February 19, 2008

Empty Library Shelves

This article in the Austin-American Statesman shows what can happen when we forget the point of school. We're trying to foster good citizens here and one of the most important tools is a whole big pile of books to help the students gain some background knowledge about the world.

Even if you think, like Dolores Umbridge did in harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, that "a theoretical knowledge will be sufficient to get you through your examinations, which after all, is what school is all about," then we still need a big pile of books for our kids to read:

They point to several studies, including one by Stephen Krashen, a University of Southern California researcher and library advocate, who found that the money spent per student on libraries was a good predictor of performance on national standardized tests.
"A number of studies have shown that children in high poverty areas go to schools with inferior school and classroom libraries, have fewer books in their homes and live in communities with inferior public libraries," Krashen said. "If it is true that Austin only spends $2 per child (at some schools), that is devastating for children in high poverty areas in the district."
Krashen's findings mirror a 2001 study by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission that showed a school's library was the second-most influential factor in student academic performance. Socioeconomic level was the first.

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