Utterly Meaningless » 2003 » June
  • NAEP UPDATE

    Filed on June 20, 2003 at 6:03 pm under by dcobranchi

    Lisa Snell has some more info on the NAEP. I didn’t know this, but private schools are included in the tests. According to Lisa, the private schools outscore the g-schools by a wide margin.

    2002 NAEP Reading Average Scale Scores

    Grade 12 8 4
    Public 285 263 217
    All non-public 304 281 234
    Non-Public Catholic 304 281 234
    Non-Public Other 305 281 235

    Sorry ’bout the formatting. MT apparently doesn’t like the < pre > html tags.

    MISSED ME BY THAT MUCH

    Filed on at 3:07 pm under by dcobranchi

    Just as we got off the blogger software, they’ve “improved” their publishing software. Now, all my old archives have disappeared. If they come back, I plan to import them. Here’s a link back to the old blogspot site. Keep your fingers crossed.

    SHALL WE PLAY A GAME?

    Filed on at 12:17 pm under by dcobranchi

    I have changed very few words in this editorial. I wonder if the paper would still agree:

    Gov. Ted Kulongoski was right in vetoing a measure that would have exempted reporters from taking mandatory, periodic tests. Sponsor Sen. Bruce Starr, R-Aloha, argued that Senate Bill 761 was unnecessary and the $40 to $50 cost per test was a burden on reporters.

    But the governor didn’t accept that line of reasoning, nor do we.

    We agree that most reporters are conscientious. However, in a democratic society, the government must have a way to assure that all reporters are being educated. If that means requiring periodic tests to evaluate progress, then so be it.

    Bonus points to the first commenter who names the movie the title comes from.

    WE’VE MOVED The blog

    Filed on at 11:59 am under by dcobranchi

    WE’VE MOVED The blog has moved here.

    MORE IN MA

    Filed on at 11:18 am under by dcobranchi

    The Bryant family is in the news again. No developments about their case, per se, but the DSS is really regretting the publicity.

    “There have been calls from all over the country, threatening Susan’s life and children. We have had to change her phone number and not allow her to check her e-mail account,” said Montero.

    Etscovitz also has received calls at her home threatening harm against her and her family, DSS officials said.

    “There has been a firestorm created across the country because of one statement she made. A hell of a lot more was said that day, and the focus has been on that one statement,” said Montero.

    Montero said Etscovitz never denied making the statement that “We (DSS) have legal custody of the children and we will do with them as we see fit,” but she does regret making it.

    “Things have gotten out of control. Everyone agrees that this is a fight between the school, courts and the Bryants. It seems that everyone has been backed into a corner,” said Montero.

    “The ultra-conservatives and Bible-thumpers have inundated us with threats and phone calls. No one deserves to be threatened,” said Montero.

    Montero apparently missed the irony in that statement as the DSS has been issuing threats to the Bryants all along. The article also quotes Donna DePoalo, from educationalfreedom.com

    FCAT DEBACLE

    Filed on at 10:41 am under by dcobranchi

    FL legislators passed a bill that will allow students who fail the FCAT to still receive a diploma if they “pass” the SAT or the ACT. Those who cannot pass any of the three tests will be allowed to enroll in community colleges. The CCs currently require at least a GED in order to enroll. There may be a silver lining for the homeschooling community here. Depending on the exact wording of the bill, homeschoolers may now be allowed to enroll in CCs before they graduate. Any Floridians know the status quo?

    NAEP READING SCORES OUT

    Filed on at 10:30 am under by dcobranchi

    The results for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Reading test were released yesterday. There are too many articles to blog (each state releases their results separately) but MA 4th graders were #1; DC, last. Here’s a link to the GoogleNews search.

    UPDATE: TheWaPo summarizes the results for the nation.

    The National Assessment of Educational Progress, a test given to representative samples of students in 43 states, found that 31 percent of fourth-graders, 33 percent of eighth-graders and 36 percent of 12th-graders could read at least at the proficient level — meaning they could handle challenging subject matter.

    The results showed that 36 percent of fourth-graders and 25 percent of eighth-graders performed below the basic level, failing to demonstrate even partial mastery of reading. That was an improvement over 1998, when 40 percent of fourth-graders and 27 percent of eighth-graders scored below basic on the exam.

    But reading scores were uniformly disappointing among the nation’s high school seniors, with 26 percent scoring below basic in 2002, a decline of 2 percentage points from 1998. Also, 36 percent of 12th-graders scored at or above the proficient level, down from 40 percent in 1998.

