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Dumbing Down Our Kids: Why American Children Feel Good about Themselves But Can't Read, Write, or Add Hardcover – September, 1995
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Nowhere has the flight from quality plaguing American life these days been more obvious than in our primary and secondary schools -- on the whole, the graduates seem less well-read and less well-spoken, less knowledgeable and less able to compute. In this book, Charles Sykes asks why, and lays most of the blame at the feet of the trainers of teachers, the writers of textbooks and the educational policy wonks who influence them. He convincingly shows that in many different school systems, and in many different academic fields, with the help of goofy text-books, watered-down requirements and "recentered" test grade scales, American students have come to value feeling good about a subject over being good in it. Sykes's recommended reforms include abolishing the federal Department of Education and its state counterparts, abolishing undergraduate schools of education, establishing more alternative routes to teacher certification and merit raises for good teachers. Good ideas all -- now if we can only get politicians to put them into action!
From Publishers Weekly
Sykes, a journalist who specializes in education issues (A Nation of Victims), weighs into the current school wars with this polemic. A particular target is the school reform movement, epitomized by educators who, as Sykes characterizes them, emphasize students' feelings rather then their learning. In Sykes's view, the usual scapegoats for the decline of American education?parents, society, money?are not the cause of low scores in reading and mathematics; instead, he points the finger at "the schools themselves and the values that dominate American education in the 1990s." He compiles here a sobering catalogue of failed approaches, "self-esteem" programs, political correctness and other trends that militate against the learning of basic skills. He forcefully offers proposals that could work (open up teaching to non-educationists) and others that would initiate a sea change (eliminate tenure). Baltimore's famed private Calvert School is a suggested model. To an ongoing debate, Sykes brings viewpoints and evidence to which attention should be paid. Author tour.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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