Utterly Meaningless » 2002 » September
  • UNA-TEACHER? More WWHSA former

    Filed on September 18, 2002 at 11:31 am under by dcobranchi


    A former special education teacher pleaded no contest on Tuesday to charges that she fashioned fake bombs and placed them in two schools where she used to work.


    Filed on at 8:41 am under by dcobranchi

    MICHEL (SIC) JAMES BRYANT, ESQ AND DOOFUS Fox affiliate KTXL (Sacramento, Stockton, & Modesto) has this transcript about HSing posted on their site.

    The Rules for School in Your Home:

    —The first call is to your local school board. most states require the board’s OK for home schooling.

    —Next, your home gets checked out. There is usually a hearing to evaluate the teaching environment and the teaching methods you plan to use.

    —Then expect an end of the year exam for each child to check on learning.

    Fail the test and the state may make Junior get additional tutoring, or refuse to allow more home schooling.

    Teaching your children at home isn’t easy. But it can be option now that you know the rules and have the legal edge.

    I’m attorney Michel James Bryant.

    Your home gets checked out? A hearing? On what planet is this attorney attempting to HS? Has this guy even read the law in his own state? This guy could do some damage; let’s hope that Fox-40’s ratings when this aired were in the single digits.

    BOOKS ON SALE Waldenbooks

    Filed on September 17, 2002 at 9:40 pm under by dcobranchi

    BOOKS ON SALE Waldenbooks is offering an “Educators Appreciation Weekend from Friday, Oct. 4, through Sunday, Oct. 6. All educators — grade school teachers, home school teachers, religious mentors, college professors, student teachers, retired teachers, etc. — will receive a 25% discount off of most store items, for both classroom and personal use, during that weekend.”


    Filed on at 9:12 pm under by dcobranchi

    INSTAPUNDIT IS A “BLITHERING IDIOT” according to Wilmington, DE Mayor James Baker. OK, he didn’t single out Prof. Reynolds but the national media who were critical of the jump out squads. Instapundit blogged the police tactics a while back as evidence that DE was the root of all evil. (I concurred with Instapundit’s opinion but my little 50 hits/day blog doesn’t qualify me for “national media” status. Guess that means I’m less than an idiot) According to WDEL radio the ACLU representative did not appreciate being called a “blithering idiot”.

    UPDATE: I heard a longer excerpt. He used the word “idiot” or a variation three times in the short section I heard, claiming that if the media didn’t think the police understood the Constitution they were all idiots. Let’s hope the police know the Constitution better than the Mayor; in the same speech, he stated that the 9th Amendment governs interstate commerce. A nice quote from the Mayor:

    “Anybody who doesn’t like it can go to Hades,” he said. “You’re concerned about some innocent kook on the corner. Get a life.”


    Filed on at 6:59 am under by dcobranchi

    SAME OLD SONG The Courier Houma (you read that one every day, don’t you?) begins a three part series on HSing in Bayou Country. Part one doesn’t have much new but it did include the standard “S”-word quote from a “counselor”:

    Karen Guidry, a licensed counselor who runs a private practice in Houma and has worked in schools since 1989, said homeschooling does isolate children from negative peer experiences. She is concerned, however, that positive influences, such as working with groups, may also be taken away.

    “Socialization boosts children’s sense of self-worth and confidence. It helps them grow and mature as an individual. It helps them learn age-appropriate norms, while being with peers,” Guidry explained.

    “Children who are homeschooled may miss out on that, but it doesn’t mean that homeschool kids won’t be able to develop skills or long-term success. It probably will be more difficult for them as they integrate into social settings.”

    Do theses educrats all read the same books or periodicals? The argument is so old that it’s threadbare. To her credit, the reporter presented the other side of the argument:

    Rebecca Kochenderfer, author of the book, “Homeschooling for Success: How Parents Can Create a Superior Education for Their Child,” (Time Warner), disagrees. She said homeschooled children are just as socialized as their counterparts who attend schools.

    “Socialization is a myth. Homeschool children have richer socialization than kids in school, sitting behind a desk for six hours with kids their age,” said Kochenderfer, who operates the Sacramento, Calif.-based, informational Web site, homeschool.com.

    Interesting that she had to go clear out to CA to get a positive quote. I guess that’s the power of having a good URL. Hmmm, maybe I should change my blog’s address so I can get quoted. Nahhh!


    Filed on September 16, 2002 at 10:19 pm under by dcobranchi

    ONE FOR IZZY The Libertarian Party candidate for MA governor, Carla Howell, is pro-HSing and, evidently, pro-Separation of School and State. From her 5 point plan for education:

    1. End all state government funding of Education in Massachusetts.

    2. End all state government authority and responsibility for Education.

    4. End all Massachusetts state and local government authority, control, regulation, and oversight of private schooling, cooperative schooling, and home schooling. I trust parents, not politicians. Families, not bureaucrats.


