Utterly Meaningless » 2003 » January
  • WWHS This is almost

    Filed on January 16, 2003 at 2:54 pm under by dcobranchi

    WWHS This is almost too crazy to believe. A 14-year-old pregnant student was thrown against a wall by a police officer because she was attempting to get into the ladies’ room against his instruction. She was then suspended from school and gave birth the next day- seven weeks early. After a hospital stay, she returned to school only to be called truant for missing school. Her parents are now homeschooling her. Both young mother and daughter are doing well.

    THE NAME GAME Researchers

    Filed on at 2:37 pm under by dcobranchi

    THE NAME GAME Researchers from the Univ. of Chicago and MIT sent 5000 resumes to potential employers. Resumes with “white-sounding” first names generated a response rate of 1 in 10. “Black-sounding” resumes with identical qualifications only received a response in 1 of 15.

    A GOOD IDEA I

    Filed on at 2:24 pm under by dcobranchi

    A GOOD IDEA I like the lede for this column:

    I want to get rid of homework as we know it.

    I know I’m being wild and crazy. Usually in this column I gather lots of research and information from experts before stating an opinion. But today I’m just talking as the tired parent of two children who have done loads of homework over the past 12 years, much of which has been — by any sensible reckoning — a complete waste of time. Yet my children, along with most kids I talk with, don’t read enough. Certainly no kids I talk with seem aware that Maryland standards require all students to read a minimum of 25 books a year.

    So here’s my idea: In elementary and middle school, there should be only one homework assignment — that each student read for at least one hour a day and write about what he or she reads for at least 15 minutes a day in a dedicated reading journal.

    An excellent idea which you’ll never see in the government schools. Teachers are way too enamored of “projects” to ever put this into practice.

    I’LL BE LATE I’ve

    Filed on at 3:46 am under by dcobranchi

    I’LL BE LATE I’ve a working lunch today so blogging will be non-existent until later this evening. See y’all then.

    COOKIE DAY PHOTOS I

    Filed on January 15, 2003 at 2:26 pm under by dcobranchi

    COOKIE DAY PHOTOS I finally got some pictures uploaded.

    ISABEL LYMAN points to

    Filed on at 9:45 am under by dcobranchi

    ISABEL LYMAN points to a very disturbing tale about a 4-year-old who was sexually assaulted on a school bus. WARNING: The original story is fairly graphic.

    NOW THIS IS FUNNY

    Filed on at 9:23 am under by dcobranchi

    NOW THIS IS FUNNY In an article about for-profit National Heritage (a competitor of Edison Schools) we get this quote:

    “Before he came along, I had no interest in education,” [National Heritage CEO] Huizenga said. His son, however, does not attend a National Heritage school. Huizenga said his wife insists on home-schooling their son.

    “Dads don’t get to make the decisions,” Huizenga said.

    ENOUGH ALREADY! The Houston

    Filed on at 8:54 am under by dcobranchi

    ENOUGH ALREADY! The Houston Superintendent wants to make the PSAT mandatory for all 10th graders. This is on top of the state-mandated accountability tests.

    INSIDE THE BLOGOSPHERE Joanne

    Filed on at 1:37 am under by dcobranchi

    INSIDE THE BLOGOSPHERE Joanne Jacobs relates an extremely disturbing tale of what life in one D.C. school was like for a new teacher. Joanne does a terrific job with it. This one falls into the must read category. And, I strongly recommend reading the original that Joanne links to (And, yes, I realize that I ended that sentence with a preposition.).

    DOA North Dakota is

    Filed on January 14, 2003 at 2:54 pm under by dcobranchi

    DOA North Dakota is attempting to force homeschoolers to take the state’s accountability test. Unfortunately for them, this directly violates a section of the NCLB Act. Regardless, HSLDA is working to defeat the bill; I guess the thinking is it is easier to stop this before it is a law than to fight it in court.

    CORRECTION: I originally wrote that it was Nebraska who was doing this. A reader pointed out that it is actually North Dakota. Doh!

    THIS SOUNDS AWFULLY FAMILIAR

    Filed on at 1:57 pm under by dcobranchi

    THIS SOUNDS AWFULLY FAMILIAR Here’s a nice profile of a family of seven kids(including 8-year-old quints) who are homeschooling, in part, because of the homework monster.

