Utterly Meaningless » 2002 » October
  • WELCOME to another blog

    Filed on October 30, 2002 at 8:30 pm under by dcobranchi

    WELCOME to another blog by a HSing parent. Andrea Maitlin lives and HS in SoCal. I like her style. Here’s a sample:

    It makes me feel melancholy to drive through the hill country of North County and see all the development – the custom homes, the upscale residential neighborhoods thrown self-contained and gated into former expanses of Mediterranean shrub and canyon oak. They stick out like sore thumbs, shoulder to shoulder on each side with subsistence housing, the ramshackle kind of single family home whose useful life can be stretched out of proportion in this temperate climate zone. These are the houses whose residents collect monthly government checks of some kind, who didn’t mind pushing their 15-year old cars 50 miles back and forth to menial jobs in order to live someplace where they could keep horses and a few dogs. Dusty places. Places being taken over by vegetation. The custom developments even contrast uncomfortably with the in-between houses, the respectable if old and out-of-fashion stucco houses that in their day were the new and marginally welcome neighbors.

    She’s recently re-started her blog after a long hiatus; here’s hoping that she keeps it up. I’m adding her to the blog-roll.

    A STAND-UP GUY Comedian

    Filed on at 10:01 am under by dcobranchi

    A STAND-UP GUY Comedian Dave Russo’s routine includes a bit on “how to survive home schooling.” If you’re in Alabama you can catch his act Nov. 7th at the Univ. of South Alabama.

    BOO! HISS!The mother of

    Filed on at 9:52 am under by dcobranchi

    BOO! HISS!

    The mother of a Rogers (Arkansas) girl claims her home-schooled daughter is being discriminated against because the child cannot compete in public-school interscholastic science fairs.

    An official of the Arkansas Activities Association, which oversees such events, however, points out that the organization’s constitution requires participants be from accredited schools that are members of AAA.

    Change the rule!

    CA AGAIN Education Week

    Filed on at 9:39 am under by dcobranchi

    CA AGAIN Education Week has an interesting discussion of CA’s HSing laws, or lack thereof. As it stands right now, CA parents operate under a private school exemption from the compulsory attendance laws. Needless to say, the educrats hate this.

    Nichole Winger, the director of communications for the state department of education, said she had heard discussion “through the grapevine” that some legislators believe, “‘Well, we need to do something…'”

    Ms. Winger… points to Pennsylvania as a model for how a state should address home schooling in its laws and written guidelines.

    Not surprisinglyly, PA has the worst HSing laws in the country. You could not pay me enough to move there. I guess the thinking in CA is that if you have to allow some form of HSing, you might as well make it as onerous as possible to discourage anyone from trying.


    Filed on at 9:18 am under by dcobranchi

    NEW AND IMPROVED New Democrats, that is. The Progressive Policy Institute (apparently affiliated with the Dems) takes some very surprising educational stances: pro-charters, pro-choice, and pro-alternative means of teacher certification. There are some nice summaries here and tons of links. Worth a click.


    Filed on at 9:02 am under by dcobranchi

    EASTIN’S SUCCESSOR The new CA Superintendent of Public Instruction will be either “Jack O’Connell, a state senator from San Luis Obispo” or “Katherine Smith, a school board president from Anaheim.” Guess which one I’m rooting for:

    O’Connell, a Democrat, says public schools have a responsibility to teach students about the health and social issues they may have to deal with in life, including AIDS, sex, domestic violence and drug and alcohol abuse.

    “We have to be prepared, and we have to have people who are trained to handle these issues in a professional manner,” he said. “These are skills that aren’t just relevant in high school but in their entire life…”

    Smith, a Republican, objects to taking any time away from instruction to talk about social issues, unless it’s in a high school psychology or sociology course. Such discussions should occur after school, with a parent’s permission, she said…

    Her message to the state’s children would be: “Stay in school. Get an education. Get a job. Get married. Start a family. In that order. Because if you do not you are consigning yourself and the children you bring into the world to live in poverty for the rest of your life.”

