Utterly Meaningless » 2005 » November

    Filed on November 9, 2005 at 6:46 am under by dcobranchi

    So many good edu-blogs originate there. Here’s another.


    Filed on at 6:43 am under by dcobranchi

    Here’s a nice post at “Excelling in Homeschooling.” WARNING: You’ll have to read down to the end to get to the good part. And I think Michelle learned more than Amanda did that day.


    Filed on at 5:35 am under by dcobranchi

    Not the trial. The election. All 8 school board members up for re-election appear to have lost. I hope someone quickly makes the point to the new board that they should not change the ID policy until after the judge has ruled. The school district is going to be hit with the legal bills either way. The reason is that ID has lost the trial. It’s important that the ruling be heard loud and clear by school districts all across the country.


    Filed on at 5:28 am under by dcobranchi

    An IDist (I think that is the preferred label. Or is it “cdesign proponentsist”?) will soon be giving a talk at an Oregon g-school. The school district wouldn’t allow him to talk to the science classes, so he’ll be speaking to the social studies classes. What difference will that make? He’s still going to call ID “science.” Here’s the new rationale for teaching the non-existent controversy–

    “I hope to help the students think,” he said of his presentations to schools. “I’d like them to have the options and think about it. When students are presented options, their science scores soar.”

    Riiiight. Let’s see the data behind that claim. I’m sure it’s just as scientific as the rest of ID.


    Filed on at 5:19 am under by dcobranchi

    I wonder if Jacob Authier was unschooled. He sounds like a neat kid. A little different perhaps, but neat.

    [O]ver the summer after his freshman year, he spent a lot of time outside in his hometown of Coalinga, California, and decided that he didn’t feel like wearing a shirt to class. Or almost anywhere, really. Authier put it most eloquently: “I just stopped wearing a shirt.”

    …He’ll often paint his nipples black, or, on special occasions, some more festive color, like green for St. Patrick’s Day. He said he’s considering candy cane swirl nipples for Christmas this year. For Valentine’s Day, Authier’s brother Joe, a sophomore at Chapman, used a pocket knife to carve a heart – not the cartoon kind, but one with veins and ventricles – into Authier’s chest, and wings on his back. Authier said the wing markings have faded, but the heart “was cut a little too deep,” and the scars are still there.

    The body art prompted administrators to give Authier a psychological evaluation. “They talked to him and found out he’s OK,” said Mary Pall, a Chapman spokeswoman. “He’s just a very creative individual.”


    Filed on at 5:11 am under by dcobranchi

    A wealthy home educator. I signed up for the newsletter. I’ll post a review in a few weeks. (HT: Cindy)


    Filed on at 4:59 am under by dcobranchi

    Amanda is a teacher in love with tech. I thought this post was particularly good, although I disagree wholeheartedly with the statement “[E]veryone should have MS Office training.” MS Office? How 1995! OpenOffice, baby! HOO!


    Filed on November 8, 2005 at 6:28 am under by dcobranchi

    Does HSLDA think the recent sex survey case ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals was incorrect? This townhall.com piece implies it, but the Jim Mason quotes are a bit ambiguous:

    The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling denying parents the right to opt their elementary school-age children out of a public school sex survey is no surprise to pro-family advocates who say they’ve been fighting courts’ encroachment on parental rights for decades. They warn that the decision must be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

    “This case and the way that it’s written is cause for great alarm,” Jim Mason, an attorney with the Home School Legal Defense Association told Cybercast News Service, “because this case will serve as a springboard where people will attempt to use the sloppy way the case was written to justify greater intrusions into parental freedoms.”

    …”The central holding of the opinion is parents have a right to direct the education of their children,” Mason said. “But when they choose to send them to public schools, once the children are in the public schools, (parents) have less control than if they’d chosen some other alternative.”

    I think the ruling might actually be good for home education in particular and the country in general. Folks need to see just how much control they give up when the send their kids to jail the g-schools. And they need to understand that there are alternatives.

    So, is HSLDA fer it or agin’ it?


    Filed on at 5:51 am under by dcobranchi

    Fire your press agent.

    This has to be the absolutely least effective press release that I have ever seen. I’ll pull a couple quotes. You tell me if you’re inspired to buy the book:

    “The spurt in home education means added concerns for the state authorities and parents both. There are papers to be filled out, curricula to get decided, and the school committees to be aptly convinced about. But this shall not leave you disheartened”, says the author. “We are going online with this ebook, just to make your home education process smooth. And this doesn’t take more than fifty minutes or so to explain you about its various contents.”

