Utterly Meaningless » 2005 » June
  • ID LETTER OF THE DAY

    Filed on June 21, 2005 at 4:00 am under by dcobranchi

    Because I haven’t made fun of IDers in a while.

    Subjects are best taught out of controversy

    “Grown men, brilliant and powerful, betrayed their friends, lied shamelessly to their enemies, uttered hateful chauvinistic slurs, and impugned each others’ characters.” And so: science enjoyed progress amid the kind of controversy which has forever attended – yet stimulated – its inexorable advancement. (“Isaac Newton,” by James Gleick, on the Newton/Leibniz controversies).

    Bill Clinard’s June 3 letter failed to appreciate that it is out of “controversy,” as the Senate’s Santorum Amendment puts it, that subjects like evolution are best taught today in schools (though we should aspire to greater civility by all).

    Two corrections to statements he cites from evolutionist Jerry Coyne: (1) Since Coyne’s recent piece appeared online, two articles by design scientists have been published in peer-reviewed journals, and (2) one prominent human evolutionist has just been exposed as an egregious hoaxer (Google search: “Protsch von Zieten”).

    Now, for a critical-thinking exercise such as “teach the controversy” might suggest to a budding young biology student. North Carolina State University scientists recently recovered the femur of a T-Rex. After lab tests, they were shocked (indeed the whole world of paleontology has been!) to discover it contained finely detailed “soft” tissues. This theropod, according to evolutionists, is 68 million years old. Organic tissue is a perfect candidate for radiocarbon dating; however, at this claimed age this tissue should be “14C dead.” If 14C is present this poses big problems! Why has there been no mention yet of carbon dating this specimen? Will we all be told the truth if such is done?

    Jeff Long, Fayetteville

    This is pretty rich. I’m aware of only the Biological Society of Washington paper appearing in a peer-reviewed journal. That was a review article published by an ID editor against the normal standards of the journal. Doesn’t count as far as I’m concerned.

    And the C-14 part of the letter is right out of Conspiracy Theory for Dummies. As a scientist, I can guarantee you that no scientist anywhere would sit on that information. It would be checked and double-checked. Scientific reputations are ruined by jumping the gun (just ask Stan Pons and Martin Fleischmann). But once established it’d be published immediately (I’d guess in Nature, probably the most prestigious English-language journals.) Scientists are people, too (usually). They have all of the foibles associated with our species. Ego-gratification (by, say, grabbing a big headlined article in Nature) is not unknown.

    So, fear not conspiracy theorists. The truth will out. I promise. I won’t promise, though, that you’ll like the answer.

    ++UNGOOD

    Filed on June 20, 2005 at 5:27 pm under by dcobranchi

    Another abuse/home education story. This one takes the cake:

    BELLEFONTAINE, Ohio — A couple is charged with forcing their four children to help execute an elaborate shoplifting scheme at stores around Ohio, then selling the items on eBay, authorities said.

    …Stout said Todd and Laura Morris had sent the Ohio Department of Education paperwork indicating that they were home-schooling the children, who actually received no academic instruction.

    CT ALERT

    Filed on at 4:35 pm under by dcobranchi

    It appears that at least one CT educrat has been taking lessons from Prince William County.

    No one disputes Drew’s right to educate Simon at home. When she decided to do so, based on academic and social concerns, Drew sent a certified letter to school officials, in accordance with state law. School officials have refused to withdraw him, however, because his parents won’t sign a “notice of intent.”

    A notice of intent is, by all accounts, a voluntary document that offers basic information on what the student will be taught, for how long and how the child will be tested.

    In signing the notice, the parent accepts responsibility for educating the child and agrees to meet annually with the district to show the work that the child has done.

    Dear Mr. Educrat– please go to the nearest library and borrow a dictionary. Then look up the word voluntary. Hell, I’ll make it easy on you. Juck click here.

    Hey, Judy– isn’t NHELD’s headquarters in CT?

    AN EXPERIMENT

    Filed on at 1:12 pm under by dcobranchi

    I’ve been running BlogAds (——–>) for a while now and have been quite pleased with the results. Henry Copeland (founder of the company) has asked if I’d help set up a network of homeschool blogs to run the ads. The idea is to provide one-stop shopping for corporate ad buyers. The benefit to us should be more ads. Well, the rudimentary network is up and running. Here’s the URL so you can see how it will appear to the buyers. Obviously, it’s a little sparse right now, so here’s the pitch: If you’d be interested in participating, let me know via email or comment below. If you’re already running BlogAds, “joining” will take all of about three seconds. If you don’t already have an adstrip on your site, the process is pretty straightforward.

