Sent to USA Today, January 21
In his inaugural address, Mr. Trump said that our educational system "leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge.'” President Trump is apparently unaware of the fact that when researchers statistically control for the effects of poverty, American students score near the top of the world.
Poverty means, among other things, food deprivation, poor medical care, and lack of access to reading material. All of these have profound negative effects on school performance. The best teaching in the world will have little value if students are hungry, ill, and have little or nothing to read. Our child poverty rate is 21%, the highest of all industrialized countries. In contrast, child poverty in high-scoring Finland is about 5%.
Martin Luther King was right: "We are likely to find that the problems of housing and education, instead of preceding the elimination of poverty, will themselves be affected if poverty is first abolished.” (1967, Final Words of Advice)
President Trump's staff needs to focus on the real problem in American education.
University of Southern California