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[Susan notes: As always, Stephen Krashen makes a whole lot of sense. The sad truth of the matter is very few people, including educators, actually believe in the power of libraries.]

Submitted to Los Angeles Times but not published

To the editor

Re: No quick, cheap fix for stateΓΆ€™s schools (March 15)

We are told that 22 academic studies conclude that

California needs an additional 1.5 trillion to raise

test scores in reading and math. The researchers

missed some important data. We can take a huge step

toward improving reading for a tiny fraction of this

amount: Study after study shows that the best

predictor of reading scores is access to books and how

much children read. California, without question, has

the worst book access problem in the nation, with the

worst school libraries, fewest school librarians per

child, the worst public libraries, and a large

percentage of children in poverty, which means fewer

books in the home. Last year, the State of California

spent about 3% of the national average on school

libraries, and less than half of the national average

on public libraries.

To bring California up to the national average, it

would require a budget increase of about 250 million

per year, only about one fifth of a percent of the 150

billion dollar state budget. The money should be

targeted for libraries in low-income neighborhoods:

Children of poverty are nearly completely dependent on

school and public libraries for reading material.

A modest increase in funding, directed at supporting

libraries and librarians, may not be sufficient to

insure all children become excellent readers, but it

is necessary.

Stephen Krashen

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