Readers Write: Education's real problem is poverty; more women needed in parliament

Letters to the Editor for September 15, 2014 weekly magazine:

Krashen: Common core doesn't fix the real problem of education– poverty.

Budd: Though the number of women in the United Kingdom's parliament doubled, the percentage of women is still too small.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP/File
Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana addresses activists from America's political right at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington on Feb. 11, 2012. Jindal planned to file a lawsuit Wednesday Aug. 27 against the Obama administration, accusing it of illegally manipulating federal grant money and regulations to force states to adopt the Common Core education standards.

Education’s real problem is poverty

Regarding the Sept. 8 D.C. Decoder article “Prelude to 2016? Bobby Jindal sues Obama over Common Core”: Arguments for opposing Common Core standards presented by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal do not include the reasons many professional educators and researchers oppose it. 

Substantial improvement will come only when we deal with the real problem – poverty. When researchers control for the effect of poverty, American test scores are near the top in the world. Our unspectacular overall scores are because the United States has the second highest level of child poverty among all 34 economically advanced countries (now roughly 23 percent, compared with high-scoring Finland’s 5.4 percent, according to UNICEF). 

Poverty means poor nutrition, inadequate health care, and lack of access to books, among other things. All of these negatively affect school performance. Instead of protecting children from the effect of poverty, Common Core is investing billions in an untested curriculum and massive testing, despite research showing that increasing testing does not increase achievement.

Stephen Krashen
Professor emeritus, Rossier School of Education, University of Southern California
Los Angeles

More women needed in Parliament

Regarding the Aug. 18 & 25 Points of Progress: The feature reports that the number of women in the prime minister’s cabinet has doubled from two to four. The cabinet consists of 22 ministers. Does the fact that there are four women in the cabinet constitute progress? 

Of 650 members of Parliament in the House of Commons, only 23 percent are women. In Sweden and Finland, women hold almost 50 percent of cabinet posts in government. When the number of women cabinet ministers in Britain is close to 50 percent of the total, we can affirm that real progress in gender equity is being made in British political life. 

Alistair Budd
London

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