There was an article which cam out yesterday (3/9/07) in the New York Times (click the title for the link) highlighting the phonics-whole language debates.
I think that this is silly.
Children taught with a phonics approach are at an advantage when they are asked to perform tasks sch as fluency and comprehension. Additionally, phonics instruction also benefits comprehension as shown by the Comprehensive Leadership Program
As can be seen, there significant comprehension benefits to phonics instruction.
As I have made my point previously when discussing evidence based interventions for children with autism, not providing children with evidence based interventions amounts to educational neglect and some of the worst violations of social justice.
People in the article cited improvements using techniques that are not evidence based - however, their data are based on one district's one-year improvement - even after they changed their method of assessment (they changed their test).
Click here for the National Reading Panel's video entitled Teaching Children to Read. Although one may purchase it, it is available for free as a streaming download - just scroll down.