By Pat Loeb

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — As the Philadelphia school district gets ready to begin the year with huge challenges (see related story), a University of Pennsylvania  professor suggests that efforts to improve education have focused on the wrong things.

Michael Katz is Annenberg Professor of History at Penn and co-editor of a new book called Public Education Under Siege, which argues that current reform efforts focus on high-stakes testing (the outcome) while ignoring the input: the resource disparity between schools.

He says the most unfortunate consequence is the demonization of teachers.

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“When the outcomes are not adequate, teachers are the easiest ones to look to, which ignores the underlying problems that need to be addressed,” Katz (below right) explains.

(U. of P. professor Michael Katz.  Photo provided)

(U. of P. professor Michael Katz. Photo provided)

He says the problems in education are largely the problems of poverty and, while he agrees that poverty can’t be used as an excuse for poor outcomes, says improvements are unlikely to come without attention to job creation, housing, and health care.

Hear the expanded interview with Prof. Michael Katz in this CBS Philly podcast (runs 5:57)…

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