Our World is upside down,
Pandemic upside down.
Everywhere people have gotten sick and many have died.
Lessons to be learned but many refusing to be schooled.
Are people this stupid, ignorant or foolish?
If wearing a mask saves lives, why oh, why not wear one?
Sure its hot and masks make it hard for me to breathe.
But if they save lives ; make fewer sick, what’s wrong with that?
Is your life worth saving?
I’ve become a shut-in for most of my day.
Going out for walk at 4:30 am, when its still dark,
Getting everything delivered,
Doing everything by phone or online.
Driving in my car because it’s the safest place for me to be,
And, visits to my Mom.
Doctor offices are scary,
With all the precautions and exposure to not just Covid-19.
Pandemic turning our world upside down.
I don’t know how much more of this I can stand.
Its hard and very restricting.
Is my life worth all this isolation?
Don’t know anymore,
When just 6 months ago, I was praying to die.
Now not depressed, I don’t know what I want anymore.
I just don’t want to be put on a ventilator or get sick.
If a mask is hard to breathe wearing,
What would Covid-19 be like with my ability to breathe?
Be safe, live your best life as best you can,
A thought I had for a song in one of my play ideas or maybe my take of a song from “Pippen.”
I’m extra extra extraordinary
I’m a friend to a friend
Loyal to all
I’m a power house
But other worldly
And beyond compare
Extra extra extraordnary
Entry is update version of the section of “After the Revolution to Present Times” and “City Planning and Direction” in White Plains, New York: A City of Contrasts.
AFTER THE REVOLUTION TO PRESENT TIMES
After the Revolution ending in 1788, White Plains (WP) separated from Rye becoming a town. WP census of 1790 recorded a population of 505 of which forty-six were slaves. Agriculture was still the basis of the economy; most of the farms were small in size.
It would take the community years to recover from the war especially when many of the buildings along the Village Street (now where S and N Broadway are located) were destroyed by fire in 1776. Court house was rebuilt in 1787 over the foundation of the old one and in 1788 (till 1870) WP would alternate with Bedford as the county seat. Bedford incidentally had a larger population at that time and their 1787 court house is now a museum.
Presbyterian Church located on the street was not rebuilt till 1825. Unfortunately, the rebuilt church was by fire as well. It was also a wooden structure and was not replaced till 1855.
A Methodist Church (still at location on N Broadway and office for WP Rural Cemetery) was built in 1795 but after a fire on opening day, it was replaced in 1797.
In 1844, the Harlem Railroad Line, using steam engines, reached WP profoundly effecting the community. As the Business District (BD) moved closer to the railroad, the population grew and residential, commercial and government development also increased. The rails increased dairy production on farms (like the Gedney Farm) and industry. The rails were involved in bringing commuters from New York City and the conversion of farms into estates. The tracks near the station and the station buildings were changed a number of times.
To encourage the sale of tickets, the rail line offered package deals for commuters and coordinated with real estate developers and others to promote Westchester as a great place to escape the hot dirty City. Wealthy NYers found inexpensive land (that were former farms) in WP to build large estates, hospitals and safe havens for orphan children.
A new court house was built on Railroad Ave (now Main St) and opened in 1856 replacing the one on S Broadway. It was built from the rocks quarried at the Davis Quarry. Rocks and remnants of quarry can be found today at corner of Prospect Rd and Oakwood Ave.
WP became an incorporated village in 1866 and in 1899 the village boundaries expanded when it purchased land from North Castle to build its reservoir.
Electrical rails were introduced in 1910 and to protect pedestrians and other vehicles the tracks were put above ground in 1914. Pillars above the tracks on Main Street are marked for this date. As the use of the train grew, more former farms and even the estates the rich NYers had built were subdivided into single lots for home building. Some developers built homes laying out streets, putting in sewers and lines for water and power. Trolleys were introduced and connected the rail line to the neighboring areas and communities. They were eventually replaced and phased out by 1926 as the use of buses became more popular.
Pedestrian tunnels under the tracks date from this time as well as stairwells that go directly to tracks from street level. Pictured are what they looked like before renovations.
A new brick station was open in 1915. WP had a least 2 other stations before this one that were much smaller.
Remnants from the former building are still behind the Bank St Commons that was constructed on the site of the former station. Former building had been demolished many years prior to the apartments going in and there was a big hole filled with water.
Rail had different owners over the years but Metro North took over the rail line in 1982 and built a new station to replace the 1915 one in 1987. In 2017 they agreed to update station in 2017 after NY State named the station a hub in NY’s Mass Rapid Transit plan. Hudson Link buses are available connecting White Plains to Rockland County and areas around the bridge. Construction on the station began in 2018. City did a study to redevelop the areas near the station and are asking for developers to submit plans for review.
From 1912 to 1937, the NY, Westchester and Boston Railway ran to WP from the Bronx on the east side of the city. The terminal for the line was located where Nordstrom Department Store is today. The retail development on Gedney Way is a result of the rail line going through this largely residential area.
