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[Susan notes: Stephen Krashen's letter makes a great point. Repeat it over and over: Our national scores are unimpressive because the US has the highest percentage of children living in poverty of all industrialized countries.



It's the poverty, stupid.]

Submitted to Washington Post but not published
11/24/2009

To the editor





President Obama claims we must improve math and science education to compete with other countries ("From Obama, a new focus on math and science education," Nov. 24).



Actually, we are doing quite well. According to the World Economic Federation, the US ranks 5th out of 133 countries in "availability of scientists & engineers," second in "quality of scientific research institutions," first in "university-industry research collaboration," and third in patents (per capita) for new inventions.



Why are math and science test scores mediocre? Students from high-income families attending well-funded schools outscore all or nearly all other countries on tests of math and science. Only our children in high-poverty schools score below the international average. Children living in poverty do poorly because of factors unrelated to school (e.g. diet, pollution, little access to books). Our national scores are unimpressive because the US has the highest percentage of children living in poverty of all industrialized countries (25%, compared to Denmark's 3%).



There is no science/technology education crisis. But to ensure that all students have the chance to learn, we must solve the problem of child poverty in the US.



http://voices.washingtonpost.com/44/2009/11/from-obama-a-new-focus-on-math.html?wprss=44

Stephen Krashen


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