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Submitted to Arizona Daily Star but not published

To the editor

Jay Ambrose is right when he praises JK Rowling and when he tells us that wide recreational reading is the source of our reading ability, our vocabulary, and grammar (“Reading is the real magic of ‘Potter’”, July 31).

But he should not give “the new emphasis on reading” credit for recent increases in test scores among fourth graders. The “new” approach, in fact, de-emphasizes recreational reading in favor of “intensive, systematic phonics,” an extremist version of phonics that research shows has no impact on performance on reading tests given after grade 1.

The “No Child Left Behind” approach to literacy could have been designed by Dolores Umbridge, the Hogwarts “high inquisitor” whose dull teaching style drilled students in useless abstractions and avoided any actual use of magic.

Stephen Krashen

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