    UPDATE: And here is the official report.

    DE ITEM: HJR9

    Filed on at 9:24 am under by dcobranchi

    This House Joint Resolution on early childhood education is about as ugly as any I have seen. Here’s the full text with the worst parts bolded. Note the “Be it further resolved” section. Delaware legislators are not particularly careful in how they craft legislation, so this may be an oversight but as I read this, the task force can accomplish its charge only by recommending compulsory pre-K for all 4-year-olds. Let’s hope I’m wrong.

    HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 9

    CREATING A TASK FORCE TO EXAMINE EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION PROGRAMS IN DELAWARE AND TO DEVELOP A PLAN FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF UNIVERSAL PREKINDERGARTEN AND FULL-DAY KINDERGARTEN.

    WHEREAS scientific research has indicated that critical brain development occurs in a child’s first five years of life; and

    WHEREAS children who attend preschool or educational day care programs prior to starting kindergarten consistently display a higher level of school readiness and better classroom behavior; and

    WHEREAS, studies show that full-day kindergarten greatly benefits a child and represents an investment that will reap great societal rewards; and

    WHEREAS students enrolled in strong educational programming at an early age demonstrate strong performance on standardized tests, are more likely to attend post-secondary education programs, less likely to commit crimes, and those who receive foreign language training are better able to retain the language learned; and

    WHEREAS early intervention programs such as Head Start and the Delaware Early Childhood Assistance Program (ECAP) strive to identify at-risk and special needs children; and

    WHEREAS other states, including California, have implemented “First Five” initiatives to increase awareness of and funding for early childhood education with great success; and

    WHEREAS research shows that an investment in early academic intervention saves states and taxpayers money on education in later years; and

    WHEREAS when studied longitudinally, students who have had preschool academic experiences have higher employment rates and greater income levels, thus generating more revenue in the general economy.

    NOW, THEREFORE:

    BE IT RESOLVED by the House of Representatives of the 142nd General Assembly, the Senate concurring therein, that a Task Force to develop a plan for universal access to 4 year old pre-kindergarten and full-day kindergarten in Delaware be created consisting of the following members:

    One member of the House Majority Caucus, to be appointed by the Speaker of the House;
    One member of the House Minority Caucus, to be appointed by the House Minority Leader;
    One member of the Senate Majority Caucus, to be appointed by the President Pro Tem;
    One member of the Senate Minority Caucus, to be appointed by the Senate Minority Leader;
    The Delaware Secretary of Education, or her designee;
    A representative of the Delaware Early Care and Education Office;
    One representative of the Delaware Department of Children, Youth, and their Families;
    One representative of the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services;
    One representative of the Delaware Budget Office;
    One member of the State Board of Education;
    One representative of the Delaware Association of School Administrators;
    One representative of the Delaware School Board Association;
    One representative of a faith-based early childhood schooling program, appointed by the Governor;
    One representative of the YMCA;
    One representative of the YWCA;
    One representative of the Kids Count Foundation;
    One representative of the Delaware Charter Schools Network;
    One representative of a private preschool, appointed by the Governor;
    One representative of a large parent-teacher organization;
    One representative from a Delaware Teacher Education Program;
    One representative from Delaware Technical and Community College’s Early Childhood Development program;
    One professor of early childhood education appointed by the Governor;
    One representative of the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League;
    Three representatives of the public schools – one from each county appointed by the Governor;
    One representative of the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce;
    One representative of the Committee of 100;
    One representative of the Early Child Care Committee;
    One representative of the Social Venture Partners; and
    Up to 5 people each appointed by the Governor.
    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Task Force shall:

    1. Develop recommendations for the full implementation, including the identification of revenue sources, of a) universal pre-kindergarten education and b) universal full-day kindergarten.

    2. Submit a preliminary report with respect to universal pre-kindergarten and full-day kindergarten to the Governor and the Legislature by January 1, 2004.

    Submit a final report with respect to universal pre-kindergarten and full-day kindergarten by March 1, 2004.
    Develop a comprehensive report on the current status and efficacy of early childhood programs and services offered in Delaware.
    5. Develop a model for the assessment of quality early childhood education programs that demonstrate innovative teaching and high levels of effectiveness.

    6. Develop models of strong public-private partnerships.

    Identify revenue sources that may be applicable to funding early childhood education.
    Create a long-term implementation plan to achieve universal access to high-quality early childhood education.
    Submit a final report concerning the foregoing by November 1, 2004, or, with approval from the Governor, at such later date as may be requested.

