Originally published on August 6, 2020 for the Consortium on Reaching Excellence in Education’s (CORE) blog Linda was president of CORE at the time.
I just finished listening to Emily Hanford’s last podcast on APM, What the Words Say.
My husband wanted to know why I was crying. I answered, “because I am so angry and so frustrated.” We have known for years how to teach reading, yet as a nation we still aren’t doing what we should. Reading instruction should not be a matter of personal philosophy or preference anymore than a medical intervention should be based on philosophy. Hanford’s most recent podcast hits so close to home. At CORE we had two consultants working with educators in juvenile court schools. They know that failure to learn to read is a direct route to prison.
Who are these incarcerated young people? They are largely Black and Hispanic youth who will tell you they were never taught to read. While in youth incarceration they are finally learning what should have been taught in school. Listen to Emily Hanford’s podcast to hear the words of the young men she interviewed. Ask yourself why this injustice continues, ask yourself why educational malpractice continues. If we mean to be warriors for equity and social justice, ask why we allow this. If we do not change how we teach reading and if we do not intervene for older students before it is too late, shame on us.
I like to think we have come a long way as a nation. However, if we cannot even guarantee this most basic skill, if as a society we perpetuate the Jim Crow laws that prevented Black Americans from learning to read, then we have not come far at all. We should all cry in anger and shame.