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Sunday, June 16, 2024 - 12:13 AM


First Published in 1994


Phyllis Schlafly and daughterNew York City Schools Chancellor David Banks just announced a mandatory new program to address the literacy crisis in his schools. What is this brand-new curriculum? None other than phonics! Phonics is a proven, reliable, and the best reading program, but was first rejected by educators in the 1950s. Finally, phonics is making a comeback in New York City schools. In Fall 2023, phonics will replace memorization in elementary schools. Chancellor Banks said, "We're all working really hard on the wrong track. My goal is to get us back on the right track." (Wall Street Journal, 5/10/2023)

Once again, Phyllis Schlafly is proven right. She championed the phonics reading method, which is learning the English phonemes in order to sound out and decode the words. With phonics, new readers can learn how to read by sounding out the long words that they already have heard (such as elephant and helicopter), rather than relying on brute memorization. I am grateful that my mother spent her valuable time teaching me how to read when I was five years old, so I started school reading to learn.

No other lesson is more important than learning how to read. Our system of government requires an informed citizenry. For decades, the public school system has cheated first-graders with a difficult system of reading that required memorization of a few words and guessing at other words by using pictures. Oftentimes, third-graders were still struggling with first-grade-level books.

Three years after schools were closed due to a manufactured pandemic, we are now seeing the awful test scores that show how educators have failed their students. Less than half of New York City students in grades 3 through 8 can read at their grade level. In other words, the New York City school system has failed a majority of its students in their primary job: literacy. All other subjects need literacy first.

Purchase Phonics book: Adam the Codebreaker in Letter Land


Anne Schlafly is the daughter of Phyllis Schlafly and Chairman of Eagle Forum.