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[Susan notes: It is useful to remind the public what might be done with the money--to much better effect.]

Published in Contra Costa Times

What to Do with $7 Billion

According to the National Association of School Boards ("Testing may cost states $7 billion," April 28), President Bush's plan for testing
could cost as much as seven billion dollars. There are better uses for the money. If the seven billion were set aside now, and invested
at five percent, it would generate 350 million dollars per year.

About half of this testing is reading comprehension. This money would be much better spent in a way that will promote literacy development, rather than simply to measure it: It could be use to improve the staffing and collections of our school libraries.

Three hundred fifty million dollars would purchase one additional library book per year for each of the 21.6 million children who would
be tested under the current plan. Numerous studies have confirmed that scores on reading comprehension tests are linked to the
availability of books and the quality of school libraries. In addition, research done by Assistant Secretary of Education Susan B.
Neuman confirms that children from low-income families have very little access to reading material, in school and outside of school.

When the seven billion is gone, we will need more money to develop and administer new tests. But a fund for libraries requires only a one time investment, and the children will benefit forever.

Stephen Krashen

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