The Weekly Sam: Can Dyslexia Be Artificially Induced in School? Yes, Says Researcher Edward Miller

Can Dyslexia Be Artificially Induced in School?
Yes, Says Researcher Edward Miller
by Samuel L. Blumenfeld  March 1992

Ever since The New Illiterates was published back in 1973, we have known that the chief, and
perhaps only cause of dyslexia among school children has been and still is the look-say, whole word, or sight method of teaching reading. In that book I revealed the fact that the sight method
was invented back in the 1830s by the Rev. Thomas H. Gallaudet, the director of the American
Asylum at Hartford for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb. He had been using a sight, or
whole-word method in teaching the deaf to read, by juxtaposing a word, such as cat, with the
picture of a cat. And because the deaf were able to identify many simple words in this way,
Gallaudet thought that the method could be adapted for use by normal children.
Gallaudet, who believed that education was a science and could be improved by scientific
experimentation, gave a detailed description of his new method in the American Annals of
Education of August 1830. It consisted of teaching the child to recognize a total of 50 sight
words written on cards “without any reference to the individual letters which composed the
word.” After the child had memorized the words on the basis of their configurations alone, the
letters of each word were taught. The final step was to teach the letters in alphabetical order.
In 1836 Gallaudet published The Mother’s Primer based on his look-say methodology. Its
first line was: “Frank had a dog; his name was Spot.” In 1837 the primer was adopted by the
Boston Primary School Committee. Horace Mann was then Secretary of the Board of Education
of Massachusetts, and he favored the method. The educational reformers of the time were against
anything that smacked of old orthodox practices, and they considered intensive, systematic
phonics to be one of them. The American Annals of Education, representing the progressive
views of the time, provided a ready platform for the critics of the alphabetic-phonics method.

One could find such opinions as the following in its pages:
He [the child] should read his lessons as if the words were Chinese symbols, without paying any attention to the
individual letters, but with special regard to the meaning… This method needs neither recommendation nor defense,
with those who have tried it: and were it adopted, we should soon get rid of the stupid and uninteresting mode now
prevalent. (Oct. 1832, p. 479) If it is true, that so long as we cling with intense fondness to the deformities of our orthography with a fondness like the mother’s love to her offspring, enhanced by deformity — much time is, and must be, wasted over the elementary books of reading and spelling. It becomes the friends of education to examine the facts, and act with energy, as men living in an age of reform. (Apr. 1832, p. 173)
The ABC is our initiative tormentor, requiring much time and Herculean effort, altogether thrown away. (Nov.
1833, p. 512)

Boston Schoolmasters React

Such was the climate of the time. Gallaudet’s primer was imitated by other textbook writers,
and the children of Massachusetts were taught to read by this new sight method. By 1844 the
defects of the new method were so apparent to the Boston schoolmasters, that they issued a
blistering attack against it, and urged a return to intensive, systematic phonics. I reprinted the full
text of that historic critique in The New Illiterates, in order to demonstrate how early the defects
of the look-say, whole-word method were recognized by educators who were not seduced by the
siren songs of the reformers.

In that book, I also did a line-by-line analysis of the Dick-and-Jane reading program and came
to the conclusion that any child taught to read solely by that method would exhibit the symptoms
of dyslexia. The cause was obvious: when you impose an ideographic teaching technique on an
alphabetic writing system, you get reading disability. By eliminating the sense of sound from the
reading process, one is breaking the crucial link between the alphabetically written word and its
spoken equivalent. Also, by using sound symbols as ideographic symbols, one creates symbolic

The schoolmasters of Boston had recognized this phenomenon in 1844, and it was also
recognized in 1929 by Dr. Samuel T. Orton, a neuropathologist in Iowa who was seeking the
cause of children’s reading problems. After considerable research, he came to the conclusion that
their problems were being caused by the new sight method of teaching reading. The results of his
research were published in the February 1929 issue of the Journal of Educational Psychology
with the title, “The Sight Reading Method of Teaching Reading as a Source of Reading
Disability.” Dr. Orton wrote:

“I wish to emphasize at the beginning that the strictures which I have to offer here do not apply to the use of the
sight method of teaching reading as a whole but only to its effects on a restricted group of children for whom, as I
think we can show, this technique is not only not adapted but often proves an actual obstacle to reading progress,
and moreover I believe that this group is one of considerable educational importance both because of its size and
because here faulty teaching methods may not only prevent the acquisition of academic education by children of
average capacity but may also give rise to far reaching damage to their emotional life.”