Though, the rail no longer exists parts of its bed are now part of the Jack Harrington Greenway City of WP Walking Trail from Bolton Ave to the Scarsdale border. Other parts of the rail bed are visible but are not available for walking. The Greenway entrance to trail on Ridgeway has a display containing information about rail line. In the summer of 2020, work was completed on the extension of the Greenway north from Gedney Way to Bolton Rd. Tunnels for the rail line run under a number of city roads like the one under Bryant Ave can be viewed at the municipal lot on Mamaroneck Ave near the intersection with Bloomingdale Rd. The parking lot for Sam’s of Gedney Way (56 Gedney Way) cuts into the former trail bed.
White Plains Becomes a City:
WP tried to become a City as early as 1902; in 1908 tried to annex Greenacres Neighborhood of Scarsdale as well as parts of Greenburgh and West Harrison in its efforts. In 1910, Governor vetoed WP’s request to become a city that would have annexed parts of West Harrison; Greenburgh.
WP became an incorporated city on January 1, 1916 (after state approval in 1915) and would now include the Battle Hill section (of Greenburgh). City Hall on Main St opened in 1926. A marker stone near the handicap entrance is marked 1924. Today one can find war memorials in the lobby, pictures of past mayors and some of the drawings done by John Rösch (WP photographer and historian; dating from 1867).
The Police Department once occupied the annex that is behind City Hall but is now used as offices. A police station had been on Hamilton Ave till it moved to its present location at the WP Safety Building at 77 S. Lexington.
The Westchester section of the Bronx River Parkway was constructed between 1907 and 1925. The park along its route was created to protect the Bronx River from pollution and development. This was Westchester’s 1st park and the nation’s 1st public parkway. North of Yonkers, much of parkway’s bridges and other features are still in the original design. The Kensico Dam in Valhalla at the parkway’s northern end was constructed from 1913 to 1917. It replaced the first dam of 1885 that was taken down in 1911.
West of the tracks is a former bus depot that was repurposed into a restaurant Dog Den in 2016. The present bus terminal on Ferris Ave. connects commuters to areas in Westchester, Rockland and Connecticut is east of the Trans Center. City wanted to redevelop the transit hub to coordinate with the completion of Tappan Zee Bridge replacement. A year long study was conducted in 2016. The Trans Center started to be renovated in 2018 but there hasn’t been any other big movements yet to redevelop the parking lots around the Trans Center though the bridge was finished and opened as the Governor Mario Cuomo Bridge.
The trains that brought NY City closer to Westchester County and communities like White Plains had brought many wealthy New Yorkers who built country homes. They took advantage of the leisure activities that the area offered. Some of the city’s neighborhoods are named for these people (Hillair Circle, Idle Forest, Reynal Park, & Rocky Dell). Former farmland was also converted into hospitals, refuges for children, golf courses and even a large hotel Gedney Farm Hotel. See other sections on this website for more information listed at end of this posting. For more on transportation see “Transportation in WP” section.
CITY DIRECTION & PLANNING: As far back as the 1920’s, city planners had plans for WP to become a major commercial center in Westchester County by attracting some of NY City’s major department stores and Fortune 500 companies. Among these were B. Altman’s (1933), Macy’s (1949) and General Foods.
After years of construction, the Cross Westchester Expressway opened in 1960 and attracted even more companies. The roadway borders and cuts through parts of White Plains. A major renovation did occur starting in 1998 and sections of White Plains changed. A section of Lake Street (near S. & N. Kensico intersection) changed where 287 was redone. The changes took over a decade to complete and cost more than the first construction.
A huge urban renewal project from 1966 till 1980 removed entire blocks in the city to make way for new development including a new courthouse, library and two malls . The City lost residents during this time. Hundreds of Italian and Afro-Americans were displaced and many small businesses were forced out. The WP Mall (1973) served the community during this period. Whole Blocks and streets were eliminated and a number of much large office buildings and malls were constructed with some taking up entire blocks. The WP Mall (1973) housed some of the displaced businesses. The Mall is now mostly empty with a new plan for redevelopment that has yet to happen but many businesses either closed or moved. One of tallest buildings constructed during this time was Westchester One (1975) on S Broadway.
In the 1980’s, many of the city’s older apartment buildings were converted to cooperatives and condominiums. The Galleria Mall opened in 1980.
By 1977, the military use for the Armory dating from in 1910 and constructed on the site of the first 2 court houses, ended and was converted to a senior center and residence in 1982.
In 1995, The Westchester Mall opened. Numerous condominium townhouses and apartment buildings were constructed during the latter part of the 1900’s and the early part of the 21st century.
In 2000, the US census listed the population of WP as 53,077 and in 2010 as 56,853. Estimates of 250,000 have been given as to as to how many people come into the city daily. Tall towers of glass and concrete rose in the center of the city during the first part of the 2000’s. In recent years, with the sale of condominiums slowing, most apartment development in the city has been high end rentals.