    Schools should focus on teaching the three R’s, she said. She advocates teaching the basics with rote math and phonics reading instruction. The state is over-testing children, she said, and needs to go back to the drawing board and redesign its entire accountability system.


    Filed on October 29, 2002 at 6:19 am under by dcobranchi

    UNFAIR COMPETITION HSers took another award– this time in the field of Science, Technology, and Engineering.

    Wichita Home School won the first place BEST Award and Game Award at the fourth annual Kansas BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology) event at Wichita State University…

    BEST is designed to inspire and motivate students toward careers in engineering, science and technology, organizers say.

    By winning both the BEST Award and Game Award, Wichita Home School qualified to compete in the national competition at Texas A&M University Nov. 22-23.


    Filed on at 6:13 am under by dcobranchi

    A GOOD IDEA HSers who want to play football are often out of luck. Many school districts don’t allow HSers to participate and forming a team with 11 on a side may not be feasible. An option may be a six or eight man league.

    Alabama has boasted respectable eight-man leagues for years. In panhandle states such as Texas and Oklahoma, eight- and six-man football is taken seriously, seeing as how a significant number of small, rural high schools have no choice but to participate in such leagues…

    FCS, in its third year of playing eight-man football, spearheaded the effort to establish the Tennessee Valley Football Conference, to which four eight-man teams belong. Two of those teams are from the Birmingham, Ala., area. The other, Aaron Academy, is a first-year team of home-schooled kids from Hendersonville…

    “[T]his is a good option for small, private Christian schools and some home-schooled teams.”


    Filed on at 5:56 am under by dcobranchi

    NOT IN MY HOUSE Why do educators often use the term “home school” when “school” would suffice? It makes for some entertaining quotes:

    Duffey said he wants to become a familiar face in each school district.

    “We need to do a little marketing with the home schools, and I hope to be in the home schools so kids get to know my face,” he said.


    Filed on at 5:48 am under by dcobranchi

    ETA SIGMA ALPHA is the name of a newly-formed national homeschool honor society. It seems HSers aren’t eligible for the real NHS. The eligibility requirements are kind of funny (for an organization run by HSers):

    To get into Eta Sigma Alpha, a student must have a 3.5 grade-point average – plus a high score on a standardized test. That could be a 1200 on the SAT, a 26 on the ACT, or a ranking in the 90th percentile on any of a number of other tests.

    GPA? Hah!


    Filed on October 28, 2002 at 12:43 pm under by dcobranchi

    REVIEW A REVIEW In the Fall Edition, Education Next reviews Kingdom of Children: Culture and Controversy in the Homeschooling Movement by Mitchell L. Stevens. The review is pretty glowing but I have to question some of the (admittedly second hand) claims:

    Christian home schoolers (members of evangelical and Baptist congregations), whom Stevens estimates make up as much as 80 percent of the home-schooling families…

    I know this can’t be right. 80 percent Baptist and evangelicals? I think the actual number is about half that (I can’t put my hands on the data. Does anyone have a link?)

    There is a second group of home schoolers, whom Stevens calls the “inclusives,” a broad category that covers left-wing and counterculture groups as well as Jews, Catholics, and mainstream Protestants who are not comfortable with the Christian home schoolers’ pietistic style. Inclusives, especially the nonreligious majority, tend to emphasize child-directed learning via projects and self-guided work and are much less comfortable with anyone, including a parent, lecturing to students or with students’ learning through textbooks.

    I guess he means “unschoolers” here. I know a lot of “Jews, Catholics, and mainstream Protestants” who school-at-home and some evangelicals who unschool. I think he’s creating artificial distinctions here.

    The more left-wing women among the inclusives are often well educated but dedicated to living counterculture lives. They are self-sufficient mothers who have bonded so deeply with their children that they cannot bear to entrust their education to anyone else. Mothers (and sometimes fathers) find ways to make modest livings, often in counterculture food and crafts organizations.

