Utterly Meaningless » 2005 » December

    Filed on December 31, 2005 at 4:28 pm under by dcobranchi

    Reader CindyD thinks Missoula must have been one boring town in ’05. How does a nickel photo make the “most compelling” list?


    Filed on at 7:21 am under by dcobranchi

    I’m not sure what to make of this survey. The article gives no indication if it was official school policy. Of particular interest are the answers out to the right. Are those supposed to be the correct answers? My country right or wrong, indeed. (via Education News)


    Filed on at 6:20 am under by dcobranchi

    The newest of newbies decides to take the plunge.


    Filed on at 6:13 am under by dcobranchi



    Filed on at 5:53 am under by dcobranchi

    On life changing events in 2005. The first is on topic. The second (and much more poignant) isn’t:

    Not just my life but the life of our entire family was radically changed by a bus ride last March.
    I had gone to Rapid City for a conference and was on the return trip home when I overheard some ladies discuss home schooling. As I listened to them, I thought, “This might be OK for you, but I wouldn’t ever do it!” My vision of home schooling was strong-willed Cyndi sitting at a table with strong-willed Amber, and both of us ready to kill each other at the end of a week.
    About 200 miles down the road, I felt something change within me and suddenly had the impression that home-schooling would be perfect for our daughter. Upon returning home, I shared my thoughts with my husband, Stan, who, much to my surprise, instantly agreed. We prayed about this decision, and a couple months later, I resigned from a job I absolutely loved.
    Upon making this decision, we began to see God’s hand in all of this, and I can’t begin to express (with a 200-word limit) all the wonderful changes we have seen occur in our daughter, our home, in our marriage and in our lifestyle.
    Cyndi Dissing
    Sioux Falls

    I can’t wait to turn 50. So what to the gray hair, and my jeans are a little tight. No longer obsessed with more, I’m a better vendor to my customers as we work to sell our business. Today, I’m a little less sure of most things but quite certain of others – friends, my wife, faith, prayer, cards and laughter.
    What happened? At the age of 47, I’ve been given the gift of a “do over,” a second chance, the rarest of opportunities. A life-saving bone marrow transplant to treat acute leukemia. A year ago, still grieving the recent loss of my son to cancer and thinking things couldn’t possibly get any worse, they did. Without treatment I had just days to live. I soon had no hair, no appetite and a real fear that I would never leave the hospital. I couldn’t brush my teeth for fear of infection, and blood counts so low that I relied on daily transfusions to stay alive between rounds of chemo. Insiders refer to transplant day as a new birthday. Mine is Feb. 10, and let me remind you that $3 a gallon gas is no big deal, I love my wife and my dog loves me.
    Bill Connor


    Filed on at 5:47 am under by dcobranchi

    First poker and now booze:

    Is home schooling best for drinking?

    Should parents teach children how to imbibe responsibly or stick to ‘not until you’re 21’? Even experts disagree.

    It’s not a bad piece and, FWIW, that’s the route we’ve chosen. Anthony has had a sip or two of beer. He hated it (as I knew he would). But the mystery is gone now. Of course, in the US this kind of “homeschooling” is entirely illegal. The government is absolutely nuts on this, even to the point of spouting utter nonsense to support the MADD view:

    The view that Europeans are better at instilling maturity about drinking, however, is hotly contested by studies compiled by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. A 2004 paper using data from European and American surveys, which compared the drinking rates of American and European 15- and 16-year-olds, found that, with the exception of Turkey, young Europeans from 34 countries drank more and were intoxicated more often than Americans.

    Well, duh! That has everything to do with the legal drinking age and nothing to do with who is better at controlling their behavior. Why not compare American 21-year-olds with their European counterparts? Right! Those results likely wouldn’t toe the MADD line. Abstinence does indeed make the heart grow fonder.


    Filed on December 30, 2005 at 5:49 pm under by dcobranchi

    This is kind of a local story with a tiny homeschooling angle:

    Stonington — How great would it be to live in the home of a World Series champion? Pretty great.

    …Greg “Fossilman” Raymer, 2004 World Series of Poker champion, and his wife, Cheryl, are selling their 3,322-square-foot Colonial on Jeremy Hill Road. The Raymers and their daughter, Sophie, recently relocated to Raleigh, N.C., to escape the New England winters that Cheryl hates and in search of an all-around great place to raise Sophie.

    At the end of the hall is a huge playroom above the three-car garage that features several dormer windows, giving it both an expansive and cozy feeling. “Sophie and I used to actually play soccer in there,” Greg says.

    He thinks this 31-foot by 15-foot room would be an ideal space for someone who wanted to do home-schooling because it is large yet provides privacy and quiet areas via the dormers.

    Only $699,000. I can testify that a bonus room makes for a great homeschooling space. I think ours is even the same size give or take.


