WILD STAT OF THE DAY Almost 1/3 of Scots parents polled would choose homeschooling over sending their kids to traditional schools.
Fully 60% of parents said they did not trust the education system and 30% said they could do better than school teachers themselves.
2 + 2 = VELCRO An Australian mathematician has deduced the best way to keep one’s shoes from coming untied. I think I’ve got a better way.
GOOD NEWS According to the HSLDA, the discrimination that some “underage” homeschoolers have faced in college admissions has been addressed by the US Dept of Educ. Evidently, some confusing language left over from the Clinton Administration had some college admissions officers believing that they would lose federal funding if they admitted homeschoolers who were still subject to compulsory attendance laws.
MUSLIMS HOMESCHOOLING Another article on the increase in Muslims who choose to homeschool. I like this quote:
They worry that their children will feel excluded in classrooms where pupils draw reindeer and color Easter eggs but have never heard of qataif, a Muslim pastry eaten during the holy month of Ramadan, when the daily fast is broken after sundown with a family meal.
Qataif is one of my favorite desserts. It is basically a cross between a pancake and a crepe, filled with sweet ricotta or pistachios, and drenched with orange syrup. Now I’m hungry. See y’all later.
QATAIF CORRECTION: The expert (Lydia, that is) informs me that the dessert is made with walnuts, not pistachios.
TESTING, TESTING High stakes testing may not help learning and may actually be counter-productive, reports the NYT today. A large study found that even while scores on the high-stakes tests were rising, scores on other nationally normed tests were falling. One possible explanation is that the teachers were “teaching the test” and ignoring other aspects of education. The study was commissioned by teacher’s unions so may be suspect.
NONSENSE! A public school principal is opposed to a new charter school in his “neighborhood” for purely altruistic reasons.
CCHS graduates have been and continue to be getting an excellent education. You know their collegiate success stories; you don’t need me to recite them for you…
But, unlike the rest of the country, especially lately, we’ve been a community tolerant and respectful of our differences.
I believe generations of Cook County kids learned those values at home but practiced them by going to school together, something they won’t be doing next year. That’s why I don’t view this charter school announcement as terribly good news.
And why can’t they practice these values at the charter school? As usual, the educrats hate competition for their kids and dollars.
WWHS- THE OUTRAGE This is enough to make any parent want to scream: a security guard allegedly raped a 13-year-old student during school hours. This alleged pedophile had been let go from several other schools for being too friendly with the female students. He is free on $1000 bail:
Colon was transferred from three other city schools, each time following complaints from female students, said Lawrence police Lt. Mary Bartlett. He was repeatedly warned to stop asking female students for their phone numbers and suspended at least once for 10 days for “being overly friendly with seventh- and eighth-grade girls,” Bartlett said.
Shades of Cardinal Law.
INTERESTING ESSAYS This T. C. Williams High (yes, the same as in the movie Remember the Titans) substitute teacher has a ton of interesting thoughts on everything from the quality of education classes to the weight of modern textbooks. Well worth a click.
CIVICS AND SKATEBOARDING He must be a homeschooler. This 16-year-old helped to lead a group of boarders to lobby for a skateboarding park.
PITY THE EDU-CRATS They can’t “supervise” homeschoolers if they don’t know who (or where) they are.
“It is impossible for us to enforce school attendance laws, since we do not know who, in fact, is being home- schooled, nor to what degree,” Tulsa Superintendent David Sawyer said…
Parents could notify the school district if they intend to home-school their child, but they don’t, Sawyer said. Many parents who home- school their children do it because they don’t want school-district oversight in the children’s education.
“It is impossible for us to ascertain if the students are in school if we don’t know they exist,” Sawyer said.
THE TWILIGHT ZONE Aliens have been abducting kids and making them smarter for the last 30 years or so, according to one theory.
They go by many names, such as Star Kids, Indigos or Crystalline Children. Whatever they’re called, believers say this group of prodigies started appearing about 30 years ago and may now make up as much as 90 percent of the population under ten. They also exhibit strange side effects, like a higher resistance to pollutants but an increased sensitivity to sugar and food additives. These are babies born with an inherent knowledge of art, language and spirituality, possessing an impressive wealth of wisdom. Some will even go so far as to say these kids are not only prime candidates for the gifted and talented program, but the next step in human evolution.
Er, yeah, sure.
SAXON PHONICS This one was news to me. Saxon has a phonics program out that is drawing rave reviews from the public schools using it.
