Reading series triggers a debate on who shoulders the 0...


November 08, 1997

Reading series triggers a debate on who shoulders the 0) blame

I cannot thank you enough for your ''Reading by 9'' series.

As a teacher for 21 years, I have been screaming into the wind that the theory in education that kids will ''get it,'' if it is interesting enough, is baloney. Unfortunately, that theory is behind the curriculum I am forced to teach.

I hope your series will wake up the powers-that-be who control education, starting with State School Superintendent Nancy Grasmick.

However, I hope readers and the angry parents of so many non-readers will not blame the teachers. We have been pawns to the powers-that-be who took away our basal readers and grammar books and told us to be creative.

Maybe your series will validate our beliefs and enable us to teach again.

Barbara E. Snyder


I am so pleased to know I am not the only one recognizing the poverty in reading skills. My husband and I felt so alone when we asked our neighborhood school to help teach our child to read.

We went through two years of ARDs and writing IEs and still spent many hours of instructing our son on our own to read. The school provided minimal support.

We had to provide private testing. We had to research through foundations, organizations and other educators to learn how to provide the reading education our son needed. Then at the end of the second grade our school stated our son needed more time. Time for what, I can't understand, except that for our child, time was running out.

Continuous appeals for proper instruction and assistance were made by us. The school only helped us understand that there just weren't services available for bright dyslexic children.

I thank God every day that my husband and I didn't settle for the ''expert'' opinions Baltimore County schools gave us. With family support and energy to go beyond the Baltimore County system, we were able to send our child to Odyssey School.

Within two short months, our son was not only able to read, but also write.

Odyssey has given us the greatest gift and our son the proper skills and tools to read. He always had the ability. It's just that bureaucracy, timetables and lack of interest of the Baltimore County school system stood in the way.

Edith L. Henschen


I did not think I would live to see the day when The Sun would attempt to get on the bandwagon for the phonics philosophy.

The important fact is that the blame was finally put on the perpetrators -- administrators, teachers' colleges, teachers -- where it belongs and not on the victims, as is usual. Kudos!

Margaret Resh Tinkler


The Baltimore County school system has failed to teach my daughter to read. She is now in middle school, where she is expected to do seventh grade work with less than third grade reading and writing skills.

My daughter is a superb athlete, with average intelligence. She is a well-behaved child, who loves to learn. She dreams of being a gym teacher some day. The chances of her going to college decrease with each day she remains a non-reader.

There is guilt for the parents of children who can't read. You feel as though it is somehow your fault, that you have failed your child. The fact is, our children are in the hands of the school system six-and-a-half hours per day, five days a week, nine-and-a-half months a year.

Educators have been entrusted to educate our children. They receive our tax dollars for this purpose. They have failed 'N miserably. Our children have been pawns of their latest theories.

For years, I asked why they couldn't use phonics to teach my daughter how to read, since the whole-language approach wasn't working. I was told that they had to follow the mandated curriculum, that it didn't allow phonics.

This year at an ARD meeting I asked for an intensive reading program for my daughter. I was told they have none, and that this isn't something they have to provide.

I find this to be surprising. I thought that teaching children to read so they may learn is what school is all about. I then asked if they had any tutoring. I was told that this wasn't available, it hadn't started yet, and they were not sure when it would.

My husband and I work very hard to provide a good home for our daughter; we want the best for her. We cannot afford private schools and expensive reading programs, such as Sylvan.

What recourse is there for parents like us?

We are coming to believe that the only way our daughter will get a proper education is if we remove her from the public school system and teach her at home.

We are tired of dealing with a school system that has such little regard for our children's future.

M. Smith

Middle River

It is not the schools or teachers, but parents who have failed.

As both an educator and parent, I know where education really begins and it is not in the classroom, but rather the home. My children were read to literarily from 6-7 months on. Books were constant in their lives. It was our responsibility as parents to teach our children to read and enjoy reading.

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