    Last year, the five first graders had a vast assortment of homework that the family would spend entire evenings on. The Thompsons had friends who recommended home schooling so they thought they’d give it a try with all the children this year after acquiring the proper materials. They plan to re-evaluate every year to see if they want to continue. But so far, they are more than pleased with the results. They plan on putting a “classroom” in their new abode.

    STATES RIGHTS No, these

    Filed on at 1:20 pm under by dcobranchi

    STATES RIGHTS No, these aren’t code words for racism but my reminder to NEA President Reg Weaver (he reads this blog, right?) that public school education is a function of the states. Weaver has completely forgotten that fact in his latest missive. He does make a very apt analogy, though. He compares the public schools to the new Homeland Security Department. I agree 100%. Both are ridiculous, bureaucratic behemoths that should be dismantled ASAP. Do you think that’s what he meant?

    MUSLIM HOMESCHOOLERS The CS

    Filed on at 1:02 pm under by dcobranchi

    MUSLIM HOMESCHOOLERS The CS Monitor does a nice job summarising the reasons Muslims may choose to homeschool. For more general info, click here.

    COOKIES!

    Filed on at 1:35 am under by dcobranchi

    COOKIES!

    DELAWARE ITEM HOMESCHOOL COOKIE

    Filed on January 13, 2003 at 3:33 pm under by dcobranchi

    DELAWARE ITEM HOMESCHOOL COOKIE DAY IS TOMORROW!

    A MUST READ I

    Filed on at 3:14 pm under by dcobranchi

    A MUST READ I wanted to give this post as much publicity as I can. Skip Oliva nails the “early childhood education” issue at The Center for the Advancement for Capitalism.

    A four-year old does not learn from being thrown into a pack of other four-year olds. He does not learn to work well with others. How could he? You can’t expect someone to work with others before they’ve even formed their own selfish identity. More notably, you can’t educate children in age-peer groups that young. Suppose you took a group of 10-month old babies and forced them to play in a group without any permanent adult presence. Would the babies learn to walk or talk? Of course not. A baby has nothing to learn from his peer, but everything to learn from older children and adults. Children learn from those who have learned before them, not from their struggling contemporaries.

    Please, click over and read the whole thing.

    OK FOR A YEAR

    Filed on at 9:41 am under by dcobranchi

    OK FOR A YEAR OR TWO Here’s a very positive article about homeschooling in Indiana. Naturally, the quoted educrat doesn’t exactly give the option a ringing endorsement.

    Oak Hill Superintendent Jim Smith said his opinion of home schooling depends on the age of the child.

    “I think it’s a mixed bag,” Smith said. “I think there are individual students that may benefit, especially in early childhood.”

    But after second grade most students are going to benefit from the structure and socializing in public schools, Smith believes.

    Thanks a lot.

    A NEW DEFINITION Homeschooling

    Filed on at 9:35 am under by dcobranchi

    A NEW DEFINITION Homeschooling v. to beat badly.

    By the time Rich Gannon and the Raiders had finished home-schooling the much-hyped Master Pennington and his Jets, the New York tabloids and stellar quarterback ratings of previous weeks were nothing more than wasted paper, unless of course, one needed a few scraps to clean up the kitty litter.

    Bizarre.

    IT’S NOT THAT EASY

    Filed on at 8:55 am under by dcobranchi

    IT’S NOT THAT EASY The Chairman of William & Mary’s Economics Department, who claims to have done many cost-benefit analyses, commits the most fundamental of errors in looking at potential savings if VA had a voucher system- ignoring the fixed costs associated with education. The Professor basically just looked at the average private school tuition vs. the average public expenditure per pupil and subtracted.

    Start by looking at a basic set of facts, suggests Professor Carlisle Moody, chairman of William and Mary’s economics department. Taxpayers in Virginia spend an average of $6,400 per pupil on public schools around the state. Average private-school tuition in Virginia is $4,500 per pupil.

    “If we could somehow entice public schoolchildren into going to private school, we could save $1,900 a year [per pupil]. That’s almost $2,000 a year for every kid who somehow found his or her way into private school,” Moody told a pre-Christmas conference at the Capitol. “If 10 percent of public school kids [116,000 of them] migrated to private schools on 100 percent scholarships, Virginia taxpayers would save $220 million.”

