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Transforming the Federal Role in K-12 Education

vonzastrowc's picture

Today, the Learning First Alliance (LFA), which sponsors Public School Insights, released a statement calling for a new federal role in supporting success for all American public school children. Transforming the Federal Role in America's Public Schools offers a framework to help a new president, administration, and Congress align federal policies with the needs of America's more than 50 million public school students.

The statement emphasizes support for students in need, as well as more effective and transparent accountability among key players in the system. The principles also call for greater collaboration among the federal government, states and districts.

The statement argues that the federal government has micromanaged public schools from the top down without providing the support they require to succeed. It urges the federal government to provide the right kind of support to guarantee every child equal access to an excellent public school.

LFA members agreed that, at a time of unprecedented economic uncertainty, federal investments in education are critical investments in the nation's prosperity.

You can read the LFA press release here or read the entire statement here.


http://www.publicschoolinsights.org/?storyId=23168

 

can make much difference to the 1 in 5 pupils who don not manage to learn to read because identical letters too often spell different sounds, such as the o in on, only, once, other, women', or the 4 in 10 students who never become proficient writers because identical sounds too often need different spellings, such as 'been, clean, gene, machine, protein, fiend, people, me, ski, key, quay'. Even moderately competent writing involves memorization of at least 4000 common words (as can be seen at  http://www.englishspellingproblems.co.uk/). This is quite simply beyond the intellectual ability of many learners. Only by reducing this learning burden will we enable substantially more pupils to benefit from their compulsory schooling than can now.

Educated native speakers of English cannot readily appreciate what many English-speaking children are up against. The majority of them started to learn at a very young age, ably assisted by their parents, not just in early infancy but throughout their school days. They rarely remember exactly how they learned to read and write, but they were able to cope. To pupils at the lower end of the ability range English spelling poses much bigger educational disadvantages, particularly if they receive little help at home. And even if they get extra help at school, the irregularities are simply too overwhelming for them.

If we now want even pupils at the lower end of the ability range to derive at least some benefit from their schooling too, we must reduce the spelling barriers which debar too many from acquiring the most essential educational wherewithal: reading and writing. In the 21st century the difficulties posed by English spelling have become counterproductive.  

Reducing educational underachievement

The only educational change that can drastically reduce educational underachievement, not just in the US but all English-speaking countries, is modernization of English spelling. Nothing else can  make much difference to the 1 in 5 pupils who don not manage to learn to read because identical letters too often spell different sounds, such as 'build, fruit, ruin', or the 4 in 10 students who never become proficient writers because identical sounds too often need different spellings, such as 'been, clean, gene, machine, protein, fiend, people, me, ski, key, quay'. The memorization which is needed for even moderately competent writing comprises at least 4000 common words (as can be seen at  http://www.englishspellingproblems.co.uk/) and is simply too overwhelming for too many. Only by reducing it can we enable substantially more pupils to benefit from their compulsory schooling than now.

Educated native speakers of English cannot readily appreciate what many English-speaking children are up against. They learned to read and write fairly easily, usually starting and a very young age and with copious parental help, from early infancy and throughout their school days. They can rarely remember how they learned to read. English spelling served them well enough, but it is hugely disadvantageous to pupils at the lower end of the ability range, particularly if support at home is poor or totally unavailable. We need to lower the spelling barriers which debar too many pupils from learning.