DOMENECH OPPOSES PHONICS:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
CONTACT: ARTHUR PURVES
phone: 703 281-0176
DOMENECH OPPOSES PHONICS: "CANNIBALIZES" SCHOOLS TO SUBSIDIZE INEFFECTIVE PROGRAM
At today's afternoon press briefing to present the Fairfax County Public Schools FY2002 budget, school superintendent, Dr. Daniel A. Domenech, stated his opposition to phonics. He claimed "...there is not just one way to teach reading..." and noted that other school systems were not moving towards phonics. His comments were intended to explain why "very few" Fairfax County elementary schools are using the phonics-based Open Court reading textbook that the school board recently approved.Arthur G. Purves, president of the Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance, had raised the phonics issue by suggesting that phonics-based reading instruction in the regular classroom could significantly reduce the number of children requiring Learning Disabled services and hence reduce Special Education costs. Dr. Domenech had repeatedly cited Special Education as a major reason for seeking an extra $40 million from the Board of Supervisors and a 20 percent increase in the sales tax. In response to Mr. Purves' questions, Dr. Domenech acknowledged that school staff has been increasing significantly faster than enrollment. When also asked if the school budget has increased faster than enrollment and inflation since he became superintendent, Dr. Domenech acknowledged that that might be true. He noted that technology funding had increased from $40 million in 1995 to over $100 million in the FY2002 budget. In addition, Dr. Domenech stated, more than once, that the school system is being "cannibalized" to fund his programs. "Phonics is the best way to teach reading," Mr. Purves stated. "Failure to teach children to read dooms most school programs. The massive investment in technology has failed to raise achievement and has actually increased administrative costs. If Dr. Domenech would support Open Court reading and Saxon Math, he could cut many Band-Aid programs and stop cannibalizing the school system."