Kate Walsh, President of the National Council on Teacher Quality, takes education reformers to task for not making curriculum reform a bigger focus. She reminds us that there is solid science on how to teach reading, for example, but you can’t find many reformers talking about policy changes that will bring what’s being taught in classrooms up to pace with the higher standards being championed at the top of the agenda. Kate has a point that deserves more attention.
I don’t think it’s because there are many ed reformers that reject the science here—unlike many in teacher prep. Researchers long ago identified the reading methods which would reduce the current deplorable rate of reading failure from 30% to somewhere well south of 10%—if only schools would take that step. Teacher prep programs which fail to teach elementary teacher candidates the integral connection between spoken sounds and written words are essentially committing malpractice.
Instead, I think the issue for some ed reformers is that other reforms are a lot more important. I can’t quite figure out why there are still perfectly reasonable, rational people who aren’t willing to embrace the 2+2=4 connection between children learning how to read and every other outcome reformers fight for. One gets the sense that we “pro-phonemes” reformers have a bug up our behinds and that we just need to get over it.