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How did reading become a political battlefield in the U.S.?

An 11-year-old boy reads a Dr. Seuss book during an after-school literacy program in Atlanta.
Alex Slitz
Michael Crowder, 11, reads during an after-school literacy program in Atlanta on Thursday, April 6, 2023.

In 2021, Connecticut passed a law mandating school districts to have curricula focused on quote "the science of reading." That refers to research-backed approaches to literacy like phonics.

Initially, all 200 school districts had until July 1 of this year to implement an approved “science of reading” program. That deadline is now July 1, 2025. But not all school districts are happy about this.

So, why is “the science of reading” facing so much pushback? This hour, we’ll break down the past and present of the so-called “reading wars” in Connecticut and beyond.


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Frankie Graziano’s career in broadcast journalism continues to evolve.
Meg Dalton is the deputy director of storytelling for Connecticut Public. She previously worked for The Takeaway from WNYC, in collaboration with GBH and PRX, and Mobituaries with Mo Rocca. She's also reported and edited for the Columbia Journalism Review, PBS NewsHour, Slate, MediaShift, Hearst Connecticut newspapers, and more. Her audio work has appeared on ‎WNYC, WSHU, Marketplace, WBAI, and NPR. She earned her master's degree from Columbia Journalism School in 2017, where she specialized in audio storytelling and narrative writing, and has taught audio storytelling at Columbia Journalism School, UnionDocs, and public libraries.