A strong argument for educational reform at every level in order to make schooling truly equitable.

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THE MERIT MYTH

HOW OUR COLLEGES FAVOR THE RICH AND DIVIDE AMERICA

A vigorous argument against the entrenchment of elite interests in the nation’s higher-education system.

Colleges and universities are supposed to serve as levelers of the playing field, giving members of ethnic and economic minorities a chance at success. As it is, write Georgetown University scholars Carnevale and Strohl and education journalist Schmidt, the elite, “using selective colleges as gatekeepers,” has taken deliberate steps to limit access to power and wealth to its own members. “Instead of being havens of diversity,” they observe, “where Americans of all walks of life can learn from one another, many of our colleges and universities have become isolated communities, where students and faculty largely interact with those who are like them.” Although higher education is broadly accessible, it has also become highly stratified, with top-tier schools increasingly out of reach for students of limited means. Even when minority students do get into places such as Yale, the authors note, the dropout rate tends to be higher than that of white students because of a lack of support in the form of counselors, faculty advisers, and faculty who themselves are minority members. While the graduation rate at elite schools is 82%, it is only 49% at two- and four-year schools with large minority populations. (The minority graduation rate for black and Latino students at elite schools is 81%.) The authors attribute the country-club quality of elite schools in part to academic tracking that is growing ever stronger within K-12 schools, by means of which “low-income and racial-minority children have the odds stacked against them even before they enter kindergarten.” Against all this, they propose a number of correctives, including class-based affirmative action, noting that family-need measures are broadly popular even as ethnically based programs are not.

A strong argument for educational reform at every level in order to make schooling truly equitable.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62097-486-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

COLUMBINE

Comprehensive, myth-busting examination of the Colorado high-school massacre.

“We remember Columbine as a pair of outcast Goths from the Trench Coat Mafia snapping and tearing through their high school hunting down jocks to settle a long-running feud. Almost none of that happened,” writes Cullen, a Denver-based journalist who has spent the past ten years investigating the 1999 attack. In fact, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold conceived of their act not as a targeted school shooting but as an elaborate three-part act of terrorism. First, propane bombs planted in the cafeteria would erupt during lunchtime, indiscriminately slaughtering hundreds of students. The killers, positioned outside the school’s main entrance, would then mow down fleeing survivors. Finally, after the media and rescue workers had arrived, timed bombs in the killers’ cars would explode, wiping out hundreds more. It was only when the bombs in the cafeteria failed to detonate that the killers entered the high school with sawed-off shotguns blazing. Drawing on a wealth of journals, videotapes, police reports and personal interviews, Cullen sketches multifaceted portraits of the killers and the surviving community. He portrays Harris as a calculating, egocentric psychopath, someone who labeled his journal “The Book of God” and harbored fantasies of exterminating the entire human race. In contrast, Klebold was a suicidal depressive, prone to fits of rage and extreme self-loathing. Together they forged a combustible and unequal alliance, with Harris channeling Klebold’s frustration and anger into his sadistic plans. The unnerving narrative is too often undermined by the author’s distracting tendency to weave the killers’ expressions into his sentences—for example, “The boys were shooting off their pipe bombs by then, and, man, were those things badass.” Cullen is better at depicting the attack’s aftermath. Poignant sections devoted to the survivors probe the myriad ways that individuals cope with grief and struggle to interpret and make sense of tragedy.

Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

Pub Date: April 6, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-446-54693-5

Page Count: 406

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2009

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THE ABOLITION OF MAN

The sub-title of this book is "Reflections on Education with Special Reference to the Teaching of English in the Upper Forms of Schools." But one finds in it little about education, and less about the teaching of English. Nor is this volume a defense of the Christian faith similar to other books from the pen of C. S. Lewis. The three lectures comprising the book are rather rambling talks about life and literature and philosophy. Those who have come to expect from Lewis penetrating satire and a subtle sense of humor, used to buttress a real Christian faith, will be disappointed.

Pub Date: April 8, 1947

ISBN: 1609421477

Page Count: -

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1947

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