Utterly Meaningless » 2004 » December

DEAR DR. HURD

Filed on December 18, 2004 at 6:37 am under by dcobranchi

Skip Oliva pointed me towards a good column on “Why Public Education Will Never Get Better.” I think Hurd misses a bit with his USPS analogy. The school situation is far worse than the Post Office. I’m pretty sure the State won’t seize my house if I quit buying 37-cent stamps. Definitely worth a read.

UTAH UPDATE

Filed on at 5:58 am under by dcobranchi

The Salt Lake Tribune (my old hometown paper) comes out against paying folks $500 to not send their kids to kindergarten. Fair enough; I think it’s a bad idea, too. I do not care for the editor’s rationale, though:

So while many well-meaning parents might do a good job of educating their children in a home school, we believe that teachers with expertise in early childhood education likely will do an even better job.

Preschool and kindergarten also are about socialization – learning to get along with others who are not part of your family. That happens in a public school; it won’t at home.

I can’t believe they’re actually throwing out the “s” word. Isn’t that horse still dead? And, besides, these days it’s the poor inmates kindergarten students who can’t socialize. Kindergarten is now “all academics, all the time.” And another thing– are these “teachers with expertise in early childhood education” the same ones who can’t pass the test that we crushed?

Bah! Humbug!

SLOWLY I TURNED

Filed on at 5:31 am under by dcobranchi

Here’s a cute tale about geography bee in Wyoming.

The question that decided the bee? “What cataract is split into Horseshoe Falls and American Falls?” The correct answer, given by Angele, gave was “Niagara Falls.”

The gym immediately erupted into applause when Pannell confirmed that Angele had won the bee. The students in the audience jumped up and cheered, some greeting the winner with high fives and handshakes. For his triumph, Angele was awarded a gold medal and a certificate recognizing his status as geography bee champion for the 2004-2005 school year.

Shortly after his win, when the gym had finally cleared out, Angele told the Boomerang that he didn’t expect to win going into the competition, but he was excited that he did.

He also mentioned how nervous he was during the championship round of the bee. “I had a real hard time standing up,” he said.

No bonus for the title; it’s too easy.

FINAL(?) POLL UPDATE

Filed on at 4:44 am under by dcobranchi

Here are the results to the poll as of this morning.

Fundamentalist 22.2%
Christian 35.6%
Religious 6.7%
Not religious 35.6%

HSLDA 13.3%

I counted Hilldweller as being in HSLDA even though they’re not currently paying dues.

So, it appears that Tim, Darby, and I are not particularly left of the rest of the readers here as we were accused (assuming for a moment that fundamentalist equals “right”). Now whether those readers of H&OES who self-selected to participate in the poll are representative of home educators in general? Certainly not representative in the scientific meaning of the word. In practice? There’s no way of knowing.

DELAWARE REMINDER

Filed on December 17, 2004 at 7:07 pm under by dcobranchi

Tomorrow is the last day for the Scholastic Books Warehouse 50% off sale.

NO ONE WILL BE SPECIAL

Filed on at 12:17 pm under by dcobranchi

The [Michigan] Commission on Higher Education and Economic Growth has just released a study in which they recommend that every high school graduate go on to get a postsecondary degree. Because everyone knows that college grads make more than high school grads.

The commission recommends that:

• Every Michigan student earn a postsecondary degree.

• Financial obstacles to college be removed by guaranteeing some level of financial support to students who go to college.

• High schools have tougher curriculums to ensure students who earn diplomas are prepared to handle college courses.

• Colleges increase enrollments and graduation numbers.

• The state ensures that students have access to two- and four-year baccalaureate programs.

Of course, that whole supply and demand thing kind of gets swept under the carpet. If every MI student goes on and gets a BS, aggregate wages will be exactly the same. You’ll just have better-educated plumbers and pizza deliverymen.

FREEZE WARNING…

Filed on at 11:39 am under by dcobranchi

in the nether regions. Dallas Independent School District is going to ban paddling. Not all of the nuts are caged, though:

Trustee Ron Price, who supports paddling, suggested the moratorium that took the place of a recommendation to immediately ban paddling in the district.

“This gives our administration the opportunity to go back and study these issues … and bring forth a legitimate plan,” he said.

NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS

Filed on at 8:46 am under by dcobranchi

David Kirkpatrick, writing at EdNews.org, has a positive column on homeschooling. There’s nothing that we all haven’t seen before, but it’s always nice to have allies.

BTW- for some unknown reason he singles out Delaware homeschooling law to highlight.

In Delaware, for example, anyone wishing to home school need only send a one-page form to the state Department of Public Instruction notifying them of their intentions. Background checks, teacher certification, curriculum requirements or final tests are not required, nor is any state or accrediting agency given authority over these students.

