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November 10, 2023 34 mins

In this episode, Tudor speaks with Emily Hanford, senior education correspondent at American Public Media, about the challenges in teaching children to read. Hanford discusses the ineffective strategies being used in schools, the historical debate over phonics instruction, and the complexity of the English language. She emphasizes the importance of understanding the science of reading and the need for better teacher training. Hanford also touches on the Matthew effect, legislative actions to improve reading instruction, and the role of politics in education. The Tudor Dixon Podcast is part of the Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Podcast Network - new episodes debut every Monday, Wednesday, & Friday. For more information visit TudorDixonPodcast.com

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:01):
Welcome to the Tutor Dixon Podcast. I am seriously excited
about today's podcast because we're talking about an education solution
that everyone wants and no one's looking for. And I'm
going to explain what I mean by that a little
bit later, but I really think that today's podcast is
going to blow your mind if you have children or
grandchildren in school today. I'm so glad that Emily Hanford

(00:24):
agreed to come on the program because when I first
heard her talking about reading, it was funny because I'm
listening to her talk about how we're teaching reading in
schools and I'm going, yeah, uh huh, We've done that, Yes,
my kids are learning that way. And then it's this
shocking moment where I'm like, yeah, and we're having all
those same struggles. This is really hard way to learn

(00:46):
to read. So I'm so excited because she's going to
talk all about this. Just before we solve all of
the reading problems in the United States, I want to
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code tutor. All right, let's welcome in Emily Hanford to

(02:15):
the podcast. Emily is a senior education correspondent at American
Public Media and host of the six part podcast series
Sold a story how teaching kids to read went so wrong. Emily,
I want to tell you that the way this was
introduced to me is obviously I ran for office and
a big part of our platform was that I felt,

(02:36):
if you can't read, you can't do anything. And I
come from manufacturing, so in my world people, I think
people wrongly assume, Oh, anybody can go into a shop
and work and everything is work constructions. You have to
be able to read to do anything in life. And
after the race, a friend of mine sent me your
podcast series, and I was like, what could this be about?

(02:57):
And I just went from one to the next to
the next, and I couldn't I send it to my mom.
I'm like, oh, my goodness, this is exactly what we've
been dealing with. I have four girls, one of my youngest,
my youngest two are twins. One of my youngest, the
school said to me in first grade, we don't really
know what's wrong. We think she's dyslexic. She's got a

(03:19):
really big problem. Reading. And then it was like, I mean,
I almost feel emotional when I say this because I
listened to your podcast and I was like, this is why,
this is why. So I'm going to let you talk.
I just I had to tell you that because it's
been so eye opening for me, and I feel like
we're missing the boat when we talk about everything. Even
if we're talking about school choice and everything, No matter what,

(03:42):
there are still schools teaching to read the wrong way. Okay,
so go tell us, tell the people what you know. Well,
thank you for having me. It's good to be here.
You know, the story that you just told is a
story that I've heard from so many parents. So the
way this started for me was about six years ago. Now.

(04:03):
I actually started getting interested in this because I was
interviewing college students who had been put in these so
called remedial reading and writing classes, and they were telling
me their stories about struggling with reading, and here they
were in college, and they were essentially being told, you're
not ready for college because you can't read well enough.
And I was one of those people who learned to

(04:24):
read pretty easily. Some of us do. And it doesn't
have to do with intelligence, by the way, this is
one of the things that I've learned. It's a lot
of people, a lot more than many people probably think,
have a hard time learning how to read. They can
learn how to read, but they really need someone to
teach them how to do it. Some of us, the
minority of us, don't need a lot of instruction. But
what all this scientific research that's been done over the

(04:46):
last fifty years is I'll come back to, has shown us,
is that explicit instruction is really critical for most people
to become good readers. And some kids, and maybe one
of your daughters who were we were just talking about,
may need a lot of instruction and like a lot
of records. But anyway, to go back to my origin
story with this, I was a kid who learned to
read pretty easily. I don't think I needed much instruction.

