Book Review

Shell Game: Corporate America’s Agenda for Schools

Reviewed by Ann S. Keim, Superintendent,
Pequea Valley School District, Kinzers, Pa.


When corporations are shedding employees and reducing job opportunities as fast as they can, why are business leaders demanding that educators produce a world-class workforce? Could it be, Clinton E. Boutwell speculates, that one way to keep wages and incomes low is to have a huge supply of highly educated workers but a small demand for their services?

The jobs’ dilemma is obvious: Lots of well-qualified graduates are coming out of high schools and colleges and too few good jobs are available to go around. Boutwell, a long-time educator, consultant and author, takes this dilemma as the starting point in Shell Game as he explores some critical questions for today’s schools and tomorrow’s work force.

With too few decent job opportunities for graduates, how can education be an advantage? Is the current push for greater numbers of high-tech, high-skill workers a fraud? What will happen to all of those highly qualified workers and college graduates who are not lucky enough to land one of the few jobs for which they are qualified?

In Shell Game, the author provides some logical, though surprising, well-researched and carefully documented answers to these and other related questions about education versus business for the 21st century.

(Shell Game: Corporate America’s Agenda for Schools, by Clinton E. Boutwell, Phi Delta Kappa Educational Foundation, P.O. Box 789, Bloomington, Ind. 47402, 1997, 367 pp., $35 hardcover)