Re: Sept. 8 article, "Poverty linked to school performance."

It shouldn't be a surprise that low-income students score lower than more affluent students on state mandated tests -- they haven't had the same experiences and opportunities as their higher income peers.

Anyone who has lived in our society and has been in public should have noticed the obvious disparity in the lives of children. Many children from lower-income homes have greater responsibilities at home or after-school jobs to help their families. Many do not have English-speaking parents or materials in their homes that encourage literacy. Why on earth should it come as a surprise to those grading our schools that there is a discrepancy of abilities of children from varying home situations?

If those people who are giving the grades aren't aware, they have no business evaluating the success of schools. These children are further hindered by schools that must be more concerned about scores than educating children!

Julia Berdoll, Bastrop

Re: Sept. 8 article, "Poverty linked to school performance."

Much is written about under-performing schools and limited opportunity for lower-income Austin students. It's implied that teachers in lower-scoring schools are somehow inferior, and students there receive less service. However, after a decade teaching in Title 1 schools, I can state with authority that the primary cause of poor schooling results is parental failure to properly influence their children's behavior and attitudes.

At my Title 1 charter school we have few buses. Parents, most of them two-job families, sacrifice to drive their kids to school every day. They willingly pay for uniforms and treat the teachers with respect. This example transfers to their kids, so that the school continually demonstrates rapid and consistent academic improvement. Nor do we have gangs or bullying.

I've met many Texas teachers, and less than 1% could be deemed inadequate. Let's acknowledge where good education and good habits begin: in the home.

John Robey, Austin

Re: Sept. 2 article "Overlooked in Dems' climate debate: Any plan must get past GOP"

I share the concerns about passing legislation in Congress without support of the Republican party. For any legislation to truly work, we need a bipartisan solution. Citizens Climate Lobby volunteers convey this message to lawmakers every day and it is critical for the Democratic candidates to consider that. A carbon fee with dividend to all Americans is the proposal we think is fair and just.

Scientists tell us that warming adds intensity to natural disasters, which are getting more devastating as time passes. The Climate Change Communication of Yale found that seven in 10 American voters support government action to address climate change.

Lawmakers seem to disconnect themselves from what constituents want. That is astounding! If elected leaders do not listen to voters, American voters have the power to elect those who would take action that will result in a better quality of life for us and our grandchildren.

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