HOW JOHNNY SHOULD READ

A WAR IS ON BETWEEN SUPPORTERS OF PHONICS AND THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN THE WHOLE-LANGUAGE METHOD OF LEARNING TO READ; CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE--THE NATION'S SCHOOLCHILDREN

When Alexis Muskie talks about her daughter's experience learning to read, she begins to cry. Muskie, whose father-in-law was the late Senator and Secretary of State Edmund Muskie, lives in Peterborough, N.H. Before her daughter Olivia entered first grade, it became apparent that she would need some extra help, and so she received phonics tutoring in addition to her classroom instruction. But the school district had adopted the "whole language" approach to teaching reading. "There was a conflict between the special-ed teacher and the whole-language teacher," Muskie says. "The whole-language teacher was saying I can't send her to that program." The...

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