Utterly Meaningless » 2004 » September

    Filed on September 10, 2004 at 5:26 am under by dcobranchi

    There’s going to be a shortage of tinfoil.


    Filed on September 9, 2004 at 5:16 am under by dcobranchi

    Here’s an announcement (via HSLDA) about the defeat of a bill which would have funded universal pre-school in the state.

    The universal preschool proposals would have initially been voluntary, but would have served as an incremental step to lowering the compulsory school age to 3, which was attempted in the Washington, DC schools in 2002.

    The argument in the previous thread (which may still be running) basically boils down to this: Do you believe in the slippery slope theory? I usually don’t, but in this particular case, I think the slope is Teflon coated.


    Filed on at 5:08 am under by dcobranchi

    Battle Creek’s curfew proposal (originally blogged here) has been tabled, at least in part to home educators’ opposition.


    Filed on at 4:46 am under by dcobranchi

    New York Times Op/Ed pitifully takes on the subject of “Quality Time”:

    Next week, my 2½-year-old daughter, Phoebe, will join millions of children across the country when she walks into nursery school and embarks on what, fingers crossed, will be a 20-year journey through America’s formal education system. And I will join the millions of parents who have been waiting all summer, all 2½ years, for that day to arrive… Yes, I’m happy that she’s heading out into the world to create her own set of experiences and establish her own identity. But what I’m really happy about is that those six hours a week that she spends in the classroom are now six hours that move out of my nanny’s column on the Official Scorecard of Quality Time.

    I just don’t even know where to start with this one. Go ahead, read the column.


    Filed on September 8, 2004 at 9:26 pm under by dcobranchi

    Apparently even the edu-crats don’t know.

    A 2004 Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll found that more people reported familiarity with the law than in last year’s survey, but that 68 percent of all respondents and 62 percent of public school parents still said they knew “very little or nothing at all.”

    Worse than knowing little, though, random parents in the city’s North, South and West ends thought they did understand the law, and believed it ensured that students would be promoted from grade to grade regardless of their attendance or academic performance.

    …”It’s the worst thing that could have happened to these schools,” Washington said with urgency. “All summer long, I was hearing from kids that they don’t have to go to school because there’s No Child Left Behind. They figure the law’s going to protect them.”

    “It’s just the opposite,” said Italia Negroni, the district’s senior director for No Child Left Behind. “Everyone has to meet certain criteria or else.”

    WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! NCLB says absolutely nothing about retention policies and actually denigrates high-stakes testing. Geez! If the “Senior Director for No Child Left Behind” doesn’t know what the law says, what chance does the average parent stand?!

    ME, TOO

    Filed on at 8:55 pm under by dcobranchi

    Chris O’Donnell is skeptical about an HSLDA report of German judges “snatching” homeschoolers and awarding custody to the state.


    Filed on at 7:25 am under by dcobranchi

    Watch out CA; they’re coming for the babies:

    The benefits from attending preschool were most dramatic for minority and low-income children, although all students got a boost from early and regular preschool exposure, researchers said.

    For instance, Latino children who did not attend preschool were about 5 months behind white kindergartners in prereading skills, the study found. That gap narrowed to just under a month for Latino children who went to preschool.

    Meanwhile, middle-class students who didn’t go to preschool started kindergarten about four months behind the more affluent, a lag that dropped to less than a month with preschool.

    “I think one of the most striking findings in this that really goes beyond the previous 30 years of research is that, within California, preschool really had a benefit for all kids regardless of income or ethnicity,” said Wei-min Wang of the Packard Foundation.

    That makes sense. Those first few months are taken up getting used to the prison school rules. Of course kids who have already learned how to sit at a desk and ask permission to use the bathroom are going to be ahead. Is that a good thing, though?


    Filed on at 6:30 am under by dcobranchi

    I’ve had a bunch of emails pointing out that Slashdot has a review and discussion of Gatto’s Underground History. I promise- I tried to read it but I cannot make heads or tails of Slashdot’s boards. Forward click, back click, side click. Gives me a headache. Good luck.


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

    Here’s one educator who does get it.

