The subject may be hard to talk about, but it must be, and this is a valuable contribution to opening that needed discussion.

MISMATCH

HOW AFFIRMATIVE ACTION HURTS STUDENTS IT'S INTENDED TO HELP, AND WHY UNIVERSITIES WON'T ADMIT IT

Sure-to-be-controversial take on race-based considerations of student need and institutional diversity.

Affirmative action is one of those subjects, write Sander (Law/UCLA) and National Journal contributor Taylor (co-author: Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case, 2007), that often cannot be raised without provoking shouting on one side, the other, or both. By their account, the practice of affirmative action—a form of preferential admission of minority candidates into institutions that receive federal funding, particularly colleges, as a means of combatting institutional segregation whether knowingly or unconsciously practiced—is harmful by virtue of purely unintended consequences. The “mismatch” of the title refers to an important one of those consequences: namely, the disorienting effect on the student of taking him or her from an underprivileged setting and making that student compete with students who have had all the advantages. The authors write that African-Americans from the lower-income brackets are more likely to enter college than are whites of the same socioeconomic level, thanks at least in some measure to affirmative action, but are far more likely to earn low grades, “rank toward the bottom of the class, and far more often drop out.” The authors offer extensive data in support of their conclusions that the present system is not serving those students well, though they might have performed far better had they gone to nonelite schools. This information will be argued over all the same, but the authors’ evenhanded suggestion that what might be a better strategy is to raise educational attainment by investing more in elementary and secondary education for lower-income students—“targeting economic need before racial identity,” as they put it—seems unobjectionable on the face.

The subject may be hard to talk about, but it must be, and this is a valuable contribution to opening that needed discussion.

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-465-02996-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

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INSIDE AMERICAN EDUCATION

THE DECLINE, THE DECEPTION, THE DOGMAS

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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1992

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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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