    Filed on at 11:13 am under by dcobranchi

    The capitalization is in the original:


    It’s from a pretty good rant on a home educating father dealing with a relative/g-school teacher.


    Filed on at 10:34 am under by dcobranchi

    Siblings who fight. Except these two female HEKs fight it out in a Shotokan karate ring.

    HI, BOB

    Filed on at 10:00 am under by dcobranchi

    I got an email from the sponsors of the BoB Awards. They’re accepting nominations through 1/3/2006. This year the homeschooling category has been combined with edu-blogs.


    Filed on December 29, 2005 at 5:46 pm under by dcobranchi

    The ACLU is calling for a special counsel to investigate the NSA/spying issue. Good deal.


    Filed on at 5:28 pm under by dcobranchi

    I haven’t done one of these in a long time:


    I found your email on the Home Education & Other Stuff Blog. I was wondering if you wanted to post any information about the Delaware Women’s Conference (scheduled for March 4th, 2006). Our registration opened last week. I some of the workshops such as B15. Staying Home & Staying Connected would be of interest to your audience. There are also over 70 exhibitors of which many would be of interest your audience such as Discovery Toys, YWCA, Christian Science Reading Room, etc. Below I have provided a link to our website. Please contact me (via email or phone (w) 302-634-4510, (h) 302-425-0771) or Kelly Ballas (copied above) if you have any questions.




    Filed on December 26, 2005 at 8:57 pm under by dcobranchi

    No parsley, but Henry Cate is hosting the first Carnival of Homeschooling on Jan. 3, 2006. Details here.


    Filed on at 5:19 am under by dcobranchi

    We’re traveling over the river and through the woods. See y’all in a few days.

    OH, CAL!

    Filed on at 5:13 am under by dcobranchi

    I think Cal Thomas’ columns are generally poorly argued. Today’s, on the Dover case, is only half-bad– the first half. A few choice bits:

    First, it exposes the sham attempt to take through the back door what proponents have no chance of getting through the front door. Judge Jones rebuked advocates of ”intelligent design,” saying they repeatedly lied about their true intentions. He noted many of them had said publicly that their intent was to introduce into the schools a biblical account of creation. Judge Jones properly wondered how people who claim to have such strong religious convictions could lie, thus violating prohibitions in the Book they proclaim as their source of truth and standard for living.

    Jones admonished the school board members for lying, not Behe or any of the other witnesses for the defendants.

    Judge Jones’ ruling will be appealed and after it is eventually and predictably upheld by a Supreme Court dominated by Republican appointees (Judge Jones was named to the federal bench by President George W. Bush, who has advocated the teaching of creation), those who have tried to make the state do its job for them will have yet another opportunity to wise-up.

    The ruling will not be appealed. The board that adopted this policy was voted out of office in November. The new board has stated that they have no intention of appealing the decision.

    In the second half of his column, Thomas argues (somewhat more coherently) that religious parents ought to pull their kids out of the g-schools:

    Religious parents should exercise the opportunity that has always been theirs. They should remove their children from state schools with their ”instruction manuals” for turning them into secular liberals, and place them in private schools – or home school them – where they will be taught the truth, according to their parents’ beliefs. Too many parents who would never send their children to a church on Sunday that taught doctrines they believed to be wrong, have had no problem placing them in state schools five days a week where they are taught conflicting doctrines and ideas.

    …Rulings such as this should persuade parents who’ve been waffling to take their kids and join the growing exodus from state schools into educational environments more conducive to their beliefs.

    I agree, of course, that those are the only options left. And then finally–

    Private schools or home schooling cost extra money (another reason to favor school choice) and extra time, but what is a child worth? Surely, a child is more valuable than material possessions.

    Our children are our letters to the future. It’s up to parents to decide whether they want to send them ”first class” or ”postage due.”

    Hear! Hear! (Thomas is a good finisher, I guess.)


    Filed on at 4:32 am under by dcobranchi

    Tad has a really good comment on the “NOT SO GOOD” thread. I’ve reproduced it here.

    Lioness, I think most of us are like you in that we are very concerned about the decisions we make as parents and we do our best, but not every human being is cut out to be a parent. Or at least some folks would reach that conclusion. Clearly some are better at it than others, and these people in Florida are not shining examples of competence. It would be wonderful if your expectation was realistic, but the fact is that many parents make decisions based on rumor, folk-lore, religious beliefs, and sometimes just plain laziness. Some people have a deeply inbedded distrust for doctors, lawyers, and any authority and will not accept information coming from the government or the press, etc. Their beliefs are deep and they defy reason, and any attempt to reason with them will fail. To some extent we all choose which information we believe and which we do not. Even if we all choose to beleive the “correct” data, not everyone has the ability to reason based on that data and draw “correct” conclusions. Even those who have top notch reasoning skills will err if they do not have all of the necessary data. Galeleo was convicted of Heresy for arguing that the Earth was not the center of the universe, and it took another almost 300 years before the Catholic Church accepted the idea. One need only look at the contentious religious debates to see this principle in action. Or better yet, the debates over education reform!

