Update: Bob Sweet was a founding member of the International Foundation for Effective Reading Instruction. Very sadly, Bob died on 17th July 2019. In doing so, not only did he leave his wonderful wife, Joy, and a family of several generations broken-hearted, he left us all broken-hearted. Some people describe that Bob did more than anyone to champion evidence-informed reading instruction. His tireless contribution ranged from achieving significant legislation in America to recognising the work of exceptional teachers, to supporting individuals across the world in their pioneering efforts. He continued this support and friendship throughout his ill-health and until he left us. Bob was a unifying and active founding member of the International Foundation for Effective Reading Instruction. He alerted his wide network of associates about the IFERI aspirations and it is thanks to Bob that we have such an acclaimed international Advisory Group. All of us at the International Foundation for Effective Reading Instruction, and many others who knew Bob, wish Joy and family our condolences and warmest best wishes.
As Founder and President of The National Right to Read Foundation from 1993 until the present, Bob testified before Congress, state legislative education committees, local school boards, and parent groups promoting reading instructional programs based on valid, empirical, scientific evidence.
As a teacher, textbook salesman and consultant for two major publishing companies, McGraw Hill and Holt, Rinehart and Wilson for nearly 20 years, he provided teacher training in reading and math, and visited thousands of classrooms all across New England. He served as a member of the Board of Education in his local community for six years and advised the New Hampshire Governor and State Board of Education Chairman on education policy.
During his more than 20 years of federal service he wrote legislation that has been implemented at both the state and federal level, and he initiated or assisted in the preparation and/or distribution of some of the most significant reports on reading instruction in the United States: Becoming a Nation of Readers, Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning About Print, The Report of the National Reading Panel, Reading First, Early Reading First, Bilingual Education, Special Education, The Institute for Education Sciences Act, The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, Retarding America The Imprisonment of Potential, and, The National Adult Literacy Survey.
Bob traveled extensively across the United States and visited many elementary schools to observe classroom instruction in reading that exemplified evidence informed instruction. From 1994 through 2014 The National Right to Read Foundation has recognized a “Teacher of the Year” who exhibited the most evidence-informed practices in teaching all students to read proficiently. It was Bob’s objective and mission to provide the opportunity for ALL students to learn to read proficiently, no matter what their age, ethnicity, or economic status. He was unwavering in his commitment to the use of direct, systematic, and intensive teaching of the five components of reading instruction that decades of scientific research have proven to work: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary development, fluency, and comprehension. The National Right to Read Foundation is dedicated to these objectives with just as much passion and commitment as when it was founded more than 20 years ago.