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  • Writer's pictureThe Dyslexia Initiative

A Response to Lucy's Rebranding Following Columbia University's Retreat From Her Curriculum

Updated: Sep 6, 2023

On Friday, September 1, 2023, Columbia University's Teachers College released the following statement:



Within the text of this statement, Columbia University states that Dr. Lucy Calkins will no longer serve as the director of Teachers College Reading and Writing Workshop, which is also being dissolved. Dr. Calkins will retain her professorship at the university, a role in which she is currently on sabbatical.


To be clear, Heinemann Publishing is the owner of her Units of Study, not Columbia University.



Shortly after that statement was released, Dr. Lucy Calkins launched this website https://mossflower.com, Mossflower Reading and Writing Project, as well as a YouTube channel called "RebalancingLiteracy" which was created on August 30, 2023 and currently has one video entitled "Tell us about the disputes in the field of reading and where you stand." Note comments are turned off on the video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1YcFKPoxg70&t=4s


The Right to Read Project had an amazing response to the press release. You can read their response on either Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/100027157706624/posts/pfbid05KR2YeScj7cAxAoqUrpN6hByp4DCQtezKn4iUVi1sEyCvaP2Ce6YGNiXSt2HD1dzl/?mibextid=cr9u03, or Twitter, https://twitter.com/right2readproj/status/1698436017433481393


The summation of their response is, the cache that Columbia University provided to Dr. Calkins and her Units of Study is a large reason for the success of both the program and Dr. Calkins herself. Now without their Ivy League backing, Dr. Calkins is now nothing more than a business consultant showing her true colors.


The text of the recording of her YouTube video follows as well as our response. The text of the video is in blue.


Dr. Calkins:


I'm often asked to talk about the disputes that are tearing apart the field of reading and about where I stand in relationship to those disputes. So let me first be really clear that there are things that are not disputed despite what the media says. No one trivializes the importance of phonics for kindergarten first and second grade children and no one trivializes that our ultimate goal is to have kids who are avid lifelong readers and writers, motivation matters.


Response:


As is typical of the Balanced Literacy (BL) camp and their leaders / spokesmen, Dr. Calkins comes out of the gate insisting that phonics isn't in question. This is an interesting statement given the January 2020 publication by Achieve the Core entitled, "Comparing Reading Research to Program Design: An Examination of Teachers College Units of Study," which can be found here: https://achievethecore.org/page/3240/comparing-reading-research-to-program-design-an-examination-of-teachers-college-units-of-study.


A portion of their review, specifically referencing phonics follows:


Phonics and Fluency Explicit instruction of foundational reading skills is critical in early elementary school. Foundational skills instruction includes print concepts, phonological awareness, phonics and word recognition, and fluency. Numerous studies point to the benefits of a systematic foundational skills program for reading success.

Drs. David D. Paige and Timothy Rasinski both commented that the lessons are lively and give the students joyful exposure to the concepts of phonological awareness, phonic patterns, and reading fluency.

Dr. Paige, who closely reviewed lessons for their phonics content, noted major failings: 1) There is not enough time given to acquiring the phonics skills, which is particularly dire for students who might not immediately master those patterns or read fluently; 2) the program frequently recommends use of SMV (structure/meaning/visual system—known more widely as the three- cueing system)—which is in direct opposition to an enormous body of settled research; and, 3) insufficient guidance is provided regarding how to use the results of assessments to inform instruction. This means any student who does not immediately master an aspect of foundational reading is at risk of never getting it. Dr. (Claude) Goldenberg , whose review of the English learner supports included thorough analysis of the phonics content, corroborated Dr. Paige’s findings and reported numerous examples in the Units of Study in Phonics where English learner issues and needs are given scant or no attention. Specifically, he found that the Units of Study program fails to highlight the importance of explicitly and systematically teaching phonic skills (decoding and encoding) to the detriment of English learners and all beginning readers. It also fails to make teachers aware of the complex relationship between literacy development and oral language development.


Now, the immediate knee jerk reaction will be to say that Dr. Calkins has recognized that her program had deficiencies and immediately reference the May 22, 2022 New York Times article by Dana Goldstein entitled, "In the Fight Over How to Teach Reading, This Guru Makes a Major Retreat," (https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/22/us/reading-teaching-curriculum-phonics.html). In the article, Dr. Calkins states (paraphrasing) that she has discovered the "new" Science of Reading and sees the errors in her program and is rewriting Units of Study to embrace that science.


Original Blog Edited to Clarify a Statement in the Original Version of This Article:


Originally this blog had the following statement:

It is also important to note that as of the date of this blog piece, that updated version has not been released. For reasons both known and unknown, the updated publication has had numerous issues, some of which led to the resignation and termination of numerous Heinemann staffers.


