Utterly Meaningless » 2003 » August

WHO ARE THESE PARENTS?

Filed on August 20, 2003 at 1:46 pm under by dcobranchi

In an article about cell phones in g-schools, this jumped out at me:

Porsha Collins recently showed up at school with her $185 status symbol hanging from her pants pocket for all the world to see.

The cherry-red Nokia is her second cell phone — Collins says she got her first in fifth grade [when she was 10] because her mother wanted to keep closer tabs on her at the mall.

What parent in their right-mind would allow a 10-year-old to wander the mall attended? Oh. Never mind.

GOOD FOR HIM!

Filed on at 1:14 pm under by dcobranchi

The Prince George’s County (MD) schools chief fired 9 principals because their schools were in such bad shape academically. The principal’s union cried “Foul!”

“You don’t treat people this way,” said Doris Reed, executive director of the union representing principals. “These people . . . were left in their schools all summer. They were used to hire teachers, to set the schedule, to get these schools open and now they’re being told to go elsewhere.”

I think he did the right thing, waiting until the latest test scores were released. The canned pricipals were for the most part presiding over schools that were on the “reconstitution” list, so it’s not like they weren’t warned

Hornsby said he reviewed test scores and other data, as well as the state’s watch list released this week, before making his decision. “It wasn’t primarily made because people are bad people,” Hornsby said. “It was made because I believe that those schools need a different sense of direction and leadership.”

Of course, no one is really going to lose his/her job. They’re all going to be demoted to vice principals at other schools.

A (FUTURE?) GEEK

Filed on at 9:02 am under by dcobranchi

And I use that term as an endearment (’cause I’m one, too). Here’s a nice profile of a homeschooler who really loves his Palm OS PDA. Confession time- I bring mine to church for the same reason. It’s much faster (and geekier) to pull up chapter & verse than the dead tree method.

OT: NYT TEMPTS THE BASEBALL GODS

Filed on at 7:05 am under by dcobranchi

I am a big-time Yankees fan. Always have been; I was born in NYC spitting distance from Yankee Stadium. The New York Times usually has excellent baseball coverage, but today they’ve gone too far.

It has been a season of extremes for the Yankees, and now they have reached two more: 30 games over .500, with a six-and-a-half-game lead over Boston in the American League East. After brushing aside the Central-leading Kansas City Royals last night, 6-3, the Yankees seem to be on the verge of burying the Red Sox again.

I’m sure Red Sox fans everywhere are rejoicing. Right, Chris?

UGH!

Filed on August 19, 2003 at 1:02 pm under by dcobranchi

This transcript is so bad (how bad is it?), that I’ve got to pick it apart.

Little Rock – Not all students headed off to school Monday. Beginning this fall, there’s a new option for education. This one allows students to stay at home but have the benefit of public education. The curriculum, known as K12, has been selected for the Arkansas virtual school. This school has only been in existence in Arkansas since January. The fall enrollment is nearly 500 students, grades kindergarten through eight. Channel 7’s Michelle Rupp met with the head of the school tonight.

It’s home schooling in that it involves parents teaching at home. But that’s where the similarities end.

True. The only similarity is that the kids don’t go to a g-school building. So far, so good.

80 to 90 percent of the instruction is done without the benefit of the computer.

Is this supposed to contrast with real homeschooling? Like our kids are chained to their computers.

The arkansas [sic]virtual school outfits parents with all of the textbooks, computers, and other materials they need to teach their children. The curriculum is a standards based, comprehensive, rigorous program. Requiring the students to take the state’s benchmark exams and standford [sic] 9’s.

And I guess we’re neither rigorous nor comprehensive in our approach. One thing is true- we’re not forced to take the “state’s benchmark exams and standford 9’s.”

What makes the Arkansas virtual school so unique is the lessons are designed for the students, working at their pace. They must master 80 percent of the material or they do not move on.

Yes- those darn homeschoolers are so structured– forcing their kids to move on even though they haven’t mastered the material.

Supporters of the program say it’s the best option available.

“I’ll put our children up against anybody period. Watch us, let us see what we can do, this is truly the worlds best curriculum.”

Any other g-schooler, perhaps. Real homeschoolers? Not!

WHAT’S WITH THE SHOES?

Filed on at 12:44 pm under by dcobranchi

Here’s a positive article about a couple of homeschoolers in CA. The young man sounds a tad defensive:

James Potter, a 17-year-old home-school graduate from Three Rivers, takes issue with some of the clichés. For one thing, don’t call him introverted.

“That definitely offends me,” Potter said. “I fit in fine with everybody else, especially adults.”

If Potter does have trouble communicating with a traditionally educated student, he says, it’s because “they don’t know how to talk.”