    I am not defending the Florida family as responsible, or even sane, but I refuse to call them irresponsible or insane. What I am sayying is that such a position is not that different from the position many of us take in choosing to homeschool or choosing not to vaccinate, and so on.

    I have a neighbor who thinks my wife and I are throughoughly nuts for making the educational choices we’ve made, yet we believe we’ve made the best choices from the information we consider reliable and competent. (Anybody else have a similar experience?) My neighbor thinks his information-and his judgment-is better, that his decisions would be better than mine. He judges me by his standards and finds me lacking; you jugde the family in Florida by your standards, and find them lacking. I would not be so judged, so I will abide the counsel of Matthew 7, and not presume to judge; I will cast no stone. Rather, I think it better to offer compassion to this family. They need helpful friends, not condemning neighbors. And someone who tries to see life through their eyes will stand a much better chance of strengthening their ability to parent than the official “services” of a social worker or the orders of a judge.

    An extreme case like this presents, in stark relief, a question we grapple with here all the time. Where do we draw the line between the rights of the family and the duty of the state to step in? In this case, the family made a decision, regarding diet, that not only risked the lives of their children, but resulted in the death of one of them. Should we therefore enact laws that prescribe the diet we all feed our children? The extreme Libertarian position (and that of ancient Rome) says that this is a liberty interest of the parents and the state should not step in, the equally extreme opposing view says that the children are the creatures of the state, and the state has a right, even a duty, to oversee all aspects of the raising of the child. (Some have proposed in the past that all children should be taken from their parents at birth and raised totally by the state; that those who nuture children should be specially trained and qualified, and that the child’s education should include indoctrination in the ideals defined by the state!)

    I assume that most of the readers of this blog usually lean more toward the Libertarian view. But on this issue, when the question is life or death of a child, it seems we lean a little less Libertarian and a bit more Socialist. So, what rule do we use to define where the liberty interest ends and the state’s duty to protect begins? What restrictions are we willing to accept to our parenting decisions in order to protect the children of other families? Is this the responsibility of government? Or is it the responsibility of the neighborhood? Could a caring neighbor, taking the time to befriend this family have averted this tradegy? If we are to allow this to be the responsibility of government and allow the line to be drawn by “majority” vote, are we prepared to accept the possibility that our views may differ from that “majority?” (I put “majority” in quotes because the real majority often stays home on election day. Where I live, the mayor was elected by less than 15% of the registered voters.) Is the majority competent to draw the line? If not, then whom? Our elected representatives? How do we ensure that the line drawn is truly based on parenting ability and not on a political agenda or on erroneous “conventional wisdom?”


    Filed on December 25, 2005 at 6:12 pm under by dcobranchi


    Gracie got a Santa Claus stuffed toy for Christmas. Evidently it was delicious.


    Filed on at 4:41 pm under by dcobranchi

    Voting ends for Spunky’s awards tomorrow.


    Filed on at 12:08 pm under by dcobranchi


    of another sort entirely. My stocking was full of hot sauces for my “collection.” The scare-quotes are because I eat them all. The only one that I had never used, a signed and numbered bottle of Dave’s Insanity Reserve (1995), got broken into last night on its 10th birthday. It was damn hot.


    Filed on at 11:55 am under by dcobranchi

    This one is only indirectly tied to home education, but there may be some blowback later on:

    University High School, a correspondence school in Miami being investigated for giving fast, high grades to qualify high school athletes for college scholarships, is going out of business Dec. 31, its founder, Stanley J. Simmons, said.

    “It’s a disaster,” Simmons, 75, said in a telephone interview from his Miami home. “I’m finishing up everything, and I’m going back into retirement.”

    Also, the NCAA named 17 people to a panel to study correspondence high schools and other nontraditional routes to college athletic eligibility and scholarships. The action responds to questions about the legitimacy of the academic credentials of some high school athletes.

    I hope someone on the panel knows enough about home education that our kids don’t get equated with g-schoolers trying to game the system with diploma mill credentials.


    Filed on at 9:52 am under by dcobranchi

    Some new toys. The sword and the stars are “real.” The guns are all AirSoft.


    Filed on at 1:52 am under by dcobranchi

    To all and to all a good night.


    Filed on at 1:11 am under by dcobranchi

    Vox Populi thinks the Dover ruling is a “powerful vote for homeschooling.” I don’t know that it’s a “vote” for anything, but if parents wish to have their kids taught creationism/ID they’re now likely down to two options– private school and home ed. After this debacle, ID is dead as far as the g-schools are concerned.


    Filed on December 24, 2005 at 12:19 pm under by dcobranchi

    GoogleEarth has a neat application for watching old St. Nick make his way around the globe.


