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[Susan notes: This fine letter pointing to the first thing we need to do to develop high literacy is also posted at Stephen Krashen blogspot.

We need to repeat this message over and over and over.

Write a letter to your local media.]

Published in Los Angeles Daily News

To the editor

Re Good, bad, expected news in latest school test scores (Commentary, Nov. 27):

The gap between test scores of students living in poverty and those from higher-income families remains with us. We know why. Children of poverty suffer from food deprivation and have inferior health care. Both of these have a devastating effect on school performance.

We also know that developing high levels of literacy requires a great deal of self-selected reading of interest to the students. Children of poverty have little access to books at home, in school and in their neighborhoods. The best teaching in the world will not help if children are hungry, ill and have nothing to read.

What should be done? The obvious first step is to protect children from the effects of poverty. Let̢۪s spend less on standardized tests, eliminating those not demonstrated to improve learning, and invest more in school food programs, health care, libraries and librarians.

Stephen Krashen, USC Professor Emeritus

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