Utterly Meaningless » 2002 » November

    Filed on November 17, 2002 at 2:18 pm under by dcobranchi

    QUIZ OF THE DAY Guess where this quote originated:

    The success of xxxxxxxx’s private schools is the best way to convince the skeptics of the benefits of privatization. Though the government spends per student in government-run schools double the amount paid for a child in a private school, the quality of the education in government schools is much inferior to that received in private schools.

    Classrooms in private schools are not crowded; teaching methods are better and the campus more attractive. If the government decides to allocate half its educational budget to the private sector, most students will find a better educational atmosphere than what they are presently used to. Such a move would save half the government’s budget as well.

    The present situation in our schools also suggests the following question: Why is the government not getting a return from its schools proportional to the amount of money it invests in them? In fact, this is a problem faced by all governments. Privatization is the solution on the assumption that private entrepreneurs operate efficiently without being weighed down by bureaucracy and they are also accountable for their actions.

    Give up? See below.

    Answer: Saudi Arabia

    R2D2 A middle school

    Filed on at 2:12 pm under by dcobranchi

    R2D2 A middle school (age) HS group took first place in a local robotics competition. Not a huge deal and I might not have blogged it, but I love this part:

    “The field is defined by a white floor, with the wall black,” said Schultz. “Most of these things have photo cells. They can tell when they’re on the black and they know not to go forward.”

    The color barrier meant nothing to the robot fielded by Helfrich Park Middle School’s Chilly Chickens team. The robot, possibly reacting to an embarrassing score of zero in Round 1, opted out of Round 2. When turned on, it raced across the white, through an opening in the black wall, recovered its balance on the carpeted floor, and headed for the exit.

    “The robot has left the building,” intoned the announcer.


    Filed on at 2:03 pm under by dcobranchi

    STOP THE PRESSES The Billings (MT) Gazette reports that “Children can learn outside schoolrooms.” That’s the headline on this story. The lede goes a step better.

    Learning doesn’t need to stop when kids aren’t in school – whether because of a teachers strike, vacation time or just regular hours outside the classroom.

    The article is actually about a teacher’s store.


    Filed on at 6:01 am under by dcobranchi

    LESS FILLING, TASTES GREAT Blogging will be late and lighter than usual over the next several days. I’m off to the Eastern Analytical Symposium in Somerset, NJ. I have a cool job at the meeting; I’m the official (very amateur) photographer. So, I’ll be running around all day and most evenings playing shutterbug. I’ll be able to blog from the hotel and, with a little luck, maybe even post some digital shots of beautiful Somerset.

    BY REQUEST A larger

    Filed on at 5:29 am under by dcobranchi

    BY REQUEST A larger font size. If y’all still find this hard on the eyes, drop me a comment or email. Changes are fairly easy now.


    Filed on at 5:22 am under by dcobranchi

    ED-WEEK ARTICLE The CEO of the Calvert School has a nice piece on HSing here. The article takes the tone of an open letter to public-school teachers but I’m not sure how many it will convert.


    Filed on November 16, 2002 at 5:04 pm under by dcobranchi

    BACK FROM THE BEACH Nice party. Met a few bloggers, ate some good food, drank some really good beer. Lots of fun. Thanks, Fritz.


    Filed on at 4:06 am under by dcobranchi

    OT- OF GREENS & LIBERTARIANS This NYT Op-Ed pisses me off. John J. Miller of the National Review blames Libertarian candidates for causing Republicans to lose several Senate races in recent years. Apparently, Mr. Miller feels that somehow the Republicans should have some kind of lock-hold on the right, just as Dems complain that Greens are siphoning off their votes on the left.

    There’s a similar explanation for Mr. Thune’s 524-vote loss: a Libertarian Party candidate, Kurt Evans, drew more than 3,000 votes. It marks the third consecutive election in which a Libertarian has cost the Republican Party a Senate seat. If there had been no Libertarian Senate candidates in recent years, Republicans would not have lost control of the chamber in 2001, and a filibuster-proof, 60-seat majority would likely be within reach.

    And, if there had been no Republican Party, maybe the Libertarians would now be in control of the Senate. There’s also a bit of new, new, new math going on here. Even assuming that all three Senate seats had gone Republican (a dubious assumption, at best), that would put the GOP at 54, quite a ways from the “filibuster-proof, 60-seat majority.” But where is this birth-right enframed in the Constitution, to which the Republicans swear fealty? They’re as bad as the Dems whining about the Greens.

    Yet Libertarians are now serving, in effect, as Democratic Party operatives.

