NPR's John Burnett reports that in Texas the use of phonics to teach reading has become a favorite issue for conservative politicians. Two years ago, Republican Governor George Bush made phonics the foundation of his `Reading Initiative.' Today various candidates for public office are using the phonics issue as part of a `back to basics' approach to education. Some advocates of the phonics technique caution that it's not a panacea, and express concern that Christian fundamentalists are using it as a codeword for unfairly criticizing other aspects of public education.



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