THE BLOG
12/04/2013 08:40 am ET Updated Feb 03, 2014

We Must Fight Poverty As We Fix Our Schools

On Tuesday, the latest rankings of the world's education systems were released in the form of PISA scores. Not surprisingly, American students have again been outperformed by many of their global counterparts.

The problem is that the scores on that top page of the results do not tell the whole story. If self-styled " education reformers" were to simply turn the page and dive deeper into the data, they would see that we're in a unique situation that cannot be solved with more testing and more austerity -- quite the opposite. We need to invest -- holistically -- in our children.

The United States has the highest poverty rate among the developed nations that participate in PISA -- a factor that has a significant impact on academic performance. When you control for poverty, U.S. schools come out on top. One major issue that gets lost in the reporting on PISA rankings is the question of equity in resources and support for public education in the United States. We rank at the bottom in equity internationally and Illinois ranks at the bottom of all states in equity.

We also see that since 2008 since the global economic crisis on average countries included in the PISA tests increased spending on education by 5 percent and we decreased by 1 percent.

Today's headlines shouldn't focus just on test scores; they should tell the whole story. Our children are worth real solutions, not fly-by-night "reform" schemes.