Better teaching — not more money — will help poor kids learn, writes John McWhorter in the New York Sun.
Take New Jersey in 1998. Since then, no funding discrepancy has been allowed between gritty urban schools and ones in cushy suburbs. And the result has been essentially nothing.
We know how to teach effectively, writes McWhorter. We just don’t do it.
Back in the 1960s, the federally funded education program, Project Follow Through, showed that the best strategy for reading was rigorous, phonics-based instruction termed Direct Instruction.
And since then it has been shown in one city after another that even when paint is peeling and there are not enough computers, this kind of instruction teaches kids to read. Period. Yet despite those findings, such programs have fought for space with people insisting that more “holistic” whole-language methods that teach word by word are somehow better â€” a story sadly playing out with Reading First, a national initiative to help young children to read, here in New York.
Many teachers don’t know about Direct Instruction.
McWhorter questions why Jonathan Kozol’s Savage Inequalities, which calls for more funding, is revered in education school while Rafe Esquith’s Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire, which suggests effective ways to teach, is ignored.