Would giving poor students more books solve the achievement gap?
Feb. 16, 2012
DMN reporter Dianne Solis is attending the 41st annual convention of the National Association for Bilingual Education in Dallas this week. About 3,000 educators and students are in attendance, ranging from school principals from Queens to teachers from California to dissertation candidates from North Texas. Many of the attendees came from the Dallas ISD and about half are from Texas.
Solis filed this report from Wednesday night's keynote speech:
Book swap clubs, such as bookmooch.com, are one solution for combating a huge problem, the achievement gap, activist Stephen Krashen , a professor emeritus of the University of Southern California, said Wednesday night.
The linguist and educational researcher was a keynote speaker at the 41st annual convention of the National Association of Bilingual Educators, which opened Wednesday in Dallas. Krashen was a prominent opponent in the anti-bilingual education measure, Proposition 227, in California more than a decade ago. That measure passed and bilingual education was restructured.
Krashen told the audience that access to books is as positive a force to achievement as poverty is a negative. He said the ratio of books available to rich children compared to poor children is astronomical. One study he cited showed Beverly Hills kids had 200 books. Kids in Watts averaged 0.4, or not even one book a piece.
Yet public libraries and school libraries face continuous slashes, Krashen said. Bookmooch.com allows those with an excess of books to trade them for others, or to gain points. Those points can be given to schools to buy the Bookmooch books they want, under Krashen's dream scheme.
"Get on Bookmooch. That's the plan," Krashen said.
And there's one other Krashen solution: no new testing.
There's too much testing going on, he said to nodding teachers. It's out of control, he said, citing a proposal to test playground skills. "I am not making this up," he said.
Less testing would mean more money for books that would provide poor children with some middle-class advantages. Less testing would mean saving money for spending on health care and nutrition -- items that will protect children from the effects of poverty, he said.
That's why Krashen advocates no new testing. "When you go to a doctor, they don't take all your blood. Just a sample."
NOTE added by SK: It is technically accurate to say that after Prop 227 bilingual education in California was "restructured." But in reality it was dismantled.
But thanks to the Dallas News for this article, which certainly covered some very important points I was trying to make.