Wednesday, June 25, 2014

What is the Southern Voice?

My son and then fiancé Brittany on the steps of my grandparents home, Wakefield

What is the Southern voice?

Kathy Holtzfel (Cate Noble) and I spoke together recently when the topic of the Southern voice came up. Kathy read Creme de Cassis and Murder, the first novel in my Mint Juleps series. In reading the novel she commented that she quickly came to the conclusion that she did NOT have a southern voice implying that I did. So, I asked her, what makes a southern voice? 

It is hard to define, she answered, it's just something when you read it you recognize it.

She then did an internet search and added the information below that she found in the Goodreads discussion:

One of those participating in the discussion mentioned Dr. O. B. Emerson who taught English at the University of Alabama from 1946 to 1986. I took a course under him as did my husband, upon whom he had the greatest influence. Dr. Emerson was a great man and one of the best professors either of us had the privilege of studying under. 

When Kathy presented me with Dr. Emerson's criteria for what is involved in defining the Southern voice,I sat up and paid attention.  

Family, especially lineage and genealogy.
Time, especially the influence of the past on the present.
Place, as it relates to the connection of the people to the land. He specifically included the influence of the Fugitive Poets and the Agrarians here.
Dialect or Dialog--a distinct idiom or patois unique to the setting.
Social Status or the lack of it.
The Lost Cause--the fact that the South became an occupied nation and lived through a period of reconstruction.
Humor--beginning with what was considered Southwestern Humor. By that is not meant Texas, but at the time was considered Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.
Race--embracing the dark history of slavery and the burden of guilt carried by white southerners. The changing relationships between black and white Americans."

I must admit to being comforted by the fact that these characteristics do comprise everything I write and I can proudly claim to being a writer with a southern voice. One of the reasons I have decided to self-publish my novels is that it seems to me that editors who edited the original novel tried to make it palatable to the mass market and in the process edited much of that voice out of the manuscript. We southerners are a unique breed. Our customs and mannerisms seem strange to those who come to the South from another part of the country. Dr. Emerson pointed out in his courses that we have a unique heritage with roots that run deep in our collective psyche. 

We are who we are. And proud of it.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Revolutionary Pedagogy: Or, so you thought reading, writing and calculating were why you sent your child to school?

Perhaps you think you send your child to school to learn to read, write and calculate. Think again.

The seeds of Common Core Curriculum have grown and flourished since they were sown in  Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. Then Jimmy Carter  established the Department of Education and empowered an elite group bent on radical social change in America. Since then the edicts of those entities pretty much reflect the philosophies of Leftist revolutionaries who label themselves Progressives. Among their number is Paolo Freire, defrocked Jesuit priest, who led a movement called liberation pedagogy.  With their control of education academic excellence takes a back seat and patriotism is a dirty word. ( and on UTube)
"There is no such thing as a neutral education process. Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate the integration of generations into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity to it, or it becomes the 'practice of freedom', the means by which men and women deal critically with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world."
—Richard Shaull, drawing on Paulo Freire[7]

One need only read the Whole Language Catalog by Ken and Yetta Goodman and Human Capital edited by David Hornbeck to understand that what the Progressives want is a total restructuring of society -- and they are well on their way of achieving it.

Rich Gibson, Associate Professor of Education at San Diego State University writes in Paulo Freire and Revolutionary Pedagogy For Social Justice: 

"Could Freire's literacy for critical consciousness answer questions like: what must people know and, equally significant, how they must come to know it, in order to overcome exploitation and alienation? Can human creativity be unleashed in an increasingly undemocratic world? Can consciousness leap past exploitation--or repression? How do we spot lies? Can revolutionary pedagogy foment revolutionary social change, incorporating forms of consciousness that can also overturn the rise of new bosses, so we do not become what we set out to oppose? What might pedagogy have to do with overturning the subject-object split, the habitual subservience created both by capital and revolutionary organizations, that both Harvey and Freire, and the late George Lukacs, all said was central?
The rich are not forever, and will the crown last to every generation?
Proverbs 27:24

Freire insists, repeatedly, that no system of education is neutral. Bias is inherent in any selection and ordering of facts, the common project of social educators. One's understanding of how the democratic possibilities of citizenship might be achieved depends on a partisan assessment of current conditions, and where one wants to go: a political standpoint. Any appraisal of the prospects of democratic education through literacy, a literacy that reads both the word and the world, must be start from an articulated standpoint, on expressed terrain. Just what is the current situation? What should be done about it?" (

Having already written about my concerns regarding the change in Mathematics education, I found this statement in Wikipedia regarding Freire particularly interesting:

"Freire's work has also influenced the so-called "radical math" movement in the United States, which emphasizes social justice issues and critical pedagogy as components of mathematical curricula." 