    And is VA going to fire 10 percent of the teachers and tear down 10 percent of the schools? Not likely. And in the category of you can’t eat your cake and have it too, we find this section:

    [State Delegate and public school teacher] Cox says that he is “a bit puzzled why many of my [public school] colleagues aren’t for school choice.” Choice, he said, “will do nothing but help the public schools.”

    One example is overcrowding. Last year, the state spent $126 million on reducing class sizes. Well, opening private choice to students would reduce class size.

    If you get 10 percent of the kids to transfer out, you can reduce average class size by the same amount. Or, you can close some schools and save the fixed costs. You can’t do both.

    NOW THIS REALLY ISN’T

    Filed on January 12, 2003 at 4:34 pm under by dcobranchi

    NOW THIS REALLY ISN’T HOMESCHOOLING Some parents in American Fork, UT (pronounced “Fark”) are unhappy with the new, new, new math being taught in their elementary school and are grilling the kids on the basics at home. The reporter apparently “thinks” this is homeschooling.

    ”We’re trying to make it a balanced math system,” Alpine School Board president JoDee Sundberg.

    Unimpressed, Osborn plans to keep ”homeschooling” his children in math.

    I’M SHOCKED! The WB

    Filed on at 4:23 pm under by dcobranchi

    I’M SHOCKED! The WB network has ordered a show that insults everyone’s intelligence, particularly homeschoolers:

    Welcome to The O’Keefes guide at TV Tome.The WB has ordered The O’Keefes as mid-season. The title for the show was recently Brave New World.
    Harry (Judge Reinhold, Beverly Hills Cop) and Ellie O’Keefe (Kirsten Nelson) are loving but eccentric parents who’ve home schooled their three children to protect them from the loud and libidinal world.

    Despite a ban on all things pop culture, teenagers Danny (Joseph Cross, Jack Frost) and Lauren (Tania Raymonde, Malcolm in the Middle) and younger brother Mark (Matt Weinberg) are growing increasingly curious about what lies beyond the walls of their school/dining room. They can speak six languages, but are unable to converse with kids their own age. The answer lies in their father’s worst nightmare – public school.

    I can hardly wait. Check out the comments; homeschoolers are on the warpath. (link via Chris O’Donnell)

    OT Dale Amon on

    Filed on January 11, 2003 at 6:05 pm under by dcobranchi

    OT Dale Amon on Samizdata has an interesting post on the theory of Jury Nullification– that is, the right of juries to decide that the law itself is unjust. The Fully Informed Jury link eventually led to this quote:

    Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Thomas Paine, 1789: “I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution.”

    I hadn’t ever given this topic any thought but it seems clear that the founders recognized a jury as the defender of liberty through the act of nullification.

    ZERO TOLERANCE A 7th-grader

    Filed on at 5:02 pm under by dcobranchi

    ZERO TOLERANCE A 7th-grader in Colorado has been expelled for playing with a laser pointer that was in the shape of a tiny gun.

    Mitch’s parents are also upset with the school principal, Bruce Hankins, who apparently obtained a confession from Mitch, then told him to sign it. No other adult — including Mitch’s parents — were in the office when the confession was obtained and signed.

    So, this is a government school two-fer: zero tolerance lunacy and a coerced “confession” from what was surely a scared and intimidated youngster. (Via the Insomniac)

    NEWS TO ME Teachers

    Filed on at 9:03 am under by dcobranchi

    NEWS TO ME Teachers in this Seattle school district are basically playing hookie for a day to go lobby the legislature. They’re still paid for the day, of course. Letters indicate some support for the teachers but at least one parent seems a bit confused:

    I have a little girl that hasn’t reached kindergarten yet, but I am thinking about homeschooling because I feel the teachers don’t care as much. So basically you pay for what you get.

    When has the American public gotten what it paid for when it comes to the government schools?

