Utterly Meaningless » 2004 » September

    Filed on September 21, 2004 at 9:53 pm under by dcobranchi

    Here’s a lot more detail on the illegal strike planned for 9/27. I’ve got an idea on how to prevent the strike- threaten to strip any teacher who walks out of tenure. Dollars to donuts the strike would fizzle in a NY minute. (Credit: Deb)


    Filed on at 8:56 pm under by dcobranchi

    …is brought to a fine art in this Op/Ed.

    The sorry state of the schools is everyone’s fault. Except the teachers, that is.

    So, who’s to blame? Not the teachers, many of whom spend their own money so their students can have papers and pencils. Teachers face overwhelming challenges, from classrooms filled with students who speak little or no English, to handling abusive — even violent — parents upset over little Johnny’s low marks.

    Blame weak school boards and frightened administrators for bowing to parental pressure when higher standards are demanded. Blame parents who are too busy, don’t care and have no respect for teachers. Most of all, blame special interest groups and lawyers with their own agendas.

    Those poor, pitiful teachers. They put up with so much. You know, we really ought to give them all a big raise.


    Filed on at 3:40 pm under by dcobranchi

    No news here (to us, anyway):

    Executive Summary
    A Nation Deceived: How Schools Hold Back America’s Brightest Students
    Nicholas Colangelo, Susan G. Assouline, Miraca U. M. Gross

    America’s schools routinely avoid academic acceleration, the easiest and most effective way to help highly capable students. While the popular perception is that a child who skips a grade will be socially stunted, fifty years of research shows that moving bright students ahead often makes them happy.

    The entire report is available as a PDF.

    Time Magazine has a lengthy piece on the subject, too. (via Education News)

    OH! MY! GOD!

    Filed on at 3:31 am under by dcobranchi

    Laura Derrick sent me this article on a terrorism drill. While I always appreciate tips, I really didn’t understand why Laura thought it important. That is, until two-thirds the way down:

    The exercise will simulate an attack by a fictitious radical group called Wackos Against Schools and Education who believe everyone should be homeschooled. Under the scenario, a bomb is placed on the bus and is detonated while the bus is traveling on Durham, causing the bus to land on its side and fill with smoke.

    We’re the terrorists?! What moron came up with that. I hope the homeschooling community in Muskegon, MI gently lets the “leaders” know they’ll need to find another ficticious group for next time.


    Filed on September 20, 2004 at 6:56 pm under by dcobranchi

    An anarchist website proposes an alliance with home educators. Funny thing is- I think he’s right.

    Support your local home school association
    More important than the religious inclinations of the particular families involved, is the fact that these parents are taking DIRECT ACTION in rebellion against the domination of the state. Direct action, we will recall, does not necessarily involve property destruction or arrest (much of what passes for direct action these days, actually has the goal of attracting the attention of the corporate media, who serve as an intermediary between the activists and the public they hope to reach). Few actions are so direct, or so threatening to the authority of the state, as to refuse to allow the indoctrination of impressionable children by withdrawing them from public school.

    The self-righteous right has claimed the cause of elitist private schools for its own political purposes. The left, in the finest traditions of direct action and grassroots social organization, should embrace the home school movement and claim it as its own. We should initiate a dialogue with such home school associations as may exist, and offer our support and encouragement. We should place demands on the state, not so much for material support, but to leave these brave pioneers alone.

    Most importantly of all, we should stop willingly handing our vulnerable children over to the callous jailers of the state.


    Filed on at 10:36 am under by dcobranchi

    And finally, a really, really bad essay that scores points for the wrong team:

    The authors tell us that crafting an education system based on how students can jump over high-stake testing hurdles is a terribly dangerous road to travel. Emery and Ohanian write in their book’s conclusion that “high-stakes testing is having the effects of eliminating whatever there has been of learning for the joy of it, learning to develop higher-order thinking skills, or learning something because it is what one is interested in.” Cast aside such skills and what remains are schools that are nothing more than “data driven depots.”