    What makes her ebook guide more significant, according to Sara, is the manner that she has chosen to communicate her ideas with. “I have laid out only that much information that I know you might be buying this ebook (http://www.homeschoolingtip.com) for. So if you had enough patience to stay on reading for an hour or so, be assured to get all your answers,” says Sara.

    No doubt, more and more parents are turning out these days towards counseling methods of various kinds. “The decision about homeschooling is never easy to undertake. It requires a personal feat on the part of parents to be good teachers and guardians both,” explains Sara. “Nobody could force you, on the other hand, to take up those demanding roles. It’s up to you to make your mind. However, we do try to make that decision of yours be a smooth in kind. And we do so by going on in a clinical fashion,” says the author.

    The language is so stilted. Does anyone know if Sara Jenkins is not a native English speaker?

    And an aside to Mimi– See? I make fun of other people’s press releases, too.


    Filed on November 7, 2005 at 8:39 pm under by dcobranchi

    Two times over. First, he and his family refused ABC’s generous offer to be on the Wife Swap show. Then he wished (in a comment below) that the MSM would continue to view homeschoolers as wackos. Well, we homeschool and after looking at the family ABC chose, I’m convinced we’re wackos. The guys wear skirts and dreadlocks and dumpster dives for a living.


    Filed on at 11:33 am under by dcobranchi

    Today’s Astronomy Picture of the Day is very cool.


    Filed on at 5:43 am under by dcobranchi

    You’d have to be desperate to go on one of these wife swap shows. A home educating family is featured on ABC’s version tonight at 8. Darn! I’ll be busy and will miss the show. Busy doing what? Just busy.


    Filed on at 5:31 am under by dcobranchi

    Here’s a brief profile of how a lot of pro-bowlers live. The family covered home educate, of course.


    Filed on at 5:28 am under by dcobranchi

    Apparently the GOP is getting a bit desperate in Virginia, reduced to ad hominem political attacks:

    The following is a letter which goes out to Pro-Family homeschoolers in Loudoun County, Virginia.

    TO: Loudoun County Pro-Family Conservatives

    FR: Doug Domenech
    Round Hill
    Former Republican Chairman
    Conservative, Pro-Family, Pro-Life

    RE: Election 2005 – What’s On the Ballot

    …Russ Potts, Jr. is a State Senator and is running as an Independent. He is a kook and I will not dignify his two-faced policy positions with any serious analysis. He has been on both sides of the abortion issue, both sides of the tax issue, both side of the homeschooling issue, and both sides of membership in the Republican Party.

    I think if I were in Virginia (I’m not) and a “Pro-Life, Pro-Family” home educator (I’m not), I might be inclined to vote for Potts merely to piss off Domenech.


    Filed on at 5:15 am under by dcobranchi

    Disclosure: I have never understood America’s schizoid infatuation with the English Royals (or the Kansas City Royals, for that matter.) So, if I point out that The Prince of Wales and the Princess Consort (ewwww!) met with a home educating family in San Fran yesterday, I’m just playing reporter. We fought a couple wars to get away from all that, remember?

    OT: H5N1

    Filed on November 6, 2005 at 9:40 am under by dcobranchi

    Avian flu. Bird flu. Whatever.

    Diane Cameron thinks that the potential for pandemic has been way over-hyped.

    It’s a shame in many ways. We’ve forgotten that getting the flu used to mean a couple of days in bed reading junk fiction, a chance to watch daytime TV with no apologies and a sure-fire way to drop five pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Now we are afraid of chickens and turkeys and geese. And no snacks for the backyard birdie either. The sky is falling, the sky is falling…” Learn to home-school your children before the quarantine,” one Web site urges. Newsweek’s flu story used the words ominous, threat, killer, lethal, violent, urgent, alarming, terror and deadly — and then offered in closing: “But don’t panic.”

    …Instead of stressing about the one in 100,000 odds of dying from the flu, as we now know it, we should try to grasp the one medical fact that is 100 percent guaranteed: Life is always fatal.

    I don’t know if the potential has been over-hyped. I do know that Cameron is downplaying a serious risk. Perhaps for a “normal” flu strain the odds are 1 in 100,000. H5N1 has been running about 50 percent mortality for folks who are symptomatic. What percentage of people get flu in a normal winter? Five? Ten? What if half of those were to die? If H5N1 mutates to be easily transmitted between humans, there is a non-zero chance that we’d be looking at those kinds of numbers. And how would the rest of society react? I’d expect there to be widespread fear and panic. Who’d want to go grocery shopping if there was a chance that you might get sick? Or bring it home to your kids? Who’d want to go to work?

