Utterly Meaningless » 2004 » March

THE NATIONAL PASTIME

Filed on March 31, 2004 at 5:20 pm under by dcobranchi

The other day a teacher pulled a prank on one of his colleagues by suspending a 5-year-old by his belt loop on a coathook (the kid agreed and thought it was fun). Yes, it was stupid. But, I really don’t think the damage done justifies this:

The parents of a 5-year-old boy whose teacher allegedly hung him in a closet by his belt loop as a prank plan to sue the city for $5 million.

Imhotep Lubin has told his parents he is afraid to return to PS 279 in Canarsie and wants “revenge,” his dad said.

Music teacher Jason Schoenberger, 24, has been charged with endangering the welfare of a child.

“I see it as sheer contempt for the welfare of my child. This man has no value for my child’s life,” said Pierre Lubin, 35, a math teacher at a Manhattan high school.

THIS IS A PROBLEM?

Filed on at 5:05 pm under by dcobranchi

Kids may not be getting enough sleep, but this group of “experts” undercuts its credibility with stupid definitions.

“Our new poll finds that many children are not sleeping enough and many experience sleep problems,” Richard L. Gelula, the foundation chief executive officer, said in a statement. “What is troublesome is that the problems start in infancy.”

About 69 percent of the children in the households surveyed were said to experience sleep problems a few nights a week. Common problems included difficulty falling asleep, sleepwalking, snoring, resisting going to bed and breathing difficulties.

Is there a kid alive who doesn’t want to stay up for five more minutes? No wonder we’re experiencing an “epidemic” of sleep problems.

CLUELESS IN VIRGINIA

Filed on March 30, 2004 at 8:56 pm under by dcobranchi

Chris O’Donnell found an article which compares the homeschooling laws in Virginia and Maryland. The reporter really butchered the VA laws. Unfortunately, the MD laws are even worse than indicated in the article.

Parents must maintain a portfolio of “relevant materials such as instructional materials, reading materials, and examples of the child’s writings, work sheets, workbooks, creative materials, and tests.” The local superintendent may review the portfolio, discuss the instructional program, and observe instruction at a mutually agreeable time and place not more than three times a year.

Yecchh! Too bad the reporter didn’t compare VA’s laws with DE’s.

§2704. Report of non-public schools to Department

(a) All persons conducting non-public schools [including homeschools] shall report end of the year attendance information to the Department of Education annually, on or before the 31st day of July, on such forms as shall be prescribed by the Department of Education.

(b) Such persons shall also submit annually, on or before the 31st day of October, a statement of pupil enrollment as of the last school day in September, on such forms as prescribed by the Department of Education.

That really is it- two pieces of paper. The reporter would have had a heart attack.

OOPS!

Filed on at 7:38 am under by dcobranchi

This might be partially my fault. I’ve searched for both Phelps’ book and Lileks’ Gallery of Regrettable Food at Amazon. Sorry, Richard.

(DUMB) STATISTICS 101

Filed on at 7:25 am under by dcobranchi

OK, class. As an exercise, please comment on the fundamental statistical flaw in these two short paragraphs.

Several national studies done over the past decade show a direct link between youngsters’ reading abilities and well-staffed libraries with up-to-date materials.

Three studies released in 2000 showed that students in schools with well-maintained library collections and trained library staffs performed better on standardized tests, especially reading.

Excellent job, class. Yes, it is very obvious that Erin Jordan has never taken statistics. But, you’ll be surprised at how often you find the correlation-causation error in the popular press. And, no, I’m not aware of any negative correlation between IQ and propensity to become a reporter. That’d make a good research project. Class dismissed.

COOL SHOT

Filed on at 4:20 am under by dcobranchi

Check out today’s Astronomy Photo.

KERRY DISQUALIFIED

Filed on March 29, 2004 at 10:30 am under by dcobranchi

I’m seriously considering sitting this election out. John Kerry’s 100 Days to Change America calls for compulsory volunteerism for all high school students.

MANDATORY SERVICE FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS

Service Should Be a Graduation Requirement: John Kerry believes that knowledge of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship – including the duty to serve your community – are as important to American adults as knowing how to read and do math. Combined with a curriculum that teaches students about democracy, citizenship and civic participation, this high school service requirement will be a rite of passage for every young person in the country. As President, John Kerry will ensure that every high school student in America does community service as a requirement for graduation.

