Utterly Meaningless » 2005 » April

    Filed on April 30, 2005 at 8:30 pm under by dcobranchi

    This isn’t really a home education letter, but it raises an interesting point:

    Let’s ask the parents

    Re: “Rotten Education � Students can’t prepare for the world today in the schools of yesterday,” by Bill Gates, April 24 Points.

    I have been a teacher since 1965 and was an A student in New York in the ’40s. I earned a master’s in education in 1972, while raising four children. I am still teaching visually impaired students in Rockwall. I love what I do, and I love children.

    I’m also the first to agree that the present education system is not preparing our next generation for the future. The only way that school has changed since the ’40s is the addition of technology.

    Two questions that can be answered in one simple sentence: (1) Why is home-schooling becoming more effective than public school? (2) Why do Indian and Asian children excel in public school?

    Their parents are involved and see education as of prime importance and worth spending the time and effort to facilitate.

    Parental education and more emphasis on preschool programs might be a start to help parents’ priorities and values.

    Betty Donovan, Richardson

    I’ve probably been guilty of this more than most, but I’m really starting to question the wisdom of even comparing home education to g-schooling (Tim and Chris are likely singing a hallelujah breakdown chorus ’bout now). Right now we think we can show that HEKs outperform g-schoolers in any number of measures. We’ve used these stats to justify home education. But what if they’re bogus? Or if the g-schools improve so much that their kids routinely outperform ours? Do we really want to build our justification for home education on such a flimsy foundation? Better by far, I think, to just point out that our kids are happy, they’re not being obviously deprived of an education (or anything else), and that raising our kids as we see fit is our fundamental right.


    Filed on April 29, 2005 at 8:55 pm under by dcobranchi

    Izzy’s been following the blatherings of a radio host who knows nothing about home education. Apparently he never learned the old saw about it being better to keep one’s mouth shut and be thought a fool. Well, folks are rising to the bait. I don’t think he was worth the effort.

    UPDATE: OTOH, this home education grad likes him (even if he disagrees with his position).


    Filed on at 8:41 pm under by dcobranchi

    Here’s an interesting tale and related poll. A MA g-school father objected to some of the material that his son brought home from school. It’s not clear why, but he felt compelled to go to the school. He also refused to leave when told and ended up in jail, arrested for trespassing. The poll is what makes it really fascinating, though, as it asks “Should parents have the right to take children out of class when they object to the material?” The fourth choice is why this in an on topic post.


    Filed on at 6:48 pm under by dcobranchi

    Except I just spent an hour on the riding lawn mower. And got about 1/5 of the yard finished.


    Filed on at 10:17 am under by Tim Haas

    … that this is not homeschooling?

    Alysha Cosby has looked forward to hearing her name called at high school graduation ever since she was a freshman.

    Now Cosby, a senior at St. Jude Educational Institute, is worried that her own recent announcement to school officials might keep that from happening.

    Cosby, 17, is 20 weeks pregnant and said she was told by administrators that she could no longer attend classes and would have to complete her studies from home.

    “My education is the most important thing to me. The way I receive my education shouldn’t change just because I am pregnant,” said Cosby, who was informed of the administrators’ decision on March 24 and has been homeschooled since that time.

    A lot of schools call this kind of arrangement “homebound instruction”; perhaps an Alabama resident might gently suggest this to the diocese.


    Filed on at 9:52 am under by Tim Haas

    In the promised follow-up to yesterday’s breaking news in southern Illinois, the state’s attorney unleashes righteous fire unto the parents of truants but the reporter doesn’t give us nearly enough info about the case in question to get a handle on what’s really going on:

    Williamson County State’s Attorney Charles Garnati is taking a tougher stance with parents who fail to follow established curriculum guidelines when home schooling their children.

    On Thursday, he announced at a press conference that he has charged Marion resident Kim Harris with permitting truancy, a Class C misdemeanor punishable up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. Harris is said to have willingly and knowingly allowed her 15-year-old son to be truant.

    Garnati stressed that he supports home-schooling in general, just not for parents who abuse the privilege.

    Some parents have allowed their children to be truant from public schools, and when threatened with legal action, have pulled their children from that school to avoid prosecution, Garnati said.

    “It’s what I call an end around,” Garnati said. “These are parents who have no intention of home-schooling their child. Unfortunately, there is no law on the books that criminalizes improper home schooling. What concerns me are those children who are chronically truant from school.”

    “Criminalizes improper home schooling”? Dude might want to ratchet his rhetoric down a tinch.

    The few specifics we get don’t come till the penultimate paragraphs:

    In the Harris case, [truant officer Mickey] Sullivan said she made three trips to the residence to see if there was an established curriculum. In each case, however, she found that there wasn’t one.

    “She didn’t produce any evidence of home-schooling,” Sullivan said. “It’s important that we send the message to those parents who are not home-schooling their kids properly that they can be prosecuted.”

