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NC Reading Bill Gets Unanimous Senate OK, Moves To House


The North Carolina Senate approved a new approach to elementary school reading Wednesday on a 48-0 bipartisan vote.

The reading bill, which was filed Monday, mandates a phonics-based approach labeled “the science of reading.”

The bill also went to the House Education Committee, which gave its blessing.

Rep. Graig Meyer, a Hillsborough Democrat, noted that there’s a longstanding split over the best way to teach reading. He asked Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger to explain.

"You’re wading into a decades-long war on reading instruction and you’re coming down hard on one side of it," Meyer said. "Can you explain why you think that the right thing is for us to take this one-sided stance?"

Berger, a Republican who’s leading the push for the bill, said the consensus of experts and North Carolina education leaders — including the state Board of Education — supports his approach.

"It’s not just my opinion," he said. "It is the opinion of many other folks in the field, and our state board and our superintendent of public instruction are aligned on this being the right approach."

State Rep. John Torbett of Gaston County, who co-chairs the House Education Committee, said he hopes to get House approval of the reading bill by spring break.

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Ann Doss Helms has covered education in the Charlotte area for over 20 years, first at The Charlotte Observer and then at WFAE. Reach her at ahelms@wfae.org or 704-926-3859.