Excellence vs. Equality

Excellence vs. Equality : Can Society Achieve Both Goals?

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Excellence vs Equality: Can Society Achieve Both Goals? explores the issues faced by societies attempting to preserve democratic ideals and the common good in an era of incommensurate wealth and opportunity. As differences in advantage and ability affect the relationships between institutions and the people who comprise them, the book argues that political and social compromise is needed to prevent economic inequality from threatening the well-being and mobility of the less able and less fortunate. Topics include globalization, technology, innovation, talent and meritocracy, higher education, big business, labor unions, and social justice within educational and workplace settings. The author raises perennial and ever-prescient questions regarding how to balance excellence and equality, and how to reduce inequality around the world.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 198 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 12.7mm | 292g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1138940909
  • 9781138940901

Table of contents

Introduction - Excellence vs Equality: Consider This

Chapter 1 - The Search for Talent

Geography and "Smart" Thinking

Reaffirming the Best and Brightest

A Changing World: Globalization and Technology

Brain Drain Counts

Tech Companies and Tech Workers

Talented Workers and Big Data

The New American Dream

Centers of Creativity


Chapter 2 - Excellence, Equality and Education

Definitions and Labels

The Early Role of the Schools

The Common School Movement

The Conservative Perspective

IQ Testing and Scoring

Do Schools Make a Difference?

The Coleman Report

The Jencks Study

The Duncan Model

The Unaccounted Factors: Luck

Aptitude vs. Achievement

Education and Economic Opportunity

The Hazards of Merit


Chapter 3 - Socio-Economic Class and Mobility

Measures of Inequality

A Just Society

Power, Privilege and Elite Institutions

A Change in Meritocracy

Excellence vs. Equality

Educational Opportunity and Mobility

Economic Opportunity: Old Ideas, New Ideas

Different Talents, Different Rewards

The Role of Government

Merit and Achievement

Merit and Human Capital

Winning at All Costs


Chapter 4 - Innovation and Human Capital

Outsourcing Middle-Class Jobs

The Global Village

Tech Society, Tech Expertise

The Role of Innovation

China and India - and the Future

The Rise of Asia

Growing Inequality in America


Chapter 5 - Beyond Excellence: The Rich, Superrich and the Rest of Us

The Value of a College Education

Hard Work, Competition and Free Markets

Fat Cats: Old Money vs. New Money

Wealth vs. Work

Ruling the World

Hard Times for Labor

Profits vs. Wages

Where the U.S. is Heading

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Review quote

"Excellence vs. Equality challenges us to consider a potential tradeoff between two socially valued goals and the strategies to address them jointly as well as the consequences of failing to do so. Ornstein presents historical, philosophical, technological, and empirical insights on the imperative and its policy options. For example, can universal identification and nurturing of talent from infancy through adulthood combine to promote excellence and greater equality? This well-written book provides an engaging and thoughtful perspective for social action."

Henry M. Levin, William H. Kilpatrick Professor of Economics and Education, Teachers College, Columbia University, USA

"Allan Ornstein asks the reader to think about questions related to wealth and class, innovation and technology, and excellence and equality. Can society provide equality of opportunity for ordinary folks or will opportunity be reserved for those from inherited wealth and privilege? To what extent does society reward talent and merit while providing for those with average or less-than-average abilities and skills? Alternatively, he concludes that performance and pay should be based on people serving and helping the common good and common purpose, not a free market or survival of the fittest mentality. This is a must-read for anyone concerned with fairness, social justice, and/or growing inequality in the U.S. or around the world."

William Owings, Professor of Finance, Old Dominion University, USA

"This book does not deal with school reform, administrative leadership or effectiveness strategies. It is more like a welcome sermon to re-awaken in readers the moral obligation to dedicate themselves to creating a more just society."

M. Donald Thomas, President, Public Education Support Group, USA
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About Allan C. Ornstein

Allan C. Ornstein is Professor of Education and Social Policy at St. John's University, USA. He is a former Fulbright-Hayes Scholar and author of 60 books and 400 articles.
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