Utterly Meaningless » 2003 » September
  • WARPED PRIORITIES

    Filed on September 19, 2003 at 10:07 am under by dcobranchi

    According to the NYPost, students in Mepham HS stormed out of class in protest of the school’s decision to cancel the football season as a result of the horrible hazing incident. Sure, three of their classmates were sexually assaulted by members of the football team but, they’re going to cancel Homecoming. Oh, the humanity!

    SCHOOLS ARE VERY SAFE

    Filed on at 9:36 am under by dcobranchi

    Good news! There are only 52 dangerous schools in the whole country. I’m sure that allowing the states to basically set their own definitions as to what constitutes a dangerous school had nothing to do with the remarkably low number.

    IN OR OUT

    Filed on at 9:08 am under by dcobranchi

    A bill before the MA legislature would change sex-ed from an opt-out class to an opt-in. Given schoools’ propensities to keep parents in the dark, I’d say this is a welcome development.

    HEHD

    Filed on at 2:48 am under by dcobranchi

    Michael Peach, the Home Educating House Dad, is back and blogging again. I found this post, in particular, interesting. And not for the obvious reason. I was just bloghopping and ended up at Kim Du Toit’s essay on why he’s a gun nut (yes, Kim’s a guy).

    Even the British used to have the right idea (they don’t nowadays):

    “No kingdom can be secured otherwise than by arming the people. The possession of arms is the distinction between a freeman and a slave. He, who has nothing, and who himself belongs to another, must be defended by him, whose property he is, and needs no arms. But he, who thinks he is his own master, and has what he can call his own, ought to have arms to defend himself, and what he possesses; else he lives precariously, and at discretion.”

    James Burgh (Political Disquisitions: Or, an Enquiry into Public Errors, Defects, and Abuses) [London, 1774-1775]

    I literally clicked directly from the paragraph above to Michael’s email with his new URL.

    It gets stranger, yet. Scrolling down, Mike links to a rant on … drumroll, please… Kim Du Toit’s blog. It’s all very circular and, perhaps, inside blogball, but I wonder if God might not be trying to warn me about something.

    GADFLY ON ACCOUNTABILITY

    Filed on September 18, 2003 at 5:10 pm under by dcobranchi

    There are two good pieces (pro and con) on how the DC vouchers need to address accountability. The first is basically anti-voucher but not vituperatively so. Chester Finn’s response seems reasoned and workable. Given the political realities, voucher-accepting private schools are probably going to have to accept some sort of accountability system. Finn suggests that the schools submit test scores (at least for the kids there on vouchers) to enable comparisons to kids still in the g-schools. Finn claims that many private schools already administer the Terra Nova nationally normed test. It should be possible to compare results from this test with the g-school-administered SAT-9.

    GREAT MINDS AND ALL THAT JAZZ

    Filed on at 11:01 am under by dcobranchi

    I promise I didn’t steal this headline.

    “I Pledge Allegiance to TV…”

    PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE TO THE TV

    Filed on at 10:57 am under by dcobranchi

    A student in MN was kicked out of her classroom because she refused to stand for the mandatory Pledge of Allegiance. The newly-passed pledge law has an opt-out but teachers seem to be confused as to what opt-out means.

    Ebony, a 17-year-old senior at Central, wouldn’t say why she refused to stand or recite the pledge but said she believed she was within her rights Monday when the image of the U.S. flag came up on the television screen during her homeroom period.

    On Tuesday, when the pledge wasn’t recited, Ebony said her homeroom teacher began the period by spelling out her beliefs about respecting the flag. When Ebony spoke up about wanting to remain seated during the pledge, she said, she was again asked to leave the room.

    The school has now recognized Ebony’s right to stay seated.

    NOT VERY HELPFUL

    Filed on at 7:25 am under by dcobranchi

    I’m sure that edu-crats throughout the country tasked with reducing the dropout rate winced when they read these comments from the mayor of Chicago.