This statement was based off of first this article in The New York Times by Dana Goldstein, New Reading Curriculum Is Mired in Debate Over Race and Gender - The New York Times (nytimes.com), this this statement from Heinemann: An Apology and a Path Forward (heinemann.com).


After further research we found the kindergarten and 1st grade revisions have been published effective 10/25/2022. The planned 2nd grade revisions have not been published.


Per this article, As Revised Lucy Calkins Curriculum Launches, Educators Debate If Changes Are Sufficient (edweek.org), Dr. David Paige stated the curriculum was a 180-degree shift from the prior version but stated that it features a pace that might be too fast for some students. Calkins stated that "Units of Study in Reading are designed to complement phonics instruction - not be its sole source.


But Margaret Goldberg, a school-based literacy coach in California and the co-founder of the Right to Read Project, worries that students still may have trouble getting this initial instruction from TCRWP’s other materials. A previous review of the Units of Study in Phonics, the foundational skills program from the group, found that it had only limited explicit instruction.


She also questioned whether the units featured systematic instruction in other areas—like a scope and sequence for the vocabulary words taught in each unit and grade, or the grammar skills.


Some of this comes down to a fundamental difference in approach. Many curricula promoted by science of reading advocates feature a lot of direct instruction. By contrast, Calkins’ units are built on a “workshop” model. Teachers give “mini-lessons,” and then students spend a large chunk of their time independently applying those skills, with support from their teachers."


Further, "Districts now have a choice, she said. They can keep using the previous version of the materials, or they can pay for the new ones.


And because Heinemann is promoting these updates as a revision, rather than a correction, Goldberg thinks it’s harder for schools to justify shelling out the cost."



Now, back to the original content of the article.


Dr. Calkins:


Some people, you could call them "phonics first," or science of reading people, focus more on phonics, leaning largely on a kind of Skill and Drill approach to teaching and suggesting that young kids need a really heavy dose of phonics before they read and write.


Response:


First, let's be clear, the science of reading is a body of research in the field of neuroscience about how the brain learns to read, spell, and write. As a result of this vast and decades long body of research, the methodology of how to teach to the science is referred to as Structured Literacy. It is important to note that the term, "Science of Reading" is being both vilified by the Balanced Literacy camp, as well as used by their PR spin doctors in rebranding BL material to seem aligned with the research, when that isn't the case with almost all of the curriculums.


Second, using the terminology "skill and drill approach to teaching" is a rhetorical manipulation to engage the emotion of the sympathetic reader, aka her curriculum followers who fear such an approach, even though they have not actually experienced such a teaching methodology given that Units of Study and similar curriculums have dominated American education since the mid 1980's. This manipulation is to garner sympathy to the idea that students are being spared such a horrific method of teaching, when the reality is that this is to cater to the feelings of the teacher, not the student who needs explicit, sequential, systematic instruction to master the necessary skills to decode which is gained through a solid phonics instruction.


Reading and writing both are not possible with any degree of accuracy, comprehension, or fluency, without the necessary decoding and encoding skills. There are more skills required as well, but since Dr. Calkins hones in straight away on phonics, we will keep our focus there...for now.


Dr. Calkins:


Meanwhile others, balanced literacy educators, focus more on kids being engaged in meaningful reading and writing work that allows even the youngest learners to use their knowledge of letters and sounds in order to read and to write. Most educators though are centrist and I am as well.


Response:


Again, this is an interesting use of rhetoric. Again the emotional manipulation, without immediately coming out and saying it, is that the Science of Reading people yet again only believe in phonics to the detriment of all other skills. This simply isn't true, and if one would take but a moment to Google "Structured Literacy," the following infographic from The International Dyslexia Association would come up, https://dyslexiaida.org/what-is-structured-literacy/, which by the way isn't just for dyslexic children, but applies to anyone learning to read.


This would immediately be followed by The Five Pillars of Reading:

which is beautifully explained in this article from IMSE, https://journal.imse.com/the-essential-components-of-literacy-instruction-part-1-of-6/ (and I highly recommend you read the full multi-part blog for more details).


Further, there's Hollis Scarborough's Reading Rope:

And, Joan Sedita's Writing Rope:


There's also the Language-Literacy Network, which can be found here: https://brooklynletters.com/language-literacy-network/.


But sure, despite all of those other words inside of those graphics, the reading research, and the numerous websites behind Structured Literacy, those pesky Science of Reading folks just care about phonics.


Dr. Calkins:


And you know, talking about disputes and camps perpetuates a kind of us versus them dichotomy and ends up creating caricatures, many of which are really inaccurate.


Most educators aren't extremists. If you think of a seesaw, most educators and I count myself among them, recognize that there are kids who need this and kids who need that.


Most educators want to learn from both ends of the seesaw bringing together all that works for kids. From a phonics first approach, we can be grateful for the reminder that teachers need professional development in the teaching of phonics so that nobody feels at a loss when they're working with a child who has print based struggles.