And so, there has been no doubt in my mind as to the cause of dyslexia among perfectly
healthy, normal school children. However, in recent years I have heard stories of children
entering the first grade already exhibiting the symptoms of dyslexia, before they have had any
formal reading instruction. It was said that these children, who had never been to school, were
having a terribly difficult time learning to read by phonics. The phenomenon was somewhat
inexplicable, until sometime in 1988 when I received a phone call from a man in North
Wilkesboro, North Carolina, by the name of Edward Miller. It turned out that he had the key to
the mystery.  Miller had called to tell me of his theory of “educational dyslexia,” that is, how dyslexia
could be artificially induced. I was delighted to know that there was someone else in America
who agreed with me. He had seen me on a television interview in 1984 and was so astounded by
my assertions about dyslexia that he decided to get my book on the NEA, What I had said on TV
sounded crazy to him, but he said I looked too sane to be crazy.

Overcoming a Handicap

Miller was particularly interested in this subject because he himself was dyslexic and had
been so since the first grade. He had been taught to read in a rural school in North Carolina by a
young teacher fresh out of college who used the sight method. At first Miller thought it was his
stupidity that was causing his reading problem. But in the fourth grade he proved that he was not
stupid by memorizing the multiplication table and winning a prize in class. From then on he
simply saw his reading problem as a handicap that had to be compensated for by all sorts of
tricks. For example, he found that he could pass many essay tests by writing short, simple
sentences in which all of the words were spelled correctly. He might earn a C for his efforts, but
C’s were better than F’s.

Eventually, Miller made it through North Carolina State College. In fact, despite his reading
disability, he was able to become a mathematics teacher and finally an assistant administrator in
a high school in Hollywood, Florida. It was by reading an excerpt from Rudolf Flesch’s book.
Why Johnny Can’t Read, in a newspaper in 1956 that Miller had become aware of the two ways
of teaching children to read: the phonetic method and the sight or look-say method. He realized
that he had been taught by the sight method.

But it wasn’t until 1986, when his young grandson, Kyle, then in the first grade, developed a
reading problem, that Miller was motivated to investigate the matter in greater depth. In the
suffering and pain of his grandson he saw a repeat of himself. He knew that Kyle had learned to
read by look-say, and that was easy to prove because Kyle could read his little sight-vocabulary
books rapidly, without error. But when faced with reading matter not in the controlled
vocabulary, he had extreme difficulty. Miller could see that Kyle was trying to guess the words.
The boy found the process of sounding out words irritating and painful.
Miller recalled what he had read in my NEA book about the Russian psychologists, Luna and
Pavlov, and of how they had devised an artificial way of including behavioral disorganization by
introducing two conflicting stimuli to the organism. Miller believed that he was seeing the same
process at work in Kyle. He was sure that Kyle had learned something at an early age that was
interfering with his attempt to decode the little phonetic books which Miller had bought for him.
“I knew about the two methods of teaching reading,” relates Miller, “and suspected that he had
learned a non-phonetic method of looking at words. I tried to help him sound out the words in
the little books, but the books seemed to be hurting him.”

A Cognitive Conflict

It was obvious to Miller that his grandson had learned a method of reading that conflicted with
the phonetic method, and that it was causing what is commonly known as “dyslexia.” Miller
thought that he could demonstrate how this cognitive conflict could be artificially induced by
way of a very simple experiment. Drawing on his extensive knowledge of mathematics, he
devised an experimental problem whereby an individual trained in the base-ten arithmetic system
would be required to do his calculations in a base-twelve system. The individual would
experience great difficulty, confusion and frustration trying to suppress his automatic base-ten
responses as he attempted to do simple arithmetic in a base-twelve system. This was what the
sight reader experienced in trying to apply a phonetic method of looking at words when the
automatic tendency was “spatial-holistic” in orientation. The key to the problem, Miller believed,
was in the automaticity involved in each method. If a child’s first-learned way of reading was
configurational and not phonetic, and if the child could read this sight vocabulary in an out-of
context word list at more than 30 words per minute, that child would develop educational, or
artificially induced, dyslexia. However, if the child’s first-learned way of identifying words was
phonetic, and if that ability had become automatic, that child would never become dyslexic.
But Miller wondered how Kyle could have developed such a strong automatic configurational
way of identifying words without any formal reading instruction. He had noticed that Kyle had in
his room many children’s books, including many of the Dr. Seuss books which children often
learn to read by memorizing the words. If Kyle had developed an automatic configurational way
of identifying words by having memorized the Dr. Seuss books, then he could have entered the
first grade with an already learned way of reading that would conflict with the phonetic

