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Continuing Education

Our Schools Are Not “Broken”: The Problem is Poverty

Date: 10:00am - 12:00pm PDT June 4, 2011 Location: Lewis & Clark College, Smith Hall

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Lewis & Clark College, Smith Hall

We have been told repeatedly that our schools are “broken.” The only evidence for this claim is the fact that American students do not score at the top of the world on international test scores. But studies show that middle-class American students attending well-funded schools outscore students in nearly all other countries on these tests. We also know that the U.S. has a high percentage of children living in poverty, higher than other industrialized countries. What this means is that the problem is poverty, not teachers, not schools of education, not teachers unions.

Poverty has a devastating effect on school performance. The best teaching in the world will have little effect when children are underfed, suffer from health problems, and have no access to books. In the long run, the real solution is to make sure there is full employment and a living wage for honest work. Until this happens, we need to protect children from the effects of poverty: make sure “no child is unfed,” make sure each school has an adequate number of school nurses, and support school and public libraries, especially in high-poverty areas.

We can easily finance this plan by reducing testing. Right now, the U.S. Department of Education is planning to invest billions in a plan that will increase testing far beyond the already unacceptable level required by NCTE, with no empirical justification. We should follow the NUT principle: No Unnecessary Testing. If we do this, there will be more than enough money to improve nutrition, health care, and access to books for poor children.

This event is co-sponsored by Portland area Rethinking Schools and the Oregon Writing Project at Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling.

Refreshments will be served.


This event has filled to capacity.  Please contact us at 503-768-6040 if you would like to be on the wait list.

About the Presenter

undefinedDr. Stephen Krashen is a linguist, educational researcher, and activist. He is Professor Emeritus of Learning and Instruction at the University of Southern California, specializing in theories of language acquisition and development.  Much of Dr. Krashen’s research has involved the study of non-English and bilingual language acquisition. During the past 20 years, he has published hundreds of articles, books, and has been invited to deliver over 500 lectures at universities throughout the United States and the rest of the world.


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