    And so, getting back to home schooling, I have done a very informal study and have come to the following conclusions: Families are strengthened, kids do less busy work, there is a greater focus and concentration on learning, there is more time spent out-of-doors (P.E. is one of those decimated programs in schools, despite the obesity that has become our number one health concern for today’s youth); there is less passive learning as kids play a greater role in what they learn and then take responsibility for learning it; children work for internal satisfaction rather than for external rewards; more time is spent preparing for life than for mindless tests (Teaching to the test is the new public school mantra); more energy is devoted to tailoring an education to the interests and aptitudes of the child; time is available for more nonacademic pursuits such as art or music; children do not have to wait until they are grown to begin to explore their passions; school is ongoing and not confined to regulated hours of the day.

    That may be the best one paragraph summary of home education that I’ve seen. (From the Sept./Oct. issue of Home Education Family Times)


    Filed on at 2:56 pm under by dcobranchi

    Edu-crats just don’t get it, do they?

    Ideally, [Truancy Officer Wayne] Hummel said, all home schools will be registered with the ROE and have a coherent education plan for each home-schooled child. Although there is no legal requirement to register home schools, doing so can eliminate many of the problems that can be caused if schools believe a child is truant.

    “There is a short, one-page form for them to fill out,” he said. “We ask that they do this to inform the school that the child is coming from that the child is dropping.”

    The better to monitor you, my dear. Illinois homeschoolers ought to tell Officer Hummel to pound sand.


    Filed on at 10:52 am under by dcobranchi

    Check the comments on the Nuts thread.


    Filed on at 7:06 am under by dcobranchi

    Here’s a nice interview with a gunsmith.


    Filed on at 6:54 am under by dcobranchi

    The Orlando Sentinel has a thoughtful Op/Ed on the state of education. Marion Brady’s conclusion: It’s not pretty and “expect things to get worse before they get better.” Worth a read.

    UPDATE: Here’s a similar Op/Ed from the MetroWest Daily News


    Filed on September 6, 2004 at 9:01 pm under by dcobranchi

    with apologies to Jim Peacock.

    This has to be the all time dumbest idea in the history of g-schooling (quite an accomplishment, eh?). A D.C-area school district is re-setting their grading system so that no grade lower than a 50 is ever handed out. IOW, blow off an assignment and you get 50 points. Why?

    Betsy Brown, director of curriculum development for the school system, said the guideline — one element of a broader overhaul of the county’s grading policy — is designed to make sure grading increments are equal. Because an A is given for scores ranging from 90 to 100, a B for 80 to 89 and so on, it doesn’t make sense for an E, or failing grade, to range from zero to 59, she said.

    And it makes sense to give the same score to a kid who gets half the questions right and to the kid who doesn’t even bother to show up? Yeah, that’ll motivate the kids who are struggling.

    Jerry Link, a chemistry teacher at Northwest High School in Germantown, said giving a 50 can make sense instead of giving a zero. “If a kid was short with one assignment, that pulls his average down so much,” Link said. “With a 50, at least he’s back in the ballgame.”

    There’s a better way to deal with one bad performance- drop the lowest test score.

    Making the minimum score a 50 will just encourage kids to do the absolute bare minimum for the entire course. After all, it will now be almost impossible to fail.


    Filed on at 7:43 pm under by dcobranchi

    The homeschooling community in New Brunswick is tiny but sharp:

    [H]omeschooling provides amazing freedom. In Miramichi, Andrea Rennick is homeschooling her son and two oldest daughters. For them, the organized, nuts-and-bolts part of the school day only goes on until about noon – and the dress code is, well, very casual.

    “I like them to be dressed by lunch but if they’re having a pajama kind of day, I don’t fight it,” said Ms. Rennick. “They don’t sit at a desk either. They sit where they’re comfortable.”

    When Ms. Rennick and her husband, Ron, decided to go the homeschooling route, his family was fine with it. But her relatives and one of her close friends were shocked.

    “They thought we were a little nuts,” Ms. Rennick admits. “My best friend was, like, ‘Why do you want to be around your kids all day?’ She couldn’t wait for school to start.”


    Filed on at 6:42 pm under by dcobranchi

    The 1st day went well with lots of enthusiasm. The highlight of the day was the Rosetta Stone Arabic program. Even Jonathan (age 5) was having fun pronouncing Arabic words into the computer and hearing them played back. The program is very intuitive; it took the kids all of 5 minutes to get the hang of it.


    Filed on at 8:49 am under by dcobranchi

    Following our 4-year-old tradition, we’re starting the school year today. Hence, blogging will be a bit late today. See y’all this afternoon.


