Tag Archives: phonics

Can phonics reduce the crime rate in America?

In 1994 the U.S. Department of Education acknowledged that two-thirds of all incarcerated criminals have poor literacy. source

Picture of a Girl Reading

Reading is a fundamental life skill. Photo credit: healingdream

Imagine applying for your first job as teenager at a locally owned restaurant. You live rent free but would like to earn some extra spending money. When you tell the manager you would like to apply, he hands you a form and asks you to fill it out. You nervously glance down as you take the form in your hands. How would you feel if you could not read the form? To you the form may as well be written in Kanji characters. Your chances of getting this job are sunk because you can’t even read the application.

Unfortunately for too many government school students this scenario is all too real.

The System is Rigged

It turns out that the best way to teach people to read is phonics. However, as John Taylor Gatto demonstrates in this chapter of the Underground History of American education, there was a shift away from phonics based teaching in the public schools of America. Gatto uses data from the US military draft board to trace a significant decline in the literacy rate of the school population.

It is a despicable crime to deprive human beings of a basic skill through the use of inferior methodology such as whole word reading. The leaders of the public school system know that non phonics based programs will increase illiteracy. Yet the practice continues to this day.

Think about how you read a new word. If you have acquired basic phonics skills, you can sound out a word you have never seen before by decoding the symbols that are used to represent sounds. If you have been taught to guess at words, your reading experience will be frustrating.


It is hard to imagine why some school districts refuse to use phonics based reading programs when a growing body of evidence links illiteracy to crime. You can prevent your loved ones from being damaged. Take the time to teach your kids to read using a phonics based approach. If all the schools in America did so, the crime rate might even be reduced.

Is whole word reading a crime against humanity? Let me know what you think in the comments section.