States and Communities Will Have Flexibility to Design Programs That Meet Their Needs: States and local communities will design their own service requirements to make the requirement significant and meaningful without becoming onerous. For instance, the State of Maryland requires seventy-five hours of service over the course of high school and local educators have discretion to implement the requirement in ways that meet student needs. John Kerry understands that young people have many obligations and recognizes that a service requirement should not be onerous or unrealistic for students to meet. Maryland, as well as numerous school districts around the country, including some in New Hampshire, already have such a requirement and have had great results.

This has to be one of the dumbest ideas in history. It sends absolutely the wrong message. Put yourself in the place of a kid who is forced to “volunteer.” How likely would you be to really volunteer after you were paroled? “I did my time; let some other poor slob volunteer.”

The policy does teach the kids an important life lesson, though. Namely, that their lives are not their own. They owe it to the community and to the government to do whatever the government says. A little slavery is a good thing. (Hat tip to Skip Oliva)

THANKS FOR DROPPIN’ IN

Filed on at 6:29 am under by dcobranchi

Hey! Sometime over the weekend H&OES passed 5000 unique visitors for the month. That’s roughly triple what the counter recorded for it’s first full month in June, 2003. And, of course, my income from this site has kept pace. Yep, three times zero. :-) Nice to know a few folks find some value here. Thanks, again.

INSPIRATIONAL STORY OF THE DAY

Filed on at 5:30 am under by dcobranchi

The Wilmington News-Journal has a very nice article about a local homeschooling family who recently adopted a brother and sister from Haiti. The Wamplers are great folks who just would not give up, even in the face of what seemed insurmountable obstacles. [Full disclosure: We know the Wamplers from the homeschool gym class where our kids got socialized together.]

NEW(ISH) BLOG

Filed on at 5:12 am under by dcobranchi

Laura Derrick (The Misquoted One) is blogging again after a long hiatus. Very cool.

I’M CONFLICTED

Filed on March 28, 2004 at 10:29 pm under by dcobranchi

Steve Gallaher sent me a link to a confusing article from the Austin American-Statesman. I think the reporter was trying to write a positive piece on unschooling. It ended up all over the map, however. A couple of things worth pointing out:

The Christian-oriented movement has far outpaced the more liberal faction. The Home School Legal Defense Association estimates it speaks for 80 percent of all home schoolers.

Huh?! HSLDA has no more than 10 percent of home educators as members. I find it hard to believe that they would claim 80, as they know they’d catch hell from NHEN and HEM.

Some education experts are concerned that not all parents are qualified, financially or otherwise, to take on the challenge of teaching their children at home.

“There are some wonderful parents who are fiscally and intellectually able to guide their children,” said David Berliner, Regents Professor of Education at Arizona State University. “Simultaneously, there are parents who are neither . . . and they are probably hurting their children.”

Berliner believes that government has an obligation to protect children, physically and in other ways, such as their educational development.

“(The state) takes children away from parents who harm them physically or emotionally,” he says. “How does this differ? ”

So, who gets to decide if homeschooling constitutes “educational neglect”? The educrats who have just a bit of a conflict-of-interest? Sure.

All-in-all, a relatively harmless article. Probably not worth the rather lengthy registration process.

EDUCRAT KNOWS BEST

Filed on at 3:40 pm under by dcobranchi

Social promotion, social demotion. I’m sick of the whole social mess. But, this educrat takes the cake.

There are as many reasons for the decisions to delay kindergarten as there are parents who make them. Some say their child is smaller than her peers. Some say their boy can’t sit still in a classroom chair. Some want Junior to be captain of the high school football team.

But not everyone agrees that an increasing number of 6-year-old kindergartners is a good thing.

“The ones we’re holding out are the ones who need school the most,” said Cami Jones, who has been director of early childhood education at the Texas Education Agency since 1987. She is an active opponent of holding children out of kindergarten.

“Whatever reason you give – they’re socially not ready, they’re emotionally immature, whatever – those are the children who need to be in school. The solution is not to keep doing what you’ve been doing.”

Let’s see. We’ve had compulsory attendance since 1852. It’s obviously not working. Can we stop now?