    Yes, guard against the hype. Take everything with a grain of salt. But don’t pooh-pooh the potential. The scientists who do this for a living are taking H5N1 very seriously.


    Filed on at 8:28 am under by dcobranchi

    I’m going to reproduce here several (not a permalink) providing feedback on the Wild Child piece from a couple weeks back:

    Child neglect by any other name: Give me a goddamn break! A mother who lets her kids run wild for 18 years with no formal education is worthy of some sort of praise? (“Wild Child,” by Glenna Whitley, October 27.) She should be in jail for neglect or abuse! Let’s see, she’s got a daughter who is “financially independent” and a son who’s trying to be a male model. What happens if we all try to “unschool” our kids? Do we end up with a society full of Zoolander male model wannabes? I’m not suggesting that every child needs to be a doctor, lawyer or engineer, but saying that a child should be able to “choose” their education is absurd. I chose not to take piano lessons as a child, and it’s something I’ve regretted ever since. I would be a much better guitar player now if I had learned the basics of music back then. This article illustrates why the hippie movement was such a failure the first time around. It consisted of a bunch of lazy-ass folks sitting around doing nothing while the rest of society was forced to take up the slack! Let’s outsource all our skilled professions to India, Asia, Mexico, etc. Maybe we can set up a job exchange and send them all of our “unschooled” male models!

    James Allman


    Take it from Einstein: I just wanted to thank you for your excellently written article on unschooling. I am an unschooling parent of a nearly 11-year-old boy, and we have been unschooling since the get-go. If I had been wrestling with a decision of whether to unschool or not, I think your article would have helped me reach a good decision. I especially liked your use of quotes from Einstein, Emerson, Edison, et al.; they’re good quotes, and they will certainly help folks look deeper into the truth behind them.

    Marji Zintz

    Florida, New York

    Irresponsible and selfish: Unbelievable! Parents who are proud to have raised three (three?!) admittedly uneducated kids. And Barb was “worried” when one of them didn’t express interest (excuse me, INTEREST?!) in learning to read until the teenage years. And that ridiculous quote about there not being any one thing that everyone needs to know…hogwash! There is at the very least one thing, and it is basic reading! What the city of Dallas did NOT need was three more illiterate and unemployable adults. It appears that with Dad’s high-paying job, it seems unimportant to the Eakers for their children to develop the requisite skills for survival beyond the childhood home. Quinn seems to have adequate funding for trips to Hawaii to “dumpster-dive” with homeless people (perhaps his future peers?). Wow–that’s a powerful argument in favor of child-directed learning.

    I am appalled and disgusted that any family would take such an irresponsible and selfish approach to child-rearing. My consolation comes from knowing that if any of these three young adults ever succeeds at becoming employable, their minimum-wage incomes (Wal-Mart greeter? Street peddler?) will never be adequate to allow them to become MY neighbors! Thank goodness for the laws of “what goes around comes around” and “you reap what you sow.” Sorry, Hawaii. You guys might need to consider a bond issue for a new homeless shelter.

    Melanie Klutts


    Radical and loving it: Well, that was just badass! We are radical unschoolers of younger kids (2 and 4) and have met Barb Lundgren and Quinn Eaker at the Rethinking Education conference. Your story was so well-written and shed the most positive light on our lifestyle. I really appreciate it. Thanks for getting the word out so eloquently.

    Geneva Goza


    Tip credit: Rikki


    Filed on November 5, 2005 at 2:09 pm under by dcobranchi

    A state legislator who appears to be opposed to home education freedoms is making some noise that we need to be closely monitored because some home educators might teach their kids racist ideas (evidently, g-schoolers are never racist). He claimed that there are even some racist curricula out there. A reader has asked if anyone knows what the heck this guy might be referring to? A quick Google search yielded nada.


    Filed on at 12:51 pm under by dcobranchi

    I’m trying struggling to teach myself ASL, so this announcment caught my eye:

    Are you a parent homeschooling your deaf or hard-of-hearing child(ren)? Would you like to see more parents and educators understand the experience of homeschooling a deaf/hard-of-hearing child? If so, I need your input!

    As a graduate student at Gallaudet University in the Deaf studies program, I am exploring homeschooling as practiced in the d/Deaf community. As a frequently overlooked option in deaf education, this study is designed to explore the experiences of homeschooling families, whether part-time or full-time, in order to educate others about the potential costs and benefits of homeschooling.

