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[Susan notes: Stephen Krashen leads the way: we must follow, repeating the message over and over: The problem is poverty.]

Submitted to New York Times but not published

To the editor

In his speech at Hampton University ("Obama asks graduates to close education gap," May 9), President Obama remarked that "â¦..students in well-off areas are outperforming students in poorer rural or urban communities, no matter what skin color. Globally, it's not even close. In 8th grade science and math, for example, American students are ranked about 10th overall compared to top-performing countries."

The president is correct: Students in those well-off areas, who attend well-funded schools, do very well. They don't rank 10th overall world-wide: They score at the top in international tests of science and math, while American children in "poorer rural or urban communities" score below the international average. Our overall performance is unimpressive because such a high percentage of children in the US live in poverty, among the highest of all industrialized countries (about 22.5%, compared to Sweden's 2.5%).

This means that there is nothing seriously wrong with American education. The problem is poverty.

Stephen Krashen

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