    Filed on September 5, 2004 at 7:48 am under by dcobranchi

    I was absolutely baffled by this one:

    Experts say children lack creature thinking

    After reading the article, I’m pretty sure it was supposed to be “creative.” As a side benefit, we learn of the next market for drug manufacturers to push on the kids:

    [C]hildren are developing a “problem solving deficit disorder,” says Diane Levin, a child development expert at Wheelock College in Massachusetts. “Developing imagination and creativity is essential for children to develop problem solving skills.”

    LSD for kids?


    Filed on at 7:27 am under by dcobranchi

    A retired PA teacher is calling for an end of g-schooling. It’s an interesting read and I learned a couple of things: All politicians send their kids to private schools, and Meriwether Lewis was a modern-day Methuselah.

    How many kids can figure the savings on an item of clothing marked down 20 percent? Unless they become a mathematician or home builder, when will they ever solve for “x,” or have a need to ascertain the square root of 225? How many kids care that Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492, or that handsome Meriwether Lewis fretted over his lack of appeal to the opposite sex before he traversed the continent on foot over 300 years later?

    I’m just being snarky; it’s actually pretty good. (Hat tip: Maryalice Newborn)


    Filed on at 7:17 am under by dcobranchi

    I can’t tell if this was intentional or not. From a NYT Op/Ed on the news of the week:

    PERHAPS THERE’S HOPE American and European astronomers say they have discovered the three smallest planets ever detected outside the solar system, raising the likelihood that the galaxy is teeming with Earth-like planets. Up to now, the 135 planets spotted orbiting distant stars had all been gas giants like Jupiter and Saturn. One of the discoverers of the smaller planets, Paul Butler of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, said, “We estimate there is something like 20 billion planetary systems existing in our Milky Way galaxy alone.” Somewhere among them, we can now hope, there may be at least one planet harboring intelligent life.


    Filed on September 4, 2004 at 1:44 pm under by dcobranchi

    This sounds pretty ugly:

    Home-schooling changes

    Regents will vote on a proposal to make passage of five Regents Exams or approved alternatives one of six available pathways to a college degree for students who are educated at home.

    NYSUT had recommended the Regents Exam proposal to State Ed. The statewide union noted that after Regents adopted higher learning standards for public school students in the mid 1990s, the board never aligned home-schooling regulations with those same higher standards that now require all public school students to pass five Regents Exams, or approved alternatives, in order to graduate.

    Why should homeschoolers have to pass the Regents’ Exams in order to graduate from college? Are private school kids held to this same standard? Home educators in NY need to squash this ASAP.


    Filed on at 11:35 am under by dcobranchi

    I’ve got no comment about this one:

    A teacher enforcing school regulations on haircuts snipped one girl’s locks to ear’s length Thursday but ended up lopping off a chunk of her ear as well, police said.

    …[A] report on the Kom Chad Luek newspaper Web site quoted plastic surgeon Dr. Wiboon Thongduang as saying that half of the earlobe was severed, and could not be reattached because the girl did not get proper medical attention quickly enough.

    I’m Outta Here…

    Filed on September 3, 2004 at 4:24 pm under by dcobranchi

    I’m taking off. I don’t plan on coming back…


    Filed on at 12:53 pm under by dcobranchi

    A charter school wants to ban a boy from having his hair braided. Why? Because the edu-crat in charge says so:

    “One of the themes of the school is that it is a leadership academy that will deal with entrepreneurship in the corporate world. If we want to succeed in it, we must comply with rules. Ms. Adell specifically made this a part of her policy. She is an experienced educator in Gary, and we are going to stick to it.”

    Of course, “Because I said so!” doesn’t play very well so the edu-crat is forced to rely on that old standby- gangs.

    Also, Bakalis, a former Illinois state schools superintendent, said Thursday, with braids, “Some of the designs can be gang-related.”


    Filed on at 12:48 pm under by dcobranchi

    Is Jason Blair working in AZ?

    Open a student mailbox on a college campus and chances are at least one credit-card temptation will be inside.

    Usually the envelope contains a shiny plastic card with a credit limit of about $1,000, just waiting to be activated by calling a number on the back.

    Sending out unsolicited credit cards is a violation of federal law.


    Filed on at 7:12 am under by dcobranchi

    Those comedians at the NEA are such cut-ups.

