Utterly Meaningless » 2002 » November
  • UNDERPAID TEACHERS? Three teachers

    Filed on November 30, 2002 at 11:41 am under by dcobranchi


    Three teachers who took home more than $60,000 in overtime pay last year are under investigation by the Chicago Board of Education…

    One of the three teachers, Demetrie Smith, said her $88,000 in overtime is a reward for her hard work, not evidence of wrongdoing.

    The Chicago board also will investigate a custodian-engineer who made $138,815 in overtime in 2000, the Tribune reported.


    Filed on at 10:40 am under by dcobranchi

    A NEW HSING BLOG I stumbled across.

    Amy Kropp is a Catholic home schooling mom who has temporarily set aside her career as an attorney to stay home with her kids. On this site, Amy discusses home schooling, Catholic blogs, Catholic books, and other newsworthy issues. “More Like Mary, Less Like Martha” refers to Luke 10:38-42. Amy strives to be “more like Mary” in this story, attending first to the things that are important, rather than the things that seem urgent.


    Filed on at 10:05 am under by dcobranchi

    CLUELESS IN CONNECTICUT HSing is apparently unusual in Shelton, CT.

    “I get asked all the time why isn’t [Reed} in school,” Carol Mayhew said. “I just say we’re done for the day.” When she tells people that she home schools her children, Mayhew said some people inquire whether it is legal to home-school children.


    Filed on at 9:58 am under by dcobranchi

    ONE SMART EX-GOVERNOR This article describing the plans of ex-Gov’s ends with this one:

    [Maine’s Ex-Governor King] has mapped out a vastly different plan – with pins on a large map in his living room. He and his wife bought a 40-foot mobile home and are planning a six-month tour of the country, home schooling their two children along the way.

    After that, King’s not sure what comes next. The former businessman might teach, he might go back into business, he might write. “My wife says whatever I do, it won’t involve a coat and tie.”


    Filed on at 9:29 am under by dcobranchi

    THIS JUST ISN’T RIGHT Parents seeking to get their kids into one of NYC’s gifted and talented programs, are told to start preparing two years before their kids are ready to enroll.

    In a pinch, parents can turn to consultants like the folks at Smart City Kids, an organization primarily devoted to helping parents get their children into private schools but which also offers workshops ($195 for two and a half hours) geared toward the public schools’ gifted and talented programs. Free tip offered on the Web site: “The application process for some of the most selective public schools in New York City often begins a year before your child is scheduled to start school. Allow yourself this year’s time to do the research.” How many working-class parents can spend a year prenavigating the system?…

    The number of good schools and good programs is still tiny. As long as that’s the case, most parents who can do so will move mountains on behalf of their own children — mountains of cash for the Jack Grubmans, or of singlemindedness and savvy, with maybe a little bit of string-pulling, for many of us. But what about everyone else?

    A DAY LATE The

    Filed on November 29, 2002 at 12:00 pm under by dcobranchi

    A DAY LATE The true story of the first Thanksgiving.

    Filed on at 6:45 am under by dcobranchi

    PHENOM This HSer has

    Filed on at 6:21 am under by dcobranchi

    PHENOM This HSer has a pretty impressive resume (at 17) and even more impressive plans:

    Well, she is just 17, and … Karisa Solt already has played two soccer seasons for the New Jersey Institute of Technology and is closing in on a degree in biomedical engineering.

    At a time when most teens her age are thinking about the senior prom, Solt is thinking about graduating college in less than four years so that she can attend Bible college before heading off to medical school.

    SO, I LIED I

    Filed on November 28, 2002 at 7:18 am under by dcobranchi

    SO, I LIED I can’t resist blogging this. We are preparing our Thanksgiving meal to the absolutely gorgeous sounds of the Llewellyn Family. The Llewellyn’s are HSers who worship and play some wonderful classical music together. If you have a music lover on your Christmas list, click the link above or drop me an email for the Llewellyn’s email address. They also perform at functions.


    Filed on at 3:33 am under by dcobranchi

    WHAT WERE THEY THINKING? Colby Cosh has a terrific post on the end of schooling as we have known it.

