WHEN THE WIZARD STOLE READING!
One morning the evil green Wizard stepped outside his den with a wicked grin on his face. Today I will destroy all books about phonics. Then he scribbled a magic spell on his tablet. Suddenly, the writing on all text books about phonetic instruction became invisible. This loss didn’t have much impact on universities’ graduating teachers and educational administrators, because most of these institutions seldom offer a program on how to teach reading through phonics. However, elementary schools had recently discovered that phonemic awareness and phonetic programs increased reading accuracy. How could schools succeed without this important teaching tool?
The media reported gloomy news. Great numbers of young people were dropping out of school. The American students’ test scores fell to record bottom levels. After all, without phonics, the dyslexic population of fifteen percent did not learn to read. In addition, many of the foreign students and reluctant readers could not read well enough to achieve literacy. Indeed, one third of American fourth graders could no longer read at fourth grade level!
The evil green Wizard grinned with joy at the media reports of increased crime. How do you make money, if you can’t read or write or find a job? Some people stole; others sold drugs; a few hacked into computers and committed identity fraud. Those criminals who worked underground avoided taxes. The number of crimes multiplied like rabbits. Soon 60 story skyscrapers built from modular construction were erected throughout the states in order to keep people safe. But those clever, puzzle solving, jailed dyslexics always used their math, science, and engineering talents to escape. Therefore, the streets were UNSAFE!
Almost all citizens became so scared that they stayed home, unless an emergency arose. Schools were deserted; sports games ended; parks and green spaces deteriorated; the economy tanked; morale sank. The population became dependent for news on media spin doctors.
Even democracy was failing. How can a country be governed by the people, if they cannot read or study or vote? How can the government be run for the people, if equal educational opportunity ceases to exist? How can a government survive, if it ignores the hearts and minds of its youth? What happened to the American dream?
The FBI, CIA, and NSA attempted to catch and punish the wicked green Wizard through their surveillance grid. A million bucks was offered to anyone who provided information that led to the Wizard’s capture. Within a week, the Wizards was found. He was foot cuffed upside down to a bar in an armored car. If he reversed the spell, he could live out his days behind bars. What will the Wizard decide? He feels extremely happy about the misery he created.
After some coercion, the evil green Wizard co-operated and broke the spell of invisibility by making all words readable. He is now locked up in a maximum security prison in a very secret place far from the nearest city. As soon as the phonetic teaching methods were implemented in American schools, children began to excel academically. Once again, the United States regained its status as one of the best countries in the world.
Susan B. Kahn, the author of Sue’s Strategies: Best Reading Spelling Method Ages 6 -60, has been teaching for four decades in both public schools and private settings.