“I sent some of my teachers toward the end of last year over to Ilchester to investigate it,” said West Friendship Principal Corita Oduyoye. “They came back ranting and raving about how wonderful it was and what they saw the children doing.”
WWHS AD NAUSEUM Steven Gallaher found this one which will find a prominent place in the file of reasons to keep our kids away from the public schools: A middle school band teacher is facing misdemeanor charges for placing his belt around a boy’s neck and tightening it:
Turrubiate said her 13-year-old son entered a band classroom that was filled beyond capacity because two classes were combined. She said Dickey told her son to sit down, and that Jesse responded that there were no available seats.
Turrubiate was told that the request was repeated and that her son again said he could not comply, accompanied by a contemptuous facial expression.
“Mr. Dickey had his belt in his hand, so when my son didn’t sit down, he put the belt around my son’s neck,” said Turrubiate. “He left marks from one side to the other.”
The school requested that the mother not press charges. Wisely, she refused noting, “If it was the other way around — if my son had done that to him — they would have had him in juvenile hall that day. That’s what makes me really mad.”
I’M NOT THAT ARROGANT I was mis-quoted (or at least quoted out of context) in the article that appeared in the News-Journal yesterday.
“Four or five months ago I was getting three, five, 10 hits a day. Now it averages about 80,” he said. “If you’re good, people will find you.”
These were two disconnected statements. The first sentence I was joking about how LITTLE traffic I get. The second sentence I was talking about the advice I had given to an aspiring 16-year-old writer. I suggested she put her stuff on the web and “if you’re good, people will find you.” ARRGGHH! I sound like an ego-maniac.
BIG BLUE IBM’s CEO Lou Gerstner weighs in on testing in this column.
Employers are well aware of deficiencies in education; they see how hard it is for young adults with inadequate preparation to move into the workplace. Any retreat from our national and state efforts now not only would harm students but would limit our competitive position in the global marketplace.
The best way to reform schools is to move forward with programs that raise expectations, invest in students and teachers, and measure how much our kids are learning. We must recognize our progress and build on it.
MERRY CHRISTMAS I’m in SC for the holidays so blogging will (obviously) be light for the next few days.
A BAD LAW A Monrovia, CA daytime curfew law has been upheld. Homeschoolers are exempt but are still being harassed.
PEN VS. PC In this highly computerized age, how important is it that kids study penmanship? In our house, I punted and let the kids decide when and if they wanted to learn cursive. OTOH, I’m also not particularly concerned if they know how to touch type. I figure that by the time they would really need the skill, computers will be using some kind of voice interface.
A TWO-FER Buy one lunacy, get the second free. Both these appeared in the same “Independent” (UK) article: First, a school district has banned parents from taking photos of their kids’ school play becasue pedophiles might obtain the images. Then, as a throwaway comment at the end, we find this outrage:
The Red Cross yesterday defended its decision to stop its charity shops displaying Christmas trees and Nativity scenes because they could offend non-Christians, particularly Muslims.
There’s a reason it’s called the Red CROSS. In Muslim countries, the organization is known as the Red Crescent. Christians, Jews, and Moslems all recognize the Old Testament as scripture. You know, the one that includes “You shall have no other god before me.” (Exodus 20:3, NIV) So, when did we start bowing down and praying to the god, “Political Correctness?”
I’m sure Moslems laugh at this peculiarly Western disease; they haven’t re-named any Red Crescent stores, right?
CALIFORNIA COAST CONTEST The California Coastal Commission is holding a Coastal Art & Poetry Contest. California students in grades K-12 are invited to submit artwork or poetry with a coastal or marine theme. Poetry will be accepted in English, Spanish, or American Sign Language (on video). Up to eight winners will be selected to win $100 gift certificates to an art supply or book store. Entries will also be eligible to win prizes in the international River of Words contest.
The postmarked deadline is February 15. For information and entry forms, visit www.coastforyou.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (800)
CUT OFF YOUR NOSE This school board was facing community pressure because the students had formed a gay-straight alliance club. In response, the wimpy board members closed all clubs and then blamed the alliance.
HSLDA ON THE WARPATH They are threatening to take the Maine Principals to court over its refusal to allow homeschoolers to play sports for private schools.