    HSLDA’S RESPONSE

    Filed on at 12:30 pm under by dcobranchi

    From Scott Somerville via one of the list-servs:

    HSLDA FINDS OUT ABOUT PWC’S DRAFT POLICY

    Scott Woodruff got a phone call on Monday or Tuesday from a reporter, asking HSLDA’s position on the new PWC policy. This was the first Scott had heard about it. HSLDA has over 300 member families in PWC, of whom more than 200 would be affected by this policy. Scott therefore immediately began trying to get a copy of the draft policy, but was not able to get anything to look at until Thursday.

    HSLDA REVIEWS DRAFT POLICY

    When Scott reviewed the new policy, he identified three substantive changes. The first was a good change: it eliminated the “three-day requirement.” HSLDA has routinely advised our members in PWC that this requirement is unenforceable, and neither Scott nor I can recall ever advising a family to wait the three days. We do agree that this unlawful requirement has a “chilling” effect on people who aren’t represented by counsel, and that it needs to go. So we are very pleased with the first substantive change.

    The other two changes are more troubling. Virginia law requires families that move into a school district or otherwise start homeschooling during the year to notify the local superintendent “as soon as practicable.” PWC wants to strike this language from their policy and replace it with “within five days.” Viginia follows the “Dillon Rule,” which says that a local jurisdication cannot overrule state law, so PWC lacks the law-making power to change “as soon as practicable” to “five days.” We have no objection to having PHC recommend a time frame by means of a “safe harbor” clause.” We’d be comfortable with a policy that said, “Any notice filed within five days will be deemed acceptable.” We aren’t comfortable with the current language.

    The last change is small, but still significant. Virginia law says that parents must file their notice with the superintendent. The PWC policy says that parents must file with their local school. We’ve had some technical cases where a legal victory depends on scrupulous compliance with the letter of the law, so we’re not about to tell our members to ignore state law and go with the local policy. We are also concerned for families who move in from out of state and look up the law without even knowing that there is a local policy to the contrary. We would like to see the policy amended to instruct the superintendent to forward any notices to the local school district, so that there is no such conflict.

    HSLDA CONTACTS PWC ATTORNEYS

    On Thursday, after reviewing the draft, Scott Woodruff called Martin Crim, the attorney who represents the school administration. Both Scott and I know Martin very well, since we’ve worked on at least 40 religious exemptions together. Martin informed Scott that Mary McGowan, the School Board’s attorney, had handled this policy draft. Scott called Mary and explained his concerns to her. According to Scott, she could see his points and agreed to pull the draft from the consent agenda, where it would be voted on without discussion on Wednesday, June 22, so that these questions could be resolved.

    HSLDA CONTACTS THE PWC HOMESCHOOLERS WHO DEVELOPED DRAFT

    We were not aware of ANY local efforts to develop this policy until this morning, when Scott Woodruff was finally put in touch with Amy Wilson, a local homeschooler who has been working on this process. I have not talked to Amy, but Scott is trying to work in good faith with her to get our two small changes into the draft so that it can be put back on the consent agenda by Wednesday.

    HSLDA RECEIVES COMPLAINTS ABOUT OUR ACTIONS

    This morning, Monday, June 22, I came in to work an hour to find copies of several emails from Shay Seaborne, including this:

    “If you object to Home School Legal Defense Association’s running
    roughshod over local homeschoolers’ cooperative efforts and you would like to take a few minutes to let HSLDA know, you can call HSLDA’s main
    switchboard, e-mail their main address or the president, send them a FAX,
    call the central office, and/or e-mail Scott Woodruff directly.”

    As of 11:30 am, I have received about six emails on the subject, all of them from members of the HS Watch loop. Scott Woodruff is in Richmond today, so I can’t check his inbox, but I have asked our receptionists to count the calls going into his voicemail. They report four phone calls so far, including one from the Supervisor of the School Board.

    I called Shay immediately to discuss the situation. Our conversation was brief. I told her that I was not speaking “officially” for HSLDA, but that I would find out what was going on. Shay was very polite.

    PROGNOSIS

    The moral I draw from this story, so far, is that homeschoolers need to maintain good communication channels. If we had learned about this new policy from local PWC homeschoolers instead from a reporter, we probably could have avoided problems.

    As it is, I am optimistic that all parties will be able to resolve this incident without much difficulty. HSLDA has a long and well-established working relationship with Mary McGowan and with Martin Crim, and we aren’t looking for any “deal breaking” changes to the policy. Mary’s initial response to Scott Woodruff was positive, professional, and cooperative. Amy Wilson seems to be willing to work constructively with HSLDA.

    We will see how all this turns out!