Potter also resents the implication that he can’t be good at sports.

“Not true, either,” he said. “I’ll challenge 90 percent of public-schoolers to anything — and beat them.”

Potter will acknowledge that some home-schoolers are anti-social. But so what?

“I run into some anti-social kids in [traditional] high school too,” he said.

And, check out the photo accompanying the article.

BEWARE EDU-CRATS BEARING GIFTS

Filed on at 12:38 pm under by dcobranchi

New Program Designed to Help Home Schooling

The [FL] Department of Education believes that this year 45,000 children will be home schooled. There is a new Florida program that uses computers to create a virtual classroom at home.

Of course, they don’t bother to tell you in this article that the price of this “help” is to give up your freedom.

45K IN FL

Filed on August 18, 2003 at 8:00 pm under by dcobranchi

That’s how many homeschoolers are expected state-wide this year. Did you know we have small class sizes? That’s why our kids do well on tests.

… AND IN SOUTH FLORIDA

Filed on at 10:03 am under by dcobranchi

This start-of-the-school-year homeschooling article is entirely positive. My favorite quote:

“A lot of moms can take their kids off Ritalin once they home school,” said Anne Mejeur, a regional director for Florida Parent Educators Association, a statewide support group. “If I would have taken my son to school they would have labeled him [with Attention Deficit Disorder]. If my kids want to hang from a tree and do their timetables, I don’t care, just so they learn them.”

CIVICS LESSON

Filed on August 17, 2003 at 9:07 pm under by dcobranchi

This one may be controversial in the homeschooling community. Abandon all hope ye who enter here.

A group of over 1000 people gathered in Alabama in support of Chief Justice Roy Moore’s standoff with the federal courts over a 5000 pound monument to the Ten Commandments.

Darlene Beasley of Tuscaloosa brought her 14-year-old son, Jeremy, to the rally to learn about civics and history for his home school lessons. Jeremy said he believes Moore has the right to display the monument.

“This is the time to take a stand,” said Darlene Beasley.

I’m not sure what the lesson is here. Moore disagrees with a federal judge but he has nothing at stake. The federal judge will fine the state, not Moore personally. So, it’s not a case of civil disobedience. It’s not a state’s rights case, either. That argument was tried in the segregationist battles in the 50’s. It didn’t play then and it won’t play now, either.

I also question the claim that our laws are based on the Ten Commandments. We don’t arrest people for taking the Lord’s name in vain, nor for violating the Sabbath, nor for worshipping idols. And, I’m pretty sure kids can dis their parents with impunity (at least as far as the courts are concerned). No, I think Chief Justice Moore is wrong. He was on the losing side of a unanimous decision. It may be politically popular in Alabama to defy the feds but Justice Moore and the people of his state are definitely going to lose in the long run. At $5,000 to $10,000 per day, Justice Moore should cut his (their) losses, declare victory, and go home.

ANOTHER SLAP AT PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Filed on at 6:23 pm under by dcobranchi

That’s the title of a Letter to the Editor in today’s News-Journal.

I was appalled as I was searching through all of the advertisements in the Sunday paper and came across the “Enrollment Guide” for this upcoming school year. As a public school teacher, I am very for public education.

My colleagues and I do an outstanding job. [emphasis added] However, this enrollment guide, which was put together by the marketing department, just seemed like another slap in the face from supporters for a voucher system claiming that public education is no longer an option for children. I would have thought better from the News Journal, but then again, it seems that they are anti-public education as well.

Mike Renn, New Castle

I am very for teachers who can construct a proper English sentence. I do hope Mr. Renn didn’t hurt his arm patting himself on the back, to

WHAT’S THE POINT, THEN?

Filed on at 9:21 am under by dcobranchi

The Wilmington News-Journal has a lengthy piece on DE’s new three-tiered diploma (The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly). The level is determined solely by the results of the Delaware Student Testing Program (DSTP) tests that the kids start taking in 10th grade. Predictably, the N-J goes for anecdotes: the poor student who passes the tests and the valedictorian who will get a “Basic” diploma.

Jean McClain, a special education teacher at McKean High School, said she would prefer to see a diploma that labeled an area of concentration, such as English or social studies. “I am concerned that a diploma is really weighted so heavily to one test,” she said. “I know many people who do not test well but are good students.”

That description fits Delcastle Technical High School honors student Danielle Johnson. Although tied for first in her class of 381 and a potential valedictorian, she will receive a basic diploma if her test scores do not improve when she retakes them. She received a 2 in math and a 2 in reading.

But, the real info is buried in the middle of the article: no one appears to give a d*** about what level diploma one receives.