    “Maybe we have to change our high school system,” Daley said during a news conference at Field Elementary, 7019 N. Ashland, about the latest Principal for a Day effort.

    “You go to school at 8 o’clock. Ugh,” Daley said, making a face at the thought. “It gets boring, high school. You have to really change it. I think they have to change the curriculum in the morning. I firmly believe it. It gets boring. It gets too bureaucratic.”

    TWILIGHT ZONE

    Filed on at 6:16 am under by dcobranchi

    Nick at the Twilight of the Idols has a response to those that “piled on” his comment here (scroll down to Nick Blesch). As one of the “pilers on,” I feel it only fair to point to the post. And, if you haven’t been following this debate, start with Kimberly’s post here.

    GENTLEMEN, START YOUR ENGINES

    Filed on at 4:56 am under by dcobranchi

    This young homeschooler learned to count on his NASCAR miniatures.

    BOY SCOUTS AT THE CVT

    Filed on at 4:36 am under by dcobranchi

    Skip Oliva has filed official “comments” with NOAA opposing Isabel’s landing. This one could go to the SCOTUS. Stay tuned.

    WWHS: GUNS IN SCHOOLS

    Filed on September 17, 2003 at 3:43 pm under by dcobranchi

    In Utah, g-schools are forced under a new state law to allow people to bring guns into the buildings. The new law prohibits “public places” (including schools) from excluding concealed-carry permit holders. Without a permit, it’s a Class-B misdemeanor to bring a gun into a school.

    Kids get expelled for having butter knives in their cars but it’s ok to pack a pistol? Good thinking, Utahns!

    NCLB LUNACY

    Filed on at 3:31 pm under by dcobranchi

    This part of the law needs fixin’. In San Antonio, 89 percent of the schools that were labeled “failing,” failed solely because of low participation by one or more of the many sub-groups defined in NCLB. The law mandates that 95 percent of students must be tested. One school district “failed” because four kids missed a single test.

    To imagine an extreme example- Say a school district of approximately 1000 students is slightly less than 2 percent Hispanic. If one of these kids is out sick on test day, the entire school district “fails” under NCLB, regardless of the scores on the test. How does that represent reality?

    I understand the rationale for mandating a high participation rate; you don’t want schools gaming the system by only testing their stars. But, this is just crazy and, in my mind, weakens respect for the law and the needed reforms that it mandates.

    THE NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD

    Filed on at 7:13 am under by dcobranchi

    I thought the Illinois Dennison situation was dead and buried. Dennison is the one who sent armed police officers along with truant officers to “talk” to homeschoolers who hadn’t acceded to his demands.

    Well, the brain-dead superintendent is at it again this year and starting to harass homeschoolers by demanding extra-legal curriculum approval and mandatory meetings with homeschooling parents. Homeschools in IL are private schools and he has no authority to do any of this.

    Homeschoolers in IL are ready to take the offensive this year and plan to file a harassment lawsuit against him.

    Please spread the word. Like other cockroaches, Dennison is afraid of the light and will scurry back under a rock if we can make enough noise.

    HOW CONVENIENT

    Filed on at 7:02 am under by dcobranchi

    A school district in Washington State has blocked access to Ratemyteacher.com, where students can literally rate the performance of their teachers. The reason? The site has a chat feature:

    “We have no way to monitor what that chat feature has access to, or how it’s maintained or what’s available through it,” said Diane Turner with the Federal Way School District. “We have to maintain a high standard of safety.”

    Safety. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

    GRADUATION RATES

    Filed on at 6:51 am under by dcobranchi

    Here’s an interesting article about how the graduation rate in Florida is determined. The state figures it at roughly 68 percent, but “Florida factors in GED recipients, as well as students who have moved out of state, or into home schooling programs, dropout prevention programs or adult-education programs, when figuring the rates.” The Manhattan Institute looks at kids who make it all the way through the g-schools and arrives at a 56 percent.