    This study will primarily be done through written questionnaires and face-to-face interviews that are designed to better understand, through the eyes of parents, the construction of the homeschool environment, the motivation of homeschooling parents, and the experiences of homeschoolers.

    If you believe you are a good fit for this study and are interested in becoming involved, or you would like to receive more information about this study, please contact me at Elizabeth.Parks@gallaudet.edu.


    Filed on at 12:45 pm under by dcobranchi

    OK, I’m in a super-snarky mood today. A great quote from an educrat:

    A home school liason for District 11, Kim Hennessy says, “We have a home education support program and we call it H.E.S.P., it’s a series of enrichment classes for home schooling students.”


    Filed on at 9:21 am under by dcobranchi

    I expect Mr. Softee to do evil. I thought Apple thought different. So, why in order to install Quicktime for Firefox, do I have to take iTunes? I hate iTunes; it automatically installs itself in the SysTray and puts little files all over the hard-drive.


    Filed on at 6:18 am under by dcobranchi

    Michael Behe’s one of us. This profile is pretty good. I’d drink a beer with him.

    What I really don’t get about Behe’s stance is how one can believe in an ancient Earth and common descent and still call that belief ID. Did the Big G just intervene once-in-a-while? When? And why did he/she/it/they have to intervene at all? The IDists talk about gaps in Darwinism. The holes in ID are parsecs-wide.


    Filed on at 5:49 am under by dcobranchi

    This behavior by the lawyers for the Dover School Board was irresponsible at best and seemingly unethical. It’s strange, though– Aren’t the folks on the Right the ones who are always complaining that our society is too litigious?

    So, when the Dover Board loses and taxpayers have to pay out a million dollars or more in legal fees, will TMLC (or Monaghan) kick in a few bucks?

    BTW, eight of the nine members of the Board are up for re-election on Tuesday. It’d be very interesting if the 8 current members were voted out.


    Filed on November 4, 2005 at 8:08 pm under by dcobranchi

    I can’t believe that I thought home education was a good alternative to the g-schools. This blog post has convinced me of the error of my ways. How could I have been so stupid!?


    Filed on at 7:45 pm under by dcobranchi

    Chris and I won’t be winning.

    I haven’t gotten a lot of suggestions for more categories but it was mentioned this morning, and I can confirm by my hit tracker, that there are a ton of homeschooling bloggers out there. So I’ll be adding a Best Evangelical Home Education Blog category to the mix this year.


    Filed on at 11:38 am under by dcobranchi

    Izzy had a different take on this.

    I don’t buy the slippery slope argument here. Pierce explicitly endorses private education (and, by extension, home education). That’s quite a different issue than what the g-schools can and can’t teach.


    Filed on at 11:32 am under by dcobranchi

    Calvert is taking nominations for its annual awards for folks who have made a positive impact on home education. Here are last year’s winners.


    Filed on at 11:25 am under by dcobranchi

    Except his good old days ended around the time of Robespierre.

    The mayor of Las Vegas has suggested that people who deface freeways with graffiti should have their thumbs cut off on television.

    “In the old days in France, they had beheadings of people who commit heinous crimes,” Mayor Oscar Goodman said Wednesday on the TV show “Nevada Newsmakers.”

    …”I’m saying maybe you put them on TV and cut off a thumb,” the mayor said. “That may be the right thing to do.”

    Goodman also suggested whippings should be brought back for children who get into trouble.

    I don’t know about that; cement overshoes are much more effective.

    Goodman seems to be living down to his past. He was a mob lawyer before becoming mayor.


    Filed on at 6:56 am under by dcobranchi

    “When you are attributing the wonders of nature to these mindless material mechanisms, God’s glory is getting robbed… And so there is a cultural war here. Ultimately I want to see God get the credit for what he’s done — and he’s not getting it.”– William Dembski, IDist (Source: The Panda’s Thumb)

    Dave and Alex– would you like for me to post one of these each day showing that the DI lies? There are plenty more where this came from. Perhaps I should start with the Wedge document?


    Filed on November 3, 2005 at 8:35 pm under by dcobranchi

    It seems the right half of the blogosphere (here, here, and here, for example) is all aghast at the latest ruling by “activist judges” in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Why the apoplexy? The court ruled in favor of some CA schools who had given a sex survey to the kids without getting explicit parental permission. The parents sued, claiming their rights under the Pierce decision. The Court disagreed.