    Filed on at 12:23 pm under by dcobranchi

    FIRST AMENDMENT UPDATE Here’s some more info on the Gospel Choir story. Prof. Eugene Volokh kindly pointed me to a related case, Bauchman v. West High School (10th Cir. 1997). These may be relevant paragraphs:

    Vis à Vis Effect

    To state a claim under this component of the endorsement test, Ms. Bauchman must allege facts indicating the Choir curriculum or Choir activities have a principle or primary effect of advancing or endorsing religion. United States Supreme Court precedent “plainly contemplate[s] that on occasion some advancement of religion will result from governmental action.” Lynch , 465 U.S. at 683 . However, not every governmental activity that confers a remote, incidental or indirect benefit upon religion is constitutionally invalid. Id. Thus, as noted above, the Constitution does not forbid all mention of religion in public schools. The Establishment Clause prohibits only those school activities which, in the eyes of a reasonable observer, advance or promote religion or a particular religious belief. This is an objective inquiry, not an inquiry into whether particular individuals might be offended by the content or location of the Choir’s performance, or consider such performances to endorse religion. Gaylor , 74 F.3d at 217.

    We believe a reasonable observer aware of the purpose, context and history of public education in Salt Lake City, including the historical tension between the government and the Mormon Church, and the traditional and ubiquitous presence of religious themes in vocal music, would perceive the following with respect to Ms. Bauchman’s factual allegations concerning the Choir curriculum and performance venues: the Choir represents one of Salt Lake City’s public high schools and is comprised of a diverse group of students; many of the Choir’s songs have religious content — content predominately representative of Judeo-Christian beliefs; in contrast to a church choir, this Choir also performs a variety of secular songs; the Choir’s talent is displayed in the diverse array of songs performed and in a number of different public (religious and nonreligious) settings, all of which reflect the community’s culture and heritage. Certainly, any given observer will give more or less meaning to the lyrics of a particular song sung in a particular venue based on that observer’s individual experiences and spiritual beliefs. However, the natural consequences of the Choir’s alleged activities, viewed in context and in their entirety by a reasonable observer, would not be the advancement or endorsement of religion. Ms. Bauchman’s complaint therefore fails to support a claim that the Choir curriculum or Choir activities have a principle or primary effect of endorsing religion.[emphases added]

    So, the 10th Circuit Court held that the singing of religious songs (as a part of a broader secular choir curriculum) was permissible. A choir would presumably cross the line into an impermissible endorsement if it restricted its repertoire to songs exclusively expressing a particular religious belief.

    TOO BAD! This school

    Filed on at 10:33 am under by dcobranchi

    TOO BAD! This school district is losing students- time to target the HSers:

    To offset at least part of the losses, and the subsequent $5,000 per student hit in state aid, Semeja suggested last week that the district reach out to the parents of the roughly 25 local students who are home-schooled.

    “I wish we could somehow make an attempt to attract them,” he said.

    Previous attempts, including a survey conducted several years, were largely unsuccessful in reducing the area home-school population. [emphasis added]

    Admittedly, the phraseology is the reporter’s but this is horrible. It makes HSers sound like unwanted vermin.


    Filed on at 10:15 am under by dcobranchi

    MAINE GOVERNOR RESPONDS to the previously blogged USAT editorial criticizing his state for spending $37M for laptops for public schools.

    None of us can predict the future with certainty, but we can be sure that it will involve the collection and use of information, an ever-increasing role for education and a growing reliance on technology. That future will be full of both opportunity and challenge; here in Maine, our kids will be ready.

    LONG OVERDUE I’ve added

    Filed on at 7:30 am under by dcobranchi

    LONG OVERDUE I’ve added the libertarian group-blog Samizdata to the list at left. That list started out as mostly edu-blogs but has grown a bit eclectic over time. If you haven’t checked out some of the newer links- there’s no time like the present, as they say.


    Filed on September 15, 2002 at 11:52 am under by dcobranchi

    AN INTERESTING 1ST AMENDMENT QUESTION This one may be worthy of Volokh: Is it appropriate for a public school district to sponsor a gospel choir?

    [T]he school district announced that it was adopting a new policy that would forbid any school choir from taking part in an event sponsored by or located in a church. Reportedly, the school district is even looking into banning the gospel choir entirely.

    David Limbaugh obviously feels otherwise, but I think the school district is probably correct here. A state sponsored gospel choir performing at a church service could certainly give the appearance of the establishment of Christianity as an “official” religion. That said, they probably went too far with this:

    Not long ago, the school prohibited choir members from praying among themselves before their practices. After receiving that order the choir asked school authorities whether they could, in lieu of praying together, have a moment of silence. Again, the answer was an emphatic no.

    Now, they are violating the choir members’ free speech and free exercise rights.

    P.S. And in case anyone is wondering about my own beliefs, I’m an evangelical Christian (Baptist) who just happens to have a libertarian bent.

    GRADE INFLATION? According to

    Filed on at 11:32 am under by dcobranchi

    GRADE INFLATION? According to this article, universities are finding that incoming students’ math skills are on the decline even though their high-school grades and SAT scores are increasing.

    “There’s a certain paradoxical nature to it. Our students are coming in with considerably higher SATs and GPAs [grade point averages],” said Patrick M. Fitzpatrick, chairman of Maryland’s math department, “but quite a number of our professors who teach first-year calculus say the algebra skills of students are not as good as they used to be.”