    I’m conflicted on this one. While I think that someone who drops out of high school and later picks up a GED should be counted as a dropout, I have a problem with treating homeschoolers the same. But just saying that the graduation rate is somewhere between 56 and 68 percent is unacceptably vague. Ideas?

    NEEDED: PARENTING LICENSES

    Filed on September 16, 2003 at 8:12 pm under by dcobranchi

    Warning: This story is pretty graphic.

    This story is so sick on so many levels, that I really don’t know what to pick out as the low point. A 13-year-old girl in PA has been expelled for performing oral sex on a classmate on a school bus. In front of other students who were egging her on.

    The mother of the girl is fighting the expulsion because the school didn’t have a written policy against oral sex on the bus.

    My God! What has happened to parents?! To kids!? How did we ever get here? (via Kimberly Swygert)

    NICE ESSAY

    Filed on at 12:23 pm under by dcobranchi

    Sixteen-year-old Ashley Anderson escaped from the g-schools and lived to tell the tale. Definitely worth a click.

    GOOD NAEP NEWS

    Filed on at 6:45 am under by dcobranchi

    The guv’mint has decided to pull the intrusive personal questions they were asking on the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

    BRIBE ‘EM WITH FOOTBALL

    Filed on at 6:41 am under by dcobranchi

    In an article on why one school district has decided not to allow homeschoolers to participate in extracurriculars, we finally learn the real reason that g-schools pay so much attention to them:

    “There are a lot of extra-curricular sports which are just for the purpose of keeping kids in school,” [Board member Mike Granaas] said.

    WOULD I LIE TO YOU?

    Filed on at 5:40 am under by dcobranchi

    Several Catholic schools in PA are facing declining enrollments. As usual, it’s (partially) our fault. The biggest culprits, though, may be a huge increase in tuition and a drift away from the core academics to other, more g-school-type, classes.

    They include courses on performing plays, creating and performing puppet theater, and a choreographed movement class with long, flowing ribbons called eurythmics.

    Annie Lennox in a habit; that’s enough to scare any parent into homeschooling.

    MORE ON HONDA

    Filed on September 15, 2003 at 1:12 pm under by dcobranchi

    Agape Press has another piece on the controversial legislation. (via Izzy)

    TIME TO THIN THE HERD

    Filed on at 11:34 am under by dcobranchi

    A school district in MN is facing declining enrollments and the board doesn’t like losing money. They’re targeting homeschoolers.

    The enrollment report also spawned discussion about reducing the area home-school population.

    About 25 local children are home-schooled, according to Toutloff, and previous attempts by the district to bring those children into the public school system have been unsuccessful.

    Peggy York-Jesme, who serves as the school board’s liaison to home-school parents, said the district could benefit by reaching out to them.

    “One idea that’s been talked about is to have a room where they can access resources,” said York-Jesme. “It’s done in some other districts and it can help improve relations between the school and home-school parents.”

    York-Jesme said the district could make a room available in which students and parents could access teaching materials and computers.

    “It’s just a way of getting kids in the door,” said York-Jesme.

    SCHOOL IN A BOX

    Filed on at 11:29 am under by dcobranchi

    Here’s a nice profile of the Calvert School.

    MOLESCHOOLERS?

    Filed on at 11:15 am under by dcobranchi

    Here’s another one of those homeschooling is growing articles. I found this funny:

    In the past decade, the number of home-schooled children in Maryland, which has nearly 900,000 public schoolchildren, has increased ninefold – from about 2,300 in 1990 to 20,000 today, according to the Maryland State Department of Education. Lloyd estimates that the number is closer to 30,000, though, when government-wary parents teaching their children underground are factored in.

    Are those kids all pasty-white with big eyes?

    WE’RE NUMBER 1!

    Filed on September 14, 2003 at 12:09 pm under by dcobranchi

    According to a new study, DE’s g-schools are the most “diverse” in the country. Take that PA! This diversity complicates compliance with NCLB. The more sub-groups a school district has, the more chances for one of the groups to miss the target. The way the law is written, it’s all or nothing. If a school misses one target, it’s still a “failing” school. Even some supporters of NCLB are starting to think the ratings system needs to be revised.

