Dumbing Down America: The War on Our Nation's Brightest Young Minds (and What We Can Do to Fight Back)

James Delisle. Prufrock (Sourcebooks, dist.), $16.95 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-61821-166-8
Primarily a rousing endorsement of tracking, Delisle (Parenting Gifted Kids) makes the case for a greater focus on gifted students at every public school grade level. Affably presented in easily digestible sections, Delisle narrative begins by offering an outline of the numerous opportunities available to gifted students even in the face of budget cuts; this is followed by an inconclusive, at times contradictory critique of almost every role involved with the education of gifted children, from advocates to administrators and teachers. He calls for a clearer definition of what constitutes "gifted," but resists defining it himself. Resistant to defining what constitutes "gifted," he then calls for a clearer definition. Merely dismissive of the research suggesting that gifted children actually perform better in heterogeneous settings, he scornfully mocks Malcolm Gladwell's suggestion that genius is not inherent, but can be cultivated, and resorts to an ad hominem attack on tracking opponent Diane Ravitch, whom he refers to as "a cranky lady with a bullhorn." While more can and should be done for high achieving students, his ideas lean toward charter and online schools rather than solutions for today's budget strapped public schools, rendering his latest book as essentially a chronicle of his own frustration. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/11/2014
Release date: 08/01/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 250 pages - 978-1-61821-291-7
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