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[Susan notes: University alumni magazines are very good places for publishing important messages about the real problem in public schools. Go forth and do likewise.]

Published in USC Trojan Family Magazine

To the editor

The deck preceding the stimulating interview with gaming experts

("Deep play," Spring 2011) announced that online games "may help

salvage our failing schools." The experts interviewed made an

excellent case for games, but our schools are "failing" for only one

reason: Poverty.

Studies show that American students from well-funded schools who come

from middle-class families outscore students in nearly all other

countries on international tests. Our average scores are less than

spectacular because the US has the highest percentage of children in

poverty of all industrialized countries (over 20%; in contrast,

high-scoring Finland has less than 4%).

Poverty means inadequate nutrition, inadequate health care, exposure

to environmental toxins, and little access to books, all of which are

strongly associated with lower school performance. If all of our

children had the same advantages middle class children have, our test

scores would be at the top of the world.

Stephen Krashen

Professor Emeritus

The Rossier School of Education USC

Some sources (included with letter, not published)

American students in well-funded schools â¦

Berliner, D. The Context for Interpreting PISA Results in the USA:


Chauvinism, Misunderstanding, and the Potential to Distort the

Educational Systems of Nations. In Pereyra, M., Kottoff, H-G., &

Cowan, R. (Eds.). PISA under examination: Changing knowledge, changing

tests, and changing schools. Amsterdam: Sense Publishers. In press.

Bracey, G. 2009. Education Hell: Rhetoric vs. Reality. Educational

Research Service

Payne, K. and Biddle, B. 1999. Poor school funding, child poverty, and


achievement. Educational Researcher 28 (6): 4-13.

Poverty and hunger, health and access to books:

Berliner, D. 2009. Poverty and Potential: Out-of-School Factors and

School Success. Boulder and Tempe: Education and the Public Interest

Center & Education Policy Research Unit.


Krashen, S. 1997. Bridging inequity with books. Educational Leadership

55(4): 18-22.

Martin, M. 2004. A strange ignorance: The role of lead poisoning in

âfailing schools.â http://www.azsba.org/lead.htm.

Stephen Krashen, Professor Emeritus, USC

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