For someone as accomplished as Phyllis Schlafly, the question “What’s the most fulfilling thing you’ve ever done?” carries a lot of weight to it. Her answer will certainly shock you. To Phyllis, her most fulfilling victory was not starting the conservative movement, working with President Reagan, or even defeating the Equal Rights Amendment.
In Phyllis’s own words, the most fulfilling thing she ever did was to teach her children how to read. Phyllis understood that a child’s ability to read opens the door for him to become a productive and prosperous citizen. As she put it, “Most parents work hard to provide their children with the material things of life. Many parents work hard to provide their children with the spiritual things in life – faith in God, moral training, and good and healthy habits. There is something else you can do for your child that is important to both goals – because it’s the key to what your child will be able to do on his own. You can teach your child to read.”
This made it all the more shocking to know that many schools are not teaching students to the point of proficiency in reading from the time-tested phonics method. Instead, they rely on bad systems like the “Whole Language Method,” which is basically a literary guessing game where kids pretend to read by guessing at pictures.
Phyllis Schlafly knew that literacy was the cure not only for individual underachievement but for social maladies as well. She called it “an urgent necessity for our whole nation.” Reading has the power to lift entire communities that have been impoverished for generations. Reading can open doors for careers and opportunities that were never thought possible. What’s more, if someone cannot read well enough to communicate effectively, they will never be able to advance themselves or their children and live out the American Dream.
Parents cannot rely on Washington, their states, or even their local school boards for this fundamental prerequisite to success in life. We must take on an individual responsibility for the promotion of literacy to those that need it most.