    This graf is just confusing. Is the implication that the more right-wing women are less well-educated? And how ’bout those even further-right-wing “Christian” HSers? We must be plain ignorant. Yeah, I’m lurnning to reed rite thar with my kids. Homeskooling werks reel good!

    I’ll probably read the book anyway.

    CHOW TIME This former

    Filed on at 6:28 am under by dcobranchi

    CHOW TIME This former HSer owns two restaurants and works 80-hour weeks. The hook? She’s only 19 and was recently recognized as Kansas Young Entrepreneur of the Year.


    Filed on October 27, 2002 at 3:26 pm under by dcobranchi

    SCHOOLS OF DREAMS I just want to get my thoughts and impressions about the conference down. The Rodel Foundation- Delaware sponsored the event along with the Wilmington (DE) Urban League. The Schools of Dreams Education Fair consisted of a series of workshops for parents as well as an expo consisting of booths representing approximately 30 educational options: public, private, charters, and HSers. There were also several community-based organizations that provide tutoring services to kids.

    The conference seemed to be rather sparsely attended, though Rodel staffers said that they had had more pre-registrtions than they could accomodate. Apparently, there were a lot of no-shows on a rainy Saturday.

    The big hit of the expo was a new charter school, Delaware Military Academy. Our booth was right next to theirs so I got a good chance to learn about their school. It’s being run by a couple of retired career military guys (one army, one navy). “Sponsored” in part of the USN, some of their expenses will be covered by the Navy. Big on discipline and academics, their goal is to have a school-wide average SAT score of 1200. They have just started taking applications for their opening class in September 2003. The main interest so far has been from parochial students and HSers.

    Our little booth was right up front but didn’t generate too much interest. No biggie; I met a few newbie HSers and was able to answer some questions. I did have an opportunity to needle the PTA booth (very anti-vouchers) and my local school district. The school district had a bunch of their academic calendars out. I was astonished to learn that the kids have already taken their state tests. These are the ones that they have to pass to be promoted. They were barely back in school six weeks. What the heck are these tests showing? Are the kids being tested on material they should have learned last year? If not, how much new material could they have covered since Labor Day? The school district employees sheepishly agreed that it was pretty crazy. Last year parents didn’t get the scores back until late May. Does it really take half-a-year to grade these? Kim Swygert, we need some help here.

    KA-BOOM! I just couldn’t

    Filed on October 26, 2002 at 8:23 pm under by dcobranchi

    KA-BOOM! I just couldn’t resist blogging this quote, although I have absolutely no idea what it means:

    Experts are not infallible. They are subject to question, debate and if a sincere disagreement is met, you can take your child elsewhere. But if you are a parent of a public school student your options are limited. If you can afford it, you can go to private school. If there is space and you agree with the focus of study, you can go to a charter school. There’s always home-schooling, too, but that area has more minefields for parents and students than any other option.[emphasis added]

    WHISTLEBLOWER magazine is going

    Filed on at 7:30 pm under by dcobranchi

    WHISTLEBLOWER magazine is going to have a big spread on the “Homeschooling Revolution” in November’s issue. Do any of y’all subscribe? Want to write a guest blog? The magazine is not available online. I’ll look for it but it’d be fun to hear from some of y’all.

    LATER! I’m getting ready

    Filed on October 25, 2002 at 6:58 am under by dcobranchi

    LATER! I’m getting ready to fly back to DE from CA so no more blogging today. See you tomorrow evening (after the Schools of Dreams conference).


    Filed on at 6:49 am under by dcobranchi

    WHO NEEDS ENEMIES When you’ve got the LAT on your side? This editorial is ostensibly pro-HSing. Until the last two grafs, that is:

    The state is right about one thing: Though home-school wunderkind stories abound, the public is less likely to hear about the child who sits home watching “Springer.” Home schooling is sorely in need of objective, scholarly study.

