Monday Miscellany, 9/25/23

Monday Miscellany, 9/25/23 September 25, 2023

The source of anti-phonics reading curriculum is shut down, a Lutheran woman loses her job for participating in a church activity, and at least some police in the UK decide not to prosecute silent prayer.

Source of Anti-Phonics Reading Curriculum Shut Down

We’ve blogged about the “science of reading,” which conclusively shows that the best way to teach children to read is through phonics–that is, teaching them the letters, the sounds they make, and how to sound out words on the page.

Though the educational establishment has opposed phonics-based instructions for inexplicable reasons, parents–especially from minority families–frustrated by their children’s difficulties with reading have pressured school boards to implement reading programs that do work and to require curriculum in line with the “science of reading.”  That is to say, phonics.

A major source of the anti-phonics curriculum that has dominated public schools for decades is the educational theorist Lucy Caulkins, whose Teachers College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University developed the “whole language” approach.  Students were taught to notice the appearance of words, rather than their sounds.  If they didn’t know a word, they should use “cues”–that is, guesses–based on pictures or surrounding words.  It was thought that if children were exposed to books they like, they would naturally pick up how to read, just as they picked up how to speak from their environments.  Never mind that reading and  speaking are entirely different processes.  Nevertheless, Columbia’s Reading and Writing Project churned out curriculum that was bought by schools nationwide.

But now Columbia University has dissolved its Reading and Writing Project and severed its relationship with Caulkins.  Not enough school districts were buying its products, and the criticisms of her approach from a wide consensus of experts has been withering.

See this editorial from the New York Post:  Columbia quietly walks away from Teachers College project that ruined countless lives.

Fired for Being a Lutheran?

Not just pastors but laypeople may face punishment for upholding what their church teaches them.  Melanie Standiford was the News Director for the NBC affiliate in North Platte, Nebraska.  She is also a Lutheran.  Her church, like other Lutheran churches in the area, was involved with a petition to make their towns a “sanctuary city” for the unborn.  An Omaha reporter interviewed her, whereupon she lost her job.

She tells her story in the Federalist: I Was Fired From Corporate Media For Being Pro-Life.  As she tells it,

She was fired for “practicing partisan politics.”  But “partisan” requires “parties.”  No political parties were involved in this petition.  Churches, though, were.  The story in the Omaha paper quoted a Lutheran pastor in another time who was involved in a similar petition in his town.

Did Melanie Standiford lose her job because of journalistic bias?  I can deduce the Omaha reporter’s position on abortion, but she didn’t get into any trouble.  Or because of her pro-life position?  Or because she believed in a teaching of her church and got involved with a church activity to promote it?

Deciding Not to Prosecute Silent Prayer

As we’ve blogged about, the UK has been arresting people for silent prayer in front of abortion clinics.  But maybe that will stop.

Six months after her arrest, the police in Birmingham told Isabel Vaughan-Spruce they would not be bringing charges against her and apologized for taking so long to come to this decision.  She had been arrested for  violating a “Public Spaces Protection Order,” which bans acts of protest against abortion, including prayer, inside a “buffer zone” surrounding an abortion clinic.

According to LifeSite News,

On September 2, Home Secretary Suella Braverman published an open letter, directing police to avoid politicised policing. The letter clarifies “silent prayer, within itself, is not unlawful” and that, “holding lawful opinions, even if those opinions may offend others, is not a criminal offence.”

Praying out loud will presumably still get you arrested.


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