Utterly Meaningless » 2004 » August
  • TB EPIDEMIC IN NYC SCHOOLS?

    Filed on August 13, 2004 at 6:37 am under by dcobranchi

    There must be. Otherwise, why this vitriolic attack on religioius exemptions to mandatory vaccinations?

    Some children are excused from what we all assumed is a basic obligation to society:being vaccinated against serious illnesses that spread so easily in places such as schools. Yet students entering New York City public schools are not required to submit to free and available protection against deadly communicable diseases like tuberculosis and hepatitis. All their parents need do is plead a religious exemption. Through a little- advertised loophole, which acts like a license, spiritual claims are accepted at face value. When it comes to religious diversity, we do not dare open ourselves to charges of intolerance. If sound science offends, that scientific truth is worked over to make it right. Even medicine must be politically correct. That means that since all cultures are equal ( isn’t diversity without judgement what America is now about? ), and some cultures ( none of which can be called primitive ) reject Western medicine as the devil’s work or the invention of infidels, the rest of us must submit to their prophets even if it means exposure to their disease. We go easy on the credentials of holy men, whatever their so-called teaching. Isn’t that the legacy America has come down to?

    That damn First Amendment keeps getting in the way of all these good statists! I have an easy solution, but I doubt Ron Isaac will go for it: separate school and state. If education were a completely private affair, parents worried about TB could make it a requirement for their private school. Isaac (and other statists) would be free to discriminate against all of these religious immigrants that concern him so.

    LETTER OF THE DAY

    Filed on at 6:12 am under by dcobranchi

    Not from the News-Journal this time. I really can’t think of anything to add, but I thought y’all should see this:

    Home schooling hid abuse, neglect

    Whenever I so much as see the phrase “home schooling,” it sends a cold chill own my spine. I realize that home schooling can be a real benefit to students, but I am concerned about the few who have control-freak parents who use home schooling as a smokescreen. I was home-schooled and was not only brought up in an isolated environment, I was both verbally and physically abused. I was not put on a regular schedule, and for me, home schooling was no schooling. I could have a lesson one day and then not have another for the next six months or so. I grew up awkward and uneducated. I could find only the most lowly of jobs. I’ve never had a family of my own or driven a car.

    In today’s world, if you are shy, you get passed by. It’s a world of slights, put-downs and being passed up for responsibilities that I could very well take care of.

    When the Dionne quintuplets were grown, they opened up a flower shop. Their business went flop. These women had not had opportunity to mix with other people during their formative years. They did not know how to treat their customers when they came in and most mistook their attitude for aloofness.

    Home schooling is a very serious endeavor, and should be though over carefully and prayerfully.

    Weigellia G. Trock

    Lebanon

    KEEP IT ON YOUR SIDE

    Filed on August 12, 2004 at 10:16 pm under by dcobranchi

    Kim DuToit found a British educational “programme” that I’m sure edu-crats here would love to import:

    Margaret Hodge, the minister for children, is quietly extending her empire to embrace parents, too. In a green paper due out next month, she proposes to teach millions of mothers and fathers how to bring up their children by sending them to parenting classes at public expense.

    Such classes can already be made compulsory for parents of truants and thugs. But Mrs Hodge has noticed that middle-class families are rarely summoned before the courts to be reformed in this way. So she plans to spend vast sums of taxpayers’ money on a mass programme of re-education. She seems determined that no child shall fail to be indoctrinated with the political correctness that made Islington council the nursery of the “Loony Left” in the 1980s when Mrs Hodge was its leader.

    Kim has a few choice words for Mrs. Hodge.

    NO AGENDA HERE

    Filed on at 12:15 pm under by dcobranchi

    This is pretty funny. John F. Borowski of the Native Forest Council is aghast that Scholastic Books is marketing one by that Darth Vader of anti-environmentalism, the American Petroleum Institute. How dare they!

    Let’s be explicitly blunt: API is not about education, rather indoctrination. Their agenda is guilty of the two most heinous cardinal sins in education: omission and dishonesty. Education is built on fluency of data and interpreting that data through critical thought. API’s intentions are to mislead children, distancing them from their critical thought processes. API loathes that children growing into voting citizens might open their eyes to global climate change, the folly of drilling in pristine lands such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the suicidal dependence on nonrenewable fuels. Acting as an educational carpetbagger with the assistance of Scholastic enables this petroleum based Trojan horse unlimited access to children. Scholastic’s own website claims that Scholastic’s products are virtually in every public school in the United States. API’s spin- doctors must drool when they consider the possibilities of debunking ecological concerns that rightfully so haunt their industry.

    Riiight! The API is interested only in indoctrination, whereas the NFC only wants to educate and instill those valuable “critical thinking skills.”

    Using free videotapes, posters, overhead teacher’s visuals and computer software, API had a goal: “to get children to influence their parents’ views and to create a favorable image in the minds of future decision makers.” In other words: lie to children, omit any substantive discussion on the negative effects of continued oil use and use teachers as unwitting accomplices in a “big lie.”

