Utterly Meaningless » 2003 » July

I MADE A PENNY

Filed on July 31, 2003 at 6:47 pm under by dcobranchi

John Poindexter will resign his DARPA position, according to the Pentagon.

THEY’RE NOT HELPING

Filed on at 1:44 pm under by dcobranchi

Salt Lake City’s Davis School District wants to “help” homeschoolers. How?

Under the program, parents would teach their children at home using K12 curriculums for language arts, math, science, history, art and music. The program is self-paced, so a child could advance as quickly or slowly as needed.

The district would use state per-pupil funding to pay K12 $1,200 to $1,500 annually for the books, equipment and other instructional materials for each participating child.

While much of the curriculum and corresponding assessments are Internet-based, the program also includes hands-on activities such as analyzing the parts of a flower for second-grade science. A district teacher will monitor each child’s progress and attendance weekly to make sure they adhere to state requirements.

Participating children also will be subject to state-mandated standardized tests. Those tests are not required of children who are home-schooled independently of a district.

Edu-crats say it’s not a cyber-charter but it sure walks and quacks like one. Not to worry, though. The district will still “approve” homeschooling programs that don’t use K12. Thanks a lot.

VROOM!

Filed on at 1:37 pm under by dcobranchi

15-year-old motocross racer Matt Townsend chose homeschooling in order to better manage his practive time.

“I was always missing school days to go to races, or having to get up early after getting in late from a race,” he said. “Now I have all the time I need to train, practice or race and I don’t have to worry about missing school.”

OT: OFF BY AN ORDER OF MAGNITUDE

Filed on at 6:48 am under by dcobranchi

I’m not a pundit blogger and none of you knows my position on Iraq so this is just an observation. Bob Herbert needs to keep his facts straight:

But even as the president was speaking, word was coming out that the Transportation Security Administration is trying to cut back its air marshals program to save money. The war in Iraq is costing scores of billions of dollars a month, and the president’s tax cuts have grown so large they’re casting shadows over generations to come. But we can’t afford to fully fund a program to protect American airline passengers.

“Scores of billions” would be a minimum of $40B a month. Last I heard, it’s closer to $4B. Hey, it’s just a zero.

REFUGEE CRISIS

Filed on at 6:31 am under by dcobranchi

The NYT reports that schools are pushing out more students in order to make their performance appear better.

Officially the city’s dropout rate hovers around 20 percent. But critics say that if the students who are pushed out were included, that number could be 25 to 30 percent.

…”Principals are told these kids who aren’t doing well are going to make your school look terrible,” said Don Freeman, who retired as principal at Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School last year. “Sending them into a G.E.D. program is not a negative, it’s not a dropout, it won’t count against you. So more and more of the vulnerable unsophisticated kids are counseled out to G.E.D. programs.”

…Those students represent the unintended consequence of the effort to hold schools accountable for raising standards: As students are being spurred to new levels of academic achievement and required to pass stringent Regents exams to get their high school diplomas, many schools are trying to get rid of those who may tarnish the schools’ statistics by failing to graduate on time.

It may have been unintended but it was surely predictable. When you choose to reward an outcome instead of a behavior, you shouldn’t be shocked when people do whatever they (legally) can in order to obtain the reward. It’s called “working the system.” This isn’t a new phenomenon, however; homeschoolers have been dealing with “refugees” or “pushouts” for a long time.

The typical scenario: A homeschool support group gets a phone call asking for help getting started. The parent knows absolutely nothing about homeschooling, often assuming that they can drop their kid off at a homeschooler’s house to be “homeschooled.” They’re shocked that it doesn’t work this way and that they have to purchase the curriculum themselves. Then it comes out that their kid is a refugee. Very sad.

FREAKY FRIDAY

Filed on July 30, 2003 at 10:15 am under by dcobranchi

The kid brother in the new Disney movie is homeschooled.

SUE THE MUSEUMS

Filed on at 10:10 am under by dcobranchi

The American Museum of Natural History in NYC has a temporary exhibition on “Chocolate.” The diplay includes the science and history behind the treat. Of course, the statists are aghast that the museum would “endorse” this fattening candy, “just as the New York City school system announced that its vending machines would not sell candy anymore, to help counteract obesity among children.” I give it a month before someone threatens to sue.

WATCH OUT, SERENA

Filed on at 5:55 am under by dcobranchi

This 14-year-old newbie homeschooler is gunning for you.

“I always think about standing on the U.S. Open court with the trophy,” Curtis said. “Beating Serena for the title is what I dream about, because nobody can beat her.”

Curtis is a long way from playing the Open, but she is taking her first step toward what she hopes will be a pro career. The 14-year-old has elected to be home-schooled this year… Home-schooling gives Curtis, who twice won Section 9 and Mid-Hudson Athletic League titles but went 0-2 at the state tournament, more time on the court for practice and to travel to events across the nation.

She will do her freshman course work via the Internet at Alpha Omega Academy, based in Arizona, which costs about $1,400 per year.

I’m not quite sure why the price of AO is relevant but it makes this the 2nd AO post in a row.

BLECCHH!

Filed on July 29, 2003 at 7:59 pm under by dcobranchi

I really don’t like PA’s homeschool laws, in part because they lead to comments like this:

Shawn D. Pine of Harrisonville and son of David and Sharon Pine is enrolled in the Accounting — Associate of Applied Science Degree program. He is a 2003 graduate of Alpha Omega Academy, an accredited homeschool program in Chandler, Ariz.

WHAT THE …?

Filed on at 7:40 pm under by dcobranchi

Are we believed to be the most disorganized group of human beings on the planet? How else to explain this (from an article on how to help your kids succeed in school)?

Get into the planner habit. Nothing calms school schedule chaos like a daily planner. Training children to use a planner is also training them for success. Even families who homeschool use planners to organize daily lessons, chores and activities.

Shhhh! Don’t tell anyone but I even have a Palm IIIxe.

FUTURES? NO FUTURE!

Filed on at 5:59 pm under by dcobranchi

In what has to be the shortest-lived DARPA project ever, the proposed terrorism futures market has been killed. Republicans in Congress are distancing themselves from this as quickly as possible. I’m standing by my bid on the Poindexter Job futures contract. Sorry, no link; I heard this on NPR.

DO NOT CALL UPDATE

Filed on at 1:40 pm under by dcobranchi

A telemarketers’ industry group has sued the FTC and FCC to keep it from implementing the national Do Not Call Registry.

**************

If you are worried about the Do Not Call registry, outsourcing your outbound calling to call centres can be effective for lead generation and the call centre will adhere to all Do Not Call registry stipulations keeping your marketing efforts safe.

DUMB IDEA OF THE DAY

Filed on at 6:22 am under by dcobranchi

DARPA, the Pentagon subset under John Poindexter that brought us the Total Information Awareness project, has done it again. They are now (with $8M of your tax dollars) setting up a futures market where you can bet on future terrorist attacks and assassinations, among other things.

“For instance,” Mr. Wyden said, “you may think early on that Prime Minister X is going to be assassinated. So you buy the futures contracts for 5 cents each. As more people begin to think the person’s going to be assassinated, the cost of the contract could go up, to 50 cents.

“The payoff if he’s assassinated is $1 per future. So if it comes to pass, and those who bought at 5 cents make 95 cents. Those who bought at 50 cents make 50 cents.”

The market will allow anonymous bids, so terrorists could conceivably profit from their attacks. I wonder if there’s a contract on John Poindexter losing his job? It should be selling for 99 cents right about now.

SAD NEWS

Filed on July 28, 2003 at 7:22 pm under by dcobranchi

Spc. Jonathan Barnes, a homeschool grad, was one of three soldiers killed guarding a children’s hospital in Iraq over the weekend.

HONDA RESPONSE

Filed on at 5:10 pm under by dcobranchi

CORRECTION For some unknown reason only the 2nd half of the letter pasted in. I’ve fixed the error. My bad.

Helen Hegener, Editor of Home Education Magazine, has a thought-provoking response to the proposed Home School Non-discrimination Act (HONDA).