Dr. Seuss’s 223 Words

Most people are not aware that the Dr. Seuss books were created to supplement the whole word
reading programs in the schools. Most people assume that Dr. Seuss made up his stories using
his own words. The truth is that the publisher supplied Dr. Seuss with a sight vocabulary of 223
words which he was to use in writing the books, a sight vocabulary in harmony with the sight
words the child would be learning in school. Thus, the children would enter the first grade
having already mastered a sight vocabulary of several hundred words, thereby making first-grade
reading a breeze. Because the Dr. Seuss books are so, simple, many people assume that they
were easy to write. But Dr. Seuss debunked that idea in an interview he gave Arizona magazine
in June 1981. He said:

“They think I did it in twenty minutes. That damned Cat in the Hat took nine months until I was satisfied. I did it
for a textbook house and they sent me a word list. That was due to the Dewey revolt in the Twenties, in which they
threw out phonic reading and went to word recognition, as if you’re reading a Chinese pictograph instead of
blending sounds of different letters. I think killing phonics was one of the greatest causes of illiteracy in the country.
Anyway, they had it all worked out that a healthy child at the age of four can learn so many words in a week and
that’s all. So there were two hundred and twenty-three words to use in this book. I read the list three times and I
almost went out of my head. I said, I’ll read it once more and if I can find two words that rhyme that’ll be the title of
my book. (That’s genius at work.) I found ‘cat’ and ‘hat’ and I said. ‘The title will be The Cat in the Hat.’
And that is how the Dr. Seuss pre-school sight-word books were born. The publishers
believed that if the children could memorize the words in the books, they would be better
prepared for the sight-reading instruction they would get in the first grade.”    An ad for The
Beginning Readers’ Program states:

The words are just right for young readers, too. They’re in large, clear type. They often tell the story in rhyme.
And they’re so closely related to the pictures that, with a little help from Mom and Dad, even preschoolers can start
reading all by themselves. And when a preschooler is turned on to reading by Dr. Seuss and his friends he generally
stays turned on to reading for life.

What the ad didn’t tell parents is that if the child was permitted to develop an automatic
configurational, spatial-holistic way of identifying words, then that child would be dyslexic when
dealing with the much larger reading vocabulary beyond the few hundred words he or she had
memorized. And with the advent of audio cassettes, the child could learn to memorize the words
even without the help of Mom or Dad. But if the child had been taught to read phonetically from
the very beginning, he or she would never become dyslexic.

Miller had, indeed, made a very significant discovery, one that could save millions of children
from falling into the dyslexia trap caused by memorizing the sight vocabularies in their preschool
readers. But the problem now was how to make this discovery public?
The publishers of the Beginner Books were making millions of dollars, and the books
themselves were extremely popular with parents and children alike. Some children are taught to
sound out words by their parents, and these children, of course, are not harmed by these little
books since they look at all words phonetically. But since most preschoolers are not taught to
read phonetically at home before they go to school, they are in great danger of becoming
dyslexic. And the better they get at memorizing the words, the greater the danger, for it is when
the child develops an automatic ability to identify words configurationally, he or she develops the
cognitive block that produces dyslexia.

The publishers of the Beginner Books have also produced a picture dictionary. The purpose of
the dictionary is to make the child “recognize, remember, and really enjoy a basic elementary
vocabulary of 1,350 words.” We wonder how many hundreds of thousands of children have
become dyslexic by memorizing the sight words in this picture dictionary.

Getting to the Public

But how was Miller going to get this information to the public? He decided to contact some of
the educational officials in the Florida public school system. Having retired from the system in
1982, he was acquainted with many of them. They listened politely and seemed to understand
what he was talking about. But he could arouse no real interest or enthusiasm about his

He then went to IBM, which had developed a costly computer reading-instruction program
called Writing to Read which teaches children a modified phonetic writing system. After many
phone conversations, they referred him to Dr. Larry Silver, director of the National Institute of
Dyslexia in Bethesda, Maryland. Miller called Silver who said he would like to see Miller’s
materials on the artificial induction of dyslexia. Several days after sending the materials, Miller
called Silver’s office. The secretary said that the materials had arrived, that a complete copy of
them had been made, and that they were being returned to Miller with a letter from Dr. Silver.
Silver’s letter was quite perfunctory. He offered no evaluation of Miller’s theory on the artificial
induction of dyslexia, but advised Miller to team up with someone at a university working in
special education. Apparently, Miller’s lack of academic “credentials” was the new handicap he
had to deal with.

