2017-03-02 / Letters

Poor tests caused by income inequality, not public schools

To the editor:

Contrary to common belief, America’s K-12 schools are not failing. The problem is widespread poverty, not bad schools. Student performance is more closely related to family income than to anything else, and the poverty rate in America, especially among children, is extremely high.

Students who live in poverty are on average more likely to come to school hungry, malnourished, or badly stressed. They are more likely than other kids to have an earache, headache, toothache or stomach ache due to inadequate health care. They are more likely to have been witnesses to or victims of abuse. They are less likely to have a quiet place to sleep or study at home; in fact some are homeless. Most were read to less when they were younger. They have fewer enriching experiences such as going to a play, concert, or museum. They don’t get private tutoring or take testprep courses. And they attend schools that are often poorly maintained and equipped, and that pay teachers less.

Closing schools in poor neighborhoods because they underperform on standardized tests and sending the students to unregulated charter schools where the teachers aren’t even required to have teaching certificates makes no sense. We should support the schools, teachers and students that need our help. Every school should have a well maintained building, a decently stocked library, reasonable class sizes, modern computers, art and music programs, an athletic program, etc. We should stop blaming public schools for the fact that poor kids get lower test scores, and start giving teachers and students the resources they need to succeed. And we must begin to address the extreme economic inequality that currently exists in America. Firing teachers, closing schools, and pouring public funds into charter schools is not the answer. We can and must do better.

Tom Gutowski
S. Lakeview Rd.
Elmwood Township

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I wholeheartedly agree,

I wholeheartedly agree, Tom. Charlene Schlueter