Orwell Award Announcement SusanOhanian.Org Home

[Susan notes: Note the good analogies in this strong letter.]

Submitted to Los Angeles Times but not published

To the editor

According to the LA Times ("A small problem growing," Feb. 12) because of nutritional deficiencies, North Koreans are not as tall as South Koreans. The North Korean prime minister has recommended stretching exercises for children as a means of making them taller.

He must have been inspired by No Child Left

Behind and the National Reading Panel. Their approach is also to stretch children by artificial (and painful) means. Children of poverty read less well than children of high-income families because they have less access to print. Instead of providing more print (e.g. better school and public libraries in

high-poverty areas), No Child Left Hehind prescribes (and demands) skill-building: e.g. phonics, vocabulary, and reading comprehension exercises. Just like stretching, it is painful, and just like stretching, it doesn't work.

Korean children need better nutrition. Children of poverty with little access to books need better access to books. There is no substitute.

Saying that we must insist on skills because children just won't read is like saying hungry children just won't eat. But studies clearly show that given interesting and comprehensible reading material, nearly all children find reading pleasant and eventually read.

Stephen Krashen, Emeritus Professor, USC

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of education issues vital to a democracy. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information click here. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.