    If the mother isn’t fulfilling her statutory duties, I can support this effort — if not the extreme tone behind it. But I need to know a lot more before I can sign on: How long has the boy been out of school? What’s the history — why did the mother pull him? Is there some definition of “established curriculum” in Illinois? Was there any evidence of education? I hope the reporter gets on the stick and starts trying to tell the story from both sides.

    ME, TOO

    Filed on at 6:20 am under by dcobranchi

    IL home educators are in a firefight over legislative efforts to lower the compulsory attendance age to 5. The sponsor of the bill whines a bit about getting hammered and then comes out with this howler:

    �I wish this bill lowered the compulsory attendance age down to 3,� the freshman senator who replaced newly elected U.S. Senator Barack Obama said.

    Too bad it didn’t as that would have made it much easier to defeat.


    Filed on at 6:14 am under by dcobranchi

    The reporter must have had a lot of fun with this story about a home education “prom.”

    After the waltz came a belching contest – although at first not everybody was quite as enthusiastic about this event.

    “I’m not into the belching contest,” Eric Bailey, 16, declared earlier in the evening, but he went on to play and win, defeating second-place belcher Hannah Sartin. Participants downed IBC root beer and cream soda to produce the desired effect, and a number of BCHEF parents judged the efforts, including George Trudeau.

    “I thought it was incredible,” Trudeau says of Bailey. “The guy’s a master. I was impressed with all of them.”

    “I didn’t do very well,” says Mary Cole, 15, “but I did pretty good, so it was okay.”

    Bailey carried home a trophy labeled “Master Belcher” and several rolls of candy.

    “We didn’t put a date on [the trophy],” said Jenny Wilson, “because we might want it back next year.”

    “I’ll be winning it back,” Bailey replied.

    It’s a good piece. Worth a read.


    Filed on at 6:05 am under by dcobranchi

    I really hope Jana drops in and sees the damage being done when she and other cyber-parents insist on misusing the term “homeschooling.” A few quotes from the latest confusion:

    Having filled a small book with answers to questions posed by San Marcos Unified School District administrators, the leaders of a new charter school have satisfied the school board as to the worth of their plan for home-based education.

    …But before the board granted its approval, Bayshore educators had to answer a sheaf of questions as broad as how they would train parents in “effective teaching strategies,” and as specific as where its special “cyber aerobics” fitness equipment would be situated.

    …The home-schooled children will take the same standardized tests given at all California public schools. If Bayshore fails to meet the targets for growth set by the state and measured by the Academic Performance Index, the school will forfeit its charter.

    …Bayshore educators, who call it “the next phase in home education…”

    So much for George’s idea of finding our own word, eh?

    I’ve got a better idea. Why don’t they just refer to what they do as cyber-schooling? It’s accurate and precise. But I guess that wouldn’t serve the educrats’ purposes. And those “free” computers are oh so nice.


    Filed on April 28, 2005 at 2:37 pm under by Tim Haas

    Can’t wait to hear the details of this one (no need to cick over — this is the full text):

    Williamson County State’s Attorney Charles Garnati today announced he would file charges against the mother of a 15-year-old student in Marion, alleging she has abused the home schooling rules and has let her child become nothing more than a truant.

    Garnati admitted this was an unprecedented legal move but indicated he is fed up with parents who aren’t responsibly home schooling their children and following curriculum.

    Garnati said he is a proponent of home schooling, but is willing to make an example of those who are doing a poor job of providing their children and education.

    Full details will be published in Friday’s edition of The Southern Illinoisan.

    I wonder if this fellow realizes that “responsibly home schooling” and “following curriculum” aren’t necessarily synonymous.


    Filed on at 12:35 pm under by dcobranchi

    Interesting description of what is claimed to be a home education co-op:

    Township zoning officer Michael Wylie testified that, after Anthony appealed the notice of violation, he visited the church recently and observed about 30 students working in groups with adults on classroom activities.

    The students, ranging in age from 5 to 17, were dressed in uniforms, Wylie said.

    …Anthony acknowledged that 30 is normal attendance, and that most students attend weekdays during the school year. The academy employs four or five teachers or tutors. The curriculum includes language arts, history, science, math, music and art. It charges tuition of about $6,600 per year.

    A five day per week “co-op” where the kids wear uniforms. Riiiiight!


    Filed on at 8:54 am under by Tim Haas

    My faith in home educators was greatly bolstered seeing this report of survey results on Kay’s comprehensive Tennessee HE info site (scroll down to “2/18/05” under “News”):

    1. Do you believe that home educated students whose parents support the public education system through taxes paid to local and state governments should have the right to participate in public school extra-curricular activities? 97% yes

    2. If a bill was passed to allow home educated students to participate in extra-curricular activities would your family take advantage of this opportunity? 79% yes

    3. If a bill passed that required the home educated student to register with the local school superintendent in order to participate would your family participate? 28% yes

    4. If a bill passed that required your home educated student to take placement exams at the local school in order to participate would your family still take advantage of this opportunity? 19% yes

    It’s pretty clear: Folks would like to have access, but most aren’t willing to trade their educational freedom — or, heck, even their names, apparently — for it.


