The History of AVKO
AVKO is a non-profit organization that specializes in teaching dyslexics how to read, write, spell and type. AVKO develops books and materials utilizing the multi-sensory approach (Audio, Visual, Kinesthetic, Oral) that can be used with anyone and by anyone. AVKO materials and methods are all common-sense and effective with those we have worked with: young and old, dyslexic and non-dyslexic.
In 1969 I was stripped of my 12th grade College Prep English classes for what I perceived as punishment for my union organizing activities and was assigned to teach the lowest level students. It was then I first learned that these “problem” high school students were reading at or below the 3rd grade level.
During this period, before taking all of the required courses to be a certified reading instructor and to qualify for a doctorate in reading, I discovered my students had little or no training in phonics. So, if a student misread a word such as “advice” I would have him write the pattern i-c-e a number of times and then have him change ice to lice to slice and ice to rice and price, etc. This method was working until one day the word was “technique.” I wrote down –ique, and my mind went blank. I couldn’t come up with antique, unique, boutique, Angelique, Mozambique, or even pique. I was saved by the bell. I went to the Dean of Instruction and told him that teaching by word families had been around for centuries and that there just had to be a book containing all the word families in English. He agreed. I told him to forget about requisitioning such a book. If he could locate it, I would buy it out of my own pocket. He called the major libraries including the Library of Congress and found out that no such book existed.
One day in the Teachers’ Lounge when I was complaining about the fact that there wasn’t any such, one of my buddies said to me, “McCabe, you’re a linguist. You got a whole summer coming up. Why don’t you do it?” I was just ignorant enough to think I could do it and stubborn enough that once I got into compiling the word families, I wouldn’t quit. Of course, I didn’t complete the task in one summer. I did complete the task and it is now called the Patterns of English Spelling, Volumes 1-10.
The first tentative version I simply called AVKO Word Families which I copyrighted. Shortly thereafter I created and copyrighted Reading via Typing and AVKO Word Families in Sentence Context and then I had them registered.
In June, 1974 David O’Connell, Elmer Whaley, Jr., Alberta Smith, Thomas Scott, and I formed the AVKO Educational Research Foundation, Inc. AVKO was granted non-profit tax-exempt status as a 501(c)3 membership organization in 1975. On November 9, 1975 I sold and transferred sold the four copyright registrations to AVKO. The transfers of my copyrights in the compilation, “The Works” to AVKO were completed on 02/17/76, and are recorded at vol 1575 page 141 – 144 of the Register of Copyrights.
When the copyrights were transferred, they were evaluated by James Rutledge (Genesee Intermediate District) as worth $992,500.00.
After establishing AVKO I continued to teach students how to read and spell at Flint Northwestern High School, Zimmerman Junior High, The Flint Alternative Junior High, and at the Michigan Regional Juvenile Detention Center. All the while I was teaching, I was also as an unpaid volunteer actively running the AVKO Educational Research Foundation and developing and refining my materials and techniques
In 2001, AVKO survived a fire which destroyed most of the office and production departments. The computers with the original books and essential information were saved.
By the time I was 60, I began searching for possible publishers for the AVKO materials because I had already had one heart attack. After I my second heart attack and open heart surgery at age 62, I increased my efforts. Although offers were made by others, they did not meet the board’s criteria. After my 3rd heart attack in 2006 at age 73, I was told that more surgery was out of the question and that I would have to rely on blood thinners and other medications. Consequently, I continued looking for a possible replacement publisher.
I confess to being one of the oldest dyslexic ADHD (Attention Deficit HyperActive Disorder) curmudgeons with a slightly elevated sense of self-worth in the field of education. If you want to find out how I became what I am today you can always read my autobiography, To Teach a Dyslexic. .
What it mostly covers is what events in my life allowed me to learn to read, to distrust authority, discover what it is that poor readers cannot read, and discover that the phonics and the sight words traditionally taught are not sufficient for logical (dyslexic) minds to learn.
As I point out on my website where I translate all major definitions of dyslexia, the fault is in the “traditional instruction methods and materials” not in the victims of poor teaching. That my ignorance and stubbornness which led me to creating a system that works has not resulted in fame and fortune does not surprise me. I didn’t expect that it would. After all, the man who made the greatest medical discovery of all time, the man who saved more lives than any other man in all of history, never achieved fame while alive. And after he died he never really received historical fame. Maybe it was because his discovery that saved so many lives was too simple. His discovery? Doctors and surgeons should wash their hands! That man was Dr. Ignaz Semmelweiss.
Because my educational discoveries are on a par with the medical discoveries of Semmelweiss, simple, effective and totally ignored by the educational experts today just as the medical authorities ignored Semmelweiss’s back in the 19th Century, I created a foundation, the AVKO Educational Research Foundation, Inc. in hopes that through a non-profit foundation we would be able to obtain grants and work with and through universities.
I should have known better. Those who can do. Those who can’t teach. Those who can’t teach get their Piled Higher and Deeper degrees and teach the teachers. Big educational publishers get the “name” Ph.D.s to write their books and curriculum. The Ph.D.s get their graduate students to write their books for them. The “experts” are not about to admit that they and those whose shoulders they stand upon have been missing the simplest of points. No one had found a method of teaching that worked with 99% of the students, until I, a stubborn, ignorant, ADHD dyslexic who never wanted to be a teacher, let alone a teacher of illiterate juvenile delinquents, made some very simple logical deductions and, like Semmelweiss, by using my common sense rather than traditional theories, found a method of teaching that worked.
