Singular Minds
January 1, 2006• Volume II, Issue 4
Prolinguistica Dyslexia Correction Center
Laura Zink de Diaz

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Quote of the Month #1
The Unwritten
Inside this pencil there is a graveyard
Full of forgotten words
Words that are waiting to be remembered
Words that are waiting to be exploded out
Words that are waiting to be remembered
And written on paper
If that will ever happen.
By Cameron McKee
Written last year. Cameron is a student in New Zealand who has just recently successfully completed a Davis Dyslexia Correction Program! Yay, Cameron!!

Quote of the Month #2
The late Senator Paul Wellstone wrote, “It is simply negligent to force children to pass a test and expect that the poorest children, who face every disadvantage, will be able to do as well as those who have every advantage. When we do this, we hold children responsible for our own inaction and unwillingness to live up to our own promises and our own obligations.” The No Child Left Behind Act makes demands on states and school districts without fully funding reforms that would build capacity to close achievement gaps. To enable schools to comply with the law’s regulations and to create conditions that will raise achievement, society will need to increase federal funding for the schools that serve our nation’s most vulnerable children and to keep Title I funds focused on instruction rather than on transportation and school choice. Christian faith demands, as a matter of justice and compassion, that we be concerned about public schools. The No Child Left Behind Act approaches the education of America’s children through an inside-the-school management strategy of increased productivity rather than providing resources and support for the individuals who will shape children’s lives. As people of faith we do not view our children as products to be tested and managed but instead as unique human beings to be nurtured and educated. We call on our political leaders to invest in developing the capacity of all schools. Our nation should be judged by the way we care for our children.

— Committee on Public Education and Literacy
National Council of Churches
Read the full statement on NCLB by theNational Council of Churches at:


Clay Night, Support Group and Singular Minds

Things are moving fast all of a sudden. Last month I announced on this page that we'd hold the Clay Night and Support Group on Jan 12 and 19 respectively. I have to rescind that invitation now.

As you know, lately, my clients have come almost exclusively from outside the continental U.S. I seem to have stumbled onto a "niche" that I suspect I'd be foolish to ignore. So, I've been researching the feasibility of either establishing a virtual office in South America or moving the office there entirely. In the course of December I learned a great deal about this, and have decided that in early February I'll travel to Colombia again to check this out more thoroughly. If things go as I think they will, I will return in April, make the final arrangements, and return to Colombia to open an office there. As part of this process, I've moved out of my office here in Mount Vernon, so I no longer have an appropriate space in which to hold Clay Night and Support Group meetings.

I view this as an adventure novel, whose ending I have yet to read. I may trudge humbly home after a few months' time - or the "niche" may become my new home. Either way, for the time being, I have to suspend the evening meetings. Although there may be some interruptions while I find a place to live and have reliable internet access installed, I intend to continue putting out this newsletter as long as readers are interested in receiving it.

Meanwhile, if you need to reach me by US (snail) mail, please send to:
1007 S 21st Place
Mount Vernon, WA 98274

And, as always, I can be reached via email at:
or by phone at:

Good Stuff to Read

Audio books growing as tool for kids
By Karen Macpherson
Toledo Blade
For years, educators have sung the praises of audio books for students with reading challenges or those whose first language isn't English.These days, however, experts say that audio books are a great tool to get any kid to read more books. The audio format attracts kids because it's a different -- and cool -- way to read, especially now that they can download a book right into their MP3 players. And audio "reading" can be combined with another activity, such as running or cooking, which is an important consideration for today's multi-tasking kids."The spoken word is the world's oldest form of dialogue; it's how people have predominantly learned for centuries," said David Joseph, a spokesman for, the fast-growing company that markets digital downloads of books, magazines and newspapers... Many families now listen to audio books together, particularly in the car. That's especially true at vacation time, but families also use audio books to while away the time while shuttling to and from after-school activities.
Read more about audio books at:,1406,KNS_308_4343148,00.html
(free registration required) Long URL Alert! You may have to copy and paste this one!
This article is a bit of a "rah, rah" for, but it's an interesting phenomenon. Another thing to take into account as you read this, is that listening itself is a valuable skill - so much so that listening is one of the basic skills tested on the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL). I'd be willing to bet it's tested in other states as well.