There are many reasons to be concerned about the HONDA bill. Perhaps first and foremost is the fact that this bill opens the door to federal regulation of homeschooling and creates the potential for additional legislation and increased regulation. Once passed, this bill becomes law. And once it is law the agencies responsible for enforcing compliance with the law will write regulations based on their interpretations of it; those regulations will be written by people who may or may not have a good understanding of homeschooling, but they’ll be regulations with the force of law behind them. The potential for conflict and years of working to clarify intent is tremendous.

The relationship between homeschoolers and the state differs from state to state and is the result of many years of citizen involvement with the legislative process. While some states still have difficult situations, in many others years of hard work by homeschoolers would stand to be undermined by this bill. In some states there are strong support groups in place to act as watchdogs and oversee what might happen as a result of this bill. But what will happen in those states without cohesive homeschool support groups?

The claim in Sec. 2 that homeschooling is “an effective means for young people to achieve success on standardized tests” is downright foolish. What purpose could possibly be served by linking homeschooling with standardized testing in federal legislation?

The fact is, this is a poorly written omnibus bill which messes with multiple issues such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Internal Revenue Code and federal tax issues, child labor laws, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), a federal scholarship program and more – but addresses them as they specifically relate to homeschoolers. These are issues which – if addressed at all – should be more broadly addressed, and should guarantee equal rights and services for everyone rather than asking for special favors specifically for homeschoolers. We do not need these issues addressed in our name, because we do not need to become a special interest group in the eyes of federal legislators.

But there’s an even larger question to ask, and that is: Why the move to strengthen the power of the federal government over what has always been a state concern? Constitutionally, education is the province of the states, and bills like this one force a conflict between the federal government and state governments.

Whose long-range purposes are really being served with this bill?

Helen

Good points, all. I especially agree with the comment about linking homeschooling to standardized tests. That’s got HSLDA written all over it. (reposted with permission)

SEPARATE BUT EQUAL?

Filed on at 11:51 am under by dcobranchi

NYC is opening a high school exclusively for GLB&T students.

IS THIS REALLY NECESSARY?

Filed on July 27, 2003 at 10:12 pm under by dcobranchi

From an NEA listserv:

1) Keyboarding Skills
From Angela Saxon (joangela@bellsouth.net), an NBCT kindergarten teacher at Moody Elementary School in Moody, Alabama:
“I have a great, active tip for teaching keyboarding skills. It came from a workshop with Dr. Jean Feldman. Use an overhead projector to project a transparency of a keyboard onto a shower curtain liner, then trace each key with a permanent marker, onto the liner. This liner becomes your ‘game board’; put it on the floor and let each student spell his name by stepping on the keys or by swatting keys with a flyswatter. Teach about special keys like enter and backspace. ‘Type’ vocabulary words. The students love the activity and are amazed how much they know when they get to a real keyboard.”

Do kindergartners really need keyboarding skills? Heck- many of them are still learning the alphabet. Yet another example of a teacher enamored with technology to the detriment of education.

POSTER CHILD

Filed on at 9:03 am under by dcobranchi

Now, here’s something you don’t see every day:

NOELLE ARMS is the poster child for the benefits of homeschooling — and also the cursed example for kids everywhere lazing away their summers in front of the tube.

At 16, the Pittsburg native has already directed and written several plays, including her adaptation “Snow White and the Seven Dorks,” which played last year at the Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts’ tiny Knight theater, not to mention the countless productions she’s been involved with at Pittsburg Community Theatre.

The rest of the article is a very nice interview with this talented homeschooler. Definitely worth a click.

FINANCIAL AID

Filed on at 5:19 am under by dcobranchi

Several colleges have started to change they way the calculate how much tuition a family can afford. The new equations will help families who have a lot of home equity but relatively little income.

SMALL SCHOOLS IN TEXAS

Filed on at 5:02 am under by dcobranchi

I now understand the Texas Education Miracle. They have the smallest class size in the nation. Secretay Paige confirmed this in a quote reported in the NYT.

