There's no doubt about the route English took to its orthography; the roots are clear.
One reason why I cannot spell,
Although I learned the rules quite well
Is that some words like 'coup' and 'through'
Sound just like 'threw' and 'flue' and 'who';
When 'oo' is never spelled the same,
The 'juice' becomes a guessing game;
And then I ponder over 'though',
Is it spelled 'so', or 'throw', or 'bow',
I mean the 'bow' that sounds like 'plow',
And not the 'bow' that sounds like 'row' -
The 'row' that is pronounced like 'roe'.
I wonder, too, why 'rough' and 'tough',
That sound the same as 'gruff' and 'muff',
Are spelled like 'bough' and 'though',
for they are both pronounced a different way.
And why can't I spell 'trough' and 'cough'
The same as I do 'scoff' and 'golf'?
Via Boing Boing
But Louisa Cook Moats has some help for teachers (and older students--the Speech to Print textbook and workbook would be suitable for sophisticated high school students).
Louisa Cook Moats published the The Missing Foundation in Teacher Education in 1995,
This article will offer some evidence that graduate level teachers are typically undereducated for the very demanding task of teaching reading and spelling explicitly. It will document and give examples of common gaps in teachers' knowledge and awareness of language structure along with reasons those gaps may exist. Further, the importance of specific linguistic knowledge for instruction will be illustrated. Finally, the article argues that policy changes are needed to improve the preparation and performance of literacy educators.
It is still missing, although Dr. Moats has published
From the introduction:
Why study language? Because learning the basics of language helps you understand your students' needs and to teach reading, spelling, and writing explicitly and systematically. In this thorough and well-written book, you'll
- understand the organization of written and spoken English
- discover the connection between language structure and how individuals learn to read
- find helpful chapter exercises and self-tests to ensure you master the language skills presented
- get examples of students' writing to help you interpret children's mistakes
- encounter sample lesson plans and adaptations that apply the concepts of language you are learning
All of this will enable you to recognize, understand, and solve the problems individuals with or without disabilities may encounter when learning to read and write.
In 1996, Louisa Cook Moates gave a speech at the Washington summit conference on Learning Disabilities hosted by The National Center for Learning Disabilities, entitled:
The fields of reading and learning disabilities have suffered from the absence of a canon, or body of truths that are known and practiced by those in the field.3 Because it is an ungrounded discipline, instruction in reading and writing invites extreme points of view, overly defended practices, simplistic arguments, and political squabbling. Witness the May 13  issue of Newsweek in which Ken Goodman calls phonics proponents "right-wingers." The point that is missed in such feuding is that research provides a map for instruction that is more than a compromise between Phonics and Whole Language. Research can now guide many dimensions of spoken and written language teaching, dimensions that are interdependent, each requiring explicit and systematic attention from a teacher who understands the relationship of the parts to the whole.4 However, as the inquiring science reporter had surmised, to communicate these ideas to educators and lay persons alike seems to be a challenging task we have not yet accomplished very well.