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[Susan notes: Kudos. The writer makes direct link between the working poor and scores on standardized tests.]

Published in Burlington Free Press

To the editor

I found the title of your Oct. 12 editorial, "Burlington steps back from facing problem," more than ironic -- it was downright deceptive! No one in the educational hierarchy, from Secretary of Education Margaret Spelling down to Vermont state officials, is willing to address a core social issue which has a far more significant impact on the learning ability of children than any of the other politicians jawbone about ad naseum -- a living wage.

It is criminally cynical to evaluate schools for their "adequate yearly progress" without factoring in the demographics of the local community. A school in a low-income community, where parents hold two, three, or even four jobs to pay the rent and put food on the table giving them little time to tutor their kids or visit the school, is evaluated on the same basis as a school in a high-income community.

No Child Left Behind gives no quarter to schools where more than half of the student body is on Individual Education Plans or eligible for free breakfast and lunch -- an accurate barometer of the number of working poor. That means latch key kids plunked down in front of the TV with little quality time with their exhausted parents.

So yes, Burlington steps way, way, way back from facing the problem and so does the state and the federal government and the Free Press as well.

Alvin Salzman

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