Letters to the Editor

Some children need more personal attention

Regarding your Sept. 16 editorial on St. Helena Elementary School ("Community must know what school's 'F' means").

We should all be taking this situation personally because these students represent an investment in our future. I also refuse to believe these children cannot learn.

Research supports the fact that children coming from lower-income families have lower literacy skills than children who come from higher-income families.

The stresses of multiple jobs, child care, single parenting, homework and family time tends to lead to much more negative talk and less positive communication. Children from birth to age 4 in those homes are not hearing the sentences, positive conversations and stories that build the foundation needed to succeed in school.

Betty Hart and Todd Risley's research in "Meaningful Differences" found that "by the time a child is 4 years old ... the average American child will have accumulated 45 million words" -- 70 million words in a talkative family and 18 million words and a taciturn family. The taciturn families tend to be found in the lower-income brackets. How does a child compete, in the same school time frame, with a child who comes to school with a 27 million to 52 million word advantage?

It simply will take longer to build up the skills needed to succeed, and it cannot be done in school alone. The question is who is willing to take it personally enough to get and keep the focus because what you focus on you find.

Tom Conner