    Using kids to influence their parents decisions. That sounds so familiar. Where have I heard that before? Oh, I know. The environmentalists/teachers do it all the time. But, again, that’s education.

    One man’s education is another man’s indoctrination.

    LATE BLOGGING TODAY

    Filed on at 7:47 am under by dcobranchi

    One of those days. I’ll be back online this evening.

    TOO SEXY FOR MY NAME

    Filed on August 11, 2004 at 6:40 pm under by dcobranchi

    This is so far OT that we may have left the planet. According to CNN, your name, in part, may help determine how attractive you are to the opposite sex.

    Men with “front vowels” in their names — sounds formed at the front of the mouth like the “a” in Matt — were considered sexier than men with “back vowel” sounds like the “au” in Paul, she concluded.

    The opposite held for women, who were sexier with back vowels than front ones.

    …But men who might be thinking of taking more feminine names to become sexier should be careful not to go too far: men with women’s names were rated least sexy of all.

    “Daryl”- front “a” and it’s not a girl’s name (Daryl Hannah notwithstanding). No autographs, please.

    Virginia Is For (Fully Clothed) Lovers

    Filed on at 2:47 pm under by dcobranchi

    This story could be seen as a bookend to Daryl’s post on “Hitler High” below:

    A federal judge yesterday dismissed a lawsuit brought by a southeastern Virginia nudist camp challenging a new state law that prohibits teens from attending a nudist summer camp without their parents or legal guardians. . . .

    Judge Williams also said the law’s requirement for parental supervision is a minimal restriction that does not violate parents’ constitutional rights to raise their children as they see fit. . . .

    The American Association of Nude Recreation-East, the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia (ACLU) and White Tail Park said the law is unconstitutional and said yesterday they will appeal the judge’s ruling to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

    “They deserve to have their day in court and find out whether the law is unconstitutional,” said Rebecca Glenberg, legal director for the Richmond-based ACLU of Virginia.

    She said the law is unfair and discriminates against the teens and parents who want to live a “naturalist” lifestyle.

    “If there were a law requiring a parent to accompany every child to Boy Scout or Girl Scout camp, you can see what a burden that would be,” Miss Glenberg said.

    Conservatives praised the decision yesterday.

    “These types of camps have been magnets for pedophiles,” Virginia Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore said after the ruling. “We already require parents to agree to send their kids to R-rated movies. … We want to encourage parents to be involved in the lives of their children.”

    Kilgore had a legal duty to defend the law before the district court, but his “pedophile” statement crossed the line. In fact, there was no evidence presented to the court that the White Tail Park—which ran the only nudist camp in the statement—encouraged, allowed, or attracted pedophilia. More to the point, the Virginia legislature never heard any evidence linking nudist camps to pedophilia. The law was based almost exclusively on the prejudices of conservative members against nudism. Kilgore’s statement is thus tantamount to slander.

    Pedophiles, it stands to reason, are generally attracted to any location where children are known to congregate. But the mere possibility of attracting pedophiles does not justify intrusive state regulation. There was no evidence that White Tail did not take reasonable precautions. They did require all teenagers attending to have parental consent (which the law did not require before the current statute was passed.) This makes Kilgore’s “R-rated movie” argument another evasion of reality.

    Conservatives who supported this legislation should stop and think about how their fear-based arguments here could be used against other parents who teach their children according to non-mainstream values: homeschoolers. If liberals proposed discriminatory regulations against homeschoolers because “homeschools are magnets for child abuse” with no evidence to back up that claim, I doubt conservatives would be amused.

    HOME VS. G-

    Filed on at 1:36 pm under by dcobranchi

    The East Texas Weekly has an excellent Op/Ed on why we do what we do, and how the failed g-school system needs to change.

    What’s to be done? With present homeschoolers, probably nothing. These customers are likely lost forever. The public schools’ mission should compass staunching the outflow in the only way feasible, by offering a deal too good to turn down: safe environment, strong teaching, moral atmosphere. Such a deal we formerly thought we had. We voted with our seats, our classroom seats, that is In them we stayed.

    As in any good marketplace setting, it was product that won for the public schools. Again, product is the only conceivable answer. But can the unions and bureaucracies be coaxed into caring? That’s another matter, sadly.

    BROWN SHIRT UPDATE

    Filed on at 10:54 am under by dcobranchi

    The principal of Hitler High really has to go.

    A group of parents upset over their treatment at a assembly Monday morning is circulating a petition calling for the removal of Moss Point High School’s principal.

    …[Superintendent Dr. Tressie Shaw] Harper defended Molden’s delivery Monday. “We’re trying to put strong instructional leaders in every school, but especially the high school. And a strong leader needs a great deal of support from parents,” she said.

    Harper urged parents “to get over this issue and really focus on academics.”

    What, exactly, does all blue shoes (no grey stripes allowed) have to do with academics? And, if strong support is needed from the parents, Molden is doomed already. Finally, the Superintendent has been hanging out with 6th graders far too long; I doubt telling parents to “get over it” is going to fly.