(05:06):
I have two boys, they're twenty and twenty three. I
don't think they needed a whole lot of instruction either.
They learned to read pretty easily. I think I just
kind of assumed that people learned to read mostly by
being read to a lot. When they're kids, having exposure
to a lot's books, being motivated to read them, they
get a little bit of instruction in school. Of course
I sent my kids off to school. I assume they'd

(05:26):
be taught how to read. They learned how to read,
no problem. And then it was talking to these college
students and actually hearing that word dyslexia, which I didn't
really know very much about. So there was this one
student in particular who told me that she had dyslexia,
which is what she had found out about herself. Well,
what was so amazing to me is that she talked
about how no one had ever really taught her how
to read, just didn't know how to do it. No

(05:47):
one had identified her with dyslexia or given her any help.
So what happened is I sort of wound it back.
I was doing all of this reporting on who gets
access to higher education and different kinds of higher education,
than it came across the big stumbling block that many
people run into, which is sort of getting stuck in
these remediate classes. And I thought, uh, maybe need to
go look at what's happening in the beginning. Maybe we

(06:08):
have all kinds of kids with dyslexia who aren't getting
the help they need. And I think that's true. So
I started looking at dyslexia. But what I learned, like
my eyes just started being opened to the fact that
all of this stuff has been understood about reading and
how it works, why what dyslexia is, and why some
kids have a really, really hard time learning to read,

(06:30):
but also all of this other research that has just
revealed to us how reading works, like how do we
do that, how does that even work, how do we
learn to do it? What do we need to learn?
So really what happened is I was hearing the stories
from parents, moms like you, who had this moment of realizing,
like something, my kid is really struggling, and the school
doesn't seem to know what to do about it, or

(06:51):
sometimes maybe the school even is not even saying it's
a problem. I'm seeing some problem at home, but they're saying,
she's fine, it's fine, We're going to find her the
right book, she's going to get motivated. Anyway, That's where
this journey started for me and I have just been
reporting on this topic for six years, and the Solda
Story podcast, which came out last fall, is six episodes,
but there are actually two more that a lot of

(07:12):
people don't realize that came out in May so go
back and check those out, and we have another one
that's going to be coming out sometime in the new year.
And the bonus episodes are about the response to the podcast.
Who's been hearing it the parents, many teachers, many teachers.
That's who I'm hearing from more than any other category. Kids,
kids are hearing the way that they taught how to

(07:32):
read in zuld a story. And then the other bonus
episode is about the response to it on a policy level.
There's done a lot of legislative change as a result.
Oh interesting, well, I think, what that's something we need
to cover because teachers have had a response. And one
of the things that I think was eye opening to
me as I'm listening, because I'm listening to your podcast

(07:53):
and you're talking about all these strategies that they were
using in our school, which is like, you know, cite
words and language and memorizing words rather than learning to
sound out words and why they sound the way they
do and all of that. And I mean, we've had
this conversation of phonics and whole word language, but it
goes beyond that what I was hearing. But the interesting

(08:16):
part about it is, I think from a political standpoint,
there's always a black and white you know this is
right and this is wrong. But when it was a
non political conversation, it's just a conversation of why do
we have so many kids that are struggling? And then
you start to unpack that these strategies that came out
as a great product that was sold to our public

(08:38):
schools and to all schools, really it turns out that
that may have been the way that kids who were
struggling to read, those strategies they were using. So now
we're taking good readers and we're giving them the strategies
kids that struggle use to actually learn to read. And
teachers were saying, wow, maybe this isn't right. It wasn't

(08:58):
offensive to the teacher, and this isn't on the teachers.
This is the program the teachers have been given. And
even teachers came out and said, yeah, maybe this isn't
the best way to teach them. That I thought was fascinating. Yeah, no,
I mean so what you just said there, I think
is a point to just reiterate for the audience, which
is this is the big aha moment for me to realize.
Several years ago, back in twenty nineteen, I did a

(09:21):
recording project which was specifically about these strategies that kids
are taught about how to read words. When they come
across words, they don't know what are they supposed to do,
and they do things like they're being told in classrooms
to do things like look at the picture, think of
a word that makes sense, look at the first letter
of the word, look at the last letter of the word.
What's really interesting, monkey. There's all these different things that

(09:44):
they call it. And that's how I'm fish chunky monkey, yes, yes,
And I remember doing this with my kids and I'm like, wait,
we're chunking up this word to see if they can
find a word that they recognize inside of the word
that then they can and maybe figure out what the
rest of the word says, which I thought, I guess

(10:04):
that's how we do it now. But then when I
listen to what you had to say, I'm like, well,
that makes sense that that's not a great way to
do it. But in that category of people who's like, Okay,
the school knows best, I'm gonna send my kid there
and they're gonna learn to read. Really absolutely, I think
every parent, you know, you basically go in trusting right,
And you know, I think no small part of this