    In response, the university has created an elaborate developmental math program that now enrolls more than 800 students. About 13 percent of all freshmen and transfers participate. Only after passing one of the remedial courses can students take the college-level math course required to graduate.

    We’ve been hearing stories of grade inflation for years, so it’s not too surprising that the correlation between GPA and math skills has decreased. What I don’t get is the corresponding change in the predictive ability of math SAT scores. Maybe Kim can provide some insight.

    RENAISSANCE TEEN This 14-year-old

    Filed on September 14, 2002 at 6:54 pm under by dcobranchi

    RENAISSANCE TEEN This 14-year-old HSer is something else (and she blogs, too).

    When Nell Cohen isn’t creating Web sites or making comic books, she might be recording music in the style of her favorite band, Weezer, and mixing the songs on her computer. Then again, she might be drawing, making a movie or updating the reviews, rants and journal postings on her very cool home page, “Kibbles’s Lovely and Amazing Super Site“…

    Nell’s parents also home-schooled her sister, Megan, a sophomore at Stanford, and say they wanted a nurturing environment for their daughters — a place they could develop skills and interests without the social pressure and rigid structure of school.

    “We followed the ‘unschooling’ approach,” says her mom, “which was basically an unstructured approach where you encourage the kids to pursue their interests and you build on that and respond to that and bring resources to them.”


    Filed on at 6:25 pm under by dcobranchi

    VT HSER UPDATE Here’s some more info on Patricia O’Dell (from http://groups.yahoo.com/group/VT-homeschooling/message/458) Apparently Mrs. O’Dell’s “crime” was not wanting her kids in special ed. I have yet to confirm the seizing of her kids, but everything seems to check out so far. Mrs. O’Dell and her family no longer reside in VT; I really don’t understand how the VT DOE can claim any kind of jurisdiction.

    October 5, 2001

    Dear Mr. & Mrs. O’Dell:

    I am writing to inform you that I am calling a hearing, pursuant to 16 V.S.A. Section 166b (e), on the grounds that I have information that creates a significant doubt about whether you home study program can provide a minimum course of study for Andrew Veach, Samantha Thompson, Angela Cameron and Elizabeth Veach. The specific grounds for calling this hearing are set forth below.

    You have not included any adaptations in your curricula for any of the children to address their handicapping conditions. 16 V.S.A. Section 166b (a) (5) requires that the curriculum submitted for each child include a description of the services and adaptations made to accommodate any handicapping condition. 16 V.S.A. Section166b (i) requires that the educational content in each area of the minimum course of study is adapted to the age and ability of the child and any handicapping conditions of the child. This is especially important because of the following:

    In 1998 Andrew was evaluated for special education services and was diagnosed as learning impaired. During the 1999-2000 school year, Andrew was observed by his public school teachers to be significantly delayed in all academic areas.

    In 1998, Angela was evaluated for special education services and was diagnosed as learning impaired. She was also diagnosed as having a speech and language impairment. During the 1999-2000 school year, Angela was observed by her public school teachers to be significantly delayed in all academic areas. In addition she demonstrated poor language skills and major articulation problems which made her speech difficult to understand.

    Although you refused to allow Samantha to be evaluated for special education services, during the 1999-2000 school year her public school teachers observed her to be significantly delayed in both language arts and math.

    The independent professional evidence form that you submitted for Elizabeth last year, which is dated September 18, 2000 and signed by a physician, indicated that Elizabeth had speech/language difficulties and could benefit from an indepth evaluation. Although you informed Department of Education Consultant, Marcy Fox, that you had arranged for such an evaluation and would send her the results you never provided this information.

    Last year the Department called a hearing, pursuant to 16 V.S.A. Section 166b (f) to terminate the home study enrollment for Andrew, Samantha, Angela and Elizabeth. The hearing was withdrawn as part of a settlement agreement in which you agreed:

    a.) to the performance of a progress assessment in all areas of the minimum course of study for each child by a licensed Vermont teacher or a teacher from an approved Vermont independent school who had experience in working with children with disabilities;

    b.) that, to the extent possible, the assessment would be performed at the location where instruction is, or has been provided and;

    c.) that only Mrs. O’Dell and the children would participate in the assessment. There would be no media or other person present, unless mutually agreed upon by the Department and Mrs. O’Dell.

    Your enrollment for this year did not include a progress assessment that conformed to the terms of this settlement agreement. Your progress assessment is a parent report rather than a report by a teacher experienced in working with children with disabilities. Further, this parent report does not address the children’s progress in each area of the minimum course of study. Therefore, in addition to not conforming to the terms of the settlement agreement, your progress assessments do not meet the requirements of 16 V.S.A. Section 166b (d).

    Patricia O’Dell is listed as the sole instructor for the home study program. During the years that your children attended public school, public school staff observed that Mrs. O’Dell was limited in her own abilities to read and write. In addition, the home study curricula that Mrs. O’Dell submitted for the 2000-2001 school year were replete with spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors. Accordingly, I have a significant doubt as to your ability to provide instruction in a minimum course of study, as defined in 16 V.S.A. Section 906.

