Thursday, May 24

Reported two-thirds of students aren't proficient in reading. But back in 1910...

You may have heard that two-thirds of the students in American high schools reportedly tested "below proficient" in reading.  But you may be more surprised to learn that back in 1910, in most states over 99% of school kids were reportedly proficient in reading. 

So what happened to make the percentage of proficient readers plunge so sharply?  Has the average intelligence fallen that much, maybe due to CO2 or pesticides in the air, or fluoridated water, or PCB's in drink containers?

Maybe.  But another theory blames a teaching method called "sight reading."  Introduced in the 1930's as THE hot new way to teach reading, its proponents wanted it to replace the "old" (thus allegedly inferior) way--called "phonics"--with rote memorization of the shape and length of words.

Seems crazy, eh?  There are so many times more words than just phonetic sounds that this supposedly NEW, IMPROVED! method would seem to all but the most committed ideologue to be far worse than the way people had learne to read for centuries.

But when the "experts" at the nation's allegedly top universities reaffirmed this new method, amazingly almost all local schools fell in line to do it the "improved" way.  Of course some school boards didn't surrender right away but argued with the "experts" that the new method was dumb.  As in, incredibly, obviously, screamingly stupid.  But the experts wouldn't relent....cuz, see, they were professors at prestigious schools like Hahvahd and Yale, so they must be right.  HAD to be right, eh?

It would be fabulous if some agency *not* associated with the federal government would survey, say, 10,000 random school systems and see how many had an official policy on this, one way or the other.  That would enable people to compare, y'know, actual results of the two teaching methods.

Somehow I suspect the school systems in big, Democrat-controlled cities would order their people not to respond.  Can't imagine why.


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