Bruce Deitrick Price's BLOG. Welcome.

1) Main site is Articles there are scholarly in a lively way, and intended to last for years. This blog is for short newsy bits. 2) This site is pro-education, pro-teacher, and anti-Education Establishment.


Modern Reading Theory Is The Scandal Of Our Age

Here is the really astonishing fact about the Reading Wars that everyone should know. Almost without exception the phonics proponents insist they teach 99+ percent of children to read in the first grade.

 Some of these experts, with 25+ years in the trenches, actually claim they have no failures. Every--or close to every--kid learns to read by Christmas of the first grade, or for sure by the end of the year.

Please stop and savor this. Apparently humans are wired to read. Given half a chance, they learn it easily enough. Teach them the alphabet, get across the idea that the letters represent sounds, as in B is for Ball. Then it's not a big deal. Some kids pick it up almost automatically. The slower kids need direct instruction for a few months.

The reason we think that learning to read is so difficult is that our Education Establishment, for almost 80 years, has used a method that does not work. In order to protect themselves, these phonies have to pretend that reading is a really exotic skill, like singing opera, and only the rare few can really break through.

If you actually look at this completely illegitimate pedagogy, the puny goal that the Whole Word experts were aiming for was a very limited literacy all through elementary school. This low agenda pretty much destroyed all of the education that had traditionally taken place in the early grades... It seems that about half the children reach a stunted level called functional illiteracy and never move past that point throughout their lives!

 To make people confront just how stupid and evil some of these theories are, I just posted an article titled "Fake Reading Theory Is the Slave Trade of Our Era."  Please send it to your local school board.

As a simple practical matter, as long as the Education Establishment can get away with using sight-words to teach reading, our entire system of public education will remain at a retarded level.


Teachers Are Not The Problem. The Top Officials Are


Columns like this are somewhat disingenuous and not very helpful. The premise is that the whole world is lining up to criticize teachers. This is not true.

I write about education every day, often negatively, and rarely even mention teachers. I never blame our problems on them. In my view, teachers, along with students and parents, are the victims of an often dysfunctional system.

All of my criticism is directed at the so-called experts at the top, what I call the Education Establishment. These people, mostly professors and ideologues, have devised all the bogus methods used in the schools. These people are responsible for the 50,000,000 functional illiterates this country has, and the continuing low scores in math and basic knowledge. 

If we are going to improve education, we need clarity. Let's stop using teachers as a propaganda ploy that lets the Education Establishment escape scrutiny. 

Let's ask: Who actually makes policy? Who controls the theories and methods used in k-12 education? Who manipulates the system from far-off control centers such as the Harvard Graduate School of Education, not to mention the DOE and NEA?

My own recommendation, often stated, is that we replace the top people. We need education officials (preferably local) who care more about knowledge and the mind than about social engineering. That would be wonderful to see.

Bruce Deitrick Price



(Longwood College, Department of Education, Virginian-Pilot, Norfolk,


Letter sent to Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.)
Be suspicious of Common Core Standards

I want to say how proud I am that Virginia has not jumped on the Common Core bandwagon. Kudos to Governor Bob McDonnell and Dr. Patricia Wright, Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Suspicion is the only rational reaction. Does this country’s Education Establishment have a history of improving education? Quite the opposite. That’s why critics invented the term “dumbing down.” If you want more of that, you know where to find it.

As for 40+ states signing on, remember that Obama’s Secretary of Education Arne Duncan went around the country with suitcases of cash (nominally grants but better described as bribes) to seduce states into signing on. Most would not have done so otherwise.

Especially scary is the notion that schools will now concentrate on literacy and numeracy, two subjects that our Education Establishment has mangled for many decades.

I suggest letting the other states test this thing. Wait a few years. Then we’ll at least have hard data.

ADDENDUM: it's truly amazing the way our local media pushes for this stuff.


Maybe Somebody Wants Dumb Schools Dumb

Big article in Las Vegas Sun explains what a mess some schools are. But good news: there's a new superintendent who is going to fix it all.
But he says it will take time, a long time. There are tests to gauge results at end of year...
Here's the comment I left on paper's site::::
Folks, you've got to see the comedy. The school system flails around, carefully pretending to peer at every possible factor that could have caused decades of dumbing down. Except the main one. It's a kind of Inspector Clouseau slapstick.
Our Education Establishment has a deathly fear of facts, knowledge, basics, and mastery. Focus on those. The schools will turn around so fast, people will have whiplash.
As to what to get rid of, that would be all the usual suspects. (Google "56: Top 10 Worst Ideas In Education.")
Bruce Deitrick Price
Sorry to be so cynical. But more and more, it all seems like a giant charade to me. Go to those schools, you will probably find every bad idea in education, all piled on top of each other. Cooperative Learning; Constructivism; Reform Math; Sight-Words; Learning Styles; No Memorization of Basic Knowledge; and above all, no real desire to create an educated person. 
Get rid of the phony gimmicks. Watch education soar.
That's the same advice contained in A REPORT TO BUSINESS LEADERS ABOUT EDUCATION (prepared by, just published at this link: 
Bottom line: take education away from the Education Establishment or learn to love dumb. 