Why did Jay Leno's Jay Walking segment ring true to all of us? Why are our children 34th in the world in Math when we once led the world in Math and Science and got our astronauts to the moon? Why do 60% of first time entering freshmen to our community colleges have to take remedial Reading and Math? 

Once a group of women approached a beautiful stream. One cried out, "Look!" There, caught in the current were children struggling. One woman grabbed another's hand and said, "Quickly, let's form a human chain and pull them from the current!" One by one they pulled children from the turbulent waters. But still they came. At last one woman broke away and headed upstream. The other women cried out, "Where are you going?" "There are children to be saved!" The woman responded, "I'm going to find out who is throwing them in."

Other articles you might want to read:

I did not know the hornets nest I was about to enter when I decided to become a teacher. I wish I could become a part of the circle the wagon mentality of fellow teachers. I want to join those who never question and blindly "support our schools." Naively, I really thought schools were to teach children to read, write and calculate. I thought cultural literacy meant honoring the traditions that have made our country great.

Apparently others have a different idea.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Advice on Southern Sisters Series or should it be Partying on the Plantation Series?

Advice on Southern Sisters Series or should it be Partying on the Plantation Series?

Your opinion requested!!! I need your help.

I have written a series of books based on two Southern sisters who to the untrained eye might possibly resemble my sister, Sylvia, and me. This series began as a short story inspired by my garden club. Our then president, I think it was Martha Nix, though it could have been Gayle McLeod Parsons or Abby Margolies, asked our group what they wanted to learn about in our programs. The usual answers came around until Mary Ann Earnest spoke up and said, "I want to know how to meet a man while gardening!" We all laughed. But her comment "took seed" so to speak and I wrote the short story, "The Man in a Muddle in the Middle of the Mums" with his Johnny Cash voice (that drew her closer), his Richard Gere buns (girls will be girls and do notice), and Mel Gibson eyes (almost as good as Paul Newman). Since I was in charge of the program on wildflowers, it fit right in! Other organizations asked for me to read it as well.

One day I was stopped at the intersection of the street on which I live and have traveled nearly every day of my life since I grew up just three blocks from where I now live in Dothan. I recalled the day the FedEx truck ran a stop light at that very spot and nearly hit Joe (my husband of then 35 years and me. Fortunately, he was distracted by another car and was not sitting on ready when the light turned green.  My mind began meandering and I thought to myself, what would I do if something happened to Joe? Immediately the thought popped into my mind, my sister Sylvia and I would live together. Of course, she's married to Tom and that could be a problem. So, the writer in me put the two incidents and short story together and suddenly in my imaginary world two sisters, much like us, get together in widowhood suddenly rudderless without the men who have dominated their lives and try to create a new life.

So, we have TWO SISTERS, Dabney Palmer Rankin and Dr. Sophia Palmer Ransom  (similar to Ann George's Southern Sisters) involved in MYSTERIES (like Murder She Wrote) only on a plantation (WAVERLY) in PALMER, COX COUNTY, ALABAMA, where using their grandfather's plantation as a gimmick they convince a bunch of tipsy Yankees in New Orleans looking for new shows to let them host a show on the DISHING IT NETWORK (amazingly similar to the food network) only THEY CANNOT COOK!!!!! Somehow awkward, fluffy Dabney Palmer Rankin acquires a bevy of beaus ...and an arch enemy, a serial killer.  She constantly finds her life in danger (kind of like the road runner and Wylie Coyote). In addition to all of this the two sisters discover the confusion of heing and sheing in the boomer years and the wonder of the bonds of friendship one acquires along the way. Oh, yes, in addition to everything else, Dabney Palmer Rankin discovers that the accident has triggered genetic memories where the past intrudes into the future. But, being considered crazy to begin with, this isn't something she is inclined to share.