Louis Hirsh, director of admissions at the University of Delaware, said the tiered diploma would have a very limited effect. “The diploma would be awarded long after the admissions decision had been made,” Hirsh said, because colleges often make their decisions before the end of a high school student’s senior year. “We look at actual courses. Nothing we do hinges on a single test. We’re more focused on what the student’s record is over time. A transcript shows that in a way a single test cannot.”

…Bank One Card Services said the tiered diploma would have no impact there.

“It would not affect our hiring decisions at all,” said spokeswoman Anne Marie Taglienti. “Most of our hires are college graduates.” Those who work in the company’s call centers, most of whom are high school graduates, work out of state.

If the state’s flagship university and one of its largest employers don’t care, what’s the point?

… AND IN WISCONSIN

Filed on at 7:42 am under by dcobranchi

Yet another one, although this is the most negative I’ve seen. Lots of snarky comments from educrats:

“There’s no accountability or follow-up,” said Dean Ryerson, superintendent of the Wisconsin Rapids district. Although most parents are “doing a fine job educating their own children,” occasionally home schooling raises concerns among district officials about parents evading issues of truancy and child behavior problems, he said.

That was a good one. He just leaves that “most” hanging out there, implying all sorts of things about the rest of us. And that “accountability” issue is really getting on my nerves. Teachers and their unions have fought against accountability for decades now. And they take tax money! That’s what they’re accountable for- the money! Do homeschoolers take tax dollars? No! So, just get off it. A new mathematical formula: NOT($)=NOT(A) (No tax dollars equals no accountability). The whole article is worth a read if you’re plagued with low blood pressure.

BOOK REVIEW: THE LANGUAGE POLICE

Filed on August 16, 2003 at 4:46 pm under by dcobranchi

It seems that everyone and his brother have already given this book a glowing review (here’s the WaPo’s version), so I may be a little late to the party. I hope, though, to come at it from a slightly different angle.

Overall, Diane Ravitch does a wonderful job picking apart the censorship and political correctness that dominate textbooks and schools. A summarizing paragraph warns of Newspeak:

The goal of the language police is not just to stop us from using objectionable words but to stop us from having objectionable thoughts. The language police believe that reality follows language usage. If they can stop people from ever seeing offensive words and ideas, they can prevent them from having the thought or committing the act that the words signify. If they never read a story about suicide or divorce, then they will never even think about killing themselves or ending their marriage. If they abolish words that have man as a prefix or suffix, then women will achieve equality. If children read and hear only language that has been cleansed of any mean or hurtful words, they will never have a mean or hurtful thought. With enough censorship, the language police might create a perfect world.

Orwell would understand completely. I do have a couple of bones to pick, though. The first is technical in nature; the other, fundamental.

Ms. Ravitch spends many pages railing against standardized tests and the “differential item functioning” (DIF) used to eliminate test bias. “Bias” used this way just means that different groups score differently on an item even though they score identically on the rest of the test. For some reason, that item is “biased.” Ms. Ravitch proposes that items removed because of DIF analysis should be released to the public with an explanation of the “specific reasons.” Perhaps Kim will weigh in via comment, but I’m pretty sure the test developers don’t know the reasons nor are they likely to care. It’s just a statistical anomaly that they seek to eliminate.

My other complaint, though, is about Ms. Ravitch’s solutions. She proposes that competition in the textbook market, public ridicule, and better-educated teachers will defeat the lanuage police. All these may make a dent but they don’t go far enough. As long as the government has a near monopoly on education, schools will be subject to political pressures and political correctness. Without educational choice, the rest are just half-measures.

On the whole, The Language Police is an eye-opening read.

WWHS

Filed on at 8:46 am under by dcobranchi

Super expensive tennis shoes– defintely one of my pet peeves.

With either the first day of school looming next week or with it having passed, students are pressed to get the latest foot trend. Prices vary, but expect to plunk down at least $55.

…The find must be a certain pair of Nikes, New Balance or Reeboks.

…”On the first day of school, they have to be dressed to impress and have the best.”

FRANKLY, SCARLETT, …

Filed on at 7:11 am under by dcobranchi

There have been about a dozen aritcles in the last week about School Boards voting to allow/forbid homeschoolers from participating in g-school extracurriculars (here, here, here…) We’ll never go that route and I’d rather see homeschoolers organizing their own events. We opted out, remember? Why would you want to put your kids back into that same environment?

DE ITEMS: NEWBIES NIGHTS AND “VIVA LA REVOLUCION”

Filed on at 6:47 am under by dcobranchi

Tri-state Home School Network is offering Newbies Nights meetings throughout the year. If you want more info, drop me a line.

