Connecting the Dots

An alarming task force report led by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Joel Klein, the former chancellor of New York City’s school system, has just revealed that 30% of young high school graduates don’t qualify to serve in the military because they don’t do well enough in math, science, and English and 75% of young adults are not capable of serving in the military because of inadequate education, criminal records, or are simply physically unfit.

Ms. Rice called this our greatest national security challenge, and said
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More on Fiction

There is new support for the value of fiction from neuroscience, according to an article in the March 17th issue of New York Times by Annie Murphy Paul. For example, brain scans reveal how words like “lavender,” “cinnamon,” and “soap” elicit a response not only from the language-processing areas of our brains, but also those devoted to dealing with smells.

Researchers from Emory University reported that when subjects read a metaphor involving texture, the sensory cortex, responsible for perceiving texture through touch, became active.
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Fiction…or Non-Fiction?

We are always delighted when children begin to read, and common wisdom has it that it doesn’t matter too much what they read, as long as they read — whether it is the comics or Captain Underpants.

A pilot program in New York City schools tracked the reading ability of about 1,000 students from kindergarten through second grade.
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Phonics vs. Whole Language

Fifteen years ago Mr. Charles Richardson, founder/chairman of The Literacy Council, wrote an article titled “Reading: Phonics vs. Whole Language” that sadly remains all too relevant today. It can be seen at www.donpotter.net, but here is an edited excerpt:

RESULTS FROM THE FIELD

The principal of Barclay Elementary, an inner city in Baltimore, fought hard to remove Whole Language and import the phonics-based program used in the prestigious Calvert School nearby. With the Calvert curriculum in place for four years, test scores soared from the 30th to 60th percentiles, and special-education referrals went down by three quarters.
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