I’M GLAD WE HOMESCHOOL

Filed on December 16, 2004 at 9:08 pm under by dcobranchi

NPR’s ATC today had an interesting piece on how kindergarten has become almost completely “academic.” It’s all so confusing. Some research seems to show that many five-year-olds are ready for a full day of the 3Rs. Other research indicates that kids that age need more play time. The US as a whole is heading the academic route; the UK, the opposite direction. It really reinforces how much better homeschooling is for little ones. We can make our “programs” fit our kids instead of the other way around.

A SEASONAL SMILE

Filed on at 5:31 am under by dcobranchi

Here’s a very nice piece about four homeschooled sisters who have been dancing together for years. It’s “The Nutcracker,” of course.

CAN I VOTE FOR HER?

Filed on at 5:23 am under by dcobranchi

A proposal to essentially pay Utah parents $500 to not send their kids to kindergarten has drawn some support. I like the way this legislator thinks:

The proposal has at least one prominent supporter in Rep. Margaret Dayton, who heads the House Education Committee.

“I support this idea of a tax credit for having kids skip their kindergarten year, but I’m supportive of that without the tax credit as well,” the Orem Republican said. “I was loathe to send my young children to school at that young age. I really enjoyed doing that kind of work and keeping them here.

“I’ve been quite concerned about the national trend I’m hearing about of having full-day kindergarten because I think 5 years old is very young to be in school all day. For a lot of areas, I see that as a baby-sitting option or a state-funded day care. I really endorse the idea of having children at home with the parents as much as they can be.”

I doubt the proposal goes anywhere as the UEA is pretty powerful, even in relatively non-union Utah. (Think about it- Utah, Mormons, lots of kids). Still, it’s nice to hear a prominent legislator express such “radical” ideas.

BTW- the article mentions a “Ron Moore” who is supposedly the “godfather of homeschooling.” That’s supposed to be Raymond Moore, right?

FIGHT! FIGHT!

Filed on at 5:12 am under by dcobranchi

My CIA informant (inside joke) sent along some video of a parent “intervening” in a school bus fight between her daughter and one or two other kids. The mom is now facing jail time. (HT: Jason)

OT: ONE FOR SKIP

Filed on at 4:42 am under by dcobranchi

As Phil Rizzuto would have said, “Holy cow!” A couple of DC politicians grew some and told MLB to put up some money for the new stadium. The owners are playing hardball (pun intended) and threatening to pull out of DC entirely. DC ought to tell them to pound sand. Using any tax dollars for a stadium is almost surely a waste of taxpayers’ money. If baseball wants to get out of Montreal (and they do, desperately), then they should be building their own stadium.

I applaud the politicans who’ve come (partially) to their senses. The original proposal (roughly half a billion in taxes) was abominable. Forcing baseball to come up with half of it is a much better (for the taxpayers) deal.

YEAH, BUT …

Filed on at 4:22 am under by dcobranchi

Gill Bates forwarded a libertarian column on the state of the UK economy. I’d love to say that it’s spot in and hammers home all its points. Unfortunately, I can’t. The column states some facts: illiteracy is up, health care is down, etc. James Bartholomew blames the welfare state, of course. And, he may well be correct. But his arguments against the welfare state seem to rest solely on efficiency. Reading it I got the feeling that he’d have no problem if the g-schools just worked a whole lot better.

But, maybe I’m being unfair. It’s a quick read. Comment away.

ANOTHER FINE MESS

Filed on December 15, 2004 at 11:12 pm under by dcobranchi

Somehow I can’t see this ending well:

BEAVERTON — The school board voted Monday to negotiate a new contract with a private center that offers classes to home-schooled students, despite district officials’ concerns that the facility does not meet state standards for programs financed with taxpayer dollars.

More than half of the 230 students who attend the Village Home Education Resource Center in Garden Home live in the Beaverton School District.

The center probably would have closed if the board had voted against renewing the six-month contract that expires Dec. 31, because more than half its revenue comes from the Beaverton district in fees based on hours of instruction per student.

Lorelynn Mirage Cardo, the executive director of Village Home, says the center is in compliance with state laws.

District administrators disagree.

And what happens when people try to mix homeschooling with state money?

The Oregon Department of Education is studying how to reconcile laws that oversee home schooling and those that govern private alternative programs financed by state dollars, and is planning to announce its findings in January.

Publicly funded centers that offer classes only to the home-schooled are a new phenomenon, and the state is still sorting out conflicting regulations, said Cliff Brush, an education specialist with the state education department.

A SINO THE TIMES

Filed on at 11:07 pm under by dcobranchi

The copy is fairly standard, but the setting ain’t:

Although it has grown into a popular educational format in the US, home-schooling is still quite new for Chinese parents. In today’s China, public education occupies the dominant position with non-governmental education sprouting up only in the past 10 years.

