A groundbreaking examination of the growing inequality gap from the best-selling author of Bowling Alone: why fewer Americans today have the opportunity for upward mobility.
It's the American dream: get a good education, work hard, buy a house, and achieve prosperity and success. This is the America we believe in - a nation of opportunity, constrained only by ability and effort. But during the last 25 years, we have seen a disturbing "opportunity gap" emerge. Americans have always believed in equality of opportunity, the idea that all kids, regardless of their family background, should have a decent chance to improve their lot in life. Now this central tenet of the American dream seems no longer true or, at the least, much less true than it was. Robert Putnam - about whom The Economist said, "[H]is scholarship is wide-ranging, his intelligence luminous, his tone modest, his prose unpretentious and frequently funny" - offers a personal but also authoritative look at this new American crisis. Putnam begins with his high school class of 1959 in Port Clinton, Ohio. By and large the vast majority of those students - "our kids" - went on to lives better than those of their parents. But their children and grandchildren have had harder lives amid diminishing prospects. Putnam tells the tale of lessening opportunity through poignant life stories of rich and poor kids from cities and suburbs across the country, drawing on a formidable body of research done especially for this book.
Our Kids is a rare combination of individual testimony and rigorous evidence. Putnam provides a disturbing account of the American dream that should initiate a deep examination of the future of our country.
©2015 Robert D. Putnam (P)2015 Simon & Schuster Audio
This book is filled with fascinating nuggets of data, insights, and explanations for our world. I sometimes felt like the selection of anecdote was a little manipulative. Putnam admits that some examples were chosen that were particularly vivid to make the lesson clearer. When talking about the macro data though, Putnam seems fair, modest, creative, and insightful. The policy recommendations feature unsurprisingly less modest suggestions about the scope of our knowledge, but again he's open about this. An excellent read either in conjunction with Charles Murray's Coming Apart or for those who find lengthy data analysis a struggle to read.
I think this book sheds light on a problem that a lot of us try to ignore - the growing poor right around our own neighborhoods. I don't have children, but I am nonetheless amazed when someone glibly states "if you want to get ahead, you just need to work a little harder". This book explains just why that no longer really rings true. I found it to be very informative and thought provoking.
Yes, I would recommend this book to a friend, I wish I could buy a copy for every teacher at my kids' school and have them read it. I think that a lot of this book is about thing that we are all aware of, things that happen, yet haven't quite put words to it. Also, the way we treat some kids and not others, something I believe came on us slowly, and not really consciously intended. He brings it to the surface.
All the personal stories of the parents and the kids.
Arthur Morey was an excellent pick for this book. There are a lot of statistics in this book, yet when he read them it was easy to keep up.
This book should be required reading for anyone concerned with education in the US. Let me expand on the terms of that statement. By anyone, I mean teachers, administrators, parents, politicians, volunteers, and activists. By education, I mean K-12 and higher ed. Though the most salient points of this research cry for action at the K-12 level, there are important implications for higher ed as well, particularly with regard to the role of community colleges and the proprietary sector. There's nothing less at stake than the future of our economy and our democracy and that elusive conception we term "the American Dream."
A thorough and thoroughly heartbreaking treatment of declining social mobility in the U.S. Nonetheless, it convincing identified its causes as well as potential cures. Must-reading for both conservatives and liberals alike.
Finally, a research-based complete look at the good, bad, and ugly in the Educational System in America. Forcing a wide-eyed look at what is really happening in the US and reminding the reader that it is just to easy to blame it on the educators! Well worth reading--let's hope there will be action by many!
Fantastic book. One of the most important stories I've heard told in the last decade. I'm inspired, so much so that I'm thinking of starting a company to socket some of the problems discussed in the book.
I only wish a sequel will come out with more stories from American kids. But best ever would be to catch up with the study participants in 5 years, 10 years.....etc.
Started interesting but turned quickly into an instruction manual for privileged middle class and UMC parents on how to effectively raise their children while ignoring the systemic segregation of the poor and working class in the United States.
I've allways been turned off by these types of books that glorify the privileged and wealthy at the expense of the working class.
The first couple of chapters explaining the reality in America that upward mobility for the working class is almost nonexistent today thanks to neo-liberal policies.
"Essential reading on both sides of The Pond."
What has already happened in the US and what is likely to happen in the UK
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