    Scott W. Somerville, Esq.
    Home School Legal Defense Association
    540-338-5600
    scott@hslda.org

    THIS WEEK’S WEATHER

    Filed on at 9:58 am under by dcobranchi

    I really want to meet the guy who is writing the weather blurbs for Fayetteville. He’s quite creative.

    Monday: More Clouds Than Sun.
    Tuesday: Afternoon Clouds.
    Wednesday: Passing Clouds.
    Thursday: Partly Cloudy.
    Friday: More Sun Than Clouds.
    Saturday: Mix of Sun and Clouds.
    Sunday: Partly Cloudy.

    Is this the NC version of 400 words for “snow”?

    PSA: PRINCE WILLIAM CO. (VA)

    Filed on at 3:05 am under by dcobranchi

    I post the following without editorial comment. HE&OS neither endorses nor condemns any actions suggested in the following Public Service Announcement. Please no one sue me. Well, wait your turn, at least:

    Help PW County VA Protect Homeschool Freedom!

    Dear Fellow Homeschoolers,

    Homeschoolers in Prince William County, Virginia, need your help to protect homeschool freedom! For more than a year and a half, a grassroots coalition of local homeschoolers in PW County has been working with the school board to improve the division’s regulations–including elimination of the onerous “approval before removal” clause that imposes a 3-day waiting period on parents who wish to remove a child from school to begin homeschooling. But now that our efforts have resulted in a peace accord, Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) is trying to charge in and revert us back to the awful regulation!

    The new regulation is on the consent agenda for the June 22, 2005 Prince William County Schools (PWCS) board meeting. This means that the school board will unanimously accept the better regulation, along with other pre-approved items, through a single vote. [See “County relaxing home-school restriction” at http://www.potomacnews.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=WPN%2FMGArticle%2FWPN_BasicArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1031783276515&path=

    Elimination of the approval before removal (3-day waiting period) clause is a major accomplishment that one longtime Virginia homeschool activist called “a smashing victory” in this historically punitive county. HSLDA’s counterproductive actions threaten to ruin a year’s worth of work and goodwill building.

    At the 11th hour, HSLDA attorney Scott Woodruff is -without conferring with the homeschoolers who live in the county-insisting that the new regulation be removed from the consent agenda, preserving the current regulation, with its 3-day waiting period! If this occurs, the bad regulation will remain on the books for an undetermined period of time, putting us back to square one. Months of additional policy committee meetings and board meetings would pass before this issue could come to resolution again. Meanwhile PWCS staff would continue to use the bad regulation to harass parents who are trying to exercise their legal right to homeschool.

    Many people on both sides have worked to create a better relationship between homeschoolers and PWCS, and at the height of its success, HSLDA’s actions threaten to subvert honest effort and bridge-building, leaving a mess for the local homeschooling community to clean up.

    If you object to Home School Legal Defense Association’s running roughshod over local homeschoolers’ cooperative efforts and you would like to take a few minutes to let HSLDA know, you can call HSLDA’s main switchboard, e-mail their main address or the president, send them a FAX, call the central office, and/or e-mail Scott Woodruff directly. Here is the contact information:

    Home School Legal Defense Association
    Phone: (540) 338-5600
    Fax: (540) 338-2733
    E-mail: info@hslda.org
    President Mike Smith: president@hslda.org
    Attorney Scott Woodruff: ScottW@hslda.org

    Thanks for caring!

    -Shay

    Shay Seaborne
    Founder/Facilitator, FOLC Eclectic Homeschoolers of PW County
    http://expage.com/folcfolks

    DREAM ON!

    Filed on June 19, 2005 at 10:23 am under by dcobranchi

    Wannabe bloggers in any of five topics might be interested in applying for a job with Microsoft:

    Blog for MSN!

    MSN is hiring freelance contributing editors to moderate, write and produce blogs in five topic areas: television, music, technology, sports and fashion/food/style.

    Contributing editors will be responsible for:

    *Writing and producing five-10 daily posts for their blog, drawing material from user submissions, the MSN network and the wider Web

    *Reviewing user e-mail submissions and turning the best of them into posts on the blog

    *Monitoring blog comments and feedback

    You must be passionate about your subject area; familiar with the tools and trends in blogging; a natural writer with an inviting, engaging style; and attuned to the broad interests of MSN’s huge audience. Send us five sample posts written over the course of a single day. In addition to the posts (which should reflect a variety of source links), in a paragraph or so, explain why you selected those items and how they reflect your vision for this project. Please include a list of sites you scanned to find your material and other favorite sites and blogs. Attach a résumé or short note to tell us what you’re doing now and what you’ve done in the recent past. And finally, in the subject heading of the mail specify which blog you’re applying for.

