Sunday, January 29, 2017

An Issue in Education

The following letter to the editor appeared in the Albuquerque Journal a week ago, on January 22nd. It definitely makes some most valid points.

I am a Canadian teacher and literacy specialist who is following New Mexico's literacy debate with interest. I have met with the same stubborn refusal by government and school districts to even consider that perhaps the reading methods being used are ineffective, and that more money will not solve the problem.

Having taught students and teachers for over 20 years, I know what works; however, an inexpensive, easy-to-use, guaranteed-to-work phonics method is not what the billion-dollar business of education — with its "balanced literacy, guided reading" jargon — wants to hear.

I find it especially ironic that New Mexico seems to have the same attitude, and such dismal literacy stats, since the "cheap and easy" method I have been using for over 20 years to successfully teach reading was created by New Mexico's Dr. Ernest Christman.

New Mexico has a clear, simple, relatively quick solution to its illiteracy woes right in its own backyard. Why is the state not using it?

          KATE KELLY
          Delta, British Columbia, Canada

My mother would have enjoyed reading that letter. She used phonics to teach reading back in the 1960s. Then, as now, it was both out of favor and highly effective. But she only cared about what would work for her students. And as she noted,
Some students will learn no matter how well or by what method they are taught. For others, the teacher must find the method that can enable the student to learn.
Phonics really should be used to teach reading. If the education establishment wants to use the latest fad instead, it should at the very least allow and support the use of phonics to teach students for whom the fad does not work well.

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