Missouri & the Gang: Still Making Them Illiterate After All These Years

A reading coach in Missouri told me a revealing story.

A nine-year-old boy, unable to read; showed up for remedial help. Pointing at “bead,” the tutor explained, “When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking.” The puzzled third-grader looked up and asked: “What’s a vowel?”

Which prompts the question: “Has the state of Missouri lost its mind?”

Specifically, the school board members, administrators, superintendents, principals, politicians, civic leaders, and all the other people in charge of public education, all the people who let a smart boy reach the third-grade without being able to read. What process of deliberate non-education allows this?

“What’s a vowel??” Isn’t that like asking what’s a number, what’s a street, what’s an hour?

I blame all these officials, these Hard Hearted Hannahs, who seem not to care that reading is the one essential skill. What are these officials afraid of, that American children might actually become literate? That they might become engineers or skilled workers, people who can build a TV or something else to help us compete against the Chinese. On the other hand, such kids might learn to think for themselves. Perhaps some officials don’t want to take that chance....

For rest of article, see:



Complicit Media Spread Incompetent Education's Big Cop-Out

Des Moines Register ran editorial with this head: "What occurs at home a key in education."

 Pull quote: "It is at home where a child’s educational future is largely determined."
I'm seeing this idea everywhere, like kudzu. Sure, there's some truth, but it's finally a dishonest CYA. I left this comment on the Register site:   

"The spin in this editorial is the #1 Favorite Excuse For Schools Doing A Bad Job. 

Please observe the key ingredient: nothing bad is EVER the fault of the schools or the so-called experts running those schools. All bad outcomes are the fault of the kids, drugs, TV, computers, the internet, 15 other cop-outs, and especially PARENTS. They are just the worst. Uggg, parents!

Forget about it. A century ago many kids arrived in school much less literate and acculturated. The parents just got here. Or the parents were illiterate farmers and workers. It is precisely the task of the public schools to take the kids that show up and transform them into educated citizens. No excuses.

Here's a blue-sky idea. What if the schools stopped messing up young minds with Dolch Words and start teaching the kids to read? What if the schools stopped messing up young minds with Reform Math and taught them to do arithmetic? What if the schools stopped messing up young minds with Constructivism and start teaching facts and knowledge? 

Bruce Deitrick Price


Major Media Tricked By Education Spoof

July 25th--President Obama met with executives from the nation’s largest corporations and demanded large cash payments for education.

Corporate bosses eagerly agreed to fork over what amounts to additional taxes for a school system that does little to educate future employees.

President Obama agreed to do nothing in return to improve the state of the public schools. He orated: “We’ll tell you what you need. Your job is to feel guilty and sign checks.”

Corporate executives and government officials held hands and sang verses from Gilbert and Sullivan, with an especially rousing rendition of “We are the very model of a modern major educrat” and other ditties....

This joke item somehow made it into the nation’s news cycle. Numerous editors were apparently asleep at the switch. No one could possibly suppose that American businesses would give millions more to education officials who misspent the previous trillion dollars. 

At the very least, savvy business executives would point out to the President, in no uncertain terms, that millions of children were not being taught to read or to do basic arithmetic. Our titans of industry would tell the President, right to his face, that the schools must rise to a MUCH higher level. Tough-minded CEO’s would wave a stern  finger at the President and say, “Sir, you’ll have to deliver a far better school system if you expect us to take you seriously.” 

The CFO of Bank of America or some such place would surely say: “Any practical person knows that schools should emphasize reading, writing, arithmetic, and geography in the first year or two, and then segue into history, science, literature, and the arts. Anything else, Mr. President, is just whistling in the dark. We don’t want all this silly social engineering. We want basics, facts, knowledge, and mastery. We want intellectual engineering, for a change...”

Wait a minute! This just in. It’s not a spoof? WTF. This actually happened??? Major American corporations agreed to give money to an intellectually corrupt Education Establishment. But this time around they expect to get different results? Isn’t that what Einstein called insanity?

 Where are we living? The Comedy Channel or SyFy?

 Actual Bloomberg news story here:

(Posted by Bruce Deitrick Price, founder of, where the motto is:  NOT ONE CENT FOR SIGHT-WORDS.)



Man-Made Educational Harming???

