After producing more than three generations of illiterate or barely literate Americans using quack methods in government schools, the establishment is finally acknowledging that children need systematic and intensive phonics to learn how to read properly.
In an incredible article published last month, a writer for the far-left Time magazine admits that only about one-third of American children in public school meet basic reading proficiency standards. The reason, as the piece makes clear, is a lack of instruction in phonics.
Headlined “Inside the Massive Effort to Change the Way Kids Are Taught to Read,” the Time article shows what a cataclysm the education establishment’s pseudo-“reading” instruction has wrought. And it shows that the tide is finally turning.
Just in the last few years, almost 20 states have passed laws requiring that teachers receive training on phonics. Even liberal states and cities, including New York City, are now moving to require phonics instruction for teachers and students.
Some background on the debate is critical. English uses a phonetic alphabet, which means that each letter represents one or more sounds. Those sounds are then blended together to make decodable words. To properly decode the words, readers must know what sounds each letter represents.
By contrast, the “whole word” method, sometimes known as “sight words” or the “look-say” method, in which children are taught to memorize entire words, is radically different. It was developed to help deaf children — who could not hear the sounds the letters made — learn to read.
But it was first debunked as a tool for non-deaf children in Boston, Massachusetts, in the mid-1800s. Shortly after being implemented in the newly created government schools by Secretary of Education Horace Mann — the first person to hold that title in any state — education leaders wrote a blistering critique exposing it as absurd.
The quack methodology was not widely used again until being resurrected by John Dewey, a Soviet Union-loving subversive and co-founder of the humanist religion widely regarded as the father of America’s government school system. Among other absurdities, Dewey thought government schools should turn children into little collectivists rather than educate them in the traditional sense.
With millions of dollars in support from the Rockefellers, Dewey injected the poison of “whole word” reading (along with godlessness and anti-American collectivism) into schools nationwide from his perch at Columbia University’s Teachers College, which continues to play a leading role in the catastrophe.
The madness was exposed again and again and again over the decades. In the 1950s, Rudolf Flesch published Why Johnny Can’t Read. In the 1970s, Sam Blumenfeld published The New Illiterates. The education establishment and legions of “educators” furiously resisted, though, with some even claiming phonics was a “right-wing” plot.
In 2000, even the establishment-friendly National Reading Panel — an organ of the U.S. government — released a report recommending proper phonics instruction for all children. Although the final report was deeply flawed, it shined the light on the disaster that “reading instruction” in America was creating.
At every step of the way, no matter how much evidence was presented, the education establishment resisted teaching phonics. In fact, even after the madness was exposed for all to see, Common Core peddlers and creators insisted on continuing to force children to memorize sight words, sprinkling in some phonics later. New terms such as “balanced literacy” were invented to conceal the quackery.
Of course, the piece in Time has some very significant shortcomings and even factual errors. For instance, the writer claims, falsely, that, “Not every child needs systematic instruction in phonics.” If the child is going to learn how to read English properly, he or she must have phonics.
Separately, the piece credits Emily Hanford and the National Reading Panel for finally turning the tide, brazenly ignoring the many heroes who dedicated their lives to this fight decades and even generations before them. The piece also ignores the fact that the NRP merely recommended adding phonics to a “balanced reading program.”
Finally, the writer appears to simply assume that all of this was some sort of colossal mistake by well-meaning fools. In reality, it was 100 percent deliberate at the highest levels of the education establishment, as the book Crimes of the Educators: How Utopians Are Using Government Schools to Destroy America’s Children by this writer and Dr. Blumenfeld proves conclusively.
It is never too late to do the right thing. But as America lies on the verge of destruction thanks in large part to the deliberate dumbing down of several generations with quack reading methods, it remains to be seen whether it is too late to save the nation.