LETTER FROM AN ANGRY MOTHER (because her son wasn’t taught to read)

A woman in Ohio left a comment on one of my articles about reading, describing the horrible experience her son was having in the local school. It’s amazing that in the year 2012, when phonics has supposedly returned, that parents can be having these problems. So I suggested that I interview her. She sent back the following letter, which turned out to say it all:

“Dear Bruce,

I want to thank you for your offer to interview me and it would be my pleasure!!! I have a lot to say about what that school did to my child and is still doing to so many!!

I have looked into the faces of teachers who were told to lie to me about my child. One comes to mind, Mrs J, his special ed reading teacher who loved my son and truly wanted him to learn. I walked in her classroom and asked her if she had been doing the Wilson Reading Program (which was on his IEP) and I already knew she hadn’t. The look in her eyes was pure quit and sadness as she lied to me and said yes!!!

At that time I had already discovered their so-called reading program and had many heated discussions with the principal. So all teachers were on lock-down mode concerning me!! It was only a few days later that I pulled my son out.

This has been an ongoing battle since kindergarten. He has always struggled with letters and sounds but they did not focus on that weakness. They focused on sight-words and their leveled reading system…’guess-and-fail’ I call it…Reading Recovery. What a joke!!! All my son needed was an intense explicit phonics program way back in kindergarten and all of his suffering would not have happened.

Bruce, my son was made to feel stupid and with his declining IQ, they were making him that way. My child sat in a classroom in third grade with no way to read the material… And he received A’s and couldn’t read. He was given spelling words that he couldn’t even read…I asked them all, How can he possibly spell these words if he cannot read them. I finally told them not to send one more sight word home for him to learn…that’s not reading!!

The head of student services at our Educational Service Center asked me if I had an attorney because I demanded that they teach my son to read. In other words, the ONLY way they were going to give my son a reading specialist, was if I hired an attorney and they were forced to. Mind you, they knew I was a single mother and did not have the funds for an attorney. My son was denied an education. He was denied his right to be taught to read!!!

The ONLY hope my child had was me, so I have bought the right reading program and he is on his way to reading. I still struggle with trying to get the guessing out of his mind, but he is getting better.

He no longer wants to die, which he had told me right before I pulled him out of school!!! It’s a long story, and a sad one!! I hope to hear from you soon. Pam”


CODA: I love this letter. There is nothing for me to add except this message to the parents of America. If your child isn’t reading in the first grade, start demanding, start fighting. (It appears that Common Core Curriculum might bring back some of the bad features of Whole Language. Warning signs are any talk of prereading, clues, guessing, context, comprehension strategies, picture reading, etc.)