Regardless, I think a parent knows when her child is ready to be sentenced to sitting still in a stupid desk for 6 hours a day. (Ideally, never). Educrats should just learn to keep their mouths shut. You know that old saw about being thought an idiot?

NICE SPIN

Filed on at 9:01 am under by dcobranchi

Check out this quote from Laura Derrick about homeschooling in Wisconsin:

“I would say that Wisconsin is on the low regulation end of the scale,” said Laura Derrick, president of the National Home Education Network.

Implying that the regulations are too low. No way Laura meant that. That’s the reporter’s bias coming through. More evidence (as if we needed any) that you need to be very careful about what you say when you’re speaking to reporters about homeschooling.

UPDATE: I missed a great quote.

Pam Rewey, director of legislative services for the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, said she tried in 1991 to find legislators who would back a law making students ineligible for home schooling if they had a pending truancy case. WASB considered it a modest attempt at oversight, but the idea died for lack of even one sponsor. <

"You can go all over the Capitol and every legislator will say, 'Don't bring me anything on home schooling because these people are very protective of their rights.'" Rewey said.

Hell, yeah!

YET ANOTHER REASON TO HOMESCHOOL

Filed on at 8:55 am under by dcobranchi

Silmarieth oloni Quenya alaphereth.

You’ll have to click over for the translation (unless you happen to read Elvish).

LETTERS

Filed on at 6:40 am under by dcobranchi

A coupla good ones in today’s News-Journal.

Testing of disabled pupils is unrealistic

I would like to thank The News Journal for addressing the inherent flaws in the DSTP with respect to special education. I would like to expand on those flaws further as they pertain to my son.

He is a 5th grader in the Delaware Autism Program. We are lucky that he is able to participate in small group instruction in a special education class for two subjects – math and language arts. He struggles terribly but, due to the nature of his disability, any progress is considered great and we’d like him to continue in academics to the extent he is able.

Holding him back a grade is not an appropriate option because his disability is largely based on socialization abnormalities that require peer interaction. The remainder of his day is filled with other key learning opportunities which include addressing social issues, speech therapy, community, life skills – all crucial skills for the everyday world.

My son is not eligible for the portfolio assessment and, as a result, he is required to take the state test in all subjects, including science and social studies – subjects he isn’t even exposed to. His instructional level is below his actual grade level, yet he is still required to be tested on grade level. He already attends school year-round but, once he fails the test, he will then be required to attend academic classes in summer school for a crash course only to be retested on material he hasn’t been able to grasp over several academic years.

For the most part, our children cannot learn this way; they are wired differently. Shouldn’t his IEP take precedence over the DSTP? The system must be changed; it is only hurting the children in the Delaware Autism Program and wasting valuable non-academic instructional time chasing unrealistic state testing goals. I am sure this pertains to other disabilities as well.

Dorian Rowe Kleinstuber, Bethany Beach

The DSTP is the Delaware Student Testing Program. It’s is Delaware’s version of the NCLB accountability test. It is also high stakes, something that NCLB does not require.

The second letter is interesting from a different perspective. The writer is opposed to same-sex marriage.

Change society’s definition of marriage

I think that society’s definitions of very many things are unenlightened and so narrow. I think that society’s old outdated definitions need to change to adapt to the flexibility and inclusiveness of modern philosophy.

Who cares if a definition has stood for hundreds of years? It’s our definitions today that matter. I think it is unconscionable that we say that water is only the union of one oxygen atom and two hydrogen atoms. I think that the definition of water should be expanded to count two oxygen atoms and two hydrogen atoms. I know narrow minded people call this hydrogen peroxide and they say it is harmful if swallowed or inhaled but they are just peroxide-ophobes.

If these atoms weren’t attracted to each other they wouldn’t join together to form a chemical compound. Who are we to say they shouldn’t be called water. Using the same logic let’s change the definition of marriage too.

Jeffrey T. Fisher, Middletown

I think his logic is flawed. That H2O and H2O2 are different chemicals is a fundamental fact of nature (as it was in the beginning, so to speak). I’m pretty sure that civil marriage is an institution created by men. Still, you gotta love anyone who can work two chemical formulas into a short LttE.

WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND

Filed on March 27, 2004 at 11:13 am under by dcobranchi

Sometimes in a good way.

