California has probably produced more educational failures than any other state in the union. Why? Well, let’s be blunt. They have the stupidest educators and politicians in the country. And this has been going on for a long time. Back in 1988, when Bill Honig, then-School Superintendent of California, and Francie Alexander, the state’s curriculum director, chose only whole-language reading programs for the state’s public schools, we knew that a literacy disaster was in store for the Golden State.
Indeed, we wrote in our newsletter of Sept. 1988: “Functional illiteracy will be booming in California in the years ahead if that state adopts the look-say basal reading programs it has already approved.... Because of textbook selection decisions based on ignorance, millions of California children will be condemned to lives as functional illiterates. Such state sanctioned educational malpractice will be doing more damage to more lives than one can possibly calculate.”
It was already known in 1987 that California had a serious reading problem. According to the Quincy (Mass.) Patriot Ledger of November 18, 1987:
Almost one in six adults in California is “functionally illiterate,” and most of those who can’t read are native English-speakers who went to school in the U.S. according to a new study by the State Department of Education.
The report says 3.1 million Californians can’t read well enough to understand advertising in newspapers, simple recipes or job applications. ...
The largest group of illiterates is white. More than 43 percent of the group are white, and 56 percent were U.S.-born.
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Sam Blumenfeld (photo)