Op-Ed: The Great Divide in the Country is Reading by Wendy Costa

I think that the most important divide in America is not between red states and blue states or conservatives and liberals; rather, the most important divide starts in early childhood and grows with each passing year until it is an almost unbridgeable chasm: it is the huge divide between readers and non-readers. Certainly not every good reader is a successful person and not every poor reader is a failure, but individuals who become good readers in childhood have almost unbounded opportunities for higher education, varied careers, and personal fulfillment.

Consider these facts compiled by Scholastic:

Students who don’t read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to leave school without a diploma when compared to proficient readers. Teachers say that in grades K-3, children learn to read, but after third grade, they read to learn.

Only one-third of all students entering high school are proficient in reading – only about 15 percent of African American students, and 17 percent of Hispanic students.

More than 80% of prison inmates are high school dropouts and a very high proportion of them cannot read.

Fifty percent of American adults cannot read an eighth-grade level book.

Among adults at the lowest level of literacy proficiency, 43% live in poverty. Among adults with strong literacy skills, only 4% live in poverty.

Forecasters have predicted that if static literacy levels continue, then by 2030 the entire literacy level distribution of the U.S. population will have decreased, creating an American workforce that is unequipped and unskilled to work in the demanding global market.

And then there is this fact that provides hope and a pathway to literacy for all: Even fifteen minutes a day of independent reading can expose students to more than a million words of text in a year… If a child reads as much as one million words per year, he or she will be in the top 2% of all children on standardized tests.

I think that it should be our goal in Kent County for all children to read on grade level all the way through high school. The school day is already packed, so it is up to parents and community volunteers to see to it that all children are reading a minimum of fifteen minutes a day outside of school. This means persuading parents to read to their babies and preschool children for at least

fifteen minutes every day. This means finding community volunteers who will help struggling readers who are identified by teachers. This means finding ways to help reading compete successfully with electronic gadgets. This means developing a real summer reading program. This means a cooperative, collaborative effort between the schools, the library, churches,
parents, and children.

There will be a meeting of Kent County residents who are seriously interested in improving reading outcomes on Tuesday, November 13, from 4-5 PM at Garnett Elementary School. If you think that we can take reading seriously in our little corner of the world, please come and bring your ideas.

Spy Profile: The Business of Getting Girls to Read in Talbot County

Elizabeth Devlin, 30, does not describe herself as an entrepreneur, but she worked without pay for a year to launch promising after-school reading clubs for at-risk middle-school girls that may catch on all over the country.

Elizabeth Devlin

The idea for PageTurners came to Devlin while she was an undergraduate English major at Davidson College in North Carolina. She had considerable success tutoring a first grade girl who wanted to avoid reading. That led to a small grant to establish a reading program called GirlTalk for lagging readers in third through fifth grades.

After graduation in 2004, Devlin joined Teach for America (a program that puts top graduates of fine colleges and universities in low-income schools for two years). She taught 6th grade language arts at a school in Charlotte. Then she worked for a time at Success for All (a program that originated at Johns Hopkins University to raise academic achievement among low-income schoolchildren).

In January 2009, Devlin launched PageTurners at one middle school in Dorchester County. Ever since, she has been fine-tuning and expanding the program. Now in its fourth year, middle-school girls in Dorchester, Talbot, Caroline, Somerset, and Wicomico Counties, as well as in Baltimore City, can participate. Currently, there are 20 after-school reading clubs, with an enrollment of 173 girls. Next year, at least thirteen more schools will be added. Devlin has also added an associate to help: Morgan Fink of Baltimore City.

Here is how PageTurners works: Devlin chooses an outstanding middle-school teacher to run each club. The teacher, who receives a $1,000 stipend, invites girls to join based on one of the following criteria: qualifies for free or reduced lunch; scores below proficient on the MSA in reading; or displays social or emotional needs that could be met by participation in a book club. Ideally, each club has 8-10 girls and they meet twice a week after school for an hour.

Devlin has come up with a theme for each grade level. For 6th graders, the theme is: Who Am I? Seventh graders address the theme, Who Are We? In 8th grade, the theme is, What Is Our Role? PageTurners gives the books to the girls to keep, and provides teachers with vocabulary, questions, discussion topics, and activities. The books are fairly recent young adult novels, such as Rapunzel’s Revenge or Song of the Trees.