    The edu-crats are supposed to work for the parents, aren’t they?

    Teacher Salaries at the Margins

    Filed on at 10:25 am under by dcobranchi

    Robert Murphy, an economics professor at Hillsdale College, offers this analysis of a classic teacher union gripe:

    The classical confusion over use and exchange value resurfaces in modern times whenever someone laments: “Teachers make only a fraction of what professional athletes make! Doesn’t this country care about education more than sports?!?”

    Again, such statements do not take into account the fact that decisions are made on the margin. The fact that a teacher makes $25,000 while a baseball player makes $250,000 does not imply that anyone thinks baseball is more important than education (though some may indeed believe this!). All it really means is that the first employer believes that the services of that particular teacher are worth (at least) $25,000, while the second employer believes that the services of that particular baseball player are worth (at least) $250,000.

    As with water and diamonds, the issue is one of relative scarcity. The aptitude and skills necessary to be a teacher are in much greater abundance (relative to the uses others have of teaching services) than the aptitude and skills necessary to become a professional athlete (relative to the quantity of professional sports that consumers wish to see). If fifty random US high school teachers were to suddenly quit, the impact on education would be negligible; replacements could be found almost immediately, and within a short while no one would notice the change. But if suddenly fifty random NBA players were to quit, the league would take years to fully recover from the loss.

    Before leaving the issue of teacher versus athlete pay, let me point out one subtle contradiction by the critics of capitalism: The very same people who remind us over and over that a person’s income is no measure of his or her intrinsic worth, are the ones who complain the loudest over this country’s “priorities” when it comes to salaries. But if we are already agreed that a person’s salary has no relation to moral worth or social importance, then why is the teacher (or nurse, fire fighter, etc.) entitled to more money than the professional athlete?

    The problem with most g-school teachers is that they, like their students, are ignorant of economic principles, and thus rely on vague anti-concepts like “social justice” when demanding more money.

    YOU CAN JAIL ‘EM NOW OR JAIL ‘EM LATER

    Filed on at 9:08 am under by dcobranchi

    This is just plain scary:

    Convinced that youngsters struggling in the back of class in kindergarten are more likely to find themselves slouching in the back of squad cars before graduation, law enforcement officials from Allegheny County will join colleagues across the country today in pleading for more preschool funding.

    …They’ll release the results of a Fight Crime national survey of 800 kindergarten teachers that shows their frustration with youngsters who are disruptive and unprepared because they lack preschool training.

    They’ll also talk about research that has shown graduates of good preschool programs are far less likely to commit crimes later in life than their contemporaries without preschool experience.

    Soon to come, a cost/benefit study showing that if we would just throw all infants in jail enroll all infants in school, we could save the bazillion dollars we currently spend on the prison system.

    ASTRONOMICAL REMINDER

    Filed on at 6:45 am under by dcobranchi

    Tonight is the annual Perseid meteor shower. With a little luck (i.e., clear skies), this year’s show should be better than most, as the moon is close to new.

    AND A ONE AND A TWO

    Filed on at 6:37 am under by dcobranchi

    The Seattle Times has a nice profile of a musical homeschooling family including a couple of samples of their work. Pretty cool.

    HH EASILY IMPRESSED :-)

    Filed on August 10, 2004 at 5:40 pm under by dcobranchi

    Joanne (aka the Happy Homeschooler) likes this AP article. If you ignore the completely screwed first graf, it’s actually a decent summary.

    CALL BEFORE MIDNIGHT TONIGHT!

    Filed on at 3:38 pm under by dcobranchi

    WND is making an offer that I’m going to refuse.

    Hitting = Freedom?

    Filed on at 12:51 pm under by dcobranchi

    I have immense respect for Thomas Sowell, the Stanford University economist. His recent book, Applied Economics, is a fabulous introductory text on the perils of government regulation. But sometimes Sowell says things that defy his own carefully constructed economic theories. A case in point is his recent op-ed describing various harmful government interventions. First he criticizes a Santa Monica, California, law that fines people $2,500 a day for not cutting their hedges. I’m with him there. Then he criticizes the British government’s strict gun control laws, which have contributed to an increase in the crime rate. Again, I’m with him. Then he throws out this charge:

    In some European countries, it is illegal to spank your own children. They apparently believe, like Hillary Clinton, that “it takes a village” to raise a child. But, if the child ends up rotten, it is not the village that lies awake at night but the parents.

    So, according to Sowell, only socialist liberals oppose hitting children. Beyond that, Sowell contends that parents who don’t hit their children will end up with “rotten” children (what are they, fruit?)

    Well, Dr. Sowell, I am a proud supporter of individual rights, and as such, I oppose the initiation of force in any context, especially in an adult-child relationship. Hitting is wrong, period. And if you think hitting children is the way to discipline them, then you don’t understand the concept of discipline.

    FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS

    Filed on at 11:39 am under by dcobranchi

    The Boston Globe has an update to the NYT piece on the phenomenon of “friends with benefits” (blogged here). The Op/Ed includes a couple of emails from girls who had been caught up in that behavior. Worth a read.

    AN ARROGANT S.O.B.

    Filed on at 3:38 am under by dcobranchi

    Not Chris but the author of the piece he fisks. No spoilers here– read the diatribe and then Chris’s reponse.

    BTW, while you’re at the blogspot site, check out the comments. There are a couple that’ll raise your B.P. a point or two.

    IT’S GETTING UGLY OUT THERE

    Filed on at 3:05 am under by dcobranchi

    Florida’s school voucher system seems like it is getting ready to implode. Last year the program was blasted for allowing former homeschoolers to participate when they were explicitly ineligible under the law. Now, it’s a case of cronyism that is causing Gov. Bush’s headaches. This is not how it’s supposed to work, but I really shouldn’t be surprised– government is after all the problem. Separate school and state.

    SHEEP HOMESCHOOL, TOO

    Filed on August 9, 2004 at 11:42 am under by dcobranchi

    I can’t believe a home educating mom was quoted as saying this in defense of PA’s laws:

    “I think people should be grateful they are allowed to homeschool. It’s not that much paper work,” [Vonnie] Stevenson said.

    Grateful?! To the educrats?! That’s gotta be a misquote (I hope).

    (PARTIAL) LETTER OF THE DAY

    Filed on at 6:36 am under by dcobranchi

    From the often entertaining LttE section of the Wilmington News-Journal— a new reason to stop abortion.

    Abortion also has an economic impact

    Abortion is not only wrong and immoral, it’s just plain stupid. Everyone is concerned about Social Security and Medicare. If you kill off babies, what will happen in the future if there are more seniors living than workers paying into Social Security. Should old folks be killed because there are too many of us for the system to handle?

    I can see a bumper sticker or two:

    More babies = more taxes

    Pro life and pro “free” drugs!

    I have intentionally stayed out of the abortion debate here at H&OES. It’s way OT and almost a guaranteed flame war. That being said, this economic “argument” for the pro-life side should itself be aborted. Very weak.

    THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR

    Filed on August 8, 2004 at 10:58 pm under by dcobranchi

    I don’t think Neal Boortz would have liked that Staples ad from a couple years back.

    ARE BROWN SHIRTS REQUIRED?

    Filed on at 10:52 pm under by dcobranchi

    This school has taken the uniform thing too far.

    Around 200 students at Moss Point High School spent Friday morning out of class, waiting for suspension reports for dress code violations.

    Administrators waited at the entrance as students arrived for their first day and pulled students aside who were in violation of the newly-imposed uniform dress code at the high school.

    …They were also given “automatic suspension reports,” which listed their offense as dress code violations. Each report requested a parent conference at the gym at 8 a.m. Monday. Those students were then given their schedules and sent back to class, Molden said.

    None of the 1,280 students enrolled at the high school were suspended Friday for dress code violations, Molden said.

    Parents who cannot be at the Monday morning conference should make arrangements with the school office immediately, Molden said, adding that without a parent conference, students will be suspended for one day for the offense.

    Rhonda Matienzo was upset that she missed work Friday to pick up her child, and that she’ll also have to miss work Monday for the conference. She asked to have the conference with the principal Friday but was denied, she said.

    Her daughter, a sophomore, had never had detention or been late to class and had perfect attendance at school last year, she said. Her infraction was wearing a black belt adorned with cut-out designs.

    “I have to miss work again Monday to get my child back in school because her belt was not solid,” she said.

    The district’s dress code policy calls for belts to be black, brown or navy. No other requirements are listed.

    Eins, zwei, drei, vier!

    Get That Baby Off Your Lap!

    Filed on at 10:14 pm under by dcobranchi

    The Cato Institute’s Radley Balko blogs about the National Transportation Safety Board’s latest idea:

    [The NTSB wants to] require parents to purchase an airline ticket for infants and toddlers, and require them to strap the kid into a separate seat. Currently, most airlines allow parents to hold very young children in their laps.

    What caused the change? Apparently, the lack of such a rule has caused three unrestrained children to die in airline incidents — in twenty years. The FAA is opposed to the change, for exactly that reason.

    Here’s my favorite part:

    Debbie Hersman, an NTSB board member who has children ages 2 and 3, said parents need to know that placing small children on their laps is not as safe as buckling the children into their own seats.

    “As a mother, I can’t imagine knowingly putting my children in a situation where they’d be less safe than I am,” Hersman said.

    At risk of sounding like a pig (hey, when has that stopped me before?), any time a female policymaker begins a public statement with the phrase “as a mother…” the safe money says she’s about to tell you why she knows more about raising your kids than you do.

    I have no children of my own, but I suspect those of you that do have found that infants aren’t always cooperative when they’re strapped into seats for long periods of time. Then again, most people in the federal government believe babies belong with bureaucratic social workers–er, “high quality caregivers”–so Mrs. Hersman’s position is just par for the course.