And, while we’re talking about meetings, Lydia is leading a revolt against the YMCA’s draconian rate increases for its Homeschool PE and Swim classes. They’ll be meeting Thursdays at 12:30 p.m. in Weiss Park. The park has just about every kind of playing surface imaginable; bring your own gear and burn off some energy. There’s also a huge jungle gym thingy for the little (and not-so-little) ones.

HOMESCHOOL SCIENCE

Filed on at 6:32 am under by dcobranchi

Here’s a brief positive article about a homeschool science program in Tampa, FL.

MORE HOMESCHOOL ART

Filed on August 15, 2003 at 7:15 am under by dcobranchi

More art classes for homeschoolers. This article includes a nice quote:

“I foresee this program as a resource for the home schooling community; a resource for families,” said Schlake, who taught several home schooled students during youth classes this past summer. “We don’t want to get involved in curriculum.

“It only makes sense that we reach out to this community, which is growing all the time,” he added.

FREE EDUCATION

Filed on August 14, 2003 at 8:57 pm under by dcobranchi

A school district in Detroit tried to pull a fast one. They instituted a $35 fee for extracurriculars. Only problem was they made it mandatory for all students, regardless if they were participating. Smells a whole lot like tuition, eh? The state thought so, too, and declared the fee a violation of state law. The district got its wrists slapped and has to make it clear that the fee is optional. This might take some doing because the parents there don’t seem too bright:

Bob Toronto of Rochester Hills refused to pay the fee.

“It’s totally unfair and unjustifiable as far as the requirement that all students and parents pay the $35 dollars, whether you’re participating in an extra curricular activity or not.”

He sent a note with his 17-year-old daughter Kristina Toronto when she registered for her senior year Tuesday morning at Avondale High School detailing his family’s opinion.

“Public education shouldn’t cost anything,” he said.

SETTING A FINE EXAMPLE

Filed on at 8:37 pm under by dcobranchi

A Chicago-area principal has been accused of cheating on the state exit exams. He allegedly photocopied the tests and gave them to teachers to help the kids “prepare.” He (and a colleague) have been asked to turn in their teaching certificates. So far, they’ve refused. Their scheme will end up costing the state $150,000 to develop a new test.

MUCH OBLIGED

Filed on at 8:24 pm under by dcobranchi

A Central Ohio town has organized a health fair where they are doing immunizations and other tests. They’ve remembered to include homeschoolers.

Tobin said they targeted the 80 home-school families who may miss the hearing and vision screening usually done in public schools.

PSA: A NEW LISTSERV

Filed on at 6:16 pm under by dcobranchi

Homeschooling for Night Owls

I’m starting a new virtual support group. It is for nightowls and others who tend to spend most of their awake hours when others are asleep, a habit we got into when my husband had odd shift hours. Homeschooling after Midnight is designed as a virtual support group for nightowls. It will give an environment that is supportive toyour homeschooling, but give you an interactive group that are on when you are. It offers a freedom to post when you are up and thinking about topics, without wondering what people will think of you when they see a timestamp of 3:45am.

When my youngest reached ‘school age’, our friends would kiddingly ask if we did her school work at midnight and sheepishly I said yes. It was the time of day when she was most creative and attuned to learning, so it fit our family. If this sounds like you, come join us at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/H-a-M

Susan O’Neal
Homeschooling after Midnight

please pass this message on to any homeschooling lists you are on that might have interested members.

…AND IN CONNECTICUT

Filed on at 9:26 am under by dcobranchi

Another in the apparently endless series. This one has a really good quote from an educrat.

Robert Rader, executive director of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education is somewhat skeptical about homeschooling. “Certainly parents have the right to educate their children at home,” Rader said. “But we’re concerned that children don’t always get the rigorous structure and up-to-date educational techniques, which are applied in public schools.”

Guffaw! The same educrat made an “S”-word comment.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

Filed on at 9:02 am under by dcobranchi

Schools and school distrcts across Pennsylvania are bristling because they’ve been saddled with the “failing” label, sometimes for missing numerical goals by fractions of a percent. The rules do seem perverse. One educrat summed up the frustration quite handily:

“I am afraid,” he said, “that what began with some very noble intentions – No Child Left Behind – is quickly becoming a source of public confusion and a bureaucratic nightmare to administer.”

LABOY, PUSHOUTS, AND EXIT EXAMS

Filed on at 8:51 am under by dcobranchi

USA Today has a good Op/Ed on the whole Laboy fiasco. John Merrow points out the double standard that gives Laboy essentially unlimited re-dos (and a 3% raise) while teachers are fired for failing the same test once.