(10:25):
is the role that the pandemic played. So we can
sort of wind back and talk about some of the
historical reasons and how this came to be. But there's
been a lot of parent activism over the past ten
or fifteen years, particularly the parents of kids with dyslexia, right,
So those are the kids who are really harmed the
most when schools are not teaching reading in ways that
line up with what we know about how people learn

(10:46):
to read. And the big aha about those word reading
strategies that you said before is that when schools teach
kids those strategies, it turns out that they are teaching
them the very things that struggling readers do to get by.
Because people are struggling with reading can have There can
be lots of reasons why reading is hard for you,
but a core reason, sort of the most common and

(11:07):
most debilitating source of reading problems goes back to you
just really have trouble with the words. You don't know
very well how to sound them out. You haven't gotten
good practice in that you haven't actually sort of mapped
those words into your memory, so they're there for instant
retrieval because you never really learned how to sound them out.
You don't need to be taught these strategies. You actually

(11:29):
don't need to be told. Look at the letter, first letter,
look at the picture. Think of a word that makes sense.
That's what people do when they haven't been taught how
to sound out the words. They're thinking, what am I
going to do with this word? That's what they sort
of figure out to do. So that was the huge aha.
Without realizing it, these strategies made their ways into schools

(11:50):
and teachers were teaching kids to read in the ways
that struggling readers read. And I think, yeah, so that
was a big aha for me. And the Oldest Story
podcast was really about how did that happen? How did
that happen? Because it doesn't seem like it could happen.
And I think it's important to recognize that we have
actually been arguing about how to teach reading in this

(12:12):
country for a long time. In fact, you can go
back to the founding of public education in this country
and see that there were like crazy fights in this
fabulously like this nineteenth century way where these people were
fighting with each other about how to teach reading and
they were very much fighting about phonics. So phonics has

(12:33):
been at the center of sort of the wars about
reading for a really long time, and I think in
a lot of ways it's been hard to break through.
It's become sort of politicized, and it's become such a
battle for so long that people sort of assume that
this is number one, all about phonics, which it isn't,
which we can come back to. And number two, there's

(12:54):
been sort of an assumption that phonics is somehow traditional
or old fashioned or conservative, and it has been touted
by some sort of conservatives and people on the right.
But I just want to have funny that something that's
just a learning process can become Let's take a quick
commercial break. We'll continue next on the Tutor Dixon podcast.

(13:16):
That's the thing that really struck me, I think as
I was going through this, because coming out of a
political race, I'm like, oh my gosh, are we just
really making putting these kids in a worse position, Because
it's like when politicians talk about something, it becomes weaponized.
And therefore that's why I said, it's like the solution
no one's actually looking for, because everybody wants to fight

(13:38):
and yet our kids can't read. I think that's a
really good point. And actually I have to say that
I feel kind of helpful, hopeful on the fact that
I think there is starting to be a lot of
bipartis in multipart is an agreement on all of that. Like,
I think a lot of people come to this and
sometimes assume that their old notions of how this is

(14:00):
political and how those politics play out, and they're surprised.
Like education upsets the apple cart all the time on politics,
but this issue in particular. I mean, I have people
following me in social media on the far right, the
far left, and everywhere in between. And I remember, even
when I was starting to talk to all of these
cognitive scientists and others who've been doing all this really

(14:23):
amazing research over the last fifty years or so that's
really revealed all kinds of things that we didn't know,
just about how our brains learned to read. I remember,
you know, getting to that political question, because inevitably there's
so much politics around this. You've been studying this for
so long, Like, what are your politics? Just tell me
a little bit, you know, are you coming Is there

(14:44):
any kind of political game in here for you. And
you know, for the most part, a lot of these
scientists are very left. You know, these are people in
America's universities. Are like, no, I mean, I don't come
to this with any kind of part as an agenda.
I have just been studying how reading works in the
brain and how people learn to do that, and what

(15:04):
do kids need to be taught to become good readers.
That is beautiful, and honestly, I will tell you that
the person who sent me your podcast is a dear
friend of mine who's very much on the left. And
I got this text and I was like, I mean
full disclosure. I'm like, oh, what's this going to be,
you know, And I'm like, oh, I love this person.