    “When you have a state that has a good education system and all the schools fail, you don’t have a universal failure of schools, you have a failure of the assessment,” Orfield said.

    …”To look at it, you would think they are just punishing the schools that have a lot of racial minorities, special-education and low-income children who don’t speak English very well,” [parent Joyce] Allen said. “It’s just flawed. It’s a flawed system.”

    WWHS

    Filed on at 11:56 am under by dcobranchi

    And some homeschooling parents are begging school boards to be allowed to participate in extracurriculars?

    Some Mepham High School football players stood by as younger players were allegedly sexually abused by older teammates at a training camp last month, a school official said Friday.

    …Three varsity football players have been accused of sexually abusing three junior varsity players in a hazing rite while the team was at Camp Wayne in Preston Park, Pa., just over the New York State line, from Aug. 22 through Aug. 27.

    At least one of the boys was held down and sodomized with a broomstick, according to a source close to the victim’s family.

    OT: FORTUNATELY/UNFORTUNATELY

    Filed on at 7:50 am under by dcobranchi

    I was getting prepared to go down to Florida to batten down the hatches at my parents’ home. Fortunately, the storm will apparently miss FL completely. Unfortunately, the predicted path has it going up the Delaware Bay on Friday.

    FREE BREAKFAST UPDATE

    Filed on at 1:11 am under by dcobranchi

    Could NYC’s decision to provide “free” breakfasts to all students be the opening salvo in outlawing homefeeding? I distort; you deride.

    NEA BASHING

    Filed on September 13, 2003 at 7:17 pm under by dcobranchi

    I’m still getting caught up and just found Joanne’s and Steph’s utter demolition of stupid NEA resolutions.

    TANSTAAFB

    Filed on at 4:26 pm under by dcobranchi

    Michael Lopez beat me to this one.

    HSLDA DROPS A GRAF

    Filed on at 7:21 am under by dcobranchi

    HSLDA has re-posted an AgapePress article in its entirety except for one paragraph:

    Musgrave has introduced a bill in Congress that seeks to level the playing field between home-schooled students and their public school counterparts. And while groups like the Home School Legal Defense Association back the Home School Non-Discrimination Act (HoNDA), not all advocates of home schooling think it is in the best interests of the movement.

    I wonder why they left that one out? Couldn’t be that last clause, could it? Naaahhh!

    OTOH

    Filed on at 6:40 am under by dcobranchi

    The NYT completely misses the boat with this anti-voucher editorial. The paper lists local officials who are opposed to the D.C. school vouchers but, somewhat disingenuously, fails to mention that the mayor has reversed a long-held position and decided to support them. The Paper of Record also attempts to use the vouchers to take a swipe at Pres. Bush and the NCLB Act.

    This proposal sends the wrong message by funneling public money to private schools at a time when public schools are broke. It also brings attention to the fact that the Bush administration has failed to finance fully its vaunted public school initiative, No Child Left Behind, which was supposed to remake public education but is rapidly becoming just so much window dressing.

    I disagree. Vouchers in D.C. are complementary to NCLB, which was designed to allow kids to transfer out of bad schools. If the whole District stinks, though, where are they supposed to go? Private schools, perhaps?

    The Times did get one thing right, though. The D.C. g-schools certainly are “broke”, er, broken.

    OT: THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMMONS

    Filed on at 6:23 am under by dcobranchi

    The NYT has a pretty good piece up on what happens when the government “gives” a group of people “free” medical care. They use it. A lot.

    Patients say they have lots of specialists, and lots of tests. Asked how many doctors he saw, Leon Bloomberg, 83, a patient of Dr. Miller, thought for a minute and looked at his wife, Esther.