A new building, The Prelude, opened on Quarropas Ave. in 2016 and is the first structure completed in Brookfield Commons (formerly known as Winbrook) by the WP Housing Authority. The older rental apartment structures from 1949 will be replaced and demolished. One building on S Lexington Ave was closed in 2016 and was demolished in 2020. The housing development is now using “Affordable” Housing to describe its offerings. The second building is being constructed.
White Plains’ newest rental housing developments (since 2003) must include “affordable” options within their buildings. Despite these requirements for new housing, The City Center complex has an affordable option in a separate location in the complex “The Summit at City Center.” It is below the NY Sports Club and is actually hard to get to by way of two elevators. The City also has an affordable home ownership program for eligible families. There was a house available and units at Minerva Place Condominiums. For information see the City website under Planning Department.
Considering how much WP changed during the 20th and 21st century, there are still remnants from earlier times. Some older buildings were saved by moving them to new locations and others by placing them on the National Registry of Historic Places. Many of the city schools and government departments as well as a number of hospitals, churches and other organizations were established in the later part of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th.
In the last number of years, the City has rezoned a number of areas in around the BD to revitalize them. Most of the projects involve a mixture of retail; rental apartments. Some are renovations but others involve demolition and rebuilds. The City Center & The Westchester underwent major renovations in 2016. For more information on newer structures and renovations see the section on White Plains Revitalization; Its Vanishing Past.
Entry is updated version of the sections on “American Revolution,” “Battle of White Plains,” “Merritt and Miller Hills” and “War Remembrances” from the book White Plains, New York: A City of Contrasts:
When the American Continental Congress in Philadelphia declared independence on July 4, 1776, the NY delegation did not have the authority to vote. The Provincial Congress of the Colony of NY (formed in 1975) was not meeting till July 9. But, at this time General Howe, Commander of the British Army was taking control of NY City. John Hancock sent a letter along with a copy of the Declaration of Independence to the NY for approval.
For safety, members met at the White Plains (WP) Court House on July 9, 1776 where they agreed to accept the document allowing the NY delegates in Philadelphia to vote & sign the Declaration. On the same day, the governing body of NY changed its name to the Convention of the Representatives of the State of NY. This is why WP claims to be the locale for the “birth place” of NY.
The Declaration was read before the public on July 11, 1776 on the steps of the courthouse. A copy of the document is part of Westchester County’s Archives. The bill contains a letter from the Secretary Robert Benson signed on July 9 from the newly named state of NY.
A monument in front of the Armory was erected in 1910 by the WP Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution where the reading of the Declaration of Independence took place. The monument was constructed from stones that were part of the original court house’s foundation.
BATTLE OF WP 1776: In the fall of 1776 from October 28 to about November 4, the American Continental Army under the command of George Washington fought the British under the command of General William Howe in WP.
The Jacob Purdy House (1721) was used as Washington’s headquarters in 1776 & 1778. The house was saved from the wrecking ball in the 1970’s when it was moved from its original location on Spring St (demolished during Urban Renewal) to its present site on Park Ave on land that was once a part of the Purdy’s Farm. The restored Jacob Purdy House is used by the WP Historical Society & is open for events. Historic exhibits are found inside.
On Oct 28, 1776, the British battled Americans stationed on Chatterton Hill that was part of Philipse Manor that extended west to the Hudson River. Outnumbered, the Americans gave up the hill and retreated across the Bronx River to Purdy Hill where Washington had stationed most of his troops or his center line.
Today, one can find information and a map at the Battle of WP Park at the Corner of Whitney and Battle Ave. Much of the Battle Hill neighborhood became part of WP in 1916.
At the bottom of the hill along Tarrytown Rd there is a sign showing the manning of a cannon at the Battle of White Plains from the Ward painting now hanging in the library. People though throughout the years have referred to the man in front of the cannon as Alexander Hamilton but this was not the intent of the painter (stated in an interview and published in a local magazine). Just south at the entrance to the Bronx River Parkway, there is a Battle of WP monument with marker dated May 18, 1926. The cannon is a replica of the original cannon found in WP in 1890. The original first stolen in 1963 was recovered but was stolen again in 1971. There is still an award posted for its return. The sign has since been replaced with a newer version.
MERRITT & MILLER HILLS: Action also took place in Harrison on the same day on Merritt Hill where Washington also had stationed troops. Today, in the park on top of Merritt Hill; just above Silver Lake on Lake St one can find the pictured cannon and information. The red sign depicting the Liberty or Death flag was used during the battle and it became a part of WP’s city seal.
The cannon from this local might be where General Heath described in his papers that a Hessian soldier was hit by a cannon ball in the head. This might explain the headless horseman in Washington Irving’s Headless Horseman in the “Legend of Sleepy Hollow” but not according to the author who read of European legends about this. The painting of Ward’s that depicts scenes from Irving’s stories is at WP Library.
After the retreat from Chatterton Hill, Washington moved his troops to North Castle using Miller House as his headquarters. After failing to defeat the Americans, the conflict ended around November 4, when General Howe went back to the NY City.