    16 V.S.A. Section 166b (i) and 16 V.S.A. Section 906 require that the minimum course of study be adapted to the student’s age and ability. The curricula that you submitted for Andrew, age 14 and Samantha, age 13 are virtually identical.

    I have appointed Bruce Bjornlund as the hearing officer in this matter. He will be in touch with you to schedule the hearing. You may request that the hearing be held in the location where you reside.

    Please be advised that, pursuant to 16 V.S.A. Section 166b (g), your children will not be enrolled in home study unless and until a hearing officer issues an order to this effect.

    Respectfully yours,

    David S. Wolk
    Commissioner of Education

    CC: Bruce Bjornlund, Hearing Officer
    Natalie Casco, Home Study Consultant
    Barbara Crippen, Legal Counsel

    ALL TOGETHER NOW charters

    Filed on at 11:41 am under by dcobranchi

    ALL TOGETHER NOW charters aren’t homeschools.

    Brennan [a for-profit charter school operator], meanwhile, said his schools — Hope Academies, Life Skills Centers and one catering to parents who home-school their students — wouldn’t have waiting lists had the public schools met their responsibility of providing a well-balanced education in a safe environment to each and every student.

    WAY OT I’m a

    Filed on at 8:02 am under by dcobranchi

    WAY OT I’m a NYYankees fan so this recommendation is not based on agreeing with the content; I just think this is the best blog that I have read. The writing is tight; the subject, focused. Lots of links. Just a great example of what a blog can be. My Dad (a BIG Yankees fan) will probably disown me, but I’m adding this to the list <


    Filed on at 7:00 am under by dcobranchi

    OT: HISTORY AND GEOGRAPHY “LESSON” Here’s an interesting NYT article on old maps, forgery, and Nazi Germany.


    Filed on September 13, 2002 at 9:52 pm under by dcobranchi

    TARGET: HSERS A WI school district is aiming a virtual charter right at HSers.

    Bauer said the virtual school will benefit home-school children and people who are interested in getting a diploma but not currently going to school…

    Bauer said the program is exciting because it’s bringing students back into the district.

    Follow the money.


    Filed on at 9:45 pm under by dcobranchi

    ALASKA GOES DOWNHILL AK is supposed to be a very HS friendly state. Too bad no one told this school district

    The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District school board voted in favor of home-school accountability..

    “We certainly wouldn’t want people to read this and think there is not good accountability for some home-school students,” said school board member Deborah Germano. “But we need to make sure all kids are getting some education.”

    At present, Germano said, there is no accountability system for students who are educated by their parents. While some parents do a good job, others may not meet the standards set by public education.

    “Many times, home-school students come back into the public schools and need incredible remediation,” added school board member Sammy Crawford. “It’s difficult for the district to bring them up to speed.”

    Bull! And how many times does a new HSer have to de-school for 6 months just to begin to allow the kids to recover from the public schools? What gall!


    Filed on at 12:16 pm under by dcobranchi

    TOO YOUNG FOR SCHOOL This article out of the UK examines whether they are forcing their kids to start school and start reading at too young an age. The official age is 5 though some kids apparently start a year younger.

    Although we get our children off to an early start, we wallow at the bottom of league tables of international literacy and numeracy, below economic rivals such as Holland, Switzerland, Canada and the US, where children start school later. In fact, research continually shows that children whose formal education starts later soon catch up.

    According to the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), of 32 countries in which reading standards have been measured, the top 10 all have a later starting age. In countries where children are not taught reading, writing or written numbers until they are six or seven, they make very rapid progress once these disciplines are introduced, having developed attention span, listening and memory in the meantime.

    Looks like HSers (particularly unschoolers) have been on the side of the angels on this issue all along. Compare the Europeans attitudes towards early schooling with this story from June. Think our fascination with starting them young would have any relationship to this quote from the UK article?

    There is, of course, one very good reason for many people to be happy with the current school starting age – child care.


    Filed on September 12, 2002 at 9:03 pm under by dcobranchi


    It was quiet time in the Blum house.

    Samuel, the littlest one, was napping. The other three young ones were working on home-school assignments. The three oldest boys were out.

    In the hush, Daniel Blum had time to read aloud to his wife, Vickie. They were reading a creation science book, “In the Beginning.”

    Then Vickie smelled smoke, Daniel found fire, and the peaceful moment on a sunny Tuesday afternoon came to an end at about 3:30.

    So, why the emphasis on the HSing angle? The fire was after normal school hours. Even if the kids were enrolled in school, they could have still been home when it broke out. This could be innocent but I just get the feeling that the reporter is making fun of these “religious wacko HSers”. Hope I’m wrong.

    SEEING RED! Teachers in

    Filed on at 8:52 pm under by dcobranchi

    SEEING RED! Teachers in nearby (to me) Brookline, PA are in tense salary negotiations and are threatening to strike. Why do I note this? Because of this quote:

    The teachers said they believe that they are worth the money.

    “I browsed the district’s websites and have read all the districts accomplishments,” said Penn, who received thunderous applause after her address. “Those accomplishments did not happen in a vacuum. Those accomplishments happened because of the teachers of Haverford.”

