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Race to the Top for Tots: Don't measure the temperature of the fire – put it out!

Ohanian Comment: On several levels, this is one superb metaphor. Go forth and use it in your own op-eds and letters to editors.

by Stephen Krashen

The federal government plans to establish detailed standards and assessments to see if children of poverty are ready for kindergarten and are safe and healthy (The "Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge," termed the "Race to the Top for Tots," by the New Brunswick Patch.)

We already know that millions of children suffer from the effects of poverty: They are children from low-income families who are behind in academics, suffer from food deprivation and lack health care. Please see the careful and complete reviews of research by David Berliner and Richard Rothstein among others.

We also know which children are in need and we know what to do about it.

We don't need more precise data. The house is on fire: The US Department of Education's plans are like spending money on determining the exact temperature in each room, rather than rushing to put out the fire immediately.

Instead of spending money dealing with the problems of poverty, we are giving it to testing companies who are eager spend billions of tax dollars creating expensive new tests and measures that will only tell us what we already know.

See the details for yourself: http://www.ed.gov/early-learning/elc-draft-summary.

Other sources:
Berliner, D. 2009. Poverty and Potential: Out-of-School Factors and School Success. Boulder and Tempe: Education and the Public Interest Center & Education Policy Research Unit. http://epicpolicy.org/publication/poverty-and- potential;
Rothstein, R. 2010. How to fix our schools. Economic Policy Institute, Issue Brief #286. http://www.epi.org/publications/entry/ib286

— Stephen Krashen



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