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

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Uninformed

To the editor:

Antonio Villaraigosa asks"Why are teachers unions so opposed to change?"(July 21). I would like to know why Mr. Villaraigosa is so opposed to learning the facts about American schools and the Common Core.

Villaraigosa claims that American students do poorly compared to students in other countries on international tests and that the Common Core will help us do better.  Is he aware that when researchers control for the effect of poverty, American scores on international tests are at the top of the world?

Is he aware that our overall scores are unspectacular because of our high rate of child poverty: The US has the second highest level of child poverty among all 34 economically advanced countries (now over 23%, compared to high-scoring Finland’s 5.4%). In some big city public school districts, the poverty rate is over 80%. Poverty means poor nutrition, inadequate health care, and lack of access to books, among other things. All of these profoundly impact school performance.

Does Mr. Villaraigosa know that the Common Core does nothing to address these problems, and that there is no evidence that the standards and the astonishing amount of testing required will help children? The billions we are ready to spend on the Common Core would be much better spent protecting children from the effects of poverty.

Stephen Krashen

Sources:

Levels of poverty: UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre 2012, ‘Measuring Child Poverty: New league tables of child poverty in the world’s rich countries’, Innocenti Report Card 10, UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, Florence.

Over 80%:
http://www.catalyst-chicago.org/notebook/2011/02/17/more-illinois-children-living-in-poverty-risk-school-failure; http://home.lausd.net/apps/news/show_news.jsp?REC_ID=344072&id=0


Control for poverty:
Payne, K. and Biddle, B. 1999. Poor school funding, child poverty, and mathematics achievement. Educational Researcher 28 (6): 4-13; Bracey, G. 2009. The Bracey Report on the Condition of Public Education. Boulder and Tempe: Education and the Public Interest Center & Education Policy Research Unit. http://epicpolicy.org/publication/Bracey-Report. Berliner, D. 2011. The Context for Interpreting PISA Results in the USA: Negativism, Chauvinism, Misunderstanding, and the Potential to Distort the Educational Systems of Nations. In Pereyra, M., Kottoff, H-G., & Cowan, R. (Eds.). PISA under examination: Changing knowledge, changing tests, and changing schools. Amsterdam: Sense Publishers. Tienken, C. 2010. Common core state standards: I wonder? Kappa Delta Phi Record 47 (1): 14-17. Carnoy, M and Rothstein, R. 2013, What Do International Tests Really Show Us about U.S. Student Performance.

Impact of poverty: Berliner, D. 2009. Poverty and Potential:  Out-of-School Factors and School Success.  Boulder and Tempe: Education and the Public Interest Center & Education Policy Research Unit. http://epicpolicy.org/publication/poverty-and-potential;   Krashen, S. 1997. Bridging inequity with books. Educational Leadership  55(4): 18-22.





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