    Since when did the g-schools do any of those things? The g-schools had driven the joy of learning into the ground decades before the concept of high-stakes testing was invented.


    Filed on at 10:20 am under by dcobranchi

    On the other hand, I have absolutely no idea what this g-school teacher is trying to say.


    Filed on September 19, 2004 at 9:58 pm under by dcobranchi

    Another good essay by the master.

    Once you understand the logic behind modern schooling, its tricks and traps are fairly easy to avoid. School trains children to be employees and consumers; teach your own to be leaders and adventurers. School trains children to obey reflexively; teach your own to think critically and independently. Well-schooled kids have a low threshold for boredom; help your own to develop an inner life so that they’ll never be bored. Urge them to take on the serious material, the grown-up material, in history, literature, philosophy, music, art, economics, theology – all the stuff schoolteachers know well enough to avoid. Challenge your kids with plenty of solitude so that they can learn to enjoy their own company, to conduct inner dialogues. Well-schooled people are conditioned to dread being alone, and they seek constant companionship through the TV, the computer, the cell phone, and through shallow friendships quickly acquired and quickly abandoned. Your children should have a more meaningful life, and they can.

    Definitely worth a read.


    Filed on at 3:22 pm under by dcobranchi

    on insuring stay-at-home moms. There’s no way I could ever afford to pay someone enough to do everything Lydia does for the family. I think I’m going to make an appointment to talk to our insurance agent and up her coverage.


    Filed on at 2:54 pm under by dcobranchi

    Kentucky teachers have voted to go on strike over health care costs. One problem, though- it’s illegal for them to strike. Anyone want to give odds on whether the union thugs professional educational association will care?


    Filed on at 1:58 pm under by dcobranchi

    Here’s a follow-up to Chris’s Drunks Against Mad Mothers post. MSNBC is pushing the neo-prohibitionist line:

    Law # 8:
    Have Zero Tolerance for Substance Use

    Any substance use (drugs and/or alcohol) is substance abuse. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. It’s illegal, dangerous, addictive, and has absolutely no place in your family. Learn the signs and symptoms of use and how to keep your children substance free. If you don’t take a stand, how can they?

    …Be a good role model. Don’t do drugs yourself. I don’t care that it’s “only marijuana” — it’s illegal, addictive, and a lousy way to bring up your kids. If you drink alcohol, do so responsibly… Consider abstaining from alcohol yourself — you may be surprised at how nice life is when you are consistently sober.

    No. Use is not abuse. Irresponsible use is. Is it possible for kids to responsibly use alcohol? Absolutely. In the home under parental supervision and with proper intent there’s nothing wrong with it. I drink about a 6-pack a year. Still, I have let Anthony try a sip of beer. Why? Because he was curious and I’d rather him sate that under my eye than in the woods with his friends (not surprisingly, he didn’t like the taste). Same goes with wine. Liquor will wait for a long time. It’s too easy to mix up sweet drinks that mask the taste of the grain; no use in tempting fate.

    Finally, this should all be left up to parents. The government should not be able to step in and tell me how, when, and where to introduce my kids to alcohol. Of course, they try to anyway.

    AND IN L.A.

    Filed on September 18, 2004 at 11:33 am under by dcobranchi

    Los Angeles teachers send their kids to private schools at close to double the rate of the general population. Just like their counterparts in the “exemplary Milwaukee Public Schools”, they seem to know something the rest of the sheep parents don’t.


    Filed on at 7:51 am under by dcobranchi

    Michael Peach has a list.


    Filed on at 7:22 am under by dcobranchi

    Education Next has a published study that purports to show that the achievement gap between black kids and white pre-schoolers can be entirely explained by the home environment. In other words, entering kindergartners of similar socioeconomic background scored identically on performance tests. By the end of kindergarten, however, blacks had fallen behind and never caught up.

    Of particular interest was this statement:

    The number of books in the household is a useful proxy for the home environment’s contribution to academic success. Adjusting the test-score data for this factor reduces the gap even more. On average, black students in the sample had 39 children’s books in their home, compared with an average of 93 books among white students. Taking this difference into account cuts the black-white test-score gap to less than a fourth of a standard deviation in math and completely eliminates the gap in reading. The gap between white and Hispanic students also shrinks.

