[This review, of two books, was published in the January 1991 issue of Universitas, national publication of University Professors for Academic Order.] 

 

Book Review

 

Education and Ethnicity: The U.S. Experiment in School Integration

Ralph Scott

Council for Social and Economic Studies, 1988 

 

            In our conceit about the twentieth century, we are accustomed to believing that the objectivity of science is safely protected by the contemporary ethos.  Just the same, a requisite for true science in all ages, including our own, is courage.  Objective inquiry often flies in the face of the preconceptions and ideological blindness of the time.

            Ralph Scott, UPAO’s 1988 president and an educational psychologist at the University of Northern Iowa, shows exemplary courage in this collection of articles.

            His own position is that “the race of the student should be de-emphasized if not altogether ignored.  After all, ethnicity is an irrelevant variable in any educational enterprise characterized by productivity and equity.”

            He then dissects, as only a truly competent social scientist can, the many “race-conscious intervention measures” that have been used in recent American education.  With a solid empirical foundation, he concludes that “preferential educational policies have contributed to ethnic differences in virtually every sphere of the work force.”  He indicates that “the pattern is consistent: a high proportion of minorities pass through high school and college with acquiring the requisite skills.”

            Scott’s book deserves to be read by every serious student and would-be critic of today’s well-intentioned (if also ideologically and politically convenient) racism. 

 

Herbert Galton

Freedom—From Illusions

Coronado Press, 2nd ed., 1984 

            In 1962, when I was considerably younger than I am today, I published a book Emergent Man, which grappled with the principles of a free society from a classical liberal perspective.

            Although I still think highly of the book, I have come to believe that it was a serious error to analyze society exclusively from the standpoint of individual liberty.  Liberty is both an extremely high value and a vitally important means, to be sure; but civilized man has other values, too, and these must be given due place alongside liberty in any theory that is not to be susceptible to serious objection.

            With this in mind, Herbert Galton’s book strikes me as particularly valuable in that it avoids the error inherent in my own.  Galton, an eminently civilized man, avoids any sort of reductionism, and understands well the rich texture of life.  His starting point, broader than the one I adopted, is to aim “at establishing a common denominator for arriving at the supreme values to which the greatest possible number of men and women could subscribe.”

            Each page sparkles with insights into life and society as Galton discusses such matters as “the search for truth,” “the search for freedom,” and “the search for dignity.”  But a caution for some readers: Galton, though not unfriendly to religion, formulates his outlook from a purely secular perspective. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Dwight D. Murphey