Utterly Meaningless » 2002 » June
  • The Wilmington News-Journal has

    Filed on June 30, 2002 at 3:49 pm under by dcobranchi

    The Wilmington News-Journal has a really stupid editorial about the vouchers issue.

    No private religious school [accepting vouchers] should be allowed to require students to attend specific denominational services or to make specific denominational instruction to students using vouchers mandatory.

    Of course the schools should have the freedom to dictate what types of instruction the students receive; these are private schools, after all. The government should have no say in the curriculum. This sentiment exemplifies my fears of vouchers becoming the proverbial camel with his nose in the private school’s tents.

    This one surprised me.Within

    Filed on at 2:47 pm under by dcobranchi

    This one surprised me.

    Within hours of last week’s court decision striking “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance, an angry U.S. Senate voted 99-0 to condemn the ruling. President Bush said the California court was “out of step” with the country. A day later, the U.S. House joined the chorus of complaint with a 416-3 vote.

    Still, there were Iowans willing to speak up for the unpopular side of the argument – among them a former Cub Scout den mother, a political activist and a Davenport native who came to feel like a stranger in his own land.

    I agree with the

    Filed on at 2:40 pm under by dcobranchi

    I agree with the idea but this seems a bit hyperbolic:

    THE U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday delivered a huge victory for the right of all parents to direct their children’s education as they see fit.

    With government money come

    Filed on June 29, 2002 at 10:48 am under by dcobranchi

    With government money come government strings. This Iowa HS program sounds like a way for the local school district to make money off of HSers.

    “Some people seem to think we make money on home school,” said Chris Van Meter, the district’s chief financial officer, who pointed out that connected administration expenses are difficult to measure.

    Each home-schooled student comes with the standard $4,580 in per-pupil state money. Records show 380 were in the program last year. The Des Moines teachers visit home-school families twice a month and organize such activities as frog dissections, eagle watching and play production. [T]he Home Instruction Program, cost district taxpayers $558,000 last year.

    Let’s see- 380 students x $4580 = $1.74M. Yeah, I’d say the school district is making some money.

    If this story is

    Filed on at 9:31 am under by dcobranchi

    If this story is accurate, this teacher is one sick dude.

    Godwin Collins Onunwah was a seventh-grade teacher at Gage Middle School in Huntington Park when he placed the rabbit in a plastic bag and tied the bag shut in front of his students in September 2000.

    When the animal didn’t die of asphyxiation, authorities said, Onunwah placed the bag in a cabinet and left it there over the weekend.

    Still more on “under

    Filed on June 28, 2002 at 6:06 pm under by dcobranchi

    Still more on “under God” (last one, I promise) James Farah at World Net Daily is not happy with the ruling. His solution? Homeschool.

    We can yell and scream about this all we want. But it won’t change the direction of this country. I say it’s time to call their bluff – and make their whole unconstitutional system fall of its own dead weight.

    What do I mean? Every American outraged by this ruling should not even raise a whimper of protest. They should not argue. They should not complain. Instead, they should remove their children from these ungodly, hostile government schools. They should do it now. They shouldn’t wait until the situation gets any worse. Home school is the best option. For those who can’t do that, choose a worthy private institution. It will be the best choice you ever made for your children.

    Stumbled across another good

    Filed on at 3:20 pm under by dcobranchi

    Stumbled across another good edu-blog: Highered Intelligence. Definitely worth a click.

    More on “under God”

    Filed on at 1:38 pm under by dcobranchi

    More on “under God” Reader Traci E pointed me toward this WorldNet story about the 9th Circuit Court’s decision excising “under God” from the Pledge.

    The court concluded that “the statement that the United States is a nation ‘under God’ is an endorsement of religion.” I agree wholeheartedly, yet the court says this as if it’s somehow a problem. In fact, the court’s second mistake was to conclude that “the text of the official Pledge, codified in federal law, impermissibly takes a position with respect to the purely religious question of the existence and identity of God.” So long as the government does not force anyone to express that belief, there’s nothing impermissible about such an endorsement whatsoever.

    I’m not sure I agree with this position. The coercive nature of the recitation of the pledge, even in a “voluntary” school setting, may be enough to convince the Supreme Court to uphold this ruling.