    Filed on at 7:22 am under by dcobranchi

    The Astronomy Photo of the Day is just gorgeous. From the doomed Hubble, of course.


    Filed on at 5:40 am under by dcobranchi

    I had seen some vague stories about an HEK being arrested and held as a suspected terrorist. This essay fleshes it out. Scary as hell.


    Filed on at 5:34 am under by dcobranchi

    That vampire of proposed legislation, Put Parents in Charge, is (semi) officially dead for at least a year:

    The bill won’t be taken up in the House until next week, after it was pushed back on its calendar Wednesday.

    The move appeared to end any chances of the bill passing this year. Bills that don’t pass the House by the end of the week would need a two-thirds vote to be considered in the Senate.

    The headline writer pulled no punches:

    School tax credit bill dies for year


    Filed on at 5:28 am under by dcobranchi

    I’m going to quote the first few ‘grafs with no commentary as none is needed:

    Just 18 months ago, Chapel Hill parent Inger Evans stood in the Town Hall council chamber, begging the city school board to let her homeschooled son, then 13, play baseball on the McDougle Middle Team.

    Wednesday afternoon, Evans stood along a field in Carrboro, watching her son, Karsten Rabe, play for a middle school-age team.

    It wasn’t McDougle’s team, however. Having been denied the opportunity to vie for a spot on that team by the school board, Rabe, Evans and a group of acquaintances formed “The Piedmont Pioneers,” a team of 13 homeschoolers.

    “They’re getting to play baseball now,” Evans said. “If we can’t find what our kids need, we just go out and do it ourselves.”


    Filed on at 5:25 am under by dcobranchi

    These should interest Chris E.

    No good answers for too many questions

    Re: “Bill would open classes to home-schoolers – Families join Plano bid for access that includes sports, adds funding,” April 21 news story.

    Home-school quarterback speaking to the high school coach: “Regarding my grade check for no-pass, no-play purposes, my dad says that I am eligible.”

    Home-school mom to choir director: “But at her previous school, Sally Sue always had the lead.”

    It appears that Texas is trying, on one hand, to raise standards with TAKS and the like and, on the other, making a mockery of those same standards.

    Paying taxes is not the only criteria. My 93-year-old mom pays taxes. Does this allow her to audit senior English at the local high school? (By the way, she was a valedictorian, Ferris High School, class of 1930.)

    Will a home-schooler be accountable for TAKS in Rep. Brian McCall’s bill? What if, in a hand-selected science class, the home-schooler hears that the Earth might be 4.5 billion years old and formed from dust particles? What if he collides with children of differing backgrounds, morals and ethics?

    Too many questions, too few answers.

    If you opt out, you are out. To learn to swim, you have to get completely wet.

    Michael Wallace, Duncanville
    Public, private, home: Pick a school, live with it

    State Rep. Brian McCall is way off base. So what if these parents pay school taxes? They have made a free decision to home-school, just as I made a free choice to send my kids to public school.

    We have choices in this life – public school, private school, home-school – pick one and live with it.

    Madison Bennett, Plano

    These illustrate one of the biggest problems I have with HEKs getting involved with g-school sports– the controversy tends to create new enemies for us. Home education in this country is in a precarious position. We need allies, not enemies.

    GO, TEAM!

    Filed on at 5:18 am under by dcobranchi

    A nice big, bolded headline:

    Home-schoolers win Physics Bowl XXXI

    Pretty cool in a geeky kind of way. I wonder if the kids get rings.


    Filed on April 27, 2005 at 5:19 pm under by dcobranchi

    We now have the internets at home!!! Cable modem through the WiFi hub. Very fast. It took me all of 2 minutes to disable the “feature” that Time-Warner attempted to set up that kept my WiFi from working. The cable guy claimed their modem couldn’t work with WiFi, but for an extra 5 bucks a month they could set me up.


    Filed on at 3:14 pm under by dcobranchi

    This “ID POST OF THE DAY” is also via Chris. It’s quite good and will likely convince none of the true believers.

    Intelligent Design would not really be anything of consequence if it were not for its targeting of public schools. There are plenty of people with crazy ideas, conspiracy theories, and the like, who do not cause anyone any trouble. Unfortunately, Intelligent Design’s attack on the separation of church and state in our schools is something to be concerned about. It is a slippery slope, from the teaching of a theory with no scientific backing in the classroom, to school sponsored prayer in the classroom. It may seem like a stretch, but as soon as the line is blurred, it is much easier to rationalize each step until an extreme is reached. But it can be stopped now. As long as people are educated about the lack of scientific evidence in support of Intelligent Design, about its lack of validity as a scientific theory, and about the true motives of those who promote it, this religious movement disguised as science cannot gain a hold on the science classrooms of this country.