    SCHOOLS VS THE 1ST

    Filed on January 10, 2003 at 3:41 pm under by dcobranchi

    SCHOOLS VS THE 1ST AMENDMENT Slate has a nice piece on the issues surrounding schools banning clothes depicting the rebel flag. The last graf is a beaut:

    If American kids can be counted on for anything it’s this: Tell them they can’t do/wear/say something and they’ll do/wear/say it ’til their heads blow off. This is why Dixie Outfitters sold a million T-shirts last year, and why virtually every kid disciplined for wearing a Confederate flag to school shows up the day after the suspension in either the same T-shirt or one with a bigger flag. Yes, it would be a more civil world if we could all just agree once and for all that the Confederate flag is either beautiful or vile. But until that day comes, it would be a useful and educational exercise to at least hear one another out on the subject. One might think a school would be a good laboratory for such efforts. One would hope there’s no better place to try.

    DON’T GO TO AFRICA

    Filed on at 11:14 am under by dcobranchi

    DON’T GO TO AFRICA if you are rich. Or, at least, don’t plan on depositing a large sum of American currency in any bank on that continent. You will invariably die, leaving no next-of-kin information. I just got another of those sob-story “Nigeria scam” letters. Apparently, richer people kick the bucket in South Africa than in other parts of the continet; the latest letter was for a cool $250M, to be split 50/50.

    If you are rich and decide not to heed my advice, please feel free to fill out the next-of-kin info with my name.

    WANTED: GEOGRAPHY LESSONS Here’s

    Filed on at 9:26 am under by dcobranchi

    WANTED: GEOGRAPHY LESSONS Here’s a tale of a young lady who travelled to Australia and became a tutor to four young kids. What threw me, though, was this lede sentence:

    She’s just returned from a four-month stay in Queensland, one of only five states in Australia, a continent of Asia located between the Indian and Pacific oceans.(emphasis added)

    While I appreciate the paper’s helpful touch of placing Australia between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, I’m pretty sure Australians would be surpised to learn they are a “continent of Asia”, whatever that’s supposed to mean.

    THIS IS VERY INTERESTING

    Filed on at 8:23 am under by dcobranchi

    THIS IS VERY INTERESTING Utah is moving towards a system that will allow students to move through high school at their own pace by demonstrating “mastery” of the subject based on some standardized test. As I read this, it appears that a particularly advanced student could graduate years before they normally would, perhaps even while still theoretically bound by the compulsory attendance laws. I hope this passes, as it would finally end the battle between homeschoolers and the Jordan School District in South Salt Lake.

    IS THERE A GRAMMARIAN

    Filed on January 9, 2003 at 11:47 pm under by dcobranchi

    IS THERE A GRAMMARIAN IN THE HOUSE? I read the following paragraph in an NEA email of hints and tips:

    To keep notes on my students – observations, behaviors and assessments I have a clipboard with a full sheet of mailing labels. I jot the date, the student’s initials and then record my observations on one label. The size of the label keeps the observations brief. The full page of labels allows me to record observations for all students on the same page. At the end of the day, or more likely once a week, I peel off the labels and paste them into a loose-leaf notebook where each student has their own page (emphasis added).

    Now, I realize that “each” is singular and “their” is, of course, plural. When I learned grammar, the correct version would have been “each student has his own page.” That would now be termed sexist and “his” would be replaced with “his/her.” To any grammarians out there, has “their” become an accepted alternative to the awkawrd “his/her” construct? Is there another elegant solution that I have missed?

    TAKE IT OR LEAVE

    Filed on at 11:16 am under by dcobranchi

    TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT! Literally. Evidently, the new school Superintendent in Anne Arundel County (MD), has been taking some criticism. A Mr. Fairley responded in the letters section of the Annapolis local paper. He basically takes a “my school district, right or wrong” position:

    Who knows more about sound and effective educational strategies? The parents of the students who are not achieving to standards or the superintendent who has earned a doctorate and has many years of experience as an educational leader?…

    Parents who think they are more qualified to educate their children than Mr. Smith have the opportunity to prove it through home schooling.

    Of course, I wholeheartedly agree but not for the reasons that Mr. Fairley would hope, I’m sure.

    THIS SHOULD BE FUN

    Filed on at 7:34 am under by dcobranchi

    THIS SHOULD BE FUN A SepSchool advocate is running for a school board in Wsiconsin. The Rev. Matthew Trewhella, who is running unopposed, lists as a “life goal” the “privatization of education through home-schooling and the abolishment of the public school system.”