An Open Letter to All Elected Officials, Legislators, Policy Makers and Voters
Tragedy Strikes. Parents are Powerless to Protect

As elected officials prepared for the special legislative session, my elementary school principal notified our faculty that the father of two of our students, one in 2nd. grade and one in 3rd grade, was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting in Orlando. Many of the staff visited the family. We attended the funeral on Saturday. We will do all that we can to help these children, their older sibling and their mother. We grieve for them all. We also ask ourselves what the odds are that these children will make much more academic progress this year. What are the odds our third grader will pass the FCAT this year? Would most students pass under these circumstances? Would anyone? Is a portfolio assessment or alternative assessment going to make any difference now? You can read the rest of this passionate letter from Barbara Barry at:
Barbara Barry is Orange County Counselors Association Florida Elementary Counselor of the Year and the American School Counselor Association’s Elementary Counselor of the Year, 2002

Universal test-prep?
What emerges from “Universal preschool trend has critics,” (Dec 19) is that the goal of preschool is to help schools look better on standardized tests. To do this, one preschool “make(s) sure that even play periods are about learning”: We are told, for example, that children have to recognize their names on tags before having their snack. What’s next, requiring three year olds to pass a spelling test or rattle off multiplication tables before allowing them to eat? If this is typical, we are in danger of destroying childhood, pushing three and four year olds to learn things they will acquire easily when they are older.
“Universal preschool” looks like universal test-prep.
Stephen Krashen
Found at:

Universal preschool trend has critics
Seattle Times
By Julia Silverman
TROUTDALE, Ore. — All across the country, governors and legislators from both parties are pouring money into universal preschool programs... But not everyone is on the universal preschool bandwagon. In Oregon, and other places where state dollars remain
in tight, coveted supply, early-childhood-education advocates argue that universal preschool misses the point. Instead, they say it's more important to provide full-service programs for all of the state's most disadvantaged kids — like Head Start, the federally funded program open to children living in poverty...Preschool backers cite studies showing that for every dollar spent on preschool education, between $7 and $12 won't have to be spent by states later on for corrections and social services... Universal preschool opponents often cite a 2005 study by the University of California system and Stanford
University that found that preschool hurt some children's social skills, though it did raise their performance in language acquisition, reading and math.
Read it all at:

'Straight-cut ditch' schools widen gap in education
Marion Brady
...I begin my argument by asking not what's bad for students, but what's good for them. Hands down, the most popular answer to that question is, "The basics! The 3 Rs are the foundation of everything else!" The power of this assumption is demonstrated daily in the school nearest you as all else is put on a back burner in an effort to raise reading and math standardized test scores. But as is often the case, the popular answer is superficial. The basics are mere means to an end. What we most want for our kids is an education which helps them realize their potential. Obviously, highly developed basic skills are important tools in a kid's pursuit of her or his potential, but it's easy to win the "basics" battle and lose the "developing individual potential" war. And that's where NCLB is taking us. Henry David Thoreau can help explain where I'm coming from. "What does education often do?" he asked. "It makes a straight-cut ditch of a free, meandering brook." No Child Left Behind is a strategy for making straight-cut ditches. In contrast, developing individual potential doesn't just leave brooks free to meander, it aims to clear away debris and make meandering easier.
Marion Brady nails it again. Read the whole editorial at:

This is a test . . . and yet another test . . . and still another test
By Peter Simon
Fourth-graders at Buffalo's D'Youville Porter Campus School 3 tackle work every morning designed to prepare them for state assessment tests."It's test after test after test," said Evelyn Pizarro, the school principal. "It's getting to the point where we're doing test preparation the whole year. We think we're testing kids to death." And the testing load is getting heavier, not lighter. Since 1999, pupils in New York state have taken high-profile English and math assessment tests in both fourth and eighth grades. This school year, as required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act, math and English exams will be added in grades 3, 5, 6 and 7.
It's about time we began to see more criticism of testing mania! Read the rest at:

