Words like alarm, crisis, and loss should never be used to reference kindergarten reading or any learning. What must children think? It destroys the trust parents have in teachers and public schools. This is school privatization on steroids flamed by the pandemic!
Dana Goldstein’s recent fear-mongering report by The New York Times: Children Are Severely Behind in Reading claims kindergartners are woefully behind due to the pandemic. The reading crisis started before Covid, she reminds us, in case we’ve been allowed to forget.
This report seems mostly about selling online reading and math programs. Almost all the studies she cites in her links come from companies! Companies use this early reading deficit message to sell phonics and math programs.
The reality is that formal reading instruction once began in first grade. Now kindergarten is the new first grade, and while some parents and educators accept this, there’s nothing to indicate it’s best to expect children to be reading so early.
These higher expectations placed on the backs of children focus on failure, driven by education policies like No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and the Every Student Succeeds Act.
For years, corporations and politicians have promoted this destructive message, manipulating higher and higher standards to where the youngest and most vulnerable learners will appear to fail.
Goldstein mentions the 2019 NAEP and PISA results being stagnant or having declining reading scores and widening gaps between high and low performers.
These gaps involve the disadvantaged, children with disabilities, second language students learning English, and children who might find reading challenging.
Parents and educators read these reports and become frightened that kindergartners are behind. They believe their child’s teachers and their public schools fail them.
Then they double down and drill young children on reading skills earlier than ever, sitting children in front of computer screens instead of encouraging them to play and do more age-appropriate activities! This early pressure, in turn, sets children up to hate reading!
What should be a huge concern, is the pressure placed on young children, kindergartners, to read. How many children learn to despise reading? How many public schools close in part due to this harmful message?
Goldstein appears to be a privatization enabler. Here are some of the advertisements linked to in her report.
Amplify is a controversial online company with a long history started by Rupert Murdoch with former New York superintendent Joel Klein as CEO. Both were critical of public schools.
The Emerson Collective, founded by Laurene Powell Jobs, purchased Amplify in 2015.
Amplify is now described as the Science of Reading because they have phonics lessons. Besides hyper marketing, it’s hard to know why the program is revered today. Where are the independent peer-reviewed studies?
Oklahoma teachers noted their dislike of Amplify due to its age-inappropriateness and connection to Common Core.
Another company Goldstein links us to is i-Ready, by Curriculum Associates. Here’s a recent post about i-Ready. Parents are concerned about data and transparency.
Here’s another post about Amplify and iReady profiting from learning loss talk during the pandemic.
Goldstein cites another so-called study from the University of Virginia. They bemoan poor early results on a phonics assessment called PALS, more advertising.
Virginia is known for its excellent public schools.
So, whenever a report berates the early reading progress of kindergartners, question it. Protect children from being forced to read before they’re ready and from alarmist messages.
Find out how you can support good kindergarten programs, teachers, and real public schools.
Goldstein, D. (2022, March 8). It’s ‘Alarming’: Children Are Severely Behind in Reading. The New York Times, Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/08/us/pandemic-schools-reading-crisis.html.