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Monday, September 21, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Useful Method Not A Complete Solution No Silver Bullet Most Successful Of Teachers Use A Variety Of Approaches.

Our children don’t read as well as they should. Some can’t read at all. There oughta be a law.

Enter Washington lawmakers with just the bill to fix what’s wrong with reading education. Their cure, getting phonics back into the classroom as the primary method to teach reading, is as simple as it is flawed. The bill would start a grant program to give first- and second-grade teachers intensive training in phonics.

Phonics’ renewed popularity revolves around California’s failure to teach kids to read. The Golden State dumped its phonics reading program in favor of another method a few years back. In 1996, the U.S. Department of Education conducted a study of fourth-grade readers, and of the 39 states studied, California came in last.

For proponents of phonics, the message was clear. No phonics equals poor reading skills.

What they overlooked was that Louisiana, the state that finished with California at the bottom of the list, uses phonics as the basis of its reading program.

Scientific research is mixed on which form of reading instruction is best. However, a number of studies have found teaching in small groups or tutoring one-on-one provide the best results, regardless of what teaching method is used.

There’s nothing wrong with phonics. Most teachers incorporate some phonics into their instruction no matter what method they use. But using phonics is no silver bullet.

Not everyone can learn to read using phonics. Many teachers use a variety of reading instruction methods to deal with the individual needs of their students. What they don’t need is the state limiting the ways they introduce our children to the written word.

Economics are often a common denominator in poor reading skills. Phonics drills alone will not overcome the distractions of poor nutrition or a crummy home life. Then there’s the issue of state interference. Why is the Legislature poking its nose into our elementary school classrooms? Strategies for improving reading skills are well within the jurisdiction of site-based school councils.

Making a special effort to ensure our kids can read is laudable. Grants for schools to tackle this important life skill are warranted. Pinning it all on phonics is folly.

, DataTimes MEMO: For opposing view, see “Sugarcoat what works and then re-employ it”

The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = COLUMN, EDITORIAL - From both sides CREDIT = John Kafentzis/For the editorial board

For opposing view, see “Sugarcoat what works and then re-employ it”

The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = COLUMN, EDITORIAL - From both sides CREDIT = John Kafentzis/For the editorial board

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The basketball court at the McCarthey Athletic Center is photographed before an NCAA college basketball game between Gonzaga and BYU, Feb. 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Young Kwak) (Young Kwak / AP Photo)
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