Reading researchers are under attack by policymakers and others outside the field who want a quick, easy method for teaching students to read.
I recently attended the 44th Annual Convention of the International Reading Association (IRA) in San Diego, California. This year, 18,187 teachers, administrators, reading specialists, and reading researchers attended. Among them, some wore special convention garb: black T-shirts with the words "Banned in California" boldly printed across the front.
Why? Because they have been banned from providing inservice instruction to teachers in that state. A new California law (California Assembly Bill 1086) restricts who may provide instruction. If a reading specialist or a researcher has a whole-language philosophy, he or she is not allowed "in." Instead, only those who emphasize phonemic awareness and decoding skills above all else are allowed to give workshops to California teachers. This McCarthy-like militance—in effect, blacklisting—is just one example of how some politicians, aided by the media's need for sensational news and topics, have kept the reading wars going.