Somewhere Winston Churchill said that all wisdom is not new wisdom. That is certainly true of Edward C. Banfield’s landmark book, The Unheavenly City, published 50 years ago. Many, if not most, of the people discussing urban problems today have not yet caught up to what Banfield said half a century ago.

Education is a classic example. People on both sides of many education issues today would be appalled at Banfield’s plain-spoken truths. While people on one side of education issues speak of “inclusion” and “diversity,” people on the other side say such things as “no child left behind.” Banfield, however, presents the brutal truth that there are some students who have no real interest in education, and whose disruptive behavior in the classroom can deprive many other students of a decent education and a decent future.

While others urge programs to keep adolescents from becoming “dropouts,” The Unheavenly City asserts that there are “compelling reasons for getting non-learners out of school” earlier than the current school-leaving age. This, Banfield urged, would be beneficial—not only to the other students, but to the non-learners themselves, and to society. According to Banfield, “children who cannot or will not learn are injured by too-long confinement in school.” “The boy who knows that he has learned

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