Posted on US News website by Professor Emeritus Stephen Krashen in response to "What Arne Duncan thinks of
No Child Left Behind" Feb. 6:
Arne Duncan's view of what needs to be done (better tests, better
tracking systems, rigorous and uniform standards, earlier start,
better teachers) is based on the assumption that there is something
seriously wrong with American education.
The only thing wrong is poverty. When you control for the effects of
poverty, American children do quite well compared to children in other
countries. US schools with fewer than 25% of children in poverty
outscore all countries in the world in Math and Science (see Gerald
Bracey's column on the Huffington Post, July 22, 2007). US children
only fall below the international average when 75% of more of the
students in a school are children of poverty.
The obvious solution is to reduce poverty. When all children have
proper diets, are surrounded by good reading material, and have the
other advantages that children from high-income families have, our
schools will be considered the best in the world.
For a description of the devastating (but often reversible) effects
of hunger, see Gerald Coles: "Hunger, academic success, and the hard
bigotry of indifference" Rethinking Schools, vol 23, 2, 2008/2009.