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Murray, coauthor of The Bell Curve, believes our educational system's failures stem from the fundamental lie "that every child can be anything he or she wants" and that such "educational romanticism" prevents progress. Four "simple truths," he asserts, would prove better: children have different abilities, "half of the children are below average," too many children go to college, and America's future depends on the gifted. Murray takes care with his first point, discussing various types of abilities instead of the oft-maligned I.Q. measure; however, he does believe that test scores reflect ability. He argues that there are only a limited number of academically gifted people and these are America's future leaders, that only this "elite" can enjoy college productively and that the nongifted shouldn't be channeled by their high school counselors into training for that "college chimera," which wouldn't make them happy anyway. Further, he argues, if the Educational Testing Service created "certification tests" covering what employers want applicants to know, these would become the "gold standard" for applicants, rather than college degrees. This book is likely to stir controversy even if it appears that Murray is dressing up an old elitist argument-test scores reflect ability, so high-scorers should be offered a challenging education, while the below-average should be herded into vocational training. (Aug.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.