“This is not just about reading,” Devlin says. “It is about empowering girls to be future leaders.” Devlin has five goals for girls in the book clubs: 1) improve interest in reading and the desire to read; 2) improve actual reading skills; 3) develop self-awareness and a sense of the future; 4) develop the ability to think critically; and 5) graduate from high school and attend college.

Devlin is working on developing evaluation instruments for the program. She plans to make PageTurners a national program. It is a non-profit organization with a board of directors that includes Barbara Viniar, President of Chesapeake College and Fred Hildebrand, former Superintendent of Schools in Dorchester County. Contributions are always welcome and may be sent to: PageTurners, c/o Elizabeth Devlin, P.O. Box 879, Easton, MD 21601.
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Candidates Experience Learning Curves in 1st District Primary Contest

Maryland’s primary election is coming right up on Tuesday, April 3, and early voting begins on March 24. In District One, incumbent Republican Andy Harris is running unopposed in the primary for his congressional seat. Three Democratic candidates will face off on April 3 for the opportunity to run against Andy Harris in the general election. The Spy could not reach candidate Kim Letke, but both John LaFerla and Wendy Rosen, as well as their respective campaign managers, Tom Martin and Dan Ford, spoke about the progress of their campaigns.

Both Rosen and LaFerla are raising money, but their campaign managers admit to running their campaigns on a “shoestring,” which forces them to be creative about reaching voters. Both have been interviewed by newspapers and they have participated in fairly well- attended candidates’ forums in every county in District One. Dan Ford remarked that democratic primaries are usually quite civil and these forums have been especially civil.

Wendy Rosen rented a booth at the Ocean City Home Show and met hundreds of Democrats and “disgruntled” Republicans there. She is also canvassing door-to-door and using various kinds of social media and mailing lists that she has developed over many years in her business as an advocate for artists, small business owners, and people in the “Made in America” movement. She has bought some print ads and has been interviewed on public access television stations.

John LaFerla is “going after every vote” and “burning the candle at both ends,” Tom Martin observed. Through get-togethers, Democratic Party functions, direct mail, phone banks, ads, and signs, John is trying to reach the 745,000 people who live in District One. “Traditionally, our district has been centrist and John is a common sense centrist,” Tom Martin added.

Both LaFerla and Rosen have extensive political and policy-making experience, but neither has run for elective office before, and they are experiencing some surprises. For Rosen, the sheer physical size of District One has been somewhat daunting. “This is the second largest congressional district in land area east of the Mississippi,” she says. She plans to bicycle all throughout the district during the summer, savoring the rural and small-town character of the place. She has also been surprised that many Republican women are showing a strong interest in her campaign.

John LaFerla, a medical doctor specializing in gynecology and obstetrics, has been surprised at the Republican opposition to contraceptives in the Obama health care plan. He has also been surprised that many people ask questions about things that are not in a congressman’s power to change, such as state and local issues.

LaFerla and Rosen have similar views on most social issues, so they have had to work hard to distinguish themselves in voters’ minds. LaFerla emphasizes his broad experience in life, his experience as a physician engaged in public health and health policy, as well as his experience as an effective leader in Maryland Democratic Party affairs. Rosen emphasizes her experience creating jobs in small businesses, as well as her experience advocating for small business on Capitol Hill.

Spy readers can learn more about each candidate by visiting their websites: www.wendyrosen.com or laferlaforcongress.us.

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CBMM’s “Foodways of the Chesapeake” Continues March 14

The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum’s (CBMM) “Foodways of the Chesapeake, Now and Then,” lecture series continues  14 with the final lecture in the four-part series. Held along the museum’s waterfront campus in St. Michaels, MD, CBMM members and the general public are welcome to participate, with pre-registration required.

From 2:30 to 4pm on March 14, “We Are What We Eat: African American Discomfort Food” will take place at the museum’s historic Mitchell House and features African-American food scholar Michael Twitty. Well known in local communities for his lively presentations, Twitty traces the history of African-American Chesapeake cuisine through his experiences growing, preparing, and researching the recipes of enslaved Tidewater Africans.

