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Re: “Sandra Stotsky calls for reading-teacher reform

Like all loyal conservatives, Dr. Stotsky paints with a broad brush in order to accomplish her political and ideological agenda. This fact is no more evident than her current accusations regarding Arkansas public school teachers, and in particular, her over generalized proclamations regarding phonics education in Arkansas’ colleges of education.
Of course, by employing this approach she remains a darling of the right. Let’s consider just one important, but very troubling, example of what she has stated as absolute truth. Now I could critically analyze other statements of hers, but at this point in time I will just focus on just one!
Dr. Stosky proclaims that colleges of education in Arkansas do not teach phonics instruction to future teachers. If we believe what Dr. Stotsky is claiming, then either Dr. Owens, an Associate Professor of Reading, and Dr Smith, dean of the College of Education at the University of Arkansas are at best, misinformed and at worst, just outright liars. I do not believe they are either, particularly because as an Associate Professor in the Department of Teacher Education at ASU/Jonesboro I can, without fear of being wrong, comfortably invite anyone to email me and we can set up a visit to our campus, visit reading classes, talk to the students who are taking these classes, and then allow whoever visits to make up their own minds! We can even go for barbeque at Demos!
Now I would hope that Dr. Stotsky, and even the Arkansas Department of Education, who she says seems to agree with her, would take my invitation seriously. However, I doubt that will happen. Why? Because she admits that “she has not probed deeply on her own campus, not wanting to ruffle feathers in her own nest.” I would imagine if she can’t take a short jaunt to see her colleagues at the U. of A., it is highly unlikely she will ride all the way down to Jonesboro and talk to Dr. Owens and see what our reading professors are doing! By the way, I called a professor at U. A. L.R. and that person also assured me that they too were “teaching how to teach” phonics.
Now we might ask, why Dr. Stosky didn’t talk to professors in Arkansas who might be able to validate – or invalidate – her claims about colleges of education not teaching phonics?
Here is what I think. I think that if she had to admit that they actually did do – what she is claiming they do not do – that would remove one of the cudgels the conservative right uses, in this case against colleges of education within Arkansas, to assail the credibility of these institutions. Come on Dr. Stotsky, your own conservative economic guru Milton Friedman has called these kinds of institutions in his book Free to Choose: A Personal Statement “government schools” which for Friedman was synonymous with socialist government activities.
But I just want folks reading this to ask themselves a few straight ahead questions.
1. Why doesn’t Dr. Stotsky even talk to her colleagues at the U. of A. about all this? Let’s think about this. If she believes she is right, then the well-being of Arkansas children is a lot more important than ruffling a few feathers! It is to me – and I think it also is to anyone reading my comments!
2. Why doesn’t Dr. Stostky engage other professors in Arkansas’s colleges of education and ask them what they are doing? Trust me, they are pretty good folks who want to help all Arkansas children learn, just as Dr. Stotsky wants to do – I hope.
3. And finally, why doesn’t she visit some Arkansas public schools? She will probably find that most are teaching “phonics” and some might need a little help with this. Being a phonics expert, she could do some professional development for these schools. Many principals and superintendents, and teachers would appreciate this kind of help from an expert such as Dr. Stotsky.
Let’s just think about all this!
Tom

Dr. Thomas Fiala
Associate Professor
Teacher Education
ASU

8 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by tfiala on 07/05/2012 at 2:54 PM
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