Here’s an inspiring tale about a homeschooling family who is making a difference.

SORRY, CALIFORNIANS…

Filed on at 11:01 am under by dcobranchi

This is NOT homeschooling. (I’ve been tweaked on at least one list-serv for questioning whether these types of charter school students are homeschoolers.)

B-A-A-A-A-A

Filed on at 10:51 am under by dcobranchi

Here’s a nice piece about a couple of kids who raise kids as part of their “schooling.”

EDUCATORS APPRECIATION WEEKEND

Filed on at 10:46 am under by dcobranchi

You can get 25% off just about anything at Borders this weekend. Home educators are eligible.

SECOND VERSE SAME AS THE FIRST

Filed on at 9:46 am under by dcobranchi

The Washington teacher’s union is going to attempt a put an initiative on the November ballot to overturn Washington’s new charter school law. I think this quote sums up the WEA/NEA’s position quite nicely.

Jim Spady, co-director of the Seattle-based Education Excellence Coalition, which pushed for charter schools, said he was disappointed by the WEA’s action.

“The union is afraid of giving teachers the same professional freedom doctors, lawyers and accountants have to practice their profession in an environment where customers choose which professional to use,” he said.

“They’re also afraid of a public school in which the adults agree to be held to that extremely high level of accountability.”

The union absolutely cannot tolerate competition, as that means fewer dues dollars.

Remember- It’s all about the money.

NO EXCUSES…

Filed on at 9:22 am under by dcobranchi

But I’ll offer one anyway.

The Pennsylvania tests are so tough (How tough are they?), that some teachers may be tempted to cheat.

Angered because they suspected classmates may have gotten an unfair break on the state-mandated achievement tests, two Fayette County eighth-graders cut short their lunch break to protest.

Their complaint earlier this week led Uniontown Area School District officials to discipline a teacher after learning that reading test answers may have been completed in advance for pupils in the teacher’s class, Superintendent Charles Machesky said.

…While he said there is “no excuse” for the apparent testing improprieties, Machesky said the allegations point out the intense pressure that PSSA tests generate for some teachers and pupils. The tests measure yearly progress, and schools and teachers face serious consequences if results are poor.

“What this says is that there are professionals whose reputations are on the line because they teach in the area [that’s being tested]. The pressure is so intense that maybe some feel it’s worth it to risk a teaching license for good [test] scores,” he said. “But there’s no excuse for it, and we’re going to do everything to fix it.”

Well, I guess having the teacher fill out an 8th-grade test is one way to ensure a good score. Hmm, on second thought, given the way some PA teachers perform on their own tests, perhaps the kids would have been better off taking the test themselves.

MICHELLE WHO?

Filed on at 1:44 am under by dcobranchi

I must be an old fogey, because I have absolutely no idea who Michelle Branch is. But, I like this interview quote:

Do you miss anything from school?

I think there are people who really belong in school and really do well in school and I was one of those kids who was always getting in trouble for not doing work, getting in trouble for being late, or this or that, and I always had poor grades. I just tried so hard, and it was such a hard experience for me, and I left school as soon as I had a chance and I started doing home school to finish high school, because I was actually working on records and touring by then. That was a great experience being home-schooled, and I know when the time comes and I have children I’m going to home-school them because you can really focus.

NO SURPRISE HERE

Filed on at 1:39 am under by dcobranchi

A homeschooler in the Poconos was chosen to be “Postmaster for a Day.” She got to follow the real small-town postmaster around and learned how the USPS works. By all acounts, she did a terrific job.

“Amy was eager to take the money and gave correct change back,” elaborated Hallman. “I showed her the whole process of how the mail system works. She was very inquisitive. She probably has a better idea of how the post office works than the employees do.”

…”She was ecstatic when I asked her,” recalled Hallman, equally ecstatic about her performance. “She was eager. She was on top of it. Didn’t ask for breaks. She was the perfect employee.”

The customers were equally pleased with Amy’s work.

“There were no customer complaints,” extolled Hallman. “We usually have one. She handled all the situations very well. Some customers said they finally have a postmaster they can relate to.”

Way to go, Amy!

A NEW ENTITLEMENT…

Filed on March 26, 2004 at 10:35 pm under by dcobranchi

Broadband?

President Bush on Friday urged that affordable high-speed Internet access known as broadband be available to all Americans by 2007.