    Miller doesn’t understand that it is the Republicans who have moved to the left, leaving behind their Libertarian allies. The Democrats did essentially the same thing, moving towards the right. So, we have the two major parties basically trying to operate from the same ground, both wondering why their political bases didn’t follow the shift. Why should we? We don’t agree with it; voting to support it seems a bit counter-productive to me.

    The next time they wonder why the Bush tax cuts aren’t permanent, why Social Security isn’t personalized and why there aren’t more school-choice pilot programs for low-income kids, all they have to do is look in the mirror.

    No, Mr. Miller, you look into the mirror and tell me that you still see a small-government Republican in the reflection. This is not the best way to convince me to vote Republican. I may just have to vote straight-party next time (and not for the GOP) just to spite Miller!

    A BIG JUMP The

    Filed on November 15, 2002 at 11:43 am under by dcobranchi

    A BIG JUMP The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports on an increase in the number of African-American HSers. Some African-American activists are none too happy:

    Robert Pratt, author of “The Color of Their Skin, Education and Race In Richmond, Virginia, 1954-89,” said black parents should work to improve public education instead of opting for home schooling.

    “It’s our responsibility to see what changes need to be made to get our needs met,” said Pratt, an associate professor of history at the University of Georgia. “I don’t see pulling your child out of the school system as much of a solution.”

    But Sonya Wright is much brighter than the author.

    She said she wasn’t willing to sacrifice the education of her kin while schools are improved.

    “This summer, I learned that they didn’t know who Chopin or Beethoven were,” she said. “They didn’t even know who the NAACP was.”

    After having her children tested for admission to Landmark Christian School, she realized they were two years behind private-school children.

    “I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “They were bringing home honor-roll report cards, but they weren’t really top students.”

    What parent in their right mind would sacrifice their childrens’ educations to some liberal ideal of great public schools? I’m not African-American and so, perhaps, cannot appreciate the strides the black community has made since Brown v. Board of Education. But, I do know there is still a huge gap in the quality of education that African-American (and Hispanic) kids receive compared to whites. The fastest way to bridge that gap is to HS them. We HSers are all a minority and African-American HSers fit right in with the rest of us. [reblogged from Chris O’Donnell]

    OTOH this article throws

    Filed on at 9:38 am under by dcobranchi

    OTOH this article throws out a bunch of negatives and stereotypes, including the “S”-word. Great quotes from an educrat:

    UT Professor Dr. Mary Jane Connelly agrees the Mason kids will learn to socialize without school, but she’s not sold on the way they teach their kids.

    “Teaching children is a real art. Parents have an innate ability to communicate with their children. That doesn’t necessarily mean to teach them,” said Connelly…

    “I know as children get older and get into 7th and 8th grade and high school, the subjects are very complicated and I’m not sure all of them are ready to teach. I’m not ready to teach all of them myself,” said Connelly.

    What a bunch of crap! It’s so hard to teach 7th and 8th grade subjects you must have had to major in them in college, right? But wait- one-fourth of certified public-school teachers are teaching outside their fields. And since “field of study” is only relevant for 6th or 7th grade and beyond, I’d bet that means 1/2 of these teachers are out of their fields. How do they do it?

    There are so many resources out there that any parent should be able to HS their kids successfully all the way through 12th grade.

    FUNNY MAN Comedian and

    Filed on at 9:23 am under by dcobranchi

    FUNNY MAN Comedian and former HSer Dave Russo will be performing his HS bit in WI.

    CUTE I like this

    Filed on at 9:16 am under by dcobranchi

    CUTE I like this quote from yet another positive HS article:

    [T]he elder Shapiros are able to monitor their children’s conduct around the clock, seven days a week. “I don’t have to wait for a parent-teacher conference to find out about a behavior problem; I can take care of it right then,” Denise said, grinning. “And the ‘principal’ finds out about it every night when he gets home.


    Filed on at 5:14 am under by dcobranchi

    NEW, NEW, NEW MATH This mathematician rails against traditional ways of teaching mathematics and, instead, is promoting reform” math.

    Performances over the past 30 years on the National Assessment of Education Progress and the International Mathematics and Science Studies document that traditional mathematics curricula and methods of teaching have not been effective. However, research is emerging that shows reform mathematics is increasing student learning.