You know, my dad's a doctor at a medical school, and he always would take the interns and residents on rounds. They would go from one patient's bed to another, and at each bedside they would all pull their knowledge of this particular patient and the patient's data and they talk about possible solutions and share insights for that patient, and I think what we're coming to understand is that there needs to be a similar sort of rounds in schools, where we have conversations about readers who make us struggle, so that we can think together about how best to help them.


You know, I just want to add an aside that there is no magic pill that presto will solve the need for more PD and phonics. Some think that the program LETRS (Side note: This is a an education program created by Drs. Louis Moats and Carol Tolman and can be found at the following link, https://www.lexialearning.com/letrs) is a magic cure, but actually there isn't evidence to suggest that it's going to be a panacea, and I would encourage schools to do even more to provide teachers with the professional development and phonics that they need in order to go back to what else we're learning from phonics first educators.


Response:


There's a lot to unpack in the rhetoric of this particular section. First, the divisiveness of the camps is being perpetuated to an extreme right now on social media by various Balanced Literacy leaders. Emotionally stirring and factually inaccurate Tweets are being bandied about like beads at a Mardi Gras parade in order to engage vitriolic debate. The lowest form of debate is one that is pure emotion with no fact. Making grandiose statements, and not backing those statements up with scientific data is just that - a statement, and luring people into an emotionally heated debate purely to engage emotion is pandering to the lowest form of ego and cruelty. It's gaslighting at its finest whereby the perpetuators of such statements feel vindicated by those who seek to defend the scientific data because people fell for the emotional baiting, no matter how calm and factual they may be.


Second, the presumption that science of reading folks view most educators as extremists is yet another emotional manipulation. This is part and parcel for the Balanced Literacy camp to set teachers and parents at each other's throats by saying parents don't get it and teachers are doing the best they can.


Third, making the statement that the BL camp is grateful for the reminder by the "phonics first" people that teachers need Professional Development (PD) in phonics, ignores what the BL camp has willfully done to our university system - the wholesale take over of teacher preparation programs by Balanced Literacy at the neglect of any and all science. Because teacher prep programs are missing a very key and crucial component, aka the neuroscience behind how the brain processes reading and writing, PD becomes necessary, not as a tool of reinforcement, but of education itself, to correct the lack of instruction in the bachelor's programs.


Forth, I cringe at the line, "so that nobody feels at a loss when they're working with a child who has print based struggles." If proper undergraduate education were provided, then the emotion of feeling at a loss with a child who struggles would be far less detrimental because teachers would be educated and empowered to recognize that struggle, versus forcing the child to continue on with a 3-cueing system that fails to actually teach, not just the struggling reader, but all children, how to truly read. It also goes without saying that this statement is all "poor teacher" but not "poor child" given that it's the child who is the one actually struggling, but that's a discussion in and of itself that could go on for pages and pages.


Fifth, let's talk about the continual rhetoric that the science of reading people are pushing a panacea or magic pill. Yet another emotional manipulation, that has never been the case. Let's also throw in there the statement that "there's one solution to teach all children." This straw man argument needs to be thrown onto the pyre of rhetorical manipulation to burn until it's ash.


No one has claimed that there is a panacea, a magic pill, or one way. The BL leaders keep perpetuating this perception because it serves their purpose to push people into their emotions. Within all of the data that exists on how the brain learns how to read, it is known how information travels and how it is retained in order to inform instruction on how best to teach a student how to take in the man made invention of reading and writing.


That being said, LETRS is agnostic of curricula, so circling around to Dr. Calkins' analogy of her father's teaching methods within a medical school with rounds, medicine is taught agnostic of any one particular skill because it is science informed, and since science is constantly evolving, medicine is constantly evolving. This is not the case for how education currently works. Perhaps, to continue with her example, a "rounds" type of instructional model within the education of our future teachers would yield benefit but ONLY IF honest instructional examples of how the brain learns to read agnostic of curricula is truly embraced. Until that day happens, this remains nothing more than manipulative rhetoric.


I highly encourage watching this video with Drs. Moats and Tolman on what LETRS truly is: https://www.lexialearning.com/resources/webinars/welcome-to-letrs.


One statement is accurate, there is no research that proves there is a panacea. What we do know from the research that exists on Structured Literacy is that it works for all and harms none, but again it is not a curriculum, it is a science informed practice on how to teach.


Dr. Calkins:


I think that I'm learning that I think that it's really pretty important for schools to provide teachers with a curriculum in phonics that is sequenced in child friendly and research based ways. Of course, you'll always need to say to teachers you can innovate on this curriculum because we need to be responding to kids and kids are different. Sometimes innovating off of a published phonics curriculum is especially essential because sometimes schools adopt a curriculum that isn't designed to help teachers actually embed phonics in the real reading and writing that kids are doing and and that's especially essential.