    “There is no fundamental right of parents to be the exclusive provider of information regarding sexual matters to their children… We also hold that parents have no due process or privacy right to override the determinations of public schools as to the information to which their children will be exposed while enrolled as students.

    I think the Court’s ruling is correct, though not necessarily for the reasons they cited. Pierce was about choice. Did parents have the right to choose private schools? The CA parents chose the g-schools. What did they expect? Time to play by the king’s rules.


    Filed on November 2, 2005 at 9:52 pm under by dcobranchi

    For our friends in the Great White North– a new television show that plows the same ground as every other show about an HEK:

    Alice, who is painfully out of tune with reality after years of her parents’ sheltering, homeschooling and encouragement of creativity – which resulted in her believing, uncorrected, that she was a hobbit as a child – is about to begin public high school.


    Filed on at 9:40 pm under by dcobranchi

    Not an endorsement– Here’s a program (funded by your tax dollars) that offers “free” homeschool lessons on all sorts of topics.


    Filed on at 12:11 pm under by dcobranchi

    Jeanne (aka Falconjen) is heading up this effort. It’s sorely needed:

    Family and Home Network, best recognized for their award-winning journal Welcome Home, is re-organizing and offering new services through its website. A discussion on Transitioning Home is being offered on their new bulletin board Nov. 2 – 9, led by Jeanne Faulconer. Go to www.familyandhome.org and use the following to access the “members only” features of the site, as a special welcome to FAHN.

    user id: welcome
    password: 4family

    This homeschooling friendly organization does non-partisan and non-religiously-affiliated public policy work advocating for parents who want to spend generous amounts of time with their children — a counterweight to the lobbyists for more child care, more preschool and more after-school care — who talk as though ALL families need and want those services.

    FAHN also provides a ton of information online for parents who are trying to figure out how a parent can maximize at-home time and care for kids. It also includes Info about affordability, issues related to transitioning home from a career, ideas for being involved positively with children’s lives, coping with challenges of being at home with kids, and the softer stuff like creating family traditions, etc.


    Filed on at 10:33 am under by dcobranchi

    Via Hal Young, a nice Op/Ed on DIY- home education and blogging.


    Filed on at 10:09 am under by dcobranchi

    Extract and separate DNA using common materials. This would likely make a good science fair project.


    Filed on at 9:16 am under by dcobranchi

    ID supporters caught lying— again. I’m shocked! Come on, Dave, spin this one for us.

    NEW AD —–>

    Filed on at 8:29 am under by dcobranchi

    An interesting concept that sounds eminently hackable– audiobooks on SD cards. They claim to hold 20+ hours (~16 CDs) worth of audio, so the files are compressed dramatically. WMA? The player/reader is priced right– $30.


    Filed on November 1, 2005 at 4:24 pm under by dcobranchi

    This one is just bizarre:

    A Mountain Home school employee faces charges of furnishing alcohol to minors after police broke up an Oct. 22 party at her residence.

    Veronica Stone, 35, was arrested and charged although she was not present and told police she didn’t know there was a party at the Meadowbrook Drive house.

    …According to Bullard’s report, two of the teenage partygoers — whose names were blotted out — claimed Stone had invited them to the residence and accused her of buying them the alcohol. One of the two contended drinking parties were a regular occurrence at Stone’s house and alleged Stone had told her they could invite as many people as they wanted to as long as they did not park in the driveway or trash the house.

    Bullard said she spoke with Stone by telephone, and Stone said she had no idea there was a party going on at the residence. Stone did not come to the residence.

    She claimed not to know anything about a gaggle of teens invading her house (B&E anyone?). Somehow I find that not credible.


    Filed on at 7:25 am under by dcobranchi

    Just checking the site statistics and discovered that sometime in early October HE&OS passed one million pageviews since moving to its current URL in June ’03. Complete trivia but kind of neat. At current rates, we’ll hit half-a-million visits by Christmas.


    Filed on at 6:03 am under by dcobranchi

    Just as “to fisk” came to mean “the act of critiquing, often in minute detail, an article, essay, argument,” I think “to reich” (after Rob Reich) might mean “to destroy silly s-word theories”. The prime example of the genre must be this Opiniated Homeschooler essay. Just a taste:

    Volumes have been written on the s-word. Robert Reich, he of the mandatory two-week reeducation camps for homeschooled kids, is all about the s-word; he just has a fancy name (“ethical servility”) and a theory that would permit government intrusion into the most private matters of personal belief and childrearing. But boiled down, it’s just “they can’t really be socialized, can they?”

    Definitely worth a read. (via Chris)

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