“We ought to have universal, affordable access to broadband technology by the year 2007,” Bush said in a speech focusing mostly on homeownership. “And then we ought to make sure that as soon as possible thereafter consumers have plenty of choices…”

I love small government Republicans. I just wish there were some left.

LAW OF UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES

Filed on at 12:34 pm under by dcobranchi

Some Detroit-area schools are considering making juniors take the MEAP test, which the state uses for NCLB accountability. Currently, it is optional, and only half the juniors bother. One problem, though. This is a zero stakes test as far as the kids are concerned. My prediction- if the schools force the issue, they’re going to get a lot of kids who either fill out answers at random or turn in a blank test in protest. Guaranteed “failing school” status for sure.

IRON BRYANT MURPHY

Filed on at 12:28 pm under by dcobranchi

From the NY Post.

A face-to-face confrontation between a Brooklyn science teacher and 15-year-old student turned bloody yesterday when the teacher bit his pupil on the nose, cops and school officials said.
Bryant Murphy, a tenured city teacher, was conducting a class in a science lab at Middle School 117 on Willoughby Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant when he and the student – whose name is being withheld – got into a shouting match at 11:45 a.m., cops said.

Yeah- the kid went to school and a boxing match broke out.

I’M SO DIZZY…

Filed on at 7:18 am under by dcobranchi

From all the spinning.

A lot of right-wing publications have picked up this Heritage Foundation column about the “Myth of the Jobless Recovery.” I have no idea if the basic premise is correct, but this example is surely not evidence of job creation.

One could think of the payroll survey as counting all the “brown-eyed” workers at traditional firms and “blue-eyed” workers at start-ups. It does not count “green-eyed” individuals who are self-employed, consult 20 hours a week, or simply home-school their children.

If that’s the best that the VRWC can come up with, expect to see a lot of John Kerry for the next four years.

MY DAY IS RUINED…

Filed on at 3:19 am under by dcobranchi

at 3:16 a.m.

Joanne Jacobs has an absolutely horrifying, frustrating, awful, etc. post about a teacher who should have never been hired.

PSA: HOMESCHOOL DAY

Filed on March 25, 2004 at 9:44 am under by dcobranchi

[FYI- Hershey Park is in Hershey, PA.]

Hersheypark Homeschool Day

Thank you for the incredible response to our recent survey. With your help, and the help of over 2,000 homeschool families, we are pleased to offer the First Homeschool Day at HERSHEYPARK!

Homeschool Day will be held on Wednesday, May 26, and will feature a variety of educational opportunities for your family/group.

The #1 thing that you asked for on the survey was programming from ZOOAMERICA. The staff at ZOOAMERICA have put together a terrific lineup including presentations on Birds of Prey, Reptiles and Endangered Species – just for our Homeschool Families!

Plus, a variety of animal encounters will be featured at the Zoo all day long, so make sure to include a visit to the Zoo in your plans for the day! ZOOAMERICA is FREE with your HERSHEYPARK admission.

In addition, Mr. Kent Bachman, “The Engineer” at HERSHEYPARK will explain the SCIENCE behind our rides, as well as some interesting facts about what’s new for 2004!

Dr. Geno Torri, Educational Consultant to HERSHEYPARK will also be on hand to demonstrate data-collections materials such as accelerometers. He will have a limited number available for loan.

We hope that you will join us for our First Annual Homeschool Day at HERSHEYPARK!

To download the Official Homeschool Day, visit us online at: http://www.hersheypa.com/attractions/hersheypark/groups/

We encourage you to forward this information to other Homeschool Families who may be interested in this exciting day!

Visit us online at http://www.hersheypark.com for updates on times, locations, and events offered on HERSHEYPARK Homeschool Day!

Or, call us toll-free at 1-800-242-4236.

See you May 26!

PIECE O’ CAKE?

Filed on at 2:52 am under by dcobranchi

The Wilmington News-Journal wants to eat its cake, and have it, too. They don’t like the three-tiered diploma system.

One of the worst developments in school accountability in Delaware was the Legislature’s decision to create three different diplomas for high school graduates. There’s one “distinguished” for students who exceed the new academic and testing standards, one “standard” for those who met standards, and one “basic” for those who did not meet standards.