    HEY, KAY!

    Filed on at 2:52 pm under by dcobranchi

    Chris pointed out a new blog by an old friend– Kay Brooks. Let’s see if I can use my ‘net power for good for a change.


    Filed on at 2:33 pm under by dcobranchi

    Hey, I didn’t start this fight. But Chris is 100% correct. I’ll refrain from publicly stating my opinion of the other party’s acumen.

    And, FWIW, I am fairly amazed to learn that I apparently have the power to send ravening hordes of home educators across the ‘net to do my evil bidding. 🙂


    Filed on at 1:26 pm under by Tim Haas

    School time is too precious to waste on even a smidgen of real-world education:

    One Naperville school district is warning parents that kids who participate in “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work” day next year will be charged an unexcused absence.

    For two years, Oak Park elementary school officials have scheduled a teacher training day for the fourth Thursday in April rather than holding classes for the few students who show up.

    In Arizona, the state superintendent of public instruction last year blasted the event as promoting truancy and unilaterally rescheduled the day during summer to avoid a conflict with a state-mandated test.

    As millions of kids nationwide prepare to spend Thursday at work with their parents, a growing number of educators are questioning whether the event is worth missing a day of school.

    School officials say classroom time has become more precious with the passage of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which holds schools more accountable for student performance on annual achievement tests. Others note that state aid tied to daily attendance figures also is at stake.

    Standardized testing shows that the average sixth-grader who’s taken part in the annual event since kindergarten is an almost insurmountable six days behind his peers.


    Filed on at 12:45 pm under by dcobranchi

    Those wacky folks who drove the PA Einstein Academy into the ground are at it again.

    Homeschooling, traditionally stereotyped as old-fashioned, with dated textbooks and materials, is actually quite a technological experience, with many students using timely on-line learning and robust curriculum. Now, the next wave of technology is causing quite a stir among the homeschooling community.

    One of the nation’s leading cyberschool providers, Learning By Grace (http://www.learningbygrace.org/ ), will soon be implementing a new text-to-speech component in which text can be highlighted by the student and the computer will audibly read the text back to the student.

    The rest of the PR is just as hilarious. One little section, though, ought to be of particular interest to a curriculum provider who shall remain nameless:

    Learning By Grace is the leading global provider of revolutionary Christian K-12 online learning solutions.

    I’d bet that there’s a trademark infringement issue there.


    Filed on at 12:37 pm under by dcobranchi

    I really don’t understand the lede to this story out of FL:

    Not all school districts have decided whether they will offer prekindergarten classes next school year, but state officials estimated Monday that parents will be looking for at least 154,597 spaces in private, faith-based or home schools.

    How do you look for space in a home school?

    Actually, I think it’s just very poorly worded. I believe the so-called “home schools” are actually home-based daycares (pre-Ks).

    And as a bonus, let’s hear it for false accuracy.


    Filed on at 12:29 pm under by dcobranchi

    Thanks, but I think I’ll pass on WND’s latest offer.

    1st 100 people get $300 in FREE homeschooling gifts!

    WorldNetDaily is offering an extraordinary package of 19 FREE homeschooling products – including curricula, books, DVDs, software, CD-ROMs, study guides, foreign language helps, and even a full two-year subscription to the nation’s largest homeschooling magazine – all worth almost $300, to the first 100 people who subscribe, renew or give a gift subscription to WorldNetDaily’s acclaimed monthly Whistleblower magazine through this special offer.

    “This is an oustanding offer for homeschool families,” said Joseph Farah, WND founder, editor, CEO and homeschool dad. “You pay $59.95 – just $10 more than the regular Whistleblower price – and receive, in addition to Whistleblower, almost $300 worth of fantastic homeschooling products. I don’t see how anyone who is currently homeschooling, or considering teaching their kids at home, can pass this up.”

    Hmmm. What happened to free? Besides, isn’t HEM “the nation’s largest homeschooling magazine”?


    Filed on at 10:10 am under by Tim Haas

    … it’s probably because you haven’t seen the latest edition of the Heritage Foundation’s comprehensive annual overview of choice in education.


    Filed on at 9:34 am under by dcobranchi

    Kids driving you nuts after a loooooong “school” year? Here’s your chance to get away from it all. Well, at least your kids and husband.


    Filed on April 26, 2005 at 8:40 pm under by Tim Haas

    A bit of fearmongering in an otherwise unremarkable piece about home education in Massachusetts:

    “The one thing to keep in mind is, home-schooled kids are not taking MCAS,” state Department of Education spokeswoman Heidi Perlman said. “So home-schooled kids are not receiving a diploma.”