    I don’t know how far to push the analogy, but it could help explain the homeschooling advantage (and private schooling for that matter). It’s not the number of books. Heck, if that were the case my kids would all be geniuses. The authors treat the number of books as a proxy for socioeconomic status. But, I think it could equally be argued that they are a proxy for the importance that the parents place on education. Parents who send their kids to private school are choosing the high-priced spread. They choose to spend their money on education. Home educators make an even bigger commitment to education. A lot of us basically take a vow of poverty in order to homeschool.

    The full report is relatively short. Have a read and then let’s discuss.


    Filed on September 17, 2004 at 8:11 pm under by dcobranchi

    Lew Rockwell has a column up in response to HSLDA’s Generation Joshua article (blogged here). Korin Weeks Grigg doesn’t understand how home educators can work so hard for the CREEP Bush’s re-election:

    It defies understanding that parents so proudly skeptical of the government school system could dutifully throw their support, money, and volunteer labor into an effort to re-elect a president whose foreign policy all but ensures a return to conscription. If the “global democratic revolution” Bush and his handlers pursue continues unabated, the homeschoolers stuffing envelopes for GOP financial appeals today will be filling bodybags tomorrow.

    Bills intended to restore the draft are pending before both houses of Congress. HR 163, introduced by New York Congressman Charles Rangel in January 2003, decrees: “It is the obligation of every citizen of the United States, and every other person residing in the United States [heads up, illegal aliens], who is between the ages of 18 and 26 to perform a period of national service as prescribed in this Act….” Those who object to military service on religious grounds would be required to serve in a civilian capacity “that, as determined by the President, promotes the national defense, including … homeland security.”

    I’m still skeptical of all this draft talk, but some folks are taking similar talk seriously. (Hat tip: Skip Oliva)


    Filed on at 7:54 pm under by dcobranchi

    Skip Oliva has been researching daycare regulations in various states. Today he found himself perusing some of DE’s finest rules. Some highlights:

    The Center shall have a program of varied activities designed to promote the development of language and thinking skills, large and small muscles, social skills, self-esteem and positive self-image, as appropriate to the ages and functioning levels of children in care. The program shall ensure that children do not spend excessive units of time sitting or confined to cribs or playpens.

    “Child” means a person who has not reached the age of l8 years.

    “Meal” means breakfast, lunch or dinner.

    “Snack” means supplemental food served between meals.

    I’m really glad they cleared up that snack question; it’s been driving me crazy for weeks. What’s really sad is that it probably took weeks of study and thousands of (my) tax dollars to come up with those definitions.


    Filed on at 7:55 am under by dcobranchi

    That’s when Dennis Redovich’s column comes out. I’m really looking forward to his response to this study about the teachers in the “exemplary Milwaukee Public School system.”

    Public schoolteachers who live in Milwaukee are more likely to send their children to private schools than city residents in general, according to an analysis of 2000 census data by researchers working for a foundation associated with conservative positions on education issues.

    The new paper, issued by the Washington-based Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, says that 29.4% of public schoolteachers who live in the city said their children attend private schools, compared with 23.4% of all families in the city. The data come from answers given by people who were selected to answer the “long form” of the 2000 census questionnaire.

    Nationwide, the authors said, 21.5% of urban public schoolteachers send their children to private schools, compared with 17.5% of urban families in general.

    Teachers know best.


    Filed on at 6:37 am under by dcobranchi

    I (mostly) try to avoid presidential politics here. But today’s Bob Herbert column is so good and so sad, that I thought I’d pass it along. It’s in the NYT and compares Iraq to Vietnam, just so you’re warned.


    Filed on at 6:16 am under by dcobranchi

    Here’s a pretty good one from a g-school teacher. I’d argue about “parent accountability” but she makes her other points well.

