I was thrilled to read your Winter 2000 edition of Michigan Education Report. Your two articles on reading ("Phonics, 'whole language,' and literacy" and "Special needs students make great strides") hit "home" with me.
My son has severe dyslexia. Like A.J. Jorgensen's parents, I had on my hands a very bright child who couldn't read or write; though in special education, he was going nowhere fast. Fortunately, I read about the Orton-Gillingham method of teaching reading to dyslexic children (though not named in the article, that is the method Lynda Howe is using to help A.J., as illustrated in the pictures in your article about Crossroads Charter Academy). Orton-Gillingham not only raised my son's reading level, but it gave him confidence that grew tremendously from there. He graduates from high school in June having received numerous awards and was recently nominated by our high school as a Detroit News Outstanding Graduate. Even more amazing, he brought home an all-A report card the first marking period of this semester.
Congratulations to A.J.'s parents who sought out help for him! As Mr. Bertonneau wrote in his story, phonics is the only way handicapped kids are going to read and is the best method out there for reading success to be assured. Whole language will not work for the majority of students - something I've been arguing for years. Orton-Gillingham is phonics based. My thanks to Crossroads Charter Academy for using a proven system where teaching reading to dyslexic children is concerned. Perhaps one day I'll start a charter school for dyslexic children myself. You can bet I'll use Orton-Gillingham.
Gail Opper, Teacher
Anchor Bay High School