    What if Congress decided to include “under Allah” or “under Buddha” in the Pledge? Would that qualify as “establishing” Islam or Buddhism? I grew up in SC where every (public) school assembly included a prayer ending with “in the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen”. Was anyone required to participate in the prayer? No, but you can bet that there was a lot of pressure to bow your head and not walk out of the auditorium. For some more analysis on this issue, click here. The author is a conservative ConLaw professor.

    This one gets my

    Filed on at 10:56 am under by dcobranchi

    This one gets my libertarian hackles up. The Supreme Court ruled that random drug tests are permissible for students participating in extracurricular activities. Whatever happened to the 4th Amendment? In what is possibly a sign of the Apocalypse, I find myself on the same side as the NEA:

    The National Education Association opposes testing when there is no suspicion.
    “When we have situations where [tests] are done in a suspicionless situation, we believe that is an invasion of privacy,” said NEA President Bob Chase. “If there is suspicion of drug use, that is quite another story, but in this case it was not.”

    Does Jesse Jackson, Jr.

    Filed on at 9:06 am under by dcobranchi

    Does Jesse Jackson, Jr. know how to read?

    Congressman Jesse L. Jackson, Jr., today said, “the Supreme Court has ruled that it is constitutional to force public taxpayers, who already fund public education, to also have to pay for private, parochial, and religious schools.

    Slightly OT but I

    Filed on at 8:59 am under by dcobranchi

    Slightly OT but I know a lot of HSers are involved in the 4-H. The WSJ is reporting that, in a case of political-correctness run amok, the Agriculture Department is investigating the 4-H for “its use of Indian themes and activities at summer camp.” The kicker, the lawsuit spurring the investigation was initiated by a non-Indian who “says he was offended by the way the club has been allowing its kids to play in culturally inaccurate teepees”. Give me a break!

    This is not a

    Filed on at 8:39 am under by dcobranchi

    This is not a “school choice” blog (Lisa Snell does a great job covering that issue) but I’ve just got to throw a couple of links out there. It didn’t take long for the NEA and their lapdog, the PTA to come out in opposition to the vouchers ruling. And in case anyone is interested, here is the actual ruling.


    Filed on June 27, 2002 at 11:13 am under by dcobranchi

    LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: NEWS: Clark County schools will continue to say pledge OTOH- this is just plain wrong. As it stands right now, the law in the 9th Circuit (which includes Nevada) is that this is unconstitutional. What does this teach the kids in this school district? That you can ignore laws that you disagree with? What’s the difference between this and cheating on a test?

    UPDATE: The decision has been stayed pending a re-hearing by the full 9th Circuit Court or an appeal to the SC. Regardless, the sentiment expressed by the school district was still shameful.

    Pledge Declared Unconstitutional By

    Filed on at 10:44 am under by dcobranchi

    Pledge Declared Unconstitutional By now everyone in the US has likely seen this story and I have hesitated to post anything. I’m not sure what I think of the whole issue. I don’t think there is any question that the 1954 insertion of “under God” was done to “promote” religion but I don’t know if this qualifies as an “establishment” of religion. Regardless, the case will certainly be appealed, to the full 9th Circuit Court or even the SC. Don’t touch that dial. BTW, we say the pledge every morning prior to starting “school”. We intend to keep “under God”. Thank God for free speech and the right to HS.

    The Mercury News has

    Filed on June 26, 2002 at 10:58 am under by dcobranchi

    The Mercury News has a really good editorial about parents abetting cheating by their kids. Again, this is posted in the “Arts & Entertainment” section. Why do the newspapers seem to think these stories are entertaining?

    Don’t Just Say No

    Filed on at 10:41 am under by dcobranchi

    Don’t Just Say No The NYT editorializes today on sex-ed classes. The premise is that these classes should not teach abstinence exclusively but also provide information on contraception.

    For the last five years, the federal program has provided $50 million a year in matching funds to states to promote abstinence from sex outside of marriage. The catch is that states accepting the money may not “endorse or promote” contraceptives, but may only talk about their drawbacks.

    This is a recipe for disaster in a nation that has the highest teenage pregnancy rate of any developed country. It is fine to urge teenagers to “just say no” to sex before marriage, but surely it makes sense to provide them as well with information that could avert pregnancies or protect them from a fatal AIDS infection should they become sexually active.