    Filed on at 11:13 am under by dcobranchi

    ain’t too shabby. From a list of one Bay Area music critic’s 10 best albums of 2005:

    2. “Room Noises,” Eisley (Reprise)

    If there’s an exception to the’05 Old-School Rule, here it is: a surreal home-schooled family band from Texas that, apparently left to its own rural-route devices, came up with a remarkably unusual sound. Something that, on this pitch-perfect bow, feels sort of like a dusty old Victorian music box creaking open, spindle crackling on ancient cylinder. An added irony — many a pop-punk band has fallen under the quintet’s spell, too, and invited them on tour this year as anachronistic opening act. Watch the musicians in this group. Their career is only beginning.

    Here are some free samples.


    Filed on at 11:01 am under by dcobranchi

    The last (thank God) of the Salem Times-Commoner pieces is out. It is far and away the worst of the set, quoting unnamed “experts” several times. Of course these “experts” are negative:

    Many experts feel that socialization is a big issue with homeschooling. The schools are a major influence in the lives of children. They spend many hours in the school setting. What can take the place of the hours spent with other youth? The homeschooling community addresses that issue to some degree, depending on where one is located.

    …For those homeschooling their children without a support group, and there are many, experts in the field say that getting the children involved in some type of group activity such as Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, 4-H, or sports, gives the students the opportunity to be with other children and to learn group dynamics.

    … Most research also concluded that socialization is not the problem it was once thought to be for homeschoolers. However, those that homeschool and do not have an affiliation with a home school group need to consider several things.

    In any town, the feeling of community is often built around its schools, so learning in a public school promotes, in a way, the values of citizenship. Homeschooled children do not encounter the diversity in a community, so they risk both not fitting in with their peer group, as well as not being able to easily understand other points of view. Moreover, when homeschooled children do participate in group situations it is most likely with other students are also homeschooled and share similar values, background, and social class.

    How does one become a recognized “expert” on homeschooling? Can one get a Ph.D. in homeschooling? Bah!


    Filed on at 9:26 am under by dcobranchi

    Does everyone in MI have broadband access at home. Their state Board of Education seems to think so:

    The Michigan State Board of Education is set to approve a new graduation requirement today that would make every high-school student in the state take at least one online course before receiving a diploma.

    The new requirement would appear to be the first of its kind in the nation. Mike Flanagan, the Michigan state superintendent of public instruction, said he proposed the online-course requirement, along with other general requirements, to make sure students were prepared for college and for jobs, which are becoming more technology-focused.

    And what about the kids who don’t have internet access at home? Is the state going to provide a computer and pay for an ISP for every single g-schooler in the state? That’d be a rather expensive undertaking. The plan would have to be approved by the legislature. and the governor. I’d guess there’s about a zero percent chance of that happening. (via Joanne Jacobs)


    Filed on at 9:10 am under by dcobranchi

    The prediction for tomorrow’s weather in Fayetteville is strong thunderstorms.


    Filed on at 7:05 am under by dcobranchi

    The Chairman Mao story was a hoax. Good.


    Filed on December 23, 2005 at 9:01 pm under by dcobranchi

    Creationism is undoubtedly a religious concept. The leading intelligent design textbook until 1987 used the term “creation” and all it’s cognates. Since then, it has used the term “intelligent design.” The definitions for these two terms are identical. Therefore– ID is a religious concept, and per the same reasoning as in Aguillard, it cannot be taught in the schools.

    OK, folks– Did I make the case that ID is religious?

    STEP 4

    Filed on at 8:44 pm under by dcobranchi

    Claim: Prior to the Aguillard decicion, Of Pandas and People routinely referred to creationists. In versions that came out after Aguillard, the preferred term is intelligent design.

    Evidence: Dr. Forest has some pretty convincing testimony in Kitzmiller v. Dover. The chart shows how many times various cognates of “creationis-” and “design” were used in the various editions of Pandas. The Aguillard decision came out between the two 1987 versions. Interstingly, in version 2, at least one of the “corrections” was incomplete and yielded a rather strange beast


    Creation Biology (1983), p. 3-34:
    “Evolutionists think the former is correct; creationists because of all the evidence discussed in this book, conclude the latter is correct.”

    Biology and Creation (1986), p. 3-33:
    “Evolutionists think the former is correct, creationists accept the latter view.”

    Biology and Origins (1987), p. 3-38:
    “Evolutionists think the former is correct, creationists accept the latter view.”

    Of Pandas and People (1987, creationist version), p. 3-40:
    “Evolutionists think the former is correct, creationists accept the latter view.”

    Of Pandas and People (1987, “intelligent design” version), p. 3-41:
    “Evolutionists think the former is correct, cdesign proponentsists accept the latter view.”

