To improve education in the US, first lower rate of child poverty

“America is secretly number one internationally in education,” (Jan. 9, The Hill’s Congress Blog) announced a study showing that American students score at the top of the world on international tests when researchers control for the effects of poverty. Actually, this result is not new.

The results of these studies show that our unspectacular test scores are not because of teachers, teachers unions or schools of education, but because of poverty. The U.S. has an unacceptable 25 percent rate of child poverty, higher than all other industrialized countries, and much higher than it was in the past: the lowest recorded rate of child poverty in the U.S. was 13.8 percent, in 1969. In contrast, high-scoring Finland has only 5.4 percent poverty. 

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The solution is not “shutting down failing schools,” as proposed in the article. Far more important is dealing with out-of-school factors, specifically the effect of poverty. Poverty means food deprivation, lack of healthcare and lack of access of books. The best teaching in the world will have little effect when children are hungry, ill, and have little to read. 

Our first priority is to protect children from the impact of poverty, by improving food programs, increasing the number of school nurses and investing in school and public libraries. Instead, we are investing in the Common Core, accurately described by Susan Ohanian as “a radical untried curriculum overhaul” and “nonstop national testing.” 

From Stephen Krashen, professor emeritus, University of Southern California, Los Angeles


Waging war on terrorists must come within budget constraints

There are more than a billion Muslims in the world. If 10 percent lean radical, then you’re talking about 100 million people. If 10 percent of those radicals are true terrorists, you’d have to take down 10 million people (who, by the way, are scattered all around the globe). If you kill 1,000 terrorists a day, that equals 365,000 a year. It would take more than 27 years to eliminate the 10 million. And just how much will all this killing cost? No one knows for sure; but, I’d guess it would bankrupt the U.S. 100 times over.

I’m all for taking out terrorists before they attack America, but I don’t see how you can kill 10 million Muslims. 

From Denny Freidenrich, Laguna Beach, Calif.


Little progress visible in Obama efforts against ISIS, Syria, Iran

When President George W. Bush decided to remove Saddam Hussein, he formed a 34-nation coalition; Saddam was gone in about a month. President Obama declared the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria a threat to the United States and deserving of destruction. He formed a 60-nation coalition; seven months later, little progress is noticeable. About two years ago, Obama declared that Bashar Assad needed to go; again, little noticeable progress toward that end can be seen today. Years ago, Obama said that Iran will not be allowed to create nuclear weapons — very few believe that much real progress has been made in this regard. It seems the president’s words are far more lofty than his actions. 

From Tom Tyschper, Gilbert, Ariz.

 

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