Longtime Educator Creates Phonics Program Teaching Kids To Read In 40 Hours

A Black educator is making learning to read as easy as counting to three for Black students in America.

Rosa Higgs, a Black educator with more than 50 years of experience, created the Phonics workbook series Read in 40 to teach Black students to read at or above grade level. The program teaches students to read in 40 hours, Black News reported, with Higgs explaining, “Everyone that I teach learns to read above grade level in 40 hours or less, and that is why I chose the name.”

The educator continued, “When my kids complete Read in 40, they can read over 90% of the words in the American English Dictionary. And reading is like riding a bike.”

Higgs and her series have received a great deal of support. Actor, film director, and political activist Danny Glover said of the phonics program: “The Read in 40 workbooks will surely jostle the foundation of education and cognitive sciences. They’re an educational triumph in language arts of the first order.”

Mansour-Id Deen, Berkeley president of the NAACP, awarded Higgs the Most Valuable Teacher Award for Excellence in Literacy Instruction, per Black News. “Ms. Higgs was the only volunteer educator who taught scores of students at our offices during this pandemic,” said Deen. “Each of her students learned to read beyond grade level. Transitioning from in-person to online teaching was smooth with her supplementary YouTube lessons.” Higgs’ program “produces the most outstanding reading materials with the greatest, fastest results,” he said.

Longtime educator Higgs has witnessed many changes in American education, from the “reading wars” to Ronald Reagan’s “whole language method” and George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act. In order to continue promoting literacy in the Black community, Higgs gained financial support through a grant from Donald White of Alpha Phi Alpha, Fraternity, Inc., and from former Oakland mayor Elihu Harris.