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Topic: [ncsm-members] U.S. Has a Poverty Crisis, Not a Schools Crisis [From USAToday]
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 16,576
Registered: 12/3/04
[ncsm-members] U.S. Has a Poverty Crisis, Not a Schools Crisis [From USAToday]
Posted: Dec 14, 2013 6:23 PM
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From Diane Ravitch's blog [A site to discuss better education for
all], Saturday, December 14, 2013. See
-- see, also,
USA Today: U.S. Has a Poverty Crisis, Not a Schools Crisis

By Diane Ravitch

Believe it or not, USA Today published a powerful article by Oliver
Thomas, a member of its Board of Contributors, acknowledging that the
latest PISA rankings reflect the crisis of poverty in the United
States. Our Students in low-poverty schools are doing fine; some
analyses place them at the very top. But the more poverty, the lower
the test scores.

He writes:

"As researchers Michael Rebell and Jessica Wolff of the Campaign for
Educational Equity at Teachers College, Columbia University, have
noted, there is no general education crisis in the United States.
There is a child poverty crisis that is impacting education.

"Here's one data point worth remembering. When you measure the test
scores of American schools with a child poverty rate of less than
20%, our kids not only outperform the Finns, they outperform every
nation in the world.

"But here's the really bad news. Two new studies on education and
poverty were reported in Education Week in October. The first from
the Southern Education Foundation reveals that nearly half of all
U.S. public school students live in poverty. Poverty has risen in
every state since President Clinton left office.

"The second study, conducted by the National Student Clearinghouse
Research Center, reveals that poverty - not race, ethnicity, national
origin or where you attend school - is the best predictor of college
attendance and completion.

"Chew on that. The causes of poverty are complex and varied:
excessive immigration, tax policy, and the exportation and automation
of manufacturing jobs. Yet the list of solutions is strikingly short.
Other than picking a kid's parents, it amounts to giving all children
access to a high-quality education.

"Here's the catch-22. While the only long-term solution to poverty
might be a good education, a good education is seldom available to
children living in poverty.

"One reason is that spending on education has not kept pace with the
rise in child poverty. While poverty grew by 40% in the Midwest and
33% in the South from 2001 to 2011, educational spending per pupil
grew by only 12% in these regions over the same 10-year period."

Unfortunately, the article goes on to praise the Gates Foundation for
providing college scholarships to low-income students but fails to
recognize that Bill Gates has done more than any single individual
(other than Arne Duncan) to promote the idea that we can't "fix"
poverty until we "fix" schools. He has promoted Teach for America,
charter schools, and teacher evaluation as the way to "fix" schools.
Better to do something about poverty. It is a scandal that the
world's richest nation has nearly one-quarter of its children living
in poverty, and the best we can do is to privatize school management
and test students with greater frequency.
Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
625 Wham Drive
Mail Code 4610
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610
Phone: (618) 453-4241 [O]
(618) 457-8903 [H]
Fax: (618) 453-4244

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