    Qualified teacher is skeptical of reform

    I was feeling a little smug as I read Al Mascitti’s piece on the inevitable failure of the state’s accountability system. Most educators agree with his view, not because teachers don’t want to be accountable but because they want to be held accountable for results more meaningful than one test score.

    Fortunately, the Delaware State Education Association is led by those who remain teachers in classrooms, as opposed to those who sit in leather chairs and make lofty and fairly obscure decisions, many of which lack realistic knowledge of what students, classrooms and the reformed curriculums are really like.

    I extend a challenge to every Delaware legislator to take the state eighth-grade tests in reading, writing and math and perform at the distinguished level. I then invite these people to complete the 10th-grade science and social studies tests as well and to see what kind of diplomas they might receive. Would the public and business community consider these representatives qualified for their roles without substantial retraining?

    From the descriptions of the various accountability expectations of districts, administrators, teachers and students, I am always amazed at the brevity of the responsibilities of parents. Why are we so afraid to make parents more accountable for children’s success in school? Why are teachers not receiving higher salaries to take on the roles of social worker, guidance counselor and translator in many cases?

    Some schools are successful. I would suggest they are ones with strong support of the teachers and greater parental involvement. I invite legislators to sit in classrooms, go into the bathrooms or walk down the halls for a normal conversation during class change. Find out how much time each teacher spends on the phone with parents, or money on supplies not provided by administrations and parents.

    Teachers can have substantial influence on children, but our greatest enemy is time. There is not enough time to give many children what they need in order to be more successful. When what is taught in school is not supported at home, at least emotionally, we teachers struggle with accountability.

    I have an undergraduate degree in teaching secondary English, a master’s of instruction, a reading specialist certificate, participation in the Delaware reading and writing projects, an additional 30-some hours of graduate courses in my field, and over 17 years of teaching experience. The state wants to suggest that I may not be highly qualified. I know a master teacher who has taught all grade levels, speaks Spanish, is National Board certified, a technological wizard and a trained administrator who is also not considered highly qualified.

    It is not that DSEA does not want to support or participate in education reform that will help children better succeed. We live with the problems every day. We understand the frustrations. New measures cannot continue to be at the expense of teachers’ well-being.

    I disagree with your editors’ position on school reform. Like Mascitti, I too think we have once again spent millions of dollars to slam into a brick wall.

    Ann Darden, Georgetown

    Yeah, I know- I’m slipping. But, hey, it’s Friday.


    Filed on September 16, 2004 at 11:11 pm under by dcobranchi

    A home educator responds.

    UPDATE: The paper plays games with the URLs. The link should go directly to the article now.


    Filed on at 6:20 pm under by dcobranchi

    This person knows absolutely nothing about homeschooling:

    Why can $7,000 per student not cover a decent student/teacher ratio? Why have so many things been cut — art, drama, woodworking? Pens, paper and erasers? Is the high cost of a public school education yet another reason for an increase in home schooling?


    Filed on at 2:27 pm under by dcobranchi

    That rules are more important than making a difference in a sick child’s life.

    Gerardo Garcia, Jr., 16, said he hoped to grow his hair at least 10 inches for donation to Florida-based Locks of Love. The nonprofit organization uses donated ponytails to create custom-fitted hairpieces of children suffering from medical hair loss. They provided Harlingen South High School a letter verifying that Garcia had applied to be a donor.

    …But Harlingen school officials said they could not compromise their dress code, which forbids boys from having hair that covers their eyes or hangs below their shoulders.

    I just don’t “get” edu-crats. One one hand, they try to force kids to “volunteer” while on the other they prevent true volunteerism in the name of conformity. What a bunch of morons!


    Filed on at 7:21 am under by dcobranchi

    Chris Long sends note of a Pittsburgh-area school district that does more with less:

    The irony is that the Grove City Area School District’s yearly per-pupil expenditure for all school and transportation costs was $7,192, compared with a state average of $8,295.
    One hour south, Pittsburgh’s public-school system spent $11,282 per student — about 57 percent more than Grove City, whose students were doing better than Pittsburgh students in reading and math at every grade level.
    Much of the city’s success was its small, rural-community nature, where old-fashioned values and civility are the norm and most families are involved in their children’s schools and education, locals and school officials said. Another factor was said to be the quality of the school leadership.

