The Language Police by Diane Ravitch Wins Hoover Institution's 2004 Uncommon Book Award

Thursday, September 8, 2005

The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn, written by Hoover distinguished visiting fellow Diane Ravitch, was named by the Hoover Institution as the winner of its 2004 Uncommon Book Award.

The award was announced by Hoover Institution director John Raisian on September 8 during a meeting of the Koret Task Force on K–12 Education, of which Ravitch is also a member.

In The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn (Alfred A. Knopf, 2003), Ravitch maintains that America's students are compelled to read insipid texts that have been censored and bowdlerized, issued by publishers who willingly cut controversial material from their books—a case of the bland leading the bland.

The Language Police is the first full-scale exposé of this cultural and educational scandal written by a leading historian. It documents the existence of an elaborate and well-established protocol of beneficent censorship, quietly endorsed and implemented by test makers and textbook publishers, states, and the federal government. Ravitch offers a powerful political and economic analysis of the causes of censorship. She has practical and sensible solutions for ending it, which will improve the quality of books for students as well as liberating publishers, state boards of education, and schools from the grip of pressure groups.

Information about the book is available at and at

Diane Ravitch is a historian of education and research professor of education at New York University. In addition to her distinguished visiting fellowship and membership in the Koret Task Force at Hoover, she is a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. She was assistant secretary in charge of research in the U.S. Department of Education in the administration of President George H. W. Bush and was appointed to the National Assessment Governing Board by President Bill Clinton. The author of seven previous books on education, including the critically acclaimed Left Back: A Century of Battles over School Reform, she lives in Brooklyn, New York.

The W. Glenn Campbell and Rita Ricardo-Campbell Uncommon Book Award is presented annually to an author affiliated with the Hoover Institution whose work is selected by a panel of Hoover fellows. The award is given for a published book or other significant work on a public policy issue that, in the panel's determination, meets the highest standards of scholarship at the Hoover Institution.

The $10,000 honorarium that accompanies the Uncommon Book Award is underwritten by a gift from Hoover Institution senior fellow Rita Ricardo-Campbell and the late director emeritus Glenn Campbell. The award recognizes the work of a Hoover fellow, or other person associated with the Institution, whose writing and research reaches the highest standards of scholarship on public policy issues.