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[Susan notes: Stephen Krashen's argument for libraries is important. Why don't our professional organizations join in? Why doesn't the Business Roundtable?



Everybody pays lipservice to the importance of books but few do anything about it.]

Submitted to Los Angeles Times but not published
10/20/2005

To the editor


Re: California Students Are Still Struggling



In 1992 California’s fourth graders scored last in the country on the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) fourth grade reading test. Critics blamed this dismal performance on whole language. As a result, all traces of whole language were purged from California and a strict, “systematic intensive” phonics approach was mandated. Thirteen years later, after over a decade of this extremist approach to phonics, California’s scores are still in the basement, tied for next to last with three other states, with no significant improvement since NAEP scores were first analyzed by state in 1992. The problem, obviously, was not whole language.



State officials now blame the low test scores on the high percentage of English learners, but researchers at Rand concluded last year that California’s low ranking was not connected to California’s high percentage of language minority students.



The real problem is still ignored: Studies consistently show a strong relationship between access to books and how well children read. California has the worst school libraries in the US and ranks among the worst in public libraries in the US. This was true a decade ago and is still true today. And we are doing nothing about it: The state now invests only 3% of the national average in school libraries, and half the national average on public libraries.

Stephen Krashen


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