Big Brother and the National Reading Curriculum: How Ideology Trumped Evidence / Edition 1

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New legislation will transform American public education. Basic to the No Child Left Behind Act and the Put Reading First program is a new and substantial federal intrusion into local curriculum control and teacher autonomy. This intrusion is masked in the legislative mandate for "evidence-based", or "scientific", reading instruction. Beyond the distortions of the findings of the National Reading Panel Report that undergird the new federal initiatives, there are other federal mandates, past and current, that have also impeded improving reading instruction - and worse, the public education system - through privatization, teacher disempowerment, and a systemic business model.

In this timely and important book, nationally-recognized reading researcher Richard Allington tracks and questions the 30-year campaign that has focused on testing, accountability, and federalization of education. He and other educators, including Jim Cunningham, Michael Pressley, Elaine Garan, and Patrick Shannon, have contributed articles that provide an overview of past and recent federal education policies, including the NRP Report and associated legislation and policy making, with analyses of the premises of the new national reading plan. By showing how these premises are manufactured - that is, not reliably supported by the research - they explain why this plan is an unwarranted federal encroachment into local educational decision making.

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Editorial Reviews

In this text, the argument is made against federal mandates for a national reading curriculum. In his introduction, Allington provides a historical perspective on educational policies and reading instruction. Allington and his coauthors begin by critiquing and deconstructing the National Reading Panel report. They then deal with the political context of these policies and include a chapter by Joanne Yatvin, a panel member who wrote a minority report, and a chapter by Allington on the use of decodable texts. In the final two chapters, Allington critiques the move to federal centralized decision making, the emphasis placed on testing, and the concept that by following mandated programs, teachers can help "90 to 95% of peer readers" to read on grade level. Throughout the text, the authors critique the research basis and decision making of the federal government and the National Reading Panel regarding the teaching of reading. Some of Allington's points have implications for the role of libraries. For example, he quotes research showing that poor children lack books in homes, schools, and neighborhoods in comparison to wealthier children and, therefore, are more likely to suffer reading loss in the summer. The research on the value of SSR (sustained silent reading) and independent free reading is also discussed. Although Allington presents a one-sided perspective on current debates, the text is useful for youth librarians wishing to keep abreast of the controversies on the teaching of reading. Index. Biblio. Source Notes. Further Reading. 2002, Heinemann, 312p, Crew
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780325005133
  • Publisher: Heinemann
  • Publication date: 9/5/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Age range: 5 - 10 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Allington is coauthor of No More Summer-Reading Loss, part of Heinemann's Not This But That series as well as editor of Big Brother and the National Reading Curriculum. Dick is a professor of literacy studies at the University of Tennessee. He is a past-president of the International Reading Association and the Literacy Research Association. Dick and Anne McGill-Franzen were awarded the Albert J. Harris Award for their study of ameliorating summer reading loss. Toegther the co-edited the Handbook of Reading Disability Research and Summer Reading:Closing the Rich/Poor Reading Achievement Gap. He was previously the Irving and Rose Fien Professor of Education at the University of Florida. Dick is a member of the Reading Hall of Fame and the recipient of numerous awards for his contributions to understanding reading difficulties. He is the author/coauthor of several books, including What Really Matters for Struggling Readers: Designing Research-based Programs.
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Table of Contents

Introduction: Big Brother and the National Reading Curriculum

Troubling Times: A Short Historical Perspective, R. Allington

Unreliable Evidence: Responses to the National Reading Panel Reports

The National Reading Panel Report [A Review], J. Cunningham

Why the National Reading Panel's Recommendations Are Not Enough, M. Pressley, S. Dolezal, A. Roehrig , & K. Hilden

Beyond the Smoke and Mirrors: A Critique of the National Reading Panel Report on Phonics, E. Garan

More Smoke and Mirrors: A Critique of the National Reading Panel Report on Fluency, S. Krashen

Babes in the Woods: The Wanderings of the National Reading Panel, J. Yatvin

Can Teachers and Policy Makers Learn to Talk to One Another? C. Toll

Politics, Policies, and Profits: The Political Context of the National Reports

The Politics of Phonics, F. Paterson

Decodable Text in Beginning Reading: Are Mandates Based on Research? R. Allington & H. Woodside-Jiron

Explicit and Systematic Teaching of Reading-A New Slogan? B. Cambourne

The Will of the People, J. Edmondson & P. Shannon Conclusion: An Unwanted Intrusion: The Evidence Against the National Reading Plan

Accelerating in the Wrong Direction: Why Thirty Years of Federal Testing and Accountability Haven't Worked Yet and What We Might Do Instead, R. Allington

Why We Don't Need a National Methodology, R. Allington

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