    The article does a good job suggesting reasons why the rural district does so much better than its big city brethren. Interesting reading.


    Filed on at 7:03 am under by dcobranchi

    It shouldn’t matter which candidate you’re supporting to appreciate this level of fact-checking and explication from the New York Times:

    Mr. Mehlman added that Mr. Kerry had voted 98 times for tax increases totaling $2.3 trillion and had voted 8 times for higher taxes on Social Security benefits.

    Mr. Mehlman was apparently referring to a record that is more complex than suggested in the daily charge and countercharge of the two campaigns. In reality, Mr. Kerry voted for one large tax increase, the Clinton tax bill of 1993. Most of the additional income taxes in this bill were imposed on the wealthy, but it did include an increase in the taxes on Social Security benefits for middle-income retirees.

    Mr. Kerry also voted against two large tax cuts, the Bush tax bills in 2001 and 2003. Although most of the tax cuts went to the wealthy, the bills included lower taxes for middle-income couples and families. Mr. Kerry favored the middle-class cuts but voted against them in the course of voting against the entire legislation.

    Mr. Kerry did cast 98 tax votes, but nearly half of them were not on bills but rather on budget resolutions, measures that set overall tax and spending targets. The total also includes the many times he cast multiple votes on the same bill.

    Where have these guys been for the last 20 years or so?


    Filed on September 15, 2004 at 7:54 pm under by dcobranchi

    Skip Oliva found a Vox Popoli (sic) post on how to prepare our kids for a possible return to the g-schools. We’re ready.


    Filed on at 5:47 pm under by dcobranchi

    It just does not get any better than this:

    Homeschooling Develops Enthusiasm, Confidence and Academic Savvy

    The article lives up to the hed, too. Definitely worth a read.


    Filed on at 7:14 am under by dcobranchi

    From a homeschooler:

    I am writing in response to a letter by Mr. Scott Walker [“Not all Republicans are bad, either, but this one sure was,” Sept. 8], who said the following, “Not all Republicans are ignorant evangelical Christian hillbillies who home-school their children and create hate throughout the world.”

    I am 12 years old, and I happen to be home-schooled, Christian, and a Republican. I think Mr. Walker was trying to prove a point about how we are all discriminating against each other and how this is a very bad thing. And he seems to have been trying to say that he didn’t think Republicans were bad.

    But instead of saying that, he turned around and, in the same breath, discriminated against Christians and home-schoolers. I found this to be a hateful comment, and it insulted me.

    Obviously, Mr. Walker does not like to be discriminated against as a Democrat. Well, I don’t particularly liked being called an ignorant hillbilly. I am proud to be Republican, American, home-schooled, and a Christian, and I do not think of myself as “ignorant” because of any of those things.

    I hope by writing this letter, people–like Mr. Walker–will not discriminate against people who are home-schooled, or Christian, or Republican, or Democrat, or whatever.

    I agree with Mr. Walker that people should stop creating hate, but before pointing at others, we should work on ourselves first.

    Maybe one day when I pick up the newspaper and read it, I won’t be disappointed.

    Kate Fawcett


    Well written. A bit snarky. Very nice.


    Filed on at 6:59 am under by dcobranchi

    The three DE gubernatorial candidates squared off in the first of ten scheduled debates yesterday. The topic was education. Look at what the “Libertarian” (note: big “L) has to say:

    Infante said steps are needed to ensure students are getting good teachers, and he used education issues to push his plan to bring table games to Delaware casinos and a casino to the Wilmington Riverfront.

    …Infante also said he thought students should go to school near their homes.

    …Infante said he would look to tax breaks tied to the creation of Delaware jobs as an enticement for businesses to locate in the state.

    [Republican Bill] Lee and Infante both said they back cutting the state’s gross receipts tax, and Infante pointed out that he fought plans in 2003 to raise business taxes and fees to help eliminate a projected state budget deficit in the General Assembly.