    “Yes, you teachers make a world of difference,” responded Ellen Hollin, school board member, “but there are a whole lot of parents that support their children … and we also have a lot of smart kids and a lot of kids who also work day in and day out.”

    Those sentiments brought groans from teachers in attendance, and were further emphasized outside the school board meeting in a gathering in the parking lot.

    “If they think their kids are so good, home-school them,” said Corcoran, HTEA chief negotiator.

    AAARRRGGGHHHH!!!!! What the heck is that supposed to mean? That only the “smart kids” can be homeschooled “successfully”? Gimme a break!


    Filed on at 7:39 pm under by dcobranchi

    SOCIALIZATION PART DEUX Wife #1 is still traveling so today I got to make sure that Child #1 (of the male persuasion) was sufficiently socialized. 🙂 We’re home now so blogging can resume.

    WHAT THE…? I try

    Filed on September 10, 2002 at 9:31 pm under by dcobranchi

    WHAT THE…? I try to GoogleNews (beta) “home school” on a regular basis. I usually get 1-3 hits for articles published in the last week or so. I just ran this search and got 315!


    Filed on at 9:22 pm under by dcobranchi

    READ A NEWSPAPER The first graf of this story makes the teacher sound like an idiot:

    Bill Clinton’s re-election as president is the last thing covered in eighth-grade history textbooks at Orange Grove Middle School for the Arts in Tampa, leaving teacher Susan Farmer no guidance when teaching students about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and aftermath.

    Does she really need a textbook to teach her kids about Monicagate, FLA2000, and 9/11? Pitiful!


    Filed on at 9:09 pm under by dcobranchi

    VACCINATIONS QUESTIONED This is a hot-button issue in some HSing circles.

    Lainson is one of a small but growing number of parents nationwide who have chosen not to follow recommended guidelines for childhood vaccines. In this picturesque city at the base of the Rockies, a low vaccination rate is believed to be spurring a resurgence of whooping cough, which can be deadly for infants.

    ”Nationwide, parents who choose not to get any vaccinations for their children has held steady at less than one-half of 1 percent,” said Barbara Fisher, president of the National Vaccine Information Center, which distributes information on possible side effects of vaccines. ”What is growing is the number of parents who pick and choose which vaccines are right for their children.”


    Filed on at 8:52 pm under by dcobranchi

    SOCIALIZED OUT THE WAZOO! If anyone ever raises the “S”-word question with me, I’m going to point them to our schedule today:

    7:30 am – noon We “did” school (we’re not unschoolers (yet))
    Noon – 12:30 pm Lunch
    12:30 – 12:45 pm Drive to gym
    1:00 – 2:00 pm Child #2 and Child #3 (both of the female persuasion) had gymnastics
    1:00 – 2:00 pm Child #1 and Child #4 (both of the other gender) accompany Father #1 to the mall to pick up gift certificates for Build-A-Bear (more about this later)
    2:00 – 2:15 pm Drive home to pick up gear Children #2 and #3 forgot
    2:16 – 3:00 pm Drive to ballet
    3:00 – 4:00 pm Child #3 dances her little pink slippers off while Children #1 and #4 play football with the other HSers. Child #2 observes the class.
    4:00 – 5:00 pm Child #4 and Child #3 trade places. Football segues into futbol.
    5:00 – 5:30 pm Carschooling again
    5:30 – 6:15 pm A little multi-culturalism at the local Chinese takeout restaurant
    6:15 – 6:30 pm Back to the mall for a Build-A-Bear b’day party. Children #2 and #3 hand over gift certificates purchased earlier.
    6:30 – 8:00 pm Father #1 and Children #1 and #4 kill time at mall. Father #1 buys a bunch of books on clearance for Child #1 (who would rather get a bear)
    8:00 – 8:15 pm Carschooling to home. Father #1 gets to explain why books are better than a bear.
    8:30 pm Children #1 – #4 in bed
    8:52 pm Father #1 blogs this
    8:53 pm Father #1 passes out. 🙂

    I’LL BE LATE I’m

    Filed on at 12:21 pm under by dcobranchi

    I’LL BE LATE I’m a real HS Dad today. Lydia is out of town and I’m pulling stay-at-home-and-teach-the-kids duty. I get to do this a couple of times a year and each time I come away with renewed respect for my wife’s organizational skills. How she juggles everything successfully is beyond me. Regardless, blogging will be essentially non-existent until after all the kids are asleep. See you tonight.

    JOANNE JACOBS has posted

    Filed on September 9, 2002 at 9:57 pm under by dcobranchi

    JOANNE JACOBS has posted a K12 and “cyber charter vs HSing” column at Tech Central Station. She provides a nice review of the K12 curriculum and then discusses some of the issues that HSers have with the cyber charters. She does a nice job framing the issues but I’d have preferred to know where she stands.


    Filed on at 12:57 pm under by dcobranchi

    I THINK I’LL SUBSCRIBE The San Antonio Express News published a series of funny HSing cartoons on their editorial page:



    Filed on at 11:58 am under by dcobranchi

    WHAT A SCREW UP! Yesterday I blogged that 10% of CA HSers had tried Ecstasy. What I meant to type was 10% of CA High-Schoolers. Sorry for the confusion. My WAY bad!

