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[Susan notes: Go forth and do likewise. We all need to use the points in this letter in our local media.]

Submitted to New York Daily News but not published
03/11/2012

To the editor

Paul Peterson says we should Fix public schools before child poverty, (March 11), arguing that low parental income is the not cause of low school performance. But Peterson agrees with the massive research showing that factors associated with poverty are related to school performance. These include factors Peterson doesn't mention that have a powerful impact on learning: poor diet, lack of health care, exposure to environmental toxins, and little access to books. The best teaching in the world will have little effect when children are hungry, sick, and have very little to read.

We are now planning to spend billions on a huge nation-wide testing program, far more than is needed to accurately measure student achievement. We all recognize the need for assessment, but this money would be better spent if it were used to expand breakfast and lunch programs, provide more school nurses and improve school libraries in schools in high-poverty areas. Protecting children from the effects of poverty will raise test scores and improve school achievement, and, more important, it will improve the quality of life for millions of children.

Stephen Krashen


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