Yes, it’s a clever phrase. Unfortunately, it sums up what is going on in too many public schools.

Here is the pattern for more than a half-century: a THIRD of high-school students can't read at the fifth-grade level. That’s what LIFE  magazine reported in 1946! We see more or less the same stat today. Every third kid is illiterate (and thinking about dropping out). That’s because the schools insist on using bad methods. It should be a huge scandal.

Schools that can’t teach kids to read probably can’t do anything right. Because they don’t care. Or they’re ideologically motivated to level differences.

Education Establishment should adopt wisdom of Medical Establishment: FIRST, DO NO HARM.

See full version: "Do You Believe in Man-Made Educational Harming?"



News: Cooperative Learning & "Faces of Learning"

Big News: new article about Cooperative Learning, on, was prompted by casual conversation, thus: "A member of the local school board told me, 'In the 21st century they’ll have to be able to work in groups, so we may as well teach them how to do it.' He was so confident in his pronouncement, and seemed to think there was nothing else to say. His confidence had the opposite effect on me.  I heard nothing but sophistry in that little comment; and I realized, with some regret, I had to write an article explaining why Cooperative Learning is just another tawdry gimmick."...See it here.

More Big News: new book consists of statements by 50 teachers, thinkers and community leaders. (I'm #6.)  "Faces of Learning" is an excellent gift for teachers. Sam Chaltain, the editor, is crusading from the center. I'm more the contrarian, so I'm pleased he included me. (Facesoflearning,net)


Reading Instruction for Young Children (FREE)

The biggest battleground in education... it's not where you think. 

It's around the ages of 3,4,5. Right in there, a child needs to learn the alphabet, and the most primitive sort of phonics. Letters represent sounds; and all the words that start with the letter B start with the same buh- sound.

Similarly, all the words that start with any given letter start with the sound represented by that letter.

So, maybe you think that's all very obvious. Not at all. For the last 75 years, the Education Establishment in this country has tried to hide the alphabet and the sounds. Children were trained to see the design or configurational aspects of letters, not the sounds that the letters represented.

This was a  grand triumph of stupid over smart. The name of this gimmick was Whole Word. The most important thing that parents want to achieve is to keep this nonsense away from their children. If you don't take preventive steps, then the children will go off to pre-K, K, and first grade, and some schools will make them memorize sight-words. At that point you may lose them, or reading may lose them.

 For a very simple guide to early reading and literacy, see this new article on hubpages: THEY NEED TO READ. For ages 1-4.

Here's the main conclusion I've been pushing: most children--if you just kept them busy with nursery rhymes, singing, printing letters, in short, all kinds of verbal and literary activities--would probably start reading without a whole lot of specific training. The more verbal kids are going to read just the way the more musical kids can pick up playing an instrument. They make it look easy.

 Unexpectedly, it turns out that it's the less verbal kids that need the most systematic instruction.  They need to learn the phonics rules so they will feel in control. When they feel in control, they can start to slowly improve their skills. But if you take the kid without a lot of verbal skills and you tell him to memorize 50, 100, then 200 sight-words, he is totally lost. It's a bare beginning for reading purposes, but he can't even master that, not with instant recall. Everywhere he looks, he sees alien unknown words. A few years later they will say he has ADHD, he's dyslexic, he has mental problems...

Yes, he has a huge mental problem. His school made him illiterate. The Education Establishment made him illiterate.



What Are The Worst Ideas In Education??

New article on lists the ten worst, which includes Sight-Words, Reform Math, Constructivism, Self Esteem, Multiculturalism, No Memorization, Cooperative Learning,  Hostility To Content, Hostility To Testing, and Letting Ideologues Run Schools (when what these people really care about is Social Engineering).

Here's the scary part. Any 3 or 4 of these things can completely end serious education. Happens every day.

Want improvement? Just dump the bad ideas. This ain't rocket science. More like what janitors do.


Video makes same points from another direction. is The Answer

Find out what ails American education on
Fun on YouTube...I have 50+ graphic videos on YouTube. Educational and entertaining, often. Many deal with reading and educational strategies. Many have good music and need some volume. (Channel is:
COMMENTS don't seem to work on this design. Here's a link to CONTACT page on

About Me

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Remain a novelist, artist, poet, and art director. But main activity is writing about education reform.. The schools, now bad due to ideology and laziness, could be easily improved. 

That claim is clearly explained in new book  "Saving K-12--What happened to our public schools. How do we fix them?"

I invite everyone to join my crusade or start your own. The worst thing is letting the Education Establishment continue its reign of incompetence.
Visit (Or Google Bruce Deitrick Price and any education topic; you'll find some interesting articles. I have 400 ed articles, videos, and book reviews on web. Please use them in your own battles.)    

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