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[Susan notes: Stephen Krashen uses statistics extremely well in this letter.]

Published in Santa Monica Mirror
12/01/2004

To the editor


Library Media Teacher Ann McKechnie is correct when she points out the inadequate level of support for school libraries in California (A generation of illiterates, Nov 24-30). As McKechnie notes, California spends only 70 cents per child for school library books and materials: One book costs $25. Here is some additional information:



Research has consistently shown a positive relationship between school library quality (books and

staffing) and reading scores. California has the worst school libraries in the USA, and also has the lowest reading test scores in the USA. In addition, the situation is getting worse. A decade ago, we spent about half what other states spent on school libraries. Now we spend 3% of what other states spend.



California also has the worst public libraries in the USA. According to a recent study done at the University of Wisconsin, Los Angeles ranked 73rd out of 79 major cities in the USA in quality of public libraries, and Anaheim and Santa Ana ranked 78 and 79, dead last.



Children of poverty are nearly completely dependent on public and school libraries for their reading material. As reported by the Mirror, organizations like the Santa Monica Foundation for the Arts (Putting the arts back in education, Nov 24-30) do their best to supplement the stateís pathetic allotment, but their contribution, even if spent entirely on books, is not enough to maintain even the current substandard level of library quality. Also, not all communities are fortunate enough to have organizations that can supplement the library budget.



On August 19, the Los Angeles Times concluded that the rush to heavy phonics instruction didnít come close to creating a literate crop of students. It is time to move to a simpler, less expensive, and more reasonable solution, one supporting by a great deal of scientific evidence as well as common sense: Improving our school and public libraries.





Stephen Krashen


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