(15:25):
I'm going to listen to this because they send it
to me and they're important to me. But I'm not
going to agree with it. That's what I thought. And
so the first I mean the first few minutes, I
was like, oh, my word, this is what we are
living too right now, you know, with my littlest one.
And I sent it to my mom, who was a
reading specialist years and years ago, and she was like,

(15:46):
this is what I haven't been able to. It's like
it's hard. You do such a great job of explaining it,
because it's hard to put into words why you think
that this isn't working, because it feels like it should
work because so many people, I mean, you say that
it's about sixty seven thousand elementary schools in the US
are using this program, right, It's a lot. It's become

(16:08):
very widespread, And I think it's also really important to
recognize that sould a story does actually focus on some
particular programs and particular people who have been kind of
the brand name version of these ideas. You know, they're
sort of like the Klinx or the Google or whatever
of these ideas. But as we say in the very
first episode, these ideas are very widespread. They're in lots

(16:29):
of materials, there's lots of publishing companies. They're sort of
baked into ideas that I think a lot of people
in education have in their head about reading and how
it works. So that's sort of how I what I
was trying to figure out years ago is I was like,
I think there's some sort of ideas, there's like an
ocean that everyone's swimming in about reading and how to

(16:51):
teach it, and it does, and you can buy this
curriculum or that curriculum or that curriculum. But somehow you
still get these ideas because there's a little bit of
it in a lot of curriculum, and it's passed around
from teacher to teacher, all those little eagle eye and
chunky monkey. You know. You go on teachers, pay teacher,
you go on to people, you will find zillions of those. Right.

(17:11):
That is not one publisher selling that to the nation.
That's lots of people selling different versions of that. But
it's all because there was a certain idea about how
this all works that got into people's minds. And I'll
tell you that here's one of the reasons how I
think it happened. I think we fought about phonics for
a long time. So that was kind of like the
lighter fluid in the wars about reading, and so in

(17:34):
some ways, in some ways those wars kind of ostensibly ended,
I don't know, ten or fifteen years ago, when this
thing called balance literacy came in, which was really supposed
to be the best of both worlds, which was we're
not the same old sort of whole language. People who
were saying no phonics, no phonics, no phonics. We're going
to say, fine to phonics. We're going to add a
little bit of phonics in, but we're going to stick

(17:55):
to all these other things too. Are still going to
teach all those other strategies. And that's the idea that's
a story is trying to sort of reveal and explain,
and it's really subtle. It's this really subtle idea. Like
all of sould A Story, all eight episodes of sold
a Story, are just about one idea. It's like six
hours of listening. And the idea is basically, beginning readers
don't have to sound out the written words as they're

(18:17):
learning how to read. They can, but they don't have
to because we can teach them all these other strategies
to figure out what the words say. That's such a
subtle idea. It doesn't seem like a big deal, but
it's a very, very big deal because it turns out
that if you are not really laboriously sounding out those
words when you're starting to learn to read them, they

(18:37):
have a hard time getting into your brain, into your
memory so that they're there and available for you in
an instant. You and I are both good readers. We
know tens of thousands of words instantly on site. But
it's because at some point, maybe when we were like
six or seven years old, we sounded that word out
very laboriously. We connected the sounds and the word with
the spelling of the word, and the meaning of the word.

(18:59):
Three things, the sound, the spelling, and the meaning. When
those three things get linked in your brain, that word
gets into your brain, and that is what allows you
to be able to comprehend what you read, because the
words themselves aren't requiring a lot of brit of work. Right.
Every once in a while, it'll come across a word
that's you don't see that much or you've never seen before.
You have to stop, pause, think about it, sound it out,

(19:21):
maybe look it up whatever. But most of the words
that we're reading you've just got so you were able
to focus your attention on the meaning of what you're reading.
But for people who struggle with reading, they're focusing a
lot of their attention just on the words themselves. They're struggling,
they're trying to figure them out, they're trying to recall
them from memory, and so it's hard to focus on
the meaning of what you're reading. And reading is really slow.