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Chairperson of the Task Force shall be appointed jointly be the Speaker of the House and the President Pro Tem of the Senate.

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Department of Education will provide administrative support for the Task Force.

    SYNOPSIS

    This Resolution creates a Task Force consisting of legislators, educators, business, and others in the early childhood development field.

    The goals of the Task Force are to: (1) develop a plan for implementing universal pre-kindergarten and full-day kindergarten; (2) submit a preliminary report on the plan by January 1, 2004; (3) submit a final report by March 1, 2004; (4) develop a report on the status of early childhood programs existing in Delaware; (5) develop a model for assessing quality programs; (6) develop a model for public-private partnerships; (7) identify revenue sources for early childhood education; (8) create a long-term plan to achieve universal access to quality early childhood education; and (9) submit a final report by November 1, 2004.

    VERTICAL BLOGGING

    Filed on at 9:12 am under by dcobranchi

    I hate computers. More specifically, I hate my computers. Virtually every one I own or have access to is dead or dying. Currently, the only net/blogging capable computer I can use is in the lab on a bench. Hence, I have to blog standing up. A sacrifice for my “art”, I suppose. 🙂

    AN UNSCHOOL

    Filed on June 19, 2003 at 10:40 pm under by dcobranchi

    Skip Oliva pointed me towards this article about Fairhaven, a Sudbury-type school in DC. I’d read about Sudbury a long time ago but just realized how much it sounds like unschooling.

    Fairhaven’s philosophy places a premium on self-discovery. The basic idea: If you strip away all of school’s requirements, students will eventually discover what it is that they love in life. Then they will pursue their passions tirelessly. That, Fairhaven’s founders argue, is education. That is learning. And no amount of force-fed arithmetic or rote memorization will ever teach it. Students must discover how to learn on their own.

    STARTING OVER

    Filed on at 10:30 pm under by dcobranchi

    Thanks to Dean Esmay, we have this brand-spanking-new MT-powered blog. Dean did all of the heavy lifting (and the light lifting, too) to get me moved off the damnable blogger software. Thanks, Dean.

    GOING OFFLINE FOR A

    Filed on June 17, 2003 at 8:28 pm under by dcobranchi

    GOING OFFLINE FOR A WHILE The inimitable Dean Esmay is helping me to move off the blogger software to MT. As part of this process I need to change hosting companies and possibly the URL. It’ll still be cobranchi.com but may be the main page. Regardless, the DNS change will take a couple of days. This page may disappear for a while. Keep checking in, though. I’ll be back ASAP.

    NOT AN EDU-BLOGGER but

    Filed on at 8:11 pm under by dcobranchi

    NOT AN EDU-BLOGGER but Skip Oliva does a fine job of framing the issues surrounding the Bryants case. Definitely worth a click.

    A SHARP YOUNG LADY

    Filed on at 8:40 am under by dcobranchi

    A SHARP YOUNG LADY This PA homeschooler won a statewide oratory contest sponsored by a Right-to-Life organization.

    Annie said she is not an “in your face” activist, but if the issues of abstinence or abortion come up, “I’m not afraid to say how I feel.”

    Potential boyfriends know her beliefs from the start. “It helps weed out the good ones from the bad ones.”

    Good for her (and her ‘rents).

    LIMBAUGH BACKS BRYANTS Not

    Filed on at 8:05 am under by dcobranchi

    LIMBAUGH BACKS BRYANTS Not Rush, but David. I like this close:

    [D]espite homeschooling’s outstanding academic track record, we can expect persistent opposition from the establishment, sometimes reaching the point of policemen and social workers at homeschoolers’ homes threatening to snatch away their children.

    But we can also be sure that homeschooling families will continue to resist this oppression. They deserve our support, because they are fighting over the most fundamental rights of a free society: the right to raise and educate children as they see fit. They are carrying the banner of liberty for all of us.

    BOO! HISS! Oregon Gov.

    Filed on at 5:55 am under by dcobranchi

    BOO! HISS! Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski has vetoed the “Homeschooling Freedom” bill.

    “I am deeply concerned that a system with no monitoring or accountability will allow a small number of children to fall through the cracks and to reach adulthood without receiving the minimal education,” he said.

    He forgot to add, “that we provide in the government schools.” I’m sure that homeschoolers will remember come next election. We are not many but we are very politically active.

    THIS IS NEWS The

    Filed on at 5:06 am under by dcobranchi

    THIS IS NEWS The outgoing president of the LAUSD has blasted the teachers’ union as “the greatest obstacle there is to improving the city’s educational system.” School boards tend to be very sympathetic to the positions of the NEA, so when a school board member takes them on, it should make the union shudder- especially in the largest school district in the country.

