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To close the word gap: ?1bn

AlanJohnsonWords.jpegEducation Secretary Alan Johnson is to push for new targets to close the attainment gap between disadvantaged and more affluent pupils.

The Labour deputy leadership contender will say he wants an extra ?1bn spent on closing this gap by 2011.

In a speech later, he will say research shows children from poorer homes hear 15m words by the age of five, compared with 45m for those from “better” homes.

He believes the government must be accountable for addressing this issue.

So says a May 17, 2007 BBC report. [NOTE: the BBC has since changed the wording. Click here to see the original version version. Click here to get to the full text of Secretary Johnson’s speech, courtesy of the Department of Education and Skills.]

(Thanks to investigator Chris McManus for bringing the gap to our attention, and to Lee Pollack for finding the full text of the speech and for noting that Secretary Johnson has revised his word-count estimate down to only 13 million.)

UPDATE: Investigator Steve Farrar suggests a program to implement this:

Each child will receive the following email on their state-provided laptop.

10 Print “Education, education, education”
20 Goto 10

FURTHER UPDATE: Investigator Nan Swift reminds of 2006 Ig Nobel Literature Prize winner Daniel Oppenheimer’s discovery that not all words are equally valuable.

Improbable Research