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[Susan notes: Good for Steve Krashen for suggesting modest and conservative steps to improve schools. Wouldn't it be great to take back the word conservative?]

Published in Atlanta Journal-Constitution
08/02/2004

To the editor


Before taking the radical and expensive steps of restructuring middle schools or making deep changes in the curriculum ("Stuck in the middle with schools," AJC editorial, "Custom focus vital for middle schools," by Deborah Kasak, August 1) why not try the obvious? The schools with the lowest test scores are nearly always those in high poverty areas, areas inwhich children typically have little access to books in school or at home, and that tend to be served by
inferior public libraries.



We have overwhelming evidence that those with easier access to books do more recreational reading, and those who read more for pleasure read better. Research also shows that pleasure readers also write better, have larger vocabularies, spell better, have better control of complex grammatical structures, and know more about literature, history and science. There
is also a great deal of research showing that better school libraries are associated with higher scores on reading tests.



Improving school and public libraries, especially in high-poverty areas, will not solve all problems, but it is a modest and conservative step that needs to be taken before we discuss more costly and complex proposals.

Stephen Krashen


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