Will Johnny Learn to Read Now?
By Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D. August 1, 2019
In the 2019 Texas legislative session, Republican lawmakers caved to the socialist demands of Democrats who found the perfect storm for adding Pre-K to the public education system and expanding digital learning via the gargantuan education spending bill, HB 3.
The 2018 STAAR assessments showed that 59 percent of Texas third graders could not read at grade level. Now it’s not surprising that kids cannot read proficiently or that the average high school graduate in America reads at the 6th grade level. Teachers continue to use the discredited whole language methodology instead of phonics to teach reading. This, too, is not surprising since teacher colleges support whole language rather than phonics resulting in teachers being ill-prepared to teach reading.
As a solution to the reading problem, the Texas Commission on Public School Finance 2018 report recommended that three- and four-year-olds should attend government Pre-K and be taught via personalized learning – code term for digital screen learning. The report outrageously claims, “testimony reflected that students who were kindergarten ready were more than three times more likely to meet the state standard for third-grade reading vs. those students who weren’t.”
Where is the proof of this claim? What kind of study was conducted? Why did they ignore 60 years of research about Pre-K which proves that permanent harm can be created by pushing young children into formal instruction? Is it because members of the commission were liberals looking for a cover to extend government control of a child’s education from 13 years to 14 years?
As for “personalized learning,” why did the commission ignore the massive amount of research about the psychological and academic dangers of digital screens for young children? How come legislators have allowed Ed Tech to control public classrooms? Following the money trail exposes that some of our legislators work for major tech corporations and educators and schools are being financially rewarded for implementing digital programs in classrooms.
Despite all of the negatives in HB 3, there is a rose among the thorns. K-3 schools must provide a phonics curriculum while teachers and principals must attend a teacher literacy achievement academy not later than 2021-2022. This shift in reading methodology is largely due to the commitment of Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath to add phonics to the curriculum and teacher development programs.
With the use of phonics to teach reading, there should be a huge improvement in literacy for third graders, negating the need for Pre-K as recommended by the public school finance commission. Does this mean we can drop Pre-K from public education since there is a better solution for kids learning to read? Republican lawmakers must share the blame for the young children who will be psychologically and academically harmed through personalized learning.