SS12. On other pages: part 1, part 2, part 3.
[Allan Campbell: see Journals, Newsletters, Media, Spell 4 Literacy NZ.]

simpl speling July 2000 part 4. members' supplement.

Editor: Allan Campbell.

Annual meeting reports.

Benefits to learners the focus.

A major change in the SSS recently has been the greater interest in seeking out the benefits of reform to learners. This was the view of Chris Jolly, chairman of the Society, in his report to the annual meeting of the Society in May. The submissions to the UK and NZ parliamentary subcommittees emfasized the effect of different orthografies on literacy acquisition and the costs which lack of change incurred, but he believed that change would benefit not only early users.

He urged caution on members who expressed views on reform publicly. They should separate their own opinions from official Society views. The Society welcomed diversity. He saw it as a forum where a range of views was valued. Members could actively promote a particular view as individuals, but as a group the Society promoted reform in general.

He thanked all members who had continued to work hard on behalf of the Society, particularly Jean Hutchins for her excellent work as membership secretary and for being a 'rock' for the Society. He commented on Chris Upward's high standard of scholarship; on Allan Campbell's sustained enthusiasm and usefulness to the committee. He believed Masha Bell, in her paid role, had become a new focal point for the Society, and expressed appreciation for her energy and enthusiasm. He commended Paul Fletcher for his untiring work on Personal Views.

Twelve members of the email discussion group supported the RITE spelling strategy, Masha reported. The meeting deferred discussion on this until the July meeting. Jean Hutchins circulated copies of Pete Boardman's summary of the RITE spelling principles for discussion then.

Retiring membership secretary Jean Hutchins said there were now 139 members, with 101 having paid for this year, and 33 subscriptions still due. No new members have joined since the January meeting. Jean will continue to moderate the 20-strong SSS email discussion group and SSSnews, a 40-member announcements list for the other emailing members.

Subscription fee to rise next year.

In view of the great discrepancy shown in the treasurer's report between the Society's current income and expenditure, the annual general meeting decided unanimously to raise the membership fee to £15 (or US $30, or 30 euros) per year, with effect from January 2001.

Before reaching this decision the meeting had discussed how long Society funds would last.

[Further financial details have been omitted.]

Masha was thanked for her work as secretary/treasurer.

Publishing of PVs to continue.

The committee has agreed to continue publishing Personal Views. However, it also agreed that authors of spelling schemes were more likely to get a response to their ideas if they published them via email; and before submitting them, authors should look carefully at the summary of already published ones to ensure they were offering something substantially different. Publishing a second version of a PV was not ruled out in principle, as long as it offered something sufficiently new and interesting. Comparing different schemes was difficult and it was decided not to try and work out a system for evaluating them.

The cost of making 150 copies of a 12-page PV is about £100. The cost of posting them is currently £47. Paul Fletcher was thanked for processing 12 PVs and then making a compilation of the different spelling schemes which had been proposed; thanks were also expressed to Pete Boardman, who is working on producing an electronic version of this. Tony Burns said he could now copy and post PVs again. New PVs had been submitted by Paul Mitrevski and Thomas Lollar, and a revised version by George Lahey. Chris Upward reported two Journals and three Simpl Spelings had been published in 1999. The Principles and Practicalities leaflet had been reprinted poorly, and would need to be redone. The meeting thanked Chris, and Allan Campbell, for their dedicated hard work and praised them for the reliably high standard of both publications.

The submission to the inquiry into early years education by the House of Commons subcommittee and the Society's application for charitable status (which was unsuccessful) had taken up substantial amounts of her time in addition to routine tasks, Masha Bell said in her secretarial report. Beyond that she had worked to advance the cause of reform by

1. Trying to establish the regularity and irregularity of the core English vocabulary of approximately 4000 words in order to be able to show clearly (a) the amount of rote learning that literacy acquisition in English requires; and (b) which areas of spelling are most in need of reform and most amenable to reform.

2. Compiling evidence of which words give children most trouble and what kinds of spelling errors they make.

3. Regularly discussing reform issues in the SSS email discussion group.

She found it difficult to separate her paid duties from her personal interest in reform, especially when answering email inquiries from members, particularly those asking about the research she was doing. The meeting agreed it was important she make this separation, and felt that points 1-3 were not part of her paid duties.

New membership secretary.

John M Gledhill is the new membership secretary. All membership inquiries should be directed to John: all other inquiries to the general secretary, Masha Bell.

Officers and committee.

Officers and committee for 2000-01 are:
Chair, Chris Jolly; vice-chair, Jean Hutchins; membership secretary, John Gledhill; editor-in-chief, Chris Upward; secretary/treasurer (paid), Masha Bell; committee - Tony Burns, Leo Chapman, Paul Fletcher, Nick Kerr, Guy Otten, Gerald Palmer, Gwenllian Thorstad.

Committee: Chris Jolly (chair), Masha Bell (minutes), Tony Burns, Leo Chapman, Paul Fletcher, John Gledhill, Jean Hutchins, Nicholas Kerr, Gerald Palmer, Gwenllian Thorstad, Chris Upward.
Members: Edward Marchant, Guy Otten, Ken Spencer.
Apologies: Frank Garnett, Carol Saxby.

Guidelines for presentation of members' schemes as Personal Views are available from Paul Fletcher, England.

Meanwhile, back at the office ...

Lady with computer.

[Masha Bell: see Journals, Newsletters, Leaflets, Media, Personal View.]

Adopting an agreed strategy.

Masha Bell

Shortly after I took on the job of SSS secretary two years ago and had worked hard at finding out what the SSS stood for I wrote, 'Everyone in the SSS appears to agree only that TO should be reformed. On how to reform it there are nearly as many ideas as SSS members. This explains to me why the SSS has so far not managed to advance the cause of simplifying TO in any way since its foundation'.

This state of affairs immediately suggested to me that the cause of reform could perhaps be advanced substantially if the Society started to work towards adopting an agreed SSS reform strategy. I have used nearly all of my spare time during the past two years towards that end and the advance of RITEspel in the discussion group even led me to believe that my efforts had had some positive effects.

Until the AGM.

In the minutes I had to report our chairman as stating: 'The Society welcomes diversity. He saw it as a forum where a range of views was valued. Members can be active in promoting a particular view as individuals, but as a group we promote reform in general.' I have been fairly depressed ever since.

In July I intend to find out what the committee as a whole feels about this. I will also urge that we should at least consult the whole SSS membership about this policy. I have a notion that the majority of members are not happy for the SSS to remain what is essentially a talking shop and publishing company.

My initial impression - that lack of agreement among would-be reformers on how English spelling should be reformed explains why reform has made no headway - has often been reinforced for me over the last two years. I came across it in nearly every book that mentioned spelling reform, as well as many JSSS articles and communications from members.

Since lack of an agreed reform strategy is such a widely perceived shortcoming of the spelling reform movement, it seems quite illogical and perverse to me not to try to remedy the situation.

In the same vein, I find it hard to understand why SSS reform strategy cannot simply be the reduction of irregularity in English spelling, since nearly everyone agrees that lack of consistency is the main fault of the English spelling system.

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