“I wouldn’t doubt that in a system as large as Houston, where you have 300 schools and 13,000 students that you’re going to have some problems.”

That works out to 43 students per school. The correct figures according to the HISD website are 286 schools and 210,670 students.

ATLANTA UPDATE

Filed on July 26, 2003 at 5:55 pm under by dcobranchi

There are buches of new posts in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s message board about homeschooling. It’s written blog style with the newest posts up top. Here’s my favorite:

In response to Mr. Norton, my wife and I were educated in public schools and colleges and would never have dreamed of home schooling our children until we met a family whose children were markedly better at relating to children both younger and older than themselves. We also noticed they had were able to have conversations with adults that were decidedly more comfortable and meaningful than most other children had with other adults,including their parents. When we explored why these children stood out from the other children we knew, we learned that they were home schooled. We were intrigued and researched the option thoroughly. Twenty years later, and after 11 years of homeschooling our own four children, I have met many exceptional home-schooled children. No doubt you have had a poor personal experience, Mr. Norton, but I also am a public educator and it is clear that home-schooled children generally have clear advantages both academically and socially. The student-teacher ratio equates to a “King’s” education and the incredible support structure in this region allows for endless opportunities in fine and practical arts as well as sports.

Finally, keep in mind that home school families pay just as much as everyone else to support public education. The difference is that we gladly pay simply to have the freedom not to send our children to public school. Then we willingly pay on top of that for curriculum, programs and other classes so that our children can have the kind of education that will truly prepare them for any challenges life will bring their way.

– Mark Ray, Marietta

SCHOOL CHOICE DOESN’T WORK

Filed on at 5:36 pm under by dcobranchi

At least not the type of choice allowed for in NCLB. The law allows parents of kids in failing schools to transfer to other (hopefully better) public schools. Education Next reports that there are several problems with this approach. The largest is probably that educrats have a vested interest in not allowing transfers out of the failing schools.

In its first year, the transfer provisions of the new federal education law have had as much impact on the operations of the major school systems as a Ping-Pong ball fired at a battleship. In Chicago, of the 125,000 kids in 179 failing schools who were eligible to transfer to other public schools last September, fewer than 800 have switched. In Los Angeles, where about 200,000 students in 120 schools were eligible, fewer than 50 have changed schools. In New York, where 220,000 children in more than 300 schools were eligible, just 1,507 moved.

There are all sorts of tricks that enabled this. In Chicago, the legislature passed a law allowing suburban schools to opt out of accepting transfers. As a result, only 1100 slots were available. In NYC, the educrats wrote such a confusing letter on how to transfer out that many parents just gave up in frustration.

Rather than writing directly to parents, she says, many districts apparently sent the notice home in children’s backpacks—an excellent way to ensure that few parents ever see it. And for those who managed to fish out the notice from the swamp of old homework assignments, baseball cards, and snack wrappers in the backpack, the letters themselves weren’t much more illuminating.

“The letter was not a particularly encouraging letter, and it was quite difficult to understand,” says Moskowitz. “I have a Ph.D. in American history and I had to read it about three times to figure out exactly whether this choice was guaranteed, and who do I contact, and am I going to have to pay for the transportation? It also wasn’t clear if I could pick a school out of my district.”

…New York was hardly alone in cloaking the new options. One potential reason that so few students transferred in Cleveland, for instance, is that the district didn’t notify parents that the choice was available until four days before school began—at which point understandably few were enthusiastic about uprooting their children. In Los Angeles some parents were not notified until after the school year began.

There is some good news in here, however.

[L]ast fall the [US Department of Education] also issued regulations announcing that districts could no longer use a lack of capacity as an excuse to deny transfers to students in failing schools. That alone will require many cities to intensify their efforts.

Eventually, someone in power is going to understand that a government monopoly (or near monopoly) in education is not only immoral but unworkable. When they do, let’s pray that they have the guts to take on the entrenched educrats and drain the swamp. I won’t be holding my breath.