    X According to this

    Filed on September 8, 2002 at 9:10 am under by dcobranchi

    X According to this Sacramento Bee story, more than 10% of CA HSers have tried ecstasy.


    Filed on September 7, 2002 at 9:26 pm under by dcobranchi

    BOYS WILL BE BOYS but that’s not acceptable in school, according to this column. If you can get past the term “boy parent”, Glenn Sacks makes a lot of sense.

    Modern schools are not suited to boys’ personalities and learning styles. This can be seen from the time boys enter school, when many of them are immediately branded as behavior problems. The line of 10 kids who had to gather every day after school in my son’s first grade class for their behavior reports–all boys. The names of kids on the side of the chalkboard who misbehaved and would lose recess–all boys. The kids as young as five or six who must be drugged so they will sit still and “behave”–almost all boys.

    By any measure, our schools are failing our sons. Boys at all levels are far more likely than girls to be disciplined, suspended, held back, or expelled. By high school the typical boy is a year and a half behind the typical girl in reading and writing, and is less likely to graduate high school, go to college, or graduate college than a typical girl.

    Another good reason to homeschool.

    WAY FUNNY I’m on

    Filed on at 9:14 am under by dcobranchi

    WAY FUNNY I’m on my way out the door so don’t have time to do this justice. I’ll post more later. For now I’ll just throw out a link and a quote and let y’all ponder (and comment) until later today .

    In politics, the Democrat Party is the political home of the brainless and those corrupt members of the cognitive elite who have a lust for power. The latter are the Faustian intellectuals who would be as gods.

    Conservatives tend to be good readers who think accurately because they are constantly trying to establish truth in the face of Democrat lies, demagoguery and corruption. Many of them are Bible readers with a keen sense of morality. And many of them are home-schoolers who cultivate accuracy and a love of truth in the minds of their children.

    UPDATE: I’m back. This article reminds me of Cathy Henderson’s description of a car-wreck:

    Visualize a car traveling speedily and accurately down the southbound lanes of a four-lane highway. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, the wheels squeal as they are forced sharply to the left, the car bumps and grinds across the median, and successfully dodges the northbound cars. The sounds made by those northbound cars and their drivers fill the air, as they swerve into the median, twisting, squealing and cursing at our ‘hero’, who has continued straight over the curb, across the meadow, and has parked peacefully under the large oak tree 500 yards from the four-lane. As our fist-shaking crowd of drivers approaches him demanding WHY, our hero just shrugs and patiently explains “I was there. I wanted to be here. The lack of a clear road is only an obstacle if you allow it to be.”

    Mr. Blumenfeld commits the same moving violation. He apparently has decided the end point of his diatribe is to accuse the Democratic party of being the home of the brainless. His starting point is the poor condition of the schools. You see the connection, of course. You don’t? Well, you must be a Democrat.


    Filed on September 6, 2002 at 6:20 pm under by dcobranchi

    THIS IS UTTERLY DEPRESSING Marianne Jennings at JWR has a column up today that has to be the bleakest indictment of our public schools I have ever read. Sadly, I think she’s probably right and many public school teachers are likely to agree with her assessment.

    Schools languish in an untenable position. Forced to solve societal and family problems, they feed their charges breakfast and lunch, foist studying upon them, and spend untold paper and hours checking for books and pencils. Content is a pipe dream. Arizona test scores show that there is little discernible improvement after eighth grade.

    Nothing short of military academy discipline can halt public education’s decline. Teachers and administrators are babysitters for slackers and delinquents who need home support. To cope, they dumb down the curriculum. Parents who are actively engaged with their children will teach them at home or seek private schools as public schools continually lower the bar, catering to dregs they cannot motivate. If further stratification of society was the goal of public education, I pronounce it an unqualified success.


    Filed on at 11:42 am under by dcobranchi

    THAT PESKY FIRST AMENDMENT AGAIN The public schools just seem to have a hard time figuring out what freedom of religion means. This TX school suspended a girl for wearing a pentacle, a symbol of some significance in her Wiccan religion. According to the school,

    the suspension had nothing to do with religion, but was based on the quarter-sized pentacle’s potential for disruption at the Waxahachie campus, 35 miles southwest of Dallas.

    Yeah, sure.

    IT’S “HOMESCHOOL” If this

    Filed on September 5, 2002 at 7:02 pm under by dcobranchi

    IT’S “HOMESCHOOL” If this is all we have to worry about, HSing is in pretty good shape. HSLDA has been consistent in referring to HSing as “home schooling” (two words). Most of the rest of the community runs them together as one word. Well, HSLDA has come around:

    Per JMS [J. Michael Smith, HSLDA President]: We are going to begin, in print and electronic publication, to use homeschool as one word (in accord with what has now become standard usage).

    From now on, homeschool, homeschooled, homeschooling, homeschooler are all one word.

