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[Susan notes: What a good idea: cite the paper's own news stories to challenge its terrible editorial.]

Submitted to New York Times but not published

To the editor

"Back to School, Thinking Globally" (editorial, Sept. 6) omits the critical role poverty plays in student performance on the tests of international competition that you assert are predictive of this country's economic future.

Despite its overall wealth, the U.S. has the highest rate of childhood poverty in the industrialized world, according to UNICEF. Yet you stubbornly persist in the fiction that schools by themselves can eliminate the academic achievement gap both domestically and internationally.

Your own front-page series documenting the widening chasm between rich and poor in the U.S. does not bode well for the ability of American students to improve their rankings with their counterparts from countries with far more equal income distributions. The Bush administration tax cuts will only exacerbate the contrast.

Walt Gardner

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