OT BUT A REALLY GOOD READ Skip Oliva takes apart Dr. Martha Burk over the Augusta National Golf Club issue. There’s lots of red meat in this story which really boils down to a First Amendment issue- the right to freedom of assembly. Grab a cuppa and enjoy.
YOU DON’T SAY This first graf is a hoot:
As students throughout Northeast Florida start winter break, teachers say there are plenty of educational activities they can do at home.
But, how will they learn anything without a highly-qualified, certified, credentialed, and blessed by Reg Weaver teacher around?
TEXAS STATE MOTTO: THANK GOD FOR CINCINNATI I thought the TX accountability testing situation was awful with a projected 50% failure rate. They’re pikers compared to Cincinnati area schools where 80% of 4th-graders failed the reading test.
EMILY POST Tunku Varadarajan in the WSJ points out how manners have decayed in recent years. I agree 100%. It has been nearly impossible for me to teach my kids to say “Yes, ma’am” and “No, sir.” Perhaps I’m a relic of the South, but youngsters saying “Yeah” to an adult, or even worse, using the adult’s first name, just drives me crazy. I don’t even like the trend in church Sunday School, where the kids are told to call their teachers “Mr. Dennis” or “Miss Cathy.”
MORE ON SMALLPOX The NYT has a nice summary of five smallpox articles that will appear in the January New England Journal of Medicine. The conclusion seems to be that the go-slow approach taken by the Bush administration is the correct one. Some interesting polling data:
Sixty-one percent said they would choose vaccination if it were offered. But that number climbed to 75 percent if a respondent’s doctor decided to be vaccinated; it dropped to 21 percent if a respondent’s doctor refused vaccination.
Instapundit notwithstanding, my family is sitting this one out unless there is an actual outbreak.
FAST FOOD, “FAST” EDUCATION The thesis behind this Phi Kappa Delta paper is that the current “accountability” reforms value the breadth of memorized facts versus the depth of knowledge gained. Maurice Holt argues that this is akin to “fast food” and that education reform needs to “slow down.”
In the context of education, the form of schooling espoused under the banner of standards demonstrates the same deterministic thinking that governs the production of fast food. What is sought is a conception of educational practice that can be defined in terms of content and sequence and assessed in terms of agreed-upon ends capable of numerical expression. The engagement between teacher and learner should be as predictable as possible, and variation between one teacher and another can be offset by scripting the learning encounter and tightening the form of assessment. If the purpose of schooling is to deliver the knowledge and skills that business needs, this approach cuts costs, standardizes resources, and reduces teacher training to a school-based process. Above all, the efficacy of the operation can be measured and the results used to control it and its functionaries — the teachers.
But if schools exist to equip students with the capacity to address the unpredictable problems of adulthood and to establish themselves in a world of growing complexity, then crucial disadvantages emerge. Classroom practice becomes a boring routine, teachers feel de-skilled, and, though what is learned is measurable, its educative value is diminished. The “fast school” offers a static conception of education that has more in common with training. And how can this kind of practice be improved? Since it derives from an impoverished view of theory, distinct from practice, only practice itself can guide improvement. Hence the emphasis on defining “best practices” or “what works,” based on the dubious assumption that practice is context-free. But can it ever be?
Holt expands on the metaphor (perhaps a bit too far), but, in the end, basically comes down to a position that sounds a lot like homeschooling.
WANTED: FIRST AMENDMENT Here’s one out of the UK that really surprised me. I hadn’t given any thought to what it means to have a national church in a modern democracy. British kids know relatively little about Christianity. Here, that would concern the parents and the pastors. In the UK, it’s a school issue:
The research, by academics at Exeter University, will compound fears that many schools are failing to ensure that pupils get a basic religious education. It will also increase pressure on Charles Clarke, the Education Secretary, to include religious education in the national curriculum…
Prof Copley said the findings illustrated the need for schools to be given clear instructions on how to teach Christianity. Without this, there would be even more ignorance in an increasingly secular society.
1955 HIGH SCHOOL = 2002 COLLEGE Identical tests of general knowledge given to high school seniors in 1955 and to current college grads yielded very similar results.
UPDATE: Here’s the press release and here’s the full report [PDF].
FYI HSLDA’s Mike Farris is going to be teaching an online course on Constitutional Law beginning in January.
