But I keep hearing about the Simplified Spelling Society protesting the Bee. (See Wonkette's take, here, where the relevant questions are asked.) I finally got up the nerve to check the Society's website. Besides the picture above, you can find a bunch of press coverage.
I could see protesting the Spelling Bee for the insane amounts of raw memorization it puts these kids through — they aren't learning words or anything — and we could stand spelling reform in English, but this does seem a little weird.
Alienvoord's comment on this post rightly indicates a need for clarification: Our spelling system is a train wreck, and I'd love to see it improved. But the SSS folks seem to overstep maybe just a little. Consider these quotes from their website:
Their aim is to alert parents, educators, politicians, business people, and others concerned about the unacceptable level of illiteracy among English-speakers, to the fact that a prime cause for this is English spelling.Some parts of this are clearly true, like that illiteracy is a huge problem, and I don't doubt that prisons are full of people with literacy problems. But I want to see some kind of evidence connecting English spelling conventions with math difficulties, crime, etc.
One of the picketers, ALC chair and SSS member, Alan Mole, from Boulder, Colorado, puts it this way: "Our odd spelling retains words like cough, bough, through and though. This increases illiteracy and crime. Fix it and you fix a host of problems. We want to fix it."
[OrganizerElizabeth Kuizenga says] "There is also empirical evidence that children's confidence in their sense of logic is seriously undermined by our illogical spellings, resulting in problems with mathematics skills as well," she says.
"Indeed, many children just give up on school altogether as a result. The prisons are full of people with literacy problems."