There is now an effort among legislators to rescind the three-tier system, and we endorse it… There should be one and the same diploma for all graduates.

OK, everyone gets the same diploma- even the kids who couldn’t pass the test? No.

[W]e do not endorse any attempt to roll back the standards to determine eligibility for a high school diploma, nor any attempt to separate a diploma from test scores.

So, they’d deny even the “basic diploma” (which is really just a certificate of attendance) to the kids who couldn’t pass? I’m sorry- I just don’t understand what they want. The Delaware system is really no different than New York’s Regents diploma. Do well enough on the test and you get a winkie button on your sheepskin.

Yeah, the testing schedule might need to change. And, perhaps, the kids need more than three chances to pass the test. But, the N-J’s stance is just illogical.

ON GAY RIGHTS

Filed on March 24, 2004 at 7:14 pm under by dcobranchi

Here’s a good column about how the times, they are a changing. A homeschooler figures prominetly.

CREDENTIALS = GOOD TEACHER

Filed on at 7:05 pm under by dcobranchi

Florida moms cannot possibly educate 4-year-olds as well as credentialed teachers, according to this snotty column.

One of the House bill’s sponsors, Rep. Ralph Azra of Hialeah, has the gall to argue: “Amateur moms can be as effective as credentialed teachers.”

A beacon of educational excellence Hialeah is not. Poor and full of immigrants, blue-collar Hialeah is precisely the kind of place that desperately needs high-quality pre-K with credentialed teachers for 4-year-olds.

…You don’t have to be a rocket scientist from Hialeah to understand that the kids who are failing school today are disproportionately poor. Quality pre-K could have made the difference.

There’s more to teaching a preschooler than providing three hours a day of pseudo-instruction, as the House bill proposes. It takes credentials, an understanding of what techniques work to excite children about learning and expert ways to measure outcomes to ensure kids are learning.

Ten-to-one she holds a teaching certificate.

PINOCCHIO IN DC

Filed on at 6:45 pm under by dcobranchi

The NEA’s chief lobbyist is a lifelong Republican. Absolutely shocking, I know. But, at least he’s a Republican with a sense of humor.

But that doesn’t mean the union is anti-Republican, Moody said. As the manager of federal policy and politics for the NEA, a Republican himself and a fan of Goldwater, he said it’s his hope that the NEA isn’t seen as overtly partisan.

“I’m helping the NEA and its affiliates recognize the importance of working with Republicans, being bipartisan and looking at a candidate’s public education votes regardless of party,” he said. “And on the other end, working with Republican candidates and officeholders to let them see the NEA is not an arm of the Democratic Party, and we will help Republicans if they help us.”

Too funny.

A RIGHT TO “FREE” DAYCARE

Filed on at 6:40 pm under by dcobranchi

Parents are threatening to sue the Houston Independent School District (HISD) in order to keep a pre-school open. Geez! And, the stupid school’s not really closing. It’s just being relocated a few blocks away. I give up. The statists win. *sigh*

AA AT IT’S WORST

Filed on at 6:27 pm under by dcobranchi

Boston-area charter schools have a disproportianately low percentage of poor, disabled, and limited English students as compared to the regular g-schools. Is this prima facie evidence that the charters are “creaming”? Hardly. The slots are all chosen by lottery. The schools end up with the kids who apply. That’s still not good enough, though, for the ridiculously-named “Progress Through the Education Pipeline Project.”

[I]n a “market” system in which individual choice is part of the mix, word of mouth (about how to apply to a charter school, availability of seats, kind of education, etc.) and existing advantage (related, for example, to having extra time to attend informational meetings at the school) play a significant role in determining which children are even part of the application pool. In reality, charter schools in Boston are leaving the most challenging-to-teach students in the district schools…In the absence of a moratorium on charter school expansion, education decision-makers – the Governor, legislature, and state Board of Education – should act to ensure that Boston charter schools enrollment reflects the diversity of Boston Public Schools and that all students have equitable access to Boston charter schools.

They already have equitable access. Ms. Wheelock is arguing for quotas, of course. Illegal as hell. And, what if not enough poor kids even apply to the charters? Are we supposed to drag them in, kicking and screaming, in order to assure “equitable access”?

How can smart people continue to come up with such dumb ideas?

