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

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Senator Patty Murray's bad bill


More access to books

Editor, The Times:

There is no evidence that Sen. Patty Murray’s bill to improve literacy will work [“Murray’s literacy plan a test of clout,” News, May 11].

As The Times notes, Murray’s LEARN Act is a combination of three existing programs, none of which has been successful.

Reading First only helped children do better on tests on which they had to pronounce words presented in a list. It had no impact on tests on which children had to understand what they read.

The Early Reading First program is for preschoolers. According to Education Week, evaluation of one version of this program produced “disappointing” results.

Striving Readers, aimed at adolescents, has produced only small advantages over comparisons.

LEARN also calls for vastly increased testing at a time when students are already overtested, and it will cost over $2 billion, in a time when schools are having huge financial problems.

There is strong evidence that students make impressive progress in literacy when they have access to books and develop a strong reading habit. Students living in poverty have the lowest literacy development and also have the least access to books.

If the $2 billion were invested in supporting school libraries and librarians in high-poverty areas, the impact would be substantial.

— Stephen Krashen, Los Angeles, Calif.

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