Tag: parents

Hooked on Phonics? You should be …

Why aren’t kids being taught to read?

According to a fascinating article published on September 10, 2018, by Emily Hanford with APMReports, scientific research has shown us how kids learn to read and the best way to teach them to do so. Unfortunately, many educators either don’t know the science or, in some cases, actively resist it. As a result, millions of children are being set up to fail. You should realize that these are our children and grandchildren.

Trouble for the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania Public School System

In 2015, Jack Silva, the chief academic officer for the public schools in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, identified a real problem in his school system: Only 56 percent of third-graders in his district received proficient scores on the state reading test.

However, this “problem” is not exclusively found in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. In fact, it is quite widespread!


Educators have long blamed America’s poor reading performance on poverty. And truthfully, there is plenty of poverty in Bethlehem. Once a booming steel town, Bethlehem now struggles to survive.

But there are wealthy homes in Bethlehem as well. And Silva discovered that many kids at the more affluent schools weren’t reading very well either. The problem cannot be attributed to poverty. By many estimates, one-third of America’s struggling readers are from college-educated families.

Scientists know the cause …

Educators assume that learning to read is a natural process, much like learning to talk. We are born wired to talk. Children learn to talk be being talked to and being surrounded by spoken language. But scientific research has revealed that reading doesn’t come naturally. The human brain isn’t wired to read.

The human brain must be explicitly taught how to connect sounds with letters. According to scientists, reading is not wired into our minds like talking is. This is because human beings didn’t develop written language until about a few thousand years ago. That is relatively recent in evolutionary terms.

To read, structures in our brain that were designed for things such as object recognition must be rewired just a bit. That process is known as phonics.

We never looked at brain research. We had never, ever looked at it. Never.

Jodi Frankelli, Supervisor of Early Learning

In this case, this science is solid and accepted.

According to Emily’s article, there are literally thousands of studies that prove this. And in fact, this is the most studied areas in human learning. Unfortunately, too many teachers nationwide are not being taught reading science in their teacher preparation programs because the faculty in colleges of education either don’t know the science or dismiss it. As a result of their intransigence, millions of kids have been set up to fail.

According to a 2016 article in the Journal of Childhood and Developmental Disorders, contributing to this problem is the fact that, at the university level, faculty in many schools of education have ignored the scientific knowledge that informs reading acquisition.” As a result, new teachers educated at these institutions often fail to receive the necessary training.

There is hope!

The Bethlehem school system instituted a curriculum in early elementary grades that mix teacher-directed whole-class phonics lessons with small-group activities. The program is designed to meet the needs of children at different points in the process of learning to read. The results have been phenomenal.


But parents must step up …

There has long been a trend in our public school system to dumb down the education our children get. It started in the sixties when I was in school. Fortunately for me, it was just getting started. I learned phonics and diagramming sentences, multiplication tables, etc.

Another failure is the Common Core standard. We have just graduated the first class to come up within the Common Core curriculum, and, according to studies, this class is the least prepared to enter college than any in our history. But … that is another topic altogether.

Parents must take a stand and demand that real, proven education practices be used in our school system. Jumping on every half-baked new teaching scheme that comes down the educational pike is essentially an experiment that will affect your child’s future. And, so far, their record is pretty abysmal.

I worked in college admissions for many years. I remember a time when I was talking to a mother who was writing her daughter’s personal essay.

If this woman’s daughter could not write a 500-word essay on why she wanted to attend the University of Tennessee, how could she ever hope to complete her studies?

Emil Hanford’s article goes into a lot more detail, citing other studies and materials. If you have children in school or if you care about the state of public education in this country, you should read this article. You can read the complete article here. There is also an audio file if you prefer to listen to it.

A School Crotch Inspector?

