It has recently become a humdrum narrative: Our schools are failing, we must reinvent the schools, we must fire the principals and the teachers and start over, we must race to the top, we must have vouchers and charters, we must turn public education over to the business people who tanked the economy in 2008, we must….do something, anything.

Fortunately there are sane people in the world, even in the United States. One of them is University of Texas physicist Michael Marder. Professor Marder has produced on his own a series of studies of U.S. performance and demonstrated that academic performance is a function of poverty. Here is his latest:

Professor Marder is not one of those notorious education professors who allegedly make excuses for poor performance. He is a scientist at the top of his game.

This is his bio:

Michael Marder is a member of the Center for Nonlinear Dynamics, internationally known for its experiments on chaos and pattern formation, and for the last four years ranked #1 in the nation by US News and World Report. He is involved in a wide variety of theoretical, numerical, and experimental investigations, ranging from studies of plasticity and phase transformations to experiments on sand ripples at the sea bottom. He specializes in the mechanics of solids, particularly the fracture of brittle materials. He has recently developed numerical methods allowing fracture computations on the atomic scale to be compared directly with laboratory experiments on a macroscopic scale. He has been checking these methods through experiments and computations on single crystal silicon, and is preparing for low-temperature experiments.

As Professor Marder has shown time and again, American students who do not live in poverty do very well indeed. In fact, they are at the top of the world.