SOMETHING REALLY FISHY HERE

Filed on at 1:34 am under by dcobranchi

Virginia’s countywide spelling bees excluded homeschoolers. Instead, they were forced to compete against each other in a statewide bee.

Twenty-four home schoolers came from around the state to face off at the Dumbarton Library in Henrico County, and they were so good that bee officials quickly moved to the advanced word list in an effort to narrow the field.

Here are some of the words they faced: “cinematheque,” “habiliments,” “quondam,” and “triceratops.”

The grueling bee took close to three hours before 11-year-old Brittannie Hedrick of Langley Air Force Base spelled “immiscible” to win. The word means something that cannot be mixed, as in oil and water.

Brittannie, a sixth-grader, is the daughter of John P. and Lynne Hedrick.

Lindsey Brinkman, 12, was runner-up, tripping up on “cedilla.” She is the daughter of Donna and Chuck Brinkman of Chesapeake.

Sounds like Virginia didn’t want the regional competition to be dominated by homeschoolers, so they stacked the deck against them.

SOMETHING FISHY HERE

Filed on at 1:16 am under by dcobranchi

A Nashville-area homeschooler won their regional spelling bee and is on her way to the Nationals.

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO PB&J?

Filed on March 23, 2004 at 5:20 pm under by dcobranchi

A kindergartner was caught sprinkling marijuana on his friend’s lasagna. The 5-year-old claimed it was oregano. Shoot, when I was in school we never had lasagna for lunch.

1-2-3-PUNT

Filed on at 9:19 am under by dcobranchi

Delaware’s high stakes testing appears as if it will be put on hold for (at least) two years. The program was scheduled to take effect this spring but parents and teachers have screamed loud enough for legislators to finally hear. The bills to postpone it have strong support from the House and Senate Education committees; it’s probably a done deal.

A WEE BIT SNARKY

Filed on at 6:28 am under by dcobranchi

The CS Monitor goes after home educators (particularly evangelicals) for “indoctrinating” our kids. I found this line hilarious:

Homeschooling gives parents the opportunity to transmit values and political beliefs to their children to a degree that public schools generally cannot.

What!? The public schools don’t transmit political beliefs? Then, where is all the political correctness coming from? Geez! The reason a lot of parents chose to homeschool was because the political and moral beliefs the schools were imparting were anathema to the parents.

The rest of the article goes on to take a look at HSLDA and its impact on politics. It’s an interesting (if somewhat frustraing) read.

VERY NICE

Filed on at 6:17 am under by dcobranchi

The Dallas Morning News
has a completely positive article on a group of Plano moms who have organized a homeschool support group. Under the category of “It takes all kinds,” one of the families start “school” at 6 a.m. Yikes! Worth a read.

ANOTHER UNFAIR ADVANTAGE

Filed on at 6:07 am under by dcobranchi

Home educated kids get the best ice times.

NOT SO DISMAL

Filed on March 22, 2004 at 6:16 pm under by dcobranchi

I missed this one but, fortunately, Catallarchy didn’t.

The Economist on Feb. 26th published a very positive article about the growth of homeschooling in the US. Not a discouraging word in the piece. The closing ‘graf is a classic.

Yet these arguments point to change in the way the debate is unfolding. It is no longer about whether home-schooled children are losing out, but whether they are doing unfairly well. “Maybe we should subcontract all of public education to home-schoolers,” Bill Bennett, Mr Reagan’s education secretary, once wondered mischievously. That looks unlikely. But America’s home-schoolers represent an assault on public education that teachers everywhere should pay attention to.

That’s us, alright- unfair competition for the g-schools.

TAKES ALL KINDS

Filed on at 5:09 pm under by dcobranchi

Chris found a post by a former home educator who really doesn’t quite get it. The comments section is getting interesting.

YADA, YADA, YADA, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH

Filed on at 12:47 pm under by dcobranchi

We’re killing the g-schools by not putting our kids in them and “supporting” them:

The phenomenon, as old as the Republic, is a continuing tug between two legitimate concepts, that of supporting the public schools for the public good and that of doing what one thinks is best for one’s own kids…Factor in the traditional magnets of local parochial and private schools that lure families with promises of well-rounded curriculums, sports, and other activities and add pressure from some segments of society for everything from school vouchers to home schooling…”As we weigh various proposals for education reform,” it noted, “we must not forget that Americans developed public schools to unify our nation and to provide for the common good.”

The unanswered question since the early 1800s is whether taxpayers will sufficiently support “the common good.”

The 150-year experiment in the “common” schools ran long enough to prove them incapable of providing that common good. Why should we continue to pour good money after bad? And, don’t even think for a second that we have an obligation to sacrifice our kids’ futures on the altar of the “common good.” That’s just laughable.

B-BALL FOLLOW-UP

Filed on at 12:34 pm under by dcobranchi

Izzy’s been blogging about the homeschool basketball tourney in Oklahoma City for days. Well, here’s a follow-up that’s definitely not good news.

HOUSTON — Two hospitals in the Woodlands are dealing with almost a dozen patients possibly infected with Legionnaires disease.

Health officials confirmed 11 cases of the disease at Memorial Hermann Hospital in the Woodlands.

UPDATE: Good news! I heard from Izzy; all of hers are well.

Another 20 people reported symptoms at St. Luke’s Hospital, but they were released.

Officials said the people reporting symptoms of Legionnaires disease had recently returned to Houston from a Christian home school basketball tournament in Oklahoma City, where they all stayed in the same hotel.

Let’s hope that all in the Lyman family are well and that all the victims recover completely.

UPDATE: I heard from Izzy. All is well with them.

LEGISLATION ALERT: LOUISIANA

Filed on at 1:31 am under by dcobranchi

Louisiana legislators are attempting to modify their home ed laws by re-categorizing homeschools. The change was not negotiated with their statewide inclusive group, LAHEN. That’s usually not a good sign. LAHEN then issued the notice attached below. If you need the deleted email address, write me offline.

The DOE has submitted legislation to statutorily classify all homeschoolers not in the state approved Home-Study program as “In Home Private Schools.” This language is to be added to the revised statutes dealing with the state Home-Study program. Despite the fact that term “private school” is used, this language seems to classify home educators using the private school option as home-study, only without the state-approval. The need for the DOE to have a term to distinguish other home educators from their state-approved Home-Study participants is understandable. (They most likely keep stats on Parochial versus other private schools, but don’t require statutory language to do that.) There is no need to revise the statutes just to coin a term referring to home educators other than those in the state-approved Home-Study program. This proposed language has the potential for restricting the educational freedom of home educators because it opens the door to classifying private school homeschoolers as not simply a private school, but a category of home-study. It will be more difficult to retain our freedoms if we allow the DOE to categorize us as other than simply a private school. Read the full text of the bill here: http://198.245.141.11/bills/byinst.asp?sessionid=04RS&billid=HB1238 Send along your comments to LAHEN: [email address deleted]

Thanks to Ailina for catching this.

SATIRE OR WHINING…

Filed on March 21, 2004 at 8:10 pm under by dcobranchi

You make the call.

Darby found a cartoon from the SF Gate that isn’t exactly pleased with the state of the g-schools.

MAKES SENSE TO ME

Filed on at 2:46 pm under by dcobranchi

The film version of the musical “1776” has been banned from some middle schools in Virginia for “sexual innuendo.”

Jefferson is balking at staying in Philadelphia to write the declaration and protests to Adams: “I’ve not seen my wife in six months.”

Adams responds, “You write 10 times better than any man in Congress, including me. For a man of only 33 years, you possess a happy talent for composition and a remarkable felicity of expression. Now, will you be a patriot . . . or a lover?”

Jefferson, clearly preferring the latter, says he “burns” for his wife, at home in Virginia.

Pretty mild, I’d say. Meanwhile, this book is deemed appropriate for 6-year-olds. When are the grown-ups going to take over?

MATTHEW 5:44*

Filed on at 1:08 am under by dcobranchi

This one is just plain silly. A Lousiana g-school principal led her students in a prayer at the start of the state accountability tests. She prayed for help in vanquishing their “enemies,” the tests.

“I receive your help faith, knowing that through you I shall do valiantly, for you are the one who treads down my enemies.(LEAP, Iowa)”.

Now, the ACLU is involved, and she’s under investigation by the school district. A different prayer, handed out earlier to teachers by the same principal read, in part, “Education in New Orleans, is in trouble.” No kidding.

*Matthew 5:44- But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, (NIV)

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