    Our name, HOME SCHOOL LEGAL DEFENSE ASSOCIATION remains, forever and all ways, 2 words–in all graphic representations and in print. Our acronym is still HSLDA

    (blogged from NHEN-Legislative listserv)


    Filed on at 11:35 am under by dcobranchi

    HERE COMES THE SPAM I hesitate to post this knowing that the spambots will sieze on it, but it’s good support for HSing.The University of MN is reporting that

    TEENAGERS are less likely to start having sex if their mothers are actively involved in their lives, have a close relationship with them and stress the importance of education, University of Minnesota researchers have found.

    GRRRRR! AgapePress notes that

    Filed on at 11:29 am under by dcobranchi

    GRRRRR! AgapePress notes that “75% of Americans support the right to home school children.” Buried down deep in the article is this infuriating quote from HSLDA’s Michael Smith:

    “The interesting thing about the home-school scores, of course, [is that] they’re higher in the reading and they’re higher in the writing,” Smith says. “In the language arts, our people actually do better in that than they do the math, and our scores continue to rise because there is so much emphasis on the basics in the home-school program, which the public schools unfortunately have kind of left.”

    Our people? Apparently, we little peon HSers belong to HSLDA.


    Filed on September 4, 2002 at 10:10 pm under by dcobranchi

    REGGIE! REGGIE! REGGIE! Tavis Smiley on NPR today interviewed Reginald Weaver, the newly-elected President of the NEA. Weaver was pretty predictable: schools need more money; teachers need higher pay; vouchers are a bad idea.


    Filed on at 12:10 pm under by dcobranchi

    MORE ON A CLASSICAL EDUCATION The National Review has an interview with Tracy Lee Simmons, author of Climbing Parnassus: A New Apologia for Greek and Latin.

    Lopez: What are the current trends? Who is getting classical educations? Who is studying Greek and Latin?

    Simmons: Again, whoever can. It’s a parched world out there, but there are signs of hope. The Catholic schools could once be counted on at least for teaching Latin, if not Greek, and many still do. But you find a disturbing number of Catholic schools getting rid of Latin, and failing to stress it where it survives, which means of course that it probably won’t survive very long. Many homeschoolers are trying to provide Latin, and mostly for all the right reasons. But if the parents haven’t had Latin, or not much of it, they can’t take their children very far without expert tutoring. The best places remain good private schools where, for whatever reasons, the good and rigorous subjects remain and are well taught by extraordinary, if underpaid, teachers. Those schools are out there. You even see Latin returning here and there to public schools, and that should put the Catholic schools to shame.

    It’s a good interview; well worth a click.

    UPDATE: I can’t resist one more quote. This one easily wins “QOTD”.

    Lopez: You say this is all a lost cause, don’t you? Is it really? Then what are your goals?

    Simmons: It’s mostly a lost cause, but not completely. It’s certainly a lost cause as far as the educational establishment — the NEA and AFT and so forth — is concerned. Talking to them is like talking to a mud fence. [emphasis added] I guess my goal is to encourage the creation of a remnant of those who know what’s good and what will promote a healthy society, which is of course healthy, intelligent individuals, not big schemes for social improvement. We need to start small. And since I’ve pretty much given up on the education establishment to reinstate some decency, I suppose we must form a dis-establishment of civilized people. It’s possible. Maybe we’ll need to return to monastic schools, where the mind and soul are formed together. That would be best. The Benedictines have had it right for 1,500 years. They brought salvation, sanity, and civilization — not a bad deal, all things considered.


    Filed on at 9:58 am under by dcobranchi

    THEY JUST DON’T GET IT A Wash Times Op-Ed on the virtues of virtual charters commits the sin of confusing same with homeschooling.

    Cyber schools are now available for anyone who has a computer and a desire to learn. And the much discussed home schooling movement has an educational tool at its disposal that virtually addresses any critique the educational establishment can direct at it…

    When school districts sponsor cyber schools, public money can be used to sustain the program. Conversely, when parents home-school on their own they generally are not eligible for public funds. As a consequence, for-profit entities actively seek out sponsoring school districts to serve as incubators for their products and services.

    Yes, for-profit cyber providers (such as K12) are actively targeting HSers. In some locales, even the school districts are getting into the act. After all, if they can convince a (former) HSer to become a cyber charter student, the school district would then get additional funding. Cyber charters are not HSing. In many states, homeschools are classified as “private” schools. In no state are cyber charters (or any kind of charter) schools “private”.


    Filed on at 9:31 am under by dcobranchi

    IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MONEY Chicago area schools are making a big push to make sure kids show up for school the first week. (Apparently, it’s a bit of a tradition to skip out at the start of the school year.) The telling quote:

    Better attendance means more state funding for the Chicago Public Schools, another point officials tried to drive home this year.

    WOW!! Isabel Lyman blogs

    Filed on at 9:00 am under by dcobranchi

    WOW!! Isabel Lyman blogs an unbelievably positive speech from CA GOP candidate Bill Simon.

    Too often the state has focused too much on strict mandates, and not enough on results. The latest example of this is the state’s assault on home schooling.

    Most recently, a memo released by the California Department of Education declared home schooling an unauthorized substitute for attendance at public school. This memo has been viewed, and rightly so, as a warning to all parents who have made a career of educating their children. The fact of the matter is home schooling is turning out well-educated kids. Often times, parents are choosing to teach their children themselves only because they believe the circumstances of their own child demand this special attention.