    I personally don’t have a problem with this position as long as the parents are notified before the fact and have the opportunity to opt-out their kids.

    Another teacher beats up

    Filed on at 10:35 am under by dcobranchi

    Another teacher beats up his students! Here’s one for “Our Horrible Children“:

    “This teacher was an absolute danger to children. He shouldn’t work with the public – period,” said parent Glenda Robinson, who says her sixth-grade son and eighth-grade daughter were beaten by teacher Mike Miller at the Crotona Park West School (CS 4) on May 16.

    Board of Education spokeswoman Catie Marshall said Miller was pulled from the school and reassigned to the District 9 superintendent’s office pending the results of a probe by the chancellor’s office.

    Robinson claimed the altercation started when Miller tried to control some rowdy students and believed her 12-year-old son was mocking him.

    “Mr. Miller grabbed my son, punched him in the face and body and slammed him to the floor,” she said.

    She charged that the teacher then punched her 14-year-old daughter in the face when she tried to help. Three other students also were roughed up, the plaintiffs said.

    More on the game

    Filed on June 25, 2002 at 12:37 pm under by dcobranchi

    More on the game of “tag”. Dodgeball is also in the hot seat.

    As for dodgeball, some experts said the rough character of the game makes it beyond rehabilitation. But with adequate supervision and an emphasis on fun and not competition, others said, even that occasionally violent playground standby should be allowed.

    Who are these “experts” in playground games? Can you get a Ph.D. in Recess?

    Now here’s a man

    Filed on at 9:43 am under by dcobranchi

    Now here’s a man after my own heart: pro-school choice and anti-testing!

    I just found these

    Filed on June 24, 2002 at 1:24 pm under by dcobranchi

    I just found these education cartoons over at “Slate”. Make sure you scroll through all 8 pages; there are some excellent ones on the later pages.

    Lisa Snell links to

    Filed on at 10:14 am under by dcobranchi

    Lisa Snell links to an excellent series on the increase in the prescription of psychoactive drugs (like Ritalin) for young children. This is another of my pet-peeves; my lovely wife has actually done some research in this area. These drugs are being heavily marketed directly to parents.

    I guess it’s that

    Filed on at 10:00 am under by dcobranchi

    I guess it’s that time of the year. Here are a couple of stories today about young PS teachers leaving the “profession” [NOTE: I don’t consider teachers “professionals”]:

    and the NYT (Registration required).

    This Summer Camp Grows

    Filed on June 23, 2002 at 1:25 pm under by dcobranchi

    This Summer Camp Grows Young Entrepreneurs I bet this one attracts a lot of HSers (registration required).

    The Washington Times editorializes

    Filed on at 1:02 pm under by dcobranchi

    The Washington Times editorializes in favor of HSing. Nothing particularly earth-shattering. I do have one minor quibble, however:

    Currently, homeschools, along with charter, magnet and specialty schools, are just another manifestation of school choice.

    I don’t think that HS belong in the “school choice” universe. In my mind, school choice is only applicable to public schools. HSing is completely separate. We are exercising our fundamental rights as Americans to raise our children as we see fit. The government, especially the PS system, has no say whatsoever in this area. We are just not a part of the “choice” debate.

    Freedom of the Press

    Filed on June 22, 2002 at 10:13 am under by dcobranchi

    < sarcasm >Freedom of the Press is alive and well at UCSD.< /sarcasm >

    UPDATE: Instapundit also picked up on this story.

    UPDATE II: More on UCSD from Craig Schamp (link via the inimitable InstaPundit).

    I know that teen

    Filed on at 10:00 am under by dcobranchi

    I know that teen pregnancies are a fact of modern life but it’s still sad.

    Anderson Co. (TN) is

    Filed on at 9:53 am under by dcobranchi

    Anderson Co. (TN) is attempting to charge late fees if HSers don’t register by 8/1/2002. Anyone know if this is legal under TN law?

    Maybe I need to

    Filed on June 21, 2002 at 9:29 am under by dcobranchi

    Maybe I need to re-think my opinion of the No Child Left Untested Act:

    The No Child Left Behind Act is a trap. Its purpose is to ensnare public schools and kill them. Then the vultures who want to privatize the schools will swoop in and pick the bones.

