STRAIGHT TALK ABOUT AMERICAN EDUCATION by Theodore M. Black

STRAIGHT TALK ABOUT AMERICAN EDUCATION

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A vast smorgasbord of opinions (mostly conservative to moderate) on matters pedagogical. Black served for eleven years as a member of the New York State Board of Regents (including five as chancellor); and from the vantage point of that erstwhile eminence he passes judgment on everything from CUNY's open admissions policy (a disaster) to sex education (OK, but should be voluntary) to Halloween (dangerous for kids, abolish it). If there's any thematic unity in all this, it comes from Black's hostility toward all forms of federal intervention--court-mandated school busing, Title IX, persecution of Bob Jones University, and so on. He delights in telling how Washington's bureaucratic bulls wreak havoc in the china shop of local districts. He triumphantly ridicules the ill-considered decree by Donald Waldrip (US court-appointed administrator of desegregation for the Cleveland public schools) that at least 20 percent of all high school basketball teams be white (i.e., 2.4 players per 12 man squad). It's absurd, Black snorts--but just the logical culmination of the mad government campaign for equality at all costs. On a more liberal note, Black supports affirmative action (though he damns racial quotas). He also opposes censorship of school libraries (though he wants to see creationism on the curriculum and assaults the ACLU because it doesn't). In general, he praises tracking, mainstreaming, and competition; he curses high school hoodlums and illiterate teachers. The talk may be straight, but it's not too enlightening: a sort of smug, rambling after-dinner speech to PTAs of a like disposition.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1982
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich