For the past couple of days, an article on the demise of foreign language programs at colleges and universities has been among the Chronicle of Higher Education's most-read pieces. (Chronicle articles requires a subscription; for free reading on the same topic, check out this U.S. News & World Report blog entry.)
Such programs, it appears, are feeling the pressure from two directions. On one side is the ongoing movement to abandon liberal arts in favor of professional and business programs geared to the marketplace; on the other, an impulse among college deans to emphasize more politically oriented (and politically correct, perhaps) programs on cultural studies.
This second impulse makes it easy to drop Spanish classes in favor of courses where students read about Che Guevara, Hugo Chavez, and Evo Morales (all in English, naturally). As the article's authors write, "[T]he abandonment of [languages] . . . implies that art and literature do not matter unless they can be turned into surrogate ...1