    Not just public schools–all schools, or at least all schools that are run on the education-factory model, with 20-plus students per class being taught according to cookie-cutter curricula. Does it ever strike you that the way we teach our children is impractical, antiquated, and, viewed a certain way, sort of shocking?…

    When we hear of someone home-schooling their children, we recoil in instinctual horror at the thought of inbred, socially maladjusted kids learning weird and possibly dangerous ideas. But the early evidence from an exploding home-schooling movement is that home-schooled children do very well indeed. They seem to be hugely overrepresented among winners of debate competitions, science fairs, geography bees, and the like. Top American universities fight with each other to get these kids. It seems clear to me that home-schooling is the best choice for most children, under ideal circumstances, if only because it puts the responsibility for that education in the same place where the interest exists. A schoolteacher gets paid whether or not your particular child learns to read. If you’re a literate parent you’re not going to let that kind of thing slide.

    That 2nd graf is the key. No one wants the kids to succeed more than the parents do. The problem is that we, as a society, have been snookered by the educrats into believing that education is so difficult that only a trained, credentialed “professional” could ever hope to succeed.

    Cash later goes on to propose a “community school” organized by a few parents who jointly hire a tutor for their kids using public tax dollars. Except for the money, it sounds an awful lot like the co-ops that HSers have been using for years. [reblogged from Joanne Jacobs]

    UPDATE: Cosh updated his post here. He has some very nice things to say about HSing.


    Filed on November 27, 2002 at 6:33 pm under by dcobranchi

    SHOULD HSERS BE ALLOWED TO PARTICPATE IN PUBLIC SCHOOL SPORTS? The following appeared in the Oxford (PA) Trib:

    The Way I See It, petitions by parents who elect to home-school aren’t going to go away. Should home-schooled youth be allowed to participate in public school extra-curricular activities within the school district in which their parents pay taxes? That is the question.

    Recently, I had an opportunity to discuss the matter with a father who has a daughter who is a gifted athlete. She has played in AAU sports over the summer and fall with public school children, but will be unable to pursue middle and high school athletics if the district chooses to lock out home-schooled children. He was interested in hearing my position as a member of the media.

    While I informed him I was open to the situation, I did hint that I’m leaning toward the lock out. Personally, those who find the public school system unacceptable for academics, but permissible for athletics, music and theater, confuse me. I must admit, it appears they want their cake and eat it to.

    UPDATE: I’ve been cogitating on this one all night and I’m still not sure how I feel. Personally, I don’t think we would ever attempt to have our kids play public-school sports. But, we live in an area where there are tons of other activities for the kids. Would I still be so sure if we were living in a small town where the high school sports program was the be-all and end-all? I don’t know. And, what about the kids who are particularly athletic and potential scholarship candidates?

    On the other hand, I can see how allowing HSers to participate could cause problems in the school. There are only a limited number of positions on many teams. What happens when a HSer’s participation causes another kid (who actually attends the school) to miss the cut? Is the HSer treated like some kid of interloper? Do the teachers and the PTA get involved? It could get ugly.

    That said, I don’t see how allowing HSers to participate (or parents lobbying for that “right”) could negatively affect HSing freedoms. So, even though I would not choose to have my kids participate, I support the HSing parents in their efforts.

    EQUAL TIME Frequent readers

    Filed on at 6:40 am under by dcobranchi

    EQUAL TIME Frequent readers of this site know that I have spent a fair number of elctrons railing against know-nothing state legislators, which is why I want to grant equal time to a CA legislator who is on the ball.

    Rest assured, if you home school your child, you are not doing anything wrong. Home schooling is perfectly legal in California and has been for more than 100 years. Eastin’s assault was simply an attempt to force more kids into traditional public schools, which lose roughly $4,000 for every child who isn’t sitting inside a state sponsored classroom…

    If Eastin had focussed her eight years in office upon education fundamentals like reading, writing, math, and history, it seems likely she would not now feel the need to force students back into traditional settings. Instead, while test scores remain dismal, Eastin poured much of her energy into politically correct causes — diversity mandates, sensitivity training and promoting anything-goes tolerance.


    Filed on at 6:29 am under by dcobranchi

    LIBERTARIAN ED ISSUE This is one of those articles where libertarians and social conservatives part ways.

    Community opposition to a gay-straight student club is pushing an eastern Kentucky coal-mining county to the forefront of a broader cultural debate, as more of the groups form on school campuses nationwide.

    Students staged a walkout and local ministers organized a rally attracting at least 1,000 people this month to protest a decision to allow the student-led Gay-Straight Alliance to meet at Boyd County High School in Cannonsburg.

    My view- leave the kids alone.


