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

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Our Reform Proposal

by Stephen Krashen, Susan Ohanian, and Jim Horn

Research studies over the past half-century show the effects of poverty and segregation as major factors determining school achievement. Our proposal would protect children who are being harmed by the impact of poverty, segregation, and standardized tests.

In order for no children to be left behind, then, we propose,

No child left unfed: proper nutrition for all children for breakfast and lunch. No child without proper health care; 
No child segregated by ethnicity, ability, or economic class;
No child without access to a well-supplied library with a credentialed librarian; 
No child exposed to unsafe and unsecured technologies;
No unnecessary testing.
The best teaching in the world will have a severely limited effect if children are hungry, ill, segregated, and without learning resources.
AND of course we recommend: free espresso available in the teachers' lounge.

When we control for the effect of poverty, American test scores are near the top of the world: 

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. Washington DC: Economic Policy Institute. 2012. http://www.epi.org/

Negative effect of poverty on school achievement:

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. Retrieved [date] from http://epicpolicy.org/publication/poverty-and-potential

No unnecessary testing: 

Kohn, A. 2000. The Case Against Standardized Testing. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann Publishing Company.Nichols, S., Glass, G., and Berliner, D. 2006. High-stakes testing and student achievement: Does accountability increase student learning? Education Policy Archives 14(1)


Rumberter, R. and Palardy, G. 2005. Does segregation still matter? The impact of student composition of academic achievement in high school. Teachers College Record 107(9): 1999-2045.

Rothstein, R.  2014.The Racial Achievement Gap, Segregated Schools, and Segregated Neighborhoods – A Constitutional Insult.  Economic Policy Institute. http://www.epi.org/publication/the-racial-achievement-gap-segregated-schools-and-segregated-neighborhoods-a-constitutional-insult/
Johnson, R.C. 2011. Long-run Impacts of School Desegregation & School Quality on Adult Attainments. NBER Working Paper No. 16664. Revised August 2015


  1. Anonymous9:42 PM

    What? No dinner? It would be better if you provided employment for the parents, who might in turn give their children stable home environments. If one examines the presumptive candidates of the major political parties, there appears to be little political will to shake up the socio-economic status quo. "Hold fast to dreams ..."

    Abigail Shure

    1. Yes, this is the goal. Our proposal is merely an attempt to quickly protect children from the impact of poverty. It could be put in place immediately, probably at a fraction of the cost of all the useless technology and standardized testing.

  2. Please post printable copy! I'll put it in every empty spot in my school.

    1. Happy to send it to you, please post email address.

  3. It's great except for the last line. While I completely support free espresso and various teas I think this addition gives an indication of levity which may cause some not to take the proposal seriously. Please delete.

    1. Including espresso = have some respect and concern for the well-being of teachers.

  4. Would you be interested in the BATs making memes from this?

  5. Lots of research supporting the librarian proposal to add to these citations, too. Colorado and http://www.ala.org/aasl/research

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Right you are. I can't believe we forgot to include this, especially since I have contributed to this research.

  6. Anonymous9:07 AM

    I appreciate your comments on education reform. I am currently an education student taking a critical pedagogy course. Several of the books we are reading also suggest that we need to address poverty first and then we will see improved performance in school. I am curious if you had considered adding to your school reform list what Diane Ravitch suggests in her book “Reign of Error”, good prenatal care for all pregnant women and high-quality early childhood education available to all children. The reason I ask is two-fold. First, I was surprised to see prenatal care on the list, as I was not sure how it fit with school solutions, but thought it was an excellent idea once I considered it. She argues that if women have good prenatal care then their babies will be healthier and in turn, the future students will have less health care issues. Therefore, they will not miss as much school. As for children who attend high-quality preschools, they are more prepared for kindergarten and a head start in their learning.

    Ravitch, D., (2013). Reign of Error: The hoax of the privatization movement and the danger to America’s public schools. New York, NY: Random House.

  7. Anonymous6:11 PM

    While at first glance many may not place the emotional satisfaction /fullness of spirit of all students as equally important as to having reasonable diets/adequate consumption, I must say, the issues which accumulate and cultivate the mentalities , capability, behavior and self worth of students, if not respected /validated in just as serious of effect/factor as a child not having eaten....no matter what els society or,Governement local/national is given....we are only,bound to repeat the same mistake or ignorantly create an even worse beast which at first glance appears to be the wise choice of change for blanket improvments nationwide.