HomeSchool Reform NewsOakland Teachers Rejected Phonics, and Students Lost

Oakland Teachers Rejected Phonics, and Students Lost

Oakland Teachers rejected phonics-based reading curriculum, and test scores plummeted so that teachers could express their “creativity.”

Phonics-based reading curricula have been used for generations, and work, but many teachers reject them because they leave little room for “creativity.”

California’s Oakland Unified School District is a case in point, according to commentary writer Zachary Faria, in The Washington Examiner.  After making seven years of gains in reading scores using a highly-structured phonics-based curriculum, teachers were successful in scuttling it.

“Reading proficiency in the Oakland Unified School District abruptly decreased from 2014 to 2015, when the curriculum change was introduced,” writes Faria. “It hasn’t rebounded to pre-2015 levels. The district has a reading proficiency score of just 34%, well below the already stupidly low California state average of 51%.”

Phonics is making a comeback in Oakland, but the students the district failed are left behind, says Faria.

“They are working to reinstitute a phonics-based curriculum,” writes Faria. “But it is much harder to rebuild something than to tear it down, and Oakland students have been set back years by all this drama.”

Just as loving animals isn’t a good reason to become a veterinarian, self-expression isn’t a good reason to become a teacher. And a love of reading does not a reading teacher make. For instance, teaching plane, or Euclidian, geometry—and learning it!—requires focused attention, but leaves little room for creativity.

As Faria states:

“If you are not fulfilled by helping students learn—if you instead seek to be validated by curriculum—then you have gone into teaching for the wrong reason.”

For more School Reform News.

Joe Barnett
Joe Barnett
Joe Barnett is a senior editor at The Heartland Institute and a managing editor of Budget & Tax News.

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