The results of a major new study on how children learn to read and comprehend what they read has appeared in the journal Developmental Science.
The upshot: "[B]ecause professional parents speak so much more to their children, the children hear 30 million more words by age 3 than children from low-income households. ... Since oral language and vocabulary are so connected to reading comprehension, the most disadvantaged children face increased challenges once they enter school and start learning to read."
Why does this matter? Because a majority of public schoolchildren in one-third of the states come from low-income families.
If you want to know why America is falling behind, you look here. Not at teacher performance, not at unions, not at spending per se. You look at the way America treats its poorest children, and the support poor families get. In Norway, poor parents are paid to stay at home to care for their kids and get an education. Norway understands what America refuses to: That in the long run, this breaks the cycle of poverty for poor children and assists poor parents in radically improving their skills and work ethic. It's why you see poor children rising into the ranks of the middle class in numbers DOUBLE that of the United States.
Every single school district in America spends money on remedial education. Want to stop that, and spend money in art and sports and chess club and drama club? Spend the money on pre-K and support for the working poor.
Half of all colleges in the U.S. provide remedial writing, reading, and math education to entering freshmen. Want colleges to focus on higher education instead? Spend the money on pre-K and support for the working poor.
America: We step over a dollar to pick up a dime. We're #1!