    Here’s an aggravating article

    Filed on at 9:07 am under by dcobranchi

    Here’s an aggravating article about hearings into PA’s proposed HS law. Their current law is the worst in the country.

    Currently, parents must notify their local district superintendent each year that they intend to conduct a homeschooling program. Parents must also provide a plan for the year and produce certain legal and health documents.

    During the year, the family maintains a portfolio of their child’s work which is reviewed at the end of the year by an educational evaluator hired by the family. The evaluator writes a report which is then sent to the district superintendent with the portfolio. Homeschooled children must also take standardized tests in grades 3, 5 and 8.

    Predictably, the PS edu-crats are opposed to removing any of these onerous requirements:

    Increasing the distance between homeschooling families and their districts is not a good idea, according to Dr. Carol Saylor, superintendent of Manheim Central School District, who testified against HB 2560 on behalf of the state association of school superintendents.

    She admitted that the majority of homeschooling families are conscientious and committed people, but that does not relieve the district of its responsibility to know what all children in the district are doing educationally.

    “This bill eliminates the documentation necessary to keep track of all our children [emphasis added],” she said.

    < rant >Just who the hell do these people think they are??? These children are NOT yours; they are OURS! You PS people have NO right to supervise them unless we voluntarily (and temporarily) place them in you care. As we HSers have decided NOT to do that, keep your noses out of our business! < /rant > I live a stone’s throw away from PA; you could not pay me enough money to move there. (Hear that, PA legislators? My wife (M.S., Psychology) and I (Ph.D., Chemistry) will not consider moving to your state because of your lousy HS laws. Just think about all those potential income tax dollars down the drain!)

    Bullying in a D.C.

    Filed on June 20, 2002 at 9:43 am under by dcobranchi

    Bullying in a D.C. school by the teacher. The 1st-year female teacher punched an 8-year-old girl in the nose, bloodying it. The little girl’s crime? Talking in class!

    More bad news(?) for

    Filed on at 8:52 am under by dcobranchi

    More bad news(?) for Edison.

    The Dallas school district is rethinking its experiment with privatization at a time when Edison Schools Inc. can least afford to lose a partner. Edison runs seven local schools, and trustees are assessing whether to continue the district’s contract with the for-profit education company.

    PrepMatters, a test-tutoring company

    Filed on at 8:31 am under by dcobranchi

    PrepMatters, a test-tutoring company (almost?) cheats on SAT II but gets turned in by one of their “customers”.

    Some potential good news

    Filed on June 19, 2002 at 9:45 am under by dcobranchi

    Some potential good news for CA HSers. Under proposed legislation, there would be no minimum age to take the state’s high school proficiency examination which allows entrance into community colleges. The current minimum is 16 years of age.

    Parents outraged over school

    Filed on at 9:14 am under by dcobranchi

    Parents outraged over school sex survey of 10-year-olds A day after Isabel Lyman referred to a story about stupid educators in NJ invading our kids’ privacy, an LA school district does it again!
    UPDATE: I just learned that Isabel Lyman scooped me on this one. Icky 1 Yankees 0

    Here’s a follow-up to

    Filed on at 9:02 am under by dcobranchi

    Here’s a follow-up to the story about the PS vice principal who checked girls’ underwear to make sure they weren’t wearing thongs.

    HOME WORK More and

    Filed on June 18, 2002 at 2:54 pm under by dcobranchi

    HOME WORK More and more parents are choosing to educate their children outside the traditional school setting. Williams [College] takes a look at the changing face of home schooling.

    A nice, relatively balanced look at HSing although the author falls into the “regulation is good” trap.

    You! Yeah, you PS

    Filed on at 1:07 pm under by dcobranchi

    You! Yeah, you PS parent! Up against the Wall! Submit your fingerprints to the FBI for a background check before you can volunteer at your local PS.

    Cheating invalidates high school

    Filed on at 9:48 am under by dcobranchi

    Cheating invalidates high school final exams These high-stakes tests virtually invite this kind of behavior.

    This story about “passing

    Filed on at 9:39 am under by dcobranchi

    This story about “passing the trash” sounds hauntingly familiar.

