The Red Carpet Study


As occasionally happens, in the course of looking for something else, I came upon this fascinating study from the Research Foundation at The Ohio State University published in 1969:

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The study was published under a contract from the Office of Education, Bureau of Research, U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.  It is available online in PDF format or in a flip chart format.  Although a single author appears on the work, Charles B. Huelsman, Jr., Ph.D., I refer to it as the Red Carpet Study because of the celebrated optometrists who participated in it – a veritable “Who’s Who” in the field of children’s vision and vision training in the heydays of the 1960s.  They included a central committee of consultants consisting of Drs. Lois Bing, Nathan Flax, Harold Friedenberg, Paul Lewis, Henry Quick, H. Ward Ewalt, Daniel Woolf, Alfred Rosenbloom, and Leo Manas.

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Optometrists involved in vision analyses and vision training of subjects in the study included Drs. Morton Davis, Ben Lane, Jerome Rosner, and Baxter Swartwout.  Others who are listed as assisting in various degrees included Drs. Ira Bernstein, Stan Evans, Amiel Francke, Harold Friedman, G.N. Getman, Robert Kraskin, Seymour Lesser, Larry Macdonald, Leslie Mintz, Mario Pallotta, The Saltysiak Brothers, Russell Sinoway, Harry Wachs, Myron Weinstein, and Harold Wiener.

Although a summary in the limited space here cannot do the document justice, its conclusion is worded in a very interesting fashion:  “Vision is a complicated activity; perception is a complicated activity; reading is a complicated activity; learning to read (and teaching it) is a complicated activity; vision training (both learning it and teaching it) is a complicated activity. No simple answer regarding interrelationships among these five is possible today other than that some children (and adults apparently) are being helped through vision training to see and to learn. These children are screened by knowledgeable optometrists to eliminate those who cannot learn and are further screened by the elimination of those unwilling to invest time and energy in the effort to learn.”

Now consider the last comment in the document, written nearly 50 years ago, particularly in light of a blog that I wrote in 2012 about a legislative initiative passed in New Jersey but never implemented due to pressure from organized ophthalmology and education:

“We have reserved for last a comment regarding attitudes toward research that were encountered within the structure of public education. It seemed to us only logical that all school personnel from classroom teachers to members of the various boards of education would be willing and anxious to cooperate in the serach for truth and knowledge. Unfortunately, many educators are willing to cooperate only (a) if the school can be shown to be in an advantageous position, (b) if established routines are not disturbed, (c) if it doesn’t cost anything, (d) if not even one parent questions the project, (e) if ophthalmology or other pressure groups do not object, or (f) if the research could be redesigned to meet personal biases. Fortunately, there are educators who do agree that the unbiased collection of valid evidence is vital to research which in turn provides direction for the development of education. Each of us must present this point of view as often and as convincingly as possible so that increasingly more educators will become willing to participate in research.”

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