Real Education by Charles Murray
In no other area of American life is the gap between rhetoric and reality more pronounced or more persistent than in education. The chief reason is not hard to find. Almost from the start, Americans have entertained outsized expectations of their schools, seeing education as a magical instrument of social transformation and individual upward mobility, not to mention the single most important engine of national progress.
Horace Mann, the most visible champion of the early public-school movement, envisioned public education as “the great equalizer” of the human condition and the “creator of wealth undreamed of.” Today one sees the same fundamental faith shining through, undiminished and unchastened, whether in paeans to education as the source of necessary innovation and human capital, complaints about flat or declining test scores among high-schoolers, or jeremiads directed at “our underachieving colleges.”
About the Author
Wilfred M. McClay, who holds the SunTrust Chair of Excellence in the Humanities at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, contributed “Is Conservatism Finished?” to the January COMMENTARY. His latest book is Figures in the Carpet: Finding the Human Person in the American Past.