Sent to the New York Daily News, October 13
Geoffrey Canada says that a longer school day, increased accountability, and "data to drive instruction" can help children who have fallen behind ("The truth about our schools," October 13). But in his autobiography, Fist, Stick, Knife, Gun, he credits reading for his own school success, despite growing up in poverty: "I loved reading, and my mother, who read voraciously too, allowed me to have her novels after she finished them. My strong reading background allowed me to have an easier time of it in most of my classes."
There is no clear data supporting longer school days, increased accountability and data-driven instruction as a means of improving school performance. In contrast, there is overwhelming evidence showing that Mr. Canada's reading habit was indeed the basis for his school success: Many studies show that providing access to interesting and comprehensible reading substantially improves school performance.
I hope Mr. Canada applies the lessons he learned from his own experience to the Harlem Children's Zone.
Krashen, S. 2009. Eight-one generalizations about free voluntary reading. Children and Adolescents (Published by Young Learners (Children and Adolescents) Special Interest Group of the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language. 1/2009, pages 7-12. (Available at www.sdkrashen.com)
Lindsay, J. 2010. Children's Access to Print Material and Education-Related Outcomes: Findings from a Meta-Analytic Review. Naperville, IL: Learning Point Associates. http://bit.ly/9lKPPa
The truth about our schools: Harlem Children's Zone CEO Geoffrey Canada on 'Waiting for Superman'