Friday, January 20, 2017

Why School Improvement Grants didn't work

Sent to the Washington Post, Jan. 20
The Post reports that "billions spent to fix failing schools" didn't work (January 19). But none of the "solutions" (replace staff, become a charter, new teaching strategies, a longer school day, new teacher evaluations) addressed the real problem: Failing schools are largely high poverty schools. Poverty is the problem.
Poverty means food deprivation, insufficient medical care, and little access to reading material; research confirms that each of these has a strong negative impact on school performance.
The best teaching in the world will not help if children are hungry, ill, and have nothing to read.   
Let's do the obvious and do it immediately: Protect children from the impact of poverty by improving food programs, improving in-school health care, and investing more in libraries and librarians.
Research confirms that making sure no child is left unfed, no child lacks proper health care, and all children have access to quality libraries will improve academic achievement, and for less cost than expensive interventions that don't work. It will also improve the quality of life for millions of children.
This should be the first priority for the US Department of Education.

Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus
University of Southern California

Original article:

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.;   Krashen, S. 1997. Bridging inequity with books. Educational Leadership  55(4): 18-22. Krashen, S., Lee, S.Y. and McQuillan, J. 2012. Is the library important? Multivariate studies at the national and international level. Journal of Language and Literacy Education, 8(1): 26-36.  (available at, under "free voluntary reading")

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