The quackery that passes for “reading instruction” in government schools just suffered another major blow, with yet another influential publication blowing the whistle on the real source of America’s staggering illiteracy crisis. Spoiler alert: It is the “reading instruction” that is the problem.
Writing in Education Week (EdWeek), a coalition of school officials explained that America is facing “a national reading crisis.” And it certainly is. The reason is simple: Educators across America know very little about how to properly teach reading.
Indeed, the “sight word” quackery mandated under Common Core — first exposed as a failure over 150 years ago when it was tried in Boston — has produced an illiteracy crisis that is unprecedented in human history.
In that time, under the direction of Horace Mann, John Dewey, and their disciples, America went from being the most literate society on the planet two centuries ago, to facing an illiteracy crisis that threatens the nation’s future today.
Regular readers of The Newman Report already know well the cataclysmic scope of the problem. In California, for instance, half of children cannot read at even a proficient level, according to the government’s own tests. In D.C., two thirds of the population over 15 is functionally illiterate, the State Education Agency report revealed.
In EdWeek, the three education officials write that, “Systemic failures have left educators overwhelmingly unaware of the research on how kids learn to read.” Systemic failures implies that this was all some huge accident. In reality, as exposed in the book Crimes of the Educators, there was no systemic failure — it was a deliberate, strategic plan.
But either way, the fact that this literacy crisis is receiving national attention by educators is a welcome development. It may help millions of children to become literate who otherwise would be subjected to dangerous quackery and life-long reading disabilities induced by that quackery.
“The lack of knowledge about the science of reading doesn’t just affect teachers,” wrote the trio. “It’s perfectly possible to become a principal or even a district curriculum leader without first learning the key research.” Indeed, Dewey and his associates targeted education colleges to help achieve that very objective.
The solution is simple. Just as teachers of reading have known for thousands of years, what the children need is phonics. One of the key insights offered in the EdWeek piece: “Daily, systematic phonics instruction in early grades is recommended by the National Institute for Literacy, based on extensive evidence from the National Reading Panel.”
In a March 17 email, Charlotte Iserbyt, former senior adviser on education in the Reagan administration, recommended Alpha-Phonics by Dr. Samuel Blumenfeld to teach phonics. “The late Sam B. was a dear friend of mine and wrote the Foreword to my 3D [Deliberate Dumbing Down] book,” she said. “He is internationally known as #1 in teaching children to read.” There are other great alternatives, too.
The three authors of the piece highlighting America’s reading crisis were Jared Myracle, the chief academic officer at Jackson-Madison County public schools in Tennessee; Brian Kingsley, chief academic officer at Charlotte-Mecklenburg public schools in North Carolina, and Robin McClellan, the supervisor of curriculum and instruction for elementary schools in Sullivan County public schools in Blountville, Tenn.
This is at least the third time in recent months that the lack of phonics instruction has been exposed in a prominent media source. In January, the quackery was exposed by National Public Radio. And in October of 2018, it was exposed in the New York Times.
With the “sight words” and “whole word” quackery under siege from all sides, a nationwide effort is needed to re-train teachers indoctrinated into dismissing what worked for thousands of years. It will never be possible to undo the massive damage already done to countless millions of lives. But reversing course late is better than never. Now is the time to do it.