What is the future of the federal investment in reading instruction?

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Credit: Getting Smart

As states and educators increasingly call for an embrace (or is it re-embrace?) of the “science of reading” in classrooms across the nation, we need to ask an important question. What is the future of the federal investment in reading instruction?

It’s been a decade and a half since we killed off Reading First, the scientifically based reading instruction program that served as a cornerstone of No Child Left Behind. After billions of dollars spent, a significant number of research studies demonstrating its effectiveness at the state level, and even a US Department of Education study highlighting that the program…


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CREDIT: Getting Smart

During the Obama-Biden Administration, there was much talk about teacher quality, closing the achievement gap, and ensuring our communities have the systems in place to drive the levels of improvement we have sought for so long. But with all of that rhetoric, there was little attention paid to the research, evidence, proof, and data that should be separating the good ideas from the great ideas.

As he begins his presidency, President Joe Biden enters after campaigning on the belief that we improve public education by lifting the profession and investing in teachers. …


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Credit: Washington Informer

We need a history education czar. Or more specifically, the US Department of Education does.

For decades now, we have been quick to name federal “czars” to oversee specific issues that are critical to the times. We’ve had poverty czars and AIDS czars. Climate czars and border czars. Homelessness czars and Ebola czars. Trade czars and terrorism czars. With each appointment, the Federal government sought to address an immediate issue that either cut across multiple government agencies or was falling through the cracks in an existing federal office.

Last fall, I led a national study of high school students, finding…


What are the essential elements of good reading instruction?

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Photo Credit: The Conversation

In recent months, the “science of reading” has returned to center stage for the educators of young children. For most, we understand that the reading proficiency of fourth-graders is one of the strongest indicators of student success in middle and high school, as well as in college and career. Literacy matters, as does how we teach children to attain those literacy skills.

Of course, decades of scientific evidence has also made clear that high-quality teachers are a top predictor of how well students achieve academically. These teachers understand not only the subjects they teach but how children learn — the…


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Sadly, it is time to officially announce my retirement. And to borrow from New York Yankee great Lou Gehrig, I can proudly proclaim that I, too, am the “luckiest man on the face of the earth.”

Last week, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced the end of all indoor youth sports for the year, a preemptive strike against rising coronavirus cases. That announcement has meant that my season, and my coaching career, are now done. I have officially retired my cheer bow.

Six years ago, my then six-year-old daughter decided she wanted to be a cheerleader. After two seasons on…


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Credit: New York Times

Even before President-elect Joe Biden offered his inspiring remarks to the nation this weekend, the social media posts declaring, “bye, Betsy” clearly signaled that the education community was long-past ready to move on from US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Earlier in the week, Democrats for Education reform provided a short list of public school superintendents it would support for the position. …


Empowering teachers so they lead in their classrooms

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CREDIT: Digital Promise

A decade ago, Professional Learning in the Learning Profession offered the nation a glimpse into the sorry state of teacher development in the United States. This important report was published by Learning Forward (then known as the National Staff Development Council) and renowned education professor (and current chair of the California State Board of Education) Linda Darling-Hammond.

At the time, then-US Education Secretary Arne Duncan declared that “nothing is more important than teacher quality.” Darling-Hammond added that “we must close the yawning achieving gap in this country.” The takeaway, in 2009, was a simple one. The state of teacher professional…


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It’s that time in the presidential campaign cycle where educators, policymakers, and transition teams play their favorite parlor game … who could be the next EdSec? While education has barely caused a policy ripple over the past four years, the U.S. Education Secretary remains a lightning rod. The appointment and confirmation hearings of Betsy DeVos garnered far more attention in 2017 than any previous U.S. Education Department appointment. …


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Election Day is now less than two months away. Regardless of who is occupying the White House come the third week of January, one thing is certain. Public education deserves far greater attention and appreciation from the Oval Office than it has received over the last four years.

Post-presidential election is more than just a great opportunity shape the direction of future education policy. As school districts head into phase two of our national experiment in “hybrid education,” it is becoming clearer and clearer that how schools have operated in the past is not how successful schools will need to…


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“Why can’t Johnny read?” We have been asking this specific question for nearly 75 years. Two decades ago, it gained new prominence with the release of the groundbreaking National Reading Panel Report, Teaching Young Children to Read, with the query becoming shorthand for questions about the deficiencies of reading instruction in America.

But since that report’s release in 2000, data still details that nearly 40 percent of children in fourth grade are unable to read at grade level. Johnny and Jane and their families deserve a straightforward answer to that question, particularly with all that we know from decades of…

Patrick Riccards

Father; education advocacy pro; ED of Best in the World Teachers; author of Eduflack blog; founder of Driving Force Institute; education agitator

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