Cracked bell, round 2

One nose-bloodying is enough for most of us. Not the brainy, pugilistic Charles Murray. He has resurrected his flawed Bell Curve argument in a three-part series of articles for the Wall Street Journal to try and convince us--again--that a person's IQ says all we need to know about what he can learn in school. Skeptical? "The easy retorts do not work," he says. Of students who go from below grade level to grade level and above, he writes, "That is an underachievement story," not evidence of rising intelligence. (So crackerjack schools like the Amistad Academy must magically recruit all of the underachieving students in town to their campuses; how else to explain their hundred-percent proficiency rates?) Of the possibility that IQ tests can be wrong, he writes, "I am not talking about scores on specific tests, but about a student's underlying intellectual ability." By Murray's estimate, only 25 percent of children (those with IQs above 110) are smart enough to go on to college. And for the other 75 percent? The lucky ones can be plumbers and mechanics (honorable professions both). The rest of you--well, that's not Murray's problem. He somewhat redeems himself in his third installment, calling for more attention for gifted students and a return (at least for some) to a classical liberal arts education. But it's not enough. It is notable, though, to see fatalism and educational determinism (and NCLB pessimism) emerging, for wholly different reasons, from both left and right."Intelligence in the Classroom," "What's wrong with vocational school?" and "Aztecs vs. Greeks," by Charles Murray, Wall Street Journal, January 16-18, 2007

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