    And it’s dooming so many of them to four years at the college of their choice! Yikes!


    Filed on at 1:04 pm under by dcobranchi

    The K-12 organization has done more than its fair share in confusing folks about what is and what isn’t home education (formerly “homeschooling”). So, I’m somewhat surprised to see that one of their “special guests” at a PR blitz is Tim Lambert, president of the Texas Home School Coalition. I guess home education activists can take the Boeing, too.


    Filed on at 12:22 pm under by dcobranchi

    From the April 18th edition of Chemical & Engineering News:

    Your editorial is an outrageous insult to chemists and chemical engineers who believe in an intelligent designer and who are not afraid or embarrassed to call him or her God.

    How dare you presume to object to the teaching of an alternate explanation for the creation of the universe than blind chance? What are your credentials in philosophy and theology that allow you to speak with such arrogant authority for your explanation and so demeaningly of someone else’s? As a person of science, you above all should know that you cannot prove that someone or something does not exist. All the bones in the world would not prove the nonexistence of a divine being.

    Not for one second do I believe that the world was created in six 24-hour days. I don’t know anyone who does. However, the idea that evolution was directed by an intelligent designer is an absolutely valid explanation of the observed facts, and it is rejected a priori by persons infected by the attitudes of 18th- and 19th-century scientists and philosophers who thought they had the whole world figured out. The debacle of man’s inhumanity to man of the 20th century, in particular the misuse of science by the Germans and Japanese, seems to have had no effect on the sensibilities of these moderns.

    Evolution by blind chance leads us back to the idea that “man is the measure of all things,” a philosophical concept that predates Aristotle. Morality comes from the sword–“might makes right”–or the ballot box, “the majority rules.” It validates totalitarian governments and anything they do. The absolute standard of morality is gone. Government sets standards by making things legal or illegal, but nothing is right or wrong absolutely. The danger of this idea for the well-being of society cannot be overstated; anything goes.

    We have so much to do to educate the public away from fear of chemicals and the chemical industry and toward some reasonable approach to nuclear power and other alternate sources of energy that we can ill afford the time to promote an unprovable, atheistic explanation of creation.

    Raymond S. Martin
    Beverly, Mass.

    So is the designer God or not? Martin comes right out and says it is. Other ID proponents (some right here at HE&OS) hem and haw and claim they don’t know.

    I’m not going to fisk Martin’s letter– way too easy. But I still have to ask, what does any of this have to do with science?


    Filed on at 9:51 am under by dcobranchi

    Judy Aron forwarded this long screed about mental health screening for kids. It’s typical for the genre– alarmist.

    The Bush appointed New Freedoms Commission on Mental Health (NFC) is urging the implementation of wide-spread screening for children to identify and treat mental illness. It wants the TeenScreen to give all children a mental health check-up before graduation from high school.

    Anti-Child drugging advocate, Ken Kramer, is dead-set against drugging children and therefore dead-set against TeenScreen. Kramer is an investigator for the Citizen’s Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), a psychiatric watchdog group.

    After thoroughly investigating TeenScreen, which calls itself as a suicide prevention program, he has come to the conclusion that the program is a drug company marketing scheme to get more kids hooked into the psychiatric system and increase the customer base for psychotropic drugs.

    Kramer is sponsoring a research project to investigate the circumstances of all child suicides in the state of Florida over the past 5 years. Although the data collection is in it’s infancy, Kramer says, the investigation so far has determined that between 2000-2004, 100% of children who committed suicide in Pasco County were either on psychotropic drugs or receiving psychiatric treatment.

    He maintains that medicating kids with dangerous mind-altering drugs “is the real cause of high rates of teen suicide.” Kramer recently launched an informational TeenScreen website at http://www.psychsearch.net/teenscreen.html

    The highlighted portion is just a bit misleading, no? By combining the two categories, we have no way of knowing if administering psychotropic drugs even has any correlation with suicide, much less being causative. For all we know, maybe only 1 percent of the kids were on anti-depressants or other psychotropics.

    The rest of the piece is really not much better. Lots of heat but very little light.


    Filed on April 25, 2005 at 9:23 pm under by dcobranchi

    Every once in a while, I read a story that makes we want to round up every curriculum complainer and socialization skeptic and say “This, this is the real essence of home education”:

    When painter Rick Beerhorst was a young married man with only a few kids, he would read interviews with famous artists who advised up-and-comers like him against having a family if they wanted success in the art world.

    “I felt like I wasn’t fitting the profile,” said the Kentwood native, now 45 and the father of six children ranging in age from 11 months to 13 years. “Then I thought that what was a deterrent was actually in our favor. Why not build on what is unique about us, rather than wishing I was single and 23?”

