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Department of Education wants students hooked on phonics.

State Lawmakers discuss phonics and literacy levels

PIERRE, S.D. — The South Dakota Department of Education wants South Dakota hooked on phonics.
That was the message from department Sec. Joe Graves this morning (Tuesday) before the Joint Appropriations Committee.
Graves said the move away from learning to read by phonics and toward “whole language” has caused a significant decrease in literacy and reading levels in South Dakota school children.
He spoke in favor of HB1022, which would allocate $6 million to fund phonics education for teachers. Graves said most teachers who knew how to teach reading by phonics have retired.
Graves says “educational progressives” began to object to the fact that the phonics instruction was too inconsistent. The whole language proponents said phonics was “hard work, tedious, and boring.”
“The problem was that whole language instruction was vague, often student-led, and frankly, loosey-goosey,” Grave said.
He said reading proficiencies “began to fall and fall like a rock.”
The program would be voluntary, at least at first, according to Graves. Teachers would take a class through a vendor to learn how to teach reading with phonics.
The executive director of the Associated School Boards of South Dakota, Douglas Wermedal, also spoke in favor of the proposal.
No one spoke in opposition to the bill.
The committee deferred action on the measure.

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