THE LIFE OF REILLEY

Filed on at 5:07 pm under by dcobranchi

OK- my last WiFi brag but this is just fun. I’m sitting out by the pool watching the kids and blogging away. Why did I wait so long?

WE SHOULD BE SO LUCKY

Filed on at 3:56 pm under by dcobranchi

The Columbus (GA) Ledger-Enquirer has apparently hired a former educrat to write its editorials. As evidence, I present this piece of junk.

First, there were failing schools, then we launched the No Child Left Behind Act, now we’re telling kids they can leave an unsafe school.

Are we moving away from public education and toward a national home-schooling policy? If not, we need to adopt a more proactive mindset.

When we talk about “failing schools,” we are actually talking about underachieving students. The goal of that education reform effort is supposed to be to improve school performance with smaller classes and the introduction of tests designed to reward high-performing schools with teacher bonuses.

Sure. Blame the students for all underachieving but reward the teachers with bonuses when the kids “overachieve.” The rest of the editorial is no better.

THE WAY IT SHOULD BE

Filed on at 9:45 am under by dcobranchi

The Arizona AG has ruled that the state’s English-only law does not apply to charter schools. The kids are still subject to taking the state accountability tests in English, but the ruling does preserve some small freedom for parents who want a bilingual education for their kids.

A FORUM

Filed on July 25, 2003 at 8:09 pm under by dcobranchi

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a very short blurb about homeschooling. As a follow-up, they’ve set up a message board:

We want to know your thoughts on the growing popularity of homeschooling. Have you tried it? If not, why not? In what direction is it going? What need does it fulfill?

Vote early and vote often.

HOMESCHOOL LEMONADE

Filed on at 6:09 am under by dcobranchi

A homeschooling family of 10 narrowly escaped when their house caught fire. All were safe but the family dog and most of their books were lost. The parents are taking it like true homeschoolers:

As we’re cleaning through the soot off our furniture, they’re learning chemistry,” Anna said, laughing.

The family doesn’t have insurance on their belongings. Donations are being accepted. Contact Brent Wistrom for more info.

HOMESCHOOLERS AND THE MARKET

Filed on at 5:47 am under by dcobranchi

A bunch of devout homeschooling parents in Lousiana have started a Christian Little League clone. The impetus to go their own way came from a parish (i.e., county) government decision to look the other way at a coach’s profanity. Contrast these plucky parents with those who go begging school districts to allow their kids to participate in extracurriculars.

SNUBBED

Filed on July 24, 2003 at 11:02 pm under by dcobranchi

Isabel Lyman’s was one of the “select Homeschooling web logs” that the Smithsonian wanted to publicize their offerings to the homeschool community. H&OES wasn’t selected (*sniff*). The various museums really are wonderful. We’re planning a trip to DC in the Fall. Another must see there: the National Gallery of Art. And unless things have changed, they’re all free admission.

ANOTHER PSEUDO-HOMESCHOOL

Filed on at 9:26 pm under by dcobranchi

Tammy (of Homeschool Reviews) pointed out a cyber charter masquerading as a homeschool. That aside, the Montessori school does sound interesting.

Montessori programs for adolescents often center around projects in the community and its natural environment, and students create a business enterprise related to it, such as a greenhouse.

“The idea is the children will be doing meaningful real work, so there’s a context to everything they’ll be doing,” Bradford said from Cleveland.

ALMOST HEAVEN

Filed on at 6:10 pm under by dcobranchi

No, we’re not moving to West Virginia. I got my broadband (cable) working today. Very nice. Unfortunately, the WiFi network is completely not working. The tech thinks I got a bad router so it’s back to Best Buy for a replacement.

UPDATE: WooHoo! High-speed wireless blogging. Way too cool! It turned out that the router was not defective. My problem? I followed the stupid directions! The router worked right out of the box but the directions said to run the config program. That was what screwed everything up. Who cares, though? I’m FREE!

TOO BUSHED TO BLOG

Filed on at 1:35 pm under by dcobranchi

I went in to work today at 4 a.m. I’m home now but completely blogathetic. I’ll look for stuff tonight.