    “The union exists for a really good reason, and that is the teachers got the wrong end of the stick for decades,” she said. “But we now have created the beast we deserve for doing that…”

    “The bottom line is there are two things that create power in California — that’s money and votes — and they have both,” she said. “That’s fine if you favor their policies, but their policies are not necessarily pro-kid.”

    Well said.

    STAY AT HOME MOMS’

    Filed on at 3:40 am under by dcobranchi

    STAY AT HOME MOMS’ (AND DADS’) ranks are increasing, according to new census data. Since 1994, the number of kids with one parent home is up 18%.

    “This is just another indicator that there’s this quiet grass-roots movement” among mothers to return home to raise their children, said Brenda Hunter, a psychologist and author of several books, including “The Power of Mother Love…”

    And it’s not just mothers of babies who are stepping out of the work force; it’s mothers of older children,” said Mrs. Hunter, who is member of the Motherhood Project at the Institute for American Values.

    “Women know that older children need them around just as much as babies, because of the drugs, sex, the terrible influences that are out there.”

    This is a bad thing in the eyes of the NOW.

    Another explanation is that “unemployment is up and it may be that families that used to have two wage earners may be finding they only have one job,” said Leslie Calman, executive vice president of the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund.

    “It may also be that they weigh the cost of quality child care against their own earnings and decide for a time to stay home,” she said, adding that today the fund is starting a “family initiative” program aimed at getting more and better child care, preschool and after-school services.

    God forbid that a womyn would choose of her own free will to stay home and raise her children. It can’t be. No sane, intelligent womyn would do that!

    G-SCHOOL SPORTS A bill

    Filed on June 16, 2003 at 8:04 am under by dcobranchi

    G-SCHOOL SPORTS A bill introduced in the PA legislature would allow homeschoolers to participate in all extra-curriculars. I wish they’d fix their awful homeschooling law before tackling peripheral issues like this.

    BRYANT UPDATE Possible good

    Filed on at 7:58 am under by dcobranchi

    BRYANT UPDATE Possible good news– the DSS cancelled a scheduled court hearing.

    FIRE HER! How’s this

    Filed on at 7:43 am under by dcobranchi

    FIRE HER! How’s this for sheer idiocy: A middle school principal refused to allow several children to walk across the stage for their “graduation” because, in her mind, they were “overdressed.” She said one 12-year-old boy, who was wearing a nice pin-striped suit, looked like a pimp. A couple of girls who were wearing long dresses were also excluded.

    84% OF AMERICANS POLLED

    Filed on June 15, 2003 at 11:33 pm under by dcobranchi

    84% OF AMERICANS POLLED think homeschoolers should not be “required to take government-schools’ assessment exams,” according to the results from this completely unscientific WorldNetDaily poll. I’m sure the poll was put up as a sidebar to their article on the Bryant Family saga. I really wonder about the 27 people (g-school teachers?) who answered this way:

    Yes, professional educators need to have oversight

    And, in an interesting juxtaposition, the ad at the bottom of the results page says something about protecting yourself from terrorism: smallpox, dirty bombs, martial law… Nothing about rogue DSS agents, though.

    HOMESCHOOL GRAD A nice

    Filed on at 5:12 am under by dcobranchi

    HOMESCHOOL GRAD A nice profile of a 17-year-old former homeschooler who is getting ready to start his junior year of college.

    NCLB Regular readers of

    Filed on at 4:55 am under by dcobranchi

    NCLB Regular readers of this page will no doubt have recognized by now that I am no particular fan of the No Child Left Behind Act. The federal government has no constitutional mandate to be involved in education at all, much less the right to dictate to the states how they will or won’t educate their citizenry. That should be left to the states and to the people (those pesky 9th and 10th Amendments again). But, the enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend. NoChildLeft.com does a real disservice to their readers with this month’s issue. They start off with this howler:

    Shock and Awe Campaign Hits Schools

    Few people have awakened to the damage likely to result from Washington’s current approach to school reform. While the proponents of NCLB (AKA Helter-Skelter) like to claim that its strategies are based on sound scientific evidence, that claim collapses under scrutiny.

    Comparing NCLB to both a military doctrine and to a mass-murder is not going to convince many that NoChildLeft.com is an organization which is serious about influencing public debate. The rest of the issue is equally weak. They spend almost the entire column wailing about NCLB and high-stakes tests.