    “Between us, we have 10 or 12,” Mr. Bloomberg said, including a pain specialist and a neurologist for his neuropathy, a cardiologist for his heart condition, “a pulmonary man” for his asthma, a rheumatologist for his arthritis and Dr. Miller for his prostate. Mrs. Bloomberg has her own doctors, including ones for heart disease and for diabetes. “We have two to four or more doctors’ appointments a week,” Mr. Bloomberg said.

    …Dr. Colton, the internist here, is frustrated, too.

    “The system is broken,” he said. “I’m not being a mean ogre, but when you give something away for free, there is nothing to keep utilization down. And as the doctor, you have nothing to gain by denying them what they want.”

    That’s the problem with any program where the “price” (at least to the consumer) is zero. ECON 101.

    WAY, WAY COOL

    Filed on September 12, 2003 at 5:05 pm under by dcobranchi

    MIT scientists have achieved the coldest temperature ever recorded 5 x 10 ^-10 K. In normal notation that is 0.0000000005 Kelvins above absolute zero.

    BTW, despite what the article says, it is never proper to use the term “degrees Kelvin.” That’s what you get for reading a blog by a chem geek.

    JUST WHAT WE NEED

    Filed on at 4:38 pm under by dcobranchi

    The Christian Coalition is attempting to raise funds for, among other things, “legislation on home schooling.”

    ONLY SEVEN?

    Filed on September 11, 2003 at 10:08 pm under by dcobranchi

    Here’s a very nice profile of a large Catholic homeschooling family in Nebraska. I like the mom’s philosophy:

    “We teach our children to be good citizens for the community, the country, as well as our goal — that they are good citizens for heaven,” Karen said. “That is the reason we home school. We have to answer to God, just as we’d have to answer to anyone if our kids did something bad. It is our responsibility to raise them so we went to the extreme.”

    Well said.

    LATER!

    Filed on September 10, 2003 at 2:00 pm under by dcobranchi

    I’m off (again) for another one day trip. See you tomorrow night.

    NO PHYSICS AT HORROR HIGH

    Filed on at 9:26 am under by dcobranchi

    A Brooklyn high school has nuked the physics class even though kids had signed up for it. It still offers “Environmental Science,” though.

    JUST OPT OUT!

    Filed on at 9:10 am under by dcobranchi

    Rebecca Hagelin on Townhall.com has a pretty decent column on the failure of sex-ed in the g-schools. She wants abstinence-only programs and, failing that, suggests parents should opt out their kids. Probably a good first step, but I’d suggest they opt out of the g-school, too. WWHS.

    CHRIS 1, HSLDA 0

    Filed on September 9, 2003 at 8:32 pm under by dcobranchi

    Chris O’Donnell has a really good post on HSLDA’s response to criticism of its HONDA bill.

    BTW, I just wrote Mike Castle (Delaware’s lone Representative) opposing HONDA and asking him to do the same. Unlike HSLDA, I won’t tell you what to think about this bill nor what you should do about it.

    ONE FOR SNEAKING SUSPICIONS

    Filed on at 8:11 pm under by dcobranchi

    Fellow blogger Fritz Schranck is a big fan of indie movies and has written extensively about Rehoboth’s festival. Well, not to be outdone by its downstate rival, Wilmington has its own “Independent Film Festival (presented by DuPont)” scheduled for October 1 – 5.

    DO WE REALLY WANT THIS?

    Filed on at 7:01 pm under by dcobranchi

    HSLDA has negotiated a one year extension of the DoD’s pilot program allowing homeschoolers into the military under Tier 1 status. The concluding graf bothered me.

    Meanwhile, HSLDA will continue to work with the Department of Defense and we expect homeschoolers to be given Tier I status permanently, either by the military or by Congress.

    If the military, after studying the issue for six years, concludes that, for whatever reason, homeschoolers just shouldn’t be admitted under Tier 1, do we really want Congress telling them they have to anyway?

    GOV. MITT ROMNEY- HOMESCHOOLER?