    And the definitions of “creation” and “intelligent design” are also quite similar:

    Creation means that the various forms of life began abruptly through the agency of an intelligent creator with their distinctive features already intact—fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc. (Biology and Creation 1986, FTE 3014-3015, pp. 2-13, 2-14)

    Creation means that various forms of life began abruptly through the agency of an intelligent Creator with their distinctive features already intact—fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc. (Biology and Origins 1987, FTE 3235, 3237, p. 2-13, 2-14)

    Creation means that various forms of life began abruptly through the agency of an intelligent Creator with their distinctive features already intact—fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc. (Pandas 1987, creationist version, FTE 4996-4997, pp. 2-14, 2-15)

    Intelligent design means that various forms of life began abruptly through an intelligent agency, with their distinctive features already intact—fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc. (Pandas 1987, intelligent design version, FTE 4666-4667, pp. 2-14, 2-15)

    Intelligent design means that various forms of life began abruptly through an intelligent agency, with their distinctive features already intact — fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc. (Pandas 1989, 1st edition, published, pp. 99-100)

    Intelligent design means that various forms of life began abruptly through an intelligent agency, with their distinctive features already intact — fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc. (Pandas 1993, 2nd edition, published, pp. 99-100)

    STEP 3

    Filed on at 6:10 pm under by dcobranchi

    Claim: The biology textbook “Of Pandas and People” is an introductory-level overview of origins from an ID point-of-view.

    Evidence: The publisher’s description is pretty clear.

    From the Publisher
    Biological origins can be one of the most captivating subjects in the curriculum. As a biology teacher, you have probably already seen how the topic excites your students. The allure of dinosaurs, trilobites, fossilized plants, and ancient human remains is virtually irresistible to many students. Indeed, many prominent scientists owe their interest in science to an early exposure to this topic.

    The subject of origins, however, is not only captivating. It is also controversial. Because it touches on questions of enduring significance, this topic has long been a focal point for vigorous debate–legal and political, as well as intellectual. Teachers often find themselves walking a tight-rope, trying to teach good science, while avoiding the censure of parents or administrators.

    To complicate things, the cultural conflict has been compounded by controversies within the scientific community itself. Since the 1970s, for example, scientific criticisms of the long-dominant neo-Darwinian theory of evolution (which combines classical Darwinism with Mendelian genetics) have surfaced with increasing regularity. In fact, the situation is such that paleontologist Niles Eldredge was driven to remark: “If it is true that an influx of doubt and uncertainty actually marks periods of healthy growth in science, then evolutionary biology is flourishing today as it seldom has in the past. For biologists are collectively less agreed upon the details of evolutionary mechanics than they were a scant decade ago. Moreover, many scientists have advocated fundamental revisions of orthodox evolutionary theory.”

    Similarly, the standard models explaining chemical evolution–the origin of the first living cell–have taken severe scientific criticism. These criticisms have sparked calls for a radically different approach to explaining the origin of life on earth.

    Though many defenders of the orthodox theories remain, some observers now describe these theories as having entered paradigm breakdown–a state where a once-dominant theory encounters conceptual problems or can no longer explain many important data. Science historians Earthy and Collingridge, for example, have described new-Darwinism as a paradigm that’s lost its capacity to solve important scientific problems. They note that both defenders and critics find it hard to agree even about what data are relevant to deciding scientific disagreements. Putting it more bluntly, in 1980 Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould pronounced the “neo-Darwinism synthesis” to be “effectively dead, despite its persistence as textbook orthodoxy.”

    In this intellectual and cultural climate, knowing how to teach biological origins can be exceedingly difficult. When respected scientists disagree about which theories are correct, teachers may be forgiven for not knowing which ones to teach.

    Controversy is not all bad, however, for it gives teachers the opportunity to engage their students at a deeper level. Instead of filling young minds with discrete facts and vocabulary lists, teachers can show their students the rough-and-tumble of genuine scientific debate. In this way, students begin to understand how science really works. When they see scientists of equal stature disagreeing over the interpretation of the same data, students learn something about the human dimension of science. They also learn about the distinction between fact and inference–and how background assumptions influence scientific judgment.

    The purpose of this text is to expose your students to the captivating and the controversial in the origins debate–to take them beyond the pat scenarios offered in most basal texts and encourage them to grapple with ideas in a scientific manner.

    Pandas does this in two ways. First, it offers a clear, cogent discussion of the latest data relevant to biological origins. In the process, it rectifies many serious errors found in several basal biology texts.

    Second, Pandas offers a different interpretation of current biological evidence. As opposed to most textbooks, which present the more-or-less orthodox neo-Darwinian accounts of how life originated and diversified, Pandas also presents a clear alternative, which the authors call “intelligent design.” Throughout, the text evaluates how well different views can accommodate anomalous data within their respective interpretive frameworks. As students learn to weigh and sort competing views and become active participants in the clash of ideas, you may be surprised at the level of motivation and achievement displayed by your students.

    I’ll stop here for a while to let everyone catch up. The next step will show that the terms “creationism” and “intelligent design” have been used interchangeably by IDists.

