Friday, September 9, 2016

The Heart of School Reform

The Ny Times has an interesting article here  about the ruling of a Connecticut judge on the state financing of education.  He ruling commented that the problem isn’t just financing, and he noted all of the school reforms that haven’t worked. 

I agree with him, that the school reforms put in place are not working.  But I disagree that the main problems are things like teacher evaluation systems or charter schools.  I think the problem is much deeper, and it is primarily one of reading curriculum.

As a high school English teacher for 37 years, I am convinced that the education crisis is a reading crisis.  The students I got into my classroom who were fast, efficient, perceptive readers were also the excellent writers.  They were also the students who excelled in all of their classes.  

Why aren't more kids avid readers?  Because myths about reading are deeply entrenched in our culture.  Here is one of the deadliest:  Kids should read only good literature.  False.  My avid readers had a history of reading comic books, serial childrens' books (like the Babysitter's Club), and genre literature, like fantasy and science fiction and mysteries.  

Most kids are turned off to reading by what passes for "reading" in schools:  vocabulary tests, answering comprehension questions, reading "approved" literature.

Until our schools give students plenty of time to read any kind of books they like--and help them find these books--scores will stay low.  Few kids make time for avid reading at home anymore.  We have to support it in our schools.