Sent to the Christian Science Monitor, June 14, 2010
Real Reform in Education
The Monitor thinks that our problem in education is not money, because we spend more on education than other industrialized countries ("Teacher Bailout, Teacher Reform," 6/14). (Not quite: According to UNESCO, Norway, France and South Africa spend more per capita than we do).
Not mentioned is the fact that the US has a higher percentage of children in poverty than other industrialized countries (25%, Denmark has 3%). American children from high-income families score at the top of the world on international tests, but our children of poverty do much worse. This is why our average scores are low.
The high performance of our well-to-do children shows that the problem is not our educational system. The problem is indeed money. The problem is poverty.
Real reform means making sure all children have the same advantages that middle-class children have: A clean environment, health care, quality nutrition, and access to books.