The Elijah and Anne Miller house (1738) on Virginia Rd is just below Miller Hill. Elijah was killed in August 1776 while serving in the Westchester Militia followed by the death of two of his sons serving in the militia during the winter of 1776. After decades of being closed to the public, Westchester County agreed to finally renovate the house and transfer the property to North Castle. Funds will be raised to maintain the property and various groups will be part of this.
On top of Miller Hill in Miller Hill Park there is a marker and information about the battle.
While most of the Continental Army went north after November 4, avoiding what could have been the end of the war, many of the buildings in the village of WP were burned down by an American Major John Austin and his detachment. Before his trial, Austin escaped punishment. The court house and the Presbyterian Church were among the destroyed structures. WP would take years to recover from the night of terror.
WAR REMEMBRANCES: Unlike in the past when Battle of WP reenactments were held in the area, the White Plains Historic Society (formed in 1983 from the Battle of White Plains Monument Committee) holds an annual event commemorating the Battle of White Plains as well as other events at the Purdy House There are historic displays inside Purdy House about the war and the City’s history.
“The Battle of WP” painted by Edmund F. Ward (1926) is hung on the 1st floor of the library along with other paintings. The local history room at WP Library has reopened holding a host of information and historic treasures.
A two cent commemorative stamp issued by the US Post that same year shows the same scene of the battle as well as the flag first used in the battle titled, “Liberty or Death.” Stamps are still available on the internet for sale and I donated one to WP Library. It is now on their website in picture file (see Local History page).
Two naval ships (no longer in use) were named after WP in honor of the battle. City exhibited equipment donated to the City in 1959 from the USS WP at City Hall and on Colonial Day in 2016.
A number of city streets, parks and schools in the City were named after the people, places and other events that took place during the country’s Revolutionary period. Some of these are Lexington, Hamilton, Battle, Jefferson and Franklin Aves and the schools Rochambeau and George Washington.
A monument, erected in 1906, can be found on N Broadway marking the center of Washington’s army during the battle. The marker in front of the monument is dated 1926 while the one on the monument is not dated as it was erected at an earlier time (dedicated 1906).
There are plaques at WP City Hall in entrance way in honoring those in WP that served and there are veterans from the Battle of WP and the American Revolution at White Plains Rural Cemetery and Presbyterian Church both on North Broadway. Every once and a while remnants of bones are found on Battle Hill where it is believed many British soldiers were buried after the battle on the hill. Estimates that 200 could have died there.
Entry is updated section on “County Seat” of White Plains, New York: A City of Contrasts:
COUNTY SEAT: On Feb 4, 1758, Westchester’s court house was destroyed by fire. It was in the former Town of Westchester (West Chester) in what is now the Bronx. White Plains (WP) was selected as the location for the county’s new court & the court house opened on Nov 7, 1759 at the Armory location. The court house was an attraction with trials & public hangings.
In July 1776, when the Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia, Penn it was sent to WP to be approved by the NY Provisional Government that escaped NYC where the British had taken control. The document arrived in White Plains Court House on July 9 and was approved making NY a State and joining the other Colonies in Declaring their Independence from the British Empire. The document was read on the steps of the court house on July 11 after copies were made. A copy of the broadside can be found on the Westchester Archives website with a picture of the document that they have from 1776. There is a letter at the top from NY’s Secretary Benson declaring New York a State and this is why WP considers itself the birth place of NY state. Of course others question this because there was no new state constitution yet and the Americans had yet to win their independence. The fight in NYC area was not going well.
WP’s court house was destroyed in 1776 by fire after the Battle of WP. After the Revolution, two court houses were built in 1787, one in WP (on the foundation of the first) and the one in Bedford (pictured below) that is still standing. From 1788 to 1870, WP and Bedford would share the role of county seat. Bedford’s court house structure remains and the restored structure can be visited. The building has a court room (pictured) on the main level but much of the structure contains historic exhibits.
In 1844, when trains started coming into WP, the center of the BD shifted to Railroad Ave (now Main St.). A new court house was built of stone from WP’s Davis Quarry on Railroad Ave (located at corner on west side of Court St) and opened in 1857. The former court house on S Broadway was demolished in 1863. Additional buildings were constructed behind the Court house (including a jail). The NY Supreme Court opened in 1907.
By 1916, a new court house opened on Main St replacing the 1857 structure. The present court house (pictured) for Westchester County and NY State’s Supreme Court located on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard was dedicated in December 1973. By 1978, all the former court buildings on Main Street (formerly Railroad Ave) were demolished to make way for the Galleria Mall construction.
Numerous county, state and federal offices are located in WP. County offices are located in the Michaelian Building (pictured left) on Martine Ave. The 1932 structure was named for Edwin G. Michaelian who served as County Executive from 1958 to 19730 and as WP Mayor and Councilman.
NY Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is located at the WP Mall on Hamilton Ave. Federal Court House has been located at 300 Quarropas St in their own building since 1995 after renting a facility on E Post Rd since 1983. The IRS has an office on E Post Rd.