By 1974 when I and six others founded AVKO we planned on achieving our goals and going out of existence by the year 2000 and leaving our assets, mostly the copyrights to our materials, to another non-profit. By the year 2000 I would be 68 years old and more than ready to retire. The fact is, I never expected to live that long. Longevity is not in the McCabe genes. My dad was the longest living male in his family and he only lived to be 62 years old. I am now 84 years old and in rather poor health. I have survived three heart attacks and triple by-pass surgery. I have chronic congestive heart failure, high blood pressure and a leaky heart valve as well as untreatable A-fib.
I would like to live long enough to see what I have struggled to bring to this world at least get into the hands of someone or some group capable of getting it (The over 50 AVKO materials--not just Sequential Spelling) into wide spread usage. See attached exhibit.
In the year 2009, I thought I had found such a person and such a group. It was Thomas A. Morrow who was the CEO of Home School Holdings, Inc. (HSH). I met him at the Florida Home Educators Association Conference where he had a large booth. I approached him in hopes of acquiring him as a distributor for AVKO, but he immediately began talking in terms of acquiring AVKO. It took me a while to explain to him that he could never acquire AVKO as we are a non-profit membership organization. He could however, acquire the publishing rights. The following weekend (May 31, 2009) he visited AVKO and the negotiations began. Thomas Morrow impressed me with his resume of accomplishments, which one can still find on the internet in his February 11, 2009 CBS interview on the Charles Osgood show.
The following is a summary of the interview“The ABC’s of Homeschooling.”
In just three short years Thomas Morrow, a former Fortune 500 executive has built a multi-million dollar business from scratch that now supplies educational material to more than 47,000 families around the world. He did this while home schooling his own children. HSH’s yearly sales are in the low millions and expected to go up, quite a bit.
I, in turn, apparently impressed Thomas Morrow with the educational value and financial potential of the materials I had developed. Otherwise I have no other explanation as to why TM went to such lengths in all his attempts to obtain through litigation (“steal”) AVKO’s copyrights.
Thomas Morrow has:
- lied in official court and government documents,
- had his attorneys lie in official court documents,
- twice attempted to trick me into signing a subscription agreement that would have made AVKO and myself liable for purchasing $250,000 worth of stock at .05 a share that was at the time worth slightly less than .001,
- signed a settlement agreement in front of Judge Ludington and then later refuted it,
- ignored Judge Ludington’s ruling AVKO owned all the copyrights in question and that Wave 3 acquired only a non-exclusive license,
- ignored Judge Ludington’s ruling that Wave 3 must pay what the agreement (license) called for,
- ignored AVKO’s cancellation of Wave 3’s publishing license for failure to pay the license fees agreed to and the royalties,
- used the advance notice that AVKO would file a breach of contract suit in Michigan, to give him time to file suit against AVKO in Illinois,
- filed suit asking for a declaratory judgment that Wave 3 owned the copyrights,
- filed the suit in Illinois rather than in Michigan as the licensing agreement called for,
- ignored Judge Kendall’s initial rulings that Wave 3 could not make a claim for copyrights without a written document clearly assigning the copyrights to it,
- manufactured a written document assigning his personal copyrights to Wave 3 Learning,
- filed a second identical suit while the first one was still in litigation and in which he again claimed that he, Thomas Morrow, assigned his copyrights to Wave 3.
- convinced AVKO's attorneys that he was willing to settle and on February 23, 2016 signed a settlement agreement with AVKO that was written by four attorneys mostly in his presence. AVKO's attorneys
- on the next day Thomas Morrow and his attorney unbeknownst to anyone at AVKO came to an agreement with AVKO's attorneys regarding the payment schedule.
- on March 9, 2017 the lawsuit was upon which the settlement agreement was based was dismissed with prejudice. This is the date AVKO's attorneys claim they quit representing AVKO.
- Morrow and Wave 3 began immediately violating the confidentiality and the non-defamatory clauses.
- AVKO tried to get Morrow to eliminate the horrendous errors in the settlement agreement through negotiation without involving the attorneys.
Patterns of English Spelling Vol. 1-7
The Reading Teacher’s List of Over 5,000 Basic Words
The only resource available anywhere in the world that lists all the most common words in order of their difficulty to learn as well as what percentage of students in grades 2 through 8 who can be expected to be able to spell the words.
The Teaching of Reading and Spelling: a Continuum from Kindergarten through College
The only resource available anywhere in the world that contains all the AVKO researched developed techniques and methods of using the AVKO materials.
The Teaching of Reading and Spelling: Starting at Square One
The only curriculum ever developed which teaches phonics, reading, spelling, handwriting, and computer keyboarding AS (not after) the alphabet is taught letter by letter in a special non-alphabetic sequence that speeds learning.
The only computer keyboarding or typing program ever developed that teaches the letter locations in patterns. This enables the “learning disabled” and slow readers to improve their reading and spelling skills as they learn the keyboard.
Let’s Write Right
The first ever handwriting program that teaches manuscript and cursive simultaneously and in a special order that teaches the patterns of English spelling. It is also the only one that allows for total variation in style.
If it is to be, it is up to me to do it
The only adult education course developed for parents who want to learn how to help their children overcome reading/spelling problems.
Twenty other unique AVKO books could be listed in addition to the eight books in AVKO’s Classic Sequential Spelling Series.
Visit www.avko.org for examples of all except the Sequential Spelling.