Utterly Meaningless » 2005 » August

    Filed on August 22, 2005 at 6:47 am under by dcobranchi

    Here’s one you don’t see everyday– parents are asking their straight-A-earning kids to be held back in order to give them an edge in high school football and baseball.

    Parents have circumvented the system by homeschooling or enrolling their children in private schools. Gerhart transferred to Crossroads Christian School after the Corona-Norco Unified School District would not allow him to repeat sixth grade merely for social reasons at Lincoln Alternative Elementary School or elsewhere within the district.

    Riverside Norte Vista High baseball coach Scott Albertson, inspired by the Clearys’ example, delayed his son Steven’s entry into ninth grade for both athletic and social reasons. After attending classes at RCC during the year off, Steven played three sports and earned a 3.97 grade-point average at Norte Vista. He is now a student at UC Riverside.

    If the g-schools would just quit offering sports programs, none of this would matter.


    Filed on at 6:47 am under by dcobranchi

    Why do reporters feel the need, when writing about home education, to introduce the topic as if it’s a brand new fad imported from Mars?

    But when the big yellow buses begin to roll again next week, they won’t stop at the home of the Andrus family. The family’s five school-age daughters are among a small but growing minority of students who will remain at home, children commonly referred to as “home-schoolers.”

    For this particular reporter, I think the answer may be “really dumb,” as she couldn’t even find the current statistics on home education from the Census Bureau.

    The U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent data is more conservative, estimating that 790,000 children between 6 and 17 years of age were educated at home in 1999. But the bureau acknowledges that, although “smaller and slower growing than claimed by advocates, it is still an important emerging phenomenon.”

    The most recent estimate is, of course, 1.1 million as of 2003. OK, maybe I’m being unfair. The rest of the piece isn’t half-bad, and she didn’t feel a need to quote any educrats to provide balance. Overall, 3 stars out of 5.


    Filed on August 21, 2005 at 7:54 am under by dcobranchi

    I’m going to violate one of my own rules here (as well as a few copyright laws) and reproduce in full an editorial from my old hometown paper, the Wilmington News-Journal. It’s short and I really couldn’t excerpt it properly:

    Christiana teachers should concentrate on professional perks

    Even on good days when students are in a groove of learning, teachers have tough jobs. The high stakes of testing and consequences for their schools and jobs demand results in classrooms. The pressure is on professional educators.

    That’s why a letter circulated by a Christiana High School faculty group, soliciting local business people for donated gifts and money to reward the staff, is so disconcerting. It is so unprofessional.

    First, it smacks of self-pity and negativity. It conveys the sense that student progess is some sort of sales quota, and the team has to be sold on making an effort. Worse, asking an innkeeper to offer a luxury weekend getaway is grasping. It has nothing to do with their responsibilities.

    Good teachers do deserve to be rewarded. The right incentives are professional materials, trips to seminars and model programs, and contacts with education leaders.

    Teachers tend to grumble that business people have perks and time-outs they’re denied. In fact, this is the way professional firms operate. Christiana’s morale boosters would do better to think in that direction.

    Geez! Begging for gifts?

    UPDATE: Here’s the story that sparked the editorial. And, finally, the letter itself.

    ACT UP

    Filed on at 7:39 am under by dcobranchi

    Or at least still high.

    Newly released figures for the ACT college entrance exam show that homeschoolers have again scored above the national average.

    …According to ACT, a 22.5 score is significantly higher than the national average and homechoolers have maintained their success over the eight year period they have taken the exam.

    “Homeschoolers consistently score above the national average,” said ACT spokesman, Ed Colby.

    The national average this year was 20.9.

    HELL, NO!

    Filed on at 7:38 am under by dcobranchi

    Old friend and original DHEA Yankee TraciE thinks this is another WWHS. I’m not sure, but I know if I had kids in the DE g-schools, I surely wouldn’t be opening my home up to a visit from the teacher.

    On a hot summer day, incoming Brandywine High School freshman Christine Satcher opens the door, welcoming teacher Barbara Raught into her home.

    Raught is visiting Christine, just like she has visited 22 other freshmen this summer — in her student’s home, weeks before the first school bell ever rings.

    …Not everyone receives a visit because not everyone wants one.

    “If a parent doesn’t want a visit, we don’t meet. But most parents welcome us,” Sole says.

    Yeah, but if you refuse the visit are you immediately labeled unsupportive and a trouble-maker?

    NC theoretically has home visits for home educating families, but I seem to have forgotten to include the directions to our home when I recently registered. An oversight, of course.


    Filed on at 7:38 am under by dcobranchi

    This one is just a little spooky:

    Curtis Dixon was a ticking time bomb when he pursued Jessica Faulkner, an 18-year-old freshman at UNC-Wilmington.

    But no one at UNCW knew — until he killed her in his dorm room last year.

    …At the N.C. School of the Arts in 2001, Dixon showed up at the door of a female friend, threatening to hurt himself with a knife after an argument. Professors at the Winston-Salem school also had serious concerns about Dixon, whom they described as preoccupied, distant, immature and undisciplined.

    …UNCW officials say they had no idea of Dixon’s troubled past. His father, James E. Dixon III, former executive assistant to the chancellor at UNCC, had faxed his son’s application to Wilmington in April 2003, records show.

    The paperwork omitted Curtis Dixon’s previous enrollments at the arts school, UNCC and a public high school in Charlotte. Instead, the application listed four years of grades — A’s, B’s and C’s — from a home school called “Verna G. Dixon Academy.”

    UNC-W is just up the road a bit, and our older daughter hopes (expects) to attend NCSA. I know- I’m being an over-protective dad. But that’s my job, isn’t it?

    HEK U

    Filed on at 7:38 am under by dcobranchi

    The Dallas Morning News has a lengthy article on how former HEKs do in college. It’s mostly about the socialization aspect, of course. Lots of quotes, including one by our favorite home education “supporter” at Stanford:

    Rob Reich, a Stanford University political scientist, says the home schoolers he has encountered have been “truly fabulous students,” but they face the risk of intellectual isolation.

    “One of the defining things about home-schooled kids is not just what they learn, but with whom they learn and how they learn. There’s no other educational environment that gives parents as much control over their kids,” he says.

    Overall, it’s not a hatchet job.


    Filed on August 20, 2005 at 1:18 pm under by dcobranchi

    Doug Oplinger at the ABJ has a piece on charters (including the cyber variety). Not once is the word “homeschool” used.


    Filed on at 1:17 pm under by dcobranchi

    The SacBee has one of those typical beginning-of-the-school-year-homeschooling articles. Not a whole lot of meat, but one good risible quote from an educrat:

    “Unless (home-schoolers) are following state guidelines and state standards, it’s certainly not going to be the same education,” he said.

    That’s a feature, not a bug.

    UPDATE: I missed the photo the first time through. You’ve gotta check it out for the comedy value. I guess the photographer was saving his memory card for something really important.


    Filed on at 1:17 pm under by dcobranchi

    A teacher who helped her 3rd grade students cheat on the state tests has been severely punished for her transgression:

    A school district investigation has concluded that a third-grade teacher helped her students cheat on state standard tests for math by posting multiplication tables in the classroom.

    Eight of the 17 third-graders interviewed by the district individually said the teacher also told them which answers to correct on the California Standards Test, whose results are benchmarks under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

    …The letter from Katie Langford, the district’s accountability coordinator, said the teacher is being reprimanded, was put on two weeks’ administrative leave during the last two weeks of school, and was transferred this year from Mission Meadows Elementary to another campus.

    She also will have at least one observer present during the 2006 test.

    Dollars-to-donuts the leave was paid. I like this last bit:

    The tests are part of No Child Left Behind, a federal act meant to hold schools more accountable for students’ academic performance.

    Accountability? I’m not sure they know the meaning of the word.

    BONUS: Kudos to the San Diego Union-Tribune for the least obtrusive registration process I’ve seen. You won’t even need the standard passwords.