ADDITIONS TO THE BLOGROLL

Filed on August 13, 2003 at 8:11 pm under by dcobranchi

I’ve added Steph’s 1/16 blog and Tam Newlin’s Don’t Dumb Us Down to the blogroll.

HOMESCHOOL POLL

Filed on at 7:49 pm under by dcobranchi

This poll appeared Steph’s blog (aka 1/16) (via Tammy). She requests a trackback or a note if you answer it online.

1. Why are you homeschooling? How much does it have to do with an inability to get kids ready and off to school in the mornings?

We started for probably three main reasons. 1) Our oldest son was not doing well in private school. They had him in a “remedial” reading program for a full school year with zero progress (we learned later that he’d never really been taught phonics). He was getting frustrated and starting to dislike education. 2) Homework! At least two hours per night three nights per week. 3) We were looking at $20,000+/year tuition (after tax dollars) for our four kids. The rushed mornings weren’t a whole lot of fun, either.

2. How long do you plan to homeschool?

The plan is through high school

3. What about college? Are you worried they will have trouble getting in?

It’s a minor concern at this point. We’ll probably try to get them into CC classes around 16-17.

4. If your kids went to school at any point, is your relationship with them different now that you are homeschooling?

Much more relaxed, especially the evenings (no homework hassles).

5. What would your ideal school look like, and would you send your kids if it existed?

Ain’t no such animal. Not now, not ever.

6. What convinced you to homeschool (pushed you over the edge)?

Our #1 son was being held in at recess (his favorite part of the school day) in order to complete his work.

7. How did you overcome your initial fears?

I’ll let you know when we get there. 🙂

8. Do you tend to choose curricula with a particular worldview, or do you tend to use what seems to be the best curriculum and adapt any worldview issues?

Definitely the latter.

9. Do you belong to a support group? How active are you in it?

Yes. The kids do a lot of the social activities. The “support” part is minimal.

10. Do you work better to a schedule, or do you let your days fall as they may? Or do you draw up a schedule for humor value?

The kids have daily and weekly assignments. When is up to them. Of course, the extracurriculars are scheduled.

11. Do you start school before 10 am?

Usually by 8:30 a.m.

12. Do you get out of bed before 10 am?

See above.

13. What time do your kids get dressed?

No breakfast until they’re dressed (I’m a hardass).

14. What is your favorite response to the line: “Oh, I could never homeschool my kids.”

I’ve never heard it although Lydia has. How ’bout this: “Yeah, I couldn’t homeschool your kids, either!”

15. What’s the response you actually use?

I might use my answer to 14.

16. How many bookshelves are in your house?

Eight plus four more full of games.

17. How much coffee do you drink?

Lydia has one double cappuccino each a.m. I’m two double espressos plus lots of cafe’ americano throughout the day.

18. Share a moment with your kids that let you know you were undoubtedly doing the right thing by homeschooling.

Last week our #3 child was begging to start the school year already.

IS THIS A GOOD THING?

Filed on at 5:27 pm under by dcobranchi

The Florida Aquarium is developing a program to help homeschoolers learn about experiment-based science. Normally, I’d be wildly enthusiastic. A couple of problems, though: 1) the program is being paid for with $121,022 in federal tax money and 2) the program will be “based on state standard science goals.” I wonder what Florida homeschoolers think about this?

I’M JEALOUS

Filed on at 5:19 pm under by dcobranchi

I’ve always wanted to take an old abandoned building and fix it up/convert into into living space. These homeschoolers have taken it a step further; they’ve turned an old schoolhouse it a “schoolhome”.

Whether it’s a school day or a vacation day, the Nickerson family begins the day with family devotions and a family meeting before Steve commutes to PayPal in Omaha where he manages that company’s e-mail system.

Then, the older children go to their desks in the lower level to work through the day’s assignments. At each desk is a computer terminal where individual class assignments and the family schedule for the day are displayed.

Sherrie remains upstairs in the schoolhouse/home with the younger children, monitoring progress from the lower level by e-mail. Steve also monitors their progress.

As a bonus, the mom has a couple of good lines about large families:

“When we pull into the parking lot, we can see people counting the children,” observes Sherrie, “but most of our friends have six to nine children. Having a big family and home schooling the children is not unusual in this part of the state.”

When asked if there were any more children planned, both Steve and Sherrie think eight might not be enough.

