Tag: Poverty

Hooked on Phonics? You should be …

Why aren’t kids being taught to read?

According to a fascinating article published on September 10, 2018, by Emily Hanford with APMReports, scientific research has shown us how kids learn to read and the best way to teach them to do so. Unfortunately, many educators either don’t know the science or, in some cases, actively resist it. As a result, millions of children are being set up to fail. You should realize that these are our children and grandchildren.

Trouble for the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania Public School System

In 2015, Jack Silva, the chief academic officer for the public schools in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, identified a real problem in his school system: Only 56 percent of third-graders in his district received proficient scores on the state reading test.

However, this “problem” is not exclusively found in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. In fact, it is quite widespread!

phonics

Educators have long blamed America’s poor reading performance on poverty. And truthfully, there is plenty of poverty in Bethlehem. Once a booming steel town, Bethlehem now struggles to survive.

But there are wealthy homes in Bethlehem as well. And Silva discovered that many kids at the more affluent schools weren’t reading very well either. The problem cannot be attributed to poverty. By many estimates, one-third of America’s struggling readers are from college-educated families.

Scientists know the cause …

Educators assume that learning to read is a natural process, much like learning to talk. We are born wired to talk. Children learn to talk be being talked to and being surrounded by spoken language. But scientific research has revealed that reading doesn’t come naturally. The human brain isn’t wired to read.

The human brain must be explicitly taught how to connect sounds with letters. According to scientists, reading is not wired into our minds like talking is. This is because human beings didn’t develop written language until about a few thousand years ago. That is relatively recent in evolutionary terms.

To read, structures in our brain that were designed for things such as object recognition must be rewired just a bit. That process is known as phonics.

We never looked at brain research. We had never, ever looked at it. Never.

Jodi Frankelli, Supervisor of Early Learning

In this case, this science is solid and accepted.

According to Emily’s article, there are literally thousands of studies that prove this. And in fact, this is the most studied areas in human learning. Unfortunately, too many teachers nationwide are not being taught reading science in their teacher preparation programs because the faculty in colleges of education either don’t know the science or dismiss it. As a result of their intransigence, millions of kids have been set up to fail.

According to a 2016 article in the Journal of Childhood and Developmental Disorders, contributing to this problem is the fact that, at the university level, faculty in many schools of education have ignored the scientific knowledge that informs reading acquisition.” As a result, new teachers educated at these institutions often fail to receive the necessary training.

There is hope!

The Bethlehem school system instituted a curriculum in early elementary grades that mix teacher-directed whole-class phonics lessons with small-group activities. The program is designed to meet the needs of children at different points in the process of learning to read. The results have been phenomenal.

phonics

But parents must step up …

There has long been a trend in our public school system to dumb down the education our children get. It started in the sixties when I was in school. Fortunately for me, it was just getting started. I learned phonics and diagramming sentences, multiplication tables, etc.

Another failure is the Common Core standard. We have just graduated the first class to come up within the Common Core curriculum, and, according to studies, this class is the least prepared to enter college than any in our history. But … that is another topic altogether.

Parents must take a stand and demand that real, proven education practices be used in our school system. Jumping on every half-baked new teaching scheme that comes down the educational pike is essentially an experiment that will affect your child’s future. And, so far, their record is pretty abysmal.

I worked in college admissions for many years. I remember a time when I was talking to a mother who was writing her daughter’s personal essay.

If this woman’s daughter could not write a 500-word essay on why she wanted to attend the University of Tennessee, how could she ever hope to complete her studies?

Emil Hanford’s article goes into a lot more detail, citing other studies and materials. If you have children in school or if you care about the state of public education in this country, you should read this article. You can read the complete article here. There is also an audio file if you prefer to listen to it.

Water: How Important is it to You?

1 in 10 people lack access to clean water!

I was stunned by this discovery.

Last week I was attending the 2019 Symmetry Financial Group conference in Washington, DC.  A keynote speaker was Scott Harrison, a man I’d never heard of.  He turned out to be a man with an amazing story!

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Scott was a young man with a gift. People loved him, loved to be around him, and loved to party with him. He made a living as a club promoter, hired by night clubs in New York City to promote their events … parties, concerts, gatherings, celebrity appearances, etc.

Let’s say there was a lot of wine, women, and song in his life. He got lost. One day he woke up and did not recognize himself. Scott decided he needed to change. He decided he would need to do something pretty drastic to get his life turned around. Applying for work at many charities, he was repeatedly turned down. Finally, he paid Mercy Ships $500 a month to let him work as a photo journalist on one of their hospital ships for one year. He ended up staying for two.

People dying from water?

During his two years with Mercy Ships, Harrison was exposed to the conditions of the impoverished people in Liberia. He saw people drinking water from murky swamps and rancid mud holes. He talked to women who made a 7-mile trek to crocodile-infested rivers for water for their families. These women recounted the many friends they’d lost to crocodiles.  Scott saw a little girl drinking dirty water from a plastic bottle. She would take a sip and promptly throw-up. Scott took the water bottle and had the water tested. The lab technician told Scott that water was literally alive with disease and bacteria! He decided right then and there to do something.

Charity: Water

Scott Harrison founded Charity: Water in 2006. The charity is a non-profit organization that works to bring clean water to people in developing nations by raising money through donations, which directly fund water projects such as digging wells and building water filtration and treatment facilities. Scott uses 100% of all donations to provide this clean water and hires local labor to do the work. This gives each village a sense of pride and ownership in their new clean water sources; some of which have been in operation for 12 years and are still pumping clean water.

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$12,000 buys a well or filtration system including materials, equipment, and labor.

At the Symmetry conference,  there was not a dry eye in the place after his presentation, and I know several wells were pledged by agencies and these pledges were going to be matched by the corporate office. Symmetry is a big-hearted organization and one of its core values is to always do the right thing … even when no one is looking! And, this is one charity that I, personally, plan to become very involved with.

Thirst: A Story of Redemption, Compassion, and a Mission to Bring Clean Water to the World

water

While I have not read this book yet, I plan to. I am sure it is an amazing read after hearing Scott Harrison speak. I will post a review of this book here once I have read it. 100% of the proceeds from the sale of this book go toward funding Charity: Water projects around the world.

It is available at the Charity: Water website as well as on Amazon.com

 

As we walk around carrying our bottled water, perhaps we should take a moment and think about the little girl in Liberia or Rwanda, or Honduras … drinking the poisonous water from her plastic water bottle.  Many of us have already dug in to help.

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith have bought wells and even went over to see them put in.

water

Rachel Beckwith was  a young girl who, on her 9th birthday, pledged to raise $300 to bring clean water to kids on the other side of the world. She raised a little over $200. Dismayed, she pledged to work even harder next year.

Sadly, a few weeks later Rachel was killed in a tragic automobile accident. Word of her pledge and what happened hit the news, and people began to donate in Rachel’s name.  $1.2 million was raised and in Rachel’s name … provided water for 37,770 people. Rachel’s story is one that will bring a tear to your eye and a swell of pride and admiration to your chest.  Take a look at this video! You will not be the same after watching. I promise!

Rachel’s Gift

Matthew 25:40  King James Version

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

For more great blog post, read on!