Response:


Here Structured Literacy people agree, but we / they agree because Units of Study fails to embed phonics in real reading and writing.


Dr. Calkins:


And then I would say from a phonics first approach, I also think we need to be grateful for the reminder that the kinds of books that kids are reading determines what reading means for them. And we need to be sure that kindergarten, first grade kids are reading a balanced diet of books. If we want kids to be decoding as soon as say October or November. It's really important to give them some of those books that are controlled that allow them to practice the phonics that they've been learning in school as they're reading and writing. From a balanced literacy approach, I think we need to renew our commitment to being sure that kids are deeply involved in reading and writing books and other kinds of texts that they want to read.


Response:


This is a frustrating portion of Dr. Calkins' video because she does not name books as decodable versus leveled, and so this particular section, to those not informed in the difference of either, can be construed as misleading, but the choice of wording in this particular section is meant to champion the way things have always been done in our classrooms which is providing leveled books, as opposed to decodables.


What is a decodable book? Per the Colorado Department of Education, "Decodable text is the type of text that focuses on the phonetic code and presents words to students that follow the concepts that they have been taught. In this way, students are encouraged to attend to the code and use their phonics knowledge to decode words."


It is critical that an important distinction be made here to clarify the misleading rhetoric out of the BL camp. No one within the Structured Literacy camp says that decodable books are the only books our children should read. While they are learning to read it is critical that what they're being taught be reinforced with books that support the lessons, aka decodable books. Children do not view the books as boring, quite the contrary. Children are excited when they can genuinely read the words without struggling. Once a child's decoding ability is strong, children can move away from decodable books to more advanced text, or alternatively text found in leveled readers.


On the debate of the use of leveled books for beginning readers, what is interesting is this paper by Dr. Timothy Shanahan, https://www.shanahanonliteracy.com/upload/publications/98/pdf/Shanahan---Should-we-teach-at-reading-level.pdf.


"This might explain why researchers like Bob Slavin and Maureen Hallinan could never find learning benefits from within- class reading grouping. If instructional-level placement works, then one would expect to find greater learning in classrooms with multiple small groups. That hasn’t been the case.

Misleading argument tactics have no place in educational debate. I don’t believe that these experts have intentionally misled teachers, but that they were so sure they were right that they misled themselves. It has been more a failure of imagination than scientific fraud. Anyone who has seen a student struggling with frustration-level text will appreciate my point. It isn’t obvious how to support learning in such situations, so wise counsel has been to flee to easier materials."


Dr. Shanahan goes onto say, "Except for the earlier mentioned O’Connor study, and that only with beginning-reading levels, there is no credible evidence supporting learning benefits from teaching kids at their levels."


But, I cannot let this section go by without focusing on the particular line, "If we want kids to be decoding as soon as say October or November." There is so much wrong here that it is difficult to name everything but I'm going to stick with the most obvious one - October or November of what grade? Kindergarten? 1st? 2nd? The code will be taught as long as the code needs to be taught, but a child struggling early on in Kinder learning the code needs to be provided a whole child evaluation under IDEA to assess if a language based learning challenge exists or not. Second, this statement blatantly minimizes the explicit, sequential, and systematic nature by which reading must be taught. It openly assumes that with minimal instruction a child will have the necessary skills to read, which is a hallmark of Balanced Literacy curriculums because of the minimal time spent on phonics and decoding.


Further, here is the key entry in this video of the weaponization of love. The BL camp has the copyright on the idea of loving to read and write, but the fact of the matter is that children who are not successful readers because they've not properly been taught the code, or successful writers because they've not been taught encoding, handwriting, grammar, and syntax, are in fact not going to love either reading or writing. This misleading concept of love seems to, by default, claim that all generations prior to the educational entry of Balanced Literacy hated reading and writing. Funny how this claim of love doesn't quantify the meaning of love, it simply embraces one of the greatest human emotions, but instead of truly being about love, the BL camp instead wields it like a weapon.


Who doesn't want to teach love? There's not a person on the planet that wouldn't willingly embrace the teaching of love, however, if we do not genuinely teach our children how to read and write, what we're actually teaching is hate - hate of text and hatred of self for not being able to rise to the "simple idea" that we are all able to read and write.


Dr. Calkins:


Yesterday I talked to a parent and she said, "Lucy, I'm gonna cry when I tell you about this, but yesterday, Mariah went to the library and and she asked for a book that she particularly wanted, and when that book wasn't there, she went and bought the book with her own money." And this parent said, "I never thought the day would come that she would do that and it means everything." She said, "You know, my daughter's had every kind of special program imaginable. She's had Reading Recovery and she's had Orton Gillingham. She's had all of those programs, and I tell you what works for her is that she's gotta want to read." I'm sorry, but you can't get anywhere without motivation. And she said, "that's something that the balance literacy teachers know."


Response:


In this section, yet again, more misleading information has entered the scene. No, Reading Recovery doesn't work, but Orton Gillingham (OG) does, but only if it's provided by someone who is solidly trained in all things OG. If the educator used by the parent wasn't trained in OG, then no, it wouldn't have been a successful attempt at remediation. This isn't quantified though so clearly the uninformed BL bandwagon will hold the banner high that OG is a failed remediation / teaching method.


But, yet again, the idea of ignoring the need to teach the structure of language is pervasive here, and yes, motivation is important, but it won't come unless the child has been explicitly and systematically taught the code so that they can in fact read.


While this little anecdote supports Lucy's narrative, the probability that it's true is near zero.


Dr. Calkins:


And I think about all the times when I've asked teachers, how do you know that your teaching is working?


One teacher told me about how she was teaching and she heard a little scratch on the door of her classroom and went and opened the door and found two kids, they are hand in hand. They were graduates from her class moved on to second grade and they said, "Can we borrow some books from you? Because our class doesn't have a library." Then she told me about how one time a little boy said to her, "Can I take two books home tonight, one for me and one for my baby brother?"


But the teacher told me about how when she went to the auditorium with her class and they had to wait, for it was I think it was choral practice or something. and they just had to wait for a while, so she told them to bring books and they sat there in this aisle of of the auditorium, and she says she looked down that aisle and every one of her first graders was engrossed in a book and she thought, "my teachings working from a balanced literacy approach."


Response:


What I love about this particular section is the idea that the children within this narrative are genuinely reading. I'll skip over the fact that for some reason the school in the first example seems to be missing a library. The idea that the teacher knows her method is working because children are silently sitting and "reading" is the real problem.



Silent Sustained Reading (SSR) does not work. A child that is frustrated with text and / or is a struggling reader can pretend all day long that they're reading. Are those children genuinely reading? That's unknown, even to the teacher in this story, because the children are doing so silently. Ask any dyslexic child what they did during SSR and they'll all state that they were faking it because it was easier than asking for help when no one supported their struggle.


Dr. Calkins:


Let's also draw on the recognition that phonics is not the only thing that matters, that from the get go kids need to be comprehending as they read.


Response:


Again, no one in the Structured Literacy camp has ever claimed that phonics is all that matters. Please reference all the above graphics and articles, but it is important to the BL leaders to keep reiterating their rhetoric that those pesky science of reading folks, aka parents, only care about phonics. That has never been an accurate statement or representation of the issues at hand. Phonics, as a foundational key for literacy success, being glossed over as it is within BL curricula, is forefront within the debate purely because it is missing, but not because it's the only key to being able to read; however it's important to the BL leaders / spokespeople to keep hammering this untrue yet victim oriented point home to their followers.


Dr. Calkins:


We need to realize that even five and six year olds can can teach each other what they just learned from a book or can find a key illustration in a nonfiction book and and explain that illustration to another child. Even using the fancy words that they've learned from in that book. They can look over a bunch of books that they read and talk about which books gets the award for teaching the most important life lesson where they could talk about a character that changes the most and in the most important ways, even at age five and six, they can talk and write about claims and, and share evidence. They can read books with wonder and learn the power of big questions that ask why and how. And they can respond to those questions by talking about ideas and engaging in discussions with they listen to each other and they say, "I want to add on to what you said."


Response:


The abject inaccuracy of every single word within this rhetorical representation of what is happening in a Kindergarten classroom is appalling. Anyone who knows a five or six year old child knows these discussions are not happening on any level, even if they're savants.


Dr. Calkins:


Teachers who tend to fall in one camp or the other have somewhat different priorities. But teachers in both these camps want kids to be confident and competent readers. There are 1000s of teachers in the United States who embrace science of reading principles and practices. But if you visit their classrooms, you'll find that those classrooms aren't all the same. The science of reading is not just one thing.


Response:


I'm stopping here again because this again is wildly misleading. Yes, teachers in all camps want kids to be confident and competent readers, but again the Science of Reading via Structured Literacy isn't a single one dose / one curriculum application. Understanding Structured Literacy should be agnostic of curricula or programs. A true educational practitioner understands that too, so dependent on which curriculum has been adopted, yes, each classroom will be different to a varying degree, but at it's heart each classroom will have core similarities too.


This is a call for what Dr. Calkins is calling "centrism" which by her definition is a balance of Balanced Literacy and Structured Literacy. The problem is that's what Balanced Literacy already is in name only - it was a compromise, a balance, between Whole Language and Structured Literacy, by providing a smattering of phonics only, but otherwise nothing else changed. The hallmark tenent of the Balanced Literacy camp is the idea of compromise, which now is being called centrism.