This 18-week Internet-based course follows Mike Farris’ textbook,Constitutional Law for Christian Students, and uses a computer-based audio CD-ROM to deliver the “classroom” lectures. The syllabus,
posted on the class home page, lists the reading and listening assignments for each week and offers a flexible schedule for homework. Approximately every two weeks, students can participate in a live chat-room discussion–hosted by Mike Farris–to pose their questions and discuss the material. Twice during the class, students will submit essay exams for grading. A certificate of participation will be awarded to all students at the end of the class.
Cost is $200 including the text. More info is available at http://conlaw.hslda.org/.
SIX PACK O’ RIGHTS The Onion is reporting that the New and Improved Bill of Rights consists of only six.
According to U.S. Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID), the original Bill of Rights, though well-intentioned, was “seriously outdated.”
“The United States is a different place than it was back in 1791,” Craig said. “As visionary as they were, the framers of the Constitution never could have foreseen, for example, that our government would one day need to jail someone indefinitely without judicial review. There was no such thing as suspicious Middle Eastern immigrants back then.”
(via The Volokh Conspiracy)
IS THERE A PSYCHOMETRICIAN IN THE HOUSE? I’ve read this article a couple of times and still can’t quite grasp it. At first blush, it appears that more than half of all students and close to three-fourths of African-American and Hispanic students are expected to fail the TX state exams and not receive a diploma. The numbers are based on a bunch of leading indicators and may be too pessimistic but, if accurate, would be disastrous. Could any state really come up with a new test that was so out of sync with what the kids had learned?
THIS IS TERRIBLE Another example for the WWHS file.
The mother says the boy began to “hug her and kiss her and tell her that he thought she was sexy and that he loved her.”
“And then he unbuttoned and unzipped her pants,” she said.
The girl’s mother says the boy fondled her daughter, and claims the principal knows this.
“Miss Hudson [the principal] told me she was ashamed it happened on her watch,” she said.
The girl’s mother is upset the boy remains in her daughter’s class.
The kids are both 5-years-old.
HUH? The homeschooling brainwashing apparently didn’t “take” for this kid.
Scott Stallard, 11, of Grand Island hopes to raise $3,000 as a home-school project to pay for school curriculum and supplies for an elementary school in Uganda run by missionaries with the Word of Life organization. He reports he has raised $675 so far with the help of sister Brittany, brother Phyllip and friends by selling doughnuts and candy bars door-to-door and he currently is looking for a place to hold a basket auction to raise more money. He can be contacted at 30 Havenwood Lane, Grand Island, NY 14072. (His sister held a carnival last summer to benefit Cornerstone Manor.) He writes: “You know all of us kids in America will probably get lots of things for Christmas this year, but I think that the kids in Africa will like the chance to go to school more than any toys we get. We sure are lucky to live in America, because school is free.” [emphasis added]
BLAME THE HOMESCHOOLERS This school district’s enrollment has fallen some 20% and they are now running a deficit. They blame us (among others) for a loss of students (and state revenue). Dollars to donuts they haven’t reduced the number of teachers and administrators by 20%.
UPDATE: Second verse, same as the first.
FREE AT LAST Finals are done; grades are recorded. I enjoyed teaching again after a five year hiatus. Maybe I’ll try again in ’07.
WHAT DOES A DIPLOMA MEAN? That is basically the question that this op/ed poses. The author’s son is autistic and is making progress on his IEP but will not be awarded a diploma under the current system.
If the diploma could indicate my son’s drive and progress, the self-control he has learned by mastering his behavioral goal, for example, that skill set may be of more value to a potential employer than the fact that he could not perform 10th-grade mathematics. Tremendous improvement like that is invisible on the current MCAS-driven diploma, and would only be viewed as a failure by board policy.
If we are looking for ways to make children more marketable in this demanding economy, then we must allow them to earn real diplomas, provided they have been given by accountable schools like my sons’. Only then will we have a comprehensive and just system of public school education worthy of our children.
While I feel for this woman and her son, awarding a diploma to her son would only serve to confuse potential employers of MA graduates. How would they know if the diploma meant that the student had mastered the state curriculum or had drive, self-control and made progress? If potential employers don’t feel that the state curriculum is relevant to the job, they probably won’t care if the employee has a diploma or a certificate.
STRANGE BEDFELLOWS? New York’s charter school law apparently prohibits on-line virtual charters although a change in the law may be in the offing. Surprisingly (at least to me), the League of Women Voters is opposed.
The League of Women Voters of New York State, however, said the charter school should be rejected. “It cannot meet the needs of certain at-risk populations, it will lead to re-segregation of education in this state, it cannot maintain the separation of church and state,” said Elsie Wager of the league.
