The Tyranny of the Meritocracy: Democratizing Higher Education in America, Guinier, Lani

The Tyranny of the Meritocracy: Democratizing Higher Education in America

Authors: Guinier, Lani

Publisher: Beacon Press

ISBN: 9780807006283

Classification: Fiction

Synopsis: A fresh and bold argument for revamping our standards of “merit” and a clear blueprint for creating collaborative education models that strengthen our democracy rather than privileging individual elites

Standing on the foundations of America’s promise of equal opportunity, our universities purport to serve as engines of social mobility and practitioners of democracy. But as acclaimed scholar and pioneering civil rights advocate Lani Guinier argues, the merit systems that dictate the admissions practices of these institutions are functioning to select and privilege elite individuals rather than create learning communities geared to advance democratic societies. Having studied and taught at schools such as Harvard University, Yale Law School, and the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Guinier has spent years examining the experiences of ethnic minorities and of women at the nation’s top institutions of higher education, and here she lays bare the practices that impede the stated missions of these schools.

Goaded on by a contemporary culture that establishes value through ranking and sorting, universities assess applicants using the vocabulary of private, highly individualized merit. As a result of private merit standards and ever-increasing tuitions, our colleges and universities increasingly are failing in their mission to provide educational opportunity and to prepare students for productive and engaged citizenship.

To reclaim higher education as a cornerstone of democracy, Guinier argues that institutions of higher learning must focus on admitting and educating a class of students who will be critical thinkers, active citizens, and publicly spirited leaders. Guinier presents a plan for considering “democratic merit,” a system that measures the success of higher education not by the personal qualities of the students who enter but by the work and service performed by the graduates who leave.

Guinier goes on to offer vivid examples of communities that have developed effective learning strategies based not on an individual’s “merit” but on the collaborative strength of a group, learning and working together, supporting members, and evolving into powerful collectives. Examples are taken from across the country and include a wide range of approaches, each innovative and effective. Guinier argues for reformation, not only of the very premises of admissions practices but of the shape of higher education itself.

Watch the power of

Lightsail in action

×

SUPPORT GROWING READERS

Immediately Engage Students
Immediately Engage Students
Simple intuitive design has classrooms reading within minutes.
Exponentially Grow Reading Time
Exponentially Grow Reading Time
Students love the LightSail experience and naturally spend more time reading.
Accelerate Literacy Development
Accelerate Literacy Development
Students reading 25 minutes a day on LightSail are seeing 2+ years of Lexile growth in a single year.

LightSail Education is a comprehensive Lexile and standards-aligned, literacy platform and digital e-book library. Including multimodal learning functionality and featuring books from leading publishers, LightSail holistically assesses and nurtures each student on their reading and writing-to-learn journey, throughout elementary, middle, and high school.

LightSail Blog
Quick & Easy LightSail Tips to Help Prepare Students for Spring Testing
Quick & Easy LightSail Tips to Help Prepare Students for Spring Testing
Believe it or not, test prep season is upon us. With just a few adjustments to your normal LightSail reading block, you can use our platform to help students prepare… Read more
From Powwows to Potlatches: Creating a Native American Themed Unit in Rosen-LightSail
From Powwows to Potlatches: Creating a Native American Themed Unit in Rosen-LightSail
November was Native American Heritage Month. Did you know that more than five million people of Native American decent currently live in the United States? The U.S. is home to… Read more
Celebrating Hispanic Heritage & Culture
Celebrating Hispanic Heritage & Culture
At Rosen-LightSail, we are committed to celebrating diversity everyday. From September 15th – October 15th, we specifically celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month by recognizing the contributions of Hispanic and Latinx… Read more

*LightSail offers a 2,000 or a 6,000 title bundle with its student subscriptions. Other titles are available for individual purchase.