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Why cant U teach me 2 read?: Three Students and a Mayor Put Our Schools to the Test
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Why cant U teach me 2 read?: Three Students and a Mayor Put Our Schools to the Test

3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  67 ratings  ·  18 reviews
Why cant U teach me 2 read? is a vivid, stirring, passionately told story of three students who fought for the right to learn to read, and won—only to discover that their efforts to learn to read had hardly begun.

A person who cannot read cannot confidently ride a city bus, shop, take medicine, or hold a job—much less receive e-mail, follow headlines, send text messages, o
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published September 15th 2009 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 2009)
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This book was both a really interesting story about 3 students were utterly failed by the NYC school system and a not quite as interesting story about the recent reforms of the NYC system itself. There was also quite a bit of discussion about reading theory (whole language vs. phonics, etc.) which the reading teacher in me enjoyed. I would have liked more of the 3 students and less of the NYC story. It was sobering to read all the information about what NYC has tried to do in the past few years ...more
Angie Fehl
I was interested in the topic but I felt like the message got lost in the downpour of Fertig's heavy handed use of statistics. She brought them out so often, I felt the impact of what she was saying lost a little steam. After awhile it just feels like meaningless numbers. Also her dry, journalistic style of writing started to get a little dull. Yes, I realize she's a reporter, but it's like reading a 300+ page news article. I wanted to love this book because I'm such an advocate for improving li ...more
I discovered Beth Fertig's "Why cant U teach me 2 read?: Three Students and a Mayer Put Our Schools to the Test" on the new non-fiction release shelf at my local library and was instantly intrigued at the subject of this book. I was also appalled by the idea of going through a public school education and coming out of it not being able to read. I know that this happens (probably a lot more than I'm able or willing to realize), but it is just so difficult for me to wrap my mind around. I grew up ...more
This non-fiction piece follows three New York City young adults, Yamilka, Alejandro, and Antonio, as they struggle to learn the basics of reading and arithmatic. All three have some level of learning disability, and managed to reach their early 20s without being able to read. Can you imagine passing through each grade, or being shuffled from one school to another, only to reach adulthood without the crucial skill of reading? I can’t.

Through an explanation of Mayor Bloomberg’s educational overhau
University of Chicago Magazine
Beth Fertig, AM'91

From our pages (Jan–Feb/10): "In this book by NPR senior reporter Fertig, three young adults with learning disabilities challenge New York City’s public-school system in court and win settlements because they made it to high school without learning to read. Alongside the tragedy of the students’ stories—how illiteracy hinders Antonio’s ability to join the military, for example—Fertig also comments on the state of education in the No Child Left Behind era."
Chris Aylott
Partially a critique of the New York City school system, but mostly a study of three young Dominican immigrants and their efforts to learn how to read. Fertig avoids polemic and concentrates on describing the problem: learning how to read is a lot harder than most good readers think. There is a complicated mix of phoneme recognition, letter shape recognition, and visualization of concepts going on when you read even the simplest of sentences, and there are lots of ways the process can go wrong.

There is a lot going on in this book and when you are finished, you should have an exhaustive view of NYC school system reforms under Bloomberg (including a detailed accounting of their tracking system); a lot of information about learning to read and the different methods for teaching (balanced literacy, whole language, phonics, etc.); reasons why some struggle to read; and an in-depth look at 3 students and why they got to high school and could not read. The book gives you a ton of information ...more
An excellent book about what happens to the youth who "fall between the cracks" in education. I really enjoyed the stories about the students and their experiences trying to learn how to read/write after their high school years. Definitely a wake-up call to those who think that anyone can learn to read if they just applied themselves; it's not always so simple. The part about Mayor Bloomberg's project was also interesting; especially if you're curious about the size of the NYC public school syst ...more
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Sean Hopkins
I learned that students often get lost in the large bureacracies of school districts. It is easier for a teacher to allow a student to continue to the next grade instead of trying to solve the problem. This does not mean that teachers should be blamed entirely for the problem since many teachers have to teach to a large number of students. The stories of Yamilka, Alejandro and Antonio are heartbraking since they lacked the basic skills to survive in a modern society.
Interesting reporting of three students who sue NYC for not learning to read through public education. Brings up the question who is to blame: teachers, families, the school system itself. Lots of good history of public education and interesting coverage of the Bloomberg/Joel Klein era. Fertig remains impartial and unbiased. I was actually hoping for more of her opinion.
This book was a good overview of what's going on with federal, state, and city oversight of schools. It's written by an outsider, so some of the details are wrong or misinterpreted, (based on my own insider knowledge/experience).

There's a whole chapter here about my school, which I think isn't great. It's fairly complimentary, but not very nuanced.
Very enlightening into some specific problems that make learning to read so difficult for some people. Eye-opening. Tragic, yet hopeful. The information may be helpful in figuring out new strategies for my preschoolers who struggle with the alphabet, and even recognizing their own names. Glad I read it.

This book is one of the best I've read about the schools, because it at least attempts to cover the various sides of the story - students, teachers, parents, politician. The book follows the stories of certain people, which pulls you in much better than pages of stats and opinions.
I just learned that in NYC classrooms when teachers gather kids "on the rug," the rug is filthy and causes allergic reactions. Ewww.

Don't take the fact that you are reading this right now for granted. Reading is a big deal; lots of people can't do it.
Very interesting look at the nyc school system and Bloomberg's reforms. It's a tough subject, and parts were too technical for a non-teacher, but still worth reading. Now I just have to find someone else who will read it and discuss it with me.
Susannah Skyer Gupta
Excellent lay introduction to many issues surrounding reading remediation juxtaposed with the story of NYC/Bloomberg's adoption of a MAP-esque testing database across the city. Plenty to follow up on here.
Susy Gage
I loved this non-fictional exploration of schools and children who fall through the cracks.
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