Poverty and educational attainment
Sent to the Jewish Daily Forward, August 26, 2012
The Forward editorial “The debate we need” (August 24) notes that the US now has the highest poverty rate among developed nations. According to UNESCO, 23% of American children live in poverty, which ranks us 34th out of 35 economically advanced countries. The editorial then says that along with an “educational system that is loosing its advantage,” this “bodes ill for the future.”
The reason the American education system appears to be in decline is poverty. American children from middle class families who attend well-funded schools score at the top of the world on standardized tests, including math and science. Our mediocre overall scores on these tests are not because of teaching quality, teachers’ unions, schools of education, or lack of rigorous standards. The problem is poverty.
Study after study has shown that poverty has devastating effects on school performance: The best teaching in the world will have little effect when students are hungry, ill from lack of basic health care, and have little access to books.
Original article: http://forward.com/articles/161252/the-debate-we-need/