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

Friday, August 12, 2016

It’s poverty, not teacher quality

Sent to the Washington Post, August 12

   Melinda Gates still thinks that teacher quality is the problem in American education (“Gates Foundation to ‘stay the course’ as it seeks to help shape state education policies,” August 12).
   Of course we should always be trying to improve teaching, but there is no teacher quality crisis in the US: When researchers control for the effect of poverty, American students score near the top of the world on international tests.  Our overall scores are unspectacular because of our unacceptably high child poverty rate, now around 25%. The problem is poverty, not teacher quality.
   Poverty means food deprivation, lack of health care, and lack of access to books. Each of these has a strong negative influence on school performance. Let’s forget about developing new ways of evaluating teachers, fancy databases, and the other Gates ideas that have no support in research or practice. Instead, let’s invest in making sure no child is left unfed, no child lacks proper health care, and all children have access to quality libraries.
Stephen Krashen

original article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/gates-foundation-to-stay-the-course-as-it-seeks-to-help-shape-state-education-policies/2016/08/11/ae934226-5f2c-11e6-af8e-54aa2e849447_story.html≈


  1. Anonymous10:10 PM

    Thank you Dr. Krashen. You are exactly right.

  2. Exactly right. School achievement follows economic inequality. The richer the school district, the higher the test scores. Gates, Broad, Waltons, Zuckerbergs, and their ilk spend heavily to hide the fact of child poverty out of control in the richest nation on earth.

  3. Unlike her husband, Bill Gates, Melinda Gates actually attended and graduated college. At least the former has an excuse for being so profoundly ignorant, the latter has none. An authentic philanthropist (if that word can ever be properly applied to the wealthy), should be using their wealth to replicate for the disadvantaged the education experience that they and their spawn had access to. To do otherwise is to confirm that they actually don't want to help society, but rather they are ensuring permanence of the conditions that allow them to live in luxury while others live in squalor.

  4. The news feeds are loaded with "white papers" and opinions for school reform, and these come primarily from those who have not spent any time in front of a classroom of students. To often, today's philanthropists want their support to go to institutions which will provide the most adulation and payback to the donor. Much like medieval lords who founded monasteries as an insurance for their getting into heaven. Add to this the super rich techies, who feel that their wisdom can be a healing ointment for the troubles in today's education front. The sad reality is that people like Mark Zuckerburg and Bill Gates could easily hook up with a school to be a long term substitute and actually try out their notions of teaching and learning, instead they generate ideas then throw money as a fuel and call it a success. After the fast flame, of the paper money, dies out they walk away leaving the project to go on to another ill conceived idea.

  5. Be careful to separate the differing impacts of poverty and developmental trauma. Poverty MAY magnify effects of developmental trauma, but they are not the same: https://lucidwitness.com/2016/08/08/nowhere-to-hide-the-elephant-in-the-classroom/