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[Susan notes: This letter says it all--and says it an a powerfully straightforward and compact, researched-based form. Participate in grassroots resistance: go forth and use this letter everywhere you can.]

Submitted to Washington Post but not published

To the editor

The Manifesto got it all wrong

The Manifesto ("How to fix our schools," October 8) presents proposals that have no support from the research: Studies indicate that performance-based teacher evaluation based on test scores is inaccurate, that financial incentives and restructuring do not work, that charters are no more effective than non-charters, and that technological innovations, despite the hype, typically do not live up to their promise.

The Manifesto ignores the real problem: Poverty. The best teaching cannot overcome the enormous negative influence of malnutrition and hunger, lack of health care, environmental toxins, and lack of access to books. Clear evidence that poverty is the problem is the finding that American students from well-funded schools who come from high-income families outscore nearly all other countries on international tests. Our overall scores are unspectacular because the US has a very high percentage of children in poverty (over 20%, compared to Denmark's 3%).

The first step in "reform" is to protect children from the effects of poverty: Improved health care, good food, and improved libraries and library services for children in high-poverty areas. When all American children have the advantages that middle-class children have, our international test scores will be at the top of the world.

Stephen Krashen

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