    This reminds me of the 1999 campaign by the Consumer Product Safety Commission to demonize co-sleeping on the grounds that it was too dangerous for infants, despite the statistics that showed co-sleeping was just as safe if not safer than forcing babies to sleep in cribs. A cynic might say the U.S. government is doing everything it can to separate mothers from their babies.

    REDNECK UPDATE

    Filed on at 8:49 am under by dcobranchi

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    WHY, OH, WHY?

    Filed on at 6:56 am under by dcobranchi

    I don’t understand why every reporter who writes a story about homeschooling’s growth feels obligated to included a graf showing how much we’re “costing” the local schools. The latest example:

    Countywide, the number of home-schoolers has climbed 40% over the last eight years, and more than 50% within the Racine Unified School District, where 515 students were home-schooled during the 2003-’04 school year.

    …Meanwhile, Racine Unified has struggled with declining enrollment for years.

    If those 515 home-schoolers within Racine Unified’s boundaries had attended public schools last year, the district could have raised its state revenue caps by roughly $1.3 million.

    You almost never see anyone point out that they don’t have to pay teachers to educate those 515 homeschoolers. Nor do you see the same dreck written about private schools. It’s almost as if the reporters believe that we homeschool specifically in order to “cost” the g-schools money. We don’t, of course. That’s just a side benefit.

    ????

    Filed on at 6:47 am under by dcobranchi

    Can anyone in PA confirm this?

    According to the [PA] Department of Education, three more cyber charter schools are set to open this fall. They are operated by a mix of home schooling organizations, public school districts and for-profit companies.

    Homeschoolers are running a cyber charter? No way!

    SOUNDS GOOD TO ME

    Filed on at 6:33 am under by dcobranchi

    Even if the boys are not convinced, I like the Guttensohn’s decision to homeschool their 8-year-old quints.

    Their parents aren’t going to call it the Guttensohn Grammar School, but they’ve been busy converting part of their house into a learning center.

    Amy Guttensohn, who joined thousands of other parents and students at a home-school conference at the Montgomery Civic Center a few weeks ago, said she and her husband have an approved curriculum for the quints, who will be in the third grade.

    The newbie home educating mom already sounds like a veteran:

    Although the boys might not have their friends sitting near them in a classroom, their social lives are not expected to suffer because they’ll be learning inside their house instead of a school building.

    “The boys have a social life,” their mother said.

    Good luck, Guttensohns.

    The MBA Overrated?

    Filed on August 7, 2004 at 11:44 pm under by dcobranchi

    Two professors at Pace University analyzed the relationship between a company’s performance and its CEO’s education. Their findings may help debunk the emphasis many place on acquiring as many degrees and state-approved diplomas as possible:

    We find four results in our analysis. First, using the mean entrance scores as proxies for the prestige of undergraduate and graduate programs, we find no evidence that firms with CEOs from more prestigious schools perform better than firms with CEOs from less prestigious schools. Second, we find that firms managed by CEOs with MBA or law degrees perform no better than firms with CEOs without graduate degrees. Third, we find some limited evidence that firms led by CEOs with non-MBA, non-law graduate degrees have slightly better risk-adjusted market performance than other firms. Fourth, we find that compensation is somewhat higher for CEOs who attended more prestigious schools.

    Remember kids, President Bush holds a Harvard MBA. You get what you (over)pay for.

    (Hat tip: Craig Newmark)

    MAYBE I AM A RED

    Filed on at 11:05 pm under by dcobranchi

    neck.

    Tonight we went to the Cowtown Rodeo in Woodstown, NJ. What a blast! The crowd was SRO on a wonderfully cool August night. Both Lydia and I noted how well-behaved everyone was. All of the cowboys (locals and “ringers” alike) were well received. Even though beer was available (and you could bring in your own), there were no obvious drunks. And I didn’t hear one curse word the entire evening. Just good old wholesome Americana. I’ll post photos tomorrow as an update.

    And, yes, I wore the hat and felt right at home.

    OT: I DIDN’T SIGN

    Filed on at 3:26 pm under by dcobranchi

    I was just accosted by a man registering new voters. He was also collecting signatures to get his presidential candidate on the ballot. The Socialist Worker’s Party. That’s right– the communists have come to DE. I declined to sign and wished him “luck.” He’s gonna need a lot of it. DE’s a pretty leftist state, but I don’t think quite that left.

    WHAT’S A FOOLISH INCONSISTENCY?

    Filed on at 10:23 am under by dcobranchi

    In a bit of a personal irony, Pres. Bush called for ending legacy admissions policies in the nation’s colleges. In the same speech, though, he endorsed affirmative action.

    “I support college affirmatively taking action to get more minorities in their school,” Bush said as the audience laughed.

    He was speaking to an audience of minority groups, so this is pandering of the worst kind. His administration (rightly) opposed affirmative action in the Michigan cases. He ought to at least have the guts to support himself, eh?

