Fact Check From the Democratic Debate

Fifty Top Literacy Statistics

There has been a great deal of attention and buzz about former VP and current Presidential candidate Joe Biden’s rambling response to the education question posed at the end of last night’s debate. For the uninitiated, a record player is what we old-farts used for streaming music in our youth.

Beyond the Friday morning commentary though are some facts that were mangled and should be given some consideration and attention. A huge gap in vocabulary and language acquisition exists between children whose families are more affluent and those who live in poverty. Children living in poverty arrive in our public schools with huge vocabulary deficits of a thousand words – and actually many times over a thousand. This is a significant factor impeding academic growth.

The statistics cited above are ones that we, as a community and a caring responsible society, need to know and address if we are truly serious about education as a pathway for lifting children and families out of poverty.

I’m not sure I’d agree with Mr. Biden that the solution is to turn on the television or “record player” to add more vocabulary and intuited syntactic learning about our language and literacy, but I do believe there are ways to equalize the socio-economic differences that impact academic achievement. One of those ideas I believe in is that a universal PreKindergarten experience must and should be offered to every family.

So while the news is abuzz with talk of record-players, let’s not lose sight of the facts – the statistical facts – that our students are highly impacted by economics as well as academics, and that needs to also be part of our response to improving educational outcomes.