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[Susan notes: We need LOTS of letters flooding papers across the country with this message.]

Published in Sacramento Bee

To the editor

Poverty key to school problems

Re "To fix our schools, unions must let go of status quo" (Viewpoints, Oct. 27): Bonnie Reiss thinks that American schools have fallen behind schools in other countries.

The basis for this statement is our low scores on international tests when compared to other countries. Our scores, however, are only low because we have such a high percentage of children in poverty, compared with other countries that participate in international tests. When we consider only middle-class children who attend well-funded schools, our math scores are near the top of the world.

Our overall scores look low because the United States has the highest percentage of children in poverty of all industrialized countries (well over 20 percent, compared to Denmark's 3 percent).

Our educational system is not "broken," as Reiss claims. The problem is poverty.

Stephen Krashen

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