June 6, 2023

About 50 years ago, the educator Lucy Calkins pioneered a technique called balanced literacy, which de-emphasized the use of phonics to teach reading. It was widely adopted in the United States, including in New York, the country’s largest public school system.

But doubts about the approach persisted, and now it seems that using balanced literacy has given a generation of American students the wrong tools.

Dana Goldstein, who covers family policy and demographics for The Times, discusses the story of balanced literacy and how Professor Calkins is trying to fix the problems that the technique created.

Guest: Dana Goldstein, a national correspondent for The New York Times who writes about family policy and demographics.

Background reading: 

  • Lucy Calkins has rewritten her curriculum to include a fuller embrace of phonics. Critics may not be appeased.
  • Fed up parents, civil rights activists, newly awakened educators and lawmakers are crusading for “the science of reading.” Can they get results?

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