"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was and never will be...nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe." – Thomas Jefferson

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The US vs. Poverty


Submitted to Washington Post but not published
To the editor,

President Obama claims we must improve math and science education to compete with other countries ("From Obama, a new focus on math and science education," Nov. 24).

Actually, we are doing quite well. According to the World Economic Federation, the US ranks 5th out of 133 countries in "availability of scientists & engineers," second in "quality of scientific research institutions," first in "university-industry research collaboration," and third in patents (per capita) for new inventions.

Why are math and science test scores mediocre? Students from high-income families attending well-funded schools outscore all or nearly all other countries on tests of math and science. Only our children in high-poverty schools score below the international average. Children living in poverty do poorly because of factors unrelated to school (e.g. diet, pollution, little access to books). Our national scores are unimpressive because the US has the highest percentage of children living in poverty of all industrialized countries (25%, compared to Denmark's 3%).

There is no science/technology education crisis. But to ensure that all students have the chance to learn, we must solve the problem of child poverty in the US.

— Stephen Krashen

Stephen Krashen is professor emeritus at the University of Southern California, who moved from the linguistics department to the faculty of the School of Education in 1994. He is a linguist, educational researcher, and activist. Dr. Krashen has published more than 350 papers and books, contributing to the fields of second language acquisition (SLA), bilingual education, and reading. He is credited with introducing various influential concepts and terms in the study of second language acquisition, including the acquisition-learning hypothesis, the input hypothesis, the monitor hypothesis, the affective filter, and the natural order hypothesis. Most recently, Krashen promotes the use of free voluntary reading during second language acquisition, which he says "is the most powerful tool we have in language education, first and second."

Krashen was inducted into the International Reading Association's Reading Hall of Fame in 2005. Krashen is a member of the National Association for Bilingual Education and was elected to the NABE Executive Board in 2005.

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