Orwell Award Announcement SusanOhanian.Org Home

[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

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

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of education issues vital to a democracy. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information click here. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.