Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The Phonics Police Are Out in Force

In today's NY Sun Andy Wolf echoes Sol Stern and makes the phonics argument again while heaping praise on Region 5's Kathy Cashin, one of the 4 Regional Superintendents to survive the DOE reorganization. They must each peddle their wares to get schools to sign up and the rumor is that Cashin is not doing as well as the others.

Wolf wrote: "This Bush Education Reform Really Works, by Sol Stern, appeared in the Winter, 2007 issue of City Journal." Sol should ask the NY Teacher, the mouthpiece of the UFT leadership, to reprint his praise for Bush since they so generously gave him space in this week's issue.

I always believed in teaching phonics and did so with the materials at hand - a workbook and some chalk and a few charts. I did not need Reading First to do it.

When I had the top 6th grade class where all kids could read there was no point and the administration left that to me to decide. Kids that can read at a certain level do not need phonics. Those who can't decipher words do. Teachers have always made those basic decisions. Just as Klein took the decision out of the hands of teachers, aren't Wolf and Stern doing the same thing?

When my school changed principals in 1979 she made us use the kind of traditional materials Wolf is talking about and it did not make all that much of a difference. One of the ironies is that she brought in a book salesperson to talk to us about some of these materials back in the early 80's at a scintillating monthly faculty conference. The saleswoman's name? Kathy Cashin.

The Manhattan Institute will be hosting a praisefest - er - luncheon for the Reading First success story, with Ed. Sect'y Margaret Spellings in New York on May 22. Now that would be a good place for a rally against idiocy. I haven't received my invitation yet. All I can say is, "phuque"!

You can find the complete article
Applying the LaGuardia Principle to our Schools
April 30, 2007
URL: http://www.nysun.com/article/53492

1 comment:

  1. Forwarded from Stephen Krashen:

    Sent to the New York Sun, May 1, 2007

    Region 5 scores do not show that Reading First worked

    Andrew Wolf (“Applying the LaGuardia Principle to our
    Schools,” May 1) claims that Region 5’s reading scores have improved
    more than in other districts, and gives Reading First
    the credit.

    Region 5 did indeed make the largest gain in percent of children in the two highest levels in reading proficiency between 2004 and 2006 (12%, compared to the city mean of 9%), but the increase came the first year after Reading First was introduced (2004-2005).
    The second year, the percentage actually declined slightly both in Region 5 and citywide.

    Reading First features an intensive phonics approach which is used mostly in the early school years; not many fourth graders in 2005 would have been effected,
    but more would have in 2006. Also, Reading First provides an extra 100 minutes of instruction per week,

    If Reading First really worked, the combination of intensive phonics and more time for reading
    instruction should have resulted in much higher scores in 2006. It didn’t.

    Stephen Krashen


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