To the editor:
What will it take before the Lawrence school district finally admits that their whole-language-based reading program is a failure? The LJW published an article on Sept. 8 stating that the reading scores are down in 11 of 19 elementary schools, all four junior high schools and both high schools. This is alarming!
Intensive, systematic, explicit phonics instruction is the most effective way to teach children to read. Most adults will remember this as "sound it out" when decoding text. Whole language, the current curriculum, teaches children to make a "guess" what the word might be and to look for word "chunks." Whole language fails to teach explicit phonics which is the critical key to developing reading skills. Explicit phonics teaches reading, spelling and handwriting skills; all major areas that need improvement. This system works for ALL children, even those with Attention Deficit Disorder.
Fortunately, my family can afford to pay for private tutoring in explicit phonics. What about those families that cannot? Those children fall further and further behind. Lawrence school administrators and board members have sought explicit phonics tutoring for their own children because it works.
In this time of tight school budgets all curriculum needs to be evaluated for efficiency and cost effectiveness. Explicit phonics is cheap, all it requires is a pencil, paper and direct teacher instruction. Teachers are giving their best, students are trying their best. Parents need to demand from the Lawrence district administrators that our public schools teach explicit phonics; which those of us that can afford it (and know about it) are privately seeking.