Book Reviews



2004

Deliberate Dumbing Down.com
the deliberate dumbing down of america
by Charlotte T. Iserbyt


Review by the Washington Times
"Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt's new book,'the deliberate dumbing down of america' is without doubt one of the most important publishing events in the annals of American education in the last hundred years."

Review by Andrea Neal, the Indianpolis Star
" . . . . As journalists like to say, being panned by folks on both sides of an issue means the writer has done something right."

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The War Against Excellence.com
The War Against Excellence:
The Rising Tide of Mediocrity in America's Middle Schools
by Cheri Pierson Yecke
http://www.waragainstexcellence.com/

"...but by the late 1980s, some voices representing the modern middle school movement began a drive to reduce academic expectations.

"Ability grouping was discouraged as elitist, and in many places was replaced with “cooperative learning,” where a few students did all the work and everyone shared the grade. High ability students were often not allowed to work at their own pace, but instead were held to the pace of the rest of the class and required to tutor others--resulting in a loss to their own intellectual growth. Based on misinterpretations of scientific theories addressing brain development, a number of schools watered-down the middle school curriculum out of fear that pre-adolescent brains could not be expected to handle rigorous learning. And in some cases, academic competition was discouraged. These policies and practices resulted in some middle school environments that actively encouraged a culture that looked down upon high academic achievement."

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"National Review" magazine, May 31, 2004
Who Are We?: The Challenges of America's National Identity
by Samuel Huntington
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0684870533/002-6852055-9314437?v=glance

Why don't the national and state standards teach students to love America's founding principles of freedom? This book review in "National Review" magazine, May 31st issue, alerts us to a new book by Samuel Huntington that tells the story. Huntington is the most prominent political scientist of our day.

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Hudson Institute
Who Are We?: The Challenges to America's National Identity
by John Fonte, Senior Fellow

"In the 1990s, his [Huntington] detailed analysis of the new global fault lines in The Clash of Civilizations alerted a complaisant pre-9/11 world to the dangers ahead. Who Are We?: The Challenges to America's National Identity is Huntington doing what he does best. It is a classic -- perhaps the definitive -- overview of the future of the American nation-state.

"Huntington argues that American identity today is based on both ideology and a common culture. The ideology -- the 'American Creed,' a belief in liberty, democracy, individual rights, and the like -- is a 'product of the distinct Anglo-Protestant culture' brought to North America by the mostly British settlers in the 17th and 18th centuries. Universalist Enlightenment concepts also played a part. These ideas proved especially fruitful because they found 'receptive ground in the Anglo-Protestant culture that had already existed in America for over a century.' This culture includes the English language; British traditions of law, rights, and limited government; the values of dissenting Protestantism (especially its moralism and anti-hierarchical spirit, which made it different from European Protestantism); the work ethic, economic opportunity, individualism, and Christianity."

"He describes how, since the 1960s, powerful forces among American elites have launched a sustained effort -- one that is, 'quite possibly, without precedent in human history' -- to 'deconstruct' American national identity. This 'deconstruction coalition' operates like the 'imperial and colonial' regimes of old, which promoted subnational identities in order to 'enhance the government's ability to divide and conquer.' Besides support for the subnational, the 'denationalized elites' embrace the transnational -- and denigrate affection for and loyalty to the American nation. He quotes the declaration of Amy Gutmann, the new president of the University of Pennsylvania, that it is 'repugnant' for American students to learn that they are 'above all citizens of the United States' (as opposed to having 'primary allegiance' to 'democratic humanism')."