    “For the first time, Florida third graders must pass a reading test or be held back, and earlier this month Gov. Jeb Bush announced that 23 percent – 43,000 – had flunked.”

    Unfortunately, NCLB says nothing about high-stakes testing. It’s not mandated and, IIRC, NCLB actually takes a brief swipe at the concept. It gets worse. NCL.com sounds like an arm of the NEA. Here are some of their suggestions for amendments to NCLB.

    Devote public money to truly public schools. Be careful not to divert funds to reckless experiments or diploma mills.

    Support informed school choice within public systems.

    Fund social programs that impact school readiness so that all children actually enter school ready to learn as the first President Bush promised long ago.

    Translation, we’re ok with choice as long as there isn’t any. We want to maintain and expand the current government monopoly on education. The charter school movement is just a sham.

    BRYANT FAMILY UPDATE Here’s

    Filed on June 14, 2003 at 6:38 am under by dcobranchi

    BRYANT FAMILY UPDATE Here’s a transcript of a TV report. Kim Bryant has a wicked sense of irony:

    “I think I was threatened by DSS yesterday when the children refused to take the tests. [The DSS oficer] said she was very disappointed with them. She said parents should teach children to obey authority,” Kim Bryant said.

    Cathy Henderson of EducationalFreedom.com writes of Mrs. Bryant:

    Because she would never complain or whine in any way. You never hear her complain about a lack of support. You’d have to know Kim… She is just the gentlest person. Strong and outspoken about what she believes, but at heart so gentle that it still affects me very deeply what the family has done.

    I am 100% behind the Bryants in this. Good luck, Bryant family.

    UPDATE: Here’s a link to HSLDA’s take on MA homeschooling law.

    UPDATE: The Bryant family saga is the lead story on today’s EducationNews.org

    PLEASE READ THIS! This

    Filed on June 13, 2003 at 10:05 am under by dcobranchi

    PLEASE READ THIS! This will be the last post of the day so it stays at the top of the page. The Bryant family in Waltham, MA is at war with the local DSS over homeschooling. Yesterday, DSS called the police in an attempt to force the kids to take a standardized test.

    George Nicholas Bryant, 15, and Nyssa Bryant, 13, stood behind their parents, Kim and George, as police and DSS workers attempted to collect the children at 7:45 a.m. DSS demanded that the two complete a test to determine their educational level…

    Both sides agree that the children are in no way abused mentally, physically, sexually or emotionally, but legal custody of the children was taken from Kim and George Bryant in December 2001. The children will remain under the legal custody of DSS until their 16th birthdays…

    Pontes said that a possibility exists that the children will be removed from their home, but that was a last course of action.

    “No one wants these children to be put in foster homes. The best course of action would for (the Bryants) to instruct the children to take the test,” said Etscovitz.

    This is all about the DSS demonstrating its power over parents. I hope homeschoolers in MA (and across the country) continue to rally to the Bryant’s defense. This could be any of us.

    PC UPDATE The Executive

    Filed on at 9:54 am under by dcobranchi

    PC UPDATE The Executive Director for the Institute for School Innovation takes exception to an article about PC (personal computer)-free schools first blogged here. I’m not impressed with her column as she presents absolutely zero data to refute the points made in the original article. She does, however, get emotionally overwrought with this diatribe:

    Rosemond maintains that computers prevent children from developing creativity and problem-solving skills, and cause them to develop poor social skills. He claims there is research to back this up. He advocates home schooling as the way to prevent exposure to computers at public school.

    Extremist views like this do a disservice to children and their parents, and are a slap in the face to public schools. Computers are wonderful learning tools for young children and a great support for teachers.

    How is it a slap in anyone’s face (except perhaps Bill Gates) to say that PC use might be harmful to younger kids. And labeling someone an “extremist” is about as lame a rhetorical device as you can imagine. Before Ms. Butzin writes another column for a newspaper, she ought to spend some time observing a debate class at one of those high-schools we like to slap in the face.

    WOULD YOU KNOW YOUR

    Filed on June 12, 2003 at 9:21 am under by dcobranchi

    WOULD YOU KNOW YOUR WIFE & CHILDREN? This poor homeschooling mom was arrested and held in jail for six days in a bizarre case of mistaken identity. She was accused of kidnapping her own kids and fleeing from France to the US. The husband of the missing woman swore in court that she was his wife and the kids were his. DNA evidence proved otherwise.