The Westchester County Center (pictured below; dedicated in 1930) is located at 198 Central Ave had the same architect as the one that designed Playland.
Entry is an updated version of the section on “Waterways” in the book: White Plains, New York: A City of Contrasts:
Entry is an updated version of the section on “Waterways” from the book: White Plains, New York: A City of Contrasts:
WATERWAYS: Many of the city’s former wetlands, ponds and streams are gone. The Bronx River (pictured) in the northwest White Plains (WP), the Mamaroneck River & its tributaries (including the West Branch) were used as boundaries for the Village of WP in its patent request.
The Bronx River was named after Westchester’s first European settler Jonas Bronck. The river still runs above ground in the northwestern part of the city and can be explored along a multipurpose paved path. Efforts were made in recent years to bring back some of the wetlands and native plants along the river bank to reduce flooding.
The Mamaroneck River & its tributaries still run in sections of the city but many parts are below ground in pipes (covert). The river’s watershed covers most of WP. “Lighted” or visible sections can be found at Maple Moor Golf course (pictured), Saxon Woods Park, in the neighborhoods north from these areas; in the northeast part of WP by Delfino Park & Lake St. Ponds & small streams appear in other sections of the city connected to the river.
Cassaway or Causeway stream runs easterly along Bloomingdale Rd & Mamaroneck Ave from Burke Rehabilitation Hospital’s grounds to the grounds of the NY Presbyterian Hospital. The stream opens at Bloomingdale Pond (pictured left) which is west of the NY Presbyterian Hospital entrance. The pond was a water source for the hospital when it was Bloomingdale Asylum. As to whether the stream still runs underground east to the Mamaroneck River as it once did could not be determined because of the roadways. Old maps show a branch of the stream that crossed Mamaroneck Ave across from Burke.
Silver Lake (pictured) along the city’s northeast border with West Harrison was known as Horton’s Pond during the Battle of WP & was where General Washington stored munitions. The manmade lake dates from 1726; was used by a mill at its southern end and later by an ice company.
The stone section of the home at 147 Lake St is what remains of a Mill that according to Renoda Hoffman was damaged by fire in the 1800’s. (People claim the mill was Horton’s Mill). In WP, the lake (that has had numerous names) can be accessed from Liberty Park on Lake St. or from the West Harrison Park in West Harrison. Another way in is through the County’s Silver Lake Preserve on Merritt Hill where there is a parking area above the lake. There are a number of walking trails in the Preserve and one that goes from Liberty Park into the Preserve (video below was taken on trail).
Todd Pond in the Westminster Park residential area of the city along Lakeside Ave and Garretson Rd gets its name from A. C. Todd who created Westminster Park in 1912. The lake is privately managed as a recreation area.
A mill dating from 1690 along the Mamaroneck River can be found in the Town of Harrison near the Hutchinson Parkway on Love Lane (pictured to right and below).
A number of streets in WP are named for its waterways such as Lake, Bank and Water Streets . White Plains like everywhere else is a watershed for the waterways. Storm Drains water goes through either the Bronx River or the Mamaroneck River to the Long Island Sound.
I lived the first half of my life in pretty good health. I walked, biked, hiked & swam. But, the the yo-yo dieting using the Scarsdale Diet took a toll. I lost 40 lbs each summer only to gain even more in the Fall when I returned to work (as teacher).
I took a stress test at 30 & got weighed in water. Minus the fat, I weighed 119 lbs. but that’s what most charts stated a 5’2″ woman should weigh. When I was 12, a doctor told me I was obese cause I was 10 lbs. overweight. He used those same charts that do not account for body type. After the stress test, I was told that I could weigh 155 and be fine but I was 180 at the time. But, I was not obese.
In 1990, the stress from my job caught up with me and I sought psychological help. At the time, I was unable to sleep averaging 4 hours and was suicidal. I saw a psychiatrist who told me I was obssesive compulsive and prescribed Prozac. For the first time, the repetitive thoughts were gone but I went off meds during the summer only to get stressed in the Fall. I then took Zoloft but it wasn’t as good.
In 1990’s, I had to stop being Chairman of Working conditions for White Plains Teacher’s Association and negotiating. They gave me Life membership. I eventually had to give up Westchester Trails Association where I served as Sec Treasurer. By then my Psychiatrist had left and I began seeing a different doctor.
Around 2000, I was in bad mental shape. I was also seeing Psychologist who said I had a manic episode. I was put on Depakote and anti-depressants like Wellbutrin, but gained a lot of weight (of about 60 lbs). I was about 300 in 2009 and wasn’t doing much hiking or even walking. I started walking when doctor told me I had too and increased from 15 min to 4 miles a day till my knees hurt too much. I retired in 2009 and went off Depakote about a 1/2 yr later. I did get down to 262 but my weight bounces down to 231 to 250ish depending on if I’m manic or depressed. I lose weight in manic state but though I get loss done, I sleep little.