But Miller had already contacted someone at Appalachian State University for help. He had
spoken with the dean of the school of education who recommended that he contact Dr. Gerald
Parker, professor of special education. In August 1988 Miller made a presentation of his theory
to Dr. Parker’s graduate students. But he soon realized, by the questions they asked, that they
were all committed to the whole-language approach. In fact, Parker expressed the opinion that
the best way to avoid creating the cognitive conflict was to teach the child only one way of
looking at words: the holistic, configurational way! In other words, the child should only read
words that he had memorized as sight words. If he did that, he would never exhibit the symptoms
in his sight vocabulary? Parker told Miller that Frank Smith provided the answer to that question
in his book. Understanding Reading, the bible of whole-language educators. Miller got a copy of
the book, read it slowly but thoroughly and came to the conclusion that Frank Smith was
responsible for the misconception of the century.

Frank Smith Was Wrong

Miller’s theory was that the two ways of looking at words — the configurational and the
phonetic — were mutually exclusive, and that once a child achieved an automatic ability to look
at words in a spatial-holistic fashion, it created a cognitive conflict with the phonetic method.
Frank Smith, however, insisted that none of these methods were mutually exclusive. But if this
were so, then why didn’t those who were trained to read phonetically ever become dyslexic, and
those who were taught to read ideographically did?

Dr. Parker had also told Miller about Dr. Frank Wood, director of the Bowman Gray Learning
Disability Project at the Bowman Gray School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Wood was conducting research on learning disabilities under a $3-million grant from the
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). The goal of the project,
according to a brochure, was “to understand the causes of learning disability and the methods by
which we might forestall or prevent some of the worst consequences in underachievement.”
Obviously, if there were anyone who would be interested in Miller’s theory about the cause of
dyslexia, it would have to be Dr. Wood.

Wood did, in fact, show interest in Miller’s theory, and after several visits and phone
conversations over a period of about four months, he sent Miller a four-page review of the theory
in August, 1988. In essence, Wood agreed that dyslexia was generally characterized by a deficit
in decoding skills. But he believed that this deficit was probably due to some children being
“genetically predisposed against phonetic processes” rather than their having become
phonetically impaired by their pre-school learning of a sight vocabulary. Wood wrote:
There is no evidence of which I am aware that would relate the kinds of early pre-reading experiences you describe
to dyslexia in the school years. Perhaps it is fair to say that there has been little attempt to gather such evidence, so
that the issue remains unexplored. There is, however, a major series of investigations that establishes the role of
genetic factors in dyslexia. To the extent that genetic factors control the dyslexic outcome, preschool experience
would be eliminated as any substantial cause of the problem.

In other words, the federal government has spent and is still spending millions of dollars
looking for the genetic causes of dyslexia. This line of investigation is the official line of the
Interagency Committee on Learning Disabilities, which defined “Learning Disabilities” as
follows in its 1987 report to the Congress:

“Learning disabilities is a generic term that refers to a heterogeneous group of disorders manifested by significant
difficulties in the acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, or mathematical abilities, or
of social skills. These disorders are intrinsic to the individual and presumed to be due to central nervous system
dysfunction. Even though a learning disability may occur concomitantly with other handicapping conditions (e.g.,
sensory impairment, mental retardation, social and emotional disturbance), with socio-environmental influences (e.g.,cultural differences, insufficient or inappropriate instruction, psychogenic factors), and especially with  attention deficit disorder, all of which may cause learning problems, a learning disability is not the direct result of those conditions or influences.

In other words, instruction methods are largely irrelevant! Also, note that you can also be
learning disabled in social skills, which opens a vast new field of investigation for psychologists
seeking government research grants. Wood also wrote:

“The only part of your theory that is undeveloped in research is that having to do with the role of preschool
experience in strengthening a natural spatial holistic viewing tendency, to the subsequent detriment of phonemically
based reading. That is an interesting research question, and it has not yet been subjected to careful scientific
methodology. It seems to me that there would be two separable issues: (1) whether any substantial numbers of
dyslexic children owe their dyslexia to the preemption by a spatial strategy that was learned or strengthened in the
preschool years; and (2) whether this preemption by a spatial strategy is even possible (notwithstanding the question
of whether it accounts for a substantial number of dyslexic children’s problems).”