“We need multiple educational formats to meet the needs of parents and their children, since every child is individually unique,” said Chen Lixin, one of the initiators of Shanghai Home-School Association.

Chen’s eldest son, Exir, is receiving home-schooling. “It is fun to study in a home-school,” wrote the 11-year-old boy in his personal web introduction. “In China, the school gives us a lot of homework that is not really useful.”

Exir was already fond of science as a little boy. His dream is to be a scientist like Albert Einstein or a cosmonaut like Yuri Gagarin. He once studied in a local non-governmental school, but homework often took up so much of his spare time that he had no time to read his favourite science books.

“I like home school. In this way, I can learn a subject at my own pace,” he said. While in school, Exir always learnt faster than other children in his class and he felt frustrated because he could not absorb new knowledge at his own speed.

OT: RASPBERRY ON GAY MARRIAGE

Filed on at 2:24 pm under by dcobranchi

William Raspberry has a very nice column on the subject. He quotes extensively from one of my all-time favorite books, “Mere Christianity”:

“I should like to distinguish two things which are very often confused,” he wrote. “The Christian conception of marriage is one: the other is the quite different question — how far Christians, if they are voters or Members of Parliament, ought to try to force their views of marriage on the rest of the community by embodying them in the divorce laws.

“A great many people seem to think that if you are a Christian yourself you should try to make divorce difficult for every one. I do not think that. At least I know I should be very angry if the Mohammedans tried to prevent the rest of us from drinking wine. . . .

“There ought to be two distinct kinds of marriage: one governed by the State with rules enforced on all citizens, the other governed by the Church with rules enforced by her on her own members. The distinction ought to be quite sharp, so that a man knows which couples are married in a Christian sense and which are not.”

Would Lewis have supported gay (civil) marriage. I don’t know. Based on this brief passage, though, it seems at least possible.

85.7 PERCENT

Filed on at 10:53 am under by dcobranchi

That’s what I scored on this sample of the Florida teacher’s test for K-6th grade (discounting the two unanswerable questions). I did have to guess a bit on the psychobabble ones. That being said, I’m still doing better than quite a few teachers in Florida. I read over the weekend that some have failed this test dozens of times.

UNINTELLIGENT SCHOOL BOARD

Filed on at 10:10 am under by dcobranchi

The ACLU is suing the Dover (PA) School Board to stop the teaching of “Intelligent Design” in the local g-schools. With public comments like this, I don’t think the Board has a prayer:

“Two thousand years ago, someone died on a cross. Can’t someone take a stand for him?”

If there were any doubts that ID was just providing cover for teaching religion in the schools, that should pretty much settle the matter.

Elementary school = prison…

Filed on at 8:08 am under by Tim Haas

The close partnership between police and schools these days is startling.

Principal Sam Morgan of Thurgood Marshall Academy, a charter school, acknowledged he had police officers handcuff the boy one time, telling the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “I’m trying to scare this kid straight. I would not be doing my job if I were not trying to get him on the right path.”
St. Louis police spokesman Richard Wilkes said the department was looking into the incident. “Handcuffing 5-year-olds is not a practice of the department,” he added.

The boy has been withdrawn from school, but there’s no mention of homeschooling. My favorite quote comes from the principal (who incidentally used to work in Corrections):

Morgan said he wanted to teach the boy a lesson and that he had devoted more time to the pupil than to any others.
“I have this kid in my heart,” he said, adding that he had walked the halls with the boy and talked to him many times.

That’s the kind of love we can all do without. 😉

THANK HEAVENS…

Filed on at 6:59 am under by dcobranchi

for Tim and Darby. Otherwise, H&OES would suck lately.

I’ve been distracted with the job interview and all, so I haven’t put in the effort here. Sorry. It’s over now (at least until after the holidays) so I should be back up to my old mediocre standards soon.

And, yes, the interview went well. No, no offer was made.

WINNER OF THE SNARKIEST EDU-BLOG IS…

Filed on at 6:38 am under by dcobranchi

the EIA. This week’s post is good.

The California Teacher Shortage Has Risen From the Grave

I thought we had seen the last of this particular vampire, but we neglected to cut off its head, burn it, bury the ashes and consecrate the ground.

THIS YOUNG LADY IS STARTING TO TICK ME OFF

Filed on December 14, 2004 at 10:44 pm under by dcobranchi

Remember Abigail Frank, the once-upon-a-time homeschooler I mentioned yesterday? She’s spouting the educrat-control line again in the last part of the Des Moines Register series:

Frank and her three siblings – Rachel, 17 , a junior at North High School; Zachary, 13, an eighth-grader at Goodrell Middle School; and Emma, 12, a sixth-grader at Goodrell – were all home-schooled initially, before switching to public school.

Home-schooling gave her flexibility and one-on-one attention from her mother, she said. A certified teacher provided guidance and monitored her educational progress – making sure everyone was on the right track, she said.

