Wednesday, February 09, 2005

READER RESPONSE -- Tell me again that its about the kids

Posted by Craig Westover | 5:20 PM |  

Reader Jerry Ewing passes this along. It speaks for itself.

"The educational tragedy in Rockford, Illinois, now making national headlines, echoes a larger tragedy. At Lewis Lemon elementary school, with a student body described by The New York Times as '80 percent nonwhite and 85 percent poor,' third graders scored near the top in statewide readings tests. Their results were bested only by students at a school for the gifted.

"How were the results achieved? Teachers used reading lessons 'heavy on drilling and repetition, that emphasize phonics--that is, learning words by sounding them out.' This approach, however, is deemed too extreme by the new school superintendent, who is phasing it out.

"In discarding success, Rockford is following the demands of the still-dominant voices in the nation's schools of education. They insist that phonics instruction be balanced with its antipode, the whole language 'method.' Because 'reading is such a complex and multifaceted activity,' explains Dr. Catherine Snow, professor of education at Harvard, 'no single method is the answer.'

"This is like saying that because eating is 'such a complex and multifaceted activity,' no single method can guide us, and that a proper diet must therefore contain a mixture of food and poison."

- Dr. Onkar Ghate of the Ayn Rand Institute