Phonics Encounters

My first grade teacher was a stern, no-nonsense disciplinarian. I am sure we had phonics galore. But I remember only one reading lesson from that year. Because I was a good reader, teachers decided I should skip second grade and go to third. So I gave it a try. I joined a third grade reading group in round robin reading, pronouncing “island” with a short “i”. After the teacher gently explained my mistake, I went home and announced I wasn’t going to any grade that read that way.

I was already the youngest kid in the class and fortunately, my parents nixed the plan of my skipping a grade, deciding I should move on to second grade with the rest of my class.

From time to time, this memory pops up, and I wonder how phonics zealots would teach kids to handle these words:

Isaac Isabel

isles Islam

isolate issue

isocracy Israel

Is there a rule? I haven’t a clue.

Actually, the capital “I” brings back my strongest memory from elementary school, also happening in first grade. Our teacher was severe in her punishment of kids who didn’t toe the line–in reading and everything else. I remember the horror of just walking in the room, trying to avoid puddles on our wood floor, left by the boys she scared into peeing in their pants. She also picked on my best friend, who wasn’t a good student. I knew I was the teacher’s pet but I hated this role and worked at figuring out ways of diverting the teacher derision away from my friend. When I saw the teacher was ready to pounce, I distracted her. This was a huge responsibility. I was 5 1/2 years old.

One day the teacher told me to stay in at recess and teach one of those boys who peed to make a cursive capital “I” on the blackboard. She had a fit when she came back ten minutes later. Two boards were filled with his letters–all the loops on the right side, not the left.

“Susan! You know this is wrong!!!!!”

I figured which side the loop went didn’t matter. I knew–and she knew–that was a capital “I”– written 100 times. I shrugged and accepted that the school had certain unfathomable rules–like capital “I” and how to pronounce “island.” My lingering memory of those rules provokes the following.

Sex and Syllabification Conjugal Consonants & More! National Reading Tribunal 24-Hour News

NRT adjutant General Back from Kindergarten War Zone.

Tune in to Fox News at 6.

Congresses Passes Bill

Sylvan Airport Passsenger Phonemic Awareness Test not mandatory. Ultra-Business travelers lobby for hardship exclusion.

Classroom Bomb Threat a Hoax

Dateline: Toledo. Agents from Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Umlauts secured the site.

Cruise/Cruz sign up for Spielberg premier phonics ballet

Differential Cryptoanalysis of the CR Blend set for release in the Fall.

Party Bickering Stalls Schwa Stimulus Package

Attorney General warns partisanship swirling around the President’s plan threatens national security.

Calls for National Guard Lesson-Monitoring

Special Report NRT Special Counsel warns blends resistance cells proliferating

Hispanic Sentence-Diagrammer-of-Year Award

RESEARCH MATTERS The Effects of Phonemic Instruction on PreSchoolers Who Own Turtles A Model-Based Metanalysis

Special Report from the US Dept of Agriculture funded by the Gates Foundation

RESEARCH MATTERS The Effects of Computer-Mediated Phonics on the Acne Severity of Middle-School Readers

Special Report from US Department of Energy

RESEARCH MATTERS The Effects of Phonemic Intervention with At-Risk Youth Allergic to Eggplant

Special Report from Arne Duncan, Emerson Collective

Attack on Phonics! Are Your Children in Danger?

Learn about Keeping your loved ones safe. Tonight at 6.

Meet this Fortune 500 star who says NO! Live at 7

UP CLOSE and PERSONAL Chicago family without access to 16 rules for syllabification hit hard.

Hear their painful story. Live at 8

Phonemic Awareness Neighborhood Watch: Taking on Terror

Only YOU can keep our communities safe. Live at 9

Shakespeare’s Schwas

Thomas B. Fordham Institute Special Report. Live at 10


STOP Rationalizing Evil! Why the World Needs Dipthongs, Bill Gates, New York Times Op-Ed

Professorial Terrorism: Stifling Vowel Digraphs on Campus, New York Times front page

The Phonics Crisis: Why Poor Children Fall Behind, New York Times front page

The Case for Phonics Vouchers, New York Times Business Section

How a Phonics Advocate Spends Her Sundays, New York Times weekend special

While busy studying for law degrees at Harvard, this couple found time for romance at a phonics picnic, New York Times, Vows

The Phonics Disaster: What Lazy, Ignorant, Abusive Teachers Don’t Want You To Know about Lack of Phonics in Their Classrooms, New York Times front page

A Plea for More Disorderliness

If I were in charge of the world I’d cancel facilitators, Friday spellings, Pizza bribes, and also Questions at the end of the story. If I were in charge of the world You could read Charlotte’s Web and Flat Stanley In any grade you wanted. You could even read them twice. If I were in…

Our US Department of Education, Yours and Mine

Here is the mission of the U. S. Department of Education (from their website): Our mission is to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access. How many teachers go into the classroom each day with the goal of getting their students ready to be global competitive?…

Who They Gonna Call? Bias at the New York Times on Education Reform

Note: This article was published by Counterpunch, Nov. 3, 2015, but it remains distressingly current. Go To Counterpunch for direct link to the articles. Big NYT logos and photos were getting inserted when I put links here. It’s definitely time for an update on this. On Sept. 6, 1871, The New York Times published Karl Marx’s obituary,[1] even…