If you really want the United States to lead the world in educational attainment and prowess, in tech, in business, you have to work and work hard to eradicate or seriously lessen the poverty in our midst. And if you truly want that, as a goal for our nation, you cannot be anywhere close to satisfied with the educational attainment and strength of our middle and upper classes only. You can, of course, be content with excellence for those children only, but if you are, you are not a very civic-minded American nor are you particularly patriotic.
Stephen Krashen, formerly of USC in Los Angeles where he was a professor of education points out in yesterday's NYT that the Scandinavian countries Denmark and Finland "outperform" us and have teachers at all levels who routinely "graduate in the top third of their classes". He points out, though, that the real difference is that whereas 21% of Americans live in poverty, less than 3% of Danes and Finns do.
What does this mean?
--Our kids attend schools far less well-nourished.
--Our kids attend schools as yet with inferior health care.
--Our kids attend schools without regular access to new books, labs, and clothing.
Our upper- and middle-class kids, both in private and in public schools that are well-financed, "outscore nearly all other countries". Our averages, however, are minimized by schools and children of poverty.
Unless you are among those who believe that children from poor families are somehow intrinsically doomed to mediocrity or worse because of race and/or ethnicity (and then you'd have, of course, to explain the consistently comparatively lousy scores from Appalachia in some novel manner)...and if you're an American who wants our nation to succeed long-term in a highly competitive world economy...if you're one who has simply not given up or given in...then you must work, in your own, small way, to erase poverty in your part of our nation.
Being a cynic's easy and a cop-out. It's a lazy-thinker's out. Why?
--The cynic says little use in trying/the fix is in.
--Be a skeptic. A skeptic believes all things, good and bad, are forever possible. So we must work.
Here's place to start: Find a Local Food Bank | Feeding America