In this presentation, Twitty brings history to life through open-fire cooking demonstrations, and

involves his audience in discussions about heirloom crops and seeds, wild food, foraging methods, and the cooking techniques that create a uniquely African-American cultural tradition. The cost is $10 for CBMM members and $12 for non-members.

Space is limited, with pre-registration available by contacting CBMM’s Helen Van Fleet at 410-745-4941.

Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum
St Michaels, MD

CBMM ‘Foodways’ Lecture Series Continues with ‘Eating Our Way to a Healthy Bay’

Barton Seaver

“We have a chance to eat our way back to healthy oceans,” says Barton Seaver, author of For Cod and Country: Simple, Delicious, Sustainable Cooking. Join chef and author Barton Seaver, Steve Vilnit from DNR’s Commercial Fisheries Outreach and Marketing, and Carol Bean and Mark Connolly of Pot Pie Farm as they discuss the future of watermen, fishing sustainability in the Chesapeake, and how consumers can protect the environment and community, deliciously on Thursday, March 1 at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. The lecture is part of the winter/spring lecture series, “An Abundant and Fruitful Land: Foodways of the Chesapeake, Now and Then.”

Sample some local seafood and share in this conversation about caring for the Bay through responsible consumption. Copies of Barton’s book will be available for sale and signing.

$12 members, $15 non-members. Pre-registration required for all events. Contact Helen Van Fleet at hvanfleet@cbmm.org or call 410-745-2916

Thursday, March 1, 2012
6pm

Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum
Van Lennep Auditorium, Museum Campus
213 N Talbot St
St Michaels, MD 21663

Op-ed: Catholic Church’s Wrong Direction on Contraception

It is somewhat of a paradox that America’s secular government has helped enable religious pluralism, expression, and toleration to thrive. Religious communities run schools, homeless shelters, after-school programs, drug treatment centers, soup kitchens, and countless other programs that make life better for people. Children are socialized in school to respect religions different from their own, and it is a rare individual who does not have friends or co-workers who practice different religions.

Sometimes, however, a religious body can advocate a practice that is harmful, not only to members of that religion, but to countless others as well. When the Catholic Church – or any other religious body – attempts to curtail the use of contraception, they are on the wrong side of history, and people of good will should speak out to change that policy. It is not enough that over 90% of American Catholics disregard the Pope and practice birth control as they see fit. American Catholics comprise only about 6% of the world’s Catholics. Everyone in the world is affected by the Catholic Church’s position on this issue. If the Catholic Church had approved of condoms, for example, the AIDS epidemic would have claimed fewer lives.

Before modern medicine, when under-population was a problem, the Catholic Church’s position against contraception made sense. As recently as 1750, there were fewer than 800 million people in the world. No matter how many children women bore, so many died young that the population stayed relatively stable. The United Nations projects that by 2100 there will be 10.1 billion people on Planet Earth. Most experts agree that this number of people is unsustainable.

Every big problem in the 21st Century is already being aggravated by overpopulation. Climate change, scarce resources, illegal immigration, air and water pollution, loss of animal habitats, crime, lack of opportunities for women, international conflicts, and growing inequality between rich and poor countries, are just a few problems that could be ameliorated by worldwide acceptance of family planning.

Reliable contraception practiced by women was one of the greatest achievements of the 20th Century and the quality of life everywhere on the planet will depend on widespread use of contraception in this century. (Men have used condoms made of various animal parts since before recorded history, with about as much success as the Church-approved rhythm method.)

Contraception became available for women after World War One when a nurse named Margaret Sanger smuggled diaphragms from Europe into New York Harbor in brandy bottles, and she published a newsletter explaining how to prevent conception (for this she was jailed). For the first time in history, millions of ordinary women could decide if and when they wanted to have children. Later, in the 1950s, Margaret Sanger persuaded Katharine McCormick, heir to a fortune made in reapers, to fund research by Gregory Pincus and John Rock that led to the birth control pill in 1960.

