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[Susan notes: This letter was sent to the TAWL listserv, the Reggio listserv, and the President of the United States. Please use this letter any way that you wish. And please let Sydney know if you do. sydney@eceteacher.org

According to the National Institute for Literacy website, Early Beginnings is based on the research findings from the 2009 publication, Developing Early Literacy: Report of the National Early Literacy Panel. Adherence to scientifically based research in this publication was ensured by a review process that included representatives of the National Institute for Literacy and the National Early Literacy Panel Chair, Timothy Shanahan. For detailed information on this review process, contact the National Institute for Literacy, 1775 I Street NW, Suite 730, Washington, DC 20006.

Authors: Barbara Goodson and Carolyn Layzer, Abt Associates, with

Peggy Simon and Chris Dwyer, RMC Research Corporation]

Submitted to but not published

Dear Friends,

Last week I received six copies of Early Beginnings: Early Literacy Knowledge and Instruction from the National Institute for Literacy.

I read it this morning and have some things to say about it:

1. It is all about teaching, not at all about learning.

2. It is all about the mechanics of reading, not at all about why people read.

3. It portrays an Image of the Child as passive, empty, good at rote learning.

4. It is utterly disrespectful of the kinds of children I've taught and raised.

I've now thrown all the copies away, thinking that with "tools" like this our children will be quickly turned off to reading.

My sympathies go out to teachers in schools which adopt this mindless path.

If there's something I can do to help, please let me know. I'm glad to teach you how to do Key Vocabulary, which puts the child's world first, and incidentally teaches the mechanics so valued by this government agency.

I'm sending a copy of this letter to the President, whose girls are in a school which says, on its webpage:

We believe that to be effective, education must be founded on secure mastery of basic skills, taught not only in isolation but also in integration with one another. We place strong emphasis on reading, personal expression of ideas through speaking and writing.

This isn't what the government is advocating for the children in public school. No mention of integration is in Early Beginnings. (And isn't that name redundant?) I think it's important to tell the President that he's contributing to an American education which undermines intelligence and in-context thinking. He doesn't mean to.

Deeply concerned,

Sydney Gurewitz Clemens

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