(19:41):
So anyway, I think one of the reasons why those
ideas took off, which when you kind of start to
point out that they don't make sense, I think the
reason they made sense is because English is actually a
pretty difficult language to learn. How to read English is
probably one of the most difficult alphabetic languages to learn.
So even like a typically developing kid who doesn't have

(20:03):
any kind of reading disability is probably going to take
like two or three years with some instruction. Some kids
need a lot, some kids don't need much, but there's
a few years you're going to need to really master
the basics of how to like decode the English language
because it's complex. We have complex spelling patterns. People say,
like English is a wacky language, but it's actually not.
It's actually this really fascinating kind of melting thought language,

(20:24):
right because English is based on like Greek and Latin
and French and Anglo Saxon, and we borrow words from
other languages all the time. It's actually this really cool
language and you can explain the spelling of virtually every
English word if you sort of look at its history.
Where does it come from? And first of all that
stuff is fascinating. So I think one of the reasons

(20:46):
people didn't like phonics is they thought it would be
boring to kids. But the truth is that words and
how they're spelled it's so interesting. There's all kinds of
opportunities to like really teach kids cool stuff. But I
think because English is difficult to learn, means it's difficult
to teach. And there's a lot that teachers need to
know about how written English works that a lot of
us don't know. You can be a good reader without

(21:08):
being able to explain how English words are spelled. But
if you're teaching first grade and you're teaching kids to
do this, you actually need to know quite a bit
more than you and I do about English and how
it works. I don't know that a lot of first
grade teachers thought they were in for that, and a
lot of them didn't get that kind of training. It's
we don't have very good teacher training just sort of overall.

(21:29):
And they probably went through a lot of these same
strategies when they learned to read. Absolutely so there's that
like a lot of them learned it in their teacher
preparation programs and learned it themselves, which means I think
we're at a whole other point with the way that
this stuff has infused the culture because the teachers themselves
didn't even learn, many of them how to sound out

(21:49):
words when they were in school. So I think these
things caught on because teachers desperately want to teach their
students how to read. I have not met a stet
teacher who doesn't. No one goes to school thinking I
am going to make sure that these kids that I
teach these kids the habits of struggling readers. No one
is doing that, No, absolutely no one. So you're getting
into school, you don't know what you need to know

(22:11):
about written English and how it works. You actually don't
know as a teacher what you need to know about
just how kids learn to read and why something like
phonics instruction is so important. So you're kind of like,
and what do I do. I have twenty twenty five
thirty kids, and I need to teach them how to read. Oh,
here are these strategies. These strategies can help kids get

(22:33):
into books. It's a way to get them started. I
can teach them. Oh, if you're reading along, you come
to a word, you don't know what you what can
you do. It kind of gets kids going. And the
assumption is that if you kind of get kids going,
they'll turn into readers. And some of them do, but
too many of them don't. And that's what you're seeing,
I think when you see the dramatically poor reading sports

(22:54):
we have in the center and two of my girls,
what I noticed with two of them is that they
can read the words, but they don't retain what they meant.
I don't know how to explain that. It's like they
can't the comprehension of reading. They read it to get
through it, but then o't. Just last night, I was
working with my sixth grader and she has to read

(23:15):
this article and then tell me what she got from
the article. And she took a sentence and she's like,
that's what it meant. And I'm like, you just gave
me the exact sentence from the article. No, I'm like,
what did that article mean to you? And it was
a really eye opening moment where I said to myself,
here's my twelve year old and I'm not fully sure

(23:36):
that she can understand what she just read, that she
can grasp the whole concept. And she struggles with spelling too.
In sixth grade. I have a sixth grader who struggles
with comprehension and spelling, and I have to say, I
feel like it all ties back to what you're talking about.
I mean, I can't you know, obviously, I cannot say

(23:57):
for sure. There could be a lot of different things
going on, but I do. I think that's one of
the reasons I've stayed on this for years is because
I've heard from a lot of middle school and high
school teachers who have told me, like who have talked
about how kids really struggle with reading, and they've sort
of vaguely diagnosed it as a comprehension problem, which it is.
But I think one of the things that many of

(24:17):
them are realizing is that it goes back to some
sort of word level reading problems and it can start.
You know, it's not one of the things that I
think is really important to understand. There's this thing called
the Matthew effect, and it comes from the Bible story.
It's like, basically, the rich get richer when it comes
to reading, right, So kids go into school and then
if they got off to a good start in reading,

(24:40):
there's this real reciprocal relationship between learning how to decode
and read the words, and then reading and getting better
at reading and learning more about language and how it works,
and learning new words through reading. Right, So there's this
way that the kids who get off to a good
start just start sort of doing really really well, and
then kids who don't get off to a good start

(25:00):
just sort of It's like it's not like the rich
get richer and the poor get poorer. It's like the
rich get richer and the poor just get a little
bit less poor every year. And that's where these big
gaps come in. So when you have a child in
sixth grade, a lot of things have probably happened, and
she may be able to read the words. I don't
know when you listen to her read out loud, is
she kind of slow? Does she stumble over the words?