Call it family planning, birth control, or contraception, the use of medical devices to prevent unwanted pregnancy, as well as the 1965 decision of the Supreme Court in Griswold v. Connecticut, asserting that the private use of contraceptives was a Constitutional right, led directly to a revolution in the position of women. Before contraceptives became widely available, some exceptional women (usually single) had managed to become scientists, doctors, lawyers, politicians, and business executives, but within a decade of the first sale of “The Pill,” millions of women were choosing careers that were unthinkable if they had been bearing babies every two years. There has been more change in the position of women since 1960 than in the previous history of the world. And once women have experienced reproductive freedom, they will never go back to constant child-bearing, which is inevitable without contraception.

The Catholic Church and other religious organizations present religious arguments against contraception. When the Bible said, “be fruitful and multiply,” the earth was sparsely populated. It should be the policy of our secular government not only to reject such arguments, but to make contraception as widely available as possible, both here and in countries to which we give aid. Family planning will lead to fewer abortions; more prosperous families; a more sustainable environment; and improvement in the overall quality of life.

Chris Sanders Joins CBMM

Chris Sanders, of Newport, RI, has joined the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM) in St. Michaels, MD as a journeyman shipwright. Sanders’ work begins on the three-year restoration project of the historic skipjack, Rosie Parks. He currently resides in St.

Chris Sanders

Michaels, MD.

Sanders previously served as a museum apprentice from 2008 to 2009, when he worked alongside CBMM’s Boat Yard Program Manager Dan Sutherland to build Vita, a 9-1/2’ tender for the 1888 classic racing yacht, Elf. Sanders also worked on the bugeye Edna E. Lockwood and assisted in the day-to-day preservation of the museum’s historic fleet of Chesapeake vessels.

After leaving CBMM in 2009, Sanders enrolled in the International Yacht Restoration School in Newport, RI, receiving his proficiency in yacht restoration degree in June, 2011. He worked restoring mahogany runabouts in Bristol, CT prior to rejoining CBMM.

CBMM’s professional shipwright apprenticeships are awarded using a rigorous interview and selection process. Once accepted, apprentices engage in restoration and maintenance work under the guidance of master shipwrights, and receive training for interacting with the public. Upon completion, shipwrights move forward into boatbuilding careers and other related professions. For more information, visit www.cbmm.org or call 410-745-2916.

Op-ed: Catholic Church’s Wrong Direction on Contraception

It is somewhat of a paradox that America’s secular government has helped enable religious pluralism, expression, and toleration to thrive. Religious communities run schools, homeless shelters, after-school programs, drug treatment centers, soup kitchens, and countless other programs that make life better for people. Children are socialized in school to respect religions different from their own, and it is a rare individual who does not have friends or co-workers who practice different religions.

Sometimes, however, a religious body can advocate a practice that is harmful, not only to members of that religion, but to countless others as well. When the Catholic Church – or any other religious body – attempts to curtail the use of contraception, they are on the wrong side of history, and people of good will should speak out to change that policy. It is not enough that over 90% of American Catholics disregard the Pope and practice birth control as they see fit. American Catholics comprise only about 6% of the world’s Catholics. Everyone in the world is affected by the Catholic Church’s position on this issue. If the Catholic Church had approved of condoms, for example, the AIDS epidemic would have claimed fewer lives.

Before modern medicine, when under-population was a problem, the Catholic Church’s position against contraception made sense. As recently as 1750, there were fewer than 800 million people in the world. No matter how many children women bore, so many died young that the population stayed relatively stable. The United Nations projects that by 2100 there will be 10.1 billion people on Planet Earth. Most experts agree that this number of people is unsustainable.

Every big problem in the 21st Century is already being aggravated by overpopulation. Climate change, scarce resources, illegal immigration, air and water pollution, loss of animal habitats, crime, lack of opportunities for women, international conflicts, and growing inequality between rich and poor countries, are just a few problems that could be ameliorated by worldwide acceptance of family planning.

Reliable contraception practiced by women was one of the greatest achievements of the 20th Century and the quality of life everywhere on the planet will depend on widespread use of contraception in this century. (Men have used condoms made of various animal parts since before recorded history, with about as much success as the Church-approved rhythm method.)

