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Learning Curve

  • An F for transparency
    “Look at this shiny thing over here!” – Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma, Oct. 14, 2014.

Mitch Daniels and 'Real Education'

Now seems like an opportune time to revisit an opinion piece I wrote in 2009. Then-Gov. Mitch Daniels had recently passed out to members of the Indiana Education Roundtable copies of a book by Charles Murray, co-author of "The Bell Curve." The 1994 book has been denounced in some quarters as racist. One observer at the Roundtable meeting told me that former Gov. Jeb Bush, a guest at the meeting, even flinched when he saw Murray's name on the book Daniels was touting.

It's interesting to see that the book, which argues that too many people go to college, was cited by the governor for changing the way he views education. What does that mean for Purdue University?

My 2009 story began:

When the Indiana Education Roundtable met last month, Gov. Mitch Daniels had recommended reading for its members. He gave each a copy of Charles Murray's "Real Education."

"Provocative," the governor told the Roundtable at the meeting's end, and the author's views have "changed the way I think about education."

A few of Murray's primary assertions:

  • "There's not much that even the best schools can do to raise the reading and math achievement of low-ability children."
  • "One of the most damaging messages of educational romanticism has been that everyone should go to college."
  • "The proposition is not that America's future should depend on an elite that is educated to run the country, but that whether we like it or not, America's future does depend on an elite that runs the country."
If it sounds familiar, it's because Murray's message is in the vein of "The Bell Curve," the 1994 book he co-authored with Richard J. Herrnstein -- a book linking genetics and IQ, widely denounced as racist and methodologically unsound.

To see the entire story, click on this URL:

Karen Francisco, editorial page editor for The Journal Gazette, has been an Indiana journalist since 1981. She writes frequently about education for The Journal Gazette opinion pages and here, where she looks at the business, politics and science of learning as it relates to northeast Indiana, the state and the nation. She can be reached at 260-461-8206 or by e-mail at