First, there is a basic misunderstanding of the term balanced literacy. According to Alexander Nazaryan, he understood balanced literacy to be independent reading and writing with no instruction. Moreover, he points to Lucy Calkins as the architect of this approach. He also mentions that there are studies showing her approach is wrong, and kids do better with E.D. Hirsch's Core Knowledge Foundation.
So, what is wrong here?
1. Balanced literacy is not limited to FRV (free voluntary reading) and writing without instruction. Balanced literacy is much more. This was the same attack used with whole language back a couple of decades ago before the National Reading Panel declared there were pillars of reading instruction and using authentic texts, reading aloud, choice, etc. were almost excluded from their recommendations.
2. The research cited in the article is flawed. So what else is new? Let's go ahead and dismiss balanced literacy based on research that really does not look at each approach fully.
There is more here as the writer almost has an audible sneer as evidenced by phrases like this: "I take umbrage at the notion that muscular teaching is joyless." Muscular teaching as opposed to feeble teaching? Like we see in balanced literacy? Or this: "The fatal flaw of balanced literacy is that it is least able to help students who most need it. It plays well in brownstone Brooklyn, where children have enrichment coming out of their noses, and may be more “ready” for balanced literacy than children without such advantages." As if balanced literacy is only for the elite while poor kids need more muscular teaching?
The motto of the NYT is "all the news that's fit to print." Perhaps the motto of the op-ed pages need to be "all the opinions not supported by facts?"