The Way Back Book Summary - The Way Back Book explained in key points
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The Way Back summary

F.H. Buckley

Restoring the Promise of America

18 mins
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    The Way Back
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    America’s poor public education system perpetuates social inequality at high economic cost.

    Here’s a straightforward question: If a boat were traveling from England to the Philippines via the Suez Canal, what are the names of each body of water it would pass through along the way? Today, most adults would be hard-pressed to come up with an answer, but in 1912 it was something an eighth-grade student in the United States was expected to know.

    Since then, the standards of American public education have drastically declined, and not just in geography: math skills and literacy rates have plummeted in the United States while those of other countries have improved.

    According to the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the United States, one of 65 countries under review, fell from 25th to 31st place in mathematics between 2009 and 2015.

    This is extremely important since the quality of a nation’s public education is directly related to its social mobility.

    In 2011, a study by Stanford University economist Eric Hanushek found a near perfect correlation between education and social advancement: Children who experience inequality in their education grow up to experience social inequality in the professional world.

    Out of all the countries in Hanushek’s study, America was most guilty of perpetuating inequality, tending to provide the best education to the richest people and an inferior education to the poor.

    A poor public-education system like this isn’t a problem that only affects the poor, either; it also comes at a high economic cost.

    When a country fails to produce educated workers with the right skill levels, the entire economy suffers.

    In 2013, Hanushek followed up with another study that showed how, by raising public school standards to match Canada’s, the United States could balance out its current debt crisis. And if that weren’t incentive enough, higher education standards could also result in every US worker receiving an average pay increase of 20 percent.

    As it stands now, private schools help the economy by producing a few great scientists. But the majority of the population receives a significantly inferior education, which is little help to them or to the economy.

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    What is The Way Back about?

    The Way Back (2016) offers an intriguing explanation of why the American dream is a long-lost concept. These blinks take a close look at the fundamental systems of the United States, from education to criminal justice, and reveal exactly how these systems have broken down and why they are in desperate need of repair.

    Best quote from The Way Back

    While legacy college admissions perpetuate social immobility, so too do meritocratic admissions.

    —F.H. Buckley
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    Who should read The Way Back?

    • Public school teachers looking for insight into the school system
    • Entrepreneurs fighting bureaucratic red tape
    • Students of sociology and economics

    About the Author

    F.H. Buckley is a Canadian writer who specializes in constitutional and contract law. A professor at George Mason University in Virginia, his writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal and the National Post. His other books include The Once and Future King: The Rise of Crown Government in America and The Morality of Laughter.

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