    The problem, here, is that we haven’t been using “traditional mathematics curricula” for the last 30 years. Instead, we’ve had “new math”, which was replaced by “new, new math”, and, finally, “reform” math (“new, new, new math?”). Maybe “reform” math is an improvement, but over which of the other flavors of mathematics pedagogy? Mathematics is a science- the purest one, in fact. Mathematicians, as scientists, should know to control as many variables as possible in order to draw proper conclusions. Right now, there are way too many uncontrolled variables to say that “reform” math is the way to go. Until the “professional” math teachers do a better job as scientists, our HS will be sticking with “old” math.


    Filed on November 14, 2002 at 9:03 pm under by dcobranchi

    BAD NEWS The PA HS bill died in committee. OTOH, PA may soon have only the second-worst HS law in the country. Puerto Rico may race it to the bottom with this proposed legislation:

    Compulsory attendance age from 5-21, although if you have completed the high school exit exam, you are then exempt from compulsory attendance.
    And establishing a Homeschool Board of paid members who must have at least 10 years teaching experience, and this board

    (c ) Will authorize the Homeschool Program.
    (d) Will establish the study plan.
    (e) Will select the educational materials and text books.
    (f) Will evaluate the Program students through uniform examinations.
    (g) Will certify by grades those students that may have been homeschooled
    (h) Will employ a teacher or a supervisor that will visit the families four (4) times a year
    (i) Will be responsible for data compilation, such as: exam and evaluation results to analyze and evaluate it.
    (j) Will examine the annual evaluations of the children in the Program,

    I received this via email and don’t have a link yet. I’ll try to find the bill online and will update.

    UPDATE: It’s worse than I thought. Here’s the bill and here’s HSLDA’s take on it.

    The following is a list of requirements that will be imposed on homeschoolers if H.P. 3048 becomes law:

    Parents must have a college degree OR be supervised by a certified teacher.

    An annual affidavit to apply for home schooling must be submitted 60 days prior to the beginning of school year.

    The annual affidavit will require such as information as: names and ages of the children with their social security numbers, vaccination evidence, and a certification that the teacher and all adults living in the home have not been convicted of breaking a “moral depravation law” within the last five years.

    The curriculum or study plan shall comply with the basic elements in the schools of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico as determined by a five-member board appointed by the governor. The board members must have at least ten years teaching experience.

    Parents will have to maintain a register containing evidence of materials used with educational purposes, writing samples, worksheets, exam grades, uniforms, students’ jobs, vaccination record, and a register of days and hours of study.

    Each homeschool schooled student will be evaluated by way of an interview annually by licensed psychologist or teacher certified by the state.

    The homeschool board will decide whether academic progress of the student is “poor” based upon an evaluation by a licensed psychologist or teacher certified by the state of the annual register and test results from the annual examination of the students.

    Each student will have to annually take uniform examinations created, approved, provided, administered and supervised by the board and the department of education.

    The homeschool board, amongst its powers, will employ a teacher or supervisor that will make a home visit to the families four times a year.

    The department of education will have the authority to establish regulations to regulate the home school programs and the date on which the uniform exams will be taken.

    Should the parents not hold a college degree, they must be supervised by a private tutor that must be a certified teacher, or a private school, but the parent must still submit to all of the above requirements as part of the homeschool program requirements. The supervisor must have weekly contact with the homeschool family.

    TOO LATE? Is it

    Filed on at 7:35 am under by dcobranchi

    TOO LATE? Is it too late to vote out all of PA’s legislators? I think that PA should just start over because the ones they have now are just plain idiots. In addition to having the worst HSing law in the country, they’re now trying to mandate the “Pledge of Allegiance” for all public, private, and parochial schools. It gets worse- the SCOTUS has held that students have a fundamental right not to participate. It would take a strong kid to face the peer pressure and not buckle. Not to worry, PA has a “solution” for these strong kids. They are going to have a letter sent home to their parents. Just what are these people thinking? Cut their pay and send them home.


    Filed on at 7:09 am under by dcobranchi

    WWHS PART INFINITY A public school teacher has been fired for firing a gun into her empty classroom.

    Norvella Susette Gibson, who taught language arts and reading, still faces charges of carrying a weapon into a place where possession of a firearm is prohibited. She faces two to 10 years in prison if convicted…

    During a hearing last month before attorney Robert J. Thomas, who was appointed as an independent examiner by the Texas Education Agency, Thomas said the school district was wrong in terminating Gibson…

    Gibson, who had been on paid leave since the Nov. 30 incident, appealed the board’s decision to the TEA which resulted in last month’s closed hearing before Thomas.

    Thomas recommended that the school district reinstate Gibson because the district had failed to conduct its own investigation and relied on “hearsay which was arbitrarily provided” by police.