    So who’s behind this frenzied movement to funnel public education dollars into private hands? While the Bush Administration may be the most prominent of those leading the charge, school boards aiming to save a few dollars, free-market ideologues convinced that private employees can do a better job than public school teachers and ESPs, and politicians with a history of bashing schools and promoting vouchers all play a part.

    “The lines are being drawn between ‘privateers’ who believe in expanding the opportunities for private industry at any cost and those of us who believe in free enterprise but think some things—the schools, the military, your public library, Social Security—don’t fit the for-profit model,” says NEA Secretary-Treasurer Lily Eskelsen. “Some public services just should not be at the mercy of CEO stock options.”

    The privateers and their allies in government argue that forcing public schools to compete with private schools and private industry will raise quality and ensure that schools remain accountable to the public.

    This really is good stuff. I never knew that the NEA believed in free enterprise or that schools just didn’t fit that model. I guess the private schools were all figments of our collective imaginations.

    Also, that “privateer” label is rich, although it’s not really appropriate here. I mean, the privateers were basically pirates attacking the government’s enemies. Is the NEA placing itself in the role of enemy of the state? More likely- the authors didn’t know that “privateer” is a real word. Just the kind of people you’d want educating our youth, eh?


    Filed on at 6:01 am under by dcobranchi

    Marty Solomon, Ph.D. has a proposal (actually several) that will “fix” the g-schools: differential pay for teachers, eliminating tenure, and rigorous (peer) reviews. Good ideas all and none will happen. Ever. The NEA will never allow it.

    The only solution to the g-school problem is to tear down the entire corrupt system. Get the government out of education and the entrenched power of the NEA would fade overnight.

    UPDATE: Of course, this solution is probably even less likely than Solomon’s. Really- the only real choice that parents have is to vote with their feet. When enough parents abandon the g-schools, they’ll collapse under their own weight.

    HEY TIM!

    Filed on at 5:30 am under by dcobranchi

    Here’s a “great” quote from the Garden State:

    Lucy Paul, 49, is the administrator of, as well as teacher in, the elementary division, and she originally wanted to home-school her two children. But after joining the church, the Lyndhurst resident decided to enroll them at the school because, she said, “it’s just like home-schooling” because of the small classes. Her two children graduated a few years ago.

    And I guess a picnic on Sunday morning is just like going to church because one sits on long benches?

    How The GOP Really Feels About Homeschooling

    Filed on September 2, 2004 at 11:22 pm under by dcobranchi

    Norman Singleton points out that the Republicans have almost as little respect for homeschoolers as Democrats and teachers unions:

    This year’s GOP platform states that “PUBLIC education is a foundation of a FREE and civil society” (so much for the family and the church). The platform also praises Bush for increasing federal education spending. The GOP platform committee rejected attempts to add language recognizing the contributions of home and private schools to the platform.

    Apparently, the revolutionaries who founded this nation were neither free nor civilized, since they lacked a public school system or the No Child Left Behind Act.

    And I Thought The Curfew Was Bad…

    Filed on at 1:53 pm under by dcobranchi

    As I’m doing my best to ignore the presidential election, I didn’t actually see Sen. Zell Miller’s rant last evening, but I did skim the text of his speech online. Now I’m no expert, but I know when someone is floating a trial balloon:

    In the summer of 1940, I was an 8-year-old boy living in a remote little Appalachian valley. Our country was not yet at war, but even we children knew that there were some crazy men across the ocean who would kill us if they could.

    President Roosevelt, in his speech that summer, told America “all private plans, all private lives, have been in a sense repealed by an overriding public danger.”

    In 1940, Wendell Wilkie was the Republican nominee.

    And there is no better example of someone repealing their “private plans” than this good man. He gave Roosevelt the critical support he needed for a peacetime draft, an unpopular idea at the time.

    And he made it clear that he would rather lose the election than make national security a partisan campaign issue.

    Shortly before Wilkie died, he told a friend, that if he could write his own epitaph and had to choose between “here lies a president” or “here lies one who contributed to saving freedom,” he would prefer the latter.

    Where are such statesmen today? (Emphasis mine.)

    “Saving freedom” through a “peacetime draft”? What an odd statement. You would think the senior White House officials who vet the major convention speeches would have suggested Miller use an example that didn’t mention the word “draft”. Unless, of course, the White House wants to start floating the idea. Not that it will be mentioned by the president. At least not until after the votes are counted.

