The Left, which controls the educational system, went to war against phonics, dubbing it a “right-wing” concept.
A 1985 essay in Education Week explained that, to conservative activists, “only systematic phonics, employing sound-symbol decoding, is acceptable…Reading comprehension is to be taught…[using] didactic reading materials and literal-level questions.”
By the 1990s, Nicholas Lemann reported that reading instruction had become “one of the main organizing issues for the Christian Coalition.” Legislation compelling teachers to rely on explicit phonics instruction was introduced by Republicans in many states — especially those in which the party was dominated by the Christian right. Mel and Norma Gabler, known for their successful campaigns to censor textbooks in Texas (and then elsewhere), were also outspoken on this issue, as were Cal Thomas, James Dobson, John Rosemond, and others. Pat Robertson announced that learning to read is “a breeze…if reading is taught the way God made us to talk – by syllables, by what is called phonics.”
Well if god is for it, then progressives must be against it!
For example in the US, the Whole Language Movement describes itself as a political movement and claims that it speaks for the disadvantaged. It condemns advocates of phonics for allegedly promoting a right-wing or neo-liberal agenda. Supporters of phonics are sometimes represented as closet Christian fundamentalists who use phonetics instrumentally to bolster traditional authority.
Progressive education worked as well as all leftist policies do and so New York City is hitting the brakes.
Hundreds of public schools have been teaching reading the wrong way for the last two decades, leaving an untold number of children struggling to acquire a crucial life skill, according to New York City’s schools chancellor.
Now, David C. Banks, the chancellor, wants to “sound the alarm” and is planning to force the nation’s largest school system to take a new approach.
On Tuesday, Mr. Banks announced major changes to reading instruction in an aim to tackle a persistent problem: About half of city children in grades three through eight are not proficient in reading. Black, Latino and low-income children fare even worse.
In a recent interview, Mr. Banks said that the city’s approach had been “fundamentally flawed,” and had failed to follow the science of how students learn to read.
“It’s not your fault. It’s not your child’s fault. It was our fault,” Mr. Banks said. “This is the beginning of a massive turnaround.”
Over the next two years, the city’s 32 local school districts will adopt one of three curriculums selected by their superintendents. The curriculums use evidence-supported practices, including phonics — which teaches children how to decode letter sounds — and avoid strategies many reading experts say are flawed, like teaching children to use picture clues to guess words.
I guess the right-wing is taking over New York City schools.
Hundreds of elementary schools in 2019 used a popular balanced literacy curriculum from Teachers College known as Units of Study, a report by two local news outlets, Chalkbeat and The City, shows. The curriculum has received failing marks from one major organization that rates program quality. But many school leaders value its attention to developing children’s passion for books, as well as its robust professional development offerings for teachers.
That’s great for teachers, not so great for students. But progressives decided that schools mainly exist for the sake of teachers which is why they closed them entirely to students in 2020 while continuing to pay teachers.
For decades, Lucy Calkins has determined how millions of children learn to read. An education professor, she has been a pre-eminent leader of “balanced literacy,” a loosely defined teaching philosophy.
In a classic Calkins classroom, teachers read aloud from children’s literature; students then chose “just right” books, which fit their interests and ability. The focus was more on stories — theme, character, plot — less on sounding out words.
Her curriculum, “Units of Study,” is built on a vision of children as natural readers, and it has been wildly popular and profitable. She estimates that a quarter of the country’s 67,000 elementary schools use it. At Columbia University’s Teachers College, she and her team have trained hundreds of thousands of educators.
But in recent years, parents and educators who champion the “science of reading” have fiercely criticized Professor Calkins and other supporters of balanced literacy. They cite a half-century of research that shows phonics — sound it out exercises that are purposefully sequenced — is the most effective way to teach reading, along with books that build vocabulary and depth.
With brain science steadily adding to that evidence, there is a sense — at least for many in the education establishment — that the debate over early reading instruction may be ebbing. Phonics is ascendant.
More than a dozen states have passed laws pushing phonics, and Denver and Oakland, Calif., have moved to drop Professor Calkins’s program. In one of her largest markets, New York City, a dyslexic mayor and his schools chancellor are urging principals to select other curriculums.
So after decades of resistance, Professor Calkins has made a major retreat. A rewrite of her reading curriculum, from kindergarten to second grade, includes, for the first time, daily structured phonics lessons to be used with the whole class.
The Calkins approach is great for middle-class two-parent white or Asian families. It’s not going to work for your average urban public school student who’s got a narrow window of a few years of early elementary to pick up basic skills before he tunes out in one form or another. Phonics is a more reliable approach and one that doesn’t assume a grounding that doesn’t exist and isn’t student-led. The idea of student-led classrooms is a progressive approach that’s been a complete disaster.
The New York Times is however pushing Wit and Wisdom which is a poisonously woke curriculum, pushing racist and sexual content on children. (It doesn’t offer phonics). So just because the city has made a partial course correction, don’t expect things to really change.