(25:21):
Or is she just fluent and she can read them
pretty easily. She she's slow. I think she's slower than
what I would imagine my oldest would have been at
that age. It's funny because I have two that are
very good readers that just picked it up, and two
that struggle. And there last night my one of my
youngest ones, one of the twins, the ten year old,

(25:44):
we were both reading through something at the same time,
and I walked away and she said, are you finished
reading that already? How did you do that so fast?
So they notice it too. It's not like they're they
don't know what's happening. Yeah, yeah, yeah, No, it's interesting.
I mean, I think, if you know, often when people
are slow at reading, it is interfering with their ability

(26:05):
to comprehend right, because they are spending a lot of
time for working out the words. But I think one
of the other things that starts to happen is because
I think we're I think a lot of schools are
not getting early reading instruction right. It sort of compromises
what teachers can do all the way up, so they
end up having a lot of kids in their classes
in third grade, fourth grade, fifth grade who are struggling
with reading. And I think that compromises sort of the

(26:27):
level at which they can teach. And so I think
even some of the other things that would be necessary
for a child in sixth grade to really be good
at comprehending what they read, some of the kinds of
comprehension strategies that that maybe she hasn't been taught or
learned a lot of that either. So it's probably not
just a word level problem at this point, but it

(26:47):
probably has its roots in a word level problem. And
this stuff gets really complicated and messy as kids get older.
And I will say it gets complicated and messy in
a lot of other ways, because when kids struggle a
lot of times they really they feel bad about themselves.
They feel kind of embarrassed, they feel insecure. It's like
very common for kids, yeah, as pet yep, and for kids,

(27:10):
especially boys, to start to distract from their reading problems
by having behavior problems. And it's very common for other
kids to shut down. Often girls, you become the quietest one.
You don't want anyone to call on you. You don't
want to be read allowed to in class, and you
don't like school. And it was it was really it was.
It was parents I was talking to who were talking
about like kids would this one moment was talking about

(27:32):
how her dp she had, like her daughter's fingernails had
like scraped the doorframe of the front door because she
would like hold on to the door and not want
to be taken to the school bus. You know, she's
just like that's hard. I know, I know it stinks
and it's so hard because we look at this and
I think you're right, everybody wants kids to learn to read.

(27:56):
There's nobody that goes and no parent that says this
one that need to read, and there's no teacher that
says this one will be fine. I mean, how much
good is reading going to do them? That just doesn't happen.
And so when I listened to your podcast, I was like, wow, Wow,
this is a whole new world of we could have,
I mean, so much opportunities. So how do you take

(28:17):
that and create something that works for kids? How do
how do we make these changes? You said there's legislation,
How do we do this without people immediately putting up
their wall, because I think that with education, a lot
of people put up a wall right away. They do.
It's true. I mean, and you know, changing education is hard.

(28:37):
Schools are complex, you know, school systems are complex. Change
doesn't happen quickly. This stuff does get caught up in politics.
So there's been a lot of legislative action, some of
it in response to sold a story, but really there
was a huge wave of legislative action over the past
like fifteen or twenty years with things like good implementing

(28:58):
that schools have to screen kids because you really want
to catch kids early when they're struggling. You really want
to know who's struggling. Are they using good screeners, good assessments.
There's been some not very good assessments in schools. You know,
are they really getting the kind of help they need?
Is a mom who goes in and says, my kid
is struggling. Does the school have a plan for them?
Does the school know what to do? So a lot
of the legislation was focusing on that. Since sold a story,

(29:22):
we've seen a real uptick in legislation that's focusing on
the curriculum. And that's, I guess not a surprise because
we focused a lot on the curriculum. I think it's
important to recognize that while sort of getting rid of
curriculum that has wrong ideas in it, it may be
really important. The solution isn't necessarily just buy a new curriculum.
You go buy a new curriculum. Is the school board,

(29:42):
the superintendent says, use this three years from now, we
should expect, you know, kids will be reading better. That
is not going to happen. That hasn't happened because this
is complicated stuff. It's so much more of it really
has to do with the teacher knowledge the teacher uptick
is their teacher using it. Has the teacher gotten good
training on how to use it. There's no perfect curriculum
out there either. You know, people are saying, you know,