“You did have accountability; it wasn’t like a free-for-all.”

This young woman spent the last nine years of her K-12 academic career in public schools; in the context of a story about homeschoolers in college, how can she be termed one in any meaningful way? I don’t know whether to blame her or the reporter.

The last-day main piece relates some specifics about Iowa homeschoolers in Iowa colleges:

There are 94 home-schoolers currently enrolled as undergraduates at Iowa State; 39 as new freshmen or transfers for fall 2004. Overall, home-schoolers make up less than one-half of 1 percent of the university’s undergraduate enrollment.

[…]

At the University of Iowa, more home-schoolers are applying now compared to four years ago, said Michael Barron, director of admissions. Ten home-schooled, undergraduate students enrolled this fall among the total 20,135 undergraduate student population.

Given the fact that the state’s primary and secondary homeschooling population is currently more than 9,000 kids, one would think more there’d be more than a hundred or two enrolled in the state’s universities. Is this ISU admissions official fooling himself when he claims:

[T]he university tends to only see the higher-ability home-schoolers, Caffrey said. Those with average or marginal ability tend not to apply.

“We’re only seeing the high end of the spectrum,” he said.

Where have all the Iowans gone? Off to Ivies, every one?

MORE FROM CHESCO

Filed on at 8:37 pm under by dcobranchi

That’s Chester County (PA) for those non-locals. This article must have been a sidebar to the main one that Tim blogged earlier. It’s brief and disjointed, but it’s at least mostly positive. The main topic is a co-op type school (similar to this one).

I’m not sold on the concept as I think it’s way too easy to fall into the lecture mode where the parents can abdicate their teaching roles entirely.

WARNING!

Filed on at 8:03 pm under by dcobranchi

Anyone using GoogleNews to scan for “homeschooling” might want to skip the article in the Village Voice (I am not providing a direct link). It’s pretty rude and has nothing to do with homeschooling.

THE ONLY WAY TO FLY

Filed on at 7:46 pm under by dcobranchi

I’m back home. Round trip including an all-day job interview in 12 hours. No stupid security checks. And the airport is five minutes from my house. I could get used to this.

I’d want my apology in writing…

Filed on at 4:17 pm under by Tim Haas

…and that’d be just the beginning!

PHILADELPHIA – The police chief and the head of the city’s schools apologized Monday to the mother of a 10-year-old girl who was arrested and handcuffed after she brought a pair of scissors to school in her backpack.

There’s no word on whether they will remove the suspension from the girl’s school record.

LAST AND LEAST

Filed on at 9:06 am under by dcobranchi

The family of frequent H&OES commenter Maryalice Newborn is mentioned in the concluding segment of the Daily Local series, which brings up but never really gets to the heart of the freedom of religion and freedom of conscience issues at the center of the Pennsylvania lawsuits.

In the course of the piece, there’s an interesting stat about the results of Pennsylvania’s annual evaluation process:

For the school year 2002-03, there were 107 cases where a student’s program was deemed inappropriate by an evaluator and 294 cases where a superintendent deemed it inappropriate, according to the state Department of Education. Of those cases, only 16 made it to the hearing level.

So, of the 24,415 registered homeschooled children in Pennsy in 2002-03, only .0006 had programs deemed bad enough to require an administrative hearing. And how much money and time is spent, by parents and districts alike, to isolate these 16 children? (I checked the state report from which these numbers were drawn, and it’s silent on whether any of those hearings resulted in a child being placed back in school.)

And as someone who is fighting hard to keep New Jersey’s law from getting worse, I find quotes like these quite dispiriting:

Liz Highley, 40, of West Vincent, has four children whom she is already home schooling or is planning to home school, and agrees with the challengers that her children’s education is a religious right.

“We believe that their education is a responsibility given to us by God,” said Highley. She said she can identify with the religious beliefs of the Newborns and the Hankins to have complete jurisdiction over their children’s education. However, she herself does not feel overburdened with the state requirements.

“I don’t feel threatened by the regulation in our state. But I also recognize that other states don’t have as much regulation as ours has,” said Highley. “It begs the question, ‘Why do we have to have the regulation in our state?’”

Kathleen McKnight, 47, of Phoenixville, is a home schooling mom who lived in Oklahoma for 11 years before moving to the county in 1991. She has found a different environment here, she says.

“The laws here are pretty restrictive,” said McKnight.

She is required to keep a log of her activities and submit a portfolio each year, but she said she does not find it particularly difficult to complete. “It’s unnecessary paperwork, I think, on both ends,” she said. “You can do it. It’s just more of why should I have to?”

Welmod Freeman, 47, of Franklin, is a born again Christian who said she understands both sides of the argument.

