"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, September 13, 2010

Blame students or blame poverty? Response to T Friedman (corrected)

Blame students or blame poverty?
Sent to The New York Times, Sept 13, 2010

Thomas Friedman ("We’re No. 1(1)!,"9/11) asserts that American education has declined, our test scores are low, and that we must therefore demand more of our students.
This is all wrong. American students from well-funded schools who come from high-income families outscore nearly all other countries on international tests. Only our children in high-poverty schools score below the international average. Our scores look low because the US has the highest percentage of children in poverty of all industrialized countries (25%, compared to Denmark's 3%). American education has been successful; the problem is poverty.

The solution is not to blame students for being lazy (our elders said this about us). The solution is to protect children from the damaging effects of poverty: better nutrition (Susan Ohanian suggests the motto "No Child Left Unfed"), excellent health care for all children, and universal access to reading material.

Stephen Krashen

Friedman article at:


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