    We estimate this project will require approximately 15 hours’ work per week.

    Send your submission to: filtered@microsoft.com.

    15 hours per week. Yeah, riiiiiight! (via Izzy)

    STRIKE TWO

    Filed on at 6:43 am under by dcobranchi

    The Presbyterians rejected their version of the “exodus” resolution.

    SEEING THE TRUTH 100X OVER

    Filed on at 6:39 am under by dcobranchi

    The Argus Leader has an excellent editorial in opposition to a silly discriminatory admissions policy at one of its local technical colleges.

    Southeast Tech is run by the Sioux Falls School District, which – like many public school districts – never has looked favorably on home schooling. We can either accept the reality of home schooling or maintain our small-minded approach. The decision is up to Superintendent Pam Homan and the School Board.

    …Southeast Tech finds itself bucking a national trend. Home-schooled students – without diplomas or GEDs – are accepted at Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Texas A&M, Brown, Carnegie Mellon Institute, and the universities of Arizona, Maryland, Virginia, Hawaii … well, you get the idea.

    …For alternatives, the universities use standardized tests, portfolios, essays and recommendations.

    In other words, it’s not a problem.

    Except at Southeast Technical Institute here in Sioux Falls. Even the state’s other tech schools – in Rapid City, Mitchell and Watertown – have alternatives to the hard-and-fast diploma/GED rule.

    Why is Southeast Tech so different? Apparently, the reason is – just because.

    I’m not so sure about that last sentence. The college is run by g-school educrats already opposed to home education. The policy makes perfect sense– make it as difficult on home education grads as possible “pour encourager les autres.”

    I think the district is on the losing side here. Just a matter of a few weeks now until they back down.

    HINT: USE BCC

    Filed on June 18, 2005 at 9:20 am under by dcobranchi

    I guess they don’t offer “Remedial Email” at KU. Maybe they should.

    WEATHER REPORT

    Filed on at 6:20 am under by dcobranchi

    Who writes the weather reports that you can get through bloglines? I only ask because the official report for Fayetteville for tomorrow looks a little, er, colloquial: Haze. Tons of Rain.

    WHAT’S THE POINT?

    Filed on at 5:24 am under by dcobranchi

    OK, I understand how complicated the homeschool/g-school sports issue can be. And I can even sympathize with educrats who just say “No.” But what benefit is there to banning a rising 9-grade HEK from marching in a parade during the summer recess? This is just educratic snit. I hope the parents fight it and successfully change the law– just to spite them.

    A SUGGESTION

    Filed on at 5:07 am under by dcobranchi

    Instead of spending $400 on a home education class ring (which will likely be lost), spend the money on a good digital camera at the start of their “high school” years. Then give it to the kids and let them really preserve the memories.

    UPDATE: Just for fun– for those who actually purchased class rings way back when– indicate if you still have it (i.e., you know exactly where it is at this moment). Mine was lost decades ago.

    TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN

    Filed on June 17, 2005 at 9:32 pm under by dcobranchi

    HE&OS is experiencing tecchnical difficulties. Comments are vanishing into the ether for no apparent reason. We’re trying to track it down. In the meantime, please don’t get all paranoid if your magnum opus comment goes *poof*. And you might want to keep a copy in case a re-post is needed.

    That is all.

    UPDATE: The site got moved to a new server yesterday. Comments that were made during the transition appear to have been lost. Sorry ’bout that.

    NAME NAMES

    Filed on at 8:27 pm under by dcobranchi

    Here’s some more info on the Southern Baptist Convention’s latest education proposal. It’s all about homosexuality:

    The convoluted text eventually calls for the convention to urge its churches to investigate local schools in order to determine the extent of homosexual influence and then, if objectionable material or involvements are found, to “inform the parents of this fact and encourage them to remove their children from the school district’s schools immediately.”

    …Within the last few days, a coalition of family organizations, home school advocates, and public policy organizations has emerged as an advocacy base for the effort.

    This is no longer a home education issue. I’d be very interested to learn who the “home school advocates” who are pushing for this are.

    GOOD NEWS IN VIRGINIA

    Filed on at 4:25 pm under by dcobranchi

    Shay Seaborne forwarded a link to a piece describing how Prince William County (VA) educrats plan to relent on their extra-legal “approval before removal” policy.

    Some home-schooling parents in Prince William County have been decrying what they deem an “approval before removal” policy for years. That may change if the Prince William County Public School Board changes its regulation at its meeting next week.

    “What it does was — we were putting an extra burden on home-school parents that the law doesn’t require,” said School Board member Donald Richardson.