LAKE WOBEGONE, TX

Filed on at 11:36 am under by dcobranchi

…where the “Education Miracle” dictates that no child can drop out. EdSec Paige’s old stomping grounds continues to dig itself a hole ever deeper. The NYT picks up the scandal today on how Houston school principals were pressured by Paige and his successor to “meet the numbers” or get fired. The principals met the numbers by lying about dropout rates. One profiled school lost more than 70% of its freshman class before graduation, yet still reported zero dropouts. All of this might seem trivial. After all, what does it really matter what the dropout rate in Houston is? Except that the Texas Miracle, and in particular the Houston Independent School District, were the model for NCLB. Worth a read.

FREE STATE UPDATE

Filed on at 10:12 am under by dcobranchi

FreeStaters are voting this week to pick the state that they will try to “invade.” The 10 candidates are Alaska, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, Maine, Delaware, Vermont and New Hampshire. I’m, of course, rooting for Delaware.

HOME(SCHOOL) ECONOMICS

Filed on August 12, 2003 at 6:37 pm under by dcobranchi

Frequent commenter Stephanie Herman mentioned in a comment below that she had self-published a text and a unit study designed to teach kids some economic facts-of-life. She wouldn’t promote it but I will. Here’s the website. The 10 week Jr. Study, in particular, looks intriguing. Fair pricing and voluntary trade are subjects near & dear.

OT: PAGING ERNIE

Filed on at 6:11 pm under by dcobranchi

Original DHEAYankee TraciE sent me a link to this article about rubber duckies lost at sea. It seems a shipping container washed overboard three years ago and now the plastic bath toys are washing up on the east coast, 10,000 miles from where they went AWOL. The company that owned them is offering a $100 reward for each toy recovered and is taking the opportunity to study ocean currents and how floating trash traverses the globe. Homeschoolers down the shore should keep their eyes open.

IT’S NOT OUR FAULT

Filed on at 12:11 pm under by dcobranchi

Delaware released it’s NCLB-mandated school evaluations yesterday. The results aren’t pretty: the majority of schools in the state, including 25 of the 28 high schools, fell into the “failing” category (currently called “Academic Review”). I have no idea if the ratings are meaningful or not. Educrats, though, feel put upon. They want the state to lower the standards so they don’t look bad.

The superintendents have taken issue with the calculations the state uses to come up with the federally prescribed ratings. Several states which, like Delaware, have been testing for years and have especially high academic standards, such as those here, adjusted the variables fed into the rating system so that their schools would not look worse when compared with schools in states where standards are low. Delaware state education officials have refused to do that.

I doubt that too many Delawareans are comparing our schools with Pennsylvania’s. Wait! Let me re-phrase that. I don’t think the NCLB scores will reflect badly on our g-schools compared to Pennsylvania’s; we’ve always known theirs were better. The educrats especially don’t like the state math tests.

“The chief school officers have been discussing the math test for the last two years,” said Deborah Wicks, Smyrna superintendent and head of the group this year. She said she believes the test is too difficult.

Every year since the state math tests began five years ago, fewer than 50 percent of the test-takers at the eighth- and 10th-grade levels have met the state standard.

Of course, it must be that the test is too hard. Otherwise, they might be faced with the fact that they do a lousy job teaching math. Nahhh! Couldn’t be that.

… AND IN IDAHO

Filed on at 5:52 am under by dcobranchi

Another start of the school year, pro-homeschooling article. The lede is a classic:

Scott Finman of Post Falls has already hit the books at Johns Hopkins University this summer, where he is an engineering frosh on an $80,000 merit-based scholarship.

Cataldo’s Sarah Coad is a 22-year-old registered nurse, the youngest in her North Idaho College 2003 graduating class.

Microsoft has recognized her brother, Noah, a 24-year-old Texas A&M University student, with its most prestigious MVP award, targeting him as one of the most valuable young computer programmers in the world.

These focused young minds have been fed by the fire of academics — a fire built on hearth and home. They are homeschooled.

Of course, the reporter, amidst the positive review, feels it necessary to provide “balance” with a quote from an educrat. And, then there’s this rip from one of our own.

“It can definately [sic] be abused, just like anything,” said Carolin. “There are some people who, because they have total freedom, use that freedom to do very little. There’s an “unschooling” approach where you let your kids do their own thing with minimal requirements and instruction. It’s not anything my friends support, but there is that subcategory with it’s own support group.”

Pretty snobby. In the end, though, a homeschool grad gets the best of the educrats and doubters:

“The social aspect of homeschooling is considerably beyond the normal social interaction most students get,” said Coad. “Sure, I may not have had too many friends doing weed. But I wasn’t limited to kids just my age. I learned to interact with adults at an earlier age, and every student I came across in homeschooling became a friend.”

Well said. (via Isabel Lyman)

A GREAT LETTER

Filed on August 11, 2003 at 7:46 pm under by dcobranchi

Homeschooling Dad Andrew Campbell responded to my plea for help via email. I re-print it here by permission.

