Reading the Naked Truth: Literacy, Legislation, and Lies

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9780325003375: Reading the Naked Truth: Literacy, Legislation, and Lies

With all the talk and print about "scientifically based" reading research, what educational reformers have concealed is that these "findings" are scandalously flawed! Legislation mandating authoritarian and harmful prepackaged reading instruction does nothing but serve corporate interests and political agendas with little regard paid to actually improving reading skills. As he connotes in the title of this urgent expose, Gerald Coles uncovers what's absent from all the claims with which teachers and the public have been assailed. He offers a scathing indictment of the National Reading Panel's "research" and other attempts to undermine reading education and the educators equipped to do it best.

Strong on slogans-"Reading First," "No Child Left Behind"-but falling far short on science, education legislation disguises itself in a cunning apolitical-research-as-final-arbiter stratagem. And this has only been fortified by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development whose own studies, as Coles proved in Misreading Reading, are rife with deficiencies in design and reasoning. Coles analyzes in detail the language of the National Reading Panel Report, provides counterarguments to its claims, and investigates significant questions it has raised:

  • What were those "100,000 studies" the NRP allegedly reviewed?
  • What were the qualifications of the members of the NRP?
  • Did the panel ask the right questions?
  • Were the views represented on the panel sufficiently inclusive?
  • Did the NRP satisfy the Congressional mandate to ensure that all children learn to read?
Without Coles' thorough critique of this "scientific" foundation for reading legislation, the media will continue to portray the NRP Report as gospel; the public-particularly teachers, policy-makers, and parents-will have inadequate information for making informed instructional decisions; and federal, state, and local advocates of beginning reading instruction with a skills emphasis will have little opposition in achieving their objectives.

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About the Author:

Gerald Coles is an educational psychologist who has written extensively on literacy and learning disabilities. He is the author of Reading Lessons: The Debate Over Literacy, The Learning Mystique: A Critical Look at "Learning Disabilities," as well as numerous articles in educational and psychology journals. Formerly a professor at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and the University of Rochester, he now writes full-time and lives in Ithaca, New York.

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