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Columnist misstates why education is better


The following letter by Michael Jacoby Brown of Arlington, a community organizer and former high school teacher, was published March 17 in The New York Times under the headline "What Really Causes Poor Performance in School." It is republished with the author's permission.

Nicholas Kristof’s column (“We’re Not Battling the School Issues That Matter,” March 7) miseducates by pointing out which states do better with schools.

In Massachusetts, one of the examples Mr. Kristof mentions, parents don’t move there because of the schools. They choose the town or city they think has the best schools — and the one they can afford.

Video courtesy of the author, with help from ACMi:

Local property taxes, not the state, provide most educational funding, so the better schools tend to be in the wealthier towns. Per-pupil spending in Massachusetts varies greatly from district to district: According to recent data from the state Department of Education, that figure ranges from about $14,000 in Dracut to almost $37,000 in Cambridge.

More money means smaller classes and better-paid teachers. So Mr. Kristof’s argument about which states have better education mostly misses the mark about what matters.

This letter was published Monday, March 18, 2024.

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