Friday, March 09, 2007

Reading First

Good story about Reading First by Diana Jean Schemo in today's NY Times. Focusing on Madison, Wisconsin's decision not to accept federal funds for its reading program, Schemo's piece does a good job of making the conflicts around Reading First comprehensible to those who aren't educators or policy-insiders. Included are many interesting items, such as the exchange between Kathryn Howe of the Reading First technical assistance center and Madison school officials. Among Howe's observations was that "the city’s program lacked uniformity and relied too much on teacher judgment, [so] they could not vouch to Washington that its approach was grounded in research." So much for teacher judgement.

There's a problematic characterization (maybe caricature is a better word) of whole language in the opening paragraphs, but I think the negative depiction of the Dept. of Ed's top-down approach to reform and the questions raised about the "science" being promoted may outweigh that in the long run.

You can read it here (registration required).

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