Then in 2013, they took out my thyroid (cancer) and a yr later I was diabetic. I had other issues but after tests, there continues to be negative cancer results. Went on modified Keto diet, lowering my sugar levels and went off Metformin. I, though, got dizzy and developed post nasal drip in 2012. I have a thick endometrium though I’ve had 2 D&C’s. It was recommended I have another but I don’t want any more.
I had a vitrectomy in 2010 and then two cataract surgeries (2012; 2014). At this point, I don’t want more tests. I have small tumors in my head found from x-ray and then MRI.
Then came pandemic 2020 with COVID 19 killing thousands of Americans and many more world wide. With all my health issues, I should be a great host for virus. I’ve struggled to stay Covid-19 free but Hayfever, mania and post nasal drip is not helping.
I should be dead.
Submitted May 20, 1980 in partial fulfillment of requirements for Masters of Science in Reading.
I. The Problem
Before 1963 the term Learning Disabilities was unknown. Samuel Kirk coined the name at the 1963 Conference sponsored by the Fund for Perceptually Handicapped Children Incorporated. Even though children with difficulties defined by the Learning Disabilities label were recognized before 1963, the term served as a catalyst to the existing interest in the field. Much has been done since 1963 for the Learning Disabled (LD) child but mostly at the elementary Level. It was not until the mid seventies that Secondary (Sec) Learning Disabilities programs became evident and that research at this level began.
During the present decade LD high school (HS) students have finally been receiving their long overdue attention. School districts since 1970 have been mandated by the Courts to establish secondary Learning Disabilities programs, recognizing that Learning Disabilities is not something that disappears with age but is a life long disorder that matures (Sabatino 1976). The programs and service provided by each district differ along with their philosophies and remediation practices. A variety of services are usually available to the student with placement and the type of service provided determined by the needs of the individual whether they are physical, emotional or academic.
The majority of the Learning Disabilities programs established in the high schools are largely compensatory (Gillespie and Sitko 1975) providing part-time resource help for the student while he receives instruction in the mainstream for all subject areas. Basically the Journals reveal guidelines of do’s and don’ts and mainly list materials considered appropriate to this level. Test procedures for secondary students have also been lacking and in many cases inappropriate (Mann, Goodman and Wiederholt 1978). Remediation techniques used at the secondary level have also gone untested. Another problem is that teachers trained in Learning Disabilities have been mostly orientated to the elementary level and their training on the secondary level is usually inadequate (Sabatino 1976).
Most of the LD children are handicapped by difficulties connected with reading (Lerner 1976), and it is for this basic reason that the major emphasis for high school remediation for LD students has been in reading. Reading is considered to be the most important key element for academic success (Marsh, Gearheart and Gearheart 1976). In schools content area instruction comes largely from textbooks and a student who has difficulties reading will confront many obstacles. A student with Learning Disabilities might be provided with talking books and supplementary materials but the demands made on the student might be a bit over-whelming in a regular setting. A student that experiences difficulties in elementary grades will most likely continue having them in high school (Marsh, Gearheart and Gearheart 1978). A Learning Disabilities program, no matter how good it seems, will fail without the students’ cooperation if instruction is poorly constructed or implemented the results can be counterproductive (Marsh, Gearheart and Gearheart 1978).
In the high school the major emphasis in reading becomes comprehension (Miller 1973), in both secondary developmental and remedial reading programs. Since the demand in sec reading programs is to derive meaning and learning from the text, comprehension becomes most crucial to achievement.
Reading programs have been developed for LD students by Bannatyne, Fernald, Fitzgerald, Gillingham and Stillman, Hegge, Kirk and Kirk and others (Gillespie and Gitko 1975). The authors state that their programs are appropriate for secondary level students (Mann, Goodman and Wiederholt 1978). There is little evidence to support the preface that instruction for LD students should be different than for so-called ‘normal” children, (Mann, Goodman and Wiederholt 1978) and in fact there is no single method that has demonstrated superiority over and other (Mann, Goodman and Wiederholt 1978) Therefore many educators feel that LD programs at the sec level can be adapted for materials and methods created for regular sec students (Goodman and Mann 1976).
B. Purpose of Study
The purpose of this study was to explore the reading process in order to establish a philosophical basis for developing a reading comprehension program for LD HS students. A review of the literature was conducted to select those methods and reading techniques that might be adopted in a secondary Learning Disabilities program for improving reading comprehension. Current theories of reading were viewed in the hope of finding a theory that would be applicable to the mode of learning of LD HS Students.
The methods and practices recommended by authors and those actually being used were reviewed and selected on the basis that they were also appropriate to sec LD students. A good LD program will incorporate a wide variety of methodologies and practices since the teacher’s concern is with the individual. In order to meet the varied needs of one’s students, the teacher will need to employ different kinds of instructional materials and methods (March, Gerheart and Gearheart 1978).
Singling out one problem that LD students face in (HS), the passing of the state mandated Competency Test in Reading, a field study was conducted to develop and test a remedial program that will help students prepare for such an exam.