The issue is this only benefits the adults and continues to neglect what our children need from our educational system. If we are going to mandate compulsory education, which we do in America, then we need to be truly teaching the children, not simply warehousing them in buildings focused on adult's feelings and interests at the willful neglect of what our children truly need - the ability to read, write, and perform math - yet these are skills entirely absent from the American educational establishment, as well as within all countries educational establishments that have adopted Balanced Literacy.


Dr. Calkins:


Teachers have varying knowledge bases and no matter what they'll bring their strengths and their passions to their teaching.


Response:


This I agree with, but only if we truly educate our teachers and not simply indoctrinate them in a dogma which serves adults only and neglects the needs of the children they are tasked with teaching.


Dr. Calkins:


Similarly, there are 1000s of teachers in the United States who embrace balanced literacy principles and practices.


Response:


Again, true, because BL controls our university system and is all our future teachers are taught.


Dr. Calkins:


But if you were to visit all of their classrooms, you would find that those classrooms look really different. Balanced literacy is not just one thing. Teachers always will bring their own wisdom and their passions and their priorities to their teaching.


Response:


No, they don't, but it's a lovely, if not completely false, idea.


Dr. Calkins:


And while you're on this imaginary whirlwind tour of 1000s of American classrooms, I think you'd find that the standout teachers from your whirlwind journey were those who fit the characteristics of the science of reading camp, and who also fit the characteristics of those from the balanced literacy camp.


Response:


Only in so far as Structured Literacy teachers do actually care about writing, grammar, syntax, morphology, orthography, fluency, comprehension, and that our children, through explicit, systematic, sequential instruction are taught to learn to love to read and write.


Dr. Calkins:


Because in the end, teachers need to take the best of every approach and to vary their instruction based on the particular child with whom they're working. So in the end, it's really important that we are all centrists are not at one end of the seesaw or the other, but it's the middle drawing from all sources, so that we can be good for all kids.


Response:


Again, the call for centrism, yet centrism in the idea of education serves the adult only, and not the needs of the child.


This video proves beyond any reasonable doubt that Dr. Calkins' claim to have learned and is therefore changing to adopt the neuroscience, is completely false. She has doubled down in her position that Balanced Literacy is the only way and that people who support Structured Literacy are ill informed extremists, who are seeking to dismantle the love that Balanced Literacy has copyrighted in their attempt to manipulate, not just our schools, but our society.


It is tragic really. A lot of people truly wanted to believe that Dr. Calkins finally saw the light and was changing her ways and the curricula that is one of the most widely purchased in our schools, yet she didn't change at all. Personally speaking, I never believed she was changing anything. Sadly, this video proves all of us who doubted her sincerity to be right.

Centrism is not the way. While it may seem to be such a wonderful idea since it's the spirit of compromise, it isn't at all. It's rhetorical manipulation to maintain the status quo which is failing our children.


Structured Literacy is the only way.


Let's finally do what's right for our children in education.



Appendix 1 - Not The First Response:


This isn't the first time we've written about our disagreement with Dr. Calkins and her colleagues. In November of 2022, the following article was published in Hechinger:



I responded with:



This started out as an open letter and had more than 1300 signatures before Hechinger published my response.



Appendix 2 - The Megaphone That is Emily Hanford's Reporting:


What the Words Say

Hard Words: Why Aren't Our Kids Being Taught to Read

At A Loss for Words: What's Wrong With How Schools Teach Reading

Sold a Story: a 6-part series from Emily Hanford

Part 1: The Problem

Part 2: The Idea

Part 3: The Battle

Part 4: The Superstar

Part 5: The Company

Part 6: The Reckoning

If you want to go straight to the Apple podcast here is the link:

What the Words Say

Hard Words: Why Aren't Our Kids Being Taught to Read

At A Loss for Words: What's Wrong With How Schools Teach Reading

Sold a Story: a 6-part series from Emily Hanford


Appendix 3 - Just a Tiny Smattering of the Evidence:


