She passionately advocated for teaching children how to read by sticking with the basics.
We were saddened to hear Betty G. Price, a long-time contributor to our pages, died Dec. 28. Price was devoted to helping children become skillful readers, not only so they could comprehend text but so they could appreciate the beauty and rhythm of language. And she delighted in taking those to task who would stand in the way of her mission.
Her first essay “It’s 1990: Why can’t Johnny read now?” appeared nearly 23 years ago. In it, she identified the enemy as the malpractice of teaching whole language as children were “encouraged to guess and read for meaning before they have the tools and skills necessary to do so.” To Price, abdicating the proven methodology of phonics, understanding vowels and practice drills had needlessly sentenced bright schoolchildren to struggles with illiteracy.