C. The Problem in Hypothesis Format
Since the research in the Sec LD area is scarce, the literature studied was mostly in areas other than Learning Disabilities. Futile attempts were made in finding LD HS programs, already established, described in the literature. Quite recently some books have been written in this area. After reviewing ERIC documents many LD programs have been established but incorporate commercially developed kits and use untested methods and practices. Instruction and methods for teaching reading skills were rarely mentioned in most of the written articles.
Sec reading, HS education, reading and compression in general were reviewed in hope of finding methods that could be adopted and incorporated in a Sec. LD Program. Since there has not been any findings to support the preface that sec LD students learn in ways completely different than students in regular programs, most of the methods viewed were those that had been used for the ‘normal’ child.
The results of such a study would probably reveal guidelines for formulating programs; and descriptions of different methods that can be adapted and incorporated into a total reading program.
A field study was then conducted to help students prepare for the New York State Competency Test (NYCT) after failing the preliminary exams. Students who fail the Competency Test (CT) are in need of reading remediation. The purpose of the authors field study was to develop a program that would help students to pass this exam. The Hypothesis of the study is that by preparing for the test, students will do better on the exam. Another purpose of the study was to test whether this training will actually improve reading comprehension. This author’s second preface is that it is doubtful that such a training program will improve reading skills and therefore when developing a LD program other methods should be used. A reading program that relies totally on training for a test instead of improving comprehension through other methods seems inadequate. The purpose of giving the test in the first place was to identify poor readers so a district could remediate, but not to pass a test. Another factor that needs examination is whether training for the Competency is necessary since the actual format of the test is foreign to most students.
D. Definition of Terms Used in This Study
Academic Skills- Skills involved in the fields of English, foreign language, history, math, science and other subject matter taught in schools.
Achievement– Academic attainment of knowledge developed in school subjects.
Close– A teaching and testing technique developed by Taylor in 1953 in which every 5th or 10th word is deleted. Responses are given for each deletion.
Cognitive Thinking– Those mental processes involved in perceiving, knowing and understanding.
Compensatory Instruction– Instructions that aids a student in coping with his academic school program. Students are given to organize a notebook. Supplementary materials and talking books are also used.
Concept- Thoughts, ideas and representations of the common elements of groups or classes that can be distinguished.
Construct Validity- Determining the degree to which certain factors or elements account for a person’s performance on a given test.
Content Instruction– School subject matter such as History, Math or Literature.
Curriculum-General overall plan of instruction and suggestive activities designed to achieve a particular objective.
Decoding– Translating printed words into spoken words.
Deep Structure– The determined and interpreted meaning of a given sentence.
Deletions-Words left out in a written passage.
Diagnosis- Determining the capabilities of a person by analyzing his performance against some set standard or given set of criteria.
Function Words– Words that do not describe a thing, quality or action but which are used to convey grammatical relationships (articles).
Grammar- Study of phonology, inflections, word classes, word functions, syntax, and relationships between the words found in the language.
Independent Reading– A personalized reading approach and classroom organization in which the students select books of their own choosing.
Language– A system of accepted and understood codes for conveying thoughts, ideas and feelings to one another.
Linguistics– The study of the nature and use of language.
Learning Disabilities- When there is a educationally significant discrepancy between a child’s apparent capacity for language behavior and his actual level of language functioning.
Listening– Practice of paying close attention to the conversation of people in order to obtain more selective use of verbal and non-verbal clues of language behaviors.
Methodologies– An established systematic order or approach for teaching specific skills or subject matter.
Models (of reading)- Theories designed to define or explain specific elements of the reading process.
Motivation– Physical, intellectual and psychological needs of an individual which cases him to act in certain ways.
Perception– Awareness of one’s surroundings, conditions and relationships as a result of sensory stimulation.
Philosophies– An integrated personal view that serves to guide a person’s thinking and behavior.
Phonology-Study of the sound patterns in language.
Preliminary Exams– State Exams in Reading and writing that resemble the State Competency Tests. The tests are given by each district to determine which students are in need of remediation.
Proposition– A Clause of unitary statement that is a basic unit of thought in comprehension.
Psycholinguistics– The study of the mental processes that underlie the acquisition and use of language.
Regressions- An error in reading in which the reader rereads a position of the reading he has just read in order to correct the error.
Remediation- Special instruction designed to help pupils overcome a deficiency that they have in a specific academic area.
Secondary Level– Grades 7-12
Semantics– Study of meanings and concepts and the relationship between them
Shaping- Operant conditioning in which reinforcement is reliant on the occurrence of the response,
Standardized Tests– Empirically developed tests designed to be administered and scored according to set directions. Validity, reliability and test norms are then derived.
Strategies– Techniques or methods that facilitate the acquisition, manipulation, integration, storage and retrieval of certain skills.
Supplementary Materials– Teaching material used in addition to the basic texts or materials offered by a given course.
Surface Structure– Sets of words grammatically combined similarly.
Syntax- Orderly arrangement of words in a sentence.
Talking Books– A phonograph or tape recording of readings from a book.
Taxonomy– A system of classification and the concepts underlying them.