    MINORITY REPORT I finally

    Filed on at 5:50 am under by dcobranchi

    MINORITY REPORT I finally saw this movie the other day so retina scans were on my mind, so to speak, when Tony Rosenberg pointed me to this story.

    LONDON — A new high school said Wednesday its students will be charged for their lunches with a retina scanning device to prevent poor children who eat for free from being ridiculed in the cafeteria.

    I’ve seen these scanners in action; way cool.

    SO, SUE ME Here’s

    Filed on at 1:13 am under by dcobranchi

    SO, SUE ME Here’s a blatant “commercial” plug but, what-the-heck, it’s my blog; I’ll plug if I want to. If you haven’t yet discovered The Political State Report click on over. It’s a group blog by political junkies of every stripe, all reporting on local politics. I’m one of two DE “correspondents” as well as the one of the few self-declared libertarians (small “L”). Which reminds me, I finally got my card in the mail yesterday, so I am now officially a “card-carrying member of the ACLU.” Like I said in the title.

    INSOMNIA An email pointed

    Filed on at 12:46 am under by dcobranchi

    INSOMNIA An email pointed me to this cartoon. It seems appropriate given the recent Arizona State studies. Also, check out the other education cartoons Daryl Cagle (gotta love the name) has accumulated.

    ONE FOR THE SNAKE-HAIRED

    Filed on January 8, 2003 at 12:25 pm under by dcobranchi

    ONE FOR THE SNAKE-HAIRED GIRL

    Goodbye Cruel World by Pink Floyd

    Goodbye, cruel world,
    I’m leaving you today.
    Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.

    Goodbye all you people,
    There’s nothing you can say,
    To make me change my mind.
    Goodbye.

    ANOTHER EXAMPLE of “good”

    Filed on at 10:05 am under by dcobranchi

    ANOTHER EXAMPLE of “good” competition. This school district started a cyber charter, in part, as “an alternative, not a substitute for school, and as a tool to hold onto people it would otherwise lose to home schooling.” More power to them. I wish DE had something like this. Not that we would ever use it but I know some kids who’d do better at home whose parents don’t feel they can handle a high-school curriculum.

    ANTI-TESTING Here’s another anti-high-stakes-testing

    Filed on at 9:34 am under by dcobranchi

    ANTI-TESTING Here’s another anti-high-stakes-testing (a new world’s record for hyphens in one sentence) article. What piqued my interest, however, is this quote:

    Based on [Prof. Weinstein’s] studies of elementary school students, “children as young as 6 know where they stand academically, especially in classroom settings that make such so-called achievement differences very obvious,” she says, “and this means they are vulnerable to not believing in themselves from an early age.

    This strikes me as another good reason to homeschool. I have nothing against competition. In the business world, competition lowers prices and increases quality and choices for the consumer. In athletics, competition often provides the motivation to excel. BUT, do 6-year-olds really need to be comparing themselves on some “smartness” scale to the rest of their classmates? They’re so little and their egos are so fragile that, to me, it seems the competitive nature of schools is counter-productive. Better to keep them home and teach them at a pace where they can learn without feeling “dumb”. After all, in my “school” every kid is a valedictorian. (Hey, maybe a new bumper sticker idea.)

    THIS ONE SPEAKS FOR

    Filed on January 7, 2003 at 2:41 pm under by dcobranchi

    THIS ONE SPEAKS FOR ITSELF

    Parents in a Houston, Texas school district might find themselves before a judge if their children fail to do their homework. A program unique to Houston”s North Shore Middle School issues criminal misdemeanor citations to parents whose children fail to complete their homework and attend a mandatory after school program. The summonses are punishable by a fine of up to $185. The school issued 48 summonses last week. School districts in Texas are their own distinct taxing entities and therefore are granted the power to issue citations.

    SELF-DEFENSE DAY Here’s a

    Filed on at 11:59 am under by dcobranchi

    SELF-DEFENSE DAY Here’s a homeschooling story that ties into the bullying post from this morning. This talented young lady (who expects to sign a record deal by spring) was being picked-on at her Middle School. Her solution- homeschooling and boxing lessons.

    She had some trouble last year at Roxboro Road Middle School. So this year, in eighth grade, she’s being home-schooled by her mother. Getting picked on, she says, also prompted her to learn how to defend herself.

    “Home schooling and boxing lessons,” Bayje says. “It’s sad it had to come to this.”

    Last year, she says, she received “C’s and B’s” on her report card. But she didn’t feel as if she fit in.

    “Any time I was out sick, they said I was in New York recording. I have allergies and asthma. It’s hard to find that healthy point,” Bayje says. “Any time I wrote something good, they said it was plagiarism. But I worked hard. My mom helped me, too. It was a hard year for me.”

    ONE TO BOOKMARK MIT

    Filed on at 8:57 am under by dcobranchi

    ONE TO BOOKMARK MIT has placed material online for literally hundreds of courses from Anthropology to Urban Studies and Planning. Materials typically include syllabi, lecture notes, and sample tests. This should be an excellent resource for high-school level homeschoolers.

    HOMEWORK? HOMESCHOOL INSTEAD A

    Filed on at 8:43 am under by dcobranchi

    HOMEWORK? HOMESCHOOL INSTEAD A teacher opines on what makes a good homework assignment:

    The best homework assignments are those that can be done only at home — for example, reading aloud with family members and reporting back at school on what everyone liked best and why. Or a writing assignment that calls for interviewing relatives and neighbors to talks about important people in their lives. Or a science assignment that calls for experiments in the kitchen or the bathtub. Homes have resources that classrooms don’t.

    And tell me again, please, why the NEA says “…home schooling programs cannot provide the student with a comprehensive education experience.”

    READ IT AND WEEP

    Filed on at 4:27 am under by dcobranchi

    READ IT AND WEEP Literally. A Small Victory relates one of those parental nightmares: a bully at the school and an administration too wimpy to do anything about it. Click over and read the whole post (and the comments). Apparently homeschooling is not an option but this kind of crap makes me glad it is for us. I can easily see my oldest son as one of the victims of Big Bully. In addition to homeschooling, here’s our pre-emptive solution. The homeschool class is terrific. [link via Joanne Jacobs]

    RITALIN UPDATE Methylphenidate (Ritalin,

    Filed on January 6, 2003 at 9:05 am under by dcobranchi

    RITALIN UPDATE Methylphenidate (Ritalin, Adderall, etc.) appears to lower the use of other drugs in young people with ADHD by up to 50%. There is no indication that non-ADHD kids would show any such positive effect.

    I’M NOT LAUGHING This

    Filed on at 6:55 am under by dcobranchi

    I’M NOT LAUGHING This Sports Editor should keep his day job.

    Humor me, if you will. Little Mikey, with a grade-point average that would rival Andrew Dice Clay in lowness, decides public school is too hard and wants to be home-schooled. That way, he can cut out early while mom and dad are engrossed in a riveting episode of The Price is Right.
    Problem is, Mikey is the best football player in the school he’s about to quit. What to do, what to do, what to do?
    After all, it was his family’s decision to drop out. Shouldn’t it be their decision on whether he can play sports? Or even where, for that matter?
    It’s a win-win situation, man. He can play for whichever school he wishes, and not be governed by silly rules such as a 2.0 GPA and – gasp! – having to go to class.
    Then, while his teammates are talking about their big English test during practice, Mikey can’t help but wonder, “If that guy would have placed the chip a little more to the right on the Plinko board, he might have won $10,000.”

    OK, so maybe all of that is a bit over the top. But, if the family of 11-year-old Aaron Jones is successful in challenging the SSAC’s rule barring home-schooled athletes from participating in public school sports, an economy-sized can of worms will be opened.

    Dwindling enrollment is already a problem among West Virginia schools. If the rule is overturned, can you imagine how many athletes will suddenly decide they can receive a better education at home than in school?

    We might have to consolidate every existing high school into one facility, place it in Braxton County and call it Central Consolidated.

    The bottom line is, if a home-schooler wants the privilege of participating in high school sports, he or she should be held under the same expectations as athletes who attend public schools. That means minimum GPA requirements, standardized tests and fish sandwiches on Fridays.

    Home-schooling is a decision (probably a smart one in some ways, depending on the school system). With that decision comes certain sacrifices, like it or not.

    WHAT’S FOR LUNCH This

    Filed on at 6:40 am under by dcobranchi

    WHAT’S FOR LUNCH This homeschooling family squeezes in lessons between filling orders at their pizzeria. I guess no PB&J sandwiches for these kids.

    MAYBE THEY COULD The

    Filed on at 3:14 am under by dcobranchi

    MAYBE THEY COULD The other day I wondered aloud (so to speak) if Bush could be so cynical as to craft the NCLB Act in a way that enabled conservatives to essentially wipe the slate clean. Well, MB at WampumBlog certainly thinks so.

    In part, [NCLB is] really a guise to union-bust, I think. If a school continues to fail (and under these scenarios most schools will), administrators and teachers are all fired and replaced (probably with younger, less experienced and hence cheaper ones.) If the school still fails, its turned into a charter school (essentially private and not governed by union protections) or taken completely “privatized”.

    (link via Diane Patterson)

    NICE Here’s a very

    Filed on January 5, 2003 at 4:56 pm under by dcobranchi

    NICE Here’s a very positive profile of a homeschooling family.

    LETTER OF THE LAW

    Filed on at 4:37 am under by dcobranchi

    LETTER OF THE LAW A Los Angeles school which has shown remarkable improvement in test scores over a three year period was singled out by Gov. Gray Davis in last year’s State of the State Address. Unfortunately, this year it’s been labeled a “failing school” because of a quirk in the definition:

    Under the No Child Left Behind Act, a school may not drop the failing label unless it has met state growth targets two years in a row for the entire school and significant subgroups — such as Latino students and the socioeconomically disadvantaged.

    In Melvin’s case, the school overall posted a 79-point gain in 1999-2000, more than six times its growth target of 12. Then in 2000-01, the school improved its academic ranking by six points, two points below the target. But in 2001-02, it again made a huge gain of 45 points, whereas its growth target was 8.

    It was the small drop-off in 2000-01 that caused Melvin to be labeled a failing school.

    This really is non-sensical. There ought to be some kind of signal averaging in the law, so that a school which vastly exceeds the target one year only to narrowly miss it the next is not penalized.

    UPDATE: An Atlanta school faces almost precisely the same situation– all the way down to praise from the Governor (of Georgia, of course).

    YOU CAN GO HOME

    Filed on at 3:50 am under by dcobranchi

    YOU CAN GO HOME AGAIN It just may take $1400 for a new transmission and two extra days. Yes, we finally made it back to DE after a bit of an adventure. The tranny decided to go South (permanently). Fortunately, it was 12 hours before our scheduled departure so we were not stuck on the highway somewhere.

    Unsolicited commercial plug: If you ever need transmission work in the Greenville, SC area call Leon @ Advanced Transmissions. Leon and his brother (whose name I did not catch) are Afrikaner emigre’s who run a successful business by giving the customers what they want: good work, quickly done and at a fair price.

    FOOD FOR THOUGHT Jeffrey

    Filed on January 3, 2003 at 7:30 am under by dcobranchi

    FOOD FOR THOUGHT Jeffrey Tucker makes some interesting points about high-stakes tests and the Soviet Union. He argues that the tests are causing schools to push out marginally-performing students in order to boost the schools’ aggregate results. But the real problem is that this is a government monopoly:

    Central planning has several universal features. It is coercive. It bypasses the needs of the consumers for the sake of politics. It relies on edicts which may or may not reflect reality. It does not take advantage of the price system, profit, or loss. It is impervious to change. It ignores local conditions. It does not permit flexibility according to circumstance. It robs those who know the most of the ability of make decisions and innovate. It creates incentives to obey the plan but diverts attention from the real goal, whatever it may be (and it may be the wrong goal). It ends up over utilizing material resources, underutilizing human ones, and not generating the intended results.

    According to Mr. Tucker, homeschoolers may have the solution.

    The whole subject of education and the institutions that support it needs to be rethought, away from the still-surviving Deweyite-Progressivist model and toward the ancient tradition of private tutoring now being revived in homeschools across America. All schools can learn from the experience of homeschools, with their attention to individual needs, the flexibility that allows students to develop in unique ways, their privately run and funded character, their employment of localized knowledge and resources. These are the elements that make for good institutions of all sorts, whether it is commercial businesses, charities, civic institutions, or schools.

    There’s more good stuff. Well worth a click.

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