    Filed on at 1:17 pm under by dcobranchi

    From a Kevin Drum post on blogging:

    If you’re a blogger and your significant other ever gives you grief about the amount of time you spend on your hobby, this post called “Brain of the Blogger is for you. It’s written by a pair of doctors who are “strong advocates for neurologically-based approaches to learning,” and they’ve written a post crediting blogging with doing everything short of curing cancer. Blogs promote critical thinking, analytical thinking, creative thinking, intuitive thinking, associational thinking, and analogical thinking. Blogs also increase access and exposure to quality information and combine the best of solitary reflection and social interaction.

    Sounds like a good addition to a home education “program.” Anyone know any good HEK blogs?


    Filed on August 19, 2005 at 9:05 pm under by dcobranchi


    Sen. (and presidential hopeful?) Bill Frist, in trouble with conservatives for his position on stem cell research, has backed the teaching of ID in the schools. He’s not a true IDer, though, as he admits it’s all about faith.

    Echoing similar comments from President Bush, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said “intelligent design” should be taught in public schools alongside evolution.

    Frist, R-Tenn., spoke to a Rotary Club meeting Friday and told reporters afterward that students need to be exposed to different ideas, including intelligent design.

    “I think today a pluralistic society should have access to a broad range of fact, of science, including faith,” Frist said

    The Discovery Institute folks aren’t going to be happy about that last bit.


    Filed on at 6:48 am under by dcobranchi

    No, this isn’t a spam-blog. Home educating families are heavy users of computers. Lots of educational software, researching on the internets, and just plain old writing. Unfortunately, Microsoft Office for Students and Teachers retails for $100. This for Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and Outlook (which you should NOT be using under any circumstances). So what’s the alternative to shelling out a C-note? How ’bout free? OpenOffice has the same functions as MS Office (sans email client), and it’s freely downloadable (WARNING: The 2.0 beta is a 76 MB download). I’ve used the OpenOffice programs (and their predecessor, StarOffice) on and off for many years. I’ve never had any problem with them. OpenOffice can read and write MS Office formats, so compatibility shouldn’t be a concern.


    Filed on at 6:47 am under by dcobranchi

    Is there a CEO in the house? I had no idea home educating families were so financially well off.

    Those ideal families of ’50s were a television fantasy

    I think every family would like to live on the fantasy island where Sen. Rick Santorum lives. Wouldn’t it be great to have the perfect family with one husband, one stay-at-home wife, well-schooled, insured kids all living in a beautiful, safe neighborhood? I assume he based his ideal family on the TV Cleaver family, a lovely fake family. The actress who portrayed the mother was in fact working.

    To suggest that women are only good for staying home, keeping house and raising children is as impractical as it is insulting. Unless the husband is a CEO, a doctor or a senator, women today have to work not for luxuries, but to survive.

    Even couples in which both work full time can’t always make ends meet. Even if your job offers health care (which is becoming rarer), the cost is usually prohibitive.

    Wal-Mart is the largest employer on the planet. Its average worker makes $15,000 a year and does not receive health care coverage. How does that support the dad-only wage earner in Santorum World?

    It’s great to have ideals, to believe that a better world can exist. The problem with Santorum is that he’s all talk. Where’s the legislation that would give every worker health care? Where’s the legislation that would provide workers with a living wage? Until people in this country can have salaries and health insurance that supports his ideal family, he’s going to have to face the reality that his dream is just that, a dream.

    Carol Rydel, Boothwyn, Pa.

    I’m not denigrating families where both parents feel a desire/need to work outside the home. But there a a lot of home educating families who really struggle to get by on one income. The bread-winners aren’t all CEOs or doctors. Some probably aren’t making much more than that average WalMart employee. But they’ve chosen to make their kids and home life a priority. As you might guess, I have an enormous amount of respect for them.


    Filed on August 18, 2005 at 5:29 pm under by dcobranchi

    A Huntington, WV mom has figured it out:

    I am in awe of mothers who do home-school their kids. I think they should wear red capes and have big Supermom S’s on their chests.

    I could never do it. When I think of what I had to go through last year just to get my son to do his first-grade homework … if I actually had to get him to do ALL his schoolwork, he (and his siblings) would be illiterate.

    Anyway, I just don’t have the stamina for it. As much as I love my kids, I could not handle being with them 24/7/365. I need a little breathing room, and so do they. That must be the real reason our forefathers made schooling mandatory — not to make sure the kids were educated, but to get them out of their mothers’ hair for a little while.

    I think she’s right; she couldn’t handle home education.


    Filed on at 5:29 pm under by dcobranchi

    IAATM, of course.

    Home school woes? Data show none

    Regarding the editorial “Student accountability” (Aug. 9): So The Journal Gazette editorial staff is concerned that Indiana home-schooled children might be growing up to be burdensome, irresponsible citizens. Are there any statistics to back up this concern? Has there been a check of those who are tax delinquent, in prison or on welfare and it was found that an alarming number were home-schooled for the majority of their school years? I thought not.

    What is the real issue? Isn’t it more about money and control? Indiana public school superintendents are in favor of more regulation of home-schooling. Sure they are. It must be an embarrassment to spend so much money on public schools and then have so many parents opt out.

    Wasn’t there a recent article in The Journal Gazette about how public high school students complained that they’d like more challenging coursework? Home-schooling offers such flexibility; one-size-fits-all curriculum doesn’t.

    With excessive regulation comes uniformity; with freedom comes disparity. It’s worth the risk to continue Indiana’s excellent home-school policy. We have the freedom to excel and also the freedom to fail.

    We don’t need Big Brother to pick out our books for us. That’s why we have great public libraries. And why should we change our policy based on what they do out in New York or Pennsylvania? Let them emulate us!

    For more information on this subject, I recommend “A Different Kind of Teacher” by John Taylor Gatto (New York teacher of the year, 1990 and 1991).



    Filed on at 5:29 pm under by dcobranchi


    Rockford, IL has just voted for a daytime curfew aimed at young people. HEKs will be exempt. That’s really nice, though it still leaves open the question of how kids are supposed to prove they’re HEKs and not playing hooky. (Nevermind the fact that the police can now harass them at will.) A couple of quotes lead me to really question the kind of “thinking” that town leaders are capable of:

    “We’ve got to send the message keep teeth on this ordinance, so that the community knows that will be on an ongoing basis partnering with district 205 to make sure we are doing the job,” Mayor Larry Morrissey said.

    “The jails are built for people who don’t understand what laws are about and you have to have rules and you have to have laws, and kids have to learn early in life that you go to school, you get an education, so you can be productive in society,” Alderman Victory Bell said.

    Let’s hope a couple of kids run for Mayor and Alderman and take these guys out.


    Filed on at 5:28 pm under by dcobranchi

    A home visiting home educatin’ doc. The article is about practicing old-fashioned medicine in a modern world. Worth a read. (Use the standard passwords.)


    Filed on at 4:30 pm under by dcobranchi

    Convicted Ohio Gov. Bob Taft is really, really sorry that Ohioans did whatever they did. Or something like that:

    Taft also apologized to Ohioans: “From the shores of Lake Erie to the banks of the Ohio River, I want them to know that you are sorry for what you have done.”

    Maybe his speechwriter should be apologizing. Or Taft should apologize to his speechwriter for butchering the line. Or maybe CNN should apologize to the world.


    Filed on August 17, 2005 at 5:27 pm under by dcobranchi

    And all Fayetteville Republican LttE-writers are utter morons:

    There were Democrats who avoided the draft

    John Hardin said he was patriotic and then called the president a liar about WMDs and such (“Democrats are proud and patriotic,” July 18).

    From Sens. Kennedy to Dodd to Leahy to Boxer to Kerry, Democrats at the national level are all unpatriotic. Had it not been for the stonewalling by those and other Democratic senators and representatives, the WMDs, reported by all past administrations including the previous Clinton administration, would have been found in Iraq. The delay allowed Saddam Hussein to move them out. The intelligence was correct. Many politicians read the intelligence reports and had no doubts about it.

    Martin Sawyer’s July 20 letter, “Set the record straight on both parties,” listed Republicans who had not served in the military. Sawyer forgot the Clinton administration members and a lot of Democrats who also didn’t serve or tried to legally avoid the draft.

    All Democrats at the national level are power-hungry, unpatriotic and liberal socialistic men and women, who will stop at nothing to remove anyone who disagrees with their political philosophy and who shun the words of the Constitution.

    Bush made the correct selection for the Supreme Court because liberal Democratic senators are already up in arms about the selection. Democrats are surprised that conservatives are fighting them tooth and nail now. In the past, liberals/Democrats have pretty much had their way politically.

    So, liberals, get used to it. Your name-calling and verbal barrages are no longer effective nor believable. You are but a sounding brass and tinkling cymbal.

    Franklin N. Horton, Fayetteville

    Life in Fayette-nam sure is interesting.


    Filed on at 9:03 am under by dcobranchi

    From The Onion, of course. A sample:

    As the debate over the teaching of evolution in public schools continues, a new controversy over the science curriculum arose Monday in this embattled Midwestern state. Scientists from the Evangelical Center For Faith-Based Reasoning are now asserting that the long-held “theory of gravity” is flawed, and they have responded to it with a new theory of Intelligent Falling.

    “Things fall not because they are acted upon by some gravitational force, but because a higher intelligence, ‘God’ if you will, is pushing them down,” said Gabriel Burdett, who holds degrees in education, applied Scripture, and physics from Oral Roberts University.

    IDers should only click over if they have a sense of humor.


    Filed on at 8:05 am under by dcobranchi

    A Canadian HEK is making a movie. This is not some 5 minute short, shot in the backyard. She wrote away to get the film rights, wrote a script, storyboarded the whole thing, and is director, editor, and cameraperson. The actors are also HEKs. Look out, Mr. Spielberg.

    UPDATE: I mis-read the piece the first time through. The film rights were from Canada, but she’s from Texas.


    Filed on at 6:24 am under by dcobranchi

    Does it seem to you that this year there are many more articles about school test scores stagnating or even going backwards and many fewer showing large increases? Perhaps the schools have picked all of the low-hanging fruit and progress from here on out will be tougher. The double whammy here is that the states gamed their NCLB AYP numbers by back-end loading. So they have to show ever larger yearly improvements from here on out.

    Does anyone think NCLB in its current form will survive to see the end of the Bush Administration?


    Filed on at 2:55 am under by dcobranchi

    By the police. The poor guy had the misfortune of living on a block where one of the London bombers was thought to be. Perversely, if the British police all carried weapons, he’d probably still be alive. The cops tailing him were unarmed and couldn’t/didn’t stop him until after he was on the subway car.

    UPDATE: Here’s the report from the Guardian.


    Filed on August 16, 2005 at 6:15 am under by dcobranchi

    This one is right out of 1990.

    Some research indicates that more than 2-million American children are home-schooled, and some statistics show that they consistently score in the top percentiles on standardized tests. But for all that academic success, some educators fear that home-schooled children miss out on an important part of the school experience: friendships with peers. We examine this issue in our Parenting Report.


    Filed on at 6:14 am under by dcobranchi

    Joanne Jacobs reports that the “Mozart Effect” is bogus. So playing classical music for babies doesn’t make them smarter. I found this bit enlightening:

    “Laws were passed,” said (Adrian) Bangerter. “Since 1998, crèches in Florida have to play half an hour of classical music every day for the children.”

    I think our current democracy works worst when legislators try to implement the latest “scientific” studies. They hem and haw about anthropogenic global warming which is on very firm scientific footing yet jump on the latest bandwagon based on a blurb in the National Enquirer.


    Filed on at 6:13 am under by dcobranchi

    But is it necessary?

    An Indiana Bible college is offering a class on home education. Yeah– Homeschooling 101 will “take some of the mystery out of the home-school class. The student will hear from successful moms on how to balance home life and school life.”

    I’ve got no problem with it. My guess, though, is that many (most? all?) of the kids who enroll will already be intimately familiar with home education.


    Filed on at 5:27 am under by dcobranchi

    You seem to be under the misapprehension that HE&OS exists for you to continue to spout ID bullshit. It doesn’t. There is no 1st Amendment here. Get your own blog.