    With his wife, Brenda, a 43-year-old artist from Muskegon, Rick has done just that. By homeschooling their children and cultivating a rich environment where art is a part of daily life, the pair has created a most unusual family unit in which everyone (except youngest daughter, Rain) paints, draws or makes something with their hands.

    Read the whole thing for some great anecdotes and the family’s intriguing next step.


    Filed on at 6:28 pm under by dcobranchi

    A kitchen-table-ish shot in the back yard — two and a half cents, I guess. But the copy — ugh! (Passwords at right, all caps.)

    The moms meet on a Friday night at Barnes & Noble in Burnsville. They wear lipstick and leather jackets, sip frothy coffee drinks, laugh and talk about books.

    But listen in on their conversation, and it becomes clear this isn’t just any moms’ night out.

    They talk about Minnesota regulations for home schools.

    Online support groups.

    Choosing a curriculum.

    Educational CD-ROMs.

    Teaching strategies.

    Field trips.

    “The greatest gift you can give your child is your time,” says mother Michelle Gillette-Lacko to the group.

    The other mothers nod.

    The women, who meet monthly for this girls’ night, are part of the new generation of home-schooling families. Instead of yuppies, call them huppies — home-schooling uber parents.

    Thanks for your submission. I’ll send it to the terminology committee right away.

    I’ll give the reporter some credit, though — for oppo she went to an unusual source:

    Home-schoolers must excuse Tom Keating, Minnesota’s 2004 Teacher of the Year, if he favors a public-school education. That’s not to say he doesn’t believe there isn’t a place for home schooling. He just wants parents considering it to think it over carefully.

    “The question for parents is, ‘Why do we want to do this?’ It’s a serious gut and heart check,” says Keating, who teaches at Turning Point alternative school in Monticello. “Because, if we’re running from something, that would be a little scary. If we’re raising a generation of kids in cocoons, we’re in trouble.”

    Keating says some of the home-schooled students he has met make the transition into public school at the high-school level when the subject matters become more challenging. They adapt nicely, he says, after sometimes struggling to learn to work in a group dynamic.

    He encourages home-schooling parents to read up on brain development and child psychology, so they can understand their child’s stages of development. He also advises parents to get kids involved in varied activities outside of the home.

    The path — it’s so clear now. I’m in awe.


    Filed on at 4:02 pm under by Tim Haas

    Since Chris and Daryl have gone and roiled the cyber-charter pot again, I just wanted to point everyone to two great comments from Valerie and Mary N. over at Chris’s place that explain the crux of the matter in an even-handed way.

    And a note to Jana, the blogger in question: Nobody is questioning your choices or your approach — just your terminology, and it’s not because we’re snobs. What you have to realize is that there is a huge battle brewing over the future of educational freedom, and hybrid programs like your cyber-charter are perhaps the best weapon the other side has come up with.

    I’ve said this before — home education, representing as it does the most sustained assault on the government’s primary tool of social control in decades, is inherently political. Every family who thinks little Johnny and Jill would simply learn better at home is really taking part in a revolution that fundamentally questions both the competence and the right of the state to determine what and how our children learn.

    Education officials see this, but have become generally powerless to stop it — our numbers are now such that outright attempts to regulate are routinely crushed in committee or never even raised for fear of an onslaught. So they’ve had to get sneaky and create something that blends the best physical and emotional characteristics of homeschooling with the financial, curricular, and legal control of public education.

    And it’s working — states that offer charters and part-time enrollment are seeing a leveling off of the number of statutory home educators. That’s phase one. Phase two is to continue to build a hybrid constituency while waiting out the current generation of “freedom or death” home educators that make their lives so difficult. Once the numbers are in their favor, phase three kicks in — changing the laws to herd the much-weakend FODers into the public system.

    This, Jana, is why your comments have provoked such an intense reaction — your insistence that “school at home=homeschooling” no matter what is clear evidence that the plan is working. You are unwittingly undermining the educational and parental freedom of a bunch of ornery people who have been fighting battles for 25 years and have no intention of losing now. And it’s not just you facing this kind of opposition — every time a reporter or a local official equates hybrid schooling with homeschooling, they face the same blast that you’ve been getting.

    On a more positive note, charters and other kinds of hybrids could end up being a concurrent revolution — just about anything that removes children from industrial schooling, even part-time, is a step forward in my book, and one I’m happy to help support — but first their users and proponents have to recognize their category error and adjust their rhetoric accordingly.


    Filed on at 2:03 pm under by dcobranchi

    French poodles will be banned in the city of Torrino (Turin), Italy. At least, that’s how I read this silly CNN piece:

    Dog owners in Turin will be fined up to $650 if they don’t walk their pets at least three times a day, under a new law from the city’s council.

    People will also be banned from dyeing their pets’ fur or “any form of animal mutilation” for merely aesthetic motives such as docking dogs’ tails, under the law about to be passed in the northern Italian city.

