Last month, Education Week published an opinion essay in print and online by Lucy Calkins, the Richard Robinson Professor of Literacy at Teachers College and the founding director of the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project.
A lightning rod for controversy in the literacy field, Calkins defended her recent revisions to her Units of Study in Reading curriculum, explaining that they “go much further in helping teachers respond to the fact that children learn differently and deserve personalized responsive teaching.” About reading instruction, she wrote, “there is no panacea.”
But many readers were deeply skeptical and took to social media to share their thoughts. The criticisms of the essay and her approach were robust and prolific, as was the condemnation of Education Week for publishing her essay.
Below is a small sampling of those comments from Twitter and Facebook.
What readers have to say about Lucy Calkins’ essay
“I’ve read and admired @educationweek for 15 years and have never had reason to question their journalistic decision-making...until today. Running a @EdWeekOpinion piece by Lucy Calkins that amounts to an apologia/ advertisement was a bad call.”
“I taught her writing curriculum in second grade. I didn’t think there was enough structure. I was not a fan at all.”
“Why is it so hard for some experts to say “I may have been wrong?” Know better, do better!”
“In which Edweek becomes complicit in the illiteracy epidemic in America. Lucy Calkins is so thoroughly discredited at this point, her latest revisions an obvious money grab, that one wonders why she’s featured like this.”
“She sold a program to school systems without fully testing her theories. The phonics program was built while the ‘plane was in flight’. I’m sorry, but this mea culpa or worse - her epiphany- is way too late.”
“I agree with many points in it. I’ve followed the ‘cult of phonics’ approach this year, and there have definitely been trade offs.”
“I am ashamed that I unknowingly taught struggling readers how to be functionally illiterate with her recommended strategies. She needs to pack it up.”
“Amen! Teaching reading is not a one size fits all task. There are so many reasons as to why children struggle to read. I love the last two paragraphs of this article.”
“We cannot teach [kids] to love [reading], but we can teach them to DO it (you know, with a curriculum that both systematically addresses word recognition and knowledge building).”
“Too little, too late and too much damage has been done. There needs to be accountability to move forward productively so the same mistakes are not repeated.”
Comments have been edited for length.
To read the letters to the editor in response to the essay, visit:
A version of this article appeared in the December 14, 2022 edition of Education Week as Social Media Erupts After Calkins’ Essay on Reading Curriculum