    Sen. Miller, like most political leaders, has never understood the Thirteenth Amendment, which states, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” Forcing an 18-year-old to sacrifice his life strikes me as “involuntary servitude” if not outright slavery. (The fact that soldiers are paid makes no difference; many African slaves were compensated, however meagerly.)


    Filed on at 7:42 am under by dcobranchi

    Gallup has released its annual education poll. As usual, American sheep parents are pleased with the public schools their kids are in even while deploring the state of education in general. It’s that old cognitive dissonance thing. Interestingly, some 18 percent of parents think the best way to improve the schools would be to throw more money at them. Only one percent thought getting rid of the NEA would help. As far as I could tell, blowing up the system was not an option.


    Filed on at 7:29 am under by dcobranchi

    Linda Schrock Taylor sees a bit of a conspiracy in Saxon’s new ownership.

    I would also like to ask New-Saxon if they are purposefully making changes that will put a heavy financial burden upon homeschooling families; if they are striving, on their own, or under someone else’s agenda, to discourage parents from choosing to homeschool; if they are thinking that, if parents decide to homeschool, despite all the roadblocks continually thrown up before them, at least their children will join the rest of America’s children in being subjected to dumbed-down new-new-math. I do not feel at all comfortable with any changes being made to the tried and true Saxon books, let alone those changes described, even briefly, at the website. I hope that John Saxon joins me in questioning his decision to sell his company to a publisher that would, by August of the year of the sale, have rewritten books on the market with topics reorganized and coaches replacing teachers.

    If they really are re-working the texts to include New Math concepts, that will be bad news indeed. Home educators might want to stock up on the entire series of Old Saxon while they are still plentiful at used curriculum exchanges.


    Filed on at 7:16 am under by dcobranchi

    For many years schools across the nation have been charging “pay-to-play” fees for sports. Now, they’re expanding the fees to just about all extracurricular activities.

    Faced with shrinking budgets, schools are charging for things parents once took for granted: playing football or field hockey, singing in the glee club, or, in at least one case, accepting membership in the National Honor Society.

    …Pay schemes vary across the country. Some schools charge one-time annual fees, no matter how many clubs a student joins. Others charge per activity. Some charge just for sports, others for any out-of-classroom club. Often fees are supplemental. The Fairfield district charges 100 percent of cost: $630 per high school sport, per child; $260 per club.

    I applaud the distrcts who charge for sports as it injects a tiny bit of market forces into the (corrupt) system. That being said, the NHS? I was in that in high school. We didn’t do anything. Membership meant you got to wear some silly rope on your graduation robe. And how can it cost $260 per student per club? Where are the expenses? Presumably, the vast majority goes towards teachers’ (extra) pay. Just how much do they get to sponsor a club? Parents are up in arms over these fees, but they’re fighting the wrong battle. Instead of arguing that the fees are excessive, they’re making a civil rights issue of it.

    [P]arents and other critics are railing against a system they say denies access to a free public education.

    I’m pretty sure that no state (with the possible exception of Texas) has the right to play high school football as part of its state constitution.

    NEW AD

    Filed on at 6:54 am under by dcobranchi

    Over there —->. The product is shareware, which is very cool. I haven’t downloaded it yet (the hotel’s bandwidth leaves a LOT to be desired) but the website looks very interesting.


    Filed on at 4:41 am under by dcobranchi

    Six more invites. Let me know if you want one. I’ll need your name and current email addy.

    Of Curfews And Constitutions

    Filed on September 1, 2004 at 10:01 pm under by dcobranchi

    The Washington Times approves of unrestricted police power:

    Beginning this evening, D.C. youths must be indoors by 11 p.m. The intent of the curfew law is precisely as it was when enacted several years ago. Now, unlike then, however, we urge the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) toward stricter enforcement. . . .

    The law itself, which has loopholes that pass First Amendment muster, is tough. Between September and June, juveniles under the age of 17 must not be in any public place, including a park, or inside any establishment after 11 p.m. on weeknights unless they are involved in job-related activities or other such activities. The law calls for imposing penalties on both juveniles and their parents. Juvenile violators will be taken to so-called curfew centers and handed over to their parents, or, if not picked up by 6 a.m., remanded to the custody of child and family services. Youths 12 and under automatically will be handed over to child and family services. Minors who violate the law may be ordered to perform up to 25 hours of community service, a lenient sentence considering community service is now required to graduate from high school. Parents face stiffer penalties, including a fine up to $500. Violators can challenge the law by exercising their First Amendment rights, including the right to assemble, and the free exercise of speech and religion. The law applies to non-D.C. citizens as well — so parents and teens from neighboring suburbs be forewarned.

