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[Susan notes: Stephen Krashen makes crucial points is this perfect letter, which is short and research-based, handily refuting stale cliches of the press. We must keep repeating these points--in the hopes that maybe one day the press will get it.]

Submitted to Time Magazine but not published

To the editor

Time says that "well-off American students may be falling behind their peers around the world" ( The case against summer vacation, August 2). Not so.

Studies show that American students attending well-funded schools who come from high-income families outscore students in nearly all other countries on international tests. Only our children in high poverty schools score below the international average. Our scores are mediocre because the US has the second highest percentage of children in poverty of all industrialized countries (22%, compared to Denmark's 2.5%). This strongly suggests that our educational system has been successful; the problem is poverty.

The summer slump in reading among children of poverty has been linked to lack of access to reading material. Children from low-income families read less because they have little access to books at home, at school and in their communities. Public libraries in high-poverty areas are not well-funded, and have fewer materials and are open fewer hours than those in low-poverty areas.

The most obvious, important, and economical first step toward eliminating the summer slump in reading is better funding of public libraries in high-poverty areas and more support for librarians who know what children really like to read.

Stephen Krashen

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