Letter

New Gates Initiative Overlooks Poverty

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments

To the Editor:

Bill Gates still doesn't get it. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will invest $1.7 billion in new curricula development and research and development of innovative education initiatives, among other improvements, over the next five years ("Bill Gates Announces $1.7 Billion in New K-12 Investments"). But the main problem in American education is not poor curricula or lack of data. The problem is poverty. When researchers control for the effect of poverty, U.S. schools' international test scores are some of the highest among schools worldwide. Our overall scores are unspectacular because our rate of child poverty is the highest among economically advanced countries. Poverty means food deprivation, lack of health care, and limited access to books, all of which have a devastating effect on school performance. Martin Luther King Jr. was right when he said: "We are likely to find that the problems of housing and education, instead of preceding the elimination of poverty, will themselves be affected if poverty is first abolished." While schools and teachers can always improve, they are not to blame for poverty's effects. The best teaching in the world will not help if students are hungry, ill, and have little or nothing to read.

Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus of Education
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, Calif.

Vol. 37, Issue 11, Page 18

Published in Print: November 1, 2017, as New Gates Initiative Overlooks Poverty
Related Stories
Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories

Viewed

Emailed

Recommended

Commented