    Except for the gambling issue, there’s not a bit of difference between the three. Some choice.

    NEW AD ——>

    Filed on September 14, 2004 at 2:41 pm under by dcobranchi

    Don’t shoot the messenger, please.


    Filed on at 2:25 pm under by dcobranchi

    so I can vote for Rep. Ron Paul.

    Skip Oliva found a terrific column by the libertarian Paul.

    Parents must do everything possible to retain responsibility and control over their children’s well-being. There is no end to the bureaucratic appetite to rule every aspect of our lives, including how we raise our children. Forced mental health screening is just the latest of many state usurpations of parental authority: compulsory education laws, politically-correct school curricula, mandatory vaccines, and interference with discipline through phony “social services” agencies all represent assaults on families. The political right has now joined the political left in seeking the de facto nationalization of children, and only informed resistance by parents can stop it. The federal government is slowly but surely destroying real families, but it is hardly a benevolent surrogate parent.

    How did he ever get elected?


    Filed on at 2:17 pm under by dcobranchi

    Jessie Creel at the Cato Institute asked very nicely for a link to this event. Hey, Skip and Chris- right in your backyards.

    If you can’t make the event, you can watch it live here.


    Filed on at 7:16 am under by dcobranchi

    The Holland Sentinel published a Op/Ed that is so anti-homeschooling it is almost a parody. Really. I found myself laughing at some of the crazy assertions:

    We don’t allow people to play doctor or nurse without a license, nor can one play lawyer without passing some rather rigorous tests. But today, anyone who wants to “play school” can do so, regardless of their educational background.

    …There are other losses, such as never being “on the team,” never cheering for “our school,” never being in a class where the interaction of ideas is more important than the text, or doing any of the myriad of things that make up the process of “belonging,” from the first day of school to the 50th class reunion. There is far more to an education than a curriculum — it includes summer break, Friday nights and graduation.

    …A recent Harvard study following home-schooled children over many years found that these children did not do better at the college level than traditionally educated children.

    I’m pretty sure that last one was made from whole cloth; “A Harvard study” always sounds impressive. You really ought to read the rest. But not while your drinking anything. (via Beverly Hernandez)


    Filed on at 7:01 am under by dcobranchi

    This has to be an editing mistake (I hope):

    Bartlett group forms to block U-46 split Bartlett group against U-46 split


    Filed on at 6:52 am under by dcobranchi

    Found way at the bottom of an article on HSLDA’s Generation Joshua program:

    Membership in the program is $10 a year for HSLDA members and $20 for non-members, a fee required by federal regulations.

    Huh? The federal government requires a fee in order to participate in a political organization? That can’t be correct. Has anyone run across anything like this before?


    Filed on September 13, 2004 at 8:08 pm under by dcobranchi

    Or “Another Stupid I-DEA”

    The Idaho Distance Education Academy is working hard to bring homeschoolers back into the fold:

    The Idaho Distance Education Academy, also called I-DEA, combines home schooling with public education. Children learn at home from their parents, but “contact teachers” like Sterk monitor progress for the state.

    You know how homeschooling is sometimes blamed for costing school districts money by leaving? Well, now we’re being blamed for costing them money by coming back:

    Bertelsen said one downside to the program is that it drains money from the state’s pool of public education funding.

    “When the number of students increases and the pool of money in the state stays the same, funding per school goes down,” Bertelsen said. “But that doesn’t mean these students and their parents aren’t entitled to some of their tax dollars just because they don’t want to attend traditional public schools. These parents are entitled to tax dollars to educate their children.”

    You just can’t win for losing with these folks.


    Filed on at 1:10 pm under by dcobranchi

    Cops in schools. It really should be corrections officers, no?


    Filed on at 9:47 am under by dcobranchi

    Something literally doesn’t add up in this short article extolling the virtues of P.E.:

    In the first study to evaluate the effect of P.E. programs on kindergartners and first-graders, researchers found that increasing P.E. time by one hour per week could lead to a significant decline in body mass index, a measure of body fat, among girls. They projected that providing five hours of P.E. per week to kindergartners — close to the recommended amount — would produce a 43% reduction in the prevalence of girls that age who are overweight… Wide variations in P.E. time were found among schools participating in the study, with kindergartners averaging only 57 minutes per week of P.E.

