Friday, December 12, 2014

Retarding America: the Imprisonment of Potential

I am honored to be mentioned by Robert W. Sweet of the National Right to Read Foundation on his Blog. I wrote years ago about the book, Retarding America: The Imprisonment of Potential by Michael Brunner. I did not know that Bob Sweet then worked for the Administration and was the one who hired Michael Brunner to do the study on the root cause of incarceration of our youth. He found that more than single parent home, poverty, or any other element, illiteracy was the most common denominator. AND they found that systematic, direct and early phonics remediation worked best to teach those prisoners to read. 
Bob found my website recently and read the posts on my opinion page on education. He tells me that there are glimmers of hope in Reading Instruction. Chicago (the home of devastating OBE and Whole Language instruction) will now begin using Sing, Spell, Read and Write, a wonderful SIDE (systematic, intensive, direct and early) phonics program to teach reading. Pearson (the major distributor of instructional programs) is considering adding Sing Spell Read and Write to their curriculum. When I first got involved in trying to find the cause of so many of my students being unable to read Middle School textbooks, I called around the state to the systems with the highest scores in reading. Mountain Brook used Open Court and Vestavia used Sing Spell Read and Write. First Presbyterian uses Sing Spell Read and Write in Dothan (granddaughter Megan goes there). Holy Nativity in Panama City uses Sing Spell Read and Write. (Granddaughter Lily went there.) Grandsons George and Sam attend First Methodist in Panama city that uses ABEKA (a Christian system that all three of our children benefitted from). Another extremely effective phonics program is SPALDING WRITING ROAD TO READING developed by Romalda Spalding who learned under the founder of the dyslexia society Dr. Samuel Orton. Orton noticed how many children were coming to him with dyslexia as the result of the look/say method of reading instruction (later labeled whole word/ whole language). 
I hope all of you know the reading system your school (or grandchildren's school) uses. If a child cannot read proficiently by the third grade he/she is in for a tough row to hoe the rest of his life. If a teacher tells me they use an eclectic approach geared to the abilities of the individual child, I run, not walk, from that school. That type of educratese is way too sophisticated (and hit and miss) for my simple understanding of the basics my children need to succeed. Parents and citizens pay for the education of our children. They need to demand curriculum that works. Amazingly, schools with the least bells and whistles are most effective in teaching what parents actually expect of schools!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Mint Julep Mysteries Book Launch December 6, 2014

 Mint Julep Mysteries and Wakefield Plantation: Cookbook and History

The Wakefield Plantation: History and Cookbook of one Southern family and Mint Julep Mysteries book launch took place at Wakefield, the inspiration for the Mint Julep Mysteries series. In spite of the rain and gloom of earlier in the day, the sun broke out at the start of the event. Martha Nix was my traveling buddy as my husband was glued to the TV and football games. Sylvia and Thomas Rushing were great hosts. Taylor Johnson helped us with the hosting duties guiding folks back and forth from the Big House (Wakefield) to the Little House (where our father actually grew up across the street).

Gene Stabler and Donald Stone
Donald Stone, the son of one of my heroes in history, the founder of Snow Hill Institute,  W. J. Edwards, wrote Fallen Prince and had his grandfather's own autobiography, Twenty-five Years in the Black Belt republished. These are must reads for inspiration as well as history. My cousin, Gene Stabler, had been trying to contact Dr. Stone for years. Gene's father was a mail carrier and a good friend of W. J. Edwards. It was such a pleasure seeing these two sons find so much in common and strike up a friendship there at the meeting. Spike Lee is the great grandson of W. J. Edwards. According to Don, Lee and Brandon Tartikoff had spoken of a movie based on the great man before Tartikoff passed away. I truly wish Lee would produce a movie based on his great grandfather's life!

Donald Stone arrived early and we traded books.

Mary Lois Woodson, manager of Black Belt Treasures handled the sales of the books. Ernie and Dianne Thomas Marshburn got a bit lost on the way up, but called my husband in Dothan and got straightened out. Paula Bostic and her husband Mike brought their granddaughter, McKenna. I had looked forward to seeing his new Corvette, but it only seats 2 plus it was raining. Can't take a chance on getting clay on a new corvette!

Paula Bostic and Sharman Ramsey
Jean Hancher and Sharman Ramsey

Lots of folks came and we had a great time talking history! I look forward to meeting Mary Lois's mother and reading the books she has written on the history of the area inspired as she was as the editor of the local paper. The weather started out dismal and rainy, but the sun broke out. My dear friend, Jean W. Hancher and her husband Tom, braved the weather and the distance from Atlanta. It was GREAT getting together once more after 30 years!

Thanks to all who attended. The day was perfect and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Especially when Mary Lois waxed eloquent telling me how much she enjoyed the Mint Julep Mysteries! Music to an author's ears!

I just wish I'd had time to take more pictures!