Most home schooling families choose home schooling because they want to do the right thing for their children, she said. She worries that a few people who take advantage of a lack of rules could make it difficult for everyone else.

“I certainly understand where they are coming from,” said Freeman. But on the other hand, “it doesn’t take much to comply with certain laws.”

JUST ANOTHER WEEK IN PARADISE

Filed on at 5:52 am under by dcobranchi

Michael Peach highlights some of the, er, highlights of schooling in the UK. It ain’t pretty.

MONTANA ALERT

Filed on at 5:38 am under by dcobranchi

Izzy is all over this one. Several bills directly affecting homeschooling are in the drafting stage. The texts are not yet available, but the titles alone are enough to cause concern.

Bill Draft # Sponsor Title

LC1086 Ryan Quality home school and child protection act
LC1542 Schmidt Define education neglect
LC1543 Schmidt Revise oversight over home school students
LC1628 Schmidt Language proficiency testing for home schools
LC1629 Schmidt Reading and math proficiency testing for home schools
LC1630 Schmidt Reading proficiency testing for home schools
LC1631 Schmidt Math proficiency testing for home schools

Montana home educators– start your engines.

GOTTA RUN

Filed on at 5:02 am under by dcobranchi

I’m flying to WV in a few minutes (corporate jet- commercial is just so plebeian). I’ll be back tonight.

BAH! HUMBUG!

Filed on at 4:50 am under by dcobranchi

Ryan at LewRockwell is just not “getting” that ol’ Christmas Spirit (gimme some more of that ol’ Christmas Spirit). (HT: Skip)

Bonus points to the first person who identifies the slightly changed quote above. No fair Googling.

ALMOST GOT ME

Filed on at 4:36 am under by dcobranchi

The fact that I read into the third sentence before realizing this was a parody speaks volumes. Whether it speaks volumes about the state of the schools or about the level of my mental acuity, I leave as an exercise for the reader:

Twenty-eight Tacoma grade school students have been suspended indefinitely for violating the new mandatory recess policy.

All were sent home after playground monitor/timers saw them reading books or doing homework during one of the officially designated breaks.

“We take recess very seriously here,” said district spokeswoman Patty Cakepattycake. “How can they be ready to learn if they spend their playtime learning?”

The rest of the piece is pretty good, too. (Hat tip: Dee Dee)

SERIES, SERIES EVERYWHERE …

Filed on December 13, 2004 at 7:23 pm under by dcobranchi

I didn’t realize when I blogged the Des Moines Register piece yesterday that it’s part of a series — and a very even-handed one at that. The only thing I’ve found to quibble with so far actually comes from a former homeschooler:

Abigail Frank was home-schooled for several years while she was elementary-school age, then enrolled in traditional school permanently in the fourth grade. She said it was important that she and her siblings went to public school as they got older.

Parents who decide to home-school their children through high school need to be concerned about its effect on the social development with peers, said the 18-year-old, now a freshman at Drake University.

While home-schooling children through high school “has worked very well for some people,” Abigail said, there is risk of isolation and lack of interaction with different kinds of people and cultures.

I don’t know that someone who’s been public-schooled since fourth grade is really the best source for impressions about homeschooling through high school. More to the point would have been someone who went back in, say, 10th or 11th grade, no?

In any case, you can find the whole shebang, including, I presume, tomorrow’s concluding segments, here.

Then there’s day two of the Daily Local series, whose main piece again manages to talk realistically about both the joys and the challenges of homeschooling without resorting to scare tactics. There’s also a sidebar that offers some comic relief:

Sheri White, an Exton psychologist, said children in public or private schools can experience negative interaction with their classmates. However, she said, traditional school settings also offer students an opportunity to work out social difficulties.

“Participation in the institutions does help prepare them for dealing with our social institutions as adults,” said White.

She also said classmates, who are at roughly the same development level as their peers, can serve as role models for each other.

PRONOUNCE THAT FOR ME, OK?

Filed on at 4:47 pm under by dcobranchi

I think GoogleNews might be losing it. Look what my standard “scrape” of homeschooling articles dredged (and I use that word intentionally) up.

I-key Benney, from New York spent 15 years in different jobs in Corporate America as well as in dabbling in various online investment and internet business programs but never attained financial security.

Wayland, MA (PRWEB) December 13, 2004 — Just when he was about to give up on life, he made a startling discovery about an online investment opportunity that instantly changed his life and helped him to turn his dreams into reality!

Within one year of discovering and implementing this make money online program, http://www.internet-homebiz-program.com) he made enough money to create his own company and hire a management company to run it for him.

…Mrs. Debbie G., a home schooling mother from Virginia, used the Mscsrrr to make money online program and commented: “I turned $10,000 into over $125,000 in about six weeks by trading within the guidelines of the program Your make money online system works. Thanks a million.”

Mscsrrr? Roflmao.

