chapter  7
Phonics, Reading, and Culture
Pages 6

As I begin writing this chapter, I find it striking that it will be the shortest

one in the book. It is striking because Karen’s classroom is diverse, and

she celebrates that diversity in respectful and relevant ways that go deep

into the “well” that Bell mentions. Karen’s work, as she sees it, is about

“letting down ropes.” She has explored issues of racism, gender, and eq-

uity with her young students in a variety of ways that I do not present here.

I do not present those here because this book is about a phonics program’s

influence. In case you haven’t noticed, I have mentioned only superficial

descriptions of Karen’s children, beyond their behavior. That is because,

during the teaching of phonics, issues of difference are erased and ignored

by the phonics program. This is a program that the publishers’ consultants,

when they visit the district, tell teachers “is good for all children.” The

quest for homogeneity of curriculum and the systematic dismissal of chil-