    STEP 2

    Filed on at 5:21 pm under by dcobranchi

    Claim: It is illegal to teach Creation Science in the public schools and has been since 1987.

    Evidence: Edwards v. Aguillard (No. 85-1513, SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES, 482 U.S. 578; 107 S. Ct. 2573; 1987 U.S. LEXIS 2729; 96 L. Ed. 2d 510; 55 U.S.L.W. 4860)

    1. The Act [which mandated the teaching of Creation Science] is facially invalid as violative of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, because it lacks a clear secular purpose. Pp. 585-594.

    (a) The Act does not further its stated secular purpose of “protecting academic freedom.” It does not enhance the freedom of teachers to teach what they choose and fails to further the goal of “teaching all of the evidence.” Forbidding the teaching of evolution when creation science is not also taught undermines the provision of a comprehensive scientific education. Moreover, requiring the teaching of creation science with evolution does not give schoolteachers a flexibility that they did not already possess to supplant the present science curriculum with the presentation of theories, besides evolution, about the origin of life. Furthermore, the contention that the Act furthers a “basic concept of fairness” by requiring the teaching of all of the evidence on the subject is without merit. Indeed, the Act evinces a discriminatory preference for the teaching of creation science and against the teaching of evolution by requiring that curriculum guides be developed and resource services supplied for teaching creationism but not for teaching evolution, by limiting membership on the resource services panel to “creation scientists,” and by forbidding school boards to discriminate against anyone who “chooses to be a creation-scientist” or to teach creation science, while failing to protect those who choose to teach other theories or who refuse to teach creation science. A law intended to maximize the comprehensiveness and effectiveness of science instruction would encourage the teaching of all scientific theories about human origins. Instead, this Act has the distinctly different purpose of discrediting evolution by counterbalancing its teaching at every turn with the teaching of creationism. Pp. 586-589.

    (b) The Act impermissibly endorses religion by advancing the religious belief that a supernatural being created humankind. The legislative history demonstrates that the term “creation science,” as contemplated by the state legislature, embraces this religious teaching. The Act’s primary purpose was to change the public school science curriculum to provide persuasive advantage to a particular religious doctrine that rejects the factual basis of evolution in its entirety. Thus, the Act is designed either to promote the theory of creation science that embodies a particular religious tenet or to prohibit the teaching of a scientific theory disfavored by certain religious sects. In either case, the Act violates the First Amendment. Pp. 589-594. 2. The District Court did not err in granting summary judgment upon a finding that appellants had failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact. Appellants relied on the “uncontroverted” affidavits of scientists, theologians, and an education administrator defining creation science as “origin through abrupt appearance in complex form” and alleging that such a viewpoint constitutes a true scientific theory. The District Court, in its discretion, properly concluded that the postenactment testimony of these experts concerning the possible technical meanings of the Act’s terms would not illuminate the contemporaneous purpose of the state legislature when it passed the Act. None of the persons making the affidavits produced by appellants participated in or contributed to the enactment of the law. Pp. 594-596.

    STEP 1

    Filed on at 12:10 pm under by dcobranchi

    Claim: Creationism and Scientific Creationism are religious concepts.

    Evidence: What do Creation Scientists Believe?

    Scientists who call themselves “creation scientists” are professionals, typically with advanced degrees from major universities, who are generally involved in the same types of work as the average scientist. The difference is that creation scientists have a “world-view”, or “model” for their science which is based on the belief that an intelligent designer (“God”) exists who created our universe and the natural things in it. The creation events were one-time events and are not taking place today. A large subset of creation scientists could be called “Biblical creationists”, who take the first eleven chapters of the Bible to be real history, including the creation of all things in six 24-hour days, the existence of Adam and Eve as the first man and woman, the unnatural introduction of “death” into the perfect creation because of the disobedience of Adam and Eve, and the occurence of a world-wide flood (Noah’s flood) which destroyed most life and greatly affected the processes operating on the earth. Most creation scientists believe that the earth is “young” (on the order of ten thousand years), but this is a secondary issue. Biblical creationists believe that the Bible and true science are in full harmony with each other – there is no need to “check your brain at the door” when entering a church.

    Does anyone want to dispute that creationism is religious in nature?

    UPDATE: I decided to post them in the normal order. The most recent post (Step 2 as I write this) is at the top.


    Filed on at 11:11 am under by dcobranchi

    OK, this is going to be a bit different. And I’m really not sure exactly how to pull off the formatting, but I’m going to give it a shot. What I propose is to work through a simple proof to show that ID is a religious concept. What I’m going to do is post a single step at a time and ask for comments. I’ll post these in reverse order to the normal way the blog works. IOW, this post will stay at the top and subsequent posts will come below. I intend to back up everything I say with external links.

    Does that make any sense?


