Why 65% of Fourth Graders Can't Really Read

Honestly with Bari Weiss

Feb. 10, 2023

For many parents, the last few years have been eye-opening, as they saw the education system in America crumble under the weight of the pandemic. School closures that went on far too long, ineffective zoom school for kids as young as kindergarten, and other stringent policies that we’re still just beginning to understand the devastating effects of. But like many things during the pandemic, COVID didn’t necessarily cause these structural breakdowns as much as it exposed just how broken the system was to begin with. 

Nowhere is that more clear than in our episode today about why 65% of American fourth grade kids can barely read. And about how during the pandemic, parents, for the first time, came face to face with just how bad and ineffective the reading instruction in their kids’ classrooms is and started asking questions about why.

That is the subject of Emily Hanford's new podcast from American Public Media, Sold a Story, where she investigates the influential education authors who have promoted a flawed idea and a failed method for teaching reading to American kids. It’s an expose of how educators across the country came to believe in something that isn’t true and are now reckoning with the consequences – children harmed, money wasted, an education system upended. 

Today, guest host Katie Herzog talks to Emily about her groundbreaking reporting and what we can do to make things right. 

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This episode is from Honestly with Bari Weiss whose proprietor has full ownership and responsibility on its contents and artworks. It was shared using Castamatic, a podcast app for iPhone and iPad.