    What a shock- an “independent” examiner hired by the teacher’s union backed the teacher. This is such a sick joke. The woman has been on paid leave for almost a year. Your tax dollars at work.

    PART III Here’s the

    Filed on at 6:58 am under by dcobranchi

    PART III Here’s the final installment. I particularly like this quote:

    “I am these children’s mother. Who has a better right to teach them than me?”

    Who, indeed.


    Filed on at 6:24 am under by dcobranchi

    WHO LET HSLDA INTO THE EDITOR’S OFFICES? That’s the only explanation I can come up with for the slew of postive HSing articles I’m finding. Here’s another nice one.

    It’s the middle of September and the Schwarz family is on their way to California. Mark and Barbie, along with their daughters Amy and Emily, are enjoying the stops and learning experiences. It’s part of the girls’ education process.

    “That’s what you can do if you homeschool,” Barbie said. “You get the whole family involved, and if you go on a trip, you can stop and see things related to what you’re studying or will be studying.”

    ANARCHY Well, you just

    Filed on at 6:05 am under by dcobranchi

    ANARCHY Well, you just never know where HSed kids will show up. This one ended up as anarchist “Public Enemy No. 1.”


    Filed on November 13, 2002 at 8:28 am under by dcobranchi

    FROM BOARDING TO BACH Here’s another family that uses HSing to allow their kids to pursue their interests.


    Filed on at 7:54 am under by dcobranchi

    A MUST READ If you are pro-vouchers or on the fence, click here to go to a really good treatise on “Why Conservatives and Libertarians Should Support School Vouchers.” Somewhat surprisingly, perhaps, the main thrust of the paper is aimed at Marshall Fritz.


    Filed on at 6:39 am under by dcobranchi

    OH YES THERE IS Time has a review of “Girl Culture” that doesn’t paint a pretty picture of Amercian girlhood.

    A gentle warning: this is not a book for parents desperate to maintain their naivete about what’s happening in their daughters’ lives: these accounts show you more than you’ve ever imagined about the sexual and social habits of girls. Greenfield’s photographs are accompanied by narratives from the girls themselves; the stories they tell, which are unflinchingly raw and honest, are often difficult to read. No matter how well you think you understand what goes on in adolescent life, it can be shocking to read first-hand accounts of the jealousy, pettiness, meanness and general anxiety that characterize female adolescence…

    If there’s anything to learn from this book, it’s that there’s simply no escape from the ordeals of girl culture. “Fat” girls get picked on, too-skinny girls get laughed at, popular girls spend their time worrying they’ll stop being popular.

    Call me Johnny-one-note, but I think there is an escape. Where do these girls learn and experience this “jealousy, pettiness, meanness and general anxiety?” You guessed it- in the public schools. I haven’t ever seen or heard of this kind of behavior among HSed young ladies. Maybe the sociologists should have interviewed a few of them. (reblogged from Isabel Lyman)

    UPDATE: Chris O’Donell via comment concurred and mentions that he blogged it the other day (I swear I missed it). Here’s the permalink– defintely worth a click. (And I’m jealous of all the traffic his site will now generate. The only oddball hits I ever get here are for “Allen Iverson Fingerband” for which I’m number 1 on Google.)

    LIBERTARIAN EDU-BLOG Fellow blogger

    Filed on at 4:21 am under by dcobranchi

    LIBERTARIAN EDU-BLOG Fellow blogger Steven Gallagher reminded me to check out Brian Micklethwait’s edu-blog. Brian is one of the principals at Samizdata and a fine writer. Just glancing through the last few days of posts, I noticed lots of red meat. Here’s a bit from yesterday:

    If you subject all types of children to an education best suited only to “Students”, said Blankertz, then you will not maximise educational achievement. The way to do that, as most sane educators acknowledge even if they may not all care to trumpet it too loudly, is to give each different child the different kind of education that will enable him or her each to make the most progress.

    But how do you know what that is going to be? Do you let the parents decide? That’s probably better than trusting the state to get it right. But what if some parents, perhaps through an ambitious refusal to face the facts about what sort of child they really have, want their “Craftsman” child, say, to be treated as a “Student”, on the grounds that this will turn their child into a Student for real, but will in fact only turn him into a badly educated Craftsman? Blankertz’s answer is for the children themselves to have more freedom of choice in the matter.

    Absolutely. Not everyone needs or wants to go to college. Skilled craftsmen and craftswomen will always be in demand and can easily support a family. Insisting that all kids must be in the college-prep mode is snobbery, period. I’m adding Brian’s blog to the roll.

