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Education gap begins early

Morgan State University President David Wilson makes a compelling argument that "receiving a quality education at the elementary and secondary level is a civil and moral right" ("Why education should be considered a civil right," May 13). I applaud his altruism, but elementary education is too late to solve this achievement gap.

Sadly, kindergartners from low-income homes have an approximate vocabulary of 5,000 words while their peers from high-income homes have a 20,000 word vocabulary. Even at 5 years old, the achievement gap is almost unrecoverable. This disparity is exacerbated by our public schools' anachronistic summer vacation policy. By 9th grade, summer learning loss is responsible for approximately two-thirds of the achievement gap separating rich and poor students.

Unfortunately, I believe this heartbreaking gap will persist until our nation, and our teachers unions, are willing to address large scale infant education programs and repeal the deleterious summer vacation policies.

David Dixon, Quantico, Va.

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