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To the editor:
It seems that the city’s cash-strapped Department of Education will be paying publishers big time for a “phonics” literacy program designed to promote its products.
During the present century, this idea of “evidenced-based” programs continues to be promoted without evidence. School libraries are becoming museums of a bygone age, while the youngest children are prematurely placed on digital screens before they are able to read or write.
Some have yet to be able to produce their autograph, while the system is delivering them to Big Tech with “remote learning.”
Literacy development is a social construct where students interact with each other, editing each other’s work and having paired and group sharing of reading passages. Periods are created for
journal writing as well as silent reading.
Reading is like driving a car. You need to do it and not reduce the process to memorizing how a car works.
Chicago schools progress exploded with “whole language,” which required authentic literature,
before reading became a profit center for the scripted programs of the publishers. Whole language needed to be terminated to maintain those profits.
Students learn literacy holistically in a social setting with trained teachers, not “educators”
following a script. Many reading problems may actually be caused by these reductionist approaches.
Reading scores, as a group, rise and decline due to emotional and social factors of the students.
Decisions about literacy need to be made by academics independent of commercial
influence. A vibrant library, along with authentic literature chosen by teachers, is key.
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