America produces more college graduates, both in absolute numbers and as a percentage of its population, than any other country. But what have all these graduates learned?

According to the National Endowment for the Humanities, the total number of bachelor's degrees awarded in the last two decades has climbed by 88 percent. During the same period, the number of degrees in English has dropped by 33 percent. Majors in history have declined by 43 percent, in philosophy by 35 percent. More and more students are neglecting the humanities to concentrate on courses geared toward specific careers such as business.The agency also reports that "viewing humanities texts as though they were primarily political documents is the most noticeable trend in academic study of the humanities today. Truth and beauty and excellence are regarded as irrelevant."

College is the last chance for most Americans to devote most of their intellectual energies to pondering the universal human problems; that is what a liberal-arts education used to mean. Political preaching is a paltry substitute.