I’m not a lady (don’t forget us homeschooling dads!), but I can answer your question from where I sit.

I have certainly set aside work-for-pay–which is what I assume the source meant by “career.” When my wife got pregnant, we looked at our finances, our temperaments, and our goals, and decided that she would begin telecommuting to her high-tech job, and I would close my writing and editing business to provide full-time child care. (We read _Your Money or Your Life_ and discovered that we would be *losing* money by having me continue to work.) We’ve known we wouldhomeschool from the beginning, so it was clear being a stay-at-home dad was a long-term commitment for me. As our daughter gets older, I may well be able to get back into occasional freelance magazine writing, or I may move in other directions. In the meantime, I do have a little royalty income, but that amounts to pocket money for me.

What I have absolutely not sacrificed is freedom, and I think it’s rather odd that the source you quoted–particularly someone within the homeschooling world– would associate career and “freedoms” so closely. I can’t imagine what freedoms are contingent on defining oneself by what one does for pay. What’s even odder is that the rest of the article discusses the ways in which homeschooling families have *more* freedom than their g-school counterparts: in individual instructional methods, in curriculum, and in scheduling (e.g., travel).

Our family certainly has far more freedom than we would have if both parents were working and we sent our daughter to school. Our schedule is very flexible,
we save money (meaning that we have more for things that matter to us, mostly travel and charitable giving), and most important, we are free to direct our child’s education and social development according to our own values. I can’t imagine sacrificing *that* freedom for any amount of money.

Thanks for the thought-provoking question and the great blog!

Best wishes,
Andrew Campbell
Sunderland, MA

LOST IN SPACE

Filed on at 2:36 pm under by dcobranchi

P8100020.jpg I had promised some pictures from the redundantly named “Summer Science Days Sundays” at Hagley Museum. This first is yours truly (possibly the only picture you’ll ever see of me).

P8100024.jpgHere we have the rest of the family. From the right are Jonathan, Anthony, Katelyn, and Chelsea. My lovely bride is standing in the background.

And, BTW Kim (who needs no last name), the snake is a corn snake.

UTTERLY CLUELESS

Filed on at 9:15 am under by dcobranchi

Dennis Redovich’s latest weekly column is particularly inane. He first predicts a world-wide depression similar to the Great Depression. No data are provided to back up that prediction (NOTE: data “are”, right?). It then goes from bad to worse, promoting g-schools as an engine of prosperity. Or, more precisely, promoting the money spent on the schools as creating wealth.

Government spending on programs that benefit largely low and middle class income citizens for education, health and welfare is the greatest stimulus for an expanding and prosperous economy and “also” improve the quality of life for individuals and the entire population. The Milwaukee Public Schools is the largest employer in Milwaukee, and with a budget in 2002-2003 of more than $1 Billion is the largest single source of money for consumer spending in the entire southeastern area of Wisconsin. Public school systems and universities are the largest employers in many communities in the State of Wisconsin. (Education jobs are stable and better than average paying jobs. Better in most cases than the jobs created with millions of corporate welfare that may be gone tomorrow when someone offers a better deal)

Sure, except for the fact that the money for those high-paying education jobs came from TAXES. Last time I checked, taxes were a drag on the economy. So, schools are just a form of welfare for educrats? Good to know. The rest of the column is no better. Give it a click only if you want to see how the other half thinks.

A LITTLE HELP, PLEASE

Filed on August 10, 2003 at 5:21 pm under by dcobranchi

Ladies, I’m throwing this one out as an open-ended question to y’all as the primary “teachers”-Is homeschooling a sacrifice? I ask that because of this quote out of Texas.

“Academic quality, individual achievement and flexibility are the reasons that many parents are sacrificing their careers and freedoms to join the ranks of home-schoolers.”

Do y’all feel that staying home to raise your kids (whether or not you homeschool) is sacrificing your career and freedoms?

HOMESCHOOLER WITH A HEART OF GOLD

Filed on at 5:08 pm under by dcobranchi

This 12-year-old SC youth raised $150 for an animal shelter by mowing lawns. I lived in Charleston one summer. Mowing lawns there would be about the most miserable way I can think of to earn money. This kid has a big heart.

“It was really sad to see some of them brought in sick and thin. I’m hoping I can help get more of them adopted,” he said. “I wanted to give them a second chance at life.”

That kind of compassion impressed even the big-hearted shelter volunteers.

“I guess it takes the mind of a child to do us right, no matter what age we are,” said Patty Walton, Frances R. Willis SPCA board member.

