Most every Saturday evening in the summertime during my youth, we would milk the cows early and then the whole family would get in the car and head to the little town of Woonsocket where the old city library, with its dark paneling and musty smell, was our first stop.
After returning the books we had borrowed the week before, we checked out several new ones for the following week. Our teachers encouraged us to read and phonics was one of our main lessons.
Today a shocking 21% of adults in the U.S. are illiterate, while 54% of those over 18 have a literacy level below 6th grade. The cost of this lack of proficiency is over $2 trillion per year.
Misplaced priorities and a lack of focus over the years have contributed to this debacle, but things are changing. The state of Mississippi was ranked as the 2nd worse state in 2013 for 4th grade reading skills, but has now moved to 21st.
How? By bringing back phonics that was essentially dropped years ago in favor of “whole language” where learning the entire word is emphasized rather than breaking it down into sounds.
I wonder what took so long.