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[Susan notes: Prager writes one of the most ignorant articles I've read in a long time. His claims about phonics and college reading levels are in a long line of idiocies. But he believes in himself,having founded Prager U, an online thing claiming to be a university.


Submitted to National Review but not published

To the editor

In For the left, anything new is better (Sept. 8) Dennis Prager characterizes whole language as a method that teaches children to recognize whole words and as phonics-free.

Prager confuses whole language with "Look-Say" teaching, a method abandoned decades ago. Whole language is based on the idea that we learn to read by understanding what is on the page. One way we do this is a knowledge of the basic rules of phonics. Whole language includes "basic phonics," the straight-forward rules that children can learn, remember, and apply to texts to make them more comprehensible.

Prager also claims that college freshmen today read at the level of a seventh grader. Prager's data comes from the company that produces Accelerated Reader and is based on assigned summer reading lists. In contrast, scores on the most respected reading test we have, the NAEP, have remained the same (17 year olds) or have increased (ages 9 and 13) since 1971.

Stephen Krashen

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