DeWine’s laudable K-12 proposals on literacy instruction should not be mandatory for schools: editorial

Cleveland Plain Dealer:

In the two-year state budget he’s proposed, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine is asking the General Assembly to heavily invest in reading instruction as a cornerstone of Ohio’s schooling.

In doing so, the governor is coming down on one side of a longtime debate over which teaching strategy for reading — phonics instruction, now also known as “science of reading,” or “whole-language” strategies — is optimal. DeWine has cast his vote for phonics.

Pedagogical debates aside, there’s little wonder the governor is concerned. As DeWine said in his annual State of the State address, “Tragically, today 40% of all Ohio third-grade students are not proficient in reading — 40 percent!” There’s no Ohioan who can find that circumstance acceptable, least of all parents.

That’s why DeWine is calling for a “renewed focus on literacy — and on the way we teach reading in the state of Ohio.” On that front, the governor said the “evidence is clear, the verdict is in,” about the “great value and importance of phonics.”

To be sure, not all professional educators agree with that approach, but that’s what the pending state budget, if passed as proposed by DeWine, opts for. Decisively.