Don’t blame poverty for poor reading skills

An editorial from the Parkersburg News and Sentinel

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — Educators and public officials in West Virginia are often too willing to use poverty as an excuse for poor performance by our students. The most recent report in which West Virginia performed miserably was a national assessment in which students sampled from 13 states were compared. Mountain State high school seniors placed dead last in reading, and were tied with Tennessee students as worst in math.

Immediately, the excuses began to fly. Christine Campbell, president of the American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia, cried that it is important to keep in mind the state’s low socio-economic status, and that “We need to focus on students’ social and emotional issues, as well as their academic needs.”

Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association, claimed “All educators will tell you that the poverty level will have a direct reflection on the test scores.”

Nonsense. If there was a direct correlation, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, Alabama, New Mexico, Louisiana, Mississippi and Washington, D.C., would all routinely perform more poorly than West Virginia in meeting academic standards. They all have higher poverty rates than our state does…

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