    BTW, That list to the left is getting longer so I’m going to try to organize it later today. Let’s hope I don’t break my brittle template again.


    Filed on November 12, 2002 at 6:41 pm under by dcobranchi

    SHREDDING DOWN UNDER One of the top snowboarders in Australia HS three months each year in order to spend more time on the slopes.

    In fact the whole family takes three months out in winter and heads to Perisher to give the boys as much time on the slopes as they can.

    “We still do our schooling, we do home schooling when we are not on the slopes so we don’t miss out on anything,” Mitch said.

    Mother Margot said the move works well.

    “The boys improve so quickly when they are on the slopes all the time, but they know if they don’t complete their studies, there is no snowboarding, so believe me the work gets done,” she said.

    Mitchell’s obvious talent for the sport has been recognised, when he was asked to trial for the Australian Winter Olympic team for Italy in 2006.

    But he chose to forgo that dream for the moment to ensure he completes his education.


    Filed on at 9:49 am under by dcobranchi

    HAIL, QUEEN TAM! Tam Newlin fixed my template. Friends in high places…

    I’M BATTING .500 The

    Filed on at 7:16 am under by dcobranchi

    I’M BATTING .500 The search is working but I still can’t get the table to the left formatted correctly. For some crazy reason the archive links show up before the “Archive” label. I’ve exhausted my very limited knowledge of HTML. If anyone can make sense out of the source, please feel free.


    Filed on at 6:52 am under by dcobranchi

    NOT SO TOUGH This newspaper tried to give its readers a sample of their local accountability test. Unfortunately, they’ve highlighted all the correct answers. Hey, this could be the answer to meeting our national goal of increasing test scores.

    PART I of a

    Filed on at 6:44 am under by dcobranchi

    PART I of a three part series on the “Homeschool Revolution” is up on WND today. The article quotes James Dobson:

    Do you understand what a stem cell is? A stem cell is a cell – in the human being at least – that in the very early stages of development is undifferentiated. In other words, it’s not yet other kinds of tissue, but it can go any direction depending on the environment that it’s in.

    The stem cell, if it’s in the brain, develops into a nerve cell or into the substances between the nerves. Or if it’s in the heart, it becomes a heart cell, or if it’s in the eye, it becomes an eyeball cell. Wherever it is, it takes on the characteristic of the surrounding area.

    Do you understand that children are the stem cells for the culture? The environment that you put them in is what they grow up to be. And if you can control what they hear, if you could control what they’re told, if you have access to their minds … you can make them into just about whatever you want them to be.

    Yep- that’s WWHS.


    Filed on November 11, 2002 at 5:56 pm under by dcobranchi

    SERVES ME RIGHT I’m trying to add a search box to the site and was fiddling with the template. Now the formatting is screwy. Everything works but it will take me a while to get the search up-and-running and the appearance repaired. In the interim, please bear with me.


    Filed on at 10:06 am under by dcobranchi

    SOUNDS ABOUT RIGHT Lileks has a bit on HSing. Typically, it’s pretty funny.

    The other day I was talking with a Democrat friend about the election. She’d remarked, with equal amounts of sarcasm and good-natured ribbing, that the GOP had two years to build utopia. I thought about that later while walking Jasper around the block, and thought, no; they’re not about building utopia. Personally, I’m interested in keeping other people from building Utopia, because the more your believe you can create heaven on earth the more likely you are to set up guillotines in the public square to hasten the process. But we were exploring her opposition to the GOP, and she mentioned “Home schoolers, the religious right. They drive me nuts.”

    The home-schooling part I didn’t quite get. There seems to be some who believe that this is a typical day in a home-schooling classroom:

    “Alright, Ezekial, Rebecca, Simon, Mary, put away your snakes and come over here for natcheral science. Ezekial, how old is the earth?”

    “It’s six thousand years old!”

    “That’s right. Rebecca, did the dinosaurs come afore man, or at the same time?”

    “Uhh . . . at the same time?”

    “No, Rebecca, there were no dinosaurs. You’re going to have to get a paddlin’ for that, and remember: God wants it to hurt.”


    Filed on at 8:53 am under by dcobranchi

    FAIR AND BALANCED No, not Fox News (which is neither), but this article on K12. There’s tons of good info in here.

    With all of the heat the K12 has generated, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a review of the curriculum. How does it compare to Switched-on Schoolhouse, for instance? What do you get for $1200? Has anyone among the 3 or 4 of y’all who read this blog used it? How ’bout a comment or two?