    The proposed regulation states that parents who choose to remove their children from school after the school year has begun must notify the superintendent of their intention to home-school within five days — a change from the current “as soon as practicable” wording. The proposed change would also eliminate the requirement that parents must be deemed compliant by the superintendent before they can begin home instruction.

    In her email, Shay writes:

    “The reporter is a little confused about the regulation change, but otherwise did a good job of reporting. This success is the result of a year’s worth of work by a grassroots coalition of local homeschoolers who made coordinated actions including letter writing and speaking, as well as working with the school board. We are not 100% happy with the new regulation, but feel it is 30 steps in the right direction, and we are confident that we can continue to work with the school division to address their concerns and better align the regulation with state law.

    Good deal. Never let the perfect be the enemy of the merely good.

    YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK

    Filed on at 6:07 am under by dcobranchi

    Why does a Texas school district feel it needs to spend $30,000 to bring in an outside speaker for its convocation?

    ECISD finalized an agreement in May with Dr. Benjamin Carson, a world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon, who is a director at John Hopkins Hospital. His biography includes an inspiring story of how Carson went from the streets to the operating room. Carson is listed with the Washington Speakers Bureau and listed in the grade-5 speaker’s fee category, which lists speakers’ fees between $25,000 and $40,000. Mike Adkins, ECISD public information officer, said Carson came recommended to the district.

    I don’t care how good he is, it will not make a damn bit of difference in single classroom. Ahhh, what the heck, it’s only 30 grand.

    GONNA PARTY LIKE IT’S 1979

    Filed on at 5:55 am under by dcobranchi

    It appears that the San Francisco Examiner may have been in a coma for the last 30 years:

    A small but growing national movement of homeschools has taken root in San Francisco.

    That has to be the dumbest lede on a home education story I’ve seen in my 3+ years of doing this. Did the reporter just now learn of this new phenomenon? And does she think she’s bringing some Earth-shattering news? My God! There are homeschools in San Fran! The rest of the piece is a pretty straightforward statement of facts. A couple quotes worth noting:

    Homeschooling also seems to be growing in visibility and acceptance. A 2001 Gallup poll found that 41 percent of families thought homeschooling was acceptable, up from 16 percent in 1985.

    Every time I see that particular stat it gets my blood pressure up a bit. It’s always presented that way– a Gallup poll. Well, not quite. It was a Phi Delta Kappa poll that Gallup ran. PDK is a self-described “Professional Association for Teachers.” Not exactly a disinterested party. And, interestingly, they haven’t asked that question in their annual poll since 2001 (or, at least, they haven’t reported the data). I wonder why? Finally, here are the three home education questions from the poll:

    Recently, there has been a movement toward home schools — that is, situations in which parents keep their children at home to teach the children themselves. Do you think that this movement is a good thing or a bad thing for the nation?

    Do you feel that home schooling contributes to raising the nation’s academic standards or not?

    Do you feel that home schooling promotes good citizenship or not?

    I love that middle one. Academic standards? Heck, I’d have answered “No” to that one.

    The other quote in the SFExaminer piece is this one:

    California’s Department of Education doesn’t keep statistics on the numbers of homeschoolers… “The CDE has no oversight over private schools,” said Jung.

    She ought to tell this guy.

    OT BUT IMPORTANT

    Filed on June 16, 2005 at 4:54 pm under by dcobranchi

    The Truth is neither liberal nor conservative. It just is. Sadly, for America, this is Truth.

    CA ALERT: R-4 UNDER ATTACK IN SANTA CLARA, UPDATE

    Filed on at 4:24 pm under by dcobranchi

    Evidently, the Santa Clara educrats really are serious about going after home educators.

    [T]he procedures will be regarded by some parents as a major intrusion. However, by allowing parents to initiate the contact with the attendance supervisor in order for a determination of compliance and attendance to be made, the need for visits to the home or places of employment will be minimized.

    For those families doing the right thing, the procedures may prove to be beneficial insofar as an additional link can be created with the resources of the larger school district.

    Time to start working the legislature.

    AND THEN THERE WERE TWO

    Filed on at 4:11 pm under by dcobranchi

    First the Baptists. Now the Presbyterians.

    A Tennessee pastor is calling on fellow members of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) to “remove their children from public schools and see to it that they receive a thoroughly Christian education.” Pastor Steven Warhurst of Kingsport introduced the resolution on the floor of the PCA’s General Assembly in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

    I know absolutely nothing about the PCA. Is it more conservative than the SBC? If not, this dog probably ain’t gonna hunt.