DUMB IDEA OF THE DAY

Filed on at 5:33 am under by dcobranchi

And the winner is Steve Forbes for playing up this boner:

The Bush Administration says it is pro-family. Allan Carlson of the Family Research Council has made an intriguing proposal that would help to even the playing field a little for young families: “For every new child born to indebted college graduates, the federal government should pay off one-quarter of their outstanding college loan debt up to $5,000 each for a mother and father. This choice would begin removing some of the disincentive toward marriage and childbearing that new graduates now face.”

The White House should run with Carlson’s idea.

Do we really want the government paying people to have babies?

THIS DOE “GETS” HOMESCHOOLING

Filed on July 23, 2003 at 8:43 pm under by dcobranchi

The Indiana Department of Education has a terrific FAQ on “The Relationship Between Public Schools and Home Schools.” The other 49 should take note.

DELAWARE STUDENT TESTING PROGRAM

Filed on at 3:35 pm under by dcobranchi

Kim Swygert caught a good News-Journal article about the DSTP and how it has affected one 3rd grader. Respondng to a principal who claimed that students and adults don’t respond well to the threat of failure, Kim pulls off a great line:

That’s funny. Most adults I know understand, and respond to, the idea that punishment for bad performance is inherent in every part of our lives, whether we live in the collegiate, graduate, and post-graduate universes. Perhaps if you’re a school principal in Delaware, you face no punishment for slacking off, but the real world demands that you accept punishment if you don’t perform well in your college classes, your job, or your marriage. If you don’t believe this, your professor, your boss, or your spouse’s divorce lawyer will be happy to explain it to you.

Read the whole thing.

FEINSTEIN FOR VOUCHERS

Filed on at 11:39 am under by dcobranchi

Here’s an open letter that Sen. Diane Feinstein wrote explaining why she has changed her position and is now supporting vouchers for D.C. schools.

A BOONDOGGLE

Filed on at 11:30 am under by dcobranchi

Michigan is preparing to provide wireless laptop computers to every 6th grader in the state. The kids will be allowed to take the computers home on the weekends. Some administrators question the huge expense at a time of tight budgets elsewhere. Also, no money has been designated for software or repairs. This is a recipe for disaster. Laptops (even Apple’s) are much more “brittle” than desktops. These things are going to break or, worse, get broken. Without a repair budget, some kids will be sitting on expensive paperweights.

NOT ANYMORE THEY’RE NOT

Filed on at 11:22 am under by dcobranchi

Terrence Moore of the Ashbrook Center likens 1st graders to raw Marine recruits.

Young children are in need of such gentle discipline. They come to school as raw recruits. Though irresistibly cute and curious, they are in the strictest sense undisciplined. Their world has largely been the pursuit of their own pleasures with their own toys in their own homes on their own time. They have never been in a room with twenty or more other children. They have never had to sit in one place for long stretches of time. They have never had to walk in a line or for long distances with anyone but a parent. They have never had to get along with so many others. They have never had to keep up with so much stuff: pencils, notebooks, restroom passes, folders, homework, papers of all kinds!

What planet is Mr. Moore living on? Or, somewhat more accurately, what decade is he living in? The vast majority of kids in 1st grade have been in daycare, some since age 6 weeks. One of the few (if only) advantages daycare kids have over kids who’ve been home with a parent is that they’ve already learned all of these tricks. My lovely wife, who has studied this, assures me that all studies indicate stay-at-home kids catch up quickly and then surpass their daycared-for brethren.

A WEBSITE TO BOOKMARK

Filed on at 9:21 am under by dcobranchi

Science News for Kids is aimed at kids ages 9 to 13. I just browsed a few of the articles. They were well-written short bites that might just intrigue a budding scientist enough to make her seek out more info. There are several “Zones” including one for hands-on kitchen-type experiments. I’m proud to say that DuPont (my employer) is the sponsor of the Science Safety Awareness Program, linked from the Lab Zone.

