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[Susan notes: We can hope these letters represent the general reaction to the article in question.]

Published in New York Times

To the editor

Re “Federal-Local Clash in War Over Teaching Reading”

(news article, March 9):

“One size fits all” tends to exclude a large chunk of

the population, whether you’re talking about clothes

or how to teach reading.

Those so-called experts who are convinced that phonics

is the only method that works should look at research

on the different ways people learn. Or perhaps go into

a classroom and work with real students.

The approach of tailoring reading instruction to the

student makes much more sense.

And what’s the point of hiring teachers if you’re not

going to rely on their judgment? If teachers can’t

alter their lesson plans to help each individual

student, you might as well turn education over to


Nancy Jane Moore

Washington, March 9, 2007


To the Editor:

As a former elementary school educator, I find myself

horrified at Reading First, the plan that the Bush

administration is pushing to influence the teaching of

reading in this country. This is supposed to end the

age-old war over the various methods of teaching

reading and immerse every child in this country in


It matters not to the administration that the schools

in Madison, Wis., have demonstrated great success in

teaching reading using the Balanced Literacy approach,

emphasizing whole language. In all, this

administration is simply demonstrating how very little

it knows about the art and science of teaching


Children have different learning styles, and what

seems to have the best success in the teaching of

reading is a multipronged approach.

Of course a certain amount of phonics is necessary,

but unlocking words and stories through context clues

and an immersion in language is very exciting, too.

Children need to want to have success in opening up

the world of language, and just plain phonics is not


Francine Fleishman

Boca Raton, Fla., March 9, 2007


To the Editor:

As a former elementary school reading teacher and a

student of languages, I can state unequivocally that

the only languages in which it makes sense to teach

reading using the phonics-only method are those like

Spanish, in which there is a one-to-one sound-symbol


English, made up as it is of words from many sources,

can be taught effectively only using a balanced

approach of phonics and other strategies, like whole

language. The federal government has once again

erroneously determined that where millions of children

are concerned, one size fits all.

Ann J. Kirschner

Brooklyn, March 9, 2007

multiple authors

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