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[Susan notes: I admit that Alan Bonsteel is the kind of ideologue I usually ignore. But Stephen Krashen takes the right approach by providing a rebuttal. Even if it isn't published, his reasoned, fact-based reply will cause some people at the newspaper office to stop and think for a few seconds. And if it is published, then the effects spread out in waves.



Kudos.]

Submitted to Orange County Register but not published
05/09/2011

To the editor

Alan Bonsteel ( America's academic meltdown, May 5) claims that American students are "taking a shellacking" on international tests of math and science because of bad teaching. This isn't true.



Middle-class American students attending well-funded schools outscore students in nearly all other countries on these tests. Overall scores are unspectacular because over 20% of our students live in poverty, the highest percentage among all industrialized countries. High-scoring Finland, for example, first on the PISA science test in 2006, has less than 4% child poverty.

The fact that American students who are not living in poverty do very well shows that there is no crisis in teacher quality. The problem is poverty.



We are always interested in improving teaching, but the best teaching in the world will have little effect. when students are hungry, are in poor health because of inadequate diet and inadequate health care, and have low literacy development because of a lack of access to books. In addition, dropout rates will remain high if students need to leave school in order to work.

Our first priority must be to protect children from the effects of poverty, beginning with nutrition ("no child left unfed"), better health care, and improved school and public libraries.

Stephen Krashen


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