How to Teach Reading and Writing

Letters to the New York Times Editor on The Fallacy of ‘Balanced Literacy, via a kind reader:

To the Editor:

Kudos to Alexander Nazaryan for his eloquent defense of “conventionally rigorous” teaching techniques.

The decision by the New York City schools chancellor, Carmen Fariña, to reinstate balanced literacy despite the unfavorable results of studies done during the Bloomberg administration reflects, in my opinion, a general aversion to empirical evidence within the educational establishment in favor of ideology and faddish group think.

I very much appreciate the excellent K-12 teaching I received in Brooklyn public schools during the 1940s and ’50s, when a “conventionally rigorous” approach was the norm.

My more recent experience as a volunteer tutor in Wisconsin elementary schools during the past 12 years mirrors that of Mr. Nazaryan in Brooklyn in 2005-06. Again, an approach appropriate for the Midwestern equivalent of “brownstone Brooklyn” kids was employed in classrooms where half the kids were poor or minorities or both. The results of this approach are what the local press has described as a notoriously high racial achievement gap.

Carl Silverman
Madison, WI

Much more on “balanced literacy”, here along with Madison’s long term disastrous reading results.