    Filed on at 8:31 am under by dcobranchi

    Science Magazine as named evolution the science achievment of the year. It wasn’t just the ID debate. There were some real advances this year.

    *The title refers to the photo accompanying the piece. That has to be the ugliest chimp in the world.


    Filed on December 22, 2005 at 4:57 pm under by dcobranchi

    These are the kinds of ‘grafs that ruin a blogger’s day:

    MIAMI — The parents of a baby who died after being fed a raw food diet have been given suspended sentences and probation, for child neglect convictions involving their remaining children.

    …If another judge approves reunification of the family, the parents will have to agree to make regular visits to a pediatrician and a nutritionist. They’d also have to take a parenting course. And they couldn’t home-school their kids.

    Because, you know, we have to have those g-school teachers watching out for their our kids.

    *Yes, it’s horrible that this family lost their baby. Homeschooling had nothing to do with it.


    Filed on at 10:15 am under by dcobranchi

    of Pastafarianism. My favorite bit:

    WN: Do you think that’s a mistake? [Scientists ignoring the IDists]

    Henderson: Yeah, totally. They need to be out there calling these people retarded all the time. Nonstop. The ID people are winning because the scientists think if they ignore the issue, it will go away. Plus, I’m sure it would be therapeutic to make fun of the ID people. I think it’s pretty amazing that these people without scientific backgrounds — or really any education at all — think they have the right to decide the science curriculum. And it blows my mind that they are getting away with it.

    I look forward to my missionary trip about the pirate ship. (Big hat tip to Chris)


    Filed on at 10:04 am under by dcobranchi

    Calvert’s annual awards are out.


    Filed on December 21, 2005 at 5:13 pm under by dcobranchi

    Home educators in Australia are being threatened with fines for not meeting regulations that haven’t even been written yet:

    Under the new draft laws released last week, education inspectors will have the power to demand access to a home-schooled student’s work to ensure it meets the State Government’s as-yet unspecified requirements and minimum standards.

    …If the new Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority deems the home schooling to be unsatisfactory based on the inspector’s reports, the student’s registration could be cancelled.

    Parents would then be forced to send their child to school or risk daily fines of $104.40 by continuing their studies at home.

    Needless to say, the homeschooling community is less than happy.

    Shadow Education spokesman Victor Perton described the new laws as disgraceful.

    The Liberal Party MP said it was wrong to threaten fines for not upholding standards that had not even been set.

    “No wonder they are angry,” Mr Perton said.


    Filed on at 5:08 pm under by dcobranchi

    More birds of a feather.


    Filed on at 6:03 am under by dcobranchi

    What would M. Smith have to say about these folks? Someone needs to go preach the gospel at them. Maybe even have a laying-on-of-hands ceremony.

    Big happenings in the last few days. We have been focused for months on returning to normal after the hurricane. We are now just pushing through because we realize there just isn’t the “normal” we knew before. I lost a minor side-business. My husband lost a business. Luckily we both had other businesses, our home is now repaired, our children are healthy….but the truth is, we have suffered a set back and this last week we had to make some difficult choices. The first is this: After homeschooling the girls for years, I enrolled 2 back in school today. My 10 year old is with her best friends at a Catholic school (she has wanted to go back for about a year) and my youngest, age 7, is attending a local Montessori school. These two are our “high energy” kids and need more structure than I am able to offer right now. Both are fine with going back to school, as they are very outgoing and flexible.

    I wish the family well.


    Filed on at 5:25 am under by dcobranchi


    In a piece on bullying there’s a great quote from a judge:

    As a former high school principal, Berkshire Juvenile Court Judge Paul E. Perachi has seen bullying as an educator and a jurist. He said there is “more of a zero-tolerance attitude” now in schools, and teachers are more likely to involve the police and the criminal justice system.

    …Perachi sees not only the bullies in his courtroom, he also sees their victims — children so scared of their tormentors that they stop going to school and end up violating truancy laws.

    “I have seen kids wind up in front of a judge because they are sick to their stomach at the idea of going to school, and they are afraid,” Perachi said. “It’s not unusual for me to order a child to go to school.”

    I hope he wakes up this morning, sees himself quoted, and hangs his head in shame. Because if he really meant what he said, he ought to lose his job. No one who has so (apparent) little regard for the feelings of young kids ought to be sitting in Family Court.


    Filed on December 20, 2005 at 5:16 pm under by dcobranchi

    This is one of those small world articles. Jim Millar is an engineer at DuPont’s Towanda plant. He’s also a home educator. We crossed paths a few times while I was at Jackson Lab in Deepwater, NJ.


    Filed on at 5:01 pm under by dcobranchi

    I guess they’ve stopped teaching logic in law school. Either that or this young lawyer skipped class that semester:

    I’ve read a lot in the recent days about how people want their kids to go to private schools. Also about home schooling. And about how our public education system is defunct. Why is that?

