In recent years, a wave of science of reading (SOR) reforms have swept across the nation. Although advocates argue that these are based on science-based research, SOR remains a contested and ambiguous notion. In this essay, Elena Aydarova uses an anthropology of policy approach to analyze advocacy efforts that promoted SOR reforms and legislative deliberations in Tennessee. Drawing on Barthes’s theory of mythology, this analysis sheds light on the semiotic chains that link SOR with tradition, knowledge-build ingcurricula, and the scaling down of social safety nets. This deciphering of SOR mythologies under scores how the focus on “science” distorts the intentions of these myths to naturalize socioeconomic inequality and depoliticize social conditions of precarity. This study problematizes the claims made by SOR advocates and sheds light on the ways these reforms are likely to reproduce, rather than disrupt, inequities and injustices.

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