of the purse to build instead and prove that their vision of academia is possible? Let DeSantis establish a new teachers college in Florida, with not just curricular but also hiring and admissions decisions supervised by a panel appointed by both political parties in the legislature. Or let the next Republican president create a group of national public universities with a similar structure, with governing boards appointed by Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer, a core curriculum established by bipartisan academic appointees, admissions officers appointed by the same...

The point of pondering such ideas, though, is recognize that it’s not just conservatives who have an interest in breaking the multigenerational cycle that has handed liberals a series of cultural victories while also delivering a divided society, widely-distrusted institutions, and a flailing, demagogic right.