September 12, 2005
Right now, the “topic of the month” is hurricane
Katrina and its aftermath.
This “Off Topic” discussion probably falls into
the “Obviously, But It Wouldn’t Happen Here” category.
In reading a post somewhere recently, I latched onto the figures that Southern
Louisiana had a 40% illiteracy rate. Horrible by any standard, yet actually
the area is doing quite well under its many handicaps, as you will come
After my children “flew the coop” I had time available
to help others in official local programs. I volunteered for the local night
school dedicated to teaching illiterates how to read. Like almost any “program”
there was orientation to go through. But allow me to digress a bit here
for background about this area.
I live in the heart or center of New England. This area and
north of here is considered “died-in-the-wool” Damn Yankee land.
The older generations could put a Scot to shame in the rubbing two nickels
together department. Frugality was the norm, although today it seems the
exception. If you could pull the wool over a Damned Yankee’s eyes,
you were held in high esteem. As a result, the social planners used Sullivan
County as an experimental county.
My hometown of Claremont, is approximately in the center of
the county and is legally a city; the largest community within a 50 miles
radius. We are measured, weighed, and calculated many different ways, yet
every one of these evaluations are hidden from the participants.
In fact, we are so important to the social engineers that
we have CFR (Council on Foreign Relations- a Rockfeller Institute) representatives
foisted upon us as City Managers, and School Superintendents.
As a back-up to some of these accusations I offer this: A
full year and a half after a certain School Superintendent left the area,
every week a hefty package of “papers” were shipped to her;
I handled the packages, knew the person who brought them in for shipping,
and recognized whom it was being shipped to. It seems strange that a “former”
School Superintendent should be so interested in our school system to have
a 1 inch to 2 inch packet of “something” from the local schools
shipped to her every week. Don’t you too think it a bit unusual?
So, here “we” are an unadvertised showcase of
education. We should be flattered.
Now back to the orientation night. At the time, mid 1980ies,
Sullivan County had the dubious honor of having a 40% illiteracy rate. This
is a died-in-the-wool 99% white population area; with a 40% ILLITERACY rate.
Prior to my generation, keeping a child out of school was a rarity except
to help with the planting and some harvesting. In Maine, the school year
had a vacation of 2 weeks during potato planting and a 3 week vacation during
potato harvesting season; and it started when Mother Nature was ready, not
an arbitrary date on the calendar. Other than events like this, farmers
actually sacrificed needed labor to have their children in school, and many
a child got “drug” to the woodshed who was not learning in school.
In spite of that strong an education ethic in the area, within 3 generations
we had sunk to 40% illiteracy. Horrors.
Now let me take you into the observer’s seat in the
program to rectify this 40% problem. I was assigned a young man in his mid
to late twenties, who had been in the program for three years. The program
must have been part of a nationwide system, because it had well prepared
lesson books and work books for the students. I tried to work with the young
man with the prepared work book. He and I struck it off nicely, he liked
me and I liked him. By the end of the evening, the results were dismal at
best. The next week, I wandered around the Junior High School we were using,
near our classroom, and nearby was a computer lab using the same identical
(primitive by today’s standards) computer I had at home. I quickly
set up a program for my student to use, and when the head warden wasn’t
around, student and I went to the computer room. I had set up a phonics
tutorial, something like teaching the AT family: bat, cat, fat, hat, mat,
pat, rat, sat, tat, vat. Then onto other families of words (by sounds).
The easy part was that this young man knew how to talk and
use English, but he couldn’t read. Once he saw the words in sound
families, zingo, he was off and running. Our enjoyable trip was quickly
interrupted when the warden caught us. When the student was back in his
seat in the proper room, Mrs. warden gave me a royal ass chewing. I could
have ruined a computer and I wasn’t to touch one ever again. “Yes
Once back with my student, he was full of questions. “What
are we going to do without the computer?” Etc. etc. So, with pencil
and paper I worked with him building more word families. Before ending the
class I taught him how to construct the word families by himself. (Basically
the vowels followed by the consonants, and all of these preceded by consonants.)
The next night it was obvious that he had done his homework, and he proudly
showed me his work. To say it accurately: This fellow was serious about
wanting to learn! So, I continued working with him, and pointed out a few
mistakes, which he quickly understood. The next week was week 4; my student
greeted me with: “I have learned more with you in 3 weeks that in
all the 3 years I’ve been here.” I felt a tap on my shoulder;
it was Mrs. warden. She wanted me in her office. Seeing that I was refusing
to use the supplied materials, I was summarily fired. (It was a volunteer
job.) So much for results in learning how to read
Can you begin to see that the school systems in this area
created the illiteracy, and then, via the supplied materials, these same
illiterates were being prevented from really learning how to read?
So, you will find that hidden from your sight and knowledge
is the fact that ALL of America has a 40% or greater illiteracy rate. With
this knowledge at hand, I think you will agree with me that it is amazing
that Southern Louisiana (and surrounding areas) have ONLY a 40% illiteracy
rate. With all the hinderances and encumberances the area has, they are
doing marvelously well.
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the opinion of the author and is provided for educational purposes only.
It is not to be construed as medical advice. Only a licensed medical doctor
can legally offer medical advice in the United States. Consult the healer
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