As the dominoes fall on quack “reading” methods that crippled tens of millions of Americans, the infamous Teachers College at Columbia University has quietly scrapped one of the key nerve centers that pushed the quackery into schools for almost half a century. It seems the truth is now too obvious to ignore: Learning to read and write English requires phonics.
Earlier this month, Teachers College announced in a press release that it was shutting down its “Reading and Writing Project” and putting its tenured ringleader, “Literacy Professor” Lucy Calkins, on an indefinite sabbatical. School districts across America, including New York City, are dropping her programs. Unfortunately for victims, though, there have been no apologies to victims or plans to provide restitution.
In short, the quack methodologies peddled by Calkins and her cohorts — memorizing words and guessing at unfamiliar ones — have been debunked since Horace Mann tried them in the earliest government schools in Massachusetts in the mid-1800s. Progressive education godfather John Dewey, a socialist and humanist, resurrected them in the early 1900s, knowing the damage they would do.
After a giant word salad touting diversity and inclusion, Teachers College — perhaps the strongest bastion of this poison — finally got to the point. “Moving forward, TC wants to foster more conversations and collaboration among different evidence-based approaches to literacy, and ensure our programs are aligned with the needs of teachers and school districts looking to partner,” it said.
While the real message was deliberately buried, it ended up getting out anyway. Psychology Today described what was happening at Columbia’s Teachers College like this: “breaking the shackles of four decades of what the new administration views as past adherence to flawed reading philosophy and ideology divorced from current cognitive science.”
“The impetus for these sweeping changes comes not only from boots-on-the ground teachers but also parents who say they are ‘fed up’ with schools where their children do not learn to read,” continued Dr. J. Richard Gentry, an expert in childhood literacy. “Some reading teachers lament that they were not prepared by higher education or in some cases were given incorrect methodologies. Universities are hearing their voices.”
As Dr. Gentry notes in Psychology Today, it is not just parents —there is now “intense political pressure” to bring up decades of “failing reading scores.” He also explains that “current science,” which is not needed to understand this, shows that explicit systematic phonics and spelling instruction is how children learn to read, and the studies prove it.
The far-left New York Times picked up on the significance, too. “It marks the end of an era for Teachers College and perhaps another setback for balanced literacy, the embattled movement in which Dr. Calkins is one of several prominent leaders,” reported Dana Goldstein for the Times, adding that the move “comes amid intense political pressure on schools of education to better align teacher training with research.
In an editorial headlined “Columbia quietly walks away from Teachers College project that ruined countless lives,” the Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post celebrates the change while demanding that the damage done to generations of American children be recognized. “The least we can do is call out the damage done,” the editorial board wrote.
“Columbia’s move is essentially just recognizing reality. But it doesn’t recognize the school’s guilt,” the paper said, noting that districts nationwide were catching on to the scam. “If Columbia University could be held liable for the harm done to generations of American kids, it would lose its entire $13 billion endowment and more. The least it could do is offer an abject apology.”
Why the education establishment finally appears to be surrendering on this critical front after multiple generations of turning Americans into functional illiterates remains unclear. There is no doubt that Dewey, the man most responsible for resurrecting and then propagating the poisonous quackery, understood the devastation it would cause. Many of his disciples did, too.
From Dewey to operatives from the Marxist Frankfurt School, Teachers College has been one of the key organizations responsible for dumbing down and indoctrinating several generations of Americans. In fact, with the possible exceptions of the NEA and the U.S. Department of Education, it is hard to think of any entity that has devastated more American lives than Teachers College. It is time for accountability.