    When teachers are accused of sexual abuse, educators and law enforcement authorities say, districts often rid themselves of the problem by agreeing to keep quiet if the teacher moves on, sometimes even offering them a financial settlement.

    Lisa Snell @ Education

    Filed on June 17, 2002 at 1:27 pm under by dcobranchi

    Lisa Snell @ Education Weak links to a sadly funny satire on “Homefeeding”. I wish the PA legislators would read this before they vote to keep their (current) awful HSing laws.

    OT story on the

    Filed on at 1:06 pm under by dcobranchi

    OT story on the invention of the telephone. According to this story, Bell stole the idea. Time to re-write those elementary school history books.

    No more tests! Not

    Filed on at 12:59 pm under by dcobranchi

    No more tests! Not quite but just as we are increasing the amount of standardized testing our kids have to endure, the UK may be going the other way. Good for them.

    Here’s a great summer

    Filed on at 8:27 am under by dcobranchi

    Here’s a great summer project for HSers.

    Here’s how it works:

    1. You read the U.S. Declaration of Independence this summer. (Easy, since it’s only 6 pages long).

    2. We’ll send you a personalized Certificate of Achievement with your name on it.

    A thoughtful article on

    Filed on June 16, 2002 at 8:21 pm under by dcobranchi

    A thoughtful article on why increasing numbers of charter schools are dumping their for-profit management systems.

    Americans don’t know much

    Filed on June 15, 2002 at 7:43 pm under by dcobranchi

    Americans don’t know much about science, and that’s cause for concern This is not exactly an educational story but it is related and the issue is near and dear to my heart (in real life I’m a research chemist.) Americans think science is SO hard that they don’t even try to understand. It’s not. I firmly believe that anyone with a grasp of algebra could succeed in chemistry (and probably most other sciences). The article points out that the US is not producing enough scientists and engineers and must import them. If the schools did a better job at instilling the wonder of it all; if they could get the kids to ask “What if?”; if they’d just make it fun, we’d be a long way down the road to solving the shortage.

    Over at “Our Horrible

    Filed on at 11:22 am under by dcobranchi

    Over at “Our Horrible Children” there’s an interesting story on a couple of kids being suspended for publishing an underground newspaper. Bizarrely, the original story appears in the ENTERTAINMENT section of the L.A. Times.


    Filed on at 9:16 am under by dcobranchi

    ‘GANGSTA MATH’ EXAM FLUNKS OUT Hey, at least the Canadian authorities were smart enough to suspend this idiot.

    Fellow blogger Lisa Snell’s

    Filed on at 8:41 am under by dcobranchi

    Fellow blogger Lisa Snell’s article on school choice is linked today from EducationNews.org. She makes some good points but we diverge when it comes to Edison Schools.

    I applaud Chris Whittle and find it fascinating that Edison has lasted this long. They have, partly because they have a superior product, and when the product is well implemented and the contract goes their way, student achievement goes up.

    I don’t have any data on student achievment at Edison-run schools, but IMO, this company is little more than a scam. Here’s a link to an article on TheStreet.com that dates back to Edison’s IPO. AFAIK, not much has changed since then. The company has yet to turn a profit and was on the brink of bankruptcy a few weeks ago (before securing additional venture funding).

    In fact, the overall financial situation at Edison is even worse than the operating numbers suggest. That’s because, buried deep in the registration statement, can be found the astonishing news that this allegedly for-profit operation is actually taking handouts from various unnamed philanthropies to run the business.

    We’ll just pass over the tax-related issues raised by such transactions and suggest that the acceptance of philanthropic aid to run a profit-making enterprise in fact amounts to nothing more than gussied-up begging, and that to get a true picture of the company’s revenue-generating abilities as an actual business you’ve got to get the panhandling out of the numbers.

    UPDATE: The Boston Globe is all over Edison in this editorial published yesterday.

    More cheating on accountability

    Filed on June 14, 2002 at 2:07 pm under by dcobranchi

    More cheating on accountability tests. This time in CA.

    A really bad idea

    Filed on at 10:44 am under by dcobranchi

    A really bad idea for any HSer who values freedom. Just who is this certificate of completion aimed at? Will CA HSers have to “prove” they are capable of HSing? What IS the CHEA thinking?

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