What works vs. what's "better"

Our friend Craig Westover altered us to a situation Rockford, Illinois that reveals the inner thought processes of progressive educators. Principal Tiffany Parke of Lewis Lemon Global Studies Academy has been punished by her school district for using the direct instruction approach to teaching reading, which emphasizes phonics, rather than the district-approved method of "balanced literacy (whole language)." Never mind that direct instruction raised the school's third graders from the bottom to scoring near the top in statewide reading tests (second only to students at a school for the gifted). Never mind that Lemon Academy was closing the achievement gap (their student body is described by The New York Times as "80 percent nonwhite and 85 percent poor").

Front Page Magazine explains:

Supporters of whole language, by contrast, believe that the acquisition of knowledge is a subjective process. Influenced by John Dewey and his philosophy of Progressive education, they believe that the child must be encouraged to follow his feelings irrespective of the facts, and to have his arbitrary opinions regarded as valid. On this premise, the child is told to treat the whole word as a primary, and to draw his conclusions without the necessity of learning the underlying facts. He is taught this--in spite of the overwhelming evidence, in theory and in practice, that phonics instruction works and whole language does not.

Don't be confused by the facts. Forget what works. Results are irrelevant. The experts know that [balanced literacy/integrated math/insert progressive educational fad of your choice here] is "better." Just ask the kids and their parents in Rockford, Illinois.