Transformational Grammar- Study of language that has a heavy emphasis on syntax.
t-Statistic Test– Ratio of the difference between the mean scores to the standard error of difference of the scores. Through such a comparison the gain in scores demonstrates the effectiveness of the teaching method employed.
E. Significance of the Study
This study has immediate importance since the students involved must retake the Competence exam either this Spring or within the next two years. These students will be denied a diploma if they do not pass the exam. If the students do well on the exam after going through a series of practice lessons then it would seem that such a practice might help students (who fail the exam the first time) to pass the exam.
F. Organization of the Study
This paper is divided into five chapters. The first chapter gives an overview of the problem to be studied. The second chapter describes the actual literature reviewed that is relevant to the study that was conducted, testing one of the areas reviewed in the literature. The chapter includes a description of the studies setting, subjects, instruments and procedures used in the study. Chapter four describes the findings of the study. Chapter five includes a summary of the study, a statement of conclusions and implications made by the study and a statement of the future research needed.
II. Review of the Literature
A. Statement of Purpose
The purpose of this chapter is to review the current literature in the areas of Learning Disabilities, Secondary Education, Reading, Comprehension and other related areas in hope of establishing a philosophical basis that would be appropriate for a Learning Disability program that is created in high school. The literature will also be reviewed to seek out those methods and practices that are appropriate to LD students and those that might be adapted into a LD reading program for improving comprehension.
B. Organization of Chapter
The chapter will first explore the reading process in an attempt to define the reading process and comprehension. A review of various reading theories and reading models are then described. Psycholinguistic and linguistic theories are then examine more thoroughly. After exploring the theories, methods for teaching comprehension are described, selected for their adaptability to LD Programs.
C. Survey of Literature
Defining the Reading Process
In order for one to consider how to teach reading, the reading process itself should first be defined. It should be noted that even though people have been reading and teaching reading throughout time, the process of reading itself has yet to be defined, “with any degree of general consensus” (Wheat and Edmond 1975, p523). In 1917, Thorndike described reading in terms of a cognitive process:
…understanding a paragraph is like solving a problem in mathematics. It consists in selecting the right elements of the situation and putting them together in the right relations, and also with the right amount of weight or influence of the right mental set or purpose or demand. (Simons 1971, p304).
Many other educators in more modern times similarly define reading as “cognitive functioning” (Lerner 1976, p305), or as a “thinking process: ( Wanat 1977, p50). Some consider reading to consist of separate components, ‘decoding’ (word calling) and ‘comprehension’ while others argue that even though the process itself is influenced by various factors, by itself reading does not comprise separate elements. Reading according to some is a dual process in which the reader must not only interpret graphic symbols but must derive meaning from them (Ives 1964). Reading is not a passive activity but an active one in which the reader must involve himself in the reading and bring to it his thinking processes. The reader thinks about what he has read, raises questions and then speculates as to their answers (Wanat 1977).
Beaver, after completing studies on errors made by students reading, concluded that readers firstly decode the words as they are written and then recode the author’s ideas back into their own language before they derive meaning (Lerner 1976). Reading is a process that occurs as a person reads involving intuitive thinking (Pearson and Johnson 1978). A person reacts to what is he has read, “evaluating its truth, validity, significance or implications,” Gunderson 1970, p30) among other things. Again this process is dependent on the person’s own past experiences in life and his experience in reading (Gunderson 1970) As Moffet has postulated a failure to comprehend while reading is basically a failure in thinking (Stotsky 1975).
…to be continued…
“God did not create religions, men did.”
“Tomorrow is just a day away from today.” (my year book from HS 1972)
~Bits from writings for plays and novel ideas:
– For chance to dream
-Per chance to hope
-I’m not afraid of having dreams
-As long as I know they’ll never be
-Dreams help the hurt go away, the day to day reality of everyday living
-Fantasies are just illusions of the mind
-Fairy tales and children’s tales
Memories of another day
Fading in and fading out
Caught between pages of one’s life
Wilting away from the recesses of one’s mind
Yesterday was just a day away from today
But, often yesterday’s get muddled in the mind
I can’t remember his name
I can’t remember his face
Why do they all seem the same when thinking about the past?
Past memories gone cold to far places of one’s mind
Holding on to dreams,
Holding on to memories as they slip away.
Losing sight of what had been,
Like the pages in a history book.
Fading in and fading away from inner places of one’s mind (memory).
God didn’t create religions, men did.
Men created and continue to set the rules governing behavior and practices dictated by a religious order, sect or organized religion.
What I learned about my own religion is that the Ten Commandments or the laws that God commanded that the Hebrews (or Israelites) were to follow were written by Moses on tablets of stone directly from the word of God on Mt Sinai. God, though a spirit is revealed to Moses in the male form or if you believe the scriptures God created man in his image.
The Torah and Jewish laws were written by men. The originals were passed down through history from person to person and it wasn’t written down till the Hebrews were exiled to Babylon after the Kingdom of Judea was conquered by the Babylonians.