Dumbing Down Our Kids: Why American Children Feel Good about Themselves But Can't Read, Write, or Add

Charles J. Sykes, Author St. Martin's Press $23.95 (341p) ISBN 978-0-312-13474-7
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. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/04/1995
Release date: 09/01/1995
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-0-312-14823-2
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