Problem is not TV but access to reading material
Sent to the Kansas City Star, July 14
In his speech to the NAACP, Education Secretary Duncan challenged parents to "turn off TVs and video games and make children read" (Education is 'civil-rights issue of our generation,' Cabinet official tells NAACP, July 14)
TV is not the problem. Studies consistently find little relationship between TV watching and how well children do on a variety of school-related tests, unless TV watching is excessive (more than four hours a day).
There is no question that wide reading is the key to academic success. The research tells us that those who do more recreational reading do better on tests of reading, vocabulary, writing and grammar, and also know more in general. But is impossible for parents to "make children read" if they have little or no access to books. Studies also show that children of poverty have very little access to interesting reading material: They have few books in the home, live in neighborhoods with inferior public libraries, and attend schools with inferior school libraries.
Instead of complaining about TV, Secretary Duncan should support greater investment in school and public libraries. If good reading material is available, "making children read" may not be necessary.