Why Is Reading Proficiency So Bad In Ohio Schools?

By Brian Massie, A Watchman on the Wall

We are very pleased to publish an article by Mr. Bruce Patrick Price, a very accomplished expert in the field of education, entitled “The Meaning of the Lucy Calkins Fiasco”. The topic is reading and how it is being taught in the government schools.

How bad is the reading proficiency is Ohio schools?

Governor Mike DeWine has said that 60% of Ohio’s third graders are not proficient in reading. At the local level, we created the following schedules from the information obtained from the Ohio Department of Education

The first schedule lists the proficiency scores for all nine Lake County School Districts for the fiscal year 2021 – 2022. Kirtland schools are the stars in Lake County.

The second schedule reports the 3rd grade reading proficiency for the four elementary schools in the Riverside School District. Please note that 100% of the children were promoted to the fourth grade even though they were less than 70% proficient in reading. We have been told that if the children are not proficient in reading by the third grade they will struggle throughout their school years in all subjects.

We are curious why the majority of the school board members are not holding administrators accountable for these abysmal scores. Are seniors on fixed income expected to continue to fund these sub-standard performances while being priced out of their homes with ever-increasing property taxes? Something MUST change!

Here is another report on fourth grade reading and mathematics:



By Bruce Deitrick Price, Educator and Author

More progress in the Reading Wars. Lucy Calkins is fired. Phonics makes comeback.

Bruce Deitrick Price, author of Saving K-12,  explains why our public schools need all the help they can get:

What Happened to Public Schools?

How do we fix them?

By Bruce Deitrick Price

The Meaning of the Lucy Calkins Fiasco

For 40 years, Lucy Calkins dominated literacy instruction in much of the country and especially New York City. She built an empire both intellectual and financial.

In the past year, Teachers College in Columbia University tossed Lucy and her Reading and Writing Project out on the sidewalk. According to The New Yorker, there was a problem, especially in New York City: “literacy rates remain dismal.” Uh-oh.

The big question is how can a person who got everything wrong be the brains of a world-famous education juggernaut? Calkins was an elementary school teacher, not an original thinker but probably well-intentioned. Nonetheless, she appropriated the wrong-headed clichés created by the Education Establishment during the last 90 years. One popular gimmick assumes falsely that children are natural readers, just put a book in their hands. In sum, she concocted yet another version of Whole Word, which Progressive educators put into play starting in 1930. Rudolf Flesch explained it all in his 1955 book Why Johnny Can’t ReadNamely, the schools refused to teach phonics but instead made Johnny memorize Whole Words, aka sight-words. And literacy rates became dismal.

The Communist International started sending people here in 1920. Only 11 years later, the public schools in United States discarded the indispensable, phonics. This was oh-so stupid but an extraordinary proof of power by these upstarts from Moscow. Apparently, the Crash of 1929 and the subsequent Depression were heaven for our Communist interlopers. Now they knew Marx was right and Moscow would win. It’s just a question of keeping these silly Americans snookered and befuddled until the Fabian-stylet infiltration was complete.

One of our great educators, Siegfried Engelmann said that ed bosses “fundamentally believe in magic.” I often savored this profundity but recently realized he did not go far enough. Saboteurs believing in ersatz magic is not the problem. What’s been killing us for 80 years is they trick everyone else into believing their nonsense. These agitprop maestros, invisible and unknown, have successfully mugged entire generations of school children. How? Convince useful idiots that sight-words are the Fabulous New Way to learn to read.

That Communists tell 1000 lies to undermine and sandbag this country is not news. Here’s what is knock-me-down-with-a-feather shocking. So many of our elite institutions— for example, The New York Times, Ivy League universities, prestigious foundations, pompous media, and a vast K-12 system—aided and abetted the con, typically by looking the other way.

I submit to you that anyone with a college education could look at the details of Whole Word (also known by many other names) and know it’s a crock. The average human memory is not able to do what Whole Word  casually asserts is possible, i.e, easily memorizing more than 25,000 sight-words. (Many children never get past a few hundred.) The usual quota is 100 words per year, and you’re still illiterate at your graduation ceremony. What, there’s nobody at TheNew York Times or Columbia University smart enough to know that memorizing even 1000 sight-words means close to zero if you have a language as huge as English? Why is everybody asleep when it comes to protecting Americans from being dumbed-down?

Furthermore, sight-words are too slow. An ordinary person can read 250 words a minute. That’s four words a second. Fast! The “reading” of sight-words introduces extra time-consuming steps. Each word is a puzzle that must be solved. Context and picture clues must be considered. The New Yorker says, “Early readers are encouraged to….figure out unfamiliar words based on a ‘cueing’ strategy: the reader asks herself if the word looks right, sounds right, and makes sense in context. My daughter was taught to use ‘picture power’—guessing words based on the accompanying illustrations.” 

(Real readers don’t guess. They sound out unfamiliar words and, if necessary, look them up. No pictures needed. Much faster.)

Calkins cannot be blamed for all the craziness required by what is now called Balanced Literacy. Ken Goodman and Frank Smith, two of the greatest sophists that ever lived, created their three-cueing system in the 1960’s, and became rich and famous in the education world. Here are some examples of their wisdom: “Readers do not need the alphabet.” “It must be shown that readers can recognize words and comprehend text without decoding the sound at all.” “Children cannot even  begin to learn to recognize a until they can compare it with every letter that is not a.”

Acceptance of sight-words requires a willing suspension of intelligence; and yet the Bolshevik bandits in charge of our school system have kept them in play up until now. Sight-words numb and dumb most of our students. What kind of people do this reverse alchemy? Cold. Very cold.

The kicker for the semi-literate students is they read slowly and realize there’s something wrong with them. They feel scorn from other students. They feel their parents worrying about their mental inadequacies. It’s very lonely. Xanax helps. But millions give up and accept their fate: they’ll never read a book.

The bottom line is that Calkins and her poor excuse for a reading program were protected and sustained by many of our most esteemed organizations. Instead of protecting us, these organizations became part of the fraud.

How to Support Education Reform.

Bruce Deitrick Price




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