Now, where do you come in? I have decided that with the book business the way it is, I am going to go through Createspace to publish these novels. Book 1 will be Creme de Cassis and Murder, Book 2 is Mint Juleps and Murder and Book 3 is Mayans, Muscadines and Murder. Eventually there will be a cookbook.

So my questions are:

1. What should I title the series?

Ann George has passed away and the series name SOUTHERN SISTERS is available. Or should I call it SOUTHERN BOOMER SISTERS? Or the PARTYING ON THE PLANTATION series? In marketing the books, which would catch the eye of the reader (consider yourself the target audience). The title in these situations would read Creme de Cassis and Murder: A Southern Sisters Mystery or Creme de Cassis and Murder: Book I of Partying on the Plantation or Creme de Cassis and Murder: A Southern Boomer Sisters novel.

2. Then comes pricing. What do you think is an enticing price for an e-book? In order to get the 70 percent royalty option, e books must satisfy the following set of requirements: The author or publisher-supplied list price must be between $2.99 and $9.99.

For a 184 page black and white book, you set your USD list price at $8.99. A customer purchases your book on and a book is printed to fulfill that order.
Sales Channel % = $3.60
Fixed Charge = $0.85
Per Page Charge = $2.20
Your Royalty = $2.34

3. In publishing through Create Space you can have an ISBN number that lists Create Space as the publisher, or you can set up your own publishing entity. I am thinking of forming a publishing entity, Southern Boomer Books, and purchasing a group of ISBN numbers. Does it matter to the purchaser of the novel if the novel is published by Createspace or a traditional publisher? (In other words would a different publisher name entice you into purchasing the novel?)

4. Would any of you, my writer friends, be interested in participating with  me in publishing under the Southern Boomer Book aegis. If so, message me and we can discuss this. (I think Deb Smith did this with Belle Books, but her leading ladies are much younger.)

Thanks for reading this far. And thanks ahead of time for any input you can share. I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Math Wars: Once Again Into the Fray

Math Wars: Once Again Into the Fray

 Having a granddaughter in the fifth grade has brought the Math Wars home to roost. Our three children learned Math in an ABEKA curriculum using Saxon Math. All three scored off the charts on standardized tests in Math and have gone on to careers where that proficiency was important (Engineering, Marketing, and Business).

I earned my degree in education in 1972 at a time of revolution in education. A world shift in education came about at that time to manipulate children for social engineering purposes de-emphasizing individualism and competition toward team/group learning and peer tutoring. (Read the Whole Language Catalog by Ken and Yetta Goodman) Individual excellence was headed for the chopping block.  In the early 1990s, I ran for the Dothan City School Board twice with a Back to Basics agenda. I thought the fact that 60% of first time entering freshmen at the local community college being required to take remedial Math and English was a pretty telling indictment against OBE/Whole Language/Progressive Education agenda of the prevailing education establishment. Others thought that was important as well and we had lively discussions on the Ramsey/Moore Report, a talk show I co-hosted on a conservative radio station. The campaign against me was pretty much directed from the system's central office. They won. 

Before the Dothan City School Board paid someone to rewrite the Board bylaws, the bylaws stated that learning would be "sequential." That is important to note because the shift in the late 60s was to Progressive educators' preferred method of having learning be inferential and thematic. With the centralization of education in the Department of Education the words "drill and repetition" became dirty words not to be repeated in polite education society unless you wanted to be labeled an educational "flat earther." The Elementary and Secondary Education Act created the environment for Progressive educators to practice their experiments on America's school children under the guise of leveling the playing field for all children. Then in 1979 President Jimmy Carter established the Department of Education and local control of education became a thing of the past. Though we did not officially have a national curriculum, professional educators with a progressive agenda more focused on social engineering than academic excellence distributed funds for participation in special programs. Local boards got addicted to the funding and found themselves bound, gagged and disenfranchised by those dollars.

Twenty years later the disturbing numbers of those needing remediation have not improved but those administrators of the early 90s did go on to bigger and better jobs, salaries and lucrative retirement. I must admit to being shocked that something so basic as teaching children to read and do math was now political!

I threw my hands in the air, retreated to my garden and genealogy and started writing books. 