    Pennsylvania takes care of the compulsory-education issue by requiring occasional testing for home-schooled children and annual portfolios of their work. Texas, on the other hand, lets such schools operate with virtually no oversight. A middle way might work for California. Parents could file a portfolio or an education plan with an independent commission. That makes more sense than turning them into outlaws.

    If the state DOE would just correctly interpret the CA statutes, CA would have one of the best HSing environments in the country. The LAT’s “solution” would be a major step backwards.


    Filed on October 24, 2002 at 10:25 pm under by dcobranchi

    NOT EVEN CLOSE The other day I congratulated this TV station for recognizing that virtual-charters weren’t HSing. Well, they blew it today. This short piece reads like it was issued by K-12’s PR department.

    The Arkansas Virtual School is described as a combination of the best that public, private, and home-schooling have to offer.

    The best of HSing is a tailored, one-of-a-kind education. K12 is better than that? Not likely.


    Filed on at 5:58 am under by dcobranchi

    NEITHER BRAIN NOR HEART Several students in a Chicago school were “promoted in error” after failing 6th grade summer school. A major screw-up. Then, to compound the problem, the teacher pointed the students out in class.

    The teacher pointed to child after child, saying “you, you, you,” in announcing each was being demoted, parents said. Some kids went home in tears.


    Filed on at 5:36 am under by dcobranchi

    A RACE TO THE BOTTOM? MI is considering dramatically lowering their educational standards so that they don’t appear to have too many “failing” schools. They currently have some of the toughest accountability standards in the country.

    “By lowering standards, we increase the flow of federal money into Michigan and protect a significant number of schools,” said David Plank, a Michigan State University professor who studies K-12 issues. “On the negative side, we want our kids to achieve higher levels. To scale that back in exchange for money is not a legitimate bargain…”

    Board member Michael Warren fears Michigan’s standards will be diluted to the federal minimum requirement.

    This is not how the NCLBA was supposed to work. They should have called it the “Unintended Consequences Act”.

    UPDATE: SecEd Paige has released an open letter to states asking that they not lower standards to avoid the “failing schools” label. Paige misses the point, however. MI is looking to lower their standards precisely because they exceed federal standards. The law basically punishes districts and states for setting rigorous standards. Until this is fixed, states will have no motivation to exceed the federal minimum standards. (link via Joanne Jacobs)

    A BET When the

    Filed on October 23, 2002 at 6:51 am under by dcobranchi

    A BET When the time comes, Lileks will HS. Scroll down to “Today I became One of Those People .” (link via Instapundit and Kim Swygert)


    Filed on at 6:26 am under by dcobranchi

    THEY’RE ALL OUTSTANDING Homeschooling Parent Magazine ran a contest to find America´s Outstanding Homeschool Students“. They came up with 10 finalists for 2002. I really don’t like this. It seems the very antithesis to my view of HSing- that all of our children are valued, unique, and precious. Why does HSP Magazine want to label 10 as “best”? I’d expect this in the PS-system; I’m embarassed that HSers are emulating it.

    PSA Wisconsin HSers are

    Filed on at 6:10 am under by dcobranchi

    PSA Wisconsin HSers are eligible to apply for the “the 2003 Herb Kohl Educational Foundation Excellence Scholarship… Homeschooled students can also obtain information from the Wisconsin Parents Association at P.O. Box 2502, Madison, WI 53701-2502, or by calling 1-608-283-3131.”


    Filed on at 6:05 am under by dcobranchi

    GET OVER IT A GOP political ad in HI carried an endorsement from former NFL star Leo Goeas, which included the following:

    My wife and I have five kids and we have chosen to home school them or send them to private schools because we have lost any faith in Hawaii’s public school system.

    The HI Teacher of the Year apparently took it personally.

    It discounts the hard work that educators put into providing a quality education system.

    So, any criticism of the public school system is now an attack on teachers? So much for public discourse.


    Filed on at 5:52 am under by dcobranchi

    THE RAIN IN SPAIN At last- a big media company recognizes that cyber charters are not the same as HSing.