Please, if you are going to do experiments at home, follow all prescribed safety precautions. At a minimum, everyone should wear ANSI-approved goggles or side-shields and disposable plastic (not latex) gloves. Latex gloves tend to be more permeable than plastic and some people are allergic to the proteins in latex, which is a natural product.

A TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD IDEA

Filed on at 3:43 am under by dcobranchi

The NYT Op/Ed pages today are defintely living up (down) to their reputation. Ray Bashara proposes “giving” every baby born upwards of $6000.

Here’s how such a system might work in the United States. Each of the four million babies born every year would receive a deposit in an American stakeholder account. Initial deposits could range from, say, $1,000 to $6,000.

…[B]aby bonds would be restricted to higher education or technical training, a small business or a first home, or they could be put aside for retirement.

And where, exactly, does the Constitution grant Congress the power to steal money from my kids to give to the newborn down the street?

SHUT THEM DOWN! SHUT THEM ALL DOWN!

Filed on at 3:22 am under by dcobranchi

The NYT waxes nostalgic for old-time, small town post offices. But, this line led(e) to the title of this post:

In much of back-road America, the presence of a post office is a benign symbol of the larger web of governance…

Yep. A money-losing government monopoly known for poor service. Sounds like the g-schools.

EASY BONUS: Where does the title of this post come from? No fair Googling it, either. Hint: The title of the previous post may point you in the right direction.

THE “S” WORD STRIKES BACK

Filed on July 22, 2003 at 7:12 pm under by dcobranchi

Here’s an article entirely about the socialization issue. As usual, an educrat is quoted:

“I absolutely believe that children who are home-schooled are shortchanged in socialization. They don’t have the opportunity to have the interaction on a regular basis and a consistent basis that a student who is in school would have,” said Peter Mustich, an educator.

Homeschoolers are given some space to refute his point. You’d think, though, that, by now, everything that could be written about this would have been already. In fact, I think maybe it has and the newspapers are just recycling the same story over and over.

HOLY COW!

Filed on at 12:39 pm under by dcobranchi

I missed this one. Rep. John Dingell wrote a scathing letter to Ward Connerly demanding that he “[g]o home and stay there, you’re not welcome here.” Just because Connerly is leading a petition drive to place an anti-affirmative action measure on Michigan’s November ballot. Unbelievable! What was Dingell thinking?! Connerly got the better of the fight, though, with his response. Both letters are published here and demand a full read.

DEMOCRATS HATE HOMESCHOOLING

Filed on at 9:58 am under by dcobranchi

This ChronWatch article borders on the lunatic fringe but it’s entertaining. Regarding the proposal in CA to test older drivers in the wake of the accident that killed eleven:

You see it’s okay for the Democrats to discriminate even though a sane person would think all drivers should be tested. I’ve seen people of every type doing dangerous things in a car; it isn’t specific to just a few groups of drivers. But in order to test everyone, there would need to be more testers and that isn’t going to happen. The tax you pay for your car is disguised as a fee (see my column “What is a Tax? posted 1-17-2003). A lot of this money goes into the state general fund and that’s why Davis raised the state VLF (vehicle license fees) a couple of months ago to help cover the deficit. Politicians consider the Department of Motor Vehicles to be a huge cash cow for bailing out their pet projects. If there were more testers to test drivers, there would be less money from the VLF to go to the general fund and the VLF would have to be raised even higher to cover the difference.

If the VLF gets too high the taxpayers will revolt and the powers that be will be gone. So, that is why there’s a call for testing only certain drivers and not everyone. A group is cheaper to test than the entire citizenry. In this case the end results of more money for politicians outweighs the factor of discrimination.

…These are just some of the Democrat fear tactics they use to divide and conquer Americans. The problem is that the students in public schools are not properly trained to recognize these tactics and can easily be led to believe them. This is exactly why the Democrats are against home schooling. They try to put the fear into parents that home schooling will make your children fall behind in adult life. There is no way they want a properly educated America, they would lose their power base.