    Filed on at 6:21 am under by dcobranchi

    INTERNET LIBRARY FOR KIDS This new website currently has 200 titles online and completely free (no adverts, either). Eventually, they aim for 10,000 titles. One caveat- you’ll need broadband to access the site (although they hope to have a version set-up for dial-up by next summer).


    Filed on at 6:06 am under by dcobranchi

    OT- VACCINE CONSPIRACY? The alleged MMR vaccine/autism connection has come up on several HS listservs I monitor, so I’ll throw this one out without commentary.

    Attorneys for the Bush Administration asked a federal court on Monday to order that documents on hundreds of cases of autism allegedly caused by childhood vaccines be kept from the public.

    Department of Justice lawyers asked a special master in the US Court of Federal Claims to seal the documents, arguing that allowing their automatic disclosure would take away the right of federal agencies to decide when and how the material should be released.

    Attorneys for the families of hundreds of autistic children charged that the government was trying to keep the information out of civil courts, where juries might be convinced to award large judgments against vaccine manufacturers.


    Filed on at 5:58 am under by dcobranchi

    COLLEGE MEN- A THING OF THE PAST? The percentage of males on college campuses in the US has dropped to 43%.

    [R]ampant anti-male feminism has made colleges a place where many males feel unwanted and unwelcome…

    “At our universities today, you have these sensationalized lies about men that are put out by women’s studies departments and women’s centers — and they’ve become an integral part of the campus culture,” Sacks says.

    I don’t know about “sensationalized lies” but there is little doubt that at least some academics are anti-male.

    What is Enlightenment Magazine: Which brings us to another question I wanted to ask you. Sally Miller Gearhart, in her article, “The Future—If There is One—Is Female,” writes: “At least three further requirements supplement the strategies of environmentalists if we were to create and preserve a less violent world. 1) Every culture must begin to affirm the female future. 2) Species responsibility must be returned to women in every culture. 3) The proportion of men must be reduced to and maintained at approximately ten percent of the human race.” What do you think about this statement?

    Mary Daly: I think it’s not a bad idea at all. If life is to survive on this planet, there must be a decontamination of the Earth. I think this will be accompanied by an evolutionary process that will result in a drastic reduction of the population of males. People are afraid to say that kind of stuff anymore. [link via Instapundit]


    Filed on at 5:45 am under by dcobranchi

    GOOD ADVICE In a conference for parenting “gifted” students, we find this advice:

    “You’ve got to look at the child as whole,” she said. “The god of education says, `No child can go to the second grade without knowing how to skip and do a forward roll.’ ”

    Johnson encourages parents to give children responsibilities at home, saying it will help them at school while giving them strong self-esteem.

    And don’t dare let your child read in lieu of taking out the trash, she said.

    “They learn that if they don’t want to take out the trash, they go read,” she said. “Make them take out that trash. And don’t pay them for it. Part of that trash is theirs. Pay them an allowance, but don’t pay them to take out the trash.”

    As well, she said, parents need to be careful not to overbook their children in lessons.

    “We have so many gifted kids who are `hurry up and wait,’ ” she said. “They have too many irons in the fire … You might be able to afford all the lessons. But that doesn’t mean good parenting.”

    Johnson had other suggestions.

    Gifted kids, she said, are worriers, so give them an opportunity to get involved in a cause.

    “This gives them something to worry about that they can work on,” she said.

    Also, parents — namely mothers, she said — need to be sure they don’t “false rescue” their gifted kids by, for example, taking forgotten homework or an overdue library book to school.

    “It weakens children,” she said.

    All of these should apply equally to all children, “gifted” or not.


    Filed on November 26, 2002 at 10:20 pm under by dcobranchi

    ONE FOR IZZY This sounds terrible. HSLDA is reporting that a newbie HSing family received the following message on their answering machine from the Superintendent of Revere (MA) Public Schools:

    Hi Mrs. [Stillman], this is Dr. Malaiko. Uh, what you sent me is totally unacceptable. Uh, I expect to hear from you sometime today. Uh, if I don’t hear from you today, then I’m going to be forced to take action. Uh, I can be rea—Oh, I want her enrolled in school. The telephone number is (781) 485-2748. This is totally unacceptable, and this is disgusting- what you’ve done to this girl. I am totally appalled.

    There is no available info on what got him so upset. HSLDA ends their post with this:

    The Stillmans are not the only family in Revere to suffer from Dr. Malaiko’s hostility. HSLDA represents another family in town that has had even worse experiences. Please pray for homeschoolers in Revere and elsewhere who face hostile school officials like Dr. Malaiko.