Just when you think you have heard it all:

I just got finished reading a editorial about a 13-year old school girl, Savana, who got strip searched after another girl, named Marissa, claimed she had gotten a few 400-milligram ibuprofen pills and one non-prescription naproxen tablet from her.
The editorial’s author, Jacob Sullum, is absolutely right! There are definitely two kinds of people in the world: liberal lunatics who think it’s perfectly acceptable to strip search a 13-year-old girl suspected of bringing ibuprofen to school, and conservatives … the kind of people who think those other people should be kept as far away from children as possible.

The first group … the liberal lunatics … does include officials at Safford Middle School in Safford, Ariz., who forced eighth-grader Savana Redding to prove she wasn’t concealing Advil in her cleavage or in her crotch, and the two judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit (that same loony, terrorist friendly district in California), who ruled that the strip search did not violate Savana’s Fourth Amendment rights, and …. anyone else who thinks this is acceptable behavior for school staff.

In October 2003, Vice Principal Kerry Wilson, acting on a tip, found a few 400-milligram ibuprofen pills (each equivalent to two over-the-counter tablets) and one nonprescription naproxen tablet in the pockets of a student named Marissa, who claimed Savana was her source.

Savana, an honors student with no history of disciplinary trouble or drug problems, denied knowing anything about the pills and agreed to a search of her backpack, which turned up nothing incriminating. Vice Principal Wilson, as yet undaunted, instructed a female secretary to strip search Savana under the school nurse’s supervision, without even bothering to contact the girl’s mother.

According to Sullum, the secretary had Savana remove all her clothing except her underwear. Savana was then told her to “pull her bra out and to the side and shake it, exposing her breasts,” and then to “pull her underwear out at the crotch and shake it, exposing her pelvic area.” It would seem that Jacob Sullum is right when he states that it is sometimes very hard to tell the difference between “drug warriors and child molesters.”

Savana said in an affidavit, “I was embarrassed and scared … but felt I would be in more trouble if I did not do what they asked. I held my head down so they could not see I was about to cry.” She stated it was the most humiliating experience she had ever had. The principal, Robert Beeman, said, “he did not think the strip search was a big deal because they did not find anything.”

The U.S. Supreme Court has held that a public school official’s search of a student is constitutional if it is “justified at its inception” and “reasonably related in scope to the circumstances which justified the interference in the first place.”

This search was neither.

When Vice Principal Wilson ordered the search, the only evidence he had that Savana had violated any school policy was the uncorroborated accusation by Marissa … a girl who was already in trouble herself and looking to shift the blame.

Savana was so closely supervised after Wilson approached her, that she did not have any opportunity to get rid of any contraband she might have had stashed in her crotch or her cleavage.

According to the editorial, a representative of the American Civil Liberties Union (and … I simply can’t believe I am agreeing with the ACLU) stated that, “There was no reason to suspect that a 13-year-old honor-roll student with a clean disciplinary record had adopted drug-smuggling practices associated with international narcotrafficking, or to suppose that other middle-school students would willingly consume ibuprofen that was stored in another student’s crotch.”

The invasiveness of the search should also be weighed carefully against the evil it was aimed at preventing. “After all, the school district’s lawyer recently told ABC News by way of justification, “this was prescription-strength ibuprofen.”

I can only shake my head in total disbelief!

There is no way a strip search of a 13-year-old could be considered reasonable in scope when searching for Ibuprofen! While it is true that carrying and passing out prescription drugs in school is wrong and the search of the backpack was perhaps in order, was it necessary to strip search her? How about searching her locker first … or calling her parents … or calling the cops? Any of these alternatives would have been more reasonable in scope and likely much more productive in obtaining any illegal drugs and/or reprimanding the offending student.

I feel this action was clearly outside the bounds of the U.S. Constitution and … even further outside the bounds of common sense and decency. If a search is so important that it is deemed necessary to expose the most private parts of a student’s body … then it is important enough to get the police involved. Even if the lunatic progressive, left-wing, terrorist-friendly radical 9th Circuit Court did somehow find that the school administrator’s conduct was legal in this case … that does not mean it was ethical! Nor does it mean it was the best available action in response to the incident.