October 29, 2013

Giving Kids a Fair Chance:
A Strategy that Works
James J. Heckman

Dollars and Sense -- The book opens with an essay by Dr. Heckman (a Nobel laureate in economics from that hot-bed of liberalism, the University of Chicago) stating the economic case for investing in the first five years of life as the first five years of learning. Eleven other scholars follow, attempting to either refute or reaffirm Heckman's claims. You can tell the conservatives from the liberals merely by their book titles. For example, Charles Murray's is "Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010" while Mike Rose's is "Back to School: Why Everyone Deserves a Second Chance at Education." (While one may not be wise to judge a book by its cover, one often can judge an academic's bias by his book title.) The most delicious part of this book is the final essay, in which Heckman responds to his critics and supporters, commanding the scene as an intellectual D'Artagnan fencing masterfully in a swordplay of ideas. He skewers each opponent. They don't just hand out those Nobels for nothing!


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