I am honored to be mentioned by Robert W. Sweet of the National Right to Read Foundation on his Blog. I wrote years ago about the book, Retarding America: The Imprisonment of Potential by Michael Brunner. I did not know that Bob Sweet then worked for the Administration and was the one who hired Michael Brunner to do the study on the root cause of incarceration of our youth. He found that more than single parent home, poverty, or any other element, illiteracy was the most common denominator. AND they found that systematic, direct and early phonics remediation worked best to teach those prisoners to read.
Bob found my website recently and read the posts on my opinion page on education. He tells me that there are glimmers of hope in Reading Instruction. Chicago (the home of devastating OBE and Whole Language instruction) will now begin using Sing, Spell, Read and Write, a wonderful SIDE (systematic, intensive, direct and early) phonics program to teach reading. Pearson (the major distributor of instructional programs) is considering adding Sing Spell Read and Write to their curriculum. When I first got involved in trying to find the cause of so many of my students being unable to read Middle School textbooks, I called around the state to the systems with the highest scores in reading. Mountain Brook used Open Court and Vestavia used Sing Spell Read and Write. First Presbyterian uses Sing Spell Read and Write in Dothan (granddaughter Megan goes there). Holy Nativity in Panama City uses Sing Spell Read and Write. (Granddaughter Lily went there.) Grandsons George and Sam attend First Methodist in Panama city that uses ABEKA (a Christian system that all three of our children benefitted from). Another extremely effective phonics program is SPALDING WRITING ROAD TO READING developed by Romalda Spalding who learned under the founder of the dyslexia society Dr. Samuel Orton. Orton noticed how many children were coming to him with dyslexia as the result of the look/say method of reading instruction (later labeled whole word/ whole language).
I hope all of you know the reading system your school (or grandchildren's school) uses. If a child cannot read proficiently by the third grade he/she is in for a tough row to hoe the rest of his life. If a teacher tells me they use an eclectic approach geared to the abilities of the individual child, I run, not walk, from that school. That type of educratese is way too sophisticated (and hit and miss) for my simple understanding of the basics my children need to succeed. Parents and citizens pay for the education of our children. They need to demand curriculum that works. Amazingly, schools with the least bells and whistles are most effective in teaching what parents actually expect of schools!