    The curfew law is an underutilized law-enforcement tool, as police grapple with stemming teen-on-teen violence, auto thefts and in-school violence. Overall auto theft, for example, is down by about 4 percent, while the number of juveniles arrested for auto theft is up 10 percent. Also, there were several shootings in the past school year, forcing police to have considerable say in school safety plans. What must happen now is for school authorities to remind parents that they can and will be held accountable for their children’s whereabouts and illegal actions. (Emphasis mine.)

    The actual curfew law states: “A minor commits an offense if he or she remains in any public place or on the premises of any establishment within the District of Columbia during curfew hours.” Thus, you are a criminal in the District if you are (a) under the age of 18 and (b) on private property without the government’s permission.

    It’s one thing for the government to impose a temporary curfew under emergency circumstances. But the District–and the Washington Times–believe the government may presumptively restrict its citizens’ liberty because there’s auto theft. All minors are presumed guilty because of their age–which, in any other context, would be called profiling. Come to think, the majority of the District’s minors are black, so this is a de facto policy of racial profiling, albeit one imposed by a mostly black city government.

    But, hey, in the part of town where the white people live–Capitol Hill–we have police “checkpoints” that peer into every car that passes through, in direct violation of the Fourth Amendment.

    And, finally, note the highlighted comparison by the Times of the “lenient” sentence for being a minor on private property and the mandatory “community service” required to graduate high school. Further proof that the line between g-schools and prisons is getting blurrier every day.


    Filed on at 8:00 pm under by dcobranchi

    Joe Westerhaven sent a very useful link where contries are ranked on all things educational. Joe especially recommended the ones on spending (we’re near the top) and time spent in the classroom (we’re not even in the top 25). Looks like hours of fun.


    Filed on at 7:51 pm under by dcobranchi

    Teachers in RI were threatening a strike over the issue of health care co-pays.

    The two sides agree that the question of whether the teachers will pay part of their health-care premiums is the main stumbling block to negotiations.

    Ferland said this afternoon that the union has tried to work with the School Committee to find other ways to cut healthcare costs, but that the committee is only interested in co-pays.

    Ferland said that the School Committee told him that it couldn’t back down on the health care co-pays — believed to be a $2-million issue — because it is a “political issue.”

    Something’s missing because $2M spread over 235 union members works out to over $8,000 per. Those are some serious co-pays.


    Filed on at 7:40 pm under by dcobranchi

    Prayers for FL residents are needed. I just got off the phone with my Dad. They are flat in the middle of the predicted path of Hurricane Frances. Their house sits less than 1/4 mile from the ocean at about 6 feet above sea level. A storm surge will cover the entire peninsula (the Halifax River is 1/4 mile the other way). Already voluntary evacuations of the entire peninsula have been “suggested.” What a summer!


    Filed on at 7:19 pm under by dcobranchi

    Mike Peach sent me a link to How Stuff Works’s article on homeschooling. Included is this:

    Can your family afford to homeschool?
    The actual expense of the materials required to run a homeschool can range from as little as a few hundred dollars each year to much, much more. The real expense generally comes in the form of a lost salary. Traditionally, homeschool families find it necessary for one parent to manage the homeschool — meaning there’s no room for an outside job for that parent. However, with more and more folks working from home, this doesn’t have to be the only scenario. In fact, some homeschooling families find it possible for both parents to work if a home-based business or telecommuting is involved. In this situation, with a creative schedule, both parents can share the role of “teacher” in their homeschool and have another job, too.

    The rest of the article is hit-or-miss. A big miss is found in the 2nd ‘graf:

    At 0.5 percent of the 2002-2003 school-age population, 1.1 million homeschooled students may not sound that impressive, but consider this: Only 20 years ago, homeschooling was illegal in much of the United States.

    It’s 2%, of course. The article also tends to spend a bit too much time in legalese (NC specific, at that). Finally, I’m not real keen on asking a 7-year-old their opinion as to whether she should be home educated.

    At 0.5 percent of the 2002-2003 school-age population, 1.1 million homeschooled students may not sound that impressive, but consider this: Only 20 years ago, homeschooling was illegal in much of the United States.

    Call me authoritarian, but I don’t think a child will have the info or wisdom to make an informed “recommendation.”

