In the papers collected in Education: Assumptions versus History, Thomas Sowell takes a hard look at the state of education in our schools and universities. His imperative is to test the assumptions underlying contemporary educational policies and innovations against the historical and contemporary evidence.
In a well-reasoned and engaging style, Sowell discusses the controversies over affirmative action, race and IQ, tuition tax credits and academic tenure. The experiences of blacks and other ethnic groups in the American educational system are examined closely to identify the factors and patterns behind both success and failure. In writing of the bitter controversy over black intelligence, he asks if there "was really anything to explain? Is there anything peculiar about either the level or the pattern of black IQs? " when compared to other groups. The author addresses university education in several essays, including one that uses the insights of Thorstein Veblen's classic 1918 work, Higher Education in America, to assess the condition of the modern university.