R-CUBED

Filed on at 4:33 pm under by dcobranchi

It’s Monday, and you know what that means– time for the weekly recycled Redovich rant. This one, at least the part that I could stomach, is pretty funny. Of course there’s a war on public education. It’s all so unfair. Those poor hard-working edu-crats are so misunderstood. Blah, blah, blah. The inadvertant comedy today is all about comparing math scores on an international test.

One of the primary weapons used in the war against American public education is the spurious analysis of standardized test results of any kind on any academic subject that can be construed to show that K-12 schools in the United States are failing. The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2003 math test is an excellent example of a ridiculous test that has absolutely no validated proficiency levels to assess the abilities in math of 15-year olds from 41 countries. Student samples from the 41 countries are not statistically comparable. There is absolutely no evidence that the test questions apply learning problems with real world context in mathematics literacy and problem solving. There is absolutely no relationship between the math curriculum taught in the U.S. and the 41 countries administering the test.

Of all the subjects taught in schools, I would expect math to be the most “international.” So, if American schools truly aren’t teaching what the other 41 countries are, well why the hell not?! And, if they are, then they just plain stink at it. Either way– not good news for the g-schools. So, has Redovich joined the war against the g-schools?

WOW! II

Filed on at 4:22 pm under by dcobranchi

Daryl didn’t mention the most fascinating section of Scott Somerville’s history, which makes it even more of a must-read:

Kathy Collins, the attorney who used to supervise home education in Iowa, wrote home schoolers off as Christian fundamentalists. Ms. Collins was wrong. The diversity of home schoolers is a great strength of the home school movement.

The increasing popularity and acceptability of home education has given it a foothold in some communities that might otherwise have never considered it. The first wave of home schoolers was far to the left of the American political spectrum, and the second wave of evangelical home schoolers was well to the right. The new waves of the home school movement are rapidly filling in the vital center of American politics. Each new wave makes it harder for politicians to take away the right to teach a child at home.

Diversity is especially useful when home schoolers interact with legislators. There are home schoolers who are very comfortable with the most conservative politicians, and others who are equally at home with the most liberal. When home school freedoms are genuinely threatened, every faction of this diverse community will quickly join together to fend off government control of home education.

Cynics will be quick to point out a certain disconnect between HSLDA’s words here and past deeds, but this passage does I think reflect a maturing attitude on the organization’s part that I’ve also seen evidenced in other ways.

POLL UPDATE

Filed on at 4:08 pm under by dcobranchi

Fundamentalist 21.6%
Christian 32.4%
Religious 8.1%
Not religious 37.8%

HSLDA 10.8%

So far, in this completely unscientific poll, it appears that Right-wing Christians do not comprise the majority of H&OES readers.

WOW!

Filed on at 6:18 am under by dcobranchi

Tim Haas uncovered a really good history of the homeschooling movement by Scott Somerville. It’s buried in HSLDA’s archives here. I’ve written to Scott asking for the backstory. I’ll update if he responds.

There’s lot of good stuff in here. Here’s a great quote from a prominent opponent of homeschooling:

Children are not chattel; they are not personal property. They are not “owned” by their parents, nor do they “belong” to the state. The Christian fundamentalists who want the freedom to indoctrinate their children with religious education do not understand that the law that prevents them from legally teaching their kids prevents someone else from abusing theirs.

Compulsory attendance laws are protectionist in nature. Their purpose is twofold: to protect the state by ensuring a properly educated citizenry; to protect the children by ensuring that their labor is spent attaining an education. Any law that would allow Christians to teach their children without oversight or interference from the state would also allow parents with less worthy motives to lock their children in a closet, use them to babysit for younger siblings, or have them work twelve hours a day in the family hardware store. Opening the door for the lamb allows the lion to enter as well….

It has taken nearly two centuries to enact the many legal protections existing today for children. Abrogating the state’s compulsory-attendance laws, or weakening them by allowing parents to teach children at home, is no less than a giant genuflection backward. The precarious balance of parents’ rights versus children’s rights should never be struck in favor of the parents. While the Religious Right carries the Christian flag into battle, the state must steadfastly hold high the banner of the child.

No, that’s not from Tim’s lunch partner (although it certainly sounds familiar). It’s from an Iowa edu-crat in 1987. I guess there really is nothing new under the sun.

Anyway, the essay, while being a bit HSLDA-centric, is well worth a read.

THWACK!

Filed on at 5:26 am under by dcobranchi

That was the sound of my jaw hitting the floor.

I just don’t what to say about this program in Charlotte, NC. Statist is way too kind. And here’s the archive for the Zero to 21 Project. I think I need a shower.

BTW, when was childhood officially extended to 21? Did I miss the memo?

