From Publishers Weekly
While it would be easy enough to raise an alarm about the declining quality of higher education in America by trotting out horrifying statistics and disturbing anecdotes, this book thankfully spends little time doing so. Instead, Hersh and Merrow have gathered essays focusing on the root causes of the decline as well as on a range of strategies for reversing it. In this, the varied backgrounds of the contributors, from journalists and policy researchers to university professors and administrators, serves the volume well. These pieces include, among other things, a comparison of how the media covers K-12 as opposed to colleges and universities, considerations of how marketplace models have shaped undergraduate education, and a variety of high-level, philosophical approaches to reimagining the place of higher education in our society. And while all the contributors have distinctive viewpoints on the problem, one thing becomes clear throughout: the state of American higher education is a product less of policy decisions, curriculum structure or student demographics than of the values and priorities of American society. To this end, the contributors do an excellent job sketching the larger cultural and economic forces-such as materialism, job specialization, the information explosion and the near-universal adoption of marketplace values-that they see as primarily responsible for the decline of America's colleges and universities. Because of its broad focus, the book will interest a wide range of readers, from educators and policy makers to parents concerned about their children's education.
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"I have never heard a single parent speculate about what value might be added by . . . four undergraduate years, other than the bachelor's degree itself . . . an essential punch on the ticket for starting off in any upscale career. The book before you is, to my knowledge, the first to confront the question head-on. All those boys and girls . . . do parents--does anybody--have any idea what happens to them in college?"--from the foreword by Tom Wolfe
"Anyone who cares deeply about American higher education will read this book and feel enlightened and enraged, delighted and despondent, encouraged and in despair. A 'must read' for those interested in both good news and bad, from higher education's influential insiders and jaded outsiders."--Lee S. Shulman, President, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
"The decline of our once-proud colleges and universities--well documented in this book--is the bitter fruit of our ever-more ineffective K-12 education. This book makes it clear that our nation is still at risk."--E. D. Hirsch, Jr., author of Cultural Literacy and The Schools We Need
Praise for Merrow's Choosing Excellence:
"This [is an] outstanding assessment of the current state of the nation's schools...Forecast: Since most children in America attend 'good enough' schools, this book's potential market is enormous, and the author's high profile will help."--Publishers Weekly
"No pre-service teacher should consider his or her professional education complete if it does not include regular viewings of The Merrow Report, the documentary series now airing on PBS and National Public Radio."--Library Journal
"Merrow aims to create a smarter consumer of schools....He succeeds in that he gives parents a framework for what they should be seeking and very practical hints on evaluating schools."--Karin Chenoweth, Washington Post
"This book points out that there's more to a school than its four walls and reputation, and more people need to be aware of all the choices that are out there."--Scholastic
"This single volume is an expansive reality check for anyone about to dump $20,000 for their daughter's private education unaware how much of that tuition is siphoned into projects that have zero effect on whether she becomes a first-rate writer, nurse or architect." --Northeast Breeze