• How We learn, by Stanislas Dehaene • Language at the Speed of Sight: How We Read, Why So Many Can't, and What Can Be Done About It, by Mark Seidenberg • Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain, by Maryanne Wolf • Reading in the Brain: The New Science of How We Read, by Stanislaus Dehaene • The Reading Mind: A Cognitive Approach to Understanding How the Mind Reads, by Daniel T. Willingham • Overcoming Dyslexia: A New and Complete Science-Based Program for Reading at Any Level, by Sally Shaywitz, M.D. • Parenting a Struggling Reader – Susan Hall and Louisa Moats • Straight Talk About Reading – Susan Hall and Louisa Moats • The National Reading Panel, Teaching Children to Read: An Evidence-Based Assessment of the Scientific Research Literature on Reading and Its Implications for Reading Instruction; https://www.nichd.nih.gov/sites/default/files/publications/pubs/nrp/Documents/report.pdf • Comparing Reading Research to Program Design: An Examination of Teachers College Units of Study; Authors: Marilyn Jager Adams , Lily Wong Fillmore , Claude Goldenberg , Jane Oakhill , David D. Paige , Timothy Rasinski , Timothy Shanahan; https://achievethecore.org/page/3240/comparing-reading-research-to-program-design-an-examination-of-teachers-college-units-of-study • EdReports Review of Fountas & Pinnell (F&P) Classroom, 2020; https://www.edreports.org/reports/overview/fountas-pinnell-classroom-2020 • Of ‘Hard Words’ and Straw Men: Let’s Understand What Reading Science is Really About, by Dr. Louisa Moats; https://www.voyagersopris.com/blog/edview360/2019/10/16/lets-understand-what-reading-science-is-really-about?fbclid=IwAR1v2iJQ28OUtgKT5AjyWfJf5CLUOoMPHkVWdGYjvTjEQD4YY9JyYrvqIN4 • 2022 NAEP Results: https://www.nationsreportcard.gov/highlights/reading/2022/ • "An investigation into the origin of anatomical differences in dyslexia."; Krafnick, A.J., Flowers, D.L., Luetje, M.M., Napoliello, E.M., Eden, G.F.. Journal of Neuroscience, 34, 3 (2014): 901-8. • "Neuroanatomical profiles of deafness in the context of native language experience."; Olulade, O.A., Koo, D.S., LaSasso, C.J., Eden, G.F.. Journal of Neuroscience, 34, 16 (2014): 5613-20. • "Sex-specific gray matter volume differences in females with developmental dyslexia."; Evans T.M., Flowers D.L., Napoliello E.M., Eden G.F.. Brain Structure and Function, 219, 3 (2014): 1041-54. • "The functional anatomy of single-digit arithmetic in children with developmental dyslexia."; Evans, T.M., Flowers, D.L., Napoliello, E.M., Olulade, O.A., Eden, G.F.. Neuroimage (2014) • "Abnormal visual motion processing is not a cause of dyslexia."; Olulade, O.A., Napolielo, E.M., Eden, G.F.. Neuron, 79, 1 (2013): 180-190. • "Developmental differences for word processing in the ventral stream."; Olulade, O.A., Flowers, D.L., Napolielo, E.M., Eden, G.F. Brain and Language, 125, 2 (2013): 134–145. • "Neural basis of single-word reading in Spanish-English bilinguals."; Jamal, N.I., Piche, A.W., Napoliello, E.M., Perfetti, C.A., Eden, G.F. Human Brain Mapping, 33, 1 (2012): 235-45. • "Examining the central and peripheral processes of written word production through meta-analysis."Purcell, J.J., Turkeltaub, P.E., Eden, G.F., Rapp, R. Frontiers in Psychology, 2, 239 (2011) • "Imaging studies of reading and reading disability."; Eden, G.F., Olulade, O.A., Evans, T.M., Krafnick, A.J., Alkire, D.R.. Brain Mapping: An Encyclopedic Reference, (in press). Oxford, United Kingdom: Elsevier, 2014. • Torgesen, J.K., Wagner, R.K., & Rashotte, C.A. (2012). Test of Word Reading Efficiency, 2nd Edition. Austin, TX: Pro-ED, Inc. • Wagner, R.K., Torgesen, J.K., Rashotte, C.A., & Pearson, N.A. (2010). Test of silent reading efficiency and comprehension. Austin, TX; Pro-ED, Inc. • Shanahan, T., Callison, K., Carriere, C., Duke, N. K., Pearson, P. D., Schatschneider, C., & Torgesen, J. (2010). Improving reading comprehension in kindergarten through third grade: A practice guide (NCEE #). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sci­ences, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/publications/practiceguides/. • Torgesen, J. K., & Miller, D. H. (2009). Assessments to guide adolescent literacy instruction. Portsmouth, NH: RMC Research Corporation, Center on Instruction. • Torgesen, J.K., Foorman, B.R., & Wagner, R.K. (2008). Dyslexia: A brief for educators, parents, and legislators in Florida. Tallahassee, FL: FCRR Technical report #8. • Torgesen, J.K., Houston, D.D., Rissman, L.M. , Decker, S.M., Roberts, G., Vaughn, S., Wexler, J., Francis, D.J., Rivera, M.O. (2007). Academic literacy instruction for adolescents: A guidance document from the Center on Instruction. Center on Instruction for K-12 Reading, Math, and Science. Portsmouth, NH • Torgesen, J.K. & Hudson, R. (2006). Reading fluency: critical issues for struggling readers. In S.J. Samuels and A. Farstrup (Eds.). Reading fluency: The forgotten dimension of reading success. Newark, DE: