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A passionate defense of our public school system against attacks propagated by budget-slashing conservatives. Education psychologist Berliner (Univ. of Arizona) and Biddle (director of the Center for Research in Social Behavior, Univ. of Missouri) contend that the attack on American schools in the past decade is largely an unwarranted and ``Manufactured Crisis.'' It began when the ``mother of all critiques,'' 1983's A Nation at Risk, was released. Sponsored by Secretary of Education Terrel Bell and endorsed by President Reagan, the report contends that our nation is losing its leadership in science, commerce, and industry as a result of inept educators and inadequacies in teaching programs. Embraced by private school voucher advocates of the right wing, this report is riddled by myths and fraud, according to Berliner and Biddle. The report and its aftermath served to ``scapegoat educators as a way of diverting attention from America's deepening social problems.'' Among the charges that cannot be supported, for example, is the claim that student achievement in American schools has recently declined. Berliner and Biddle explode this myth with detailed analysis of SAT scores and other tests that, they conclude, indicate modest gains in student knowledge and suggest that the nation's academic achievement is now more evenly distributed. While emphatic in their defense of public education, the authors can be rather radical in their proposals for strengthening it. Their vision includes an end to tracking students by abilityand even by age. They would also like to see alternative means of evaluating student performance. Student portfolios, for example, should replace standardized tests. The authors would also like to bring additional funds to bear to counter the ``savage inequalities'' that doom poor school districts to the weakest, tax- based funding. A gutsy, cogent, and well-documented book that both defends public education and offers ways to improve it.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-201-40957-7

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Addison-Wesley

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1995

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American schools at every level, from kindergarten to postgraduate programs, have substituted ideological indoctrination for education, charges conservative think-tanker Sowell (Senior Fellow/Hoover Institution; Preferential Polices, 1990, etc.) in this aggressive attack on the contemporary educational establishment. Sowell's quarrel with "values clarification" programs (like sex education, death-sensitizing, and antiwar "brainwashing") isn't that he disagrees with their positions but, rather, that they divert time and resources from the kind of training in intellectual analysis that makes students capable of reasoning for themselves. Contending that the values clarification programs inspired by his archvillain, psychotherapist Carl Rogers, actually inculcate values confusion, Sowell argues that the universal demand for relevance and sensitivity to the whole student has led public schools to abdicate their responsibility to such educational ideals as experience and maturity. On the subject of higher education, Sowell moves to more familiar ground, ascribing the declining quality of classroom instruction to the insatiable appetite of tangentially related research budgets and bloated athletic programs (to which an entire chapter, largely irrelevant to the book's broader argument, is devoted). The evidence offered for these propositions isn't likely to change many minds, since it's so inveterately anecdotal (for example, a call for more stringent curriculum requirements is bolstered by the news that Brooke Shields graduated from Princeton without taking any courses in economics, math, biology, chemistry, history, sociology, or government) and injudiciously applied (Sowell's dismissal of student evaluations as responsible data in judging a professor's classroom performance immediately follows his use of comments from student evaluations to document the general inadequacy of college teaching). All in all, the details of Sowell's indictment—that not only can't Johnny think, but "Johnny doesn't know what thinking is"—are more entertaining than persuasive or new.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 1993

ISBN: 0-02-930330-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1992

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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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