    How does a free computer, printer, and internet connection sound to you? Those are some of the perks being offered to students of a new statewide school, set to open this December.

    Learning on the computer, via the Arkansas Virtual School, or ARVS, will be a key component of this new option for kids. But, just because they’ll be learning at home, it’s not the same as home-schooling.


    Filed on October 22, 2002 at 7:20 am under by dcobranchi

    HSING DISSERTATION Not by a HSer, but about HSing. I haven’t read this, yet, but this portion of the conclusion looks interesting:

    When we looked at intrinsic motivation in homeschoolers of different ages, we found that the older children were more intrinsically motivated in their learning than were the younger children. This result is remarkable considering that in past studies of schooled children, it has been shown that the older the children, the less intrinsically motivated they are. It might be that the characteristics unique to home education are in some way responsible for the fact that older homeschooled children had not lost their love of learning. Certainly, this finding suggests, at the very least, that the loss of intrinsic motivation throughout the school-age years is not, in fact, inevitable. Educators, politicians, and parents who have accepted that losing interest in learning is a natural part of growing up would be wise to take notice.

    NO PROBLEMO EdWorld has

    Filed on at 7:06 am under by dcobranchi

    NO PROBLEMO EdWorld has an article up on how to have a successful parent-teacher conference. Let’s see how we HSers do, shall we?

    Make parents aware of conference dates and goals.

    So far, so good.

    Make it as easy as possible for every parent to attend the conferences.

    It’d be near impossible to NOT attend.

    Prepare teachers to conduct successful conferences.

    *Provide teachers with in-service training on conducting successful conferences.
    *Provide teachers with information and skills for dealing with a variety of parent-related issues.
    *Make sure teachers are familiar with district and school policies for dealing with parent-related issues.

    Uh-oh. Policies? In-service training? It doesn’t look good for the home(schooling) team. Some more:

    *Dress professionally.
    *Start every conference on time.

    HSers? Hah! Oh, well. We only scored about a 50. Good thing we don’t have to assign grades, eh?


    Filed on October 21, 2002 at 2:34 pm under by dcobranchi

    LITTLE DRUMMER BOY- NOT! This 16-year-old HSer is one of the best “field” drummers in the country.


    Filed on at 2:30 pm under by dcobranchi

    CRAZY SCHEDULE I’m in training all this week so blogging will either be really early or really late through Friday.


    Filed on October 20, 2002 at 10:40 am under by dcobranchi

    A NOTE TO OTHER BLOGGERS If you are using Blogger Pro, the publishing portion of Pro2 has not been working for two days. To publish, change to pro1 and publish there. It’s been working fine.


    Filed on at 10:32 am under by dcobranchi

    JUST A LITTLE MORE TO THE LEFT This textbook has got to win the prize for most PC.

    “Geography: The World and its People,” published by McGraw Hill. Here we find lessons about:

    Eye on the Environment: Danger – Ozone Loss

    United States and Canada: Trash

    South America: The Disappearing Rain Forest

    Europe: Pollution

    Russia: Chernobyl – Nuclear Disaster

    Southwest Asia: Water – A Precious Resource

    Africa: Desertification

    Asia: Habitat Loss

    Great Barrier Reef: Trouble Down Under

    There may be hope, however.

    Parents protest to their local school boards, who say they have nothing to do with what’s in the textbooks. Textbook publishers publish what school districts purchase. Teachers teach what the state requires. The state requires whatever produces federal funds. The teachers’ unions determine what the federal government requires.

    Home schooling – and private schools – may be the revolution that collapses this public brainwashing system.


    Filed on at 10:24 am under by dcobranchi

    PLEASE LET THEM BE BABIES for a while longer. The testing craze has gone completely overboard (sorry, Kim). We’re now subjecting kindergartners to tough academic standards. Why? Who the heck knows?

