Published in the Los Angeles Times, Sunday, January 17, 2016
Fixing LAUSD requires addressing child poverty first
To the editor: Judging by this editorial, it is apparent that neither The Times nor new Supt. Michelle King knows what the Los Angeles Unified School District needs now. ("What new L.A. schools chief Michelle King needs to do now," editorial, Jan. 15)
The biggest problem is poverty, a problem shared by many big-city school districts. About 80% of LAUSD students live in poverty, far above the national average of 25%, already unacceptable and well above that of other industrialized countries.
High poverty means food deprivation, lack of healthcare and little access to books. All of these have devastating effects on school performance. The best teaching in the world will not help if students are hungry or ill and have little to read.
What the LAUSD needs to do now is protect children from the impact of poverty. This means improve school food programs, school nurses and libraries. To paraphrase education expert Susan Ohanian, our goals should be no child left unfed, no child without healthcare, and no child without access to books.
Stephen Krashen, Los Angeles
The writer is a professor emeritus of education at USC.