    And one piece of parting advice, here are your peer reviewed articles in support of Darwinism. Start at page 1.

    The Owner


    Filed on August 15, 2005 at 7:00 pm under by dcobranchi

    Housing prices in Phoenix were up an astonishing 47% in the past 12 months.


    Filed on at 5:15 pm under by dcobranchi

    Suspending students for not completing a reading assignment will not help them improve their reading skills.


    Filed on at 5:15 pm under by dcobranchi


    Money real concern of superintendents

    Regarding the editorial, “Student accountability” (Aug. 9), that said Indiana’s school superintendents worry that home schooling provides “inferior academic preparation” for kids: What else could the superintendents say? Every home-schooled child in their districts means state and federal money that the schools don’t get. In the superintendents’ perspectives, a family with two home-schooled children represents an annual loss of several thousand dollars. Multiply that by the 13 years of kindergarten through high school, and again by several hundred home-school families in any particular district. That’s a lot of money.

    If schools provide more oversight to home-schooled children, then it’s a small step to classify them as students. And more students means more money.

    Superintendents see every home-schooled child as a 13-year annuity their district didn’t get. Understanding that perspective puts a much different frame around the “concerns” that superintendents express about home schooling. It’s not home schooling – it’s about money.

    Fort Wayne

    BONUS: The next letter down is good, too.

    Don’t require tests for home-schoolers

    Because the editorial, “Student Accountability” (Aug. 9), uses information from a recent presentation I made in Indianapolis as well as a policy brief I wrote (available on the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy Web site), I am offering some cautions to The Journal Gazette’s call for greater regulation of home schooling.

    While ensuring that all children attain basic levels of literacy and numeracy strikes me as a reasonable expectation and safeguard for their futures, I do not think that imposing a wide-ranging battery of standardized tests (such as the ISTEP+) is an appropriate tool for this.

    Instead of looking to states with stricter oversight as models for Indiana, we need to be sure that additional requirements address vital educational concerns and don’t simply pose barriers to effective home schooling. Just because public schools have been inundated with so many content standards that depth gets sacrificed for breadth doesn’t mean that home-schooled students should be obliged to follow suit.

    I suggest that we keep in mind that being “serious about education,” as the editorial urges, may take different forms in different educational settings.

    Indiana University School of Education Bloomington


    Filed on at 5:15 pm under by dcobranchi


    The Detroit News has a fairly negative piece on home education in Michigan. It seems that the state laws are too lax, and educrats have no way of making sure that we’re up to snuff:

    “I believe that 95 percent of homeschoolers are probably better off at home than in a school,” said David Plank, co-director of the Education Policy Center at Michigan State University.

    “But the state’s concern should be about the other 5 percent. We have no information about what kind of education they are receiving from their parents. Not finding out is a failing on the part of the state of Michigan.”

    The homeschooling movement took off here in the 1980s with parents who mostly were motivated by religious and/or anti-government sentiments, Plank said.

    “There is clearly a third group out there now: Parents who feel they can do a better job than the public schools,” Plank said.

    “It is the least understood segment because they are the least outspoken. I have no handle on that, and I don’t think any researchers do. It is a silent part of the movement.”

    Religious and/or anti-government sentiments– Check and check, again. Feeling we can do a better job than the g-schools. Check. Hey! I’m batting 1.000. Is there a prize somewhere?


    Filed on at 5:14 pm under by dcobranchi

    The new state EdChief will be gunning for you:

    Annette Bohling, Donald Bryngelson and Jim McBride were the three candidates selected by the Wyoming Republican Central Committee on Saturday to succeed Trent Blankenship as the state superintendent of public schools.

    …In fact, the candidates had more similarities than differences. Each supports parents’ right to home-school children, though they want to see accountability for such efforts.

    I think “accountability” is the new “S”-word.


    Filed on at 4:45 pm under by dcobranchi

    HSLDA’s Generation Joshua will be featured on ABC News tonight.


