Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Teachers Who Go Into Administration

Stephen Krashen is one of the most astute observers and acute commentors on Federal 'education policy' around, especially since the recent passing of the memorable, and infamous Gerald Bracey. NCTE is the National Conference of the Teachers of English, and is the largest group in the field. The LEARN act is the Obama/Duncan proposed legislation that would perpetuate everything that was wrong with similar literacy initiatives in the previous regime, indeed the previous 40 years.

This arrived today from widely admired author/educator/firebrand Susan Ohanian, one of my go-to sources on matters of teaching and learning. She's the beans; you should visit and bookmark her sites if you have ANY interest--personal or professional--in humane, democratic, emancipatory teaching and learning.

I Do Not Support the LEARN Act

by Stephen Krashen
The NCTE is supporting the LEARN act and asks NCTE members to support it here.

I do not support the LEARN Act. As described in the Senate Bill, the LEARN Act is Reading First expanded to all levels. It is Reading First on steroids.

The methods required by LEARN are nearly identical to those promoted by NCLB and Reading First: ". . . systematic, and explicit instruction in phonological awareness, phonic decoding, vocabulary, reading fluency, and reading comprehension."

The Senate bill lists the same areas of instruction that were in the report of the National Reading Panel, which was heavily criticized by some of the most respected scholars in the field. These principles were used by Reading First, which failed every empirical test. LEARN assumes that direct instruction is the only way children become literate, that "The intellectual and linguistic skills necessary for writing and reading must be developed through explicit, intentional, and systematic language activities. . ." and assumes that there is no contrary view.

LEARN endorses excessive testing, requiring "diagnostic, formative and summative assessments "at all levels." This is an astonishing recommendation at a time when children are already overwhelmed with tests, when schools are being turned into test-prep academies, and when education is facing severe budget cuts. It also presumes that we do not trust our teachers to evaluate their students.

There is no mention of the most important factor in developing literacy: quality school and classroom libraries, and professional librarians in all schools. The Senate bill only mentions "making available and using diverse texts at the reading, development, and interest level of students" and mentions "library media specialists" only once.

I must ask if those at NCTE who endorse this proposal have actually read it.

— Stephen Krashen
NCTE ning
Susan adds her own remark:
I am opposed to the LEARN act for the same reason Stephen Krashen names. I'd like to know just who at NCTE does support this act--and voices this support on behalf of all of us members.

Go to the NCTE ning and voice your concerns. We must speak up NOW.

You can also send e-mails to NCTE officers:

President, Kylene Beers:
Past pres., Kathleen Yancey:
Pres.-elect., Carol Jago:
Vice-pres., Yvonne Siu-Runyan:
Incoming Vice-pres., Keith Gilyard: rkg3@PSU.EDU
They'll just LOVE to hear from you.

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