Devising a Suitable Test

What this meant was that Miller had to prove, in a manner acceptable to the scientific
community, that his theory was correct. Miller believed that he could do so by means of a simple
test that anyone could duplicate and verify. He had already seen how dyslexic children could
read their controlled vocabulary books with great speed but were stymied when faced with
simple newspaper stories. The question was, at what point did the child become a committed
sight reader and develop a block against learning phonics? It took about ten months of
experimentation before Miller finally came up with a testing instrument that would indicate
clearly whether a child was a sight reader or a phonetic reader and at what point the child’s
reading mode became permanent. The test would scientifically measure the child’s word
identification strategies and accurately measure the severity of the child’s dyslexic condition.

The test was composed of two sets of words: the first set consisted of 260 sight words drawn
from two Dr. Seuss books, Green Eggs and Ham and The Cat in the Hat, The second set
consisted of 260 equally simple words drawn from Rudolf Flesch’s word lists in Why Johnny
Can’t Read, The sight words were arranged in alphabetical order across the page. They included
such multi-syllabic words as about, another, mother, playthings, something, yellow, while the
words from Flesch’s book were all at first-grade level, one syllable and phonetically regular. In
other words, for a child who knew his or her phonics neither set of words posed any problem.
The purpose of the test was to measure the speed at which the child read both sets of words and
to count the errors, or miscues, made in reading the two sets of words.

What the Tests Revealed

The first children Miller tested were the five children of the Norman family, a black family
Miller had known for many years. He discovered that the two oldest boys, Deidric and Cameron,
could read both sets of words with no difficulty, indicating normal, phonetic reading ability.
However, their brothers Travis, 11, and Jason, 7, were a different story. Travis read the sight
words at 51 words per minute with no errors, but read the phonetic words at 17 words per minute
with 91 errors. Jason read the sight words at a speed of 44 words per minute with no errors, but
read the phonetic words at 24 words per minute with 47 errors.
Obviously, both youngsters had become dyslexic. The fact that they could read the sight
words at over 30 words per minute meant that their word-identification mode was automatic and,
therefore, permanently fixed. Their cognitive block against phonics had been established by the
way they had learned to read. Unless the blockage was undone through intensive remedial
intervention, it would remain a major lifelong handicap, preventing them from pursuing careers
that required accurate reading skills.

The youngest child, Nickayla, 6, given a shorter test, read the sight words at 21 words per
minute with 8 errors and read the phonetic words at 10 words per minute with 16 errors. She had
not yet developed that degree of automaticity with the sight words that would have prevented her
from becoming a phonetic reader. But Nickayla was tested nine months later, and the results
indicated that she had developed the needed automaticity. She could now read the sight words at
39 words per minute with 11 errors, and read the phonetic words at 21 words per minute with 50
errors. In other words, she had become educationally dyslexic in a matter of nine months. This
outcome could have been prevented had she been taught intensive, systematic phonics at a time
when her word-identification mode was still indeterminate.

The test had clearly shown its value as an indicator of a child’s way of identifying words:
phonetically or holistically. It also indicated the degree of dyslexia, or symbolic confusion, the
child was suffering from. It could also identify those children who had not yet made a cognitive
commitment to either word-identification mode and could still be saved from becoming
educationally dyslexic with the proper intervention.

Alarming Results

In January 1990 Miller obtained permission to administer his test to 68 students at the Ronda Clingman Elementary School, a rural school with an enrollment of about 600 near the town of
Ronda in Wilkes County, North Carolina. Of the 68 students, 25 were 4th-graders, 26 were 2nd
graders, and 17 students were from different grades in Title 1. The results were alarming. Of the
26 second-graders, 5 were phonetic readers, 11 were permanent holistic readers (with a sight
reading speed of over 30 words per minute) and therefore already educationally dyslexic, and 10
were in a state of reading limbo, that is, they hadn’t yet developed automaticity in either word
identification mode and could either become fluent phonetic readers or educationally dyslexic.

The outcome would depend on how they were taught to read in the next few months.
Of the 25 fourth-graders, 14 were phonetic readers and 11 were holistic, that is, educationally
dyslexic. None were in an indeterminate state. In other words, they had all developed the degree
of automaticity in their word-identification mode which made their reading mode permanent. If
this fourth-grade class was typical of fourth-grade classes throughout North Carolina, this meant
that 44% of all students in the public schools of that state would emerge at the end of their school
careers educationally dyslexic, that is, functionally illiterate.
Of the 17 students in Title 1, 6 were phonetic readers, 6 were holistic (educationally
dyslexic), and 5 were in limbo. Of the latter, 4 were in first grade, indicating that their reading
instruction was leading them into educational dyslexia.