    These are parents who are making huge sacrifices, often giving up their careers, because they love their children and care deeply about their education.

    These individuals should be celebrated and applauded, not threatened with litigation and even criminal penalties.

    And as this assault on home schooling takes place, predictably, Gray Davis has chosen again to sit back and do nothing.

    When I’m governor, I will improve our public schools. That is my promise. But at the same time, parents who believe the best choice for their child is home schooling will be allowed that choice.

    I want to give parents every opportunity to educate their children. That’s why I will fight for improving public schools, increasing the number of charter schools, and also for home schooling in California.

    This can only be good news for CA HSers in their battle with the state DOE. Even if Simon isn’t elected, this speech may force Gray Davis to address the same issue.

    MORNING EDITION This morning

    Filed on September 3, 2002 at 9:49 am under by dcobranchi

    MORNING EDITION This morning NPR’s Morning Edition had a long segment on “Overscheduled Children”. They started the story talking briefly with an 11 year old girl who was in 4 or 5 activities plus 2-3 hours of homework each night. I’ll try to provide a deep link later today when they post it on their website. For readers in the Central Time Zone and beyond, the story aired at approximately 9:20 am.

    UPDATE: Here’s the link.

    SCHOOL’S IN We started

    Filed on September 2, 2002 at 6:27 pm under by dcobranchi

    SCHOOL’S IN We started back today. If you are so inclined, please keep us (particularly my wife Lydia) in your prayers. We are HSing our 3 oldest this year.


    Filed on at 11:46 am under by dcobranchi

    NOT THE “N” WORD A 4th grade teacher is threatened with losing her job for assigning the word “niggardly” as a spelling word. A parent confused it with a common epithet and now wants the teacher fired. I’m torn on this one. I think the teacher displayed poor judgement here. That said, I think calling for her head is a bit extreme.


    Filed on at 11:37 am under by dcobranchi

    HSING ON THE INCREASE in Colorado, although the official stats are misleading.

    The number of home schoolers registered with Colorado’s school districts grew 3.2 percent this year to 9,680, while the public school population rose 2.3 percent to 742,145.

    Over the past five years, the number of home schoolers registered with local districts has increased 12.7 percent, compared with an 8 percent growth rate for the public school population.

    The official numbers tell only part of the story of home schooling’s growth in the state, said Kevin Swanson, executive director of the Christian Home Educators of Colorado. That’s because home schoolers don’t have to register with their local school districts.

    They also can go through any number of Colorado private schools that offer home school support. Families that choose this option are counted among the state’s private school population, which is rising even faster than the population of home schoolers.

    Swanson estimates that his group’s membership has increased 10 percent in the past year to 14,000 families.


    Filed on at 10:25 am under by dcobranchi

    AN EXCELLENT TV PROGRAM I just saw the PBS show “Liberty’s Kids“. It’s an animated presentation of the period just before the Revolutionary War. The program is very well done with lots of details about the issues of the day. It seems to be aimed at 8-12 year olds.


    Filed on at 10:15 am under by dcobranchi

    CALL IN THE REINFORCEMENTS The CA DOE received so many angry letters and calls about their attack on HSing that they are punting it up to the Legislature.

    “Over the last few weeks, the Department of Education has been characterized in some circles as being engaged in a campaign to harass home-schoolers and to root out home-schooling in California. My staff and I have received dozens of angry telephone calls and written communications that unfairly assume that the department is misapplying the state’s compulsory education law in derogation of the rights of parents, and a handful of conservative publications have attacked our application of the law. None of these charges is true, of course, but the amount of misinformation, and passion, in these communications does make me believe that the situation cries out for a legislative solution. [emphasis added]”

    Yes, the charges are true. Here’s a copy of a letter Ms. Eastin sent to the Orange Co. Register.

    In recent days, the Department of Education has been portrayed in some
    circles as the enemy of California home-schoolers. Be assured that the
    department has not changed its position or embarked on a “campaign” to root
    out home-schoolers. Instead, the department has merely provided material,
    including its long-standing interpretation of applicable California law, to
    all persons who have requested information about home-schooling.

    California does not currently recognize home-schooling as a way to comply
    with the law that all children between the ages of 6 and 18 must attend
    school. To comply with that law, a child must be attending a public school or
    a private school, or be taught by a credentialed tutor.

    The classic “home school” – where children are taught by their parent who
    does not have a teaching credential – is not a legal means of complying with
    the compulsory education law, which means that home-schooled children are

    I am always encouraged when there is high public interest in the education of
    our children. The Legislature is the lawmaking authority in California and if
    it wishes to authorize home schooling, the department certainly will respect
    and administer that new law. In the meantime, the department and I must
    adhere to and enforce the compulsory education laws currently on the books.

    Delaine Eastin
    Ms. Eastin is California superintendent of public instruction

    I have read (though have not seen personally) that the CA Legislature amended the private school legislation in 1998 to specifically include parent-operated private schools. The dispute is over this 1998 amendment.

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