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[Susan notes: Kudos to the writers for getting EVIDENCE about
poverty and the wholesale dismissal of school
faculties, into the daily press.]

Published in Boulder Daily Camera
12/20/2008

To the editor


Underestimating the impact of poverty

The Colorado Department of Education and Boulder
Valley School officials think that re-organizing
Columbine Elementary School is going solve the
problem of low test-scores. It won't.

A large proportion of students who attend
Columbine Elementary come from financially needy
families -- 88.1 percent of the children are on
free or reduced price lunch. There isn't a single
convincing case in educational research of this
kind of reform producing significant effects when
poverty is that high.

We have underestimated the impact of poverty:
Children of poverty suffer from malnutrition,
stressful home situations, toxic environments,
and have far less access to books at home, in
their communities and in school. They don't need
their teachers fired and re-hired. They need more
and better food, cleaner air and water, more
encouragement and nurturing, and more access to
books through improved libraries.

Re-organizing the school is like re-organizing
the deck chairs on the Titantic: It neglects the
major cause of the low test scores.

The writers are Professors Emeritus,
The University of Northern Colorado
and the University of Southern California,
respectively

Yvonne Siu-Runyan and Stephen Krashen


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