    HAPPY ANNIVERSARY

    Filed on at 7:00 am under by dcobranchi

    APOD is 10 years old today. Pretty darn impressive.

    SOME GOOD NEWS FOR A CHANGE

    Filed on at 5:35 am under by dcobranchi

    I’ve grown bored with the stuff I’ve been covering the last day or two. Time for an uplifting change of pace:

    Holly Winter, 14, a homeschooled student from Columbia, won the 2005 16th Congressional District Art Competition with her oil painting.

    Winter, who has dyslexia, which causes difficulties in reading, writing and spelling, turned the canvas upside-down while painting most of it.

    A $12k scholarship accompanies the prize. Good deal.

    PSA: LBG NEEDS YOUR HELP!

    Filed on June 15, 2005 at 10:04 pm under by dcobranchi

    Found yesterday on a home-ed listserv. Check out the, um, generous terms:

    Attention Parents and Students,

    We at Learning By Grace, Inc are interested in your past and present educational experiences. Whether it be public, private, or home school experience, or a comparison of any of those, we would love to hear about it! Learning By Grace, Inc is the leading worldwide provider of Online Christian K-12 Homeschooling Academies. Your stories will be used on our website, and will eventually be developed into a published book. Please send me an e-mail describing any and all of your educational experiences you wish to share. My e-mail address is as follows:
    Read more »

    BIG UPDATE

    Filed on at 4:03 pm under by dcobranchi

    Y’all have to click over to the AHA blog and check out some recent comments. Way funny.

    COOL APOD

    Filed on at 1:20 pm under by dcobranchi

    Today’s Astronomy Pic of the Day is simply stunning.

    SEX IN THE CLASSROOM

    Filed on at 11:45 am under by dcobranchi

    Another day, another pervert in the schools. Ho hum.

    Chicago Public School officials — and even some principals — are reviewing their teacher-student e-mail policy after a teacher was charged with having sex with an eighth-grade student with whom he’d been exchanging e-mails.

    …Garcia, of the 4800 block of North Monticello, was charged last Friday with criminal sexual assault for an alleged sexual incident on Sunday, June 5, inside a classroom at Odgen, located in an uppercrust neighborhood at 24 W. Walton.

    The educrats’ solution is to look at their email policy. That’ll fix it, for sure.

    HISTORY AIN’T LOGICAL

    Filed on at 11:29 am under by dcobranchi

    Good thing, too, ’cause this history teacher would surely struggle:

    Bob Hill, a history teacher at the Media and Technology Charter High School who used to work in public schools, said he would refuse to join the union. In the charter school he quickly set up a tutoring program with MIT, while in regular public schools he struggled to make such changes. He also teaches four days a week and spends the fifth day in training. As a result, he said, his school’s MCAS scores are higher than Boston’s average, though nearly 80 percent of his school’s children are poor.

    ”I don’t think [a union] is a productive thing for teaching and for learning,” Hill said. ”This school proves it.”

    The whole piece is about the AFT’s move to organize MA charter schools. Charter advocates are hoping to hold back the tide. Not likely.

    NO CONTEST

    Filed on June 14, 2005 at 6:59 am under by dcobranchi

    Can’t say I disagree with this editorial, though Pennsylvania sucks so much for home educators that it feels kind of heartless to admit it:

    Only about half of Pennsylvania’s 501 school districts let homeschoolers join public school clubs and sports teams. This fact alone is evidence that there are differences of opinions among school boards about participation by homeschoolers in extracurricular activities. It also indicates that not all school districts can afford to let homeschoolers participate side-by-side with students enrolled in public schools.

    Yet, once again, state lawmakers want to exert control over something that should be a local decision. Senate Bill 361 would force districts to allow the state’s 24,415 homeschoolers to participate in extracurricular activities. Similar measures have been proposed in the past in both the House and Senate. […]

    Proponents say the parents of homeschooled children pay school taxes, too, so it is only fair to let them participate. But it isn’t that straightforward, particularly for school districts whose budgets are tight; state funding of districts is based partially on the number of children attending the schools. State lawmakers know this. But it isn’t stopping some of them from trying to exert control.

    *SIGH* PART II

    Filed on at 6:19 am under by dcobranchi

    And again. This time in Idaho. This piece is much worse than the first. The reporter wants to “track” HEKs.

    I LOVE A GOOD FIGHT

    Filed on at 6:15 am under by dcobranchi

    Does it make any sense when the state government and a subsidiary division of that same government are seen as fighting? Where do people get the idea that school districts are independent entities?

    *SIGH*

    Filed on at 6:09 am under by dcobranchi

    Here we go again— another homeschooling/abuse story. Watch out Washingtonians.

