Thanks for this article, Maria. As a European living in California I was aware of the generally poor standard of US education and after seeing the older children of friends do so poorly on basic reading and arithmetic resolved to ensure my own children were adequately prepared. So from age 3 onward we had daily reading & arithmetic and by age 6 both my children were competent at reading to what I considered adequate levels (e.g. they could read Time Magazine without any problems aside from technical words and jargon) and competent at arithmetic (e.g. they could both solve simple quadratic equations and basic algebra). This did mean they were very, very bored when they went to school but that was better than the alternative. I can only imagine how impossible the situation is for a semi-literate and largely innumerate parent struggling on low income. Sadly it seems the US situation will only get worse.