That quote could have come directly from the NEA playbook. I was not aware that the LoWV was so left-leaning.
I’LL BE LATE New stuff should be up around 8 p.m.
MORONS Yes- it’s now time for Daryl to go over the top once again. Michael Peach has posted some comments by public school teachers aimed at homeschooling, in general, and at him and his blog, in particular.
How can anyone get away with not educating their children and brag about it on the net?
This site is a real hoot. i really hope they keep posting, it is real comedy. The level of parody is beyond reproach. the site, as far as i can tell, is a parody of the ‘PC’ home tuition lot.
I had a terrible irreverent thought: these parents would be a nightmare, so thank God we don’t have to deal with them.
Thanks for directing me to this site. It does almost read like a parody. I live in an area which is awash with home educators. The current crop have kids who we can be grateful aren’t in the schools. Foul mouthed, “dyslexic”, arrogant and precious. A lucky escape.
This stuff is great. home education! whatever will the government think of next to ease classroom overcrowding? Well done Tony!
And I thought our educrats were bad.
STUPID REGISTRATION The Chicago Tribune has another article about Muslims homeschooling but I refuse to go through their obnoxious registration process. If anyone has access and wants to comment, feel free.
AMATEUR ASTRONOMERS, TAKE NOTE Kim via email pointed to this NASA article mentioning that the next few nights should provide some of the best views of Saturn in 30 years. If you don’t have a telescope, even a good pair of field glasses can suffice.
NOT ANY MORE A CA teacher has been preaching the gospel in her public school class. According to her, none of the parents or students object so it’s ok. I’ll bet that after the principal (or the ACLU) reads this article, she will be back to the 3R’s.
IT’S MONDAY and time for the latest comedy of errors from Dennis Redovich. His rant this week is entitled “Jobs & Education and the Big Scam in American Public Education,” but I’m hard-pressed to discern any difference between this and his other rants. Well, one small difference- he didn’t butcher any physics equations this week. There are a couple of juicy quotes, though. In the middle of a long section on why it is basically a waste of time to promote higher education for more students we get this:
Increasing the number of college graduates is beneficial to society but will not create jobs, except significantly in education, which is very good because they are family living wage jobs.
So, it’s good to send kids to college so that we need more professors. Then there’s this section which is in bold in the original:
The major weapons used to label schools as “failing” to prepare students for jobs or for so called critically needed post secondary education are meaningless high stakes standardized tests for promotion and graduation that are destroying poor children for no good reasons. Money is too precious to waste on the education of the working poor and their children who cannot score at the immeasurable “proficient level” on the infallible tests prepared by the multimillion dollar testing industry. [emphasis added] Political leaders who strongly support useless education reforms and testing are well supported by the private sector business interests looking for a big share of the billions spent on education that could be privatized.
I don’t understand the highlighted sentence and this is not the first time that Mr. Redovich has stated this. Either he is writing off a significant percentage of the US population as a “waste” of money or he is attempting to put words in the mouths of his opponents. As I am 100% sure that no education reformer has ever said that “[m]oney is too precious to waste on the education of the working poor and their children,” I am at a loss. If this is a straw man, it has to be the flimsiest one I’ve ever seen.
Well, Redovich rants on for a while longer and promises another installment for next Monday- same bat time, same bat channel.
TEARJERKER This one is really sad but inspiring, in a way. A 32-year-old homeschooling Mom faced cervical cancer with conviction and courage.
HONOR SOCIETY FOR HOMESCHOOLERS Here’s an interesting piece on the pros and cons. I understand the rationale- parents are trying to help their kids get into college- but I’m not going to be pushing for a Delaware chapter. My kids don’t get grades and they take no standardized tests. There will be plenty of time for them to compare themselves versus the “competition”, should they choose to go to college. I’m certainly not going to advance that by a few years.
FASCINATING Researchers using MRI can differentiate between good readers and poor readers based solely on which parts of the brain “light up” while reading.
COMMUNITY COLLEGES are beefing up their academics and selling themselves as an inexpensive entree’ into elite universities for rising juniors. A personal anecdote- the CHEM 101 course that I am currently teaching at Salem Community College was surprisingly rigorous (as an adjunct, I don’t have control of either text selection or syllabus). The students were expected to learn a lot of chemistry- much more than I remember seeing in any intro class.