HOME ON THE RANGE

Filed on at 5:08 am under by dcobranchi

Not a single discouraging word in this WashTimes article on some back-to-nature home educators. Worth a read on a gloomy Monday morning.

COLLINGSWOOD WAY WEST

Filed on at 4:54 am under by dcobranchi

Except in a couple details, this Alaskan tale of neglect and abuse sounds almost exactly like the Collingswood case:

Legislators will hear from state officials today on how the state can better protect Alaska children from abuse and neglect.

…Five foster children were placed by the state with Patrick and Sherry Kelley, who adopted them. The Kelleys now face 54 criminal charges in a bizarre case of reported beatings, confinements and punishments.

…OCS [Office of Children’s Services] has declined to talk about what, if anything, it did wrong because of confidentiality restrictions in state law, which it proposes be loosened.

…The Kelleys received $3,400 a month for their adopted children but, according to troopers, didn’t provide them even basics such as beds at their Mat-Su trailer home.

…Home schooling may be another area that gets a close look. The Kelley children hadn’t been to school for years, they told troopers. Their adoptive parents said they were being home-schooled, but troopers found no evidence of that.

At least the state legislator calling for hearings would not propose a ban on homeschooling adopted or foster kids.

POLL UPDATE

Filed on at 4:39 am under by dcobranchi

So far:

Fundamentalist 27.8%
Christian 27.8%
Religious 11.1%
Not religious 33.3%

HSLDA 11.1%

I counted Jema in with the fundamentalists as she seemed to be leaning that way. That label, BTW, is not meant to be disparaging. I meant someone who is a “literalist” and probably ascribes to creationism and/or ID. Tim warned me that some folks might take offense and suggested I use “evangelical” instead. I chose not to because there are certainly folks here who are evangelicals but not literalists.

So, no “nutbag” labels from me.

IT’S POLL TIME

Filed on December 12, 2004 at 8:57 pm under by dcobranchi

Let’s see what the readership of H&OES might be like. WARNING: Unscientific poll ahead. Via comment, please respond to the following. You can post anonymously if you like:

1) I consider myself a fundamentalist Christian.
2) I consider myself to be a Christian but not fundamentalist.
3) I consider myself to be religious but not Christian.
4) I do not consider myself to be religious.

Also, if you wouldn’t mind, please indicate if you are currently a member of HSLDA.

Here’s an interesting idea from Europe…

Filed on at 8:40 pm under by Tim Haas

Children could quit school for a trade at 14

Children will be able to quit school for good at 14 and learn a trade under a planned government shake-up of the education system.

Instead of school, they will be able to study at college full-time – and take up a trade such as plumbing or engineering under a “young apprenticeship” scheme for 14 to 16-year-olds.

Of course, the headline and lead paragraph are very misleading. Reading further, you discover that they are really talking about is having students spend about half their week in a trades apprenticeship program, and the rest in either highschool or college. There’s apparently been a successful pilot program already, involving 120,000 kids. Compulsory schooling will continue to be required until 16, but they are expanding the various venues for learning.

Honestly, it sounds like a good program, to me. And more educational choice is always a good thing!

IF YOU CAN’T SEE THE DINING ROOM TABLE …

Filed on at 11:19 am under by dcobranchi

… in the picture, do I still get my coin?

Perhaps I read this piece too fast, but I didn’t see even a token critic quote. Still, some things of interest:

Since the 1980s, the home-schooling movement has been more widely adopted by diverse religious and secular groups. The majority of today’s home-schooling families – 60 percent – are evangelical Christians, said [HSLDA’s Ian] Slatter . In the early 1980s, evangelical Christians made up 90 percent of home-schoolers.

Where is it again they’re getting that 60 percent figure?

Also, I’m pleased to see we’re finally capturing the crucial exhibitionist demographic:

Dawn Thompson of Norwalk, who home-schooled her three daughters, said five years ago home-schooling conventions were filled with women who seemed conservative – long hair, modest clothing, no makeup.

“Now, you go to a convention, and there are moms with short hair, tattoos, short shorts,” she said.

On a more serious note, 45 percent of (officially registered) Iowa homeschoolers are in state-run hybrid programs:

According to a Des Moines Register survey of the 367 school districts in Iowa, 9,171 students are being home-schooled this year. […]

Families can work with a district home-school assistance program. A visiting teacher will make regular home visits to verify that the student is making adequate progress.

In Iowa, 4,128 students are in home-school assistance programs run by the state. Last year, 3,744 were in the programs, according to the Iowa Department of Education.

You’d think at least the aforementioned “60 percent” would realize the danger of dancing with the devil.

ANOTHER WEEK, ANOTHER SERIES

Filed on at 10:25 am under by dcobranchi

But this one seems a lot more even-handed:

Beginning today and over the next two days, the Daily Local News will examine the subject of keeping one’s children out of a traditional schoolroom setting. In dozens of interviews with home schooling students and parents, our reporters have questioned what makes a successful home schooled student, and why individual families began moving down this new road in education.

