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[Susan notes: Here is an example of putting NCTE position to good use.]

Published in Education Week

To the editor

How sad that Reading First's creators and supporters haven't a clue

about why it has failed to improve children's reading comprehension.

Why can't they see that their narrow conception of reading as a

hierarchical set of discrete skills stands in the way of children's

learning to read? The current programs approved for Reading First

schools are like tennis rackets with only a couple of strings. No

wonder most kids can't hit the ball.

Not only does the array of knowledge and skills needed by even

beginning readers far exceed Reading First's narrow emphasis on

phonemic awareness, phonics, and fluency, but all the tools of reading

also have to be used at once and in concert. G. Reid Lyon and his

colleagues say young children can't do that? Nonsense! They learn to

walk and talk and use computers, don't they? And nobody teaches them.

If Reading First is part of the reauthorized No Child Left Behind

legislation, it should be redesigned to include a little phonics,

taught at points of need; well-written, interesting stories; writing,

right from the first day; poems, recited aloud; dramatization of

stories; and, most important, daily teacher reading of good books.

The writer, a former president of the National Council of Teachers of

English, was a member of the National Reading Panel.

Joanne Yatvin

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