Utterly Meaningless » 2003 » April
  • INTERESTING Pres. Bush has

    Filed on April 30, 2003 at 9:28 am under by dcobranchi

    INTERESTING Pres. Bush has nominated Claude Allen to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. Allen is described as “an advocate of home-schooling and abstinence education.”


    Filed on at 9:12 am under by dcobranchi

    GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT A FloridaToday editorial goes off on a House proposal to expand their voucher plan. This is fallout from the Constitutional amendment passed last fall that limits class sizes. The House has reasoned that one way to reduct them is to send the kids to private schools. This sounds reasonable to me but not to the newspaper.

    [T]he House want to use more tax money to:

    Give parents $3,500 a year to send their kindergartners to private schools.

    Provide $4,800 to home-school families, with the payment including money for new computers and high-speed broadband access.

    Drop already inadequate high school graduation requirements to 120 hours from 135 and let students graduate in three years instead of four.

    First, what’s inherently wrong with vouchers? And, second, the proposal is to provide $4800 per year to a cyber-charter operator. The parents wouldn’t see a nickel (though they would get the computers and broadband.


    Filed on at 8:59 am under by dcobranchi

    HOMESCHOOL CONVENTIONS Samuel Blumenfeld has a column up on WND about his experiences at conventions over the years. I found this ‘graf disturbing.

    I also spoke to a mother, a non-homeschooler, who was at the convention to see if she could find materials to use with her kids whom she intended to enroll in public school in September. I told her that she was making a terrible mistake and that she and her children would pay dearly for it. I told her that it only takes six months in first grade to destroy a child’s brain and that she would be paying for remediation and special ed for the rest of the child’s school career. I intended to shake her up, and I believe I did.

    Was he intentionally trying to make homeschoolers look like a bunch of wackos? Dumb!

    WARNING: TN Tennessee’s lottery

    Filed on at 8:46 am under by dcobranchi

    WARNING: TN Tennessee’s lottery proceeds are going to be used for college scholarships. Homeschoolers are eligible but the rules are still being worked out. Some legislators apparently see these scholarships as a way to drag homeschoolers into the accountability/testing morass.

    [Rep. Ulysses] Jones also raised questions about testing of students who are home schooled.

    Bruce Opie, legislative liaison for the state Department of Education, said if home-school parents work through their local school district, there is an assessment process, but there is no such process if the parent works independently.

    Jones asked who gives a home-schooled child a grade; the parent, Opie replied.

    ”If I am a parent and have a home school, do you think I am going to give my child a D?” Jones asked. He said testing procedures should be the same for public, private and home schools.

    TN homeschooling parents should keep an eye on this guy.

    MORE O’KEEFES Cybercast News

    Filed on at 7:24 am under by dcobranchi

    MORE O’KEEFES Cybercast News has a piece up on the controversial WB summer program. Nothing much new here but Isabel Lyman is quoted.


    Filed on at 7:21 am under by dcobranchi

    MATH TEACHER GIVES BIOLOGY LESSON This woman is really dedicated to her profession. Although she was in labor, she kept on teaching. She gave birth at the school. Mother and daughter are doing fine.


    Filed on at 6:46 am under by dcobranchi

    BLUE RIBBON SCHOOLS The US EdDept is changing the application process for Blue Ribbon schools to emphasize test scores. This is probably a good thing as it will prevent instances of a BRS being labeled “failing” at the same time. This actually happened last year and was blamed on the different data inputs.

    DAY 24: 214.5 Delta:

    Filed on at 5:05 am under by dcobranchi

    DAY 24: 214.5 Delta: -1.0, Net: -16.5

    I still have a fighting chance to make my next goal, 210 by 5/13.


    Filed on April 29, 2003 at 9:04 am under by dcobranchi

    DAYTONA NEWS-JOURNAL ON HOMESCHOOLING My parents’ hometown paper has a relatively neutral article on homeschooling in Florida. They quote an edu-crat who, of course, is opposed “as a parent.” They also blow this factoid, big time:

    The rising number of children being educated at home is causing a few states to reassess how they monitor and regulate home-schooling. The Delaware Department of Education wants to check home-schooled children more often to make sure they are being educated.

    WRONG! There is no proposal in the DOE for increased regulation of homeschooling. This I know for a fact.


    Filed on at 8:39 am under by dcobranchi

    YOU’RE NOT HOMESCHOOLERS! Alaska has a very large public cyber-school, Alyeska Central School. Apparently, the parents there think they’re homeschoolers.

    As Alyeska home-school parents, we are writing in reply to Mr. Clark’s letter (Empire, April 23) regarding Alyeska Central School…

    A parent that home schools through another district has no voting rights in that district. With Alyeska, the home-schooling parents make up the advisory council. Alyeska is the only accredited home school in the state. You might pick some on-line home school offered by a district and find your child cannot get into college because the courses have no accreditation.

    Helping Your Child Become

    Filed on at 6:41 am under by dcobranchi

    Helping Your Child Become a Responsible Citizen The Dept. of Ed has some ideas on how to teach citizenship. Conspicuously absent is knowing what our rights are under the Constitution.


    Filed on at 6:37 am under by dcobranchi

    EARTH SCIENCE ON THE WEB This website could be the basis for a homeschool study on earth science. The subject is broken into 29 Chapters which appear to be sufficiently separated that one could pick and choose.

    DAY 23: 215.5 Delta:

    Filed on at 4:49 am under by dcobranchi

    DAY 23: 215.5 Delta: -0.5, Net: -15.5


    Filed on April 28, 2003 at 12:26 pm under by dcobranchi

    CO-OPS, SPORTS, SOCIALIZATION D.C. homeschoolers have it all. The WashTimes has a completely positive article on homeschooling in the nation’s capitol. If you’re active on any of NHEN’s listservs, you should recognize a couple of names. Thanks go to Skip Oliva for pointing this one out.


    Filed on at 8:43 am under by dcobranchi

    CHANNELING JAMES JOYCE This editorial appears to be written in stream-of-consciousness. It starts out as a criticism of the Indiana standardized tests but ends up here:

    How does homeschooling affect the county?

    Are students better off or do they suffer?

    Can public schools win back any homeschoolers?

    Should they try?

    What of parental involvement?

    Schools cry for more; many parents respond. Studies show a child’s home life — specifically economic status — greatly affects his or her learning.

    Where does the responsibility for quality education lie, ultimately, and how will Elkhart County see it’s met?


    DEAR CLUELESS, Please don’t

    Filed on at 8:31 am under by dcobranchi

    DEAR CLUELESS, Please don’t homeschool your kids; you don’t care enough about them:

    I feel there could be more security at the schools and on the buses. My 9-year-old daughter was a witness to the incident two years ago at North Hopewell-Winterstown Elementary School [a machete attack in a kindergarten class] and now is back at Edgar Moore Elementary. When the news came on the TV (Thursday) about the shooting, she began asking us questions. She did not want to return to school two years ago and I’m hoping that she does not feel that way again. She remembers almost every detail that happened then and wonders why it’s always in or near her school.
    We are very concerned about the school district and security being that this is the second time this has hit very close to home. My husband and I are discussing the possibility of taking our children out of the district and home schooling both of them.

    This kid rode a bus with three guns in his backpack and could have shot someone on the bus. Then what? There should also be some way to protect kids on the bus as well besides just at the school. They should not allow any type of backpack for school.

    No backpacks. Yeah, that’ll fix the problem.

    GAG! One more reason

    Filed on at 8:07 am under by dcobranchi

    GAG! One more reason to bash the teacher’s unions:

    At PS 182/Bilingual School in East Harlem, teachers averaged 18 days of absences last year. Given that the school year is only 183 days long, the total number of no-shows translated into a 10 percent absentee rate.

    …The teachers union insisted that educators don’t abuse sick-day privileges.

    “The absentee rate in city schools is virtually identical to our kind of work force in the rest of the country,” said United Federation of Teachers spokesman Dick Riley.

    Teachers are entitled to a total of 10 sick/personal days a year.

    But sources said teachers close to retirement – who have unused sick days in reserve – have an incentive to skip even more days in their final years to use the time up.

    Sick days are for when you are sick. How can you possibly “save up” sick days? Of course, it’s not the teachers’ fault.

    Some teachers said the stress of the job is making them sick.

    Martin Luther King Jr. HS teacher Fern Lowenfeld said turmoil at the school over the past few years contributed to 13 absences per teacher.

    “A poor atmosphere in a school can make people ill. The last principal made it very hard for us,” said Lowenfeld, also a union rep.

    Right. Note to teachers: If you want to be treated as professionals, start acting like professionals. First!

    WELL, WHY NOT? This

    Filed on at 7:56 am under by dcobranchi

    WELL, WHY NOT? This lede is laughable.

    Imagine paying $200 a school year per child just to ride the public school bus.

    I’m pretty sure no state constitution guarantees “free” bus rides to school.


    Filed on at 6:56 am under by dcobranchi

    LATE BLOGGING TODAY I’m in meetings today until at least 1 p.m. See y’all later.

    DAY 22: 216.0 Delta:

    Filed on at 3:46 am under by dcobranchi

    DAY 22: 216.0 Delta: +0.5, Net: -15.0

    LOOK OUT N.C. The

    Filed on April 27, 2003 at 7:22 am under by dcobranchi

    LOOK OUT N.C. The Charlotte Observer is on the warpath. There are two articles today about how little regulation NC imposes on private schools and homeschools.

    I GIVE UP Since

    Filed on at 7:05 am under by dcobranchi

    I GIVE UP Since newspapers continue to use the term “homeschools” for virtual charter schools, I am giving up on the word “homeschool.” I don’t know what I’ll call what we do (nor the new name for this website), but it won’t have the “H”-word in it. The floor is open for nominations.

    DAY 21: 215.5 Delta:

    Filed on at 5:18 am under by dcobranchi

    DAY 21: 215.5 Delta: -0.5, Net: -15.5

    TESTING, TESTING Washington state

    Filed on April 26, 2003 at 6:23 am under by dcobranchi

    TESTING, TESTING Washington state is having a hard time getting the students to take their no-stakes test seriously, so they’ve resorted to bribery. What caught my eye, though, was this:

    The state’s six public colleges and universities have agreed to link WASL scores to scholarships and admissions before the Class of 2008 graduates. They are working with state Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson to address issues such as how to consistently administer the test and ensure that racial minorities — already at the low end of the achievement gap — aren’t at a disadvantage for college admission.

    I hope they keep in mind that not everyone has to take these tests.

    KARATE KIDS I pity

    Filed on at 6:05 am under by dcobranchi

    KARATE KIDS I pity the fool who messes with these girls. Katelyn (left) and Chelsea tested at the karate studio last night. They’re both in the homeschool class.

    DAY 20: 216.0 Delta:

    Filed on at 4:55 am under by dcobranchi

    DAY 20: 216.0 Delta: -1.0, Net: -15.0


    Filed on at 4:52 am under by dcobranchi

    INSIDE BLOG-BALL The Happy Homeschooler found a really awful anti-homeschooling column written by a former government-school teacher. HH gave as good as we got, but I’d like to put my two cents in, too.

    The educational choice that confounds me, though, is home schooling. Why would parents choose to isolate their children from a rich and varied learning environment?

    We don’t. That’s why we homeschool. Homeschoolers have access to the whole world, populated by people of all ages, races, and national origins. Government-school students are stuck in (often racially segregated) classes with their age-mates. Who’s more isolated?

    The social setting in a school is ripe with learning experiences.

    Like this one? Or perhaps this? Or maybe she means this kind of social setting.

    The teaching staff in a public school can be colorful, too.

    Yes, this fellow is certainly colorful. And these teachers, too.

    Parents who home-school their children have their reasons, of course. But the effects of what these students are missing remain to be seen.

    Yes. Homeschoolers are missing out on all those drugs, gangs, shootings, rapes, etc. I hope the effects on those government-school students are small.

    It’s a great training ground for the real world and, even better, it’s free.

    Maybe she should sit in with some homeschoolers when they study economics. She might learn something. (via Isabel Lyman)

    UPDATE: Chris O’Donnell fisked the heck out of the same column.

    WIMPY, WIMPY, WIMPY Homeschoolers

    Filed on at 4:01 am under by dcobranchi

    WIMPY, WIMPY, WIMPY Homeschoolers in Florida are allowed by law to participate in sports and other extra-curriculars. Some homeschooling parents think that should include the prom and they’re begging for crumbs from the edu-table.

    “I’m asking you to develop a working production bridge between these two communities now,” Benson said. “These kids in your community are rewriting the manual in education. Please help us build this bridge and make it a strong one. All we ask is that you let us be a part of this family.” [emphasis added]

    Whatever happened to the self-reliant homeschooling community? This is not an isolated incident. I’m beginning to think that homeschoolers participating in government-school sports might threaten the whole movement.


    Filed on April 25, 2003 at 9:35 am under by dcobranchi

    TOO MUCH FUN This homeschooling family has a unique business- they’re an all-girl trapeze act. I like their attitude.

    “My husband ran away with the circus and took me with him,” she said.

    The children were homeschooled through a Chicago-based Christian organization. They have traveled to every state in the United States in an RV. Sometimes, they still do the tourist thing, Gail Redpath said.

    “If you’re not happy in one place, you always know you’ll be someplace else next week,” she said.


    Filed on at 8:27 am under by dcobranchi

    A NIGHT OUT IN D.C. I’m not sure what this means but if anyone checks it out on a Tuesday night, please let me know.

    DAY 19: 217.0 Delta:

    Filed on at 4:18 am under by dcobranchi

    DAY 19: 217.0 Delta: +1.0, Net: -14.0

    LOCAL TRAGEDY A 14-year-old

    Filed on April 24, 2003 at 11:55 am under by dcobranchi

    LOCAL TRAGEDY A 14-year-old student at a middle school in York, PA shot and killed the school pricipal before turning the gun on himself.

    LOCK ‘EM UP This

    Filed on at 8:58 am under by dcobranchi

    LOCK ‘EM UP This homeschooler is a Renaissance woman: Police cadet, tae-kwon do black belt, novelist, and flutist. Oh, and she rollerskates in her spare time.


    Filed on at 8:50 am under by dcobranchi

    NO SURPRISE HERE The NEA-lite, er, PTA is opposed to vouchers. I wonder if they actually asked the parents.


    Filed on at 8:44 am under by dcobranchi

    IT’S NOT HOMESCHOOLING I am so tired of newspapers confusing homeschooling with cyber charters.

    TIMED TESTS This Op/Ed

    Filed on at 8:37 am under by dcobranchi

    TIMED TESTS This Op/Ed explains why untimed tests are a bad idea:

    A Texas teacher might direct her students to read, highlight, check the questions, and then reread again. Next, look for key words in the passage that match words in the questions. Then look for words in the answer choices that match words in the text. Don’t worry about time. On test day, they will have seven hours to read eight pages of text and answer 40 questions. Oh, and they can forget about reading Charlotte’s Web. That would take all year.

    But, sometimes going back and checking your answers is a good idea.

    Elementary math teaching gets even more bizarre. Since students have all day to answer 40 questions or so, they have time to count everything out on their fingers or with pictures. Students may think that they know that seven times eight equals forty-two. [emphasis added]

    Douglas Adams would have appreciated that.

    WORRISOME EdSec Rod Paige

    Filed on at 8:23 am under by dcobranchi

    WORRISOME EdSec Rod Paige has decreed that no Mass. government-school student can receive federal assistance for higher education unless he/she passes their accountability test, the MCAS. This would include student loans for technical schools like barber college. So far, private school students and homeschoolers are exempt but this would be one easy way for the educrats to force everyone to take the tests, regardless of what NCLB says. Something to keep an eye on.

    DAY 18: 216.0 Delta:

    Filed on at 4:18 am under by dcobranchi

    DAY 18: 216.0 Delta: -2.5, Net: -15.0

    POINT- COUNTERPOINT Yesterday, Isabel

    Filed on at 2:43 am under by dcobranchi

    POINT- COUNTERPOINT Yesterday, Isabel Lyman briefly defended Rick Santorum. Today, Skip Oliva resolves that Santorum would just as soon scrap the Ninth Amendment.

    I’m with Skip on this one. Here’s a snippet of Justice Goldberg’s concurrence in Griswold v. Connecticut:

    To hold that a right so basic and fundamental and so deep-rooted in our society as the right of privacy in marriage may be infringed because that right is not guaranteed in so many words by the first eight amendments to the Constitution is to ignore the Ninth Amendment and to give it no effect whatsoever. Moreover, a judicial construction that this fundamental right is not protected by the Constitution because it is not mentioned in explicit terms by one of the first eight amendments or elsewhere in the Constitution would violate the Ninth Amendment.

    I think the Texas sodomy case (the one Santorum finds so troubling), is just a very small extension of this line of thought. What consenting adults do in their own bedrooms is their own business.

    UPDATE: Lest you think this is all OT- Santorum is a homeschooling dad. I’d like to ask him, “Is homeschooling a fundamental right or is it a privilege granted by the state?” I’d argue that it is a right. The Supreme Court in Pierce v. Society of Sisters held:

    [W]e think it entirely plain that the Act of 1922 unreasonably interferes with the liberty of parents and guardians to direct the upbringing and education of children under their control. As often heretofore pointed out, rights guaranteed by the Constitution may not be abridged by legislation which has no reasonable relation to some purpose within the competency of the state. The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments in this Union repose excludes any general power of the state to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only.

    But, where is this “liberty of parents and guardians to direct the upbringing and education of children under their control” written in the Constitution? It’s not. The implication is that this is one of the unenumerated rights in the Ninth Amendment. The same amendment that makes Santorum so uncomfortable.

    It’s all related. How many kids to have (Griswold). When to have them (Griswold). How to raise them (Pierce). All of these are private decisions that the government cannot regulate. They’re all founded in the right to privacy. The same right that Santorum thinks doesn’t exist. It seems a strange position for a homeschooling dad to take.


    Filed on April 23, 2003 at 6:43 am under by dcobranchi

    DEFINITELY NOT AN UNSCHOOLER The PA spelling bee champ wasn’t exactly enthusiastic about participating.

    He said his mom “forced” him to participate, and preparing for the spelling bee was “torture.” He’d rather have spent the time reading.

    …[His mother Nancy] Metcalf said her son “would never have chosen to study the practice book if I gave him a choice.”

    …”I believe as a parent I know better what’s good for him than he knows himself and I have that freedom to make him do things.”

    “FREE” EDUCATION Cash-strapped school

    Filed on at 6:25 am under by dcobranchi

    “FREE” EDUCATION Cash-strapped school districts are starting to charge students in order to ride the school bus.


    Filed on at 6:17 am under by dcobranchi

    ONE MORE REASON TO HOMESCHOOL We can avoid nonsense like this:

    Prom is fast approaching, and Rashell Furneaux hasn’t made up her mind about the tiara.

    The Cinco Ranch High School senior already is expecting to shell out more than $550 for the epitome of school dances and was thinking the accessory would add just the right touch. Anywhere from $20 to more than $500, the headpiece has for years now crowned more than the prom royalty.

    BAD STATS? I have

    Filed on at 5:53 am under by dcobranchi

    BAD STATS? I have the answer to the ultimate education question of life, the universe, and everything. It’s music appreciation. A poll (sponsored by companies that sell music products to schools) trumpets some very interesting statistics. Among the most outrageous claims:

    The College Entrance Examination Board found that students in music appreciation scored 63 percent higher on verbal and 44 percent higher in math than students with no arts participation.

    The National Association of Music Educators reports it as 63 and 44 points higher on the SAT. That is slightly different. It could have been an error by the UPI. Regardless, correlation does not mean causation.

    Day 17: 218.5 Delta:

    Filed on at 5:38 am under by dcobranchi

    Day 17: 218.5 Delta: -1.0, Net: -12.5

    Back to my pre-Easter dinner weight.

    SAM UPDATE The other

    Filed on April 22, 2003 at 9:14 am under by dcobranchi

    SAM UPDATE The other day I jokingly referred to “Build your own shoulder-fired SAM” as a good homeschool project. Chris O’Donnell wondered via comment if I’d be the #1 hit on Google for that phrase. Well, I am! Woohoo! I haven’t heard from the MIB. Yet.


    Filed on at 8:35 am under by dcobranchi

    THE DOWNSIDE OF GOOGLE-NEWS I googled “homeschooling” and came back with this hair-raising sentence:

    This is why we’re totally against home-schooling.

    Of course, I had to read the whole article to find out why. It’s tongue-in-cheek.

    “Now, more than ever before, youth are relying on the adults in their lives for reassurance and guidance.’

    This is bad news for our kids, who have been raised thus far with an incredibly jumpy father. A UPS truck rumbles down our block and we’re apt to scream “EARTHQUAKE!’ and snatch our kids and hurl them through the living room picture window for their own safety. About the most reassuring thing we’ve ever uttered to our children is “RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!’

    This is why we’re totally against home-schooling. We rely on schools not only to teach our kids about guns and sex, but also about the horrors of war, terrorism and other traumatic events. Because, after you strip away our almost transparent veneer of bravado, we’re pretty much always packed and ready to bolt.

    Mildly amusing.


    Filed on at 8:08 am under by dcobranchi

    WITH GOVERNMENT DOLLARS…File this one under “Duh!”

    A group of parents who use the assistance of the Sequim School District to home-school their children are threatening to drop out of the program.

    The parents’ main complaint is that administrator Randy Hill, who was hired at the start of the school year, runs the program more like a traditional school — something they are trying to get away from.


    Filed on at 6:38 am under by dcobranchi

    THE IDIOCY OF COMPULSORY ATTENDANCE LAWS Here’s a perfect example of how educrats care more for “process” than they care about the kids. A young lady in NYC has been taking college courses since the age of 11. She’s accumulated enough credits to get an AA degree from her local community college. But, because she’s only 14, the college is forbidden from granting her the degree because she’s “supposed” to be in high school until she’s 16. She’s taking a full load at the college but educrats are threatening to take her to truancy court because she’s not being bored to tears in the government schools.

    AIN’T SO “FREE” States

    Filed on at 6:31 am under by dcobranchi

    AIN’T SO “FREE” States facing financial crises are cutting back on education (along with everything else). These cuts have brought large demonstrations to several state capitols. Why am I not surprised, though, that the two people quoted in this article were a teacher’s union official and a school board member?

    EARLY EDUCATION This article

    Filed on at 6:13 am under by dcobranchi

    EARLY EDUCATION This article made we want to pull out what little hair I have left. This week is The Week of the Young Child.

    A week just doesn’t seem long enough to salute the women who take on the task of early childhood education…”Kids know who really cares. We are the children’s second parents, when they are here.”

    Sure. Babysitters, er “Professional Day Care Providers”, deserve more than a whole week and Moms, who have the hardest jobs in the whole world and are the REAL educators, get a day in May. Makes sense to me. And, they’re not 2nd, 3rd, or even 4th parents.

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