    Lest you think I’m being completely negative, I thought that the descriptions of the various “flavors” of home education was particularly good.

    Comparing Costs and Prices

    Filed on at 2:06 pm under by dcobranchi

    This letter appeared in last Thursday’s Washington Times, in response to an HSLDA official’s claim that homeschooling cost, on average, $600 per child, compared to the several thousand dollars a g-school spends per student:

    Home-schooling results are enviable. At times I have considered it for my family. However, I believe it is a fallacy to compare it to the cost or outcome of public school education as Michael Smith of the Home School Legal Defense Association did in his Monday article, “Trend even stronger than figures show” (Metropolitan).

    Home-schooling costs far more than $600 per child per year if you consider the lost wages of the parent-teacher, if he or she works. In my home, a conservative estimate would be about $50,000 for each of my two children.

    The educational and social outcomes cannot be compared fairly. Home-schooling parents are a highly select group of highly motivated and involved parents.

    While I certainly agree with the rights of home-school parents to provide education in their homes, in some respects, it is a shame that the public education system loses them. Their influence, involvement and demand for excellence would influence the education of many children, not just their own.


    Burke, Va.

    The author confuses cost and price. Smith was referring to the price of education-related materials for a homeschooling family versus the “price” dictated by the state for public schools. (It’s not really a price since it’s not set in a free market, but for simplicity’s sake I’ll use the term here.) In terms of cost, the author has a point. But even within the public school system, costs vary substantially from student to student. The government’s artificial price mechanism often prevents these costs variations from becoming public knowledge, but they certainly exist.

    The cost of public schooling is higher than homeschooling, because public schools contain infrastructure—bureaucracy, buildings, etc.—that are unnecessary in home schools. The price of public schooling, however, is subsidized by spreading the higher costs among more people—the taxpayers—thus making the price zero to the actual customer, since they pay school taxes regardless of whether they have children.

    But what about the author’s claim that the cost of homeschooling should reflect the parent’s lost wages? I think it’s a red herring. A free market is based on the subjective value judgments of its participants. These judgments, however, do not necessarily reflect upon the price. For example, if I spend $500 to buy a new computer, rather than spend that same money on lottery tickets, the price of my computer does not reflect my potential lottery winnings, even if the numbers I intend to play turn out to be the winning ones. At the moment I bought the computer, it reflected a greater value to me than the lottery tickets’ potential earnings.

    The same holds for the homeschooling parent who chooses not to work. Her decision reflects a value judgment that her child’s education is more valuable than her job, and that of all the available alternatives, homeschooling is the best means of providing that education. Lost wages are no more a part of the price of homeschooling than the costs of not pursuing every other alternative are—say, the price of private school tuition.

    The author does make a valid point, however: It’s not fair to compare self-selected homeschoolers to children in public schools. But the reason this is so is that homeschoolers are rejecting a government monopoly. One can’t fairly compare alternatives in an unfree market, which is what education is in this country. Homeschoolers aren’t so much a “free market” alternative as they are a black market alternative (and I say this with complete respect.) In a free market, parents could pursue any means of educating their child they saw fit, but in the regulated market, the options are limited by state law, often to public schools, licensed private schools, and home schools. And the state’s schooling options are usually package deals—you have to take everything if you want just some of the offerings. A free market, which higher education is to some extent, would allow a greater diversity of products and service providers.

    Finally, the author’s contention that “it is a shame that the public education system loses” homeschooling parents is patronizing, to say the least. The presumption that such parents “belong” to the school system reflects a value system that almost all homeschooling parents would find offensive. Nor does the author’s view that “[t]heir influence, involvement and demand for excellence would influence the education of many children, not just their own,” make any sense. This is a just a restatement of the socialization argument, only using parents instead of students. A parent is only responsible for the education of his or her own children, not those belonging to other parents. And if homeschooling parents took the author’s advice, and took full-time jobs while leaving their children in the government’s care, where would they even find the time to become involved? Many working parents struggle to find “quality time” with their own children.


    Filed on at 1:06 pm under by dcobranchi

    Just finally got ‘net access. Meeting starts in 4 minutes. Back later.

    UPDATE: Oh, the price one must pay for one’s “art.” I’m lying on the floor of my hotel room right next to the door, as that is the only spot I have a WiFi signal. The alternative is to sit in the hallway outside my door. I tried it and got funny looks.

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