The pandemic has exacerbated the reading crisis in schools

States like Mississippi, Alabama, and Massachusetts have begun retraining teachers in phonetics and retiring outdated curricula. However, some efforts have been interrupted or slowed down by the pandemic.

At Capital Prep, Mrs. John’s students have made great progress since September. It serves as a role model for colleagues and the school offers professional development. Nonetheless, in February there were seven vacancies out of 23 at the school, with some students being taught by inexperienced substitutes. Steve Perry, the founder of the Capital Prep charter school network, which has schools in Connecticut and New York, recently made a trip to Puerto Rico to recruit educators.

dr Hogan, the Boston researcher, has received a federal grant to provide intensive, small-group tutoring to children in high-poverty schools who are lagging behind in early reading skills. She, too, is struggling to fill vacancies, even though pay has risen from $15 to $40 an hour.

“I run on fumes,” she said.

It doesn’t help that the demand for private reading and speech therapy for children from wealthy families is soaring. Fees can be as high as $200 per hour, allowing some educators to leave the classroom entirely.

Tamara Cella, a phonics specialist who earned her PhD from Johns Hopkins University, left the New York City public school system in 2016, frustrated by the stress of the principal change. In addition to a job at a private school in New Jersey, she now works as a phonetic tutor at Brooklyn Letters, a company that offers home sessions.

“Tutoring pays off very well,” confirmed Dr. Cella.

She teaches children who face some of the same challenges as those at Capital Prep—a lack of basic phonics and difficulty transitioning from simple reading practice to book comprehension. But dr Cella is more worried about the students she no longer sees.

“This guilt comes over me,” she said. “What about the kids in the Bronx?” The pandemic has exacerbated the reading crisis in schools

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