    A LITTLE HELP PLEASE

    Filed on June 13, 2005 at 4:06 pm under by dcobranchi

    My kids have managed to pull off a computer (mis)deed that I’ve never seen before. They’re accidentally rotated the view on the monitor so that now everything displays sideways. Does anyone know how to reverse this process?

    WHO WILL SHOOT THE PIPER?

    Filed on at 7:09 am under by dcobranchi

    ‘Cause if someone doesn’t, he’s going to get away with everybody’s kids (warning: PDF):

    High quality prekindergarten improves school readiness. It provides children with the cognitive, academic, social, and emotional skills they require to be successful in elementary school. The benefits of quality prekindergarten for children three- to four-years-old go beyond the first years of school. Research shows that children in prekindergarten programs aligned with the educational goals of early elementary school are more likely to graduate high school and be productive citizens. They are also less likely to have children during their teenage years or to become entangled in the criminal justice system.

    How long before they start claiming that state-provided day care for infants and toddlers improves preschool readiness?

    (If you can stand to read more about the Yale study, the main page is here; look for the first entry under “Child Study News”. The meat is hidden in some godawful Java window system that I can’t link to directly. If they can’t even get the web right, how the hell do they expect me to trust them with the future of the nation?)

    HORRIBLE IF TRUE

    Filed on at 7:01 am under by dcobranchi

    I’ve held off on blogging this tale of “shang-hai revisited” because I’d only seen excerpts and it looked way iffy. Well, Izzy found the whole piece. It’s still iffy, though a bit less so.

    And, of course, this all ties back to education through NCLB which mandates that schools provide the names and phone numbers of their students to military recruiters. I’d like to say “One more reason to home educate,” but I’m sure there are plenty of ways for the military to find lists of HEKs, too. I think, when we register with the state early next month, that I might just have to provide my work number instead of my home. Accidentally, of course.

    LET’S YOU AND HER FIGHT

    Filed on at 6:26 am under by dcobranchi

    Look! Over there. A good anti-ID post.

    MISSION ACCOMPLISHED

    Filed on June 12, 2005 at 9:01 pm under by dcobranchi

    Central Virginia educrats ought to award themselves a raise; they’ve successfully raised a whole herd of students who not only don’t know their constitutional rights, they’re volunteering to give up the few they do have:

    A petition drive is making central Virginia a battleground for students trying to rid their schools of illegal drugs by advocating random drug testing.

    And I call “Bullshit!” on this little factoid:

    Testing advocates point to school districts such as Lynchburg’s, which has reported a 99.9 percent decline in the number of students testing positive for drug use since 1998.

    That means that for every 1000 students who tested positive in ’98, only one will test positive now. No way, no how! That is, unless they just stopped testing in ’04. That’d generate a 100 percent reduction, eh?

    I AM JUST SPEECHLESS

    Filed on at 8:42 pm under by dcobranchi

    From CNN:

    The mother of a 12-year-old boy killed in his own home by one of the family’s two pit bulls says she had been so concerned about one of the dogs that she shut her son in the basement to protect him.

    Maureen Faibish said she ordered Nicholas to stay in the basement while she did errands on June 3, the day he was attacked by one or both of the dogs.

    She said she was worried about the male dog, Rex, who was acting possessive because the female, Ella, was in heat.

    “I put him down there, with a shovel on the door,” Faibish said in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle. “And I told him: ‘Stay down there until I come back.’ Typical Nicky, he wouldn’t listen to me.”

    […]

    No charges have been filed.

    “It’s Nicky’s time to go,” she said in the interview. “When you’re born you’re destined to go and this was his time.”

    My normally demure wife, Lillian, is going to have to comment for me:

    “No charges have been filed? There are homeschoolers hauled into court because the district doesn’t approve of their curriculum (or lack thereof), and this woman locks her son in the basement to keep him away from killer dogs and no charges have been filed? WTF?”

    SMART POL, STUPID EDUCRATS

    Filed on at 12:51 pm under by dcobranchi

    The educrats in question banned a high school senior from getting his diploma because he wore a bolo (string) tie. Having lived in Utah for five years, I can testify that these are considered quite dressy. Not dressy enough, though, for the MD educrats. Now the governor of Montana has picked up on the story and is scoring some local points.

    SIGN ME UP

    Filed on at 7:07 am under by dcobranchi

    If this is the standard quality of editorials available at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, I think I’ll subscribe (just to encourage them). It’d be unfair to pull an excerpt; just click over and read the whole thing.