International Reading Association • Torgesen, J.K. (2005). Recent discoveries from research on remedial interventions for children with dyslexia. In M. Snowling and C. Hulme (Eds.). The Science of Reading. (pp. 521-537). Oxford: Blackwell Publishers • Torgesen, J.K. (2004). Avoiding the devastating downward spiral: The evidence that early intervention prevents reading failure. American Educator, 28, 6-19. Reprinted in the 56th Annual Commemorative Booklet of the International Dyslexia Association, November, 2005. • Torgesen, J.K. (2004). Learning disabilities: An historical and conceptual overview. In B.K. Wong. (Ed.). Learning About Learning Disabilities, 3rd Edition. San Diego, CA: Academic Press. • Torgesen, J.K. (2004). Lessons Learned From the Last 20 Years of Research on Interventions for Students who Experience Difficulty Learning to Read. In McCardle, P. & Chhabra, V. (Eds.) The voice of evidence in reading research. Baltimore: Brookes Publishing. • Lyon, G. Reid, and Vinita Chhabra. "The Science of Reading Research." Educational Leadership 61.6 (2004): 13. • Lyon, G. Reid. "Why reading is not a natural process." Educational leadership 55.6 (1998): 14-18. • Lyon, Reid G. "The NICHD Research Program in Reading Development, Reading Disorders and Reading Instruction: A Summary of Research Findings. Keys to Successful Learning: A National Summit on Research in Learning Disabilities." (1998). • Stuebing, Karla K., et al. "Validity of IQ-discrepancy classifications of reading disabilities: A meta-analysis." American Educational Research Journal 39.2 (2002): 469-518. • Reid Lyon, G., and Beverly Weiser. "Teacher knowledge, instructional expertise, and the development of reading proficiency." Journal of learning disabilities 42.5 (2009): 475-480. • Vellutino, Frank R., Donna M. Scanlon, and G. Reid Lyon. "Differentiating between difficult-to-remediate and readily remediated poor readers: More evidence against the IQ-achievement discrepancy definition of reading disability." Journal of learning disabilities 33.3 (2000): 223-238. • Lyon, G. Reid. "Overview of Reading and Literacy Initiatives." (1998). • Francis, David J., et al. "Dimensions affecting the assessment of reading comprehension." Children's reading comprehension and assessment. Routledge, 2005. 387-412. • Fletcher, Jack M. "Measuring reading comprehension." Scientific studies of reading 10.3 (2006): 323-330. • Foorman, Barbara R., Joshua I. Breier, and Jack M. Fletcher. "Interventions aimed at improving reading success: An evidence-based approach." Developmental neuropsychology 24.2-3 (2003): 613-639. • Vaughn, Sharon, and Jack M. Fletcher. "Response to intervention with secondary school students with reading difficulties." Journal of learning disabilities 45.3 (2012): 244-256. • Fletcher, Jack M. "Predicting math outcomes: Reading predictors and comorbidity." Journal of Learning Disabilities 38.4 (2005): 308-312. • Denton, Carolyn A., Sharon Vaughn, and Jack M. Fletcher. "Bringing research‐based practice in reading intervention to scale." Learning Disabilities Research & Practice 18.3 (2003): 201-211. • Willingham, Daniel T. The reading mind: A cognitive approach to understanding how the mind reads. John Wiley & Sons, 2017. • Willingham, Daniel T. "The usefulness of brief instruction in reading comprehension strategies." American Educator 30.4 (2006): 39-50. • Willingham, Daniel T. "How knowledge helps: It speeds and strengthens reading comprehension, learning-and thinking." American Educator 30.1 (2006): 30. • Willingham, Daniel T., and John W. Lloyd. "How educational theories can use neuroscientific data." Mind, Brain, and Education 1.3 (2007): 140-149. • Willingham, Daniel T. "How knowledge helps: It speeds and strengthens reading comprehension, learning-and thinking." American Educator 30.1 (2006): 30. • Dunlosky, John, et al. "Improving students’ learning with effective learning techniques: Promising directions from cognitive and educational psychology." Psychological Science in the public interest 14.1 (2013): 4-58. • Willingham, Daniel T. "For the Love of Reading: Engaging Students in a Lifelong Pursuit." American Educator 39.1 (2015): 4. • Willingham, Daniel T. Why don't students like school?: A cognitive scientist answers questions about how the mind works and what it means for the classroom. John Wiley & Sons, 2021. • Willingham, Daniel T. Raising kids who read: What parents and teachers can do. John Wiley & Sons, 2015. • Willingham, Daniel T. "Ask the cognitive scientist the privileged status of story." American Educator 28 (2004): 43-45.





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Debbie Meyer
Debbie Meyer
Sep 06, 2023

Here is a link to last Spring's day long symposium on Literacy at Teachers College. The writing was on the wall. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUj43K-Y7Z4&list=RDCMUCXvsBEzD1_pVT2wAIJe5o2A&start_radio=1

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