Rosemary Stein, MDPolicy Positions: Candidate for NC Superintendent of Public Instruction
All North Carolina children deserve a first class education.
All citizens can agree that our children should be taught the correct, factual information during their K-12 education. We have had common testing in our country for decades. Unfortunately, Common Core is not a common set of standards and testing. Common Core is primarily a curriculum that teaches English and Mathematics in a manner that is not conducive to the learning development of children. The change from a phonics based English education to the sight or block word memorization is one of the primary reasons that our children are struggling in school. It prevents our kids from making the transition from learning to read to reading to learn. The new mathematics curriculum, that few parents can understand, is also not the best way to teach our children mathematics.
In 1955, Rudolf Flesch wrote the book, "Why Johnny Can't Read: And What You Can Do About It". He made a clear and undeniable case that phonics was superior to the sight word , block word, or look-say method. He cites the example of Raleigh and Durham in the 1930's. Raleigh schools used the sight words method and Durham used the phonics method of reading instruction. Durham children scored far better than the Raleigh children on their reading test scores. It is time that we return to a phonics based curriculum that has been proven to be superior to the current methods that North Carolina is currently employing. Since the lack of ability to read by third grade mirrors the dropout rate, we must give our children every possible chance to succeed and obtain a high school diploma. The route of success is through phonics.
English as a Second Language
I have been immersed three times. First, as a Spanish only speaker attending public school in New York. Second, as an English speaker in the Dominican Republic, and finally as an English and Spanish speaker in Montreal, Canada in French. Each time, I was immersed in the language without special classes. I was not pulled away from my primary classes to attend second language classes. The current ESL program employed by North Carolina pulls the kids out of their classes to attend ESL classes. The average time in these classes in approximately four years. This is harmful to the primary learning of the child and makes him fall behind his classmates. ESL is one of the primary reasons why Hispanic children have such a high dropout rate. The minds of children assimilate new languages far better than those of adults. When an adult must learn a new language quickly, they attend an immersion language program. Immersion is the best way to get these children to learn the new language and to keep up with their classmates. ESL should be changed to an immersion program in North Carolina.
It is very important that parents again become involved in the education of their children. Studies have shown that children perform better in school when their parents are involved. I would like to strengthen the Parent - Teacher associations. The PTA's need to return to their former function of having the parents and the teachers working hand in hand to improve the education of the children. Parents are the primary teachers of their children. They must again become actively involved by working hand in hand with the teachers to improve the education of their children.
Classical education was developed by the Greeks and Romans to educate their "first class" citizens. The "second class" citizens received a different education designed for the trades. In America, we employed Classical Education for all of our citizens. This education allowed all of our citizens to have an education that allowed them to succeed in life. They were able to move from job to job because they had the education necessary to move up the economic ladder. Somehow, we lost our way. We now are moving towards a two class education system: one for the success or leadership bound and one for the trade positions. This system does not provide the child with the education necessary to attain the American Dream. Instead, it locks them into an economic class, and makes it very difficult to change jobs if there is another economic downturn.
All North Carolina children all deserve a first class education.
When EdNC reached out to Superintendent Candidates, the campaign cheerfully accepted the invitation to "Make the Case". Here's the Soundcloud episode from EdTalk with Dr. Stein's interview. Listen for yourself.