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Charles J. Sykes

Research fellow at the Hoover Institution, author of Dumbing Down Our Kids (1995), A Nation of Victims (1992) and other works. Sykes is also a senior fellow at the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, where he serves as editor in chief of the policy journal WI: Wisconsin Interest. He is a sharp critic of the current education system and is working on an anthology on education reform.

Books by Charles J. Sykes
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A Nation of Victims : The Decay of the American Character (1992)
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Dumbing Down Our Kids (1995)
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End of Privacy, The (1999)
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Privacy is not an absolute; like free speech, or any other right, it must be weighed in the balance against such values as freedom of information, free trade, national security, and the publicís need to know. Indeed, there are so many competing claims that privacy can hope to survive the balancing tests only if it is well established and well understood as a basic principle. But it is neither. Its legal status is confused, at best. And among the lost arts of our age is the ability to gracefully tell another, "Itís none of your business." In part, that is because we too often forget why privacy matters.

Sep. 2000 - from "Invasion of the Privacy Snatchers", published by the Hoover Institution
Anxious to protect its own secrets, the government remains jealous of the ability of citizens to keep their own. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies want to deny the rest of us the ability to encode our own communications to prevent their easy interception or reading.

Sep. 2000 - from "Invasion of the Privacy Snatchers", published by the Hoover Institution
Privacy is like oxygen. We really appreciate it only when it is gone.

Sep. 2000 - from "Invasion of the Privacy Snatchers", published by the Hoover Institution
[Eleven maxims not taught in school] 1) Life is not fair; get used to it. 2) The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself. 3) You will NOT make 40 thousand dollars a year right out of high school (or college). You won't be a vice president with a car phone until you earn both. 4) If you think your teachers are tough, wait till you get a boss. S/he doesn't have tenure. 5) Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping; they called it opportunity. 6) If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes. Learn from them. 7) Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes, and listening to you talk about how cool you are. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parents' generation, try delousing the closet in your own room. 8) Your school may have done away with winners and losers but life has not. In some schools they have abolished failing grades; they'll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. This, of course, doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life. 9) Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off, and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. Do that on your own time. 10) Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs. 11) Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.

1995 - from Dumbing Down Our Kids
The politicization of higher education - which has drawn so much criticism and publicity - has been reproduced at the elementary and secondary levels of education with little publicity or opposition, even though in many ways it is more toxic. Children in elementary school are especially defenseless against the appropriation of their education by propagandists, since they lack even the modest abililty to debate and dissent that college students occasionally still retain.

1995 - from Dumbing Down Our Kids
The plaint of the victim - "It's not my fault" - has become the loudest and most influential voice in society. Victims of parents, of families, of men, of women, of the workplace, of sex, of stress, of drugs, of food, of personal physical characteristics - these and a host of other groups are engaged in an ever-escalating fight for attention, sympathy, money and legal or government protection.

1992 - from A Nation of Victims
Not to put too fine a point on it, meaningful reform means breaking the stranglehold of the educational bureaucracy and the educationist establishment on the nation's schools. Any systematic effort to improve the schools that fails to wrest them from the 'interlocking directorate' of the special interests will run aground--as previous attempts have done when they left intact the very institutions that nurtured, sustained, and fed off of educational mediocrity.

1995 - from Dumbing Down Our Kids