They don't have to control what you read if they control HOW you read (or don't, in the optimal case).
Another step along that path was taken today, when the producers of "Reading Rainbow," an honored and long-lasting childrens' tv show which promoted reading for its own sake, for entertainment, and for fun, announced they were being forced to cancel the show for lack of funding. Think Progress has a piece up today describing the situation, with an episode:
Decision to end ‘Reading Rainbow’ traced to a ‘shift’ in priorities during the Bush administration.Love a book? Love literature? That's Fahrenheit 451-territory. Subversive, anti-authoritarianism. Obviously, that kind of seditious behavior cannot be practiced under the imprimatur of the State.
“Reading Rainbow,” of the most beloved and long-running children’s education shows, is airings its last episode today. The show, hosted by actor LeVar Burton, started in 1983. John Grant, who is in charge of programming at Reading Rainbow’s home station, explains that part of the reason the show is ending is because no one — including PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) — wants to continue funding it. The other reason can be traced back to a “shift” in priorities during the Bush administration:
Grant says the funding crunch is partially to blame, but the decision to end Reading Rainbow can also be traced to a shift in the philosophy of educational television programming. The change started with the Department of Education under the Bush administration, he explains, which wanted to see a much heavier focus on the basic tools of reading — like phonics and spelling.
Grant says that PBS, CPB and the Department of Education put significant funding toward programming that would teach kids how to read — but that’s not what Reading Rainbow was trying to do.
“Reading Rainbow taught kids why to read,” Grant says. “You know, the love of reading — [the show] encouraged kids to pick up a book and to read.”
"The Bush DoE...wanted to see a much heavier focus on the basic tools of reading — like phonics and spelling."That's not even correct. Phonics and spelling are not the basic tools of reading. They are the basic tools of CONTROLLING reading, of SCORING reading, of ROBBING reading of meaning and usefulness, and rendering it an odious chore...
The reason that "what" books one reads in school matters is that the fundamental national curriculum discourse basically assumes those books will be the only books students will EVER read.
There's a woman named Susan Ohanian who blogs relentlessly on this subject. I taught her books when I was professing reading pedagogy a decade and more ago, and I seldom saw and do not in any case recall anyone with a better grasp of the issues and arts of reading and teaching it effectively. Sign up for her daily newsletter/link page.