The most sobering sentence I’ve read this week

From the NYT:

“We’ve got to figure out how to break the cycle of poverty, and the way we’re doing it now isn’t working,” said Hank M. Bounds, the Mississippi commissioner of higher education and, until recently, the state superintendent of schools. “An affluent 5-year-old has about the same vocabulary as an adult living in poverty.”

4 thoughts on “The most sobering sentence I’ve read this week”

  1. If we’re talking about disadvantage that has set in before the age of five, then the most important cause is the home environment not the schooling system.

    But US policy makers act as if a disadvantaged parent’s most important role in life is to find and keep low wage work. If their parenting is deemed to be inadequate, then the only acceptable solution is to take the children away and put them into day care or foster homes.

    Perhaps policy makers could do more to help people in their role as parents?


  2. You are right, Dude, and the situation in both cases is that poverty causes illiteracy which causes poverty. If those of us who can afford to master English choose also to invest 12 hours in lessons and 100 hours of practice in mastering Esperanto, the Global Poor would not be left out to fall further behind. Resources are newly available to enable elementary school teachers to teach-while-learning Esperanto. This gives all kids (rich and poor) a chance to be properly bilingual before the end of elementary school and to gain both a global perspective and a head start in any subsequent language learning. The resource is called “Talking to the Whole Wide World”.


  3. Esperanto. Sheesh.
    This is what the luxury of having food, health and safety does to us (no offence Penelope). Why invent an auxiliary “international” language when you already have one that is standard communication for aviation and shipping, global business and is also the language the Internet was developed on? It is called ‘English’.
    Also, here is a newsflash: Being bilingual never saved anyone from being poor. My poor relatives on another continent speak 5 languages each with native ease, and can probably teach you a thing or two about grammar.


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