COVID-19 arrived, it started killing us, we had an American shutdown unprecedented in history. And as we maybe, just maybe, start edging our way out of it, we are almost certainly going to start altering a ton of things in our politics and society, maybe for the worse, maybe for the better. It may not be at the top of many lists, but one of the most important objectives in my view should be to teach children how to read again, something gone sorrowfully amiss.
Reading and doing it well is the most important thing in the intellectual development of a child, a means of learning sustained linear thought, grammar, spelling, vocabulary and subject matter from A to Z. You want to enlarge your scope in this life, to succeed in what you care about, to have an idea of what’s really going on, to rise up from tough circumstances to better ones? Get good at reading, do a lot of it, and listen, that’s how you can get to equality a whole lot more than redistributing money.
A major part of the problem is that too many schools and teachers say no to phonics, or relegate it to something insufficient, and thus it is that we haven’t had much progress in reading for decades. The reading proficiency by grade level is little more than a third of the students and, in 2019, the National Assessment of Educational Progress showed a decline in national reading skills. Some say that is not a perfect judgment, but it is a solid judgment, and what is amazing is the way in which schools and teachers fail to do their job, as in saying they know best and then using other techniques that achieve something, maybe, but not much.