POT VS. KETTLE

Filed on July 21, 2003 at 2:01 pm under by dcobranchi

EducationNews.org reports that the national media over-hyped a government report that showed that the more time kids spent in daycare, the more aggressive they tended to be. EdNews, though, is guilty of the same sin:

A couple of years ago, a big study raised parent’s concerns that daycares were turning kids into aggressive monsters. Now, two years later, the same study appears to have really said something different than what was reported back then. It turns out, most kids do fine in daycare. What’s more, good daycares can be better for kids than staying home.

Nowhere in the article is there any justification for this claim.

HUH?

Filed on at 1:37 pm under by dcobranchi

From an article about a home for pregnant teens:

The girls will participate in classes that include parenting, life skills, financial practices and home schooling.

I really have no idea what they meant to say. Guesses?

YEEHAH!

Filed on July 20, 2003 at 7:42 am under by dcobranchi

A recent homeschool graduate will be attending college in the Fall on scholarship. What’s so interesting about that? Thanks for asking. His scholarship is for rodeoing. I didn’t know rodeoing was an intercollegiate sport, much less that scholarships were available.

A PETTY BUREAUCRAT IN DELAWARE

Filed on at 3:10 am under by dcobranchi

Charles Weinstein has an unusual signature. He signs his name right to left and upside down (I don’t know why he doesn’t just turn the paper upside down and sign it the normal way). He’s been doing it this way for years. The other day, when he went to get his driver’s license renewed, the DMV bureaucrat objected and wouldn’t issue a new license until he signed it “correctly.” The clerk also wouldn’t return the old license, leaving Weinstein in limbo. The DMV then compounded the problem by losing his license. The ACLU and the state Attorney General then got involved. And a notary public.

On Wednesday, Weinstein said, he wanted to send a notarized copy of a letter of protest to the DMV, but he couldn’t meet the notary’s requirements.

He didn’t have a photo ID to prove who he was.

All’s well that ends well, though. The DMV reversed itself and decided to issue the new license after consulting with licensing officials in 10 other states. So, one little petty bureaucrat involved the DMV hierarchy, the state AG’s office, and 10 other state DMVs. All over a stupid upside-down signature. Your tax dollars at work.

WHO WANTS AN EFFICIENT USPS?

Filed on at 2:53 am under by dcobranchi

Evidently not the News-Journal. Thursday’s editorial lamented the fact that DE’s lone mail-processing facility (located next door to the Amazon.com warehouse) may be on the chopping block. Yes, 400 people (including my neighbor) are employed there. And the Amazon connection (which the editorial ignored) might be something to consider. But the N-J spends 2/3 of the space on this:

The prospect of Delaware losing its own postmark is troubling. About 30 years ago the old U.S. Post Office began phasing out the postmarks at individual towns and shifted all the state’s mail processing to the huge new Hare’s Corner facility. Even today, a letter mailed across town in say, Georgetown, must first come to Hare’s Corner for a postmark before the neighbor receives it.

But at least the state’s primary banking and chemical industries have retained their Wilmington and Delaware postmarks. We know people who still check postmarks when there is no return address on the envelope…

Wouldn’t it be foolish for people in California or Florida to see a Philadelphia, Pa., postmark on letters from MBNA or the DuPont Co? Of course, postmarks are seldom looked upon as a source of state pride – until they’re gone… [W]e must not let Philadelphia steal our postmark.

A stupid postmark! What a great reason to continue what may be an inefficient operation. If they do close it down, perhaps those 400 USPS workers could get a job at the News-Journal; I hear they need some new editorial staff.

THAT’S A SCOOTER

Filed on at 2:38 am under by dcobranchi

Just catching up on the weirdness that is published in the Wilmington (DE) News-Journal. In an article on police cracking down on small scooters, we have this:

Rolando Rojas of Discount Plus in the 600 block of Market St. said the store has sold three dozen scooters this spring and summer at $350 each. A shiny red one in the store’s showroom looks like a moped with shin guards, a headlight, brake lights, turn signals, hand brake, key activated ignition, mirror, horn and 1.2-liter engine.

That’s a pretty big engine for a scooter. I believe the largest HD engine only displaces 1183 cc (1.18 liters). Gotta be a mis-print.

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