Don’t ignore the poor

Every three years, the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) conducts the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) to evaluate student achievement in many countries.

Because US schools are terrible, US students do badly on the tests. As shown in the below chart, the US is not in the top ten in either math, science, and reading.

One reason for this is that the US education system is not designed for the US population. As shown in this blog posts, US scores are acceptble if you ignore the poor — that is, “correct” for poverty. Of course, reality does not work that way — you can’t “correct” a population by ignoring it. You serve a population by writing curriculum and hiring teachers that are effective in addressing a population’s needs.

By writing off districts with poor students, US education policy does not only harm poor students — it harms all students in schools that are stressed by the presence of students from poor and low-performing populations.

Solving education does not have to wait till we win the “war on poverty.” The poor and the middle class deserve education too, even if they can’t afford to mortgage their futures to get it.