Teachers are not the problem, poverty is
by Stephen Krashen, Los Angeles
Regarding the Aug. 12 news article “Gates Foundation to ‘stay the course’ with approach to education policy”:
Melinda Gates still thinks that teacher quality is the problem in American education. Of course we should always be trying to improve teaching, but there is no teacher quality crisis in the United States: When researchers control for the effect of poverty, U.S. students score near the top of the world on international tests. Our overall scores are unimpressive because of our unacceptably high child-poverty rate, now about 21 percent. The problem is poverty, not teacher quality.
Poverty means food deprivation, lack of health care and lack of access to books. Each of these has a strong negative influence on school performance. Let’s forget about developing new ways of evaluating teachers, fancy databases and other ideas from Gates that have no support in research or practice. Instead, let’s invest in making sure no child is left unfed, no child lacks proper health care and all children have access to quality libraries.