    I have a public school education. And I’m a lawyer. I didn’t have trouble getting into or keeping up while in college. I didn’t have any trouble getting into law school. I got in to every one I applied to. Yet people seem to think the public schools aren’t teaching what they should.

    It goes rapidly downhill from there:

    And homeschooling does? Ok, yeah, if you home school you can decide how to teach your child. You can decide how well they know a subject and you are in complete control of their education. But are you an education major yourself? If not, I don’t really think you should be in charge of teaching a child. I teach sunday school…SUNDAY school…and I don’t have a teaching degree and some days I feel like I need one to adequately do my job. How can a parent be a better teacher than someone with the degree to teach? AND let’s not forget that while home schooled kids miss out on quite possibly the most important aspect of school. Socializing. Kids don’t learn how to be friends. They don’t learn how to share or how to act (or not act). Even if a home schooled child has 8 brothers and sisters, they aren’t socialized properly because the only way to be a friend is to MAKE friends. Family does not count. The only way to learn how to interact in the real world is to have the opportunities while growing up TO interact.

    She then goes on to dis private schools. Apparently, the only way to get a decent education is to send your kids to prison enroll your kids in the g-schools. One good thing (the only good thing) I can say about her post is that she has a comments section.


    Filed on at 11:25 am under by dcobranchi

    ID goes down in flames in Dover (again).

    Dover Area School Board members violated the Constitution when they ordered that its biology curriculum must include the notion that life on Earth was produced by an unidentified intelligent cause, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III said.

    …[H]e wrote, “our conclusion today is that it is unconstitutional to teach ID as an alternative to evolution in a public school science classroom.”

    At first glance, this is a good ruling for science. The judge could have ruled narrowly against the Board. Instead, he seems to have ruled against ID. Good deal!

    UPDATE: The Panda’s Thumb has more.

    UPDATE: Another good quote:

    The proper application of both the endorsement and Lemon tests to the facts of this case makes it abundantly clear that the Board’s ID Policy violates the Establishment Clause. In making this determination, we have addressed the seminal question of whether ID is science. We have concluded that it is not, and moreover that ID cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents.

    OK– So the vast majority of scientists say that ID isn’t science and now the courts have so ruled. Dave and Annette– face it. You lost. ID is likely dead. Again. Of course, creationism is the zombie of pseudo-science. I have no doubt it will be back with a new scientific-sounding name in a generation.


    Filed on at 10:29 am under by dcobranchi

    More spying courtesy of your local feds:

    Counterterrorism agents at the Federal Bureau of Investigation have conducted numerous surveillance and intelligence-gathering operations that involved, at least indirectly, groups active in causes as diverse as the environment, animal cruelty and poverty relief, newly disclosed agency records show.

    They spied on a vegan group. Is Ashcroft worried they’re going to force him to eat his vegetables?


    Filed on December 19, 2005 at 12:49 pm under by dcobranchi

    Since it appears that HSLDA will win this one, I hope your resumé is up to date; we’re about to witness HSLDA’s real motivations for pushing this.


    Filed on at 11:22 am under by dcobranchi

    Here’s an interesting quote:

    Some extremely conservative colleges and universities, such as Patrick Henry College in Virginia and Bob Jones University in South Carolina, approach all studies from a strict biblical perspective. While biology classes may cover neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory, creationism, often including an Earth age of less than 10,000 years, is presented as the best explanation for the development of humans and the universe.

    Bob Jones University is one of the most fundamentalist, far-right schools in the country. One of the Bob Joneses (there have been multiple presidents with that name) called then First Lady Betty Ford a slut because she discussed her breast cancer in an interview [This website indicates it was because of 60 Minutes interview. I remember it differently but haven’t found a reference.]. This same school at one time requested permision from the ATF to purchase several Browning Automatic Rifles (those are machine guns, BTW), citing a need for “crowd control.” [That’s from an old newspaper clipping that I read around 1980 or so] And, of course, there was strong support for Ian Paisley during The Troubles (to the extent that they tried to bring him over to the US to give a lecture).

    So, is PHC that conservative? Do they teach YEC? I guess I wouldn’t be surprised.

    UPDATE: Yeah, they do.


    Filed on at 9:31 am under by dcobranchi

    From HEM-Networking:

    The conference report was agreed to in House late on 2/19/05.

    The Status: On agreeing to the conference report Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: 374 – 41 (Roll no. 665).

    I phoned Sen. Warner’s office and they confirmed that the section pertaining to homeschoolers, 522, remained in the bill and if the senate approves the report, it will become law.

    If you object to this, I suggest sharing Mary McCarthy’s letter near and far. I have posted it here: http://www.homeedmag.com/blogs/groupnews/?p=43

    I will also be calling each individual who voted no and thank them.

    Mary Nix

    The only chance now is for a filibuster (over ANWR drilling, most likely).

    UPDATE: Wrong bill. ANWR is in Defense Appropriations, not Authorization.

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