John Merrow, the sage?PBS education commentator (and one of the founding fathers of the modern charter school movement [see here]), has a new blog essay devoted to what several of his readers said about a previous postof his ?on early reading.
Merrow had written?about a popular, three-day ?Campaign for Grade-Level Reading? event in Washington, saying that he was then editing a piece for PBS NewsHour?.
?about what is often called ?the vocabulary gap' that develops in the first three years of life, I am especially aware of the need for public action.? We know that about 75 percent of the children who aren't reading competently and confidently by the end of third grade will never catch up?. No mistake: This is a crisis!
Indeed, it is a crisis.??But?quoting from his new book, The Influence of Teachers, Merrow warns against some popular and simplistic notions about reading:
Children do not need more drill in decoding. Reading specialists often draw a false distinction between decoding and comprehending, and because most tests reward decoding, teachers in the early grades may be tempted to treat it as a goal rather than what it is: a means to an end.
As Merrow suggests, this is not an?obvious point for many teachers, but?he says he got?"wake-up calls" from several people about his post, including E.D. Hirsch, Jr. (of Core Knowledge fame), who sent Merrow a copy of his February speech to the Virginia House of Delegates. The two?drilled...