    EVALUATION IS JUST A THEORY

    Filed on June 11, 2005 at 9:59 pm under by dcobranchi

    MaryAlice tipped me off to a terrific piece about a couple of home educators (and a reporter) who get it:

    Fleharty and Sides also warn against a newer version of home schooling – government-funded “enrichment programs” where parents teach their children at home using curriculum provided by the government.

    They claim those are not true home schoolers because the students are counted as public school students and – most importantly- the parents are not choosing the curriculum.

    A chance to be with the kids

    “When you use public funds, eventually there are going to be strings attached,” Fleharty said.

    …Parents who choose to take part in those programs are eroding the rights home schoolers have fought for, she said, because they are a “stepping stone to getting the legislation to change the (home school) laws.”

    “Parents lose control again,” Sides said.

    There’s lot’s more where those came from. Definitely worth a read.

    GOING OFFLINE? (AND IT’S NOT EVEN MY FAULT)

    Filed on at 7:38 pm under by dcobranchi

    From my hosting company:

    The ethernet port on the server that hosts your website is going bad. Several remedies to repair the port were tried this morning but they all failed. This means that the server has to be rebuilt. To prevent any downtime for the websites on this server they will be moved to a new server the oneida server). The only thing that will change is your IP address. This migration will begin later this evening and take 1 – 2 days to complete.

    I don’t know when (or even if) the site will be unavailable. I’ll try to get the new IP address and post it here before they take the server down. Otherwise, it’ll be several days for sure while the DNS change propagates.

    UPDATE: According to Christine, the awesome tech at vervehosting, the shouldn’t go down and the change should be transparent.

    BETTER LATE THAN NEVER

    Filed on at 2:38 pm under by dcobranchi

    A high school biology teacher has been told to quit teaching creationism. After 15 years. I’m amazed that in San Diego not a single parent complained in all that time.

    And as a bonus, here’s a quote to drive Eric crazy:

    “He must teach evolution exclusively – observable scientific fact, not beliefs or religion,” Lee said. “I fully believe he will comply. He just stepped over the line.”

    SORT ‘BOUT THAT, CHIEF

    Filed on at 9:09 am under by dcobranchi

    An upgrade to the server that HE&OS is hosted on took longer than expected. We’re back (obviously).

    JUST LOVELY [/SARCASM]

    Filed on June 10, 2005 at 10:33 pm under by dcobranchi

    This one, out of the Wilmington News-Journal, is pretty hard to believe. A g-school actually has gone belly-up and didn’t pay the teachers for the last month and a half. New Beginnings is a strange beast of a school– not quite charter, not quite a normal g-school. What it is, though, is broke.

    New Beginnings is administered by the New Castle County Alternative Educational Programs Consortium, a group that represents the six school districts in New Castle County. The consortium outsourced the staffing and service-delivery functions provided at the school to RLC Unlimited of Dover.

    RLC officials could not be reached Thursday but consortium administrator Thomas Downs said the company has money troubles. The Internal Revenue Service has taken the money the consortium had sent to RLC to pay the teachers, he said.

    Ugh! What a screw-up!

    YOU SCRATCH OUR BACKS

    Filed on at 8:41 pm under by dcobranchi

    Home educators and librarians— natural allies.

    OTOH

    Filed on at 7:02 pm under by dcobranchi

    Hal from NCHE forwarded a nice article about how African-Americans are right at home (educating) with us.

    BTW, Hal, can we get a scoop as to attendance at this year’s conference?

    PC RUN AMOK

    Filed on at 4:09 pm under by dcobranchi

    File this one under “Gimme-a-break!”

    The Philadelphia School District’s precedent-setting decision to make African American history a requirement for high school graduation sparked passionate reaction yesterday.

    I can see offering it as an elective, especially in majority-minority Philly. But a requirement!? Call me racist, if you like, but I think mandating a full year of African-American studies is just asking for trouble. And I’m not the only one:

    “It might build hostility and anger among groups, too. It has just as much of a chance of doing that,” said Chester Finn of the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Foundation in Washington, a frequent critic of how social studies is taught in American schools.

    …”It’s not fair. Why should it be singled out black? Why can’t it be Polish, or German or Mexican?” asked Theresa Barraza, whose daughter is a second grader at Anne Frank School. “I’ll put her in a Catholic school.”

    Shouldn’t the Anne Frank school mandate a year of Jewish-American studies? Or how ’bout Italian-American studies in South Philly? They could do a whole week of Rocky movies.

    Just another reason to home educate.

    MICHAEL DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANY MORE

    Filed on at 8:34 am under by dcobranchi

    Mike Peach has moved his blog off his own domain and back to blogspot. Yeah– that’s what I said, too. Regardless, here’s the link and the RSS feed.

    « Last | Next »