    LOCAL WWHS The lede

    Filed on at 9:01 am under by dcobranchi

    LOCAL WWHS The lede says it all:

    Two boys – a 14-year-old middle-schooler and a 12-year-old elementary student – were arrested after being caught with loaded handguns Tuesday. That same morning, a 13-year-old girl was allegedly raped after being abducted on the way to her Northwest school, police and school officials said yesterday.

    Superintendent Paul Vallas’ solution leaves a bit to be desired.

    Vallas – who was at a White House ceremony with President Bush when this spate of schoolhouse crime was going on – yesterday called on parents to help keep the schools safe by checking their children’s bookbags for weapons.

    APPLE-A-DAY Allen Reece’s blog

    Filed on at 2:59 am under by dcobranchi

    APPLE-A-DAY Allen Reece’s blog archives are still available on blogspot. For those who were late to the party, Allen was a first-year teacher who chronicled his experiences at a school in Louisiana. His bosses eventually got word of his blog and he was let go. The archives are an interesting history. Here’s the first one. You’ll have to manually change the date in the URL to get to the others.

    ATHLETICS A school board

    Filed on June 11, 2003 at 9:29 am under by dcobranchi

    ATHLETICS A school board in South Dakota made the right decision to forbid homeschoolers from participating in school sports, argues this editoral. What caught my eye was this stunning bit of (il)logic:

    Granted, the parents of home-schooled children do pay local taxes that support the school districts, but taking their kids out of the schools also removes roughly $4,000 per head in state aid. For the Yankton district, that amounted to about $250,000 this past year, which is not an insignificant sum.

    OK, the school district didn’t get the quarter mill for the kids they weren’t educating. That also means that the state didn’t have to collect that money in taxes. Which probably means that the taxpayers in North Dakota won’t have to pay the quarter million in taxes. Which means that homeschoolers kept money in the pockets of the readers of the newspaper. Why is it so hard for people to understand that homeschooling does not COST school districts anything but instead SAVES them the expense of educating them?

    DAYTIME CURFEWS Jackson and

    Filed on at 9:20 am under by dcobranchi

    DAYTIME CURFEWS Jackson and Perry Counties in Illinois want to impose a daytime curfew. Naturally, homeschooling parents are opposed. Curfews are such a bad idea. They don’t work and unjustly punish the completely innocent.

    CIGARETTES, BOOZE, AND OREOS

    Filed on at 9:13 am under by dcobranchi

    CIGARETTES, BOOZE, AND OREOS Walter Williams has a pretty good column on just how ridiculous some of these anti-obesity nannies have become.

    Oreo cookies should be banned from sale to children in California. That’s according to Stephen Joseph, who filed a lawsuit against Nabisco last month in California’s Marin County Superior Court. Oreo cookies contain trans fat, an ingredient that makes the cookies crisp and their filling creamy. Joseph says that trans fat is so dangerous that our children should be protected from it…

    The Washington-based Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) also demands government control of what we eat. It calls for excise taxes on fatty foods, additional taxes on cars and television sets, and a doubling of the excise tax on beer. By making cars and televisions more expensive, it thinks it will force people to walk more and stop being couch potatoes.

    CSPI’s Michael Jacobson said, “We could envision taxes on butter, potato chips, whole milk, cheeses (and) meat.” CSPI wants the tax revenues earmarked for government-sponsored exercise programs.

    Williams has a sarcastic suggestion:

    Maybe as an alternative to taxes, there might be a call for laws similar to what’s called the Dram Shop Act in some states, which prohibits the sale of alcohol to intoxicated persons. Applied to food, that law might ban the sale of hamburgers and fries to a fat person, or a mandate that scales be placed in front of cash registers where a customer is weighed prior to a sale.

    SHE’S GOT GAME Kim

    Filed on at 9:01 am under by dcobranchi

    SHE’S GOT GAME Kim Swygert is on a roll with at least a trio of really good posts. Start here and scroll down.

    PSA Received via email

    Filed on at 3:50 am under by dcobranchi

    PSA Received via email from NHEN-Legislative listserv:

    From: Christine Webb
    Contact: retromom@earthlink.net
    Topic: Governor to act on “Homeschool Equity” Bill

    SB 761 is on the Governor’s desk. He has five days to either sign or veto the bill, or he can allow it to become law without his signature.

    Oregon residents who support this bill are encouraged to send a letter, postcard or e-mail to the Governor ASAP. He can be e-mailed through his website at: http://governor.oregon.gov/contact.htm A brief, polite message asking him to please sign SB 761-A into law would be appropriate. Those working on the bill have asked that the Governor’s office NOT be phoned about this bill, at this time, as that can have a negative effect.

