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Questions for C Shreves
Subj:     Re: [Mpls] Re: K-12 and Phonics
Date:     11/3/2001 10:41:25 PM Central Standard Time
From:     Gypsycurse7
To:     mpls@mnforum.org

In a message dated 11/3/2001 5:23:07 PM Central Standard Time, cshreves@scc.net writes:

> ...My understanding is that the Houghton Mifflin series, which
>  was just introduced in Minneapolis Public Schools 3 years ago, does have
>  a phonics component, and that HM has expanded that component in response
>  to school districts' requests.

In what way has HM expanded its "phonics component" in the last year?
What does the expanded "phonics component" consist of?  
To which requests by the district did HM respond?  
Why did the district select the HM product in the first place?
Who evaluated, and recommended that the board adopt, the HM series?
Describe the Request for Proposal process that the district uses for textbook acquisition.

A LITTLE MORE BACKGROUND

Back in the fall of 1997, speaking to a full house at Lucile's Kitchen, Carol Johnson said that it was important for kids to learn phonetic decoding skills.  I have yet to hear anyone disagree with the Superintendent [about that].  When the district was shopping for a new reading curriculum, we were told that the district would chose something with a phonics component.

After the district selected the HM series, the HM sales reps met with parents at various schools to talk about it. They said that their English language curriculum product had a phonics component. However, soon after the HM series was introduced I discovered that there wasn't any phonics instruction in the classroom.  A reading teacher later told me that the HM series did not include any explicit phonics instruction, but did have a "phonics piece," a scrabble game.  That's it.  A scrabble game.

I noted in an earlier e-mail that my son (a k-3 student) was subsequently enrolled in a program for phonics instruction that didn't actually deliver phonics instruction.  I didn't realize I had been deceived about the phonics instruction until my son entered the 4th grade.  In order to get me off their backs, the school agreed to acquire one copy of "plaid phonics," what I understood to be an excellent phonics textbook, and provide some tutoring for my son.
-Doug Mann, King Field