    Many school districts have adopted policies, either formal or unwritten, that kindergartners should be reading by school year’s end, a goal early childhood experts said is within the grasp of some, but not all, children. The goal needlessly sets up more children for failure, experts said, because no research indicates that reading earlier leads to higher academic achievement in later years…

    One Chicago public school kindergarten teacher recently quit her job in part because of what she considered unrealistic demands of administrators, who expected kindergartners to sit all day at desks, go without recess and learn to read by year’s end. The centers the teacher envisioned creating for science, art and dramatic play were prohibited.

    Five-year-olds should not be expected to sit at a desk for an extended period of time. They need to be running around, exploring their world, playing for goodness’ sake. Our 5-year-old (who is reading) does a maximum of 1 1/2 hours of “academic” work each day. She can take a break when she needs to and has access to lots of educational “toys” including software. Just another in the apparently endless list of reasons to homeschool.

    TRUST ME This one

    Filed on October 19, 2002 at 8:57 am under by dcobranchi

    TRUST ME This one will make your day.

    HEADS UP CBS Market

    Filed on October 18, 2002 at 8:52 pm under by dcobranchi

    HEADS UP CBS Market Watch Weekend will have a piece on HSing. Check your local listing. Here’s a link to the streamed version.

    HOME-LEGISLATING? This is one

    Filed on at 8:30 pm under by dcobranchi

    HOME-LEGISLATING? This is one of the funnier quotes from a candidate:

    Benedict said his children are home-schooled, suggesting that home schooling is one area that could be looked at by the Legislature. “If a thing works in one area, isn’t it a good idea to try it in another one?”

    This could be a new trend. How ’bout home-surgery? Or, maybe, home-nuclear power generation?


    Filed on at 4:46 pm under by dcobranchi

    DEATH THREAT UPDATE The two boys who were expelled for threatening their teacher probably will not return to their original school. The teachers threatened to strike if they had returned.

    On Wednesday it was announced that the family of one of boys had agreed for their son to be sent to an alternative school, and now both families have agreed to a move.

    But they held out against the boys’ being put in a pupil referral unit for disruptive children.

    A spokesman for Surrey County Council said on Friday: “Both sets of parents have confirmed that they now wish their children to go to alternative mainstream secondary schools.

    “We will therefore be discussing their placements with other schools.”

    The fat lady has yet to take the stage, however.

    Glyn’s head teacher has said he might still have to take them back if his colleagues in other schools refuse to take them.


    Filed on at 5:43 am under by dcobranchi

    AS LONG AS IT’S BLACK According to this editorial, IBM supports “school choice” in Vermont. Someone’s (IBM’s or the editor’s) idea of “choice” is just a bit limited, though:

    IBM’s top concern is education, which is critical if the company is to maintain the skilled work force essential in the highly competitive computer industry. IBM supports public school choice, which would allow parents to select the public school they feel best suits the educational needs of their children.

    EUREKA! I have discovered

    Filed on at 4:07 am under by dcobranchi

    EUREKA! I have discovered the true purpose of the public schools. It’s not to teach the basics; it’s to provide extracurricular activities and sports. That’s why traditional public schools are better than charters, according to this educrat:

    “Traditional schools offer so many extracurricular things and the opportunity to get a wider scope of education,” said Ed Turner, North Tahoe High School vice principal.

    “It prepares us better for life after high school.”

    Additionally, because of its small student body and budget, [charter school] Prosser Creek does not offer any after-school sports. While some parents feel this is not an issue, proponents of traditional schools see it as a major drawback.

    “Sports are extremely important, they keep a lot of students in school,” said Turner.


    Filed on October 17, 2002 at 3:18 pm under by dcobranchi

    LIVE OUT LOUD! in the blogroll has moved. Here’s Kath’s new URL.