DUMB QUOTE OF THE DAY

Filed on at 7:58 am under by dcobranchi

In a follow-up to the K12 program starting up in UT (original post here), an educrat who definitely doesn’t “get” homeschooling wins the award:

Bowles said K12 will likely not work for students who need special education. They need the least-restrictive environment possible, and in most cases, homes are the most restrictive, he said.

Yeah, homes are much more restrictive than being locked in jail for 6 hours a day, having to beg for permission to use the bathroom, and being required to respond to bells like one of Pavlov’s dogs.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Filed on at 7:08 am under by dcobranchi

A student in Michigan has sued the state because it cut her state tuition grant to zero when she declared theology as her major:

“Students enrolled in a course of study leading to a degree in theology, divinity or religious education are not eligible to receive an award,” it said, paraphrasing a state law. “Your award has changed from $2,750.00 to $0.00.”

Several states have similar laws; one is being challenged in the SCOTUS.

In a brief to the Supreme Court, Mr. Davey’s lawyers said that having scholarship decisions turn on what major a student declares is a little odd.

A student “could take numerous theology courses, paid for by state grants, so long as his major was something else (like psychology or math),” the lawyers wrote. But a student who declares a theology major would get no state money for an entire year “even if the student takes nothing but language, literature, philosophy and science,” they said.

The ACLU is supporting ths state. This one is pretty bizarre. Of course, the easy solution will escape everyone involved- just get the state completely out of funding college educations. No scholarships? No discrimination.

NEVER RUN ACROSS I-95

Filed on August 9, 2003 at 8:26 pm under by dcobranchi

This is way OT but I got a laugh out of my latest Nigeria scam letter.

…Upon maturity, I sent a routine notification to his forwarding address, but got no reply. After a month,we sent a reminder and finally we discovered from his contract employers, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation that Mr. Barry Kelly died from an automobile accident. On further investigation, I found out that he died interstate (without making a WILL)

Yeah, those interstates are murder.

NEW EMAIL ADDY

Filed on at 6:52 pm under by dcobranchi

I’ve finally cut the (telephone) cord and disconnected the old dial-up account. Hence, my email address has changed. Predictably, it’s daryl-at-cobranchi-dot-com. Y’all keep those cards & letters comin’.

FROM THE MOUTHS OF BABES

Filed on at 9:37 am under by dcobranchi

WND columnist Kyle Williams’ most recent column is on government intrusion into homeschooling. He gets pretty worked up about the FL K-12 virtual school. I’m not as concerned about that particluar program as homeschoolers are ineligible. The rest of the column, though, is first rate (except the plural of “curriculum” is “curricula”. Don’t they have “editora” at WND?)

A SHOCKER!

Filed on at 9:23 am under by dcobranchi

The vast majority of kids in mandatory NYC summer school failed (again) the accountability tests and will be held back. For kids on the bubble, a 5-week intensive program may be enough to help them get (minimally) caught up. For kids who are really struggling, though, it’s just another brick in the wall. The NYC Schools Chancellor seems to have his head on straight:

Schools Chancellor Joel Klein has been cool on summer school, saying it’s more important to provide remedial help during the year than rely on the five-week summer program to help kids make the grade.

JUST SAY NO

Filed on at 9:17 am under by dcobranchi

NYC fired a teacher who was charged with possession of cocaine and marijuana with the intent to distribute. He later pled guilty to a lesser charge. The tenured teacher sued and an arbitrator ruled that he must be re-hired:

The arbitrator who decided the case, Ernest Weiss, said he had ordered Mr. Campbell reinstated because he is undergoing treatment and his record is being cleared.

“There has been no conviction and his record will be completely expunged,” Mr. Weiss said, after initially declining to comment.

WWHS.

CURRICULUM FAIR

Filed on at 9:09 am under by dcobranchi

The North Texas Home Educators’ Network Summer Conference and Bookfair is running this weekend. 3500 attendees are expected. Pretty standard stuff here but this caught my eye:

Parents who want to teach anything from a foreign language to “penmanship for Christian writing” had a place to visit.

“Christian” writing? Are they writing in ancient Aramaic?

ART & BUSINESS MIX

Filed on August 8, 2003 at 2:09 pm under by dcobranchi

A wise art-studio owner has started a class for homeschoolers.

“Anybody who’s gone through school probably took math and English and science, but art and music, a lot of people have no training. You can read about it, but unless you’ve actually had some training in the arts, it’s kind of difficult to teach.”

…”We’re hoping to do some field trips to expose the kids to art,” [Steve] Sherman said. “We want to give them more than they’d get from just reading about it or watching PBS. We want them to actually experience it. We’re also trying to hook up with the N.C. Museum of Fine Art outreach program for visual aids and other materials.”

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