This spring a grad student asked me about the “Department of Education Reading Institute” being held in California.
I tilted my head and squinted my eyes (I know, because that’s what I do when I get suspicious).
Her school district was offering to pay teachers’ expenses to fly to California and attend the institute – hotel accommodations, food, and all.
I choked down the “What would the Department of Education know about reading?” instinctive response, and quietly googled DOE Reading Institute.
Well, there it was.
But there it wasn’t too.
There were no speakers listed yet, no titles of sessions, no objectives even published.
But teachers could register.
But there’s nothing here. I told my student. I don’t know what to tell you, but I don’t know why a district would agree to pay to send teachers to something when it’s not even a thing yet – what is it supposed to be about?
But of course.
So then I’m perusing Susan Ohanian’s blog and find her outrage at the DOE Reading Institute (which now has plenty of speakers listed).
Then it all becomes clear (of course it seems that way when someone else lays it out for you):
DOE Reading Institute is code for phonics, phonemic awareness, fluency, and maybe a little comprehension.
DOE Reading Institute is code for scripted programs, authors of scripted programs, authors of “evidence-based” reading practices.
DOE Reading Institute is code for MAKING MONEY FOR PUBLISHERS AND PROGRAMS TO TELL TEACHERS WHAT TO DO WITH KIDS – even when what those things are DON’T MAKE SENSE!!!!!!!!!!!!
The National Early Literacy Report, The National Reading Panel, Reading First, The Common Core Standards —— ALL OF THEM ARE TIED TO NARROW BITS OF INFORMATION ABOUT READING THAT CAN BE PUT INTO PROGRAMS AND SOLD. THEN EVALUATED USING TESTS THAT MUST BE SOLD. THEN “FIXED” USING CONSULTANTS AND COACHES WHO MUST BE PAID.
this ugly, despicable, embarassing, shameful, feeding on this country’s reading frenzy is exhausting.
Guess what we need to do to get kids to read more, read better, and read more critically? We need to be reading TO them, reading WITH them, and giving them lots of high-interest materials and lots of time for them to READ by themselves and with others.
It costs very little to do this…
But instead, we’ll create lots of reluctant and resistant “struggling” readers who will despise anything related to reading by pushing them through meaningless instruction and exercises that cost lots of money.
really…when will this nightmare end?