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[Susan notes: I would note that Joanne Yatvin, a longtime educator, is former president of NCTE.

Stephen Krashen comment: Joanne Yatvin ("School community centers") is absolutely right. Poverty has a tremendous effect on children and her schools-as-community-centers proposal makes good sense educationally and financially.

In contrast, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's approach is to spend billions on creating "rigorous" standards and inflicting more tests on our already outrageously over-tested children. This doesn't make sense, and promises to be a disaster educationally and financially.]

Published in The Oregonian

To the editor

I am out of patience with the politicians and media pontificators who keep whining about "failing" and "underperforming" schools ("Oregon's a Slow Starter, etc." Aug. 9, 2009). Would they call a laid-off worker a "failing

wage earner" or someone with thick glasses an "underperforming viewer"?

The truth is that schools everywhere are the only as good as the communities that surround them and the governments that control them.

Students who live in physical poverty are intellectually and socially disadvantaged before they even walk through a schoolhouse door. Schools

without libraries; physical education, art, and music classes; and ample computers are just holding pens to keep kids off the streets. Teachers who know they will be judged only by their students' test scores forego real teaching for test prep, workbooks, memorization, and drills.

Instead of tightening the screws on these disabled schools as Education Secretary Arne Duncan advocates, or handing them over to state as the Oregonian suggests, why not turn them into full service, year-round community centers, providing--in addition to the same educational advantages available to schools in well-to-do neighborhoods- - health and dental

services; meals as needed; well-stocked libraries; after-school and evening recreation and tutoring for children; and job training, book groups, and craft classes for adults? The buildings and basic equipment are already there; only the additional personnel, learning materials, and extra open time are lacking. Would supplying those enhancements to disadvantaged

schools be more expensive than increasing testing and remedial instruction, creating more charter schools, and dealing with the consequences of having thousands of educationally disabled young people dumped into American society?

Joanne Yatvin

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