"A child's learning is the funtion more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, November 16, 2009

NCTE Sells Out: Supports Learn Act

Suddenly I am ashamed to have ever been a member. From Dr. Krashen's blog:
The NCTE is supporting the LEARN act and asks NCTE members to support it. (http://www.ncte.org/action/alerts/learn)

I do not support the LEARN Act. As described in the Senate Bill, the LEARN Act is Reading First expanded to all levels. It is Reading First on steroids.

The methods required by LEARN are nearly identical to those promoted by NCLB and Reading First: "… systematic, and explicit instruction in phonological awareness, phonic decoding, vocabulary, reading fluency, and reading comprehension."

The Senate bill lists the same areas of instruction that were in the report of the National Reading Panel, which was heavily criticized by some of the most respected scholars in the field. These principles were used by Reading First, which failed every empirical test. LEARN assumes that direct instruction is the only way children become literate, that "The intellectual and linguistic skills necessary for writing and reading must be developed through explicit, intentional, and systematic language activities …" and assumes that there is no contrary view.

LEARN endorses excessive testing, requiring "diagnostic, formative and summative assessments … at all levels." This is an astonishing recommendation at a time when
children are already overwhelmed with tests, when schools are being turned into test-prep academies, and when education is facing severe budget cuts. It also presumes that we do not trust our teachers to evaluate their students.

There is no mention of the most important factor in developing literacy: quality school and classroom libraries, and professional librarians in all schools. The Senate bill only mentions "making available and using diverse texts at the reading, development, and interest level of students" and mentions "library media specialists" only once.

I must ask if those at NCTE who endorse this proposal have actually read it.

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