    Going from 57 minutes to 5 hours per week is not an insigificant change. It’s certainly a whole lot larger than the one hour increase touted in the sub-hed. What gives?


    Filed on September 12, 2004 at 7:05 am under by dcobranchi

    That’s my take from the lede of this PPI article on how we should all support public daycare pre-school:

    Decades of research have produced reams of compelling evidence that preschool is a sound public investment. Children who attend prekindergarten programs that prepare them to read and build cognitive, verbal, and social skills go on to do measurably better in school and life than their peers who do not. They score higher on academic achievement tests, they get better jobs, and they are less likely to become dependent on welfare or engage in criminal activity. These trends are particularly noticeable among disadvantaged children. When those factors were taken into account, studies of high-quality preschool experiments in Michigan and North Carolina found that investments in preschool delivered a seven-to-one return over time.

    And the beat (for universal, compulsory pre-school) goes on.

    BTW, the Progressive Policy Institute is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Democratic Leadership Council. Just thought you should know who’s calling the shots.

    But I’m just a racist who doesn’t give a damn about anyone but my own kids. Why listen to me?


    Filed on at 6:50 am under by dcobranchi

    Another homeschooling is on the grow article. This one is completely positive. And, as usual, the reporter is a woman. Any idea why?


    Filed on at 6:40 am under by dcobranchi

    Guess what this guy does for a living:

    Paper’s position on teachers is wrong

    I am constantly amused by the lack of understanding of the public schools by the editorial board of The News Journal. The teachers and the public schools work miracles each and every day, but you seem to overlook it, searching for some nirvana.

    Even the right-wing ideologue and former under secretary of education for the Reagan White House, Chester Finn, was taken aback by the 2003 National Assessment of Education Progress results. As president of the Fordham Foundation, he has been calling for the release of these data and the comparison of these schools. “A little more tough love is needed for these schools. Somebody needs to be looking over their shoulders.”

    I think the last statement is very telling since charter schools have, at their heart, a release from the normal oversight of the state and other bodies. Now, you accuse teachers of not wanting to be accountable and propose a one – and-only one size fits all solution: grading each teacher based upon an unproven and, I might say, unworkable set of non-criteria that have no chance of improving anything.

    Student test scores are such a small part of a much larger picture that encompasses the performance of a teacher – a picture which is shiny and bright until tarnished by half truths and unfounded criticism. Yes, teachers are human and they do some human things, but if you were only to spend some quality time in any classroom, you would see the miraculous work that is accomplished everyday.

    Perhaps, just perhaps, the editorial board using the same faulty logic with the evaluation of the public schools system and its teachers as it did when it drew its conclusions about charter schools.

    Clearly, I believe that The News Journal needs to rethink and redefine its stance on teacher accountability.

    John C. “Jack” Cairns, Dover

    Teachers are human? Given the rest of the letter, I’d have expected them all to sport halos and wings. Gimme a break!


    Filed on at 6:31 am under by dcobranchi

    for Tim.

    The WaPo (believe it or not) had a fairly positive piece on homeschooling the other day. Well, sort of. It’s more like a positive piece on how home educators arrange their homes. One suggestion from the article:

    Judy Sangillo, a home-schooling parent in Bethesda, recommended “a large surface area with chairs or other seating” for projects that are going to take a few days to complete.

    Of course. It’s called a dining room table. (Hat tip: Jeffrey Boulier)


    Filed on September 11, 2004 at 8:45 pm under by dcobranchi

    Poorly written headlines are a pet peeve of mine.


    Filed on at 7:39 pm under by dcobranchi

    She must have been drinking Coke to come up with this excuse:

    Dozens of high school students cited for underage drinking when police busted a post-football game bash at a teacher’s home have pleaded no contest.

