Lagniappe and childbirth

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 21, 2006

By now most of you are aware that my wife, Elizabeth, who makes Wonder Woman look like a beginner in the Brownies, gave birth to our third daughter, and fifth spawn in the Ogden Clan of Demopolis.

It was not as easy as one might have imagined since our little “bundle of joy”, whom we have donned with the oh-so-Southern address “Savannah”, brought a rather challenging logistical and tactical presence with her arrival.

Hence, last week was the first week since I began writing these diatribes that I actually missed sharing my often “too well defined” ruminations about the world of education.

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It all began two Friday evenings ago.

You see, Friday evenings in the Ogden Camp are “Sci-Fi Friday” parties.

We get a couple of pizzas (OK, probably more with our plentitude of offspring), pile into Mama and Papa’s California King sized bed and watch “Stargate SG-1,” ‘Stargate Atlantis,” and finish with “Battlestar Galactica.”

But Friday, Feb. 10, 2006, was quite different.

About 7:45 that evening, Mama called upstairs on the cell phone to inform me that her water had broken.

Now, this was at 32 weeks into the pregnancy and 40 is the normal period of gestation.

We called our ever-trusted nanny, Debra Mullen, and she hurried over, but when we got to the Bryan Whitfield ER with our doctor, and most valuable friend, Dr. Alex Curtis, we discovered that we had to head to DCH Regional Hospital in Tuscaloosa since Savannah planned her arrival earlier than expected.

Needless to say, we were pleased with the fact that Savannah did arrive intact on the following Wednesday, Feb. 15.

All this gives rise to some attached information which I thought might be of some interest and that is what occupies the remainder of this offering.

Preparing Children for the Twenty-First Century requires more than any of us, particularly those of my generation, cold have ever imagined.

The hope is that we can prepare our children to function in a world which is inundated with real time information, that is to say, when something happens in Taiwan, we know about it immediately!

One person came into our room shortly after Savannah arrived to offer us a reading program with the caveat, “You can never teach children to read too early!”

I could not agree more, and while Elizabeth and I at first thought it was just another aggressive sales pitch, upon further investigation we found that such programs do, in fact, enhance learning and success.

Neonatal Intensive Care is a vital necessity in our Black Belt.

This was never more evident to us than when we were personally faced with the consequences of not having access to such services.

Were it not for the fast action of Dr. Curtis and the good folks at Bryan Whitfield, we could have faced a much more solemn set of circumstances.

As it is, the cooperation between the two hospitals in terms of neonatal care made the difference between a hazardous and a successful delivery.

U.S. Department of Education last week released the results of a study completed over a period of five years.

Entitled, “The Toolbox Revisited: Paths to Degree Completion From High School Through College,” this study established conclusively that the success of students in terms of completing college was singularly dependent upon the rigor of the student’s high school curriculum – not their grades, nor their standardized test (read “ACT” or “SAT”) results.

For those of us who were graduated from high schools which divided students according to ability and to “track” accordingly, this came as no surprise.

But for those who have long held that there needs to be a certain egalitarian approach to educational delivery and expectation, it must have been an epiphany of the highest order.

Upon reflection, however, I can remember not having any choice as to the rigor of my high school curriculum as I was tracked in “College Prep” and we all had to take four years of science, four years of math, four years of English, a foreign language, history and a veritable host of other electives.

And don’t forget that four years, I repeat, four years of health and physical education were required!

When you are sitting in a labor and delivery room for three days waiting for that magic moment, the meandering mind often bounces from one seeming revelation to another.

There is an abundance of time to read.

And I just wanted to share some of those ethereal labyrinths I came across with you.

But the bottom line is this – Demopolis has a great medical facility with caring people who know just what to do in any given situation.

And Demopolis is blessed to have a school system which is dedicated to giving our children the best education possible with its most effective administration, its dedicated teachers, and its intensely rigorous curriculum which challenges and expands the expectations and results of our future generations.

Demopolis is a blessing!

And we feel privileged that Savannah, and India, and Zarah, and Benjamin, and Nathan will benefit from being here.

-Dr. Arthur G. Ogden is the Demopolis Campus Director of Alabama Southern Community College.

All his degrees are in philosophy.

He can be reached at