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In explaining why she voted to kill a bill that would have expanded preschool for at-risk kids, Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, said that trying to close the achievement gap between low- and high-performing students is not "a noble goal" because students should be allowed to learn at their own pace ("Utah lawmakers kill preschool bill for at-risk children," Tribune, March 6).

Minority students are overrepresented among low achievers, so it seems Dayton is insinuating that minority students are incapable of learning as fast or as well as their white, middle-class peers. I want to believe she is simply ill-informed and her statement poorly worded, but it sure smells like racism to me.

As a teacher who works in a school whose top priority is to close the achievement gap, we examine the practices of numerous schools across the nation that have had success in this endeavor.

Whether working to make at-risk students academically proficient and more likely to graduate is "noble," it is achievable and certainly worthwhile.

Michael Denker

Salt Lake City

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