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“I just thought it would end differently this time”

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You may have heard about the bill that was just introduced by U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat from Washington state, into the U.S. Congress that would provide $2.35 billion in funding for literacy programs in K-12 schools. You can read more about it at the Education Week piece titled U.S. Sen. Murray Introduces K-12 Literacy Bill.

Renowned ELL research Stephen Krashen left this comment on the Ed Week article:

Here we go again, more of what doesn’t work: “Providing students with explicit, systematic, and developmentally appropriate instruction in reading and writing, including but not limited to vocabulary development, phonemic awareness, reading comprehension …”. Only briefly mentioned: “the use of diverse texts” but not how they will be used. As usual, no mention of what really works, lots of good stories, read alouds, plenty of access to books, (libraries!!), exciting literature discussions …

The true reading crisis in the US are policy makers who do not read the research.

I read a story in Thomas Friedman’s column today that reminded me of this situation. He was referring to the Middle East conflict, but I think it also speaks to this continuing waste of dollars into less-than-useful literacy instructional techniques and programs:

“These two guys are watching a cowboy and Indian movie. And in the opening scene, an Indian is hiding behind a rock about to ambush the handsome cowboy,” he explained. “ ‘I bet that Indian is going to kill that cowboy,’ one guy says to the other. ‘Never happen,’ his friend answers. ‘The cowboy is not going to be killed in the opening scene.’ ‘I’ll bet you $10 he gets killed,’ the guy says. ‘I’ll take that bet,’ says his friend.

“Sure enough, a few minutes later, the cowboy is killed and the friend pays the $10. After the movie is over the guy says to his friend, ‘Look, I have to give you back your $10. I’d actually seen this movie before. I knew what was going to happen.’ His friend answers: ‘No, you can keep the $10. I’d seen the movie, too. I just thought it would end differently this time.’ ”

I’d bet on Krashen’s analysis that this is not going to end any differently than Reading First’s failure.

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

One Comment

  1. Agreed. And the true education crisis is US policy makers who do not provide authentic opportunities for real teaching and learning to take place. We are spending way to much time documenting, testing students, and defending our profession.

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