    “In Turin it will be illegal to turn one’s dog into a ridiculous fluffy toy,” the city’s La Stampa daily reported.


    Filed on at 11:13 am under by dcobranchi

    The following is a PSA provided at no cost to the readers of HE&OS. We hope it will help clear up any misunderstandings:

    Am I really a homeschooler?

    1. Is the curriculum chosen by some nameless educrat somewhere?
    2. Is the curriculum paid for by state tax dollars?
    3. Are your kids susceptible to the state accountability tests under NCLB?
    4. If your state has a legal definition (or description) of homeschooling, do you qualify?
    5. Do you feel a constant need to whine that you really are homeschooling?

    The correct answers are �no� for questions 1, 2, 3, and 5. If you missed more than one, you�re not homeschooling. Possibly you were fooled by some advertising hype. Or perhaps you�ve fooled yourself into thinking that you still have your freedom. Or maybe that �free� computer and curriculum just blinded you to the strings attached. It doesn�t really matter, though. You can whine until you�re blue in the face. We know the truth. And, we suspect, deep down you do, too.

    As near as I can determine, this blogger went 0 for 5.


    Filed on April 23, 2005 at 11:26 pm under by dcobranchi

    While I guess this is welcome news, it actually strikes me as a pretty low number:

    “Penn State is now considered a homeschool-friendly university,” said Assistant Director of the Division of Admission Services and Evaluations Anne Rohrbach. “With our multi-campus system, many homeschool students find it easy to find a campus that’s close to home where they feel they best fit.”

    Rohrbach said that this year, about 65 of the 45,000 applications received were from homeschooled students. She added that while the university does not keep statistics of homeschooled applicants, 65 applicants is about double the number of last year’s applicants.

    You think they left off a zero, maybe? Or are HEKs naturally gravitating toward smaller private institutions?


    Filed on at 11:13 pm under by dcobranchi

    Methodology? Sample size? Anything to back up this claim?

    Most Texan parents who home-school their children are reportedly doing so for moral and religious reasons.

    Some 70 percent of parents who homeschool their children choose such an educational option for religious reasons, according to a report released by the Texas Home Educators (THE) to the McKinney Courier-Gazette. Sixty percent of the parents cited academics as a reason to homeschool their young, while 30 percent pointed towards the overall well-being of their children.

    Homeschooling has increasingly become an option widely accepted as a good alternative to public education. According to Dr. Brian D. Ray, founder and president of the National Home Education Research Institute, the number of homeschooled children was approximately 1.7 to 2.1 million nationwide and 120,000 to 155,000 in Texas alone. That number has been increasing at a rate of seven to 10 percent per year. Some estimate the Texas number to be at 300,000.

    Even wildest dreams are bigger in Texas.


    Filed on at 10:57 pm under by dcobranchi

    I guess we’re going to have to append “and regular charters ain’t, either” to HE&OS’s tagline:

    The school board Tuesday approved a charter for a new, independent San Marcos-based school to support parents who teach at home.

    The school, Bayshore Prep, is expected to open this summer with some 200 students in kindergarten through grade 12, Bayshore officials said. The school would rent a storefront in San Marcos for its headquarters.


    The vote included the stipulation that a San Marcos school board member take part in Bayshore trustees’ meetings as a nonvoting member. It also called for Bayshore students to score at least the districtwide average on the state’s standard measure, the Academic Performance Index.

    The board further asked Bayshore to apply for accreditation from the same agency that examines the other San Marcos public schools, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

    The board granted the charter for three years and will review Bayshore’s record annually.

    Bayshore Prep thus became the first school chartered by the San Marcos district. The district now takes on some responsibility for overseeing the home school, mainly monitoring Bayshore’s fiscal condition and making sure it files the reports required by state law.

    District Superintendent Larry Maw said Bayshore’s application was closely scrutinized by the district’s staff to make sure the home school would succeed.

    Maw told the board that district officials had raised at least three dozen points for Bayshore to address — chief among them a clearly spelled-out curriculum that shows what students must master before moving ahead to a higher level of study.


    Filed on at 8:19 am under by dcobranchi

    Why does this editorial (passwords at right, all caps) in support of the Texas bill blogged below remind me of Michael Corleone embracing his brother shortly before the latter’s one-way fishing trip?

    This newspaper supports public education in Texas and encourages creative reform. In that spirit, a bill introduced this week in the House allowing public schools to open doors to home-schooling families is a welcome attempt at updating a vital institution to fit the needs of today’s students.

    The measure, sponsored by Rep. Brian McCall of Plano, would permit home-schooled students to participate in public school classes and extracurricular activities on a pick-and-choose basis. This makes sense. Home-schoolers are taxpayers, too, and should have the opportunity to partake of services offered by their neighborhood public schools.

    What’s more, this bill would offer parents more options in choosing an educational path for their children. And it would build support for public education among the fast-growing number of home-schooling families.