This series will also look at a typical day in the life of a home schooling family, and the many resources that have sprung up to help these families in their mission. It will also look at the challenges to state law that some families are beginning to face, and how some home schoolers worry that those challenges would weaken the system they have come to admire.

Each day, we will also profile the parents and children who daily find themselves at home, in school.

On the critic side, Usual Suspect Rob Reich (with whom I’ve having lunch tomorrow, by the way) is joined by a few new names:

Clive Belfield, associate director of the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education at the Teachers’ College, Columbia University, which does nonpartisan research on topics including home schooling, is one of those who urge caution in looking at home schooling studies, believingthere needs to be better record-keeping on students’ performance.

“We tried to get the home schooling data for every state and we could only get credible data for 23,” said Belfield, who added that home schooling could prove to be a good idea, but that it is impossible to know without more scientific evidence.

Hmmm, “nonpartisan” and “Teachers’ College, Columbia University” — so close, and yet so far.

Then there’s:

Frank Farley is a professor in the Department of Psychological Studies in Education at Temple University. Although not wholly opposed to home schooling, he nevertheless believes that it should be used in appropriate situations — such as in cases where the public school system is poor or a student suffers from school phobia, making attendance a traumatic experience.

But Farley said he thinks parents sometimes keep students at home because they are too sheltering, short-changing students from a broad educational experience that includes social lessons.

“You’ve got to have social skills,” Farley said. “You learn them by interacting with other kids, with being in a school setting, by learning them from knowledgeable teachers. “Much of success in life is due to how you relate to people,” he said.

You know, I think finally understand why academic politics are so childish and nasty — they’ve apparently all taken their own advice and learned their social skills from kids rather than adults.

OT: “HOT” INVESTMENT TIP

Filed on at 4:25 am under by dcobranchi

Invest in Iodine.

This is a local story. The very troubled Hope Creek reactor is about ready to be restarted. The NYT reports that it probably shouldn’t be. My house sits directly north and across the river from the reactor. I can easily see the cloud from the cooling tower on a cold morning.

OT: TANSTAAFL

Filed on at 4:14 am under by dcobranchi

An interesting column in the NYT on Social Security privatization. There is no proposal yet to bash so this is a pre-emptive shot. He’s right about risk and reward. Equities have historically yielded more than Treasuries because of the “risk premium.”

“The entire argument is absurd,” said William C. Dudley, chief United States economist at Goldman Sachs. “These returns weren’t free. You are getting these returns precisely because you are taking on risk.”

I’m not sure I buy the SSA’s contention that P-Es will increase over time, either. They currently sit about 50 percent above their historical average. A prediction of a significant P-E expansion beyond that range seems dubious at best.

And one other thing- this entire debate is aimed at “fixing” Social Security as the boomers get set to retire. Well, I’m at the tail end of that generation (I was born in ’62; the “official” end is ’64) and I am already in the market. In fact, I play the extreme edge of risk (I’m a “momo” player) with my accounts. I would not dedicate any portion of my Social Security account to the stock market. Why? Because it’s the zero risk portion of my three-legged stool. My 401(k) and IRA are high-risk/high potential reward. My DuPont pension is theoretically zero risk (but it can always be changed by the company) so I hedge my bets with the zero risk Treasuries in SS. Is it truly zero risk? No– Congress can (and does) change it at times. But history shows, I think, that it’s a pretty safe bet.

So, if I, being a gambler and a fairly knowledgeable baby boomer with a long-term horizon wouldn’t play this, what are the chances that anyone older than I will?

I look forward to seeing whatever Bush finally proposes. So far, I haven’t been impressed with the trial balloons.

REALLY TANGLED WEB

Filed on at 3:33 am under by dcobranchi

Here’s a great example of why homeschoolers should avoid these blended systems.

The Sisters School District used district money to partially fund teacher salaries at a Christian school.

Sisters School District Superintendent Ted Thonstad said the district suspended the program after four years on Sept. 1, after a former Sonrise Christian School teacher questioned whether it violated the separation between church and state.

…Under the arrangement, a handful of Sonrise teachers were hired as employees of both the school district and the Christian school, Thonstad said. Sonrise paid for most of the teacher’s salary, but the district paid for the teacher’s time spent on non-religious subjects, such as math or English.

Sisters High School Principal Bob Macauley said he approached Sonrise with the partnership four years ago as a way to involve home-schooled students with the school district.

“When we opened Sonrise, it looked more like a home-school program than anything else,” Macauley said.

The Christian school started seven years ago with 18 students, and has since grown to 108 students, Macauley said.

In exchange for sharing the teachers’ salaries, the district was able to claim state funding for the children taught with public money.

All together now– IAATM!

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