Dear Mr. Cohen and Mr. Rogers,
Thank you for editing The New Democracy Forum.
Dear Beacon Press,
Thank you for publishing it.
This morning I had some time to pick up the news-on-paper version of the New York Times. A headline caught my eye and I scanned an Op Ed called Trial By Firemen. The online version is here. Based a quick read/scan, I saw that we shared opinions on problems with standardized tests. My eye slid to the bottom of the column. The words pointed to a book called "Who's Qualified?" that has a 2001 pub date. So, I took out my Kindle and about a minute later I started reading the book for under $7. It was a quick read, about 2 hours.
Then I went back to the web to search a bit more. I found these reviews at Google Books.
Kirkus Review says:In my opinion, whoever did the Krikus review has it completely wrong. I tend to agree with
A brief exchange about how best to ensure that all Americans have access to the most coveted schools and jobs.Guinier (Law/Harvard Univ.; Becoming Gentlemen, 1997, etc.) and Sturm (Law/Columbia Univ.) open this slender volume with a not-so-modest proposal: silence the critics of affirmative action by reforming the way that we determine who is "most qualified" for advancement without sacrificing ... diversity.
. . .
Having advanced their proposal, the authors invite responses from various academics who pinpoint the weaknesses of the author's naïve suggestions.
Cahners Business Information (c) 2001When I next have the time, I will compare and contrast the two reviews to figure out what I really believe.
In this bracing look at ways to create equal opportunity in education and jobs, Guinier and Sturm, law professors at Harvard and Columbia, respectively, argue that affirmative action is usually grafted onto a fake meritocracy, resulting in an artificial trade-off between merit and justice.
"The authors invites responses from various academics."
First, the essay by Susan Strum and Lani Guinier, laying out a clear, well supported argument.
Then, essays that agree, amplify and disagree.
Stephen Steinberg, Derrick Bell, Howard Gardner, Mary C Waters and Carolyn Boyes-Watson, Claude M Steele, Paul Osteramn, Maureen A Scully and Deborah M. Kolb, Michael J Piore, Peter Sacks, Peter Cappelli.
Finally, a closing essay by the authors that respond to the issues in the other essays.
Inviting responses allows for compare and contrast. Compare and contrast allows for clarifying ideas. If compare and contrast happens in Print media, it is accessible to high school kids. The best print media in terms of speed and price are newspapers.
Oce, HP and Screen technology does very small runs of newspapers.
A 24 page tab newspaper version of this debate would do wonders in any high school english, history or civics class. Given the new print technology, it is cost and time effective to do many small runs of a newspaper with content appropriate for various specific audiences.
This is the first essay collection, I've seen, that allows "compare and contrast.' Intelligent people looking at the same public problem from completely different points of view. But it's too hard for a high school kid to do compare and contrast either on line or on a Kindle. Compare and contrast is for Print. New ideas come from compare and contrast.
Imagine the conversations this could start among high school teachers and their students.
There is a win-win-win exchange in here somewhere
Maybe it looks something like this:
1. Beacon Press gives the rights to use the content in exchange for advertising the rest of the series.
2. A global subsidizes the production costs to do a couple of experiments to measure the results in homework compliance and attendance.
3. If the evidence comes out as I have strong reason to believe it will, the school systems might decide to get this, instead of one size fits all textbooks. If Public Health and Government can be convinced to place ads, the whole thing is at least self supporting. It might even be a profit center. In any case it would be free-to-the-school. Right now our schools desperately need free great teaching material.
Beacon Press wins because they get no cost marketing. The global wins by showing what is possible with their equipment and having samples for their sales people. The kids win because they use their time to talk about things worth talking about.
All it needs is for someone to send the email. Then someone else to answer the email.