    WILL VS. BLAINE George

    Filed on at 5:21 am under by dcobranchi

    WILL VS. BLAINE George Will has a nice column giving some background on Blaine Amendments, which voucher opponents are using as a last-ditch defense. BlaineAmendments.org has still more including a very interesting bio of Senator Blaine.


    Filed on November 10, 2002 at 9:17 am under by dcobranchi

    WHERE TO BEGIN? There are so many unspoken assumptions, stupid comments, and other inanities here that I’m not sure what to highlight. A sampling:

    Having parents do the homework subverts a major national educational goal: Raising test scores. And whose test scores do we want the kids to exceed? The parents’, of course.

    Where is the evidence that homework improves test scores? And since when did the goal become “raising test scores?” I thought the goal was to provide a better education; the scores were only an indicator. If the goal is to increase the scores, I have a suggestion: cheat! Give all the kids the answers ahead of time. 1600 SAT scores, here we come.

    But if the parents are doing the teaching, their kids are probably going to get the same scores as Mom and Dad.

    An inadvertant(?) swipe at HSing? There’s more.


    Filed on at 3:50 am under by dcobranchi

    CONSPIRACY THEORY The NCLB Act mandates that school districts have to allow students in the (formerly labelled) “failing schools” to transfer to better schools. Even worse, the school district would have to pay for the transportation. Well, it’s probably no great surprise that school distrcts aren’t real keen on the idea and have opened up little space in the better-preforming schools. What to do?

    In recent days, some conservatives have said the No Child Left Behind Act should be reviewed, citing early difficulties in carrying out the law’s demands that children attending failing schools be given the option to transfer to better schools in their district…

    Krista Kafer, an education analyst at the Heritage Foundation, said that if Congressional hearings showed that most school districts did not give children in sub-par schools the option to attend better schools, a “correction” could be made to the law that would allow the private sector to step in, thus reviving vouchers.

    The school districts’ responses were predictable. Does anyone else think this was all part of the plan to get past the Dem’s opposition to vouchers? BTW, there are no more “failing schools”.

    [The Department of Education] has stopped referring to these schools as failing schools, and is urging educators and the news media to distinguish between schools that might be lacking in a minor way, and those that have chronic problems. The law, however, makes no such distinction.

    Thank you, Mr. Orwell.


    Filed on at 3:35 am under by dcobranchi

    SARCASM AT THE NYT A really biting opinion piece in the Technology section of the NYT today. The objects of ridicule are Applied Digital Solutions and their implantable VeriChip.

    There is more good news. This nascent fusion of corpus and computer may pave the way for further integration of circuitry and self. After all, things can become only so convenient if we wear or carry tiny headsets, radios, televisions, phones and pagers…

    THE NASDAQ PACEMAKER Why wait 10 or 15 seconds for stock prices to download to a mobile device? This new internal stock ticker will send constant updates to your brain as your 401(k) plummets in value. It will also give you an electronic shock to keep your heart going.

    There are more suggested “improvements”. Well worth a click.

    UPDATE: Here’s another article on the same topic. These must be a privacy advocate’s worst nightmare; they certainly set my libertarian alarms ringing.

    By the time ADS mass markets VeriChip, bureaucrats will likely have scared young parents into microchipping their babies — right now, today, before your child gets swapped, stolen, kidnapped, into an accident, or lost! Will an “adult microchip,” like today’s beginners’ driver’s license, then become a rite of passage for teenagers?…

    The new generation of ID implants holds a sizable paragraph of information. That one paragraph, however, is also capable of being linked with other information systems, and search-engine technology is outstripping the best expectations of even the experts. More ominous, information thought to be anonymous is readily identifiable. The term “confidential,” in a legal context, has come to mean “need to know.”

    It gets worse. I hope that this is exaggerating the dangers; I fear it is not.


    Filed on November 9, 2002 at 8:17 am under by dcobranchi

    THIS IS NEWS? The NYPost reports that schools are forcing out marginally-performing students.

    The report said the new state Regents exam requirements and merit pay to high school administrators for performance might be encouraging principals to “force out” struggling students.

    This has been happening for years; we call the kids “refugees”.


    Filed on November 8, 2002 at 9:08 am under by dcobranchi

    PA HSERS RESPOND Some great letters to the editor in response to yesterday’s article. Here’s a favorite quote:

    Susan Richman states that she thinks a change in the law will increase the legal problems for home educators while Dee Black, a lawyer, states that the new law will decrease disputes between parents and school districts. I choose to believe the lawyer’s assessment of this bill over a person who derives their income from the current home school law. She has a financial interest in the law not being changed.

