Volume 3 • #6 • April 2004


Once upon a time there was a nine year old boy who was having a terrible time learning to read, even though his school taught phonics with the best of them. He seemed to be intelligent (his mom certainly thought so), but he had been kept back in second grade because the teachers thought his reading was so poor that he would never be able to keep up with the third grade curriculum. So he had to go through the same old field trip, gym class and fire prevention lecture, all at a level too low for him, and endure the humiliation of “failing.” In spite of being given daily tutoring in a good phonics program, at the end of the year he still couldn’t read beyond first grade level.

So the parents went to the SPED director and asked for some kind of change in his program, since whatever they were doing hadn’t worked for three years. But the SPED director said they couldn’t change his program because the “No Child Left Behind” legislation required them to use only “science based” programs, so they had to stick with what they had.

The parents pointed out to the SPED director that the program they had been using had no science behind it at all--- no controlled studies showing that it was superior to any others or had any effect on the abnormal cognitive patterns in the brain that were causing the reading problem. The parents also told him about some brain-scan studies which showed that the dyslectic brain had an odd wiring pattern that prevented its owner from using the appropriate area of the brain during reading. These neurology labs had for the first time actually nailed down the physical cause of dyslexia, they told him. Furthermore, the parents had found a reading program on the internet which was based on this research by neurologists and which had been successful in achieving grade-level reading in its students. So there was a science based program available and they would like for the school to try it.

At first the SPED director looked at them funny, but since nothing else had helped, he realized that the school had nothing to lose and might as well give it a go. Now this SPED director also happened to be so good at math that he could quickly calculate in his head the difference between teaching a child to read in one year or keeping him in resource rooms for years. Not only that, but he could quickly figure in the extra costs of very expensive programs, MCAS remediation classes, and the effect of drop-out figures on the school’s reputation.

So the IEP meeting with the parents went very smoothly with all parties agreeing pleasantly. Wasn’t that nice?

April Fool.

Teaching Tip:

Please don’t yell at your kid when he is struggling. I know you don’t, but lots of people do. If you are frustrated, think how it is for him: he is not only just as frustrated, but he has made his parent mad, hasn’t a clue as to what is wrong and feels like a bum. It is not a mind set conducive to learning.

Remember the pretty little girl in the ad (for what cause I don’t remember) saying, “Please don’t be mad. God hasn’t finished with me yet.”



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