Then my smart, sweet, precocious fifth grade granddaughter who lives in Panama City started dreading Math. Though she reads several grades above her grade level (we made sure she got a phonics based education early on) the new, new Math gave her problems. When my daughter (her mother) and I began asking for the reason for the shift from traditional Math to this new Math (InVision by Pearson) we were informed that the answer to a problem was not so important as the thinking process. Ergo, the need for a new direction in Math education. Several steps had been added to the process and that made no sense to my daughter, her husband, her grandfather or me. My daughter, an electrical engineer, could not help her. Thus far we have not been able to get anyone to answer how we got to the moon with traditional mathematics instruction and plummeted to 34th in Math when we gave over Math instruction to this new batch of professors in colleges of education and their colleagues in curriculum and technology sales. 

When I first called the Dothan City Schools in the early 90s for information on curriculum (the ABEKA Christian School our children had been attending did not at that time go past the 8th grade), the Director of Instruction asked me, "Who are you? Just a parent?" This time my answer would be 
"I am not 'just a parent,' I am also the grandmother of five VIPs including four still 3 and under who will be in Dothan City Schools and Bay District Schools eventually. That makes me a very important person... to them at least. Plus, I have two degrees in education and experience dealing with administrators using our children as guinea pigs for fads. So, once more I am jumping into the fray.

I spoke to the principal of the school she attends who told me no one else had spoken to him about having problems with the new Math program. Yet, my daughter had already emailed him with her concerns, an email to which he did respond. A congenial, affable man, he promised to look into it. In the meantime, our daughter has hired a tutor, but the method still seems laborious. Our granddaughter is still having problems and I have not heard again from the principal. 

We have been told that if she scores well on the FCAT and gets admitted to the Advanced Placement program, she will get out of Pearson EnVision Math and will then take Singapore Math. But, from what I read, placement tests tell parents/teachers on what level a student performs and not having been exposed to this program may present other problems. One parent wrote, "Singapore Math is  sequential and doesn’t re-teach concepts or skills, using the program may set these students up for failure, whether they’re moving into a district using it or out of district using it." 

Read this blog post and perhaps you can understand our confusion with EnVision:
That child is beginning the program in the first grade. Imagine how confused our granddaughter is!

How much do you suppose all of these bells and whistles cost the school system? Watch this video and see the technology needed. Check out the "computer learning" assists at

In the New York Times article, October 8, 2011, "GRADING THE DIGITAL SCHOOL
"Inflating the Software Report Card," Trip Gabriel and Matt Richtel write: "School officials, confronted with a morass of complicated and sometimes conflicting research, often buy products based on personal impressions, marketing hype or faith in technology for its own sake."

“They want the shiny new one,” said Peter Cohen, chief executive of Pearson School, a leading publisher of classroom texts and software (including InVision). “They always want the latest, when other things have been proven the longest and demonstrated to get results.”
Twenty years ago when I pointed out according to studies conducted by Dr. Robert Slavin, the Computer Assisted Instruction program Writing To Read was totally ineffective, I was told they couldn't stop now because they had too much invested.  And now, Dothan City Schools has bought into Carnegie Learning. The New York Times addressed this program directly: IS A MUST READ FOR DOTHAN CITY SCHOOL PARENTS.
Billions of education dollars spent and the result ... “there are no longitudinal, randomized trials linking eLearning to positive learning outcomes.” (Intel in a Web Document) “Decisions are made on marketing, on politics, on personal preference,” said Robert A. Slavin, director of the Center for Research and Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University. “An intelligent, caring principal who’d never buy a car without looking at Consumer Reports, when they plunk down serious money to buy a curriculum, they don’t even look at the evidence.”

Since I wrote this I have found out much more about how Math education became politicized. I recommend you read my more recent articles on Paulo Freire, the Whole Language Catalog (excerpts that explain the philosophy behind Progressive Education that dominates public schools) and also visit the website on Radical Math

See also Connie Schrock (president of NCSM) on Tucker Carlson's show
Is math 'unjust and grounded in discrimination'?

I was not in tune to COMMON CORE when I wrote this. I am now!











 Has Profit Turned Newspapers into Hired Hacks? CULTURE WAR AND COMMON CORE