To the Editor:
Here are Commentary authors Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney’s recommendations for improving K-12 education: Look to charter schools for new approaches, start school later, institute after-school programs, and make sure each school has “great” teachers (“The Importance of Education: An Economics View,” Nov. 7, 2012). Groundbreaking stuff, and we’ve seen it all before. What about addressing poverty? And the accompanying health issues, damaging home environments, and unsafe neighborhoods that more often than not come along with it?
Perhaps Mr. Greenstone and Mr. Looney should look to this sentence in a news story on the first page of the very issue in which their Commentary appeared: “While educators and psychologists have said for decades that the effects of poverty interfere with students’ academic achievement, new evidence from cognitive and neuroscience is showing exactly how adversity in childhood damages students’ long-term learning and health” (“Scientists Trace Adversity’s Toll”).
Fixing our schools requires a holistic approach, not a piecemeal one like what Mr. Greenstone and Mr. Looney prescribe. Our schools don’t exist in a vacuum. Fix American society and you fix American schools. Period.
Transit Tech Career and Technical Education High School
A version of this article appeared in the December 05, 2012 edition of Education Week as ‘Holistic Approach’ Is Only Way to Fix Schools