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[Susan notes: As usual, Stephen Krashen is on target. We can all use this answer to venture capitalist plans.]

Submitted to Los Angeles Times but not published

To the editor

Response to Op-ed article in LA Times, written by the mayor of Newark, and two venture capital people. One of them, Ted Mitchell, is "chief executive of NewSchools Venture Fund and president of the California Board of Education."

Before considering "entrepreneurial approaches," let's invest in libraries.

"Better education through innovation" (August 31) ignores the real problem. Yes, we rank about average on international tests, but, as Gerald Bracey has noted, American students in low poverty schools (25% of students or fewer eligible for free or reduced-price meals) outscore all other countries on the international PIRLS reading test. This confirms what study after study has shown: Poverty and reading proficiency are closely related.

Research also tells us why: Children with more access to reading material read more and read better, and children of poverty have little access to reading material, at home, at school or in their communities.

The amount of money needed to improve school and public libraries in high-poverty areas is minuscule compared to what we cheerfully spend on massive standardized testing and reading programs that emphasize heavy phonics, all shown to be ineffective in raising reading achievement.

Before considering "entrepreneurial approaches," let's invest in libraries.

Stephen Krashen

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