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[Susan notes: I condensed this from my 8,000-word article on the subject.]

Submitted to New York Times Sunday Book Review but not published

To the editor

Kudos for publishing Susan Straight's "Reading by the Numbers," Aug. 30, 2009.

The points-for-prizes fandango marketed by Accelerated Reader pushes an AR-designated Grade 4 reader to go for the nine points attached to Alice Walker's The Color Purple instead of the paltry one point each for the more age-appropriate Stone Fox or Harry Kitchen and Tucker Mouse. Avi's Smugglers Island rates 5 points. A 4.4 reader can rake in 10 points for reading Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, the quintessential lost-generation novel featuring the narrator's sexual impotence.

A child spending a few days to work out a one-page experiment from Everyday Science Experiments in the Backyard faces AR meltdown because this books rates only 1/2 point.. This is because The Color Purple is 300 pages long and Everyday Science Experiments just 28. Meanwhile, the corporate-politicos yelp for schools to produce more mathematicians and scientists.

This is what happens in schools anxious to fill their data warehouses.

Susan Ohanian

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