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Books by and about 2020 presidential candidates
Crippled America,
by Donald J. Trump (2015)
Fire and Fury,
by Michael Wolff (2018)
Trump Revealed,
by Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher (2016)
The Making of Donald Trump,
by David Cay Johnston (2016)
Promise Me, Dad ,
by Joe Biden (2017)
The Book of Joe ,
by Jeff Wilser (2019; biography of Joe Biden)
The Truths We Hold,
by Kamala Harris (2019)
Smart on Crime,
by Kamala Harris (2010)
Guide to Political Revolution,
by Bernie Sanders (2017)
Where We Go From Here,
by Bernie Sanders (2018)
Our Revolution,
by Bernie Sanders (2016)
This Fight Is Our Fight,
by Elizabeth Warren (2017)
by Cory Booker (2016)
Conscience of a Conservative,
by Jeff Flake (2017)
Two Paths,
by Gov. John Kasich (2017)
Every Other Monday,
by Rep. John Kasich (2010)
Courage is Contagious,
by John Kasich (1998)
Shortest Way Home,
by Pete Buttigieg (2019)
by Michelle Obama (2018)
Higher Loyalty,
by James Comey (2018)
The Making of Donald Trump,
by David Cay Johnston (2017)
Higher Loyalty ,
by James Comey (2018)
Trump vs. Hillary On The Issues ,
by Jesse Gordon (2016)
Outsider in the White House,
by Bernie Sanders (2015)

Book Reviews

(from Amazon.com)

(click a book cover for a review or other books by or about the presidency from Amazon.com)

Education and Equality
by Danielle Allen

(Click for Amazon book review)

BOOK REVIEW by OnTheIssues.org:

Danielle Allen is an academic who's running for Governor of Massachusetts in 2022. This book is an academic work (details below), but we read it as an introduction to her gubernatorial candidacy, by pulling out the policy issues. For her biography:

  • Allen is the director of the Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University
  • She won a MacArthur Fellowship (a "genius grant") and is the author of several books
  • This book was published in Feb. 2018, during the 2018 Massachusetts Gubernatorial race won by Gov. Charlie Baker (R-MA).
  • She announced her exploratory committee for Democratic nomination for Governor in December 2020 (this book is not a campaign book).

The title of the book refers to Allen's main theme: that schools should prepare children for civic participation -- not just for employment -- because increased civic participation results in increased equality. Allen cites LBJ's (and others') goal of education as society's great equalizer, but Allen says that economic gains alone are insufficient to gain equality without political involvement as well.

Allen extends "education and equality" to college as well as grade school. She includes the following chart, indicating that voting participation increases dramatically with more education -- even with more post-graduate education:

p. 44: Percentage of US citizens over 18 who voted in 2004 and 2008 presidential elections, by educational attainment
Educational attainment2004 election2008 election
Less than high school diploma40%39%
High school graduate56%55%
Some college or associate's degree69%68%
Bachelor's degree78%77%
Advanced degree84%83%

Allen separates out the economic goals of education -- job preparation -- from the social goals of education -- civic participation. That means, in policy terms, more focus on verbal abilities (humanities education) instead of the current focus on technical skills (STEM, Science / Technology / Engineering / Math ). She's got a chart showing the connection between type of education and civic participation too:

Table 2 p. 45: Not all college is the same
ActivityHumanities     STEM
Ever voted as of one year out93%83%
Wrote to public officials by ten years out     44%30%

As we mentioned above, this is an academic work -- not a campaign book at all. The target audience are academics, not voters -- as exemplified by these incomprehensible excerpts (with translations into plain English):

  • "We will do damage to valuable social energies if we work too hard to make the effects of inheritance nugatory." (p. 116)
    Translation: "If we tax inheritance too much, wealthy people will find other ways to help their children."

  • "The utilitarian social justifications for a system of education [is] that a polity as a whole secures economic competitiveness" (p. 17)
    Translation: "People vote to fund schools because they recognize that everyone gets richer when the schools are good."

  • "Analysts argue over [schools'] proper justification--economic competitiveness, or eudamonistic human flourishing." (p. 11)
    Translation: "Some people say stay in school to earn more money. while others say, to make yourself happier."

My roommate for several years was a Brandeis University politics professor, whose teenage son would make fun of his dad by saying things in dad's voice like, "the polity prefers eudaemonic to nugatory goals." The teen would follow up with, "Dad, you should say 'People like working for their own happiness instead of meaningless stuff,' if you want people to listen to you." We expect that Danielle Allen will have to learn that same lesson when she hits the campaign trail!

-- Jesse Gordon, OnTheIssues editor, March 2021

 OnTheIssues.org excerpts:  (click on issues for details)
Budget & Economy
    Lyndon Johnson: OpEd: Inheritance means kids don't have equal opportunity.
    Barack Obama: Recruit 100,000 math & science teachers within 10 years.
    Barack Obama: OpEd: STEM focus follows from Cold War ideology.
    Danielle Allen: AP test results are Innovative and under-utilized resource.
    Danielle Allen: School for humanistic purposes AND breadwinning work.
    Dwight Eisenhower: 1957 STEM focus follows from Cold War ideology.
    George Bush Sr.: 1989 Common Core Standards adopted in 40+ states.
    Mitt Romney: Create a better future where education leads to a good job.
    Ronald Reagan: 1983 STEM focus follows from Cold War ideology.
Families & Children
    Danielle Allen: Kids' development filled by teachers, schools, & families.
Government Reform
    Danielle Allen: Participatory readiness: prepare kids for civic engagement.
    Danielle Allen: College correlates to higher voting rates.
    Danielle Allen: Humanities education fosters civic participation.
Tax Reform
    Lyndon Johnson: Restore the inheritance tax.
    Danielle Allen: Civic education should include new media & social movements.

The above quotations are from Education and Equality
by Danielle Allen.

All material copyright 1999-2022
by Jesse Gordon and OnTheIssues.org
Reprinting by permission only.

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Page last edited: Oct 09, 2021