(30:04):
go get a science of reading curriculum, but there's no
such thing. You know, the science of reading is a
body of research. It's not a thing you do. It's
not a program you buy, it's not a law you pass.
You know, it's a body of research that thousands of
cognitive scientists and psychologists and other researchers all over the
world and all kinds of languages have been studying reading
for the past fifty years. And what my reporting has

(30:26):
really focused on is what does that research say. Why
haven't teachers in schools known more about it? And now
the question is what do we do? So this is
where you know, many many teachers are looking up and
saying to the people above them the principles, the superintendent's,
the school boards, their state legislature, help me. I need help.
I need better materials, I need better training. So a

(30:47):
lot of this legislative response is in response to that
people on the bottom saying please help. But of course
every kind of legislative response has unintended consequences, right, And
I think when things get too top down, you just
it's a careful balance between top down and bottom up.
And I think we're just we're really in the midst
of that. There's been a wave of legislation, and I

(31:09):
think that's legislation can get people's attention on a problem. Right,
But just because you pass a law doesn't mean that
the law's going to get implemented well, that it's going
to get followed. So there's a lot to be done
for everyone to do to kind of keep their eyes
on are these laws having their intended effect, are they
being implemented well? Is there the proper support training A

(31:29):
lot of times that needs money to implement this. Well,
there's a lot to keep an eye on. Let's take
a quick commercial break. We'll continue next on the Tutor
Dixon podcast. From just this talk today, that we have
teachers listening, that we have school board members listening, and
they just go, wow, this is an opportunity to bring

(31:51):
some some something extra to the school to make sure
that our kids are succeeding. Because we have horrendous reading
proficiency rates across the country and people can say, oh,
it's in certain districts, but we're seeing it no matter what.
It doesn't matter what district you're in, you can still
have a terrible reading proficiency rate. And that is, like

(32:12):
I said, no matter what you want to do in
the future, and no matter what class you are in,
whether it's math or science or history, you have to
be able to read. And so this is just holding
kids behind in every area. So I'm excited that. I mean,
we could talk about this. I could talk to you
about this for hours, but you did talk about it

(32:32):
for about six hours. So I want people to go
listen to that because I really, I mean, I cannot
tell you if you have kids in school or if
you have grandchildren, you will listen to this podcast and
it will be an AHA moment and it will inspire
you to, even if it's not as your school to
at home, take a look at things differently. Because like

(32:55):
I said, I sent it right to my mom. We
were both like, oh, my goodness, this is wild because
now you just see what and you I mean, I
got to tell you. I felt guilty because I'm like,
how did I not see some of this, but but
I don't like the teachers who even said, well, I
just thought this was the best way. So tell people
who are listening where they can go to get the podcast,

(33:17):
listened to the podcast, and follow you. It's called sold
a Story, So you can just go to your favorite
podcast app if you're a podcast listener and just put
in sold a Story. We have a website soldastory dot org,
so you can listen to it all there. You can
also find links. We have some articles there. We have
a piece. We have an article which is about some
of the legislative action that's taken place in the wake

(33:39):
of Solda story, and you can follow me. I'm on
formerly known as Twitter x at e hanfouth And yeah,
I hope you do listen and check out the two
bonus episodes and stay tuned to your feet because there's
going to be another episode coming in the new year. Good.
I'm going to check those out, and honestly, I hope
that people here will share. I've shared it on Twitter

(34:01):
formally or ext formally known as Twitter, whatever we call
it now. I've shared it several times, and I honestly
think that it's sort of one of those things where
I am considered a Republican, so people are like, oh,
it's some a crazy thing. So I'm hoping that there
are people who are tuning in. But for all of
the people who are listening to this podcast, you have
the power to share this and it's not it's not political.

(34:22):
This is about getting kids to read, which I love.
I just love it, honestly. So thank you Emily Hanford,
thank you so much for being on with us today,
thank you for your interest absolutely, and thank you all
for joining us on this very cool episode of the
Tutor Dixon Podcast. For this episode and others, you can
check out tutordisonpodcast dot com subscribe right there, or go

(34:43):
to the iHeartRadio app or wherever you get your podcasts
and join us the next time on the Tutor Dixon Podcast.
Have a blessed day.
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