So much homework, so little time. Sigh
Peter Schworm
Their backs already were sore from lugging home textbooks every school night, their brains weary from long evenings of essays and exponents. So when Norton Middle School officials eliminated two study halls each week, three seventh-grade girls decided they had had enough. Kerryn Camara, Lynsey Kearns, and Audra Schlehuber gathered more than 150 signatures on a petition to restore the study halls, which were scaled back to fulfill state requirements on classroom time. They pleaded their case -- so far unsuccessfully -- to the School Committee, saying homework-harried students badly need the study time to finish assignments before their eyelids grew too heavy. ''I know two classes a week doesn't seem like a lot, but a lot of kids are staying up until midnight on their homework," Kearns said. ''We don't have enough time to get it all done."
Excessive homework is another of my personal pet peeves. More power to Kerryn, Lynsey and Audra! Read more about this at:

Smack your child to make her sleep
By Alexandra Frean
Parental advice has changed in 80 years. Is your toddler a fussy eater? Then starve him for 24 hours and he will soon eat anything. Your baby won’t sleep through the night? Simple: smack her until she stops crying. These examples of childcare advice may well seem bizarre, if not abhorrent, now but at one time they were accepted wisdom and printed in the advice columns of the country’s leading childcare magazine, Nursery World. A review of child rearing advice from past editions of Nursery World is published today to mark the magazine’s 80th anniversary. It shows not only how approaches to teaching and caring for children have changed dramatically in some areas but also how others have stayed constant.
Tips from the Past
How to cure a fussy eater: 1926
You cut out feeding times for 24 hours. He has water in abundance, exercise, rest, peace. After that you will have no trouble with regard to food and the wicked boy may be transformed into a likeable young person who appreciates mealtimes.
How to serve sliced bread: 1946
It should never be cut less than an inch and a half thick. There is nothing more plebeian than thin bread at dinner.
Plebeian? Oh, dear! Some of these are just amusing, others are downright dangerous! Check out the rest at:,,172-1910604,00.html

Maybe we should just learn how to teach instead...
FDA Advisers Say ADHD Patch Is Safe

By John J. Lumpkin
WASHINGTON - A federal advisory panel determined Friday that the first skin patch to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children is both effective and safe, bringing the patch a step closer to regulatory approval. However, the panel of independent experts voted to recommend to the Food and Drug Administration that the patch's label encourage its use as an alternative treatment for children with ADHD in effect, saying doctors should prescribe it only if taking pills is too difficult for a child. Read more about this at:

A resource you might be interested in

New site offers free audio books

By year's end, LibriVox will likely feature free, downloadable audio files of 30 public-domain literary works recorded by volunteers from around the world. Founder Hugh McGuire says that since each chapter is recorded by a different reader, the project offers a more intimate feel than that of professionally read audio books.

Thoughts on learning:

You Go to School to Learn

by Thomas Lux
You go to school to learn to
read and add, to someday
make some money. It—money—makes
sense: you need
a better tractor, an addition
to the gameroom, you prefer
to buy your beancurd by the barrel.
There's no other way to get the goods
you need. Besides, it keeps people busy
working—for it.
It's sensible and, therefore, you go
to school to learn (and the teacher,
having learned, gets paid to teach you) how
to get it. Fine. But:
you're taught away from poetry
or, say, dancing (That's nice, dear,
but there's no dough in it). No poem
ever bought a hamburger, or not too many. It's true,
and so, every morning—it's still dark!—
you see them, the children, like angels
being marched off to execution,
or banks. Their bodies luminous
in headlights. Going to school.

— Thomas Lux
from New & Selected Poems


That's it for this month. If you need to contact me while I'm out of the country, feel free to send me an email ( You can be sure I'll get back to you as quickly as possible, no matter where I am!

Next Issue of Singular Minds: early February, 2006

Got a topic you’d like to see addressed in Singular Minds? E-mail questions, proposals, letters, and/or stories to: