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The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn Hardcover – 1 Apr 2003

4.4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group; 1 edition (1 April 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375414827
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375414824
  • Product Dimensions: 16.6 x 2.6 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,136,587 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Amazon Review

Acclaimed education historian Diane Ravitch answers the question of how the impulse in the 1960s and 70s to achieve fairness and a balanced perspective in our nation's textbooks went so terribly wrong in The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn.

Author of seven books, Ravitch served as the US Assistant Secretary of Education from 1991 to 1993. Her expertise and her 30-year commitment to education lend authority and urgency to this important book, which describes in copious detail how pressure groups from the political right and left have wrested control of the language and content of textbooks and standardised exams, often at the expense of the truth (in the case of history), of literary quality (in the case of literature), and of education in general. Like most people involved in education, Ravitch did not realise "that educational materials are now governed by an intricate set of rules to screen out language and topics that might be considered controversial or offensive."

In this clear-eyed critique, she is an unapologetic challenger of the ridiculous and damaging extremes to which bias guidelines and sensitivity training have been taken by the federal government, the states, and textbook publishers. In a multi-page sampling of rejected test passages, we discover that "in the new meaning of bias, it its considered biased to acknowledge that lack of sight is a disability," that children who live in urban areas cannot understand passages about the country, that the Aesop fable about a vain (female) fox and a flattering (male) crow promotes gender bias. As outrageous as many of the examples are, they do not appear particularly dangerous.

However, as the illustrations of abridgment, expurgation, and bowdlerisation mount, the reader begins to understand that our educational system is indeed facing a monumental crisis of distortion and censorship. Ravtich ends her book with three suggestions of how to counter this disturbing tendency. Sadly, however, in the face of the overwhelming tide of misinformation that has already been entrenched in the system, her suggestions provide cold comfort. --Silvana Tropea, Amazon.com

Review

"A comprehensive study of how testing materials and textbooks adopted widely throughout the United States suffer under egregious "regime of censorship. . ." Ravitch has uncovered a scandal here. She shows an industry that exists in flagrant opposition to fundamental educational principals: that thwarts critical thinking and is imitative and cowardly, buckling to pressure groups, even when these represent the most marginal interests . . . One can only hope that Diane Ravitch's book will help bring about a revision of the sanitized texts that are currently breaking our children's backs and dulling their minds." --Paula Marantz Cohen, "Times Literary Supplement
"Lucid, forceful, written with insight, passion, compassion and conviction, "The Language Police is not only hair-raisingly readable but deeply reasonable. It should be required reading not only for parents, teachers and educators, but for everyone who cares about history, literature, science, culture and indeed the civilization in which we live." --Merle Rubin, "Los Angeles Times
"Revealing and important... Ravitch richly illustrates her case... her compilation of evidence and argument is overwhelming." --Daniel Kevles, "New York Times Book Review
"Fiercely argued... Ms. Ravitch ... writes with enormous authority and common sense. She shows how priggish, censorious and downright absurd ''the language police'' can be, and she does so with furious logic. Every bit as alarming as it is illuminating."--Michiko Kakutani, "New York Times
"Ravitch (is) ... whistle-blower extraordinaire."--Gary Rosen, "Wall Street Journal
"It should make you scream." -- Jane Eisner, "Philadelphia Inquirer
"A stunning piece ofresearch and exposition that uncovers the hidden censorship currently practiced in the public schools through all reading matter. The prohibition of a great many words and subjects and the substitution for some of clumsy phrases shows up the censors as both self-righteous and of feeble mind. They are not warring against the improper or the sophisticated, but against fancied causes of bias or upset through the unfamiliar. The net effect is to render any piece of print so vapid as to neutralize its capacity to teach the child anything new and certain to bore him cruelly."-Jacques Barzun

" It' s difficult to exaggerate the importance of this book. [It could] turn out to be one of those rare books that actually influence the way we live." -- "The Washington Post
"" A book of Olympian importance. . . . This book may be the most important document about the future of the American mind in a generation or more." -- "The Baltimore Sun
"" Impassioned. . . . Fiercely argued. . . . Every bit as alarming as it is illuminating." -- "The New York Times
"" Lucid, forceful, written with insight, passion, compassion and conviction, The Language Police" "is not only hair-raisingly readable but deeply reasonable. It should be required reading." -- "Los Angeles Times
"" Provocative. . . . [It] has broad consequences for one' s thinking about all education, and I recommend it to anyone interested in the molding of public discourse in America." -- David Bromwich, "The New Republic
"" Ravitch [is] the country' s soberest, most history-minded education expert-- and, in this case, a whistle-blower extraordinaire." -- "The Wall Street Journal
"" Revealing and important. . . . Ravitch richly illustrates her case [and] provides telling assessments of historical texts. . . . [Her] compilation of evidence and argument is overwhelming." -- "The New York Times Book Review
"" Stunning. . . . Should send a shiver down the backs of parents with school children." -- "The Washington Times
"" Penetrating. . . . Fascinating and often infuriating. . . . The Language Police" "is the first step toward ending theabsurdities of educational censorship. It should be required reading in the education of every parent." -- "Mother Jones
"" Her criticism is devastating." -- "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"" Compelling. . . . Convincing. . . . A smart, savage expose of the absurdities wrought by both sides of the culture wars. . . . [Ravitch' s] demand for an educational environment that pushes students to confront, rather than avoid, the larger world is one we ignore at our own peril." -- "The New Leader
"" Spirited. . . . A plea for substance, intelligence, and reason." -- "The New York Sun
"" [The Language Police] could do for the failures of education in the United States what Harriet Beecher Stowe' s Uncle Tom' s Cabin" "did for slavery. It is a brilliant revelation of an insidious national disease of public policy. . . . It should be obligatory reading for every citizen concerned with the intellectual, moral, and imaginative life of U.S. children and society as a whole. It should be mandatory for everyone even peripherally involved in education. . . . Read it. Get the five most thoughtful people you know to buy it, read it and pass it on." -- "The Baltimore Sun
"" Meticulously researched and forcefully argued. . . . Ravitch' s qualifications . . . are impeccable and unassailable. . . . She has no political axes to grind and no ideological agenda to pursue. She is a lucid writer and an absolutely clear thinker." -- "The Washington Post
"" Ravitch writes with enormous authority and common sense. She shows how priggish, censorious and downrightabsurd ' the language police' can be, and she does so with furious logic." -- "The New York Times
"" A fascinating and comprehensive account. . . . Incisive and lucid. . . . Ravitch is passionate and persuasive." -- "The Intellectual Activist
"" Brilliant. . . . Astounding. . . . A hopeful sign [that] censorship this ridiculous can' t last forever." -- "Reader' s Digest
"