    MORE ON CA Parents

    Filed on at 6:43 am under by dcobranchi


    Parents say they’re poised for a fight if the Legislature tries to pass laws restricting home schooling in the wake of a warning from state schools chief Delaine Eastin…

    State Sen. Jack O’Connell, who is running for Eastin’s post in November, said he expects legislators to take up her request. “The law needs to be clarified,” he said…

    O’Connell, a former Oxnard High School teacher, said he believes home-schooling parents should work with local public school districts. Under such an arrangement, these students are enrolled in the public schools’ independent study programs, and they comply with the state’s compulsory attendance law.

    He said that allows all students to know the state’s academic standards, socialize with other students and take part in extracurricular activities.

    “I think it’s in the kids’ best interest,” he said.

    Such an arrangement would mean local school districts could claim state funding of more than $7,000 per child.

    In an example of poor reporting, there is no mention of what the other candidate believes.

    CHEATER! Someone googled the

    Filed on October 16, 2002 at 5:01 pm under by dcobranchi

    CHEATER! Someone googled the following and ended up on this site: pros and cons research paper on taking under god out of the pledge. I hope they didn’t find one.


    Filed on at 10:10 am under by dcobranchi

    FREE PRESIDENTS TIMELINE C-SPAN is offering a freebie to “middle school and high school social studies teachers”. I signed up using our “official” school name.

    Here’s some info about the timeline.


    Filed on at 6:43 am under by dcobranchi

    YOU MAKE THE CALL Is it money or politics that influenced this mass-mailing?

    The 12-page report, outlining achievements of the district and its nine high schools, features prominent color photographs of two School Board members running for re-election in November: President Kevin Clayborn and clerk Ian Hugh…

    But district officials…said the report is one of four the district mails annually to draw new students.

    “Every student we attract from a charter or private school means an additional $3,000 minimum to our district,” Assistant Superintendent Gene Dudo said.


    Filed on at 6:17 am under by dcobranchi

    WHAT WOULD HAPPEN HERE? UK teachers are in favor of boycotting their version of the accountability tests.


    Filed on October 15, 2002 at 7:43 am under by dcobranchi

    AND YOU THOUGHT OUR SCHOOLS ARE BAD This story out of the UK is just beyond belief. Two students who made multiple death threats aimed at their PE teacher are back at the school. The principal was criticized for “jumping the gun” in expelling them.

    They left chilling messages on the answering machine in Mr Taverner’s office, including one that warned him: “Hello Steve, you are going to die soon, you are going to get stabbed in the back of the head.” The next day they repeated the death threat, saying: “You have five days to live.”

    The torrent of phone calls — 44 in 18 separate days between April and May — was not enough for an independent appeals panel to support their expulsion. It ordered the boys back into the school after ruling last month that Stuart Turner, the head teacher, and the governors had been wrong to expel them…

    The three-member panel made their ruling after a two-day hearing. Their report said that the panel “did not agree that this offence was so serious as to immediately move to permanent exclusion”. The school had “jumped the gun” and should have been satisfied with suspending the pair for two weeks.

    They said that expelling the teenagers as they were preparing to take their GCSEs would be detrimental to them. There was “no evidence” that their return posed a threat to other pupils or staff at the school.

    I guess you have to wait until after they kill the teacher before you can act. I wonder if a murder trial would lower their scores on their GCSEs.


    Filed on at 6:24 am under by dcobranchi

    ANYONE KNOW FL HS LAW? This is confusing:

    A 15-year-old girl has missed 28 of 44 days of school at Pedro Menendez High School, the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office said, resulting in her mother’s arrest…

    Berthiaume told The St. Augustine Record Monday night that her daughter is mentally disabled and is in special education classes.

    She typically refuses to go to school, Berthiaume said.

    About two weeks ago, Berthiaume said, she and her husband met with school district officials, where she was told that her daughter could not be home-schooled…

    Jim Welu, the district’s executive director of Student Services, said Berthiaume’s daughter had previously been home-schooled for nearly two years. “The rules are, you go on home-schooling, then you provide educational evaluations,” he told The Record. “That never happened with that family.”

    The option to home-school goes away if parents do not provide evaluations for their children, he said.

    Is this really the law in FL? I’m going to have to do some digging to see if I can figure this one out. I’ll update later.

