Monday, July 4, 2016

Education: The real problem

Sent to the New York Post, July 4, 2016

The Post has declared war on teachers and school administrators. Recent issues contain story after story about educators' misdeeds: administrators encouraging cheating on exams, teachers having sex with students, and financial mismanagement.   Often there is no clear evidence for the accusations. "School leaders allow cheating ‘to boost the numbers’: staffers" (July 3), for example, is based on the word of unnamed "staffers"and "whistle-blowers."  Nor are we told how frequently these horrible things happen.
The real problem with education is rarely mentioned: Poverty. When researchers control for poverty, American schools score near the top of the world on international tests; our overall scores are mediocre because we have more child poverty than nearly all other industrialized countries, a staggering 25%.  Poverty means food deprivation, lack of health care, and little access to books, all of which cause poor school performance.
Instead of spreading rumors, let's make sure our students are protected from the negative impact of poverty: let's push for better food programs, more school nurses, and well-supported school libraries.

Stephen Krashen

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