    Support, vector for regulation and recapture, whatever.


    Filed on April 22, 2005 at 8:37 pm under by dcobranchi

    I know Chris E’s going to say he doesn’t care what hoops HETs (home-educated Texans) would have to jump through to get g-school access under this bill (passwords, all caps), but do the rest of you really want to get on this particular bus?

    Home-schooled students would be able to participate in public school classes and sports of their choosing and the state would reimburse the district for the cost under legislation being considered in the Texas House.

    The proposal, which would be optional for districts and students, would be limited to about 2,000 students statewide.

    Rep. Brian McCall, a Plano Republican who authored the bill, said the measure would give home-schooled students access to classes that parents might not have the resources for, such as a chemistry lab.


    The bill is expected to be changed before a vote from the full House to mandate that students would be subject to the same no pass-no play requirements of traditional students, which would alleviate some of the concerns from critics.

    Teacher’s groups also are concerned that the bill does not address whether students would be subject to the same requirements as full-time students, such as immunizations, dress codes and attendance.

    How many roads could a bill go down, seemingly all of them bad? Well, while you hum that, I’ll ask this: What the heck is that 2,000 number — just an estimate of how many students might be interested in applying for access? It certainly isn’t the total number of HETs by a long shot.

    One final thing — please join me in hoping this fellow isn’t the district’s rhetoric instructor:

    “We think all students should be full-time public school students. We believe in public schools,” Whitsett said. “We don’t have any opposition to home schooling. But we believe that any student who participates in public schools should be full-time students.”


    Filed on at 7:52 pm under by dcobranchi

    Illinois home educators are schooling this fellow but good:

    You’re not trained to deal with my child as an individual; you’re trained to keep her in line and to not disrupt the status quo. You aren’t interested in hearing from me or working with me regarding her intellect, her character or her interests. You’re interested in getting from 8 am to 3 pm without someone inflicting injury upon another or without some rightfully irate parents demanding that you keep their child from being bullied. It appalls me that public school teachers (at least this one quoted, anyway) have the arrogance to suggest that a parent, who bore the child, nurtures the child, and has a vested interest in their child’s well-being, lacks the capability to ensure the child is educated appropriately.

    And there’s plenty more where that came from.


    Filed on at 6:55 pm under by dcobranchi

    I keep having to close comments on relatively recent posts because of spam attacks. I’m sure Daryl will straighten it all out when he’s able to check in again, but I just wanted to let everyone know that if a comment discussion you’re involved in is suddenly shut down, it ain’t ’cause we’re muzzling free speech.


    Filed on at 10:25 am under by dcobranchi

    I ask because the exodus from the g-schools is about to accelerate:

    In an announcement today, the Safe and Drug-Free Schools program in the U.S. Department of Education said that beginning this fiscal year, it will give priority to grant proposals that include testing of students for drug use. “We intend for these priorities to increase the use of drug testing as a means to deter student drug use,” the announcement said. The proposed priority would give federal assistance to eligible applicants to “develop and implement, or expand, school-based random or voluntary drug-testing programs for students in one or more grades 6 through 12.”

    Come on, pharaoh — chase my people out.


    Filed on April 21, 2005 at 7:25 pm under by dcobranchi

    Spunky’s convention is up and running. Lots of interesting topics.


    Filed on at 5:21 pm under by dcobranchi

    Mike Peach, who has been chronicling the issue of bullying in the g-schools for far too long, has an important post on the topic. It’s one you’ll want to read and then wish you really hadn’t. Very sad and very frustrating. Thank God for home education.


    Filed on at 4:37 pm under by dcobranchi

    A group of HEKs researched and then wrote a short play on pond life. Another great example of kids pursuing their interests. Worth a read.


    Filed on at 4:20 pm under by dcobranchi

    I hope that in South Africa the term “home school” does not mean what we think it means:

    A big row is brewing about the City’s proposed new draft zoning scheme which some objectors say will infringe on the rights of neighbours who must put up with undesired activities or development.

    …There will now be one residential zone for all conventional housing and one for incremental (informal) housing. A number of additional rights such as bed and breakfast establishments, home schools and second dwellings are granted without the need for Council?s consent, subject to conditions.

    …Some people believe the proposals disregard the rights of neighbours who did not wish to have a home school or B&B on an adjacent property.

    Why wouldn’t someone want to live next to us? It couldn’t be those smelly kitchen chemistry experiments, could it?


    Filed on at 4:09 pm under by dcobranchi

    (One more night in a WiFi-equipped hotel)

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen home education described this way before:

    The board also struggled with whether to close down its three rural elementary schools, which could save at least $80,000 in utilities. They were warned that such a decision could have hidden costs — such as higher class sizes and reduced attendance levels if parents decided to homeschool.

    Yes, I know– IAATM.

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