What was happening at the Ronda-Clingman school was going on in every elementary school
in North Carolina. Were the authorities concerned? Miller had actually gone to the state
education authorities in September of 1989 and demonstrated to them his theory on the artificial
induction of dyslexia. Two months later he received a letter from Betty Jean Foust, the state’s
Consultant for Reading Communication Skills. She wrote:

“This letter is in response to your request that I review your materials and comment upon your theory of dyslexia.
Members of the Department of Public Instruction believe in a multiple approach to teaching reading. We believe
that phonics may help the beginning reader if it is done early and kept simple. We do not feel phonics are useful
with older students. In my teaching experience, I have encountered several students who could not hear sounds;
therefore, we used other methods for learning to read. In my opinion, all students do not need a phonics assessment.
We have never promoted reading words out of context as your assessment does. Time is precious in our schools, and
we need activities which promote achievement.

Secondly, I believe all students can be taught to read. Some can read better than others, but all students can learn
something. We need to guard against the use of dyslexia as a term for “catch all reading problems.”     Thus spake the State Reading Authority.

Comparing Schools

In January 1991, Miller gained permission to test 62 students at Dade Christian School, a
private school in Miami, Florida. The school, with an enrollment of about 1,000 students, is
racially mixed, with many children from Spanish-speaking families.
Of the 62 students tested, 26 were in fourth grade, 19 in second grade and 17 in a special
group selected from second and third grades because of the difficulties they were having in
reading. Of the 19 second-graders, 14 were established phonetic readers, 4 were holistic, and 1
was indeterminate, that is, in the limbo state. All of the 16 children in the special group were
educationally dyslexic. Of the 26 fourth-graders, 24 were phonetic readers, and only 2 were
educationally dyslexic.

In other words, while in the public schools of North Carolina 44 out of 100 students were
becoming educationally dyslexic because of their reading-instruction methods, only 8 out of 100
were becoming educationally dyslexic at the private school in Florida. But even that rate was too
high. In any case, Miller had not ascertained how those 2 dyslexic students in the fourth grade
had become that way, nor was he given the academic histories of the 17 children in the special

The implications to be drawn from Edward Miller’s theory on the artificial induction of
dyslexia are most significant. In the first place, they infer that dyslexia is being caused by the
reading-instruction methods presently being used in most American public schools, and that
educational dyslexia can be prevented by the teaching of intensive, systematic phonics so that the
children will become phonetic readers. As Miller has pointed out, a phonetic reader cannot
become dyslexic.

If what Miller has discovered is true, then the millions of dollars the federal government is
spending on finding the genetic causes of dyslexia is a total waste. In addition, the billions of
Chapter One dollars the U. S. Dept. of Education has spent in support of reading programs that
are causing educational dyslexia are more than a waste. They are being used to commit a horrible
crime against the children of this country.

For years, now, we have been telling the public that the dyslexia that afflicts millions of
perfectly normal, healthy children is being caused by the reading-instruction methods used in our
schools. Whole language, which is presently sweeping through the primary schools of America
like a plague, is the latest manifestation of this insane addiction to defective teaching methods. It
is sad to know that millions of innocent children will be permanently damaged by these methods,
used by teachers who believe they are doing the right thing.

Establishment Not Interested

Edward Miller has gone to great lengths to bring his findings to the attention of the
government education and research establishment. His letters and phone calls to top officials
have been to no avail. What he has found out is what we have known for a long time: they are
not interested. They have their own agenda, and it has nothing to do with educational excellence.

At this point, our only hope is to reach enough parents so that as many children as possible
can be saved from the fate of functional illiteracy the public schools have in store for them. We
are advising all American parents to teach their children the three R’s at home or have them
taught at a trustworthy private school until at least the fourth grade. The most severe, permanent
damage is done to the children in the first three grades of public school. We believe that
homeschooling is the best educational alternative for all children. However, we realize that
homeschooling is not a viable alternative for many parents. In addition, many parents cannot
afford private education. But they must find some way to educate their children correctly in those
first crucial three years. Parents must also be made aware that permitting their pre-school
children to memorize a battery of sight words will cause reading problems later on. They should
teach their children to read by intensive, systematic phonics before giving them little preschool
books to read. This will “immunize” the children against dyslexia. And lastly, pray for those
children whose parents, or teachers, do not have this knowledge — and then. . . pray for

(This essay is in the Sam Blumenfeld Archives: