Utterly Meaningless » 2003 » May
  • GIRLS RULE Joanne Jacobs

    Filed on May 31, 2003 at 5:52 pm under by dcobranchi

    GIRLS RULE Joanne Jacobs has a excellent post about how boys are shortchanged in the public school system.


    Filed on at 5:29 pm under by dcobranchi

    I’VE GOT TO GET OUT OF HERE I really did post these this morning. For some reason blogger just decided to take the day off. MT here I come.

    NOT A TYPO GoogleNews

    Filed on at 7:39 am under by dcobranchi

    NOT A TYPO GoogleNews found an article that said some homeschoolers “rode on top of houses.” I thought it must be a typo and that it should have been “horses.” Nope. The kids were helping their father move houses and they were actually riding atop the homes.


    Filed on at 6:39 am under by dcobranchi

    EXIT STAGE LEFT? Exit exams are generating more pushback from parents as large numbers of kids fail these tests and are subsequently denied diplomas. The WaPo has a pretty balanced piece on the pros & cons of high-stakes testing.


    Filed on at 4:46 am under by dcobranchi

    HOMESCHOOLING IN IN FortWayne.com has a series of articles on homeschooling. The one on socialization is excellent:

    “At high school, it’s teenagers raising teenagers,” Worman said. “I wanted to have some input in how (my daughters were being) raised.”

    Socialization, one of the major arguments against home schooling, has become a big reason why families turn to personalized education. Home-school critics have said students who study at home lack social skills to interact with other children.

    It’s that same interaction that has many home-schooling parents wary of traditional or even parochial methods. They fear what their child could learn outside the classroom.

    The whole series is worth a read. Click on the link above. The other articles are linked from there.


    Filed on May 30, 2003 at 5:30 am under by dcobranchi

    EXAM SCAM II A FL teacher has been fired for copying and distributing last year’s FCAT as a practice for this year’s test. The state reuses items and does not release old tests.

    EXAM SCAM Wrightslaw.com is

    Filed on at 5:18 am under by dcobranchi

    EXAM SCAM Wrightslaw.com is urging parents whose kids fail the state exit exam to beat the system by essentially “enrolling” the kids in a diploma mill.

    Private school students do not have to pass state exit exams. Home schooled students do not have to pass state exit exams.

    The easiest way to eliminate the exit exam obstacle is to apply your child’s high school credits to a private school diploma.

    They recommend the North Atlantic Regional Schools (NARS) in Maine.

    The child registers at the school. NARS requests the child’s records from the public school. The public school sends the records to NARS. If the child’s transcript shows the child has earned the required credits, NARS awards a high school diploma. If the transcript does not show the required credits, NARS can tell you how to obtain the missing credits.

    So, it’s not quite as bad as the spam-diplomas. Still, NARS caters to homeschoolers, and this scam would tend to devalue any diploma that NARS awards.

    WAY OVERKILL Some kids

    Filed on at 4:36 am under by dcobranchi

    WAY OVERKILL Some kids in a Denver High School threw water balloons after a school end-of-year assembly. For punishment, the principal has banned 20 of them, including the class valedictorian, from attending graduation.


    Filed on at 2:43 am under by dcobranchi

    VIRGINIA POLITICS This one is slightly OT but an interesting piece on local politics in Northern Virginia. Michael Farris and the homeschooling community figure prominently.


    Filed on at 2:31 am under by dcobranchi

    OREGON EDU-CRATS are up in arms about the Homeschool Freedom bill which is going to be passed this year. The bill would end mandatory testing for homeschoolers. This, of course, is a bad thing:

    Rep. Elaine Hopson, D-Tillamook, a former public school district superintendent, said she supports a home schooling option but opposes dropping the test requirement.

    “Education is both a right and a responsibility,” she said. “There are some parents who don’t accept that responsibility.”

    Rep. Jeff Barker, D-Aloha, said children’s welfare is more important than the possible inconvenience of having to give a child a test every three years.

    State School Superintendent Susan Castillo also opposes the bill.

    If mandatory testing is eliminated, she said in a letter to legislators, “there will be nothing to prevent an irresponsible or incompetent parent from simply keeping a child out of school and providing no education at all.”

    And I suppose the best way to protect kids from “irresponsible or incompetent” parents is to put them in the care of the loving and caring teachers.


    Filed on at 1:53 am under by dcobranchi

    SPELLING BEE FINALS An 8th-grader from Dallas won the Nationals yesterday. CNN didn’t report where he goes to school but they did mention that the runner-up is homeschooled.

    UPDATE: The WashTimes reports that the winner attends St. Mark’s School of Texas.

    BURNED IN TENNESSEE Homeschoolers

    Filed on May 29, 2003 at 4:25 am under by dcobranchi

    BURNED IN TENNESSEE Homeschoolers are discriminated against in the just-passed TN lottery bill. The original proposal had a requirement that public and private schoolers had to have both a 3.0 GPA AND score 19 on the ACT. Homeschoolers, because GPA is not necessarily a valid measurement, would have had to score 23 with no GPA requirement. At the last minute, “AND” was changed to “OR” but no change was made in the ACT requirement. Thus, everyone in the state except homeschoolers are eligible with a score of 19. Legislators claim it was an oversight that will be fixed before the first scholarships are awarded in 2004.


    Filed on May 28, 2003 at 7:34 pm under by dcobranchi

    OT: A GOOD CAUSE Here’s one of those stories that makes you feel good. MedSend pays off doctors’ student loans so they can go into the missionary field. My in-laws are retired career medical missionaries so this one is near-and-dear.


    Filed on at 7:09 pm under by dcobranchi

    NYT BLOWS IT The NYT has a lengthy piece about cyber charters. It’s pretty good except that they call it “homeschooling” throughout. They point out that the homeschooling community has some problems with cyber charters but I think they miss the reason.

    Online schools also have detractors among parents who school their children on their own and who say that a set curriculum discourages independence.

    Lots of homeschoolers use set curricula. The problem is not the curriculum; it’s having to be accountable to the state for following the curriculum. That and newspapers confusing cyber charters with homeschooling.


    Filed on at 5:17 am under by dcobranchi

    A CYNICAL VICTORY Jeb Bush wins by losing. The other day I criticized FL Governor Jeb Bush for caving in to a boycott threat. Bush proposed legislation that would allow seniors who failed the FCAT to substitute SAT or ACT results in order to graduate. The bill has died in the Senate as the session has ended. This whole situation just doesn’t pass the smell test with me and comes off as a cynical ploy by Bush.

    Senate President Jim King said Tuesday that the bill needed to go through a committee for study and that Bush shouldn’t expect to put a bill in on a Friday and be approved four days later.

    “At this late date, it doesn’t make any sense,” said King, who noted that the bill could come up during a second special session starting in June to address medical malpractice. “The Senate does not lend itself to immediacy.”

    I’m sure that Jeb Bush is shocked that a Republican-controlled Senate won’t take up a bill supported by the Republican governor. Sure.


    Filed on at 3:31 am under by dcobranchi

    TESTING, TESTING The NYT profiles a FL kindergarten teacher who is hanging up her fingerpaints due, at least in part, to the mandated tests.

    Ms. MacLeish, 53, sent a letter home saying this would be her last year teaching kindergarten. It was no ordinary goodbye letter. Ms. MacLeish was m-a-d. Her tears were not pink [i.e., happy]. She fears that the kindergarten world she knows and has raised to a fine art is being destroyed. “A single high-stakes test score is now measuring Florida’s children, leaving little time to devote to their character or potential or talents or depth of knowledge,” she wrote. “Kindergarten teachers throughout the state have replaced valued learning centers (home center, art center, blocks, dramatic play) with paper and pencil tasks, dittos, coloring sheets, scripted lessons, workbook pages…” This year, for the first time, Ms. MacLeish had to spend two days giving state tests to kindergartners to establish base-line scores.

    There is a point at which standardized testing becomes counter-productive. Two days of tests in kindergarten may have passed it. I’m still not even convinced that early academic training is always useful or even appropriate. Our younger daughter was ready for it at age 5 (she’s an insatiable reader at 6). I’m not sure our younger son (who’s an insatiable PS2er) will be.

    PC UPDATE SysAdmin Ron

    Filed on May 27, 2003 at 5:45 pm under by dcobranchi

    PC UPDATE SysAdmin Ron Harrington pointed me towards a 1997 article questioning the value of computers in the classroom. This quote had me pulling out what little hair I have left:

    In a poll taken early last year U.S. teachers ranked computer skills and media technology as more “essential” than the study of European history, biology, chemistry, and physics; than dealing with social problems such as drugs and family breakdown; than learning practical job skills; and than reading modern American writers such as Steinbeck and Hemingway or classic ones such as Plato and Shakespeare.

    History and biology- sure. I can buy that. But chemistry?! What are we coming to? Seriously, I’ve long felt that computer training was supplanting education. In our pre-homeschooling days, our oldest was taught “keyboarding” in the 1st grade. What a waste of time! Teach them to read first.

    BTW, Ron Harrington doesn’t let his kids use the computer. His rationale seems pretty, er, rational to me:

    [I]t’s because they need to be prepared for a fast-changing high-tech world. For that world, they need to be able to read well, think logically and creatively, and solve problems. There’s no evidence computers will help them aquire those abilities, and considerable evidence computers will do harm.

    BASKIN-ROBBINS Homeschoolers come in

    Filed on at 7:44 am under by dcobranchi

    BASKIN-ROBBINS Homeschoolers come in many flavors these days. This positive article out of Washington state depicts several. As an aside, Washington has a pretty crappy homeschooling law.

    The state law requires parents to have completed the equivalent of at least a year’s college or be certified to teach in a qualifying course, register annually with their school district as home-schoolers, and have their children take annual standardized achievement tests. Family records of compliance should include test scores or assessments by a qualified teacher.

    PC-FREE SCHOOLS? Not “politically

    Filed on at 5:10 am under by dcobranchi

    PC-FREE SCHOOLS? Not “politically correct”, but “personal computers.” Psychologist Jane Healy’s book “Failure to Connect” makes the claim that allowing kids younger than age 7 access to computer-aided education actually stunts brain development.

    This is not to say that children so exposed for significant periods of time will suffer loss of general intelligence (IQ), but they may suffer significant loss of ability in one or more discrete “intelligences” such as creativity and social skills, and gain little of enduring value in the process.

    Healy recommends that children would be significantly better off if computers were withheld until age 7, and even then used conservatively…

    Unfortunately, about the only way today’s parents can prevent their children from having access to computers before the fifth grade is to home-school. There are exceptions. The Calvert School in Baltimore adheres to the “no computers in the classroom until grade 5” principle. The accelerated performance of Calvert School students, drawn from across the socio-economic spectrum, more than affirms what Healy has found and the warning she issues.

    The author of this review makes the common correlation-causation error, but the premise is interesting. I may try to pick up a copy of the book.


    Filed on May 26, 2003 at 6:07 am under by dcobranchi

    SPELLING BEE INFO According to this article, 31 of the 251 contestants in the Nationals are homeschoolers.

    THE O’ KEEFFE’S Here’s

    Filed on at 5:06 am under by dcobranchi

    THE O’ KEEFFE’S Here’s a nice article about a homeschooler in the National Spelling Bee. And, yes, her last name really is O’ Keeffe.


    Filed on at 4:41 am under by dcobranchi

    OT: SUPERCOMPUTER ON THE CHEAP Scientists have designed and built a supercomputer by stringing together 70 Sony PS2s. This could come in handy for when your homeschooler decides to design his own shoulder-fired SAM.

    RI BEE Another homeschooler

    Filed on May 25, 2003 at 2:48 pm under by dcobranchi

    RI BEE Another homeschooler is on his way to the National Spelling Bee in D.C.

    TOLD YA SO Guess

    Filed on at 2:44 pm under by dcobranchi

    TOLD YA SO Guess why the teacher’s union in TX is opposed to a virtual charter. (See answer in the previous post).


    Filed on at 2:38 pm under by dcobranchi

    HOMESCHOOLERS NEED NOT APPLY Florida legislators have voted to start a virtual charter school for up to 1000 students. Interestingly, homeschoolers are ineligible.

    Lawmakers attached several conditions: Courses must follow state standards, teachers must be certified in Florida, and students must take the FCAT and have attended public school the previous year.

    This is probably a smart move, politically. One of the most common complaints (by the teachers’ union) about virtual charters is that the school district is just paying for homeschoolers. Of course, the union is undeterred:

    “It sounds like a cross between homeschooling and vouchers in many ways,” said Marshall Ogletree of the Florida Education Association. “If you’ve already made the decision to homeschool your child, it’s not a whole lot different, except the state is going to buy your computer for you.”

    A foolish consistency…

    OVERWROUGHT Check out this

    Filed on at 6:52 am under by dcobranchi

    OVERWROUGHT Check out this headline from the Detroit News: School exit exams wreak havoc. One tiny bit of info here: according to the paper, kids in Florida have six chances to pass the FCAT. The paper still takes the position that exit exams are tantamount to child abuse.

    OT: SPAM! The NYT

    Filed on at 6:38 am under by dcobranchi

    OT: SPAM! The NYT has a series of short interviews with technology experts on the subject of stopping spam. I’m an earthlink subscriber so will be trying the SpamBlocker technology when it’s released next week. Hopefully, no more Nigeria scam letters or breast enlargement ads will get through.

    OH, YEAH Apologies for

    Filed on May 24, 2003 at 8:44 am under by dcobranchi

    OH, YEAH Apologies for the small number posts this past week. I was in Las Vegas from Sunday through last night (on business). Internet access from my room was minimal (and expensive).

    ALMA MATER Here’s a

    Filed on at 8:41 am under by dcobranchi

    ALMA MATER Here’s a new homeschooling blog I found in the referrer logs. She’s(?) also a newbie homeschooler. A double welcome, Stacy.

    DOUBLY INSULTING Here’s more

    Filed on at 8:30 am under by dcobranchi

    DOUBLY INSULTING Here’s more from Utah. Jordan School District is considering implementing a random drug-testing policy for all students involved in extracurricular activities. The program, which would cost an estimated $86,000 per year, would be paid for by increasing student activity fees.

    BUSH CAVES So much

    Filed on at 8:25 am under by dcobranchi

    BUSH CAVES So much for bold leadership in Florida. Jeb Bush is now pushing for a quick law that would allow for some students who failed the FCAT to graduate anyway.

    Among the changes Bush seeks: a quick study by the state Board of Education that would determine what scores on college entrance exams such as the SAT and ACT are equivalent to a passing score on the FCAT. Students who failed the FCAT this year but performed well on the entrance exams would be awarded a diploma if lawmakers agree to the fix.

    The governor’s demand that legislators tackle the issue before the end of a special budget session Tuesday comes a day after thousands protested outside his Miami office, decrying the state policy that prevents students who fail the new Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test from receiving a diploma.

    Of course, it’s all about the children.

    The governor’s defense of the FCAT amid growing unease among blacks and Hispanics has angered even members of his own party, who have noted that Hispanic voters have been critical to the governor’s election victories and are being courted for next year’s presidential election.


    Filed on at 8:19 am under by dcobranchi

    OT: AN INTERESTING HEADLINE This one surprised me coming from the Mormon-church-owned Deseret News: School spirit: Christian students join forces to strengthen each other

    OBE? Lynn Stuter has

    Filed on at 8:11 am under by dcobranchi

    OBE? Lynn Stuter has a column up concerning homeschoolers and outcome-based education (OBE). Ms. Stuter is very concerned that the government is attempting to bring ALL homeschoolers back into the system.

    As such, there is a movement afoot to pull homeschoolers back into the system. This is being done by offering homeschoolers incentives such as computers, money for curriculum, testing, supervision and assistance in weak areas … this type of thing.

    One “incentive” that has reached across the nation is William Bennett’s K12® Virtual Academy program…The system must include everyone. To that end, homeschoolers must be drawn back into the system. This is to be accomplished in one of two ways: 1) offer the homeschoolers incentives (carrots) sufficient enough to encourage them back into the system whether they know they are back in the system or not; 2) force the homeschoolers back into the system.

    Her chief concern seems to be Goals 2000/OBE. But, I thought the NCLB Act effectively did away with the last remants of Goals 2000. Am I missing something here?

    PSA I received this

    Filed on at 5:18 am under by dcobranchi

    PSA I received this email which I re-print here in its entirety:

    I am planning a homeschooling Prom in Ohio. The event will take place in Columbus, Ohio and I am trying to get an early word out. The time will be April 24, 2004. I am trying to guage the interest from Ohio homeschooling teens that might travel to an event like this. I am a homeschooling mom of 5 years and I have a teenage daughter. This is my drive behind the Prom. Could you help me spread the word? Those interested could e-mail me at scifigal@insight.rr.com. I am in the process of getting a web site together for the event.

    Thanks Alice Everage


    Filed on May 23, 2003 at 7:03 am under by dcobranchi

    HOME EDUCATION WEEK… down under. This article reads like a press release from HSLDA but it appears to be mainstream press. I found this sentence funny:

    Home education is the modern term for used to be called homeschooling and, yes, it is legal.

    I guess we’re archaic here in the US. Besides, what do you call kids who are being “home educated?” The paper apparently doesn’t have an answer and refers to them as “home schoolers.” US 1 AUS 0.


    Filed on at 5:50 am under by dcobranchi

    WILLIE AND ME I’m on the road again. See y’all tomorrow.

    BOYCOTT BEGINS Miami community

    Filed on at 5:50 am under by dcobranchi

    BOYCOTT BEGINS Miami community groups protesting the state high school exit tests have begun to boycott several FL industries in an attempt to get Gov. Jeb Bush to change the policy.

    ”For this school year, it needs to be total amnesty, because the state did not prepare these families for this punitive measure,” said Wilson, D-Miami.

    No way. Florida gave several years warning that this day was coming.


    Filed on at 5:42 am under by dcobranchi

    WE’RE ALL DISADVANTAGED NOW According to the USAT, colleges have been implementing an affirmative action program for all males, since females have higher grades and test scores. TYhis ‘graf made we gag:

    The admissions preferences allow schools to maintain the diversity that enriches campuses where 56% of all students at four-year colleges are female. By using less-rigorous academic standards for male applicants, colleges keep freshman classes from swinging too far out of balance. They also provide needed recognition that grades and test scores provide an incomplete picture of what boys can contribute to a school.

    There may be a silver lining here. If women are being hurt by AA programs, maybe some pro-AA groups will start to re-think their position. Or, is this a cynical ploy to try to influence SCOTUS and save college diversity programs?


    Filed on May 22, 2003 at 3:50 pm under by dcobranchi

    VICTORY IN CALIFORNIA Here’s the text of a letter that CA homeschoolers received from the Homeschool Association of California:

    Dear Homeschool Family,

    I have wonderful news to report. This evening I was sent an email by the California Department of Education Deputy General Counsel Michael Hersher that the CDE is no longer telling anyone that “homeschooling is not legal in California.” It has taken various documents off its website and is taking the position that filing an affidavit does not
    represent any certification by CDE about the filer. Its position is that only local school districts have authority to decide that a child who attends a private school is truant. Mr. Hersher stated that the CDE is not trying to influence local discretion in truancy matters in either direction.

    I checked the website to confirm that the references to home schooling had been removed. Since most, if not all, of the truancy problems suffered by homeschoolers in the past several years have been a direct result of the CDE’s position regarding the legality of home based private schools, this is a major victory.

    This result shows how important it is for homeschoolers and homeschooling organizations to work together for our common good: The ability of each of us to choose the best educational option for our children.

    Congratulations to each of you and all of us.

    Linda J. Conrad, Esq.
    Legal Chair
    HomeSchool Association of California (HSC)


    Filed on at 12:07 pm under by dcobranchi

    O’KEEFES PREMIERS TONIGHT The show that had HSLDA in an uproar airs tonight on the WB Network. Check your local listings.


    Filed on at 12:03 pm under by dcobranchi

    DUMB QUESTION The NCLB Act provides that school districts must allow students to transfer out of “unsafe” schools. A local politician doesn’t really get it.

    Sen. James Rhoades, R-Schuylkill, wondered whether home-based instruction, either through homeschooling or enrollment in an online charter school, was acceptable for students in districts that could neither provide transfers to another local school nor find a neighboring district that would enroll them.

    Pennsylvania politicians tend to be anti-homeschooling. But, we’re “ok” when we can help them out of a jam.


    Filed on May 21, 2003 at 12:26 pm under by dcobranchi

    I’VE HEARD THIS QUESTION Here’s a cute column by a homeschooling mom of seven. We only have four kids but still get the strange looks and occasional dumb questions about having “so many” children. One time, a snooty business woman asked Lydia if she were going to go back to school to get her GED when all the kids are in school. Lydia holds a Master’s in Psychology.


    Filed on at 12:18 pm under by dcobranchi

    HOT OFF THE WIRE Homeschooler James Williams just won the National Geography Bee. This is the second year in a row that a homeschooler has won the competition. The winner gets a $25,000 college scholarship.


    Filed on at 4:44 am under by dcobranchi

    INTERESTING FACTOID From a WashTimes article on the practice of tithing in America.

    Catholics are among five segments of the population who paid less than one-tenth of one percent to their church, Barna reports; the other four groups are: Hispanics, liberals, downscale households earning less than $20,000 a year and not being headed by college graduates, and parents who home-school their children.

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY Today the

    Filed on May 20, 2003 at 6:16 am under by dcobranchi

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY Today the love of my life turns something. I’m on the road and will miss the big day. Lydia, if you read this, know that I love you and miss you and want the whole world (or at least the 100 or so who hit this site) to know.


    Filed on at 6:08 am under by dcobranchi

    DEPRESSING NEWS A couple of studies of the sexual behavior of kids were released yesterday. The results are not pretty. 2/3 of the kids are sexually active before they graduate and a good percentage of the ones who haven’t had intercourse claim to have been “intimate” with a partner. Also, 1 in 5 kids under the age of 15 are sexually active. One more reason to homeschool.

    RE-MOTIVATED The school which

    Filed on at 6:00 am under by dcobranchi

    RE-MOTIVATED The school which was going to give a zero to a girl who sang at a presidential visit has relented. The power of the net.


    Filed on May 19, 2003 at 3:09 pm under by dcobranchi

    SEGREGATED GRADUATIONS The WaPo has a piece on colleges hostong ceremonies that are racially or ethnically segregated. This is a disturbing trend that I have been remiss in covering. Fortunately, Izzy and Kim are on the ball.

    BACK LATER I’m in

    Filed on at 5:40 am under by dcobranchi

    BACK LATER I’m in a meeting until 9 p.m. See y’all then.


    Filed on at 5:39 am under by dcobranchi

    GRADUATION DAY Here’s a brief article on the graduation ceremony some homeschholing parents organized. Nice idea.

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