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A Negative Report on Choice from a Free Market Group

Susan Notes:

Michael Martin's research on lead poisoning is definitive and very very alarming. One can wonder why it isn't incorporated into corporate-politico claims about leaving no child left behind.

If you want to know why the WPRI can claim [pdf file] that "The disappointing
performance of MPS students has been documented by the Wisconsin Policy
Research Institute and others. Reading, math, and science are well below
the performance of students in other Wisconsin communities." Take a look
at this map:

Each red dot is a lead poisoning case. A school district located just
south of this map was glorified in the Milwaukee newspaper for having a
principal who produced high test scores and they suggested implementing
that principal's reforms in Milwaukee. A lead poisoning prevention
worker alerted me to this map and it clearly explains why those reforms,
other reforms, political blathering, and the WPRI's "increased parental
involvement" are not going to succeed in changing test scores in
Milwaukee. Those children are poisoned with a neurotoxin that is known
to interfere with mental functioning, including lowering IQ by about one
standard deviation.

In addition, the parents themselves are probably poisoned and they
suffer from the same irritability, aggression, and impulsivity toward
violence that is characteristic of lead poisoning, and which makes it
difficult for poisoned spouses to live together. Child abuse is often a
case of an irritable aggressive misbehaving lead poisoned child living
with an irritable aggressive impulsively violent lead poisoned adult.
You cannot poison families and expect them to be like unpoisoned

In fact, each dot, as the caption explains, identifies a child with a
level of poisoning above 10 micrograms per deciliter, which is the
federal level of concern. Research by medical scientists has shown that
poisoning at a level below 10 can reduce IQ by about 8 IQ points, which
is over one-half a standard deviation. It is also associated with
physical stunting of growth and with behavior and learning problems.
Thus, these dots only represent about one-fourth of the actual cases
(there are about four times as many children typically who test above 5
as test above 10) in Milwaukee. Lead poisoning is the primary cause of
"failing schools" as I explain in my online report A Strange Ignorance and its epilogue at the same address.

No amount of educational reform is going to get a brain crippled by lead
poisoning to function like a normal unpoisoned brain. If the opposite
were true there would be no concern about lead poisoning. D'oh.

— Michael Martin, Research Analyst, Arizona School Boards Assoc.
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