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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Please, please, please don't politicize reading instruction

Oklahoma Superintendent Ryan Walters declared the first week of October "Teach Kids to Read Week." This is controversial, reports Sarah Schwartz in Education Week.


Moms for Liberty, a parents' rights group which has challenged school library books as "anti-racist" and LGBTQ "indoctrination," created the week in response to the American Library Association's "Banned Books Week," also the first week in October.


Co-founder Tiffany Justice called for a “back to basics approach,” charging educators are focusing on diverse, "culturally responsive" books while neglecting to teach students to read.

(Many challenged books are graphic novels and memoirs with sexual images, so kids who can't read well can still "access" the content.) States and districts are changing reading instruction to align with the "science of reading," writes Schwartz. It's a bipartisan movement. However, "explicit instruction in phonics, and a core foundation of knowledge" have been seen as conservative.


Reading reformers have fought hard to persuade people that systematically teaching decoding and background knowledge is the most effective way to build reading competence.


Still, deciding what knowledge students should learn is subjective, writes Schwartz. "It means prioritizing some knowledge and some authors above others." "Some popular knowledge-building programs don’t include varied enough perspectives," says Callie Patton Lowenstein, a literacy coach. However, "what’s not legitimate is saying that there’s something fundamentally conservative about holding our literacy instruction to higher standards, or being careful about the ways that our instruction aligns to research.”


We really do need to teach the kids to read.


There's no Republican or Democratic way to teach reading, writes Robert Pondiscio in response to the Ed Week story. "Are we meant to understand that progressive support for evidence-based instruction will collapse if conservative parents, too, want their children to be taught to read?"


He recalls the partisanship that doomed President George W. Bush's 2001 Reading First initiative, despite "evidence of effectiveness," after a brief bipartisan moment.


"If your views on instructional practices are shaped not by evidence, data, personal experience, or even common sense, but are instead a knee-jerk response to people whose politics you despise, you have lost the plot," he concludes. "And you’re not going to do kids any good in the classroom."



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7 Comments


Steve Sherman
Steve Sherman
Oct 17, 2023

Go to LibsofTikTok and see who many of these lunatics are teachers or aids. They need multiple aids so the 'educators' can practice their little brainwashing skits

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Guest
Oct 14, 2023

In the past, the content was used to educate the student, that is to teach them to discipline their intellect, regulate their emotions and establish principles, but for many decades the goal of the curriculum has been easily testable gameshow knowledge using vanity and ideological content.


“The trouble with modern education is you never know how ignorant people are. With anyone over fifty you can be fairly confident what’s been taught and what’s been left out. But these young people have such an intelligent, knowledgeable surface, and then the crust suddenly breaks and you look down into depths of confusion you didn’t know existed.”
Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited
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Guest
Oct 13, 2023

Just fill up the library with all sorts of books, including the banned ones. Then let the kids decide what they want to read. I know the idea of liberty, especially for children, is radical. Still, seems easy.

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lady_lessa
Oct 14, 2023
Replying to

I like your idea, but would still want the library to exclude the sexually explicit ones, ie. the ones that parents CANNOT read to the school boards


But do have a nice selection of graphic novels, adventure books, science fiction and fantasy. All of which I, myself enjoy.

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Richard Rider
Richard Rider
Oct 13, 2023

Universal school choice. It's the ONLY viable option for sane parents who care about their kids. The left will ALWAYS control public schools. The woke crowd has turned public schools into progressive indoctrination day camps.

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Guest
Oct 13, 2023

So often I hear that teachers should be "change agents" or should teach their students to be "change agents". What say we teach the kids to read at grade level? That *should* be a change that everyone could support.

--mrmillermathteacher

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Steve Sherman
Steve Sherman
Oct 17, 2023
Replying to

They're change agents that would be unable to change a tire if I took off the flat put on the spare and hand tightened the lug nuts for them

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