Contraception became available for women after World War One when a nurse named Margaret Sanger smuggled diaphragms from Europe into New York Harbor in brandy bottles, and she published a newsletter explaining how to prevent conception (for this she was jailed). For the first time in history, millions of ordinary women could decide if and when they wanted to have children. Later, in the 1950s, Margaret Sanger persuaded Katharine McCormick, heir to a fortune made in reapers, to fund research by Gregory Pincus and John Rock that led to the birth control pill in 1960.

Call it family planning, birth control, or contraception, the use of medical devices to prevent unwanted pregnancy, as well as the 1965 decision of the Supreme Court in Griswold v. Connecticut, asserting that the private use of contraceptives was a Constitutional right, led directly to a revolution in the position of women. Before contraceptives became widely available, some exceptional women (usually single) had managed to become scientists, doctors, lawyers, politicians, and business executives, but within a decade of the first sale of “The Pill,” millions of women were choosing careers that were unthinkable if they had been bearing babies every two years. There has been more change in the position of women since 1960 than in the previous history of the world. And once women have experienced reproductive freedom, they will never go back to constant child-bearing, which is inevitable without contraception.

The Catholic Church and other religious organizations present religious arguments against contraception. When the Bible said, “be fruitful and multiply,” the earth was sparsely populated. It should be the policy of our seculargovernment not only to reject such arguments, but to make contraception as widely available as possible, both here and in countries to which we give aid. Family planning will lead to fewer abortions; more prosperous families; a more sustainable environment; and improvement in the overall quality of life.

 

Model Tug Torrent Restored

The model tug Torrent, shown here in front of CBMM’s river tug Delaware now under restoration, will be unveiled to the public as part of the new Push and Pull: Life on Chesapeake Tugboats exhibit, opening at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, MD on April 21.

A model of the tug Torrent has recently been restored and will be unveiled to the public as part of the new Push and Pull: Life on Chesapeake Tugboats exhibit, opening at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, MD on April 21. The exhibit continues through 2014.

Torrent was used as a fireboat in the Baltimore harbor before later working as a tugboat. The city of Baltimore, with its port facilities sprawling around the shores of the Patapsco River, has long relied on a fleet of fireboats to protect valuable waterfront property. The largest vessel to serve the city was the appropriately-named Torrent, which served along with fireboats named Cataract, Deluge, and Cascade.

Built on the hull of a steam tug, Torrent was launched in 1921 and served until 1956 when she was replaced by a modern diesel fireboat. Carl T. Allison, an engineer on the Torrent in the 1930s and 1940s, used his leisure time to build this model of the boat he served aboard. The model was gifted to CBMM by Mildred T. Allison, in memory of Calvin F. Allison.

The model came to the Museum with several parts missing or separated, and CBMM Model Guild member Ed Thieler volunteered to conserve it for the upcoming tugboat exhibit.

The model features not only the five monitors—or nozzles mounted on the main deck, pilot house, aft deck house, and tower, but a grate below the waterline for the water pump intake, discharge gates where hoses can be attached, and other such details.

Although not a scale model—the model is proportionately a little too wide and too deep for its length—many of the technical details are included. This attention to detail is typical of “sailor-made” models, those constructed by a member of a vessel’s crew who knew it intimately.

CBMM’s upcoming Push and Pull: Life on Chesapeake Tugboats exhibit explores the world of Chesapeake tugboats and the men and women who work on them. For more information, call 410-745-2916 or visit www.cbmm.org.

CBMM Offers Free Admission President’s Day 2012

In recognition of President’s Day on February 20, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM) in St. Michaels, MD is offering free admission to its 18-acre waterfront campus and 12 exhibit buildings.

The museum features an authentic working boat yard, a floating fleet of historic vessels, the 1879 Hooper Strait Lighthouse, and many hands-on exhibits that share the stories of the Chesapeake Bay and the people who have shaped their lives around it.

The museum is open 10am to 4pm seven days a week, with admission regularly at $13 adults, $10 seniors, $6 kids 6-17 and free admission for kids five and under. For more information, visit the museum in St. Michaels, online at www.cbmm.org, or call 410-745-2916.