    Filed on at 11:37 am under by dcobranchi

    The Gov. gave himself an B+ grade for MA’s terrorism preparedness. (I refuse to write “H_______ S_______”). Rep. Barney Frank took exception and thought it somehow analagous to homeschooling.

    “I think that’s taking home schooling a little too far. I don’t think home schooling means self-grading. That is just silly,” said Rep. Barney Frank. Frank, who serves on the House Homeland Security Committee, testified before a Senate panel that citizens are fighting two wars — one at home and one abroad — with three tax cuts. Frank claims the state is most vulnerable at the seaport and in the area of public health.

    Hey, Izzy- What gives in the Bay State?

    FAKE HATE

    Filed on at 10:36 am under by dcobranchi

    A black student has confessed to handing another a note that, if legit, would have definitely crossed into the realm of hate speech. The police must have coerced him into confessing, claims the aggrieved party. Surely a black couldn’t have done this- not even as a joke.

    AA FOR REPUBLICANS

    Filed on September 8, 2003 at 6:24 pm under by dcobranchi

    Some Colorado legislators want to impose an “Academic Bill of Rights” on the state university system. One proposal is to tie the school’s funding to hiring more conservative professors. Is this even necessary? I’ve never though of CU as being particularly “left.”

    ROUGH KNUCKLES IN SLOWER DELAWARE?

    Filed on at 10:17 am under by dcobranchi

    In a start of the school year article, the Wilmington News-Journal has a piece on the never ending battle between administrators and girls who want to wear bare-it-all clothing. I found this section a little strange, though:

    Anne Humphrey, principal at Brick Mill Elementary School in Middletown and a member of the committee that fashioned the rule. “Short skirts were also a problem.”

    [Brick Mill Elementary School principal Anne] Humphrey said parents who choose the optional uniform have the choice of skirts, shorts, dresses, jumpers or pants in black, navy blue or khaki. Dresses, jumpers and skirts must not rise above a girl’s fingertips when her arms are relaxed at her sides.

    “That allows for a pretty good distance above the knee, but it cuts down on the ones that are real short,” Humphrey said.

    I just tried a little experiment here. If I used their guideline on myself, I could easily be arrested for indecent exposure. Either I have unusually short arms or they’ve enrolled gorillas in Middletown.

    ACLU VS. THE FIRST AMENDMENT

    Filed on September 7, 2003 at 1:10 pm under by dcobranchi

    Here’s an interesting one. A Catholic school is being sued by the ACLU because they refuse to admit the daughter of a lesbian couple. This one looks to me like a no-brainer. The family’s lifestyle is in direct conflict with a fundamental belief of the church. Wouldn’t being forced to admit the child be a violation of their free exercise rights? I don’t see any difference between this case and the stripper mom case from last year.

    “S” WORD

    Filed on at 12:34 pm under by dcobranchi

    Again. Here’s another in the never-ending series, this time in Michigan. Well, I don’t know how they handle things in MI but right here, today, my kids are being socialized out the wazoo. We had 4 tweener girls spend the night last night and now everyone is gathered around the PS2 battling for CTR supremacy. Ages in the tournie range from 4 to 11 and include both genders (there are still only 2 in our world). Of course, no one’s getting bullied, so maybe they are be deprived.

    SUGAR IN HONDA’S TANK

    Filed on at 6:53 am under by dcobranchi

    Chris O’Donnell has a very nice one page summary of the HONDA legislation (HR 2732) and why he’s opposed. Here’s my $0.02. IMHO, the most pernicious part of this bill is in the “Findings” section, particularly Section 2 (3)

    (3) Education by parents at home has proven to be an effective means for young people to achieve success on standardized tests and to learn valuable socialization skills.

    This just opens the door to an NEA charge of “Prove it!” Do we really want to take the chance that this bill would lead to mandatory testing of homeschoolers? One other thing- here’s another link to the text of the bill. The one Chris provides (to the official government website) has an incomplete version of the bill. Your tax dollars at work.

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