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Whole Word (known by at least a dozen different names) is this country's favorite black magic, voodoo, hocus-pocus, three card monte, Ponzi scheme, et al. No research has ever proved that it's the correct way to teach reading.
I visited the National Right to Read Foundation website and found this quote: "Not one empirical scientific research study on reading instruction over more than a century has concluded that memorizing words is the best or most effective way to learn to read English."
Robert Sweet, the director of NRRF, explains why we remain in a twilight zone: "According to the Teacher Prep Report from the National Council on Education Quality (2013), colleges of education are woefully deficient in the preparation of prospective teachers on how to teach children to read. Thus, new teachers are influenced by those who have been using harmful instructional practices for a generation or more, and are saddled with textbooks adopted by school administrators who willfully and knowingly spend billions of dollars each year on failed instructional materials that perpetuate illiteracy rather then cure it."
We can easily break this cycle if everyone in education would take ten minutes to understand reading and phonics. This NRRF article is a good place to start: A Time for Action.