While the schools come in for heavy criticism, there is plenty of blame to go around. "No Excuses" does not pull its punches when showing that negative attitudes among black students and their parents are a big part of the problem as well.
The net result is a situation where the average black high school graduate has a level of knowledge that is four years behind that of white high school graduates. Yet there are also particular examples of outstanding academic performances by schools with low-income and minority students.
These outstanding results are almost always achieved by methods directly the opposite of those that are fashionable in education circles today. What these successful schools show is that there is no excuse for the pervasive educational disasters among black students in general.
If you like big, blockbuster books on broad themes, then "Human Accomplishment" by Charles Murray is the book to read on that long trip or in installments at home. It shows how landmark performances in many fields tend to cluster at particular times and places and among particular groups. This book is a landmark performance itself.
If you like take-no-prisoners attacks against the political left, three new books of this sort are "Treason" by Ann Coulter, "Scam" by Jesse Lee Peterson and "When I Was a Kid, This Was a Free Country" by G. Gordon Liddy. These are books with devastating facts and penetrating analysis, as well as verbal fireworks.
The books by Ann Coulter and G. Gordon Liddy are attacks on the counter-cultural left in general, both in the media and in politics. Jesse Lee Peterson's book zeroes in on black "leaders" like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Louis Farrakhan.
My own new book this year -- "Applied Economics" -- takes a hard look at popular beliefs that just will not stand up when it comes to the economics of housing, medical care, discrimination, labor and Third World countries.
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