Eamonn had left kindergarten happy and confident, even requesting his own library card that summer. His older brother and sister were wonderful role models who had enjoyed sitting at the kitchen table on dreary Northwest days writing and illustrating their own books and, when they were older, reading chapter books in bed before they fell asleep.
But then the desire to quickly "fix" struggling readers and standardize curriculum descended on the primary grades at his school.
When my son had been in kindergarten, the 1st and 2nd-grade classroom teachers, with the principal's strong urging, had looked at two scripted programs: SRA/McGraw-Hill's "Open Court Reading" and "Houghton Mifflin Reading." When I heard about this, I spoke to the Site Council, principal, and teachers in an effort to persuade them to instead focus on improved teaching using authentic literature. The principal assured me that a decision to buy either program was on hold.
That fall, however, I opened the Welcome Back to School Newsletter and read that the Houghton Mifflin program would be used for the 1st and 2nd grades. Mixed in with feelings of dismay and anger, I felt guilty that I had not fought harder to ensure that the scripted curriculum was not adopted.
After Eamonn's lament about Frog and Toad, I decided to do further investigation. I grabbed Eamonn's backpack and found a wad of photocopied "books" and a 20-page chunk of stapled-together workbook pages.