Cover image for Losing our language : how multicultural classroom instruction is undermining our children's ability to read, write, and reason
Losing our language : how multicultural classroom instruction is undermining our children's ability to read, write, and reason
Stotsky, Sandra.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
San Francisco : Encounter Books, 2002.

Physical Description:
xix, 316 pages ; 23 cm
Format :


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LB1573 .S874 1999C Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Why do American students' reading and writing test scores continue to decline? Why does the achievement gap continue to grow between minority and other students? Poor teacher training, large class size, small budgets and other such answers have been proposed for these vexing questions. But Sandra Stotsky argues that it is the incorporation of a multicultural agenda into basal readers, the primary tool for teaching reading in elementary schools, that has stunted our children's ability to read. In "Losing Our Language," Stotsky shows how basal readers have been systematically "dumbed down" in an effort to raise minority students' "self esteem." While elementary readers of the past featured excerpts from classic stories such as "Arabian Nights" and "Robinson Crusoe," with a complex vocabulary and sentence structure able to challenge the imagination and build reading skills, today's basal readers present students with politically and ethnically correct stories whose language is virtually foreign and unable to engage students. Drawing words from Swahili, Spanglish and other trendy dialects to teach students with a shrinking English vocabularly is a symptom of this intellectual and cultural disorder. Sandra Stotsky reminds us that how successfully we teach reading is no mere academic matter. Literacy--cultural and verbal--gives all students, but particularly those from poor or minority backgrounds, personal independence and achievement and the ability to participate fully in our civic life.

Author Notes

Sandra Stotsky is a Research Associate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She lives in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
1 The Cultivation of Multicultural Illiteracyp. 1
2 How Social Goals Came to Dominate Academic Goals in the Reading Curriculump. 22
3 The Cultural Contents of Contemporary Readersp. 57
4 The Corruption of Children's Literature and Literary Studyp. 94
5 The New Moralism and Its Civic and Academic Costsp. 125
6 Spanglish, Swahili, and Dialect: Innovative Ways to Deprive Children of Literate Englishp. 150
7 How Did the Contents of Reading Series Change So Quickly?p. 180
8 The Effort to Downgrade and Degrade the English Languagep. 207
9 Why There Is Little Research on the Effects of Multiculturalism on Academic Achievementp. 229
10 Is There a Future for Children's Literature and Literary Study?p. 240
11 Turning the Anti-Intellectual Tidep. 261
Notesp. 285
Indexp. 311