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Letter to the Editor

Readers write about academic gains in poor areas, financial planning services for military families, and privatizing water.

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School reforms help student performance in poorer areas

Regarding Walt Gardner's July 17 Opinion piece, "Do better schools help the poor?": Mr. Gardner's considerations are simplistic, and his conclusion is just plain wrong. Washington, D.C., is full of students who have the potential to achieve in school and in life – regardless of socio-economic factors. And great teachers play a critical role in their success.

The recently released District of Columbia Comprehensive Assessment System test scores offer initial powerful evidence: Only one year into significant school reform, D.C. public school students show clear gains across the board, and our poorer, minority students show the greatest gains of all.

Last year, 52 schools increased their scores in both reading and math; this year, 99 schools did so. Of the 19 schools that doubled and tripled their proficiency rates, 14 are schools in our poorest neighborhoods.

In D.C., we still have significant challenges ahead. These early indicators, however, affirm that even in the face of the poverty, violence, and low expectations that inhabit the lives of many of our students, every child can and will learn.

Michelle Rhee
Washington

Chancellor, District of Columbia Public Schools

Free financial planning for military

Regarding the July 15 article, "Missed matches," about support to the families of deployed military personnel: The article struck a nerve in a positive way. For the past few years, the Financial Planning Association has had a program in place to provide pro bono financial planning assistance to soldiers and families. Our chapter in Massachusetts has often made the offer to help, but has received almost no requests for assistance.

Perhaps it is the "tough it out" attitude that makes asking for help difficult, or perhaps the message that help is available just doesn't get out properly. Any military persons or military family in Massachusetts can call our offices at 866-804-0484 and they will have a professional assigned to assist them at absolutely no cost.

We'd like to do more, but need the folks in search of assistance to simply call and ask.

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