Hooked on Phonics Didn’t Work for Oakland


Remember Hooked on Phonics? The reading program was such a success back in the ’90s that you couldn’t turn on the radio without hearing an ad featuring a child proclaiming, “Hooked on Phonics worked for me!”

Phonics has been a part of teaching children to read for generations. Young children still learn the sounds that letters make and then use this information to create words.

Science News Emily Sohn wrote that “there is ample evidence that children who are taught phonics in a systematic manner learn to read more quickly than those who don’t. ” Phonics is an essential component of a balanced approach to teaching children how they can read.

Left-leaning Oakland Unified Schools District decided that phonics wasn’t the best way to go. OUSD’s modern and hip educators decided to replace what was being used with something more multicultural.

Time published an article about the events in Oakland.

Kareem Weaver, a teacher, described the feelings of teachers at that time regarding the curriculum.

The OUSD program had made it possible for the district to experience the highest growth in reading skills. It was now time to move. The real work was “dehumanizing” and “colonizing” because it came directly from “the man.”

The new reading program did not prove to be more effective for black students. It was not that the new reading program was more successful for black students.

What’s the deal? OUSD teachers, including Weaver, are trying to incorporate phonetics back into their school’s learning curriculum.

Weaver said, “It was an undisclosed catastrophe.”

Teachers and other concerned organizations lobbied to restore basic education to classrooms after the OUSD program’s failure to bring students success.

Time’s Belinda Luscombe wrote that the timing of such a significant change felt particularly difficult. “Elementary school teachers have already begun a recalibration following two years of disruption and vicious fighting over public health mandates. ”

The NAACP local chapter has worked with schools to insist on explicit instruction in phonemic awareness, fluency vocabulary, and comprehension.

Teachers realized that abandoning a reading program meant to make leftists feel better is not the best way to go. They should be teaching children first.

“We abandoned what worked because we didn’t like how it felt to us as adults when actually, the social-justice thing to do is to teach them explicitly how to read,” Weaver admitted.

It looks like “the man” isn’t so bad after all when it comes to teaching children how to read.