    UPDATE: Steven Gallagher supplied a link and explanation of FL HSing law here.

    NO NEWS HERE Acording

    Filed on October 14, 2002 at 8:15 am under by dcobranchi

    NO NEWS HERE Acording to this Gainesville, GA article, “homeschooling has begun to emerge as a viable option”.


    Filed on at 7:51 am under by dcobranchi

    AND WE’RE FUNNY, TOO An astrophysicist and a glass-blower have teamed up to make “impossible” Klein bottles:

    In 1992, while working as a researcher in telescope design at the University of California, Berkeley, Stoll persuaded a glass-blower friend to stretch the neck of a bottle through its side, and then to join the neck to a hole in the bottle’s base. The resulting oddity, the author of ”Silicon Snake Oil” said, was, if not a true Klein bottle, at least an image of a Klein bottle ”transferred into three dimensions…”

    Stoll has sold nearly a thousand bottles, which start at $30. Why hasn’t he sold more? ”Not many people seem to need boundary-free, nonorientable surfaces right now,” he admits. ”But still, I’ve earned more money than Enron, right?”


    Filed on at 7:34 am under by dcobranchi

    THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT It’s time for our weekly guffaw at the expense of Dennis Redovich. In this week’s episode, we learn how terrific the US public schools are at teaching science.

    The United States is the uncontested leader of the world in scientific research in respect to published accomplishments, Nobel Prizes, volume of research and expenditures on scientific research. The United States is the leader of the world in technology and the unchallenged leader of the world in the global economy…

    There is no doubt; American schools produce the finest scientists in the world. And the American educational systems, most notably including American K-12 education, continue to upgrade the quality of their science graduates each year.

    I have some personal experience in this area. Yes, Amercian schools lead the world in scientific training and research. Unfortunately for Mr. Redovich, it is the US grad school system that dominates the rest of the world. The K-12 system has little or no bearing on the quality of grad students because a very large percentage of US scientists and engineers came to the US for grad school and stayed afterward. If our economy were suddenly to be dependent on US K-12 educated scientists and engineers, we’d be facing a major economic crisis.

    Math and science are mystiques because many students and adults have difficulty with math and science courses such as chemistry and physics. Mathematicians and scientists perpetuate the mystique by claiming super human powers for the skills they possess.

    Yes, I can use my x-ray vision to see that Mr. Redovich is an idiot.

    The following quotes are an example of typical nonsense published by Media across the nation.

    “Preparing our children to succeed in the 21st century is our job as educators. Graduates of Massachusetts’s high schools should leave us prepared to someday compete for – and win – high-level jobs against their peers from other states and nations. It is our duty as educators to give them the skills they need to succeed once they’re on their own, long after tossing their caps in the air on graduation day. This means feeling confident that the diploma they take home represents a top-notch education”.

    “I am proud of the MCAS program we have developed, and I stand by our commitment to hold our students to the highest of standards. When expectations are set – and held – for students and teachers, they will rise to the occasion and meet them.”[emphasis in original].

    I guess Mr. Redovich would have preferred this:

    “Preparing our children to fail in the 21st century is our job as educators. Graduates of Massachusetts’s high schools should leave us ill-prepared to someday compete for – and win – menial jobs against their peers from other states and nations. It is our duty as educators to give them self-esteem, ignoring the skills they need to succeed once they’re on their own, long after tossing their caps in the air on graduation day. This means feeling confident that the diploma they take home represents a top-notch education, regardless of the true value of said diploma”.

    Happy now, Mr. Redovich?


    Filed on October 13, 2002 at 6:55 pm under by dcobranchi

    A FUN HS ASSIGNMENT Go out on the beach everyday to check the sea-turtle nests.

    Indiana native Jan Ranger just moved into a rental home along Bonita Beach last week, and the last turtle next was right outside her back door.

    “We’ve been checking it out every day,” she said. “We home-school, so this is a great education for them.”

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