What's interesting about this article is that this is not the first time Ms. Calkin's theories have been questioned. In fact, when I used two of her text books while earning my degree in Elementary Education between 1990-1994, the "whole language" movement was in full swing. I did not go to Teacher's College, but I went to a well-established school for teaches in Upstate New York called Russell Sage College. Lucy Calkins was indeed considered the leader in this area at that time.
In California, however, when the "new" school standards were implemented in 1997-1998, phonics became a focus and "whole language" teaching methods were questioned. Although, I am sure some of these methods persisted. They were again questioned in 2011 with the roll-out of the Common Core Standards, and phonics instruction was woven into the then-current reading programs and texts -- though, there was also parallel focus on "balanced reading," I assume because the education community (and the publishing houses) were tied to it, I have to imagine.
As I visited classrooms in the the SMFCSD during 2013-2017, there were Calkins "writing workshop" lessons and mentoring being implemented, there was a focus on balanced reading... and there were phonics. Also, to be clear, when I taught in the mid-90's, my lessons (within the whole language scheme) included phonics. I am not sure it was, or could be, extracted from lessons.
So, the questions are: Can phonics and balanced literacy co-exist? Can some children learn to read without direct phonics instruction? Perhaps. Is a delay in phonics instruction a best practice? Likely not.
Children's love of literature, word decoding skills, and reading comprehension is a multi-faceted process -- and while this article certainly shows a change of course for Ms. Calkins, I do believe that phonics have never been omitted entirely, but their emphasis as the most-important component of reading as varied over the years. This article - and Lucy Calkins' position on the matter - may once and for all settle the fact that phonics should come first, but given the nature of education publishing houses - and the vast amounts of money to be made from "selling" teaching strategies, I am not entirely certain that this is the final word.