    This conflict of interest has been neatly ignored by all of the papers who quote the Richman’s as disinterested parties. The newspaper editorializes against the bill today.

    We strongly support the state requiring the occasional testing of home-schoolers; it helps ensure that a child is getting a decent education. In fact, we would support more frequent testing of home-schooled children for that very reason.

    I’ve said it before– I would NEVER move to PA because of their STUPID HS laws. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. I wonder how many tax dollars are fleeing to the surrounding states. PA residents, call your legislators and remind them of this. And then consider moving to DE or NJ.


    Filed on at 7:10 am under by dcobranchi

    THOUGHT FOR THE DAY As a commentary on the Mother Jones article blogged below, EducationNews.org links to this article from 2001. Here’s the nut graf:

    So why are some home schooling parents, who have opted out of the public schools for a multitude of reasons, trying to get laws passed so they can opt right back in again to participate in public school extra-curricular activities, special lab or classes, or have access to public school libraries? And why are some private and church schools willing to accept government monetary enticements, so they too can be planned, programmed, and budgeted by a central controlling agency? To parents who have been paying taxes to support government schools it sounds wonderful to be able to reap some benefit from that. But stop and think: The state has its fangs into private and home schools now. What will it be like when home and private schools participate in public school activities and accept government favors? “How much imagination does it take to see what is coming? Can you imagine the kinds of controls in store for schools that are set up to permit an escape hatch for the crumbling state educational monopoly–the most horrendous visible failure of socialism in America?”

    The truth of the matter is, once home and private schools become part of government-financed facilities or programs, they can no longer remain “private,” because through government laws, regulations, and conditions of funding they will be nationalized and homogenized with their public counterparts. “And therein lies the trap! It will be government’s way of harnessing ‘all the stray cats,’ in order that they may be conditioned to think and act alike as wholly owned subsidiaries of the state and a bureaucratic agency for the propagation of ideology and the enforcement of ‘standards.’ And standards will be devised by the same old coalition and manufacturers of gimmicks and publishers of pseudo-books who do know exactly what they want, and exactly how to get it.”

    NEWS TO MEHome schooling

    Filed on at 6:43 am under by dcobranchi


    Home schooling is rapidly expanding worldwide as families search for options to guide their children’s education amid growing concerns over lax educational standards and increasing violence in government-run schools.
    The home schooling movement continues to grow in the United States, with an estimated 1.7 million students in 2000 . That year, the movement gained enough credibility that Internet media giant www.Amazon.com created an online store for home-school families.

    I wasn’t aware of a HSing store at Amazon. I did some searching and found it (I think). Click on the link above to go directly there.

    SIGH! Now we’re fiscally

    Filed on at 6:31 am under by dcobranchi

    SIGH! Now we’re fiscally irresponsible:

    State Board of Education President Reed Hastings, a charter advocate and watchdog who sponsored a law last year to rein in fiscal mismanagement at homeschool charters, said he is prepared to push for new legislation to improve academic oversight at all charters.

    I really wish the papers would stop confusing cyber-charters with HSing.


    Filed on November 7, 2002 at 7:58 pm under by dcobranchi

    ANOTHER HS BLOG Alice Bachini has a Libertarian/HS blog. (link via HEHD)


    Filed on at 7:15 pm under by dcobranchi

    IS THERE ANYBODY OUT THERE? I haven’t been able to get into Blogger all day so I have no idea if anyone else can either. I’ll continue blogging. Maybe someone can read it.

    PA AGAIN The proposed

    Filed on at 6:45 am under by dcobranchi

    PA AGAIN The proposed law may be coming up for a vote next week. This article describes in some detail the current requirements. An example:

    To graduate, students must pass the GRE, receive a diploma from a homeschool education program accredited by the department, or complete 30 semester hours at an accredited post-secondary institution.

    Wow! I always knew the PA laws were tough but the Graduate Record Exam? I took that after 4 years in college. I’m pretty sure they meant the GED.

    HOME ALONE This topic

    Filed on November 6, 2002 at 10:50 am under by dcobranchi

    HOME ALONE This topic came up at a DHEA meeting a few months back: At what age is it legal to leave a child “Home Alone” in the State of Delaware? I wasn’t able to find an answer but delawoffice.com came through.