    WRONG TARGET This article

    Filed on at 6:28 am under by dcobranchi

    WRONG TARGET This article is about helping kids “bounce back.” There are all sorts of suggestions, from Boys Clubs/Girls Clubs to more parental involvement. All good ideas, I’m sure. Only one problem- the lede misses the big point:

    Phoenix was 5 when she climbed into the laundry chute and landed in a tangle of towels. She couldn’t wait to try it again. When she was 10 and her bike brakes failed, sending her halfway up an oak tree, she immediately strategized ways to get higher next time. But now that she’s in that self-concept nightmare called middle school, it takes her three days to rebound from one bad-hair day.

    So, how did a rambunctious 5-year-old turn into a young lady so overly concerned with her appearance? Surely, this was learned behavior- learned in school from her age peers. That’s a major problem with forced schooling. The kids are segregated by age and one stupid idea can get passed around until it’s treated as the gospel truth. Without the influence of older students (or, better yet, adults), the kids grow up like they’re living in “Lord of the Flies.”

    WWHS This is one

    Filed on at 6:17 am under by dcobranchi

    WWHS This is one of those stories that takes you through a range of emotions: frustration, anger, despair.

    IT WAS THE end of September when problems began on Samantha Milligan’s school bus.

    Samantha, 6, rides to an autistic support class at Richmond Elementary School on a bus that primarily carries special-education students.

    Autistic children have difficulty communicating. They can’t understand teasing. They can’t describe harassment.

    So you have to wonder what in God’s name the school district was thinking when two boys who’d been transferred from another elementary school for disciplinary reasons were added to the bus roster.

    The troubled boys, brothers in second and fourth grades who weren’t in special education, teased and tormented the vulnerable children on the bus.

    “My daughter would get off the bus crying and there are such communication difficulties, she couldn’t tell us. She was just crying,” said Samantha’s mother, Kelly.

    Which is bad enough.

    But the worst part is that it took seven weeks of relentless, almost daily pressure by Milligan to get the boys removed from the route.

    The district said the boys had “rights of due process” and couldn’t be taken off the bus until an investigation was complete.

    Hell, murder cases are resolved more quickly than that.

    Milligan began documenting the incidents involving her daughter and nephew, Richie, who’s also autistic, nearly two months ago.

    She said her daughter’s teacher at the Port Richmond school, Lea Taylor, was “a blessing” to her throughout, keeping her informed and acting as Samantha’s advocate.

    If only she could say the same thing about everyone else.

    “Monday, Sept. 30,” her journal begins, “Sam’s teacher reported the boys were teasing Samantha on the bus.

    “Tuesday, Oct. 1. The boys took Richie’s book bag and lunch box and were going to toss it off the bus.

    “Wednesday, Oct. 2. Bus aide notified the vice principal that the boys took Sam and Richie’s school bags and were calling them names. Called school. Sam’s teacher called back.

    “Thursday, Oct. 3. Called school several times. Was told Vice Principal Susan Rozanski was handling the problem and would be in touch with me.

    “Friday, Oct. 4. Called Rozanski. No reply.

    “Tuesday, Oct. 8. Called again. No reply. Wrote a letter to her and Principal Anthony Ciampoli asking them to please get in touch with me.”

    Milligan said she got little more than promises and reassurances from the school. So she began calling everyone else she could think of, and got bounced from bureaucrat to bureaucrat, from one department to another.

    She called the bully hot line, the transportation department, Central East regional headquarters, the Office of School Climate and Safety, Superintendent Paul Vallas and state Rep. John Taylor – all of it documented in her journal.

    Not one of those calls helped.

    On Nov. 5, Milligan said, one of the boys held her daughter while the other tried to hang her from her coat hood.

    Schools spokesman Paul Jackson said that the boys were suspended from the bus for two days and that the official report says only that they pulled Samantha’s jacket.

    On Nov. 13, Milligan seized the opportunity to confront Paul Vallas when he was a guest on a call-in radio show. He said he’d call back when he was off the air.

    He didn’t.

    Instead, Vallas called Claudia Averette, deputy director of the safety office. And she subsequently called Milligan to say that the boys were to be removed from the bus the following week.

    Averette defended the school district’s handling of the situation.

    “I do believe the cry-out by Mrs. Milligan wasn’t going unheard, but it does take that long to get all the parties to come forward to provide a statement, and to culminate all of that into an investigation,” she said.