"It's difficult to exaggerate the importance of this book. [It could] turn out to be one of those rare books that actually influence the way we live." --"The Washington Post
""A book of Olympian importance. . . . This book may be the most important document about the future of the American mind in a generation or more." --"The Baltimore Sun
""Impassioned. . . . Fiercely argued. . . . Every bit as alarming as it is illuminating." --"The New York Times
""Lucid, forceful, written with insight, passion, compassion and conviction, The Language Police""is not only hair-raisingly readable but deeply reasonable. It should be required reading." --"Los Angeles Times
""Provocative. . . . [It] has broad consequences for one's thinking about all education, and I recommend it to anyone interested in the molding of public discourse in America." --David Bromwich, "The New Republic
""Ravitch [is] the country's soberest, most history-minded education expert--and, in this case, a whistle-blower extraordinaire." --"The Wall Street Journal
""Revealing and important. . . . Ravitch richly illustrates her case [and] provides telling assessments of historical texts. . . . [Her] compilation of evidence and argument is overwhelming." --"The New York Times Book Review
""Stunning. . . . Should send a shiver down the backs of parents with school children." --"The Washington Times
""Penetrating. . . . Fascinating and often infuriating. . . . The Language Police""is the first step toward ending the absurdities of educational censorship. It should be required reading in the education of every parent." --"Mother Jones
""Her criticism is devastating." --"The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
""Compelling. . . . Convincing. . . . A smart, savage expose of the absurdities wrought by both sides of the culture wars. . . . [Ravitch's] demand for an educational environment that pushes students to confront, rather than avoid, the larger worldu

It s difficult to exaggerate the importance of this book. [It could] turn out to be one of those rare books that actually influence the way we live. The Washington Post
A book of Olympian importance. . . . This book may be the most important document about the future of the American mind in a generation or more. The Baltimore Sun
Impassioned. . . . Fiercely argued. . . . Every bit as alarming as it is illuminating. The New York Times
Lucid, forceful, written with insight, passion, compassion and conviction, The Language Police is not only hair-raisingly readable but deeply reasonable. It should be required reading. Los Angeles Times
Provocative. . . . [It] has broad consequences for one s thinking about all education, and I recommend it to anyone interested in the molding of public discourse in America. David Bromwich, The New Republic
Ravitch [is] the country s soberest, most history-minded education expert and, in this case, a whistle-blower extraordinaire. The Wall Street Journal
Revealing and important. . . . Ravitch richly illustrates her case [and] provides telling assessments of historical texts. . . . [Her] compilation of evidence and argument is overwhelming. The New York Times Book Review
Stunning. . . . Should send a shiver down the backs of parents with school children. The Washington Times
Penetrating. . . . Fascinating and often infuriating. . . . The Language Police is the first step toward ending the absurdities of educational censorship. It should be required reading in the education of every parent. Mother Jones
Her criticism is devastating. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Compelling. . . . Convincing. . . . A smart, savage expose of the absurdities wrought by both sides of the culture wars. . . . [Ravitch s] demand for an educational environment that pushes students to confront, rather than avoid, the larger world is one we ignore at our own peril. The New Leader
Spirited. . . . A plea for substance, intelligence, and reason. The New York Sun
[The Language Police] could do for the failures of education in the United States what Harriet Beecher Stowe s Uncle Tom s Cabin did for slavery. It is a brilliant revelation of an insidious national disease of public policy. . . . It should be obligatory reading for every citizen concerned with the intellectual, moral, and imaginative life of U.S. children and society as a whole. It should be mandatory for everyone even peripherally involved in education. . . . Read it. Get the five most thoughtful people you know to buy it, read it and pass it on. The Baltimore Sun
Meticulously researched and forcefully argued. . . . Ravitch s qualifications . . . are impeccable and unassailable. . . . She has no political axes to grind and no ideological agenda to pursue. She is a lucid writer and an absolutely clear thinker. The Washington Post
Ravitch writes with enormous authority and common sense. She shows how priggish, censorious and downright absurd the language police can be, and she does so with furious logic. The New York Times
A fascinating and comprehensive account. . . . Incisive and lucid. . . . Ravitch is passionate and persuasive. The Intellectual Activist
Brilliant. . . . Astounding. . . . A hopeful sign [that] censorship this ridiculous can t last forever. Reader s Digest
" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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