    The Governor has made noises about possibly vetoing the bill, lately, but, when he met with the bill’s sponsor, he expressed concerns about the bill but did not say he would veto it. There is hope and the most positive action at this time is “friendly contact” to encourage him to allow this bill to pass into law!

    I believe the “Homeschool Equity” bill is aka the “Homeschool Freedom” bill.

    CHILD ABUSE Someone call

    Filed on June 10, 2003 at 3:42 pm under by dcobranchi

    CHILD ABUSE Someone call Child Welfare. This homeschooling mom MUST be breaking a law somewhere.

    She home schools her daughter and three sons, who begin classes each year on Aug. 1 so they can take a break during grafting season from mid-April to early June. Her husband and children often help her.

    See? She FORCES her kids to be outside in the springtime instead of locked away in some windowless government-school building. Oh, the humanity!

    OBEY ME! I don’t

    Filed on at 7:35 am under by dcobranchi

    OBEY ME! I don’t consider myself a Right-Winger but found this liberalslant.com piece highly entertaining:

    [T]he Far Right, understandably, has no stake in a public that is informed and which has acquired critical intelligence through a liberal education. Such individuals make very poor serfs. Neither is the Far Right much interested in an integrated public. “Divide and conquer!” So instead of continuing our traditional support of public education, they offer us privatization (“vouchers”) and home schooling, which can only lead to social disintegration and blind obedience to authority.

    Homeschooling leads to blind obedience? Then, how come I can’t get my kids to pick up their toys?

    A MUST READ Here’s

    Filed on at 6:59 am under by dcobranchi

    A MUST READ Here’s a powerful essay about the parallels between school choice and the civil-rights movement.

    Desperate times require desperate measures. When I hear advocates say that school choice is the new civil-rights issue, I wonder how much they believe it. Despite the talk, I haven’t seen them adopting the tactics of the civil-rights movement. It will take action, not armchair radicalism, to convince policymakers that parents really want more educational choices.

    There’s no better place to look for guidance on the strategy of the civil-rights movement than the “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” written 40 years ago by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. In response to clergymen who had criticized him for leading demonstrations in Alabama, King outlined the steps for nonviolent social change…

    School choice is said to be a civil-rights issue. Furthermore, some school-choice advocates compare choice opponents to the white segregationists King was fighting.

    I’m not sure that the system can be fixed short of getting the state out of the ed business. But, in the short run, allowing parents to decide what is best for their kids surely would be an improvement.

    STOP THE PRESSES Today

    Filed on at 6:41 am under by dcobranchi

    STOP THE PRESSES Today seems to be the day for obvious headlines. Here’s another earth-shattering announcement care of the Detroit News Op/Ed page:

    Teachers unions delay education reforms

    I thought that was their raison d’être.

    1ST AMENDMENT, 2ND AMENDMENT-

    Filed on at 6:35 am under by dcobranchi

    1ST AMENDMENT, 2ND AMENDMENT- WHO CARES? A CA middle school student was upset that there is an advertisement for the NRA (placed by a grandfather of one of the students) in her school yearbook. Even though she “graduated” with a 4.0, she should have paid more attention in civics class:

    “School is supposed to be a place where kids should be safe from hearing about weapons,” she said.

    And I thought it was a place where they were supposed to learn (including what those pesky amendments are all about).

    THREE AND OUT! Florida

    Filed on at 6:32 am under by dcobranchi

    THREE AND OUT! Florida is going to experiment with allowing a few kids to graduate after only three years in high school. Sounds good to me (but you already knew that). What makes this blog-worthy is this quote:

    [H]undreds of high school students already take dual enrollment classes at a community college or at the University of South Florida to earn both high school and college credit. Some earn a year’s college credit while still in high school.

    “If they leave [high school] after they earn 18 credits, they’ll end up paying for an extra year of college,” she said.

    I don’t get it. Surely the kids who are dual-enrolled have to pay for the community college. Anyone in Florida know the real story?

    DUH! Here’s a headline

    Filed on at 6:21 am under by dcobranchi

    DUH! Here’s a headline for SneakingSuspicions:

    Researchers verify reading ability gets a boost from phonics

    Is this really surprising?

    TEACHER PAY Education NExt

    Filed on June 9, 2003 at 11:56 am under by dcobranchi

    TEACHER PAY Education NExt has two articles up arguing whether teachers are overpaid or underpaid. Both are pretty good with no edu-babble.

