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Welcome to my website, aschoolsfirstjob. The name comes from the teacher’s guide of The Writing Road to Reading, a method for teaching speech, writing and reading by Romalda Spalding. “If a child is pleased with academic accomplishments but still shows personality problems, then the school must look elsewhere for the cause. However, if he is not doing well in speech, writing and reading, the school’s first job is to teach him the basic techniques of language. A systematic, direct approach to his learning in school can show him how to attack other problems that beset him. This does not mean that the school should not help the child in whatever way it can, but such help should not be a substitute for teaching him.”

The material found here is about learning to read in our public schools. This is a relatively narrow subject, but the ramifications are enormous. My deep concern over instruction in beginning reading began in 1965 when my second son, Andy, was unable to read after finishing second grade. He suffered from a language disability which, I learned later, was a classic case of dyslexia. Although my interest was originally personal, I soon discovered that the problem of reading failure was, and is, a national problem.

Good reading and writing skills are indispensable to a child’s success in school. And yet a bitter controversy has raged for many years among educators over how these fundamental skills are best learned. Learning to read has become a very troublesome and, apparently, and intractable problem for the public schools.

A NATIONAL LITERACY PROBLEM.

This article is from the Huffington Post of 09/06/2013: “Sunday is International Literacy Day! We recommend taking the opportunity to curl up with a warm cup of coffee, a comfy chair, and a favorite classic. Of course, this holiday is bittersweet – We know we’ll be celebrating accordingly, but many Americans won’t be able to do so. According to a study conducted in late April by the U.S. Department of Education and the National Institute of Literacy, 32 million adults in the U.S. can’t read. That’s 14 percent of the population. 21 percent of adults in the U.S. read below a 5th grade level, and 19 percent of high school graduates can’t read. The current literacy rate isn’t any better than it was 10 years ago. According to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy (completed most recently in 2003, and before that, in 1992), 14 percent of adult Americans demonstrated a ‘below basic’ literacy level in 2003, and 29 percent exhibited a ‘basic’ reading level.”

This material is from a blog by Kenneth J. Mentor, J.D., Ph.D., New Mexico State University, referring to research in 2002. “Illiteracy is perhaps the greatest common denominator in correctional facilities. Data collected from the National Adult Literacy Survey (NALS) show that literacy levels among inmates is considerably lower than for the general population…. “A related concern is that prisoners have a higher proportion of learning disabilities than the general population. Estimates of learning disability are as high as 75-90% for juvenile offenders.” Of course, this does not prove that illiteracy causes people to break the law. However, political and educational leaders frequently state publicly, to wide approval, that we must get children out of poverty before we can teach them to read. However, all we know is that poverty and reading failure occur together, not that poverty is the cause of reading failure.

MY CHILD’S FAILURE.

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