    And they say Kerry flip-flops.

    UPDATE 10:25 a.m.: Interestingly, the NYT missed the AA comment.

    NAME DROPPING

    Filed on August 6, 2004 at 8:36 pm under by dcobranchi

    I can’t resist pointing out this comment from Helen Hegener. Helen is the founder, editor, and chief bottle-washer at Home Education Magazine. HEM also sponsors several listservs on Yahoo including the indispensable HEM-Networking.

    SELDOM IS HEARD

    Filed on at 6:56 pm under by dcobranchi

    I’ve got no complaints about this homeschooling editorial. (Shocked, aren’t you?)

    OT: Reviewing the Supreme Court

    Filed on at 3:28 pm under by dcobranchi

    There’s no homeschooling angle to this, but over at Citizens for Voluntary Trade, we’ve released a new policy paper that reviews four antitrust-related Supreme Court cases decided this past term. For people who think the Court is always divided 5-4 along “party” lines–an odd view, given that seven justices are Republican appointees–the antitrust quartet may surprise you: The Court’s judgment, if not their opinions, were unanimous in all but one case, and in that case there was only one dissenting justice. And more tellingly, the Court’s position in all four cases matched the views of the Bush administration.

    MAY BE???

    Filed on at 2:05 pm under by dcobranchi

    Why is there any question about the outcome of this?

    Principal may be fired in sex case

    An Atlanta middle school principal faces dismissal after he admitted having sex with students, school district documents say.

    He and one of his subordinates apparently “shared” a student for four years.

    Pervs in the schools– WWHS.

    IAATM*

    Filed on at 1:50 pm under by dcobranchi

    File this one under “Those Poor G-Schools.”

    Polk County (FL) School District is being hit hard by FL’s voucher system. Hundreds of kids have left the district. What’s worse– most of those were disabled.

    Audra Curts-Whann, director of finance for Polk schools, said that the combined loss of students between McKay and CTC scholarships is equal to a loss of $1.75 million in revenue.

    “That’s how much our funding was reduced for those things paid out elsewhere.”

    When a student leaves a public school on a voucher or scholarship, the state money the district earns for that student no longer comes to the school. Polk County’s base student allocation last year, the amount the state gives the county per student, was $3,489. This year it will be $3,563. Disabled students actually generate more funds than the base, depending on the type of disability and the child’s needs, because their education is more expensive.

    Then, there’s the clueless educrat of the day:

    Jack English, chairman of the Polk County School Board, said that besides the money, there is also an accountability problem in vouchers.

    “Vouchers have always concerned me,” he said. “To take the taxpayers’ money and change the oversight responsibility concerns me.”

    Whose money? And, who has been doing the taking all these years? Well, at least he’s got the perfect name for his attitude.

    Money, get back. I’m all right, Jack. Keep your hands off of my stack. — Pink Floyd “Money

    *It’s All About the Money

    Investing in Unfree Labor

    Filed on at 10:25 am under by dcobranchi

    California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed a mandatory 16 hours of, cough, “community service” for students in government-run colleges. Joanne Jacobs cites this Los Angeles Times column criticizing the idea:

    Look, taxpayers don’t “subsidize” students as much as they invest in California’s own future by providing affordable educations that develop a skilled, innovative workforce. It’s one of the things that made California great. Weather alone didn’t do it.

    . . . It’s one thing for a kid with wealthy parents and free time to be ordered into community service. It’s another to force some 28-year-old, return-to-college waitress with a kid at home to devote any time at all to this feel-good, ivory tower concept. The average age of community college students, incidentally, is 28.

    Jacobs criticizes the governor’s claim that the students’ “free labor” will be worth $192 million; she says it will cost more than that to monitor the students, and that using “drop-in” volunteers is simply not efficient.

    Would it kill Jacobs to make an argument from principle? First, the governor is wrong to tie education to “community service”; education is about teaching individuals to think, not teaching them to be altruists. Second, the Times columnist was wrong to say government-funded colleges were investments, not subsidies; it’s not an “investment” when it’s funded by money seized by force. Third, why is it more ethical to force a rich kid to perform service than a working mother? (Because bashing the rich is what “made California great,” I suppose.) And, incidentally, that working mother is paying taxes to “invest” in other people’s education, leaving less to support her own child.

    Finally, it’s not “free labor.” As economist Thomas Sowell would say, like jury duty and military conscription, it’s unfree labor. Mandatory service is essentially a reverse minimum wage.

    SELF-EVIDENT

    Filed on at 7:20 am under by dcobranchi

    An Op/Ed from Knight-Ridder backs PA in its regulation of homeschooling.

    And in a time-honored American tradition, this family doesn’t want to follow the rules. As long as they hurt no one, why should the rest of us care?

    Here’s why: If I believe that the state has no responsibility whatsoever to ensure that the Hankin kids are educated, then I have no reason to care about the kid in North Philadelphia whose prospects are severely weakened because he’s stuck in an awful school that doesn’t care about his education, either.

    Some states don’t seem to care. New Jersey demands little of its home-schooling families, no paperwork, no proof of accomplishment, no standards. Only Pennsylvania and 10 other states require parents to sign affidavits, send in achievement scores, portfolio their children’s work, and have it professionally evaluated.

    Either lawmakers here care a lot, or way too much. Take your pick.

    Way too much. She makes the case for me. By her count 40 states don’t regulate homeschooling as stringently as PA (in reality, it’s either 48 or 49– NY and PA are basically tied for worst). Is there an epidemic of child neglect among the g-schoolers in those other states? Have DE and NJ, to pick two relatively “free” neighbors, abandoned the g-schools? My state income tax bill says not in the least. So, it comes down to the perennial question: Whose kids are they?

    If parents want to take complete responsibility for their kids, the state should not have the power (not right) to oversee that decision. OTOH, if parents decide to abdicate that responsibility to the state, then the state is now a “partner.” Home educators, by definition, fall into the former category. The state should leave them alone.

    UPDATE 7:47 a.m.: Under the heading “Great Minds Think Alike,” Chet at ReformK12 writes much the same.

    UPDATE 8:26 p.m.: Good news from Maryalice Newborn in the comments section. The Newborns are the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against PA.

    ONE TO WATCH

    Filed on at 2:11 am under by dcobranchi

    15-year-old homeschooled swimmer Katie Hoff is going to Greece. The money grafs:

    Her wavering adolescent’s voice and youthful inflections seem to counter what Hoff has accomplished in 15 years. But when those around her talk about her, another side is revealed, one that boasts a mixture of control, self-reliance and determination. Through her swimming and home-schooling program, Hoff appears to have gained a mastery over her time and her schedule that few at her age possess.

    “Since I have to do school I’d rather be able to get it over with and plan it around my swimming schedule,” said Hoff, who also qualified for the Olympic in the 200 individual medley. “I’m motivated because I know I have to finish. [My mom] just says, ‘If you want to take the day off you can, but you’ll have to pay for it later.’ Sometimes I’m not as productive for the whole day as I’d like, but I get it done.”

    WHY SO SNARKY, SPARKY?

    Filed on August 5, 2004 at 9:20 pm under by dcobranchi

    Geez, the editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal opened up a can of worms with this editorial.

    For instance, Ted Feinberg, assistant executive director of the National Association of School Psychologists (most of whose members are on the government payroll, of course) warns, “At some point, children are going to have to interact with the rest of the world. If they haven’t had the opportunity to build their emotional muscles so they have that capacity to interact, how effective are they going to be outside their cloistered environment?”

    … If the hidebound reactionaries of the public school monopoly continue to drag their feet in defense of the status quo — resisting sensible reforms that would allow parents more control and educational choice — it is indeed a safe bet that the home-schooling boom has just begun.

    There’s more. I can’t wait to read the Letters to the Editor from all the NEA members.

    GRRRRR!

    Filed on at 9:13 pm under by dcobranchi

    I’m sure Mike Smith didn’t mean it to come out this way, but it sure sounds like he is claiming to have “invented” homeschooling.

    Homeschooling has come a long way since 1983, when two lawyers established Home School Legal Defense Association to make sure that families would have a legal right to teach their children at home.

    On second thought, he probably did mean it to sound that way.

    If You Thought NCLB was Bad…

    Filed on at 3:01 pm under by dcobranchi

    For once, the president is not misleading the American people:

    WASHINGTON (AP) – President Bush offered up a new entry for his catalog of “Bushisms” on Thursday, declaring that his administration will “never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people.”

    Bush misspoke as he delivered a speech at the signing ceremony for a $417 billion defense spending bill.

    “Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we,” Bush said. “They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”

    No one in Bush’s audience of military brass or Pentagon chiefs reacted.

    Conformity – Thought = Socialization

    Filed on at 1:59 pm under by dcobranchi

    On Tuesday, Daryl posted an AP story on homeschooling that contained this obligatory “socialization” quote:

    At some point, children are going to have to interact with the rest of the world,” [Dr. Ted Feinberg] said. “If they haven’t had the opportunity to build their emotional muscles so they have that capacity to interact, how effective are they going to be outside their cloistered environment?

    This got me thinking about something Ayn Rand said in her 1970 essay, “The Comprachicos,” a critique of progressive education theory, particularly as applied in pre-schools:

    The thinking child is not antisocial (he is, in fact, the only type of child fit for social relationships.) When he develops his first values and conscious convictions, particularly as he approaches adolescence, he feels an intense desire to share them with a friend who would understand him; if frustrated, he feels an acute sense of loneliness. (Loneliness is specifically the experience of this type of child—or adult; it is the experience of those who have something to offer. The emotion that drives conformists to “belong,” is not loneliness, but fear—the fear of intellectual independence and responsibility. The thinking child seeks equals; the conformist seeks protectors.” (Emphasis added.)

    The “socialization” argument is always rooted in fear, and that’s why it’s so effective. When political leaders talk about the need to do something for the “children,” whatever the specific policy, it’s an attempt to stifle political debate by exploiting the fear of parents and other conformist adults. These fears are then transferred to the children, and the vicious cycle continues. The greatest crime in modern culture is to think for yourself, especially when it comes to education. That is why homeschoolers, by and large, are heroic figures.

    And keep in mind, Rand rejected both religion and political conservatism. Her views on education, therefore, cannot be dismissed as a right-wing Christian effort to shelter children from the “multicultural” world. (There are, in fact, many successful homeschoolers that follow Rand’s philosophy, Objectivism.) Of course, Rand rejected multiculturalism as a means of education, and for good reason: If you teach a child he must equally value everything without pronouncing judgment, he will ultimately value nothing and seek refuge through social conformity.

    (Note: The Rand estate has not made the full-text of “The Comprachicos” available online, but the essay can be found in the Rand anthology, Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution. And in case you’re wondering, “The Comprachicos,” is taken from Victor Hugo’s 1869 novel The Man Who Laughs. In the book, “comprachicos” referred to the Spanish word for “child-buyers”; Hugo described men who bought children and disfigured them until they became monsters.)

    FUTURE REVISIONIST HISTORIAN?

    Filed on at 9:16 am under by dcobranchi

    An interesting comment here.

    I HATE CALIFORNIA!

    Filed on at 5:49 am under by dcobranchi

    Of the 50 states, CA seems to have the most difficulty separating homeschooling from charter schools.

    The California Charter Academy on Ming Avenue has closed, leaving nearly 20 staff members out of jobs and 300 students in Bakersfield and Tehachapi without a school.

    Terry Wilson, a parent of two Charter Academy students, said she received a letter in the mail Monday saying the school was closed. The charter school serves home school students like Wilson’s with free textbooks, credentialed teacher oversight, tutoring and enrichment classes.

    I know Californians like to think they’re homeschooling when they choose this option. They’re not. I don’t care what their crazy laws allow or what they want to call themselves. Charter schools that provide “free” textbooks and credentialed teachers for *shudder* oversight are

    NOT HOMESCHOOLS!

    OT: BAYH CAN REST EASY

    Filed on at 5:40 am under by dcobranchi

    I doubt that Indiana Senator Evan Bayh is having trouble sleeping at night as his GOP opponent sounds a bit clueless:

    “I am in favor of home-schooling and charter schools,” Scott said. “We need more able-bodied instructors in the classroom, and we need to pay them more. The National Education Association, who supports democratic causes, is an abomination. They should be politically neutral and work only for the betterment of young people. If I were elected, I would propose to eliminate the gas tax in order to provide more funding to education.”

    Can you fisk a single ‘graf?

    I am in favor of home-schooling and charter schools.

    I get antsy whenever I hear a politician say they favor homeschooling. To me, that’s like saying they favor free speech or the Fourth Amendment. It’s fundamental– unlike charter schools which are a subject of legitimate debate. The two should not be linked politically.

    We need more able-bodied instructors in the classroom, and we need to pay them more.

    We’ve already shrunk class size significantly and we’re spending a ton of money on the g-schools with precious little to show for it. Remember the definition of insanity?

    The National Education Association, who supports democratic causes, is an abomination. They should be politically neutral and work only for the betterment of young people.

    I’m for freedom except for my political opponents.

    If I were elected, I would propose to eliminate the gas tax in order to provide more funding to education.

    The ultimate non-sequitur. I can’t even come close to making sense of this, unless Scott is somehow invoking the Laffer curve. Even then, I seriously doubt that the gas tax is such a drag on the economy that killing it would spur growth to the extent that he could fund education at a higher level. Hey– he’s a sociology professor. His economic policies don’t have to make sense.

    More Police Does Not Equal More Security

    Filed on August 4, 2004 at 6:28 pm under by dcobranchi

    From the “Mrs. Simpson, while we were rescuing your husband, a lumber yard burned down” Department:

    Three banks were robbed while President Bush and Democratic nominee John Kerry were speaking just blocks away from one another Wednesday morning.

    The Ralston Credit Union was robbed at 10:45 a.m., shortly after the president began speaking at LeClaire Park in this eastern Iowa town.

    The next robbery, at First National Bank, happened at 11:23 a.m., followed by another at 11:45 a.m. at Southeast National Bank.

    Kerry had begun his economic forum at River Center at 10 a.m.

    Ironically, the Secret Service is part of the Treasury Department.

    (Hat tip: LewRockwell.com)

    NCES UPDATE

    Filed on at 8:28 am under by dcobranchi

    Here’s the full report. I won’t have a chance to read it until this evening. Feel free to post “spoilers” in the comments.

    PLAIN STUPID

    Filed on at 7:03 am under by dcobranchi

    In Dallas Monday the heat index was 105 degrees by noon. That didn’t stop at least one high school football coach from working the kids for 3 1/2 hours. Results: 1 dead, 2 others hospitalized. Just one of those things.

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