    WHINE, WHINE, WHINE Pity

    Filed on at 11:43 am under by dcobranchi

    WHINE, WHINE, WHINE Pity the poor teachers who have it SO HARD

    Those who carp about the supposed “good life” of teachers and their in-built “summer benefit” don’t realize that teaching is probably the most demanding interpersonal profession; think of it…one teacher face to face with 20 to 30 students from 8:30 to 3:00 every day.

    Most teachers are not equipped with the stamina of the Energizer bunny. The need to recharge our individual batteries — not to mention our psyches — requires more than ritual weekend breaks. The summer downtime constitutes a significant opportunity for vital renewal.

    No other “profession” gets 2 1/2 months off to renew and refresh (plus 2 weeks at Christmas and 1 at Easter.) What makes teaching harder than engineering, or accounting, or, or, or …? What a bunch of whiners.

    OTOH Here’s the lede

    Filed on at 11:37 am under by dcobranchi

    OTOH Here’s the lede from an editorial in today’s Boston Globe:

    Some 55,000 members of the class of 2003 — the first to face the state’s high-stakes exit examination — are now departing their high schools with well-earned, meaningful diplomas in hand. Their efforts, and those of their teachers, resulted in a 92 percent pass rate, reason enough to leave behind the bitter debates about the fairness of the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System tests.

    FCAT BOYCOTT The St.

    Filed on at 11:32 am under by dcobranchi

    FCAT BOYCOTT The St. Petersburg Times has some more info on the Miami-area boycott of FL businesses. There are some real beauties in here:

    The first caller [to the talk-radio show hosted by the protest’s chief organizer] said he avoided the Florida Turnpike even though it meant being late for a meeting. His family has switched from Florida orange juice to apple juice…

    “I think the governor is going to look at that … and say, “Those Negroes aren’t going to do nothin’, ” Wilcox, the organizer of PULSE, People United to Lead the Struggle for Equality, said Tuesday in his windowless office in Miami’s Overtown neighborhood. “But I got news for them boys this time…”

    I feel for the kids who haven’t passed the test. They’ve got a tough row to hoe. But, if there are going to be high-stakes tests, some graduating class is going to have to be first. If Bush caves, the boycotters will be back arguing that next year’s graduating class shouldn’t have to face the consequences of not passing.

    SPELLING BEE Last one,

    Filed on June 8, 2003 at 3:54 pm under by dcobranchi

    SPELLING BEE Last one, I promise. Here’s a neat article profiling a homeschooler who made it to the third round of the Nationals.

    KAFKAESQUE Diversity has now

    Filed on at 3:40 pm under by dcobranchi

    KAFKAESQUE Diversity has now become the be-all end end-all of school “reform,” even to the point of harming black students.

    Bestowed with options their parents never had, many African-American students who were involuntarily bused to schools in white Pinellas neighborhoods are choosing to remain closer to home.

    The change signals the promise and potential peril for the county’s school choice plan that starts this fall. More black children will attend school near their homes when classes begin Aug. 5. But administrators at the schools they left behind are bemoaning the loss of cultural and social diversity.

    Horrors! Parents are choosing to enroll their kids in neighborhood schools instead of chanting the “diversity” mantra and busing their kids across town. Parent involvement in the schools is a good thing, right? Who’s more likely to be involved- a parent who has to drive 45 minutes to the school or one who could walk there? This is just beyond aggravating. Just scrap the whole damned system!

    UPDATE: Reader TraciE suggests that it may be “all about the money.” Schools receive extra federal funds for warehousing (not serving) poor children. These edu-crats may just be looking at the bottom line. Food for thought.

    WWHSA 12-year-old boy arrested

    Filed on at 3:17 pm under by dcobranchi

    WWHS

    A 12-year-old boy arrested at school with a loaded .357 Magnum revolver in his backpack may have pointed it at other students after all and even threatened to shoot a staff member, police said yesterday.

    FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT? Texas has

    Filed on at 2:54 pm under by dcobranchi

    FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT? Texas has just deregulated the UT system to allow the schools to charge what the traffic will bare. Students aren’t happy thattuition will likely be going up.

    “Most students I know would not be for an increase in tuition. It’s going to squeeze a lot of people out of school (who) can’t afford it,” Patterson said. “I’m an out-of-state student and my tuition is already high. I think somebody should stand up and say something about it.”

    I’m really not too sympathetic, as I don’t believe the state shouldn’t be in the university business at all. If the state quit subsidizing tuition and sold the college infrastructure to the private sector, we’d be able to determine what a college education should really cost.

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