Nancy Bailey critiques PBS for running a feature about dyslexia that misrepresents the current state of reading instruction. 

The report was presented on the PBS Newshour and co-sponsored by Education Week.

She writes:

Schools must provide adequate reading programs and reading remediation for students who need more assistance. But the recent report on dyslexia recommending intensive phonics for all children by the PBS News Hour, through Education Week, is irresponsible, short on facts, and presents biased reporting…

This report took place in Arkansas, heavily influenced by the Waltons, who seek to privatize public education. Arkansas funds Teach for America. The state is anti-teachers and does not support teachers unions.

In the report, parents claim: We absolutely know that this is the best way to teach children to read! This approach works well for all students not just those with dyslexia. We know without a doubt that reading is not a natural process.

Numerous opinion pieces and articles have flooded the media recently, often through Education Week, about reading failure. Most are entrenched in misconceptions and refer to discredited sources like the 2000 National Reading Panel, and the astroturf National Council on Teacher Quality (an organization funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation). This threatens to damage how children learn to read, how teachers learn to teach reading, and public schooling.

Bailey points out that there is nothing new about phonics. She learned it in the 1970s.

I might add that there is nothing new about the so-called “Reading Wars.” I wrote about their history in my book Left Back: A Century of Battles Over School Reform (2000).

The definitive work on the Reading Wars was written by Harvard Professor (and former kindergarten teacher) Jeanne Chall, titled Learning to Read: The Great Debate in 1967.

Nothing new has been said since then.

Chalk the latest brouhaha up to the tendency (or desire) to find a new crisis in education every other day of the week.