    But if you don’t intend for it to be permanent, by the letter of the law you can’t leave a child without supervision until they reach 18. This is a very vague section (11 Del.C. 1102.), especially with respect to this issue. In fact, it doesn’t specifically talk about it at all.

    In practice, there may be an informal policy by the Division of Family Services not to suggest prosecution when children are age 12 and above, except in unusual circumstances. This is a policy, however, and not available to the public, according to a helpline social worker I spoke with…

    What does it mean to leave a child alone? Just what it says: you can’t leave a child unsupervised in your car or home while you run into the store; you can’t leave a child unsupervised if you have to leave for work before they have left for school; you can’t leave a child unsupervised to walk to school or wait at the bus stop; you just cannot leave a child alone period.

    This seems pretty silly when you consider that many 13-year-olds are babysitting. I know I’ve broken this “policy” on more than one occasion; our eldest is 11 and more than capable of taking care of himself for a few minutes.

    AYUH! Maine schools don’t

    Filed on at 7:00 am under by dcobranchi

    AYUH! Maine schools don’t need to improve; they’re already doing a terrific job.

    Schools throughout the area recently received the results of last year’s Maine Educational Assessment tests for fourth, eighth, and 11th graders. The numbers showed little or no improvement from the past several years, but this does not concern school superintendents. “We’ve got great schools in this district,” said SAD 58 superintendent Quenten Clark. “We do great stuff…”

    “In many ways, stagnant scores are good,” he said. “Maine’s students are actually among the higher performers in the nation. Flat scores indicate that they are achieving scores that are still good.”

    Clark said that the trend toward increasingly difficult requirements and a reliance on high stakes testing is something that has been occurring for many years. “This trend is accelerating,” he said. “We’ve created a monster. We’ve done everything we can to distract schools from education.”

    “I’m not terribly optimistic about the fate of the public schools,” he said. “Schools are better now than they’ve ever been, but the bar keeps getting raised higher.”

    With the new requirements, home schooling will become a much larger piece of the state’s education puzzle, said Clark. “Parents will start seeking other options,” he said. “In Maine, you’ve got the best public schools in the nation. We have good teachers, and they do a good job. Why are we trying to make our schools like everyone else’s?”

    I never realized that Lake Woebegone was in Maine.

    O, CANADA! I pray

    Filed on at 6:51 am under by dcobranchi

    O, CANADA! I pray that this “social conscience of the Liberal party” never comes to power.

    “The public interest isn’t in babysitting. It’s to bring children together – nowadays mostly children with few if any siblings – to bring them together in a learning environment, with adults equipped to begin the processes of education. Making it easier for parents to work is an important side-benefit, but what’s most important is to break away from the idea that school naturally begins at five or six. That was the product not of the interests of the child, but of social circumstances now changed.”
    Kent stresses that he’s not suggesting that classrooms for two-year-olds should become “replicas” of the current first grade. And he recognizes there will have to be “liberal provision” for early-years home schooling by parents who want to provide it and can meet recognized standards.[emphasis added]

    My advice- hide your children well.

    I CAN’T WAIT for

    Filed on November 5, 2002 at 5:52 am under by dcobranchi

    I CAN’T WAIT for this trend to reach New Jersey </sarcasm> since I am still walking on the Dark Side.

    In Boston, a college town with an estimated 10,000 adjunct faculty, there are union glimmers, too. Last year, part-time faculty at Emerson College voted to unionize – the first such move in New England since the high court’s decision.

    This summer, New York University adjuncts voted to join the United Auto Workers union. And part-timers are organizing unions on at least a half dozen campuses – including Illinois State University in Normal, and others where the movement is still secret, Mr. Moser says.


    Filed on at 5:41 am under by dcobranchi

    HS WRITING CLUB This may be worth a SASE. If anyone is participating and has feedback, please comment.

    RENAISSANCE WOMAN Just reading

    Filed on November 4, 2002 at 6:43 am under by dcobranchi

    RENAISSANCE WOMAN Just reading this former-HSer’s list of accomplishments wears me out.


    Filed on November 3, 2002 at 3:34 pm under by dcobranchi

    HSERS TAKE NOTE We are not immune to this.

    Eight students at Roswell Kent Middle School raised their hands last week when asked if they had ever met someone on the Internet and then met that person face to face.

    One student met a “cyber pal” in a hotel.

    The mystery friends all turned out to be kids, too, but they just as easily could have been adult predators posing as kids to gain trust, get close and do harm.

    Please, remind your kids NEVER to give out personal information over the net and NEVER arrange a meeting with a stranger without first clearing it with Mom and Dad.

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