    Filed on August 14, 2005 at 7:23 am under by dcobranchi

    I think I can safely predict that these lawsuits are going nowhere fast. First, a teacher doesn’t quite get the 1st Amendment:

    A Christian-rights group on Friday said it has filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of a Spanish teacher whose religious posters were removed from the classroom while he was out sick.

    …Lee, who advises the school’s Christian students club, also had displayed news articles about President Bush’s religious faith and former Attorney General John Ashcroft’s prayer meetings with his staffers.

    County Attorney James E. Barnett has said in a letter to The Rutherford Institute that the posters were properly removed because of their “overtly religious nature of the displays and their narrow focus on only a religious point of view.”

    And, then, there are a bunch of parents who mistakenly think they’re in charge of the g-schools:

    Belleville high school students and their parents will have to wait until at least Tuesday – less than a week before the start of classes – to learn whether a judge will temporarily rescind the district’s new dress code.

    That’s when U.S. District Judge Michael J. Reagan will hear arguments in a suit brought by four parents who claim the public was cut out of the process when the dress code was debated and adopted.

    End result– Two school distrcts spending a lot of our tax dollars for no good reason.


    Filed on at 7:23 am under by dcobranchi

    The state of Maine is requiring all applicants for school positions (teacher, school nurse, substitute bus drivers, etc.) to submit their fingerprints for a criminal background check. To add insult to injury, the applicants will have to pay the $55 cost themselves, without any guarantee that they’ll be offered a job.

    Some school officials say the fee could deter people from applying for low-paying jobs and make hard-to-fill positions even more harder to fill.

    “For substitute bus drivers it’s a whole day’s pay. Maybe when you take out taxes, it’s more than a day’s pay,” said School Union 44 Superintendent Paul Malinski, who oversees schools in Litchfield, Sabattus and Wales.

    They’re considering reimbursing new hires for the fees, but that would do nothing for the folks who paid the fee and didn’t get hired. Bad policy and bad politics.


    Filed on at 7:22 am under by dcobranchi

    What!? No more “free” daycare?

    Part-time kindergarten means day care expenses

    My grandson is starting kindergarten at Maple Lane Elementary School. At orientation, my daughter was informed her son doesn’t even have a teacher, because his assigned teacher just quit. That’s a great way to start a 5-year-old’s education.

    The school year is supposedly set up so kids don’t have such a long summer break, but the children have many days off each month. That means working parents need to find day care during those times.

    When Maple Lane was approved for this “balanced calender,” children were to have the option of attending school during intermissions. This option would help parents who worked full time and could not afford day care on days off. This year, that has changed. Children may still go to school during intermission, but now the parents will have to pay for it.

    My daughter was hoping to get a break from the high prices she has had to pay for day care, since her two children were born. But with all the days Maple Lane has off each month, and the fact that my grandson will attend school for two and a half hours each day, she still has pay the same price for day care as if he were there full time.

    He could go to kindergarten full time, but the price for that is the same as if he were attending a private school.

    I feel sorry for working families who must pay outrageous amounts of money for day care, just to have an extra $200 in their pockets each week. That is the amount my daughter has left each week, and she has a very good job.

    I have tried to come up with a way that I could stay home and care for my grandchildren, but haven’t had any luck. If my daughter didn’t need medical benefits, (her husband’s plan would cost them $189 a week), I’d tell her to quit her job and stay home.

    Terry Lee Righos, Claymont

    For lots of folks, the g-schools are just glorified babysitters.


    Filed on at 7:22 am under by dcobranchi

    APOD = Astronomy Picture of the Day. It’s a decade-long labor-of-love for a couple of NASA scientists. As the name suggests, every day there’s a new picture posted. Many, like today’s, are way cool.

    And if you’ve never browsed their archives


    Filed on August 13, 2005 at 4:53 pm under by dcobranchi

    OK, I know it’s a recycled post title, but I really am excited. I got the new PC (the eMachines) installed. WiFi is now back in business. What a difference!


    Filed on at 8:28 am under by dcobranchi

    From Utah:

    “As I understand and as I read, the intelligent design concept is a concept that many of us have sympathy with, but it’s not one based on science, and to put it in a science curriculum seems to me would be a misplaced position,” Burningham said. “We always (try to) separate in this state very carefully our religious beliefs (from state operations). That general philosophy, it seems to me, needs to continue.”

    You’d have to have lived there to see the humor in that statement.

    BTW, I fully support the EdChief on this one. I hope the good people of Utah vote the legislator out of office at the next opportunity.


    Filed on August 12, 2005 at 3:53 pm under by dcobranchi

    I need to purchase a new CPU to replace our lightning-zapped main machine. I’m looking for a fairly bare-bones CPU: 512 MB DDR, 80 Gig HD, CD-ROM, XP Home. I don’t need a floppy or DVD drive (those will be on the other machine). (Yes, Tim, it might be a Mac). Does anyone have any suggestions as to companies I should check?


    Filed on at 4:34 am under by dcobranchi

    I have a feeling that not too many of these folks are school-in-a-box customers.

    The workshops will highlight organic turkeys, fertile soil, home canning, goats, land conservation restrictions, composting, trickle irrigation and homeschooling.


    Filed on at 4:33 am under by dcobranchi

    But not so fast. Joanne Jacobs found an interesting study about how states that have implemented graduated driver’s licenses for teens are seeing decreases in fatalities. My oldest son is 13; he’s already counting down the days when he can get his license. He might have to keep counting a while longer.


    Filed on at 4:32 am under by dcobranchi

    Yesterday Tim Haas found a piece on home education in China and earned half a yuan. No picture today but there’s a follow-up on an ex-pat American family unschooling there. The article is really well done, even quoting Holt. If only our press were half as good.


    Filed on at 4:31 am under by dcobranchi

    I saw a request on a freecycle list for a graphing calculator. The kid is going to be in geometry and has to have one. The question– Why? Yeah, I’m sure they can make it easier on the kids, but are they now required in that you can’t do geometry without one? Did Euclid have a TI-84?


    Filed on August 11, 2005 at 9:55 pm under by dcobranchi

    Pieces of the September/October edition of HEM are up.


    Filed on at 7:40 pm under by dcobranchi

    The New Republic Online has a really good summary (passwords) of what’s wrong with ID.

    I’ve said it numerous times that I don’t give a hoot what you teach your kids. For all I care, as home educators you have the right to teach them that the universe was sneezed into existence by the Great Green Arklesizure. The problem arises because ID (as the NRO proves) is inherently a religious doctrine– specifically biblical creationism. As such, it has no place being taught in the g-schools. That pesky 1st Amendment again.


    Filed on at 5:38 am under by dcobranchi

    10.0 for snark. -1,000,000 for bringing anyone over to our side.

    But today Americans are threatened by a government-sponsored and taxpayer-funded monopoly, one that is potentially more powerful and dangerous than the old Standard Oil and Carnegie Steel operations. Like a giant octopus with long, deadly tentacles, the socialistic “Official Public Education Trust” has established a virtual stranglehold on the impressionable minds of our nation’s youth.

    I’m all for snark in its proper place. I just don’t think a MSM publication is it.


    Filed on at 5:38 am under by dcobranchi

    It’s not often that I run across a word that I’ve never seen before. This article on HEKs in 4-H includes multiple copies of the word “buymanship.” Evidently it’s a new word (Google has only 867 references) which means, I think, being a smart consumer.

    I hope it doesn’t catch on.


    Filed on August 10, 2005 at 11:34 pm under by dcobranchi

    I kid you not — a kitchen table shot from China. And the piece is fascinating — it’s as if they took a U.S. piece from 1985 and swapped in Chinese names:

    Compared to other children at her age, 9-year-old Li Jingci spends less time in classroom but learns more. Her 62-year-old father, Li Tiejun, teaches her Chinese, math, painting, music and even astrology and the art of war.

    Li Jingci is not alone in today’s China.

    Although to date there has no accurate statistics of home schoolers in China, the increasing reports of the cases in the media suggest the number is growing.

    There are a couple of good quotes from educators and scholars to balance the naysayers, too.

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