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[Susan notes: We should follow Steve Krashen's lead and not let these distortions that roll so easily off editorialist tongues go unchallenged.]

Submitted to USA Today but not published
04/22/2005

To the editor

USA Today begins its editorial Ride the preschool wave (April 21) with a harmful distortion, the claim that California rejected phonics as a tool for teaching reading and that as a result, test scores plummeted. The quote refers to an action of the California Language Arts Framework committee that met in 1987. First, the committee did not ban phonics, it said only that language arts should be literature-based, hardly a radical statement.



Second, there was no plummet: Researcher Dr. Jeff McQuillan has shown that scores were very low years before the committee met. Finally, even though California has embraced a very heavy phonics-emphasis curriculum, performance of California children on national reading tests has remained unchanged. Also unchanged is the reason for the low scores: California had, and still has, the worst public libraries in the country, as well as the worst school libraries.



Stephen Krashen


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