Paul Thomas of Furman University in South Carolina reminds us that “the crisis in reading”  is a staple of American educational history. Every generation complains that young kids are not learning to began long before Rudolf Flesch’s best seller “Why Johnny Can’t Read” in the 1950s.

Jeanne  Chall, Reading specialist at Harvard and experienced kindergarten teacher, explored the mystery of reading in her book “Learning to Read: The Great Debate,” 1967, where she recommended early use of phonics, them a transition to engaging reading.

The National Reading Panel (1997) popularized the idea of a “science of reading,” and the myth refuses to die.NCLB codified it into law, but the “crisis” persisted.

Thomas exposes The Big Lie.

Mississippi is the latest example of a state falsely claiming that it has used the “science of reading” to raise scores.

Mississippi hasn’t broken the code. Neither has Florida.

Thomas writes:

“The “science of reading” mantra is a Big Lie, but it is also a huge and costly distraction from some real problems.

“Relatively affluent states still tend to score above average or average on reading tests; relatively poor states tend to score below average on reading tests.

“Some states that historically scored low, under the weight of poverty and the consequences of conservative political ideology that refuses to address that poverty, have begun to implement harmful policies to raise test scores (see the magenta highlighting) in the short-term for political points.

“It is 2019. There is no reading crisis in the way the “science of reading” advocates are claiming.

“It is 2019. Balanced literacy is the science of reading, but it is not the most common way teachers are teaching reading because schools are almost exclusively trying to raise scores, not students who are eager, joyful, and critical readers.

“It is 2019. Political and public efforts to do anything—often the wrong thing—so no one addresses poverty remain the American Way.

“It is 2019. It is still mostly about poverty when people insist it is about reading and reading policy.”