A Clear Overview of Current Education Issues

Published January 1, 2008

Wisdom Is Better Than Strength: An intimate discussion of the erosion of education in America
by Lois Stovall Williams, Ph.D.
Baltimore: Publish America, 2007
147 pages, paperback, ISBN 1-4241-7758-8

Attention to education has continued to increase in recent months due to debate over the impending renewal of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The number of books and studies being released also continues to rise. Lois Stovall Williams picked an appropriate time to release Wisdom Is Better Than Strength.

Williams has followed the path less-traveled with this book. It provides a different approach to the topic of school choice, one that is more personable.

In only 147 pages, Williams provides a clear overview of the many problems with education today. She analyzes many aspects of education–such as dropout rates, teacher certification, homeschooling, and parental involvement.

Call to Action

Williams calls for all Americans to take notice of the failing education system and the faltering programs that have been created to improve it.

The book addresses, if only briefly, a variety of issues in education. Williams stresses the importance of pre-kindergarten education in laying the foundation for a good future. She also notes it is important for parents to be involved in their children’s education.

One of NCLB’s major flaws, Williams notes, is the inability to establish the same standards of performance nationwide. The program that was meant to establish accountability and improve standards across the nation has yet to find a way of successfully creating a national standard. This, Williams says, undermines the proficiency standards in every state, thus making it difficult for others to gauge performance from one to another.

Curbing Dropouts

Williams devotes a good portion of her book to dropouts. Students leave school for many reasons, she notes, ranging from simply not liking it to racism, getting married, or becoming parents. But outside factors aren’t the only reasons kids drop out–schools’ failure to provide basic needs such as textbooks or challenging curricula also play a role.

Schools have a responsibility to keep students in, Williams says, and she provides examples of programs that could be implemented to cut dropout rates.

Offering Alternatives

Some public school diehards question the ability of homeschooling to provide a quality of education the same as, or better than, public schools. To address this issue, Williams discusses teacher qualifications, noting research has proven a “hands-on” education can at times be more beneficial for students than a teacher simply having a bachelor’s degree in education–and therefore, homeschooling can in fact improve a student’s education.

Williams also notes dropouts are more likely to end up in prison than are kids who stay in school. Therefore, she suggests, education reform is a viable avenue to reducing crime and prison overcrowding.

Although this book does not present a large amount of empirical data, it appears its main purpose is to cause people to further question the system and investigate problems with education. That’s a laudable goal.

Bailey Quinonez ([email protected]) writes from Maryland.