Public Schools: Where an Orange Is a Textbook

They do not know what a mirror is, or what an orange is. They do not know their own names. In slum schools across the U.S., normally intelligent children come to kindergarten and first grades innocent of the elementary knowledge and aspirations of their middle-class contemporaries. This mental poverty, caused by their parents' often shocking ignorance and inarticulation, starts the kids off in school so ill-equipped that they slip helplessly backward as they go on (central Harlem eighth-graders, for example, test almost three years behind other New York City students). Thus begins the vicious circle of slum birth to...

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