    …Officials said the teacher and her husband claimed they were asleep upstairs and did not know the students were drinking alcohol in their home.

    Yeah, asleep. That’s the ticket.


    Filed on at 3:19 pm under by dcobranchi

    Eight, right? Not at Wal-mart. We bought a new measuring cup there on our last camping trip. I just noticed that the cups line and the ounces line aren’t aligned. The one cup line is just slightly above the eight oz. line. The four cup line is off by a good quarter inch. So, the scales aren’t even the same. I think the cups must be in dry measurement and the ounces in liquid. Has anyone ever run into this before?


    Filed on at 10:55 am under by dcobranchi

    Skip Oliva found an wonderful essay on the importance of contact between mother and child. Homeschooling doesn’t play a role but it’s an easy extrapolation:

    A public school teacher and former day care worker I corresponded with a few years ago made a similar point:

    Parents who use day care tend not to develop the kinds of parenting skills, or the self-confidence in dealing with their children, that seem to me to be necessary…. Since we were in charge during most of the children’s waking hours, parents had very little opportunity to develop…. As a result they were generally nervous around their children, and impatient with the various unpleasant aspects of caring for them.

    A family friend who used daytime babysitters heavily for several weeks when she had to pack for a sudden cross country move told me that the more time she spent away from her young boys, the less adroitness and patience she had for handling them. Likewise, Ohio mother Mary Robin Craig writes of a period when she worked full time and had a nanny that, “On my off days I could see that their lives had a flow that eluded me totally.”

    This one’s a must read.


    Filed on September 10, 2004 at 9:25 pm under by dcobranchi

    A “state audit” has recommended that Arkansas crack down on home educators:

    State auditors recommended Friday that the state keep a tighter rein on home schooled children.

    …Auditors recommended that the Legislature require home-school parents to notify local districts when moving out of the district.

    Other recommendations included that legislators consider the need to maintain a database profiling each student’s enrollment, grade level and standardized test results.

    UPDATE: Here’s a key section that the TV News cut:

    Sen. Dave Bisbee, R-Rogers, cautioned the committee against drawing conclusions with what he said could be bad information.

    Bisbee noted that the state virtually ignores students attending private schools, collecting little information on their enrollment, curriculum, test scores or teachers.

    “I find it ironic that we like to pick at homeschoolers, and we’ve got private-schoolers out that we just totally ignore,” the senator said. “If you’re going to have different classes of people and have different standards, you’ve got a real problem. We need to lump private-schoolers in with homeschoolers. I think they’re part of ‘all the children.

    That’s a proposal I could actually back, as it makes allies of the homeschoolers and the private schoolers.


    Filed on at 8:58 pm under by dcobranchi

    stolen from homeschooling?

    A Florida school district is experimenting with multi-age classrooms. Gee, whodathunk a single teacher could handle kids of different ages?

    As a bonus, we get this awful sounding quote:

    “A child is going to develop at different rates,” she said. “This allows more for the development of the child itself, rather than forcing it to fit into a particular mold.”

    I know why the teacher said this. It She didn’t want to use either the masculine or feminine pronoun. Using “it,” though, is not the solution.


    Filed on at 8:31 pm under by dcobranchi

    Not the drug but the soft drink.

    This was news to me, but apparently it’s true. Otherwise, this quote from a Seattle-area edu-crat would have me wondering whether he’d been drinking snorting Coke coke.

    The school board this month unanimously approved a ban on the sale of all foods with high levels of sugar and fat, and it is prohibiting exclusive contracts with any given beverage vendor.

    “These policies are amongst the strongest in the country, and confirm the Board’s commitment to eliminating barriers to learning by creating a healthy nutrition environment in all 100 schools,” the district Web page says.


    Filed on at 8:09 pm under by dcobranchi

    Katelyn (age 10) asked to go shooting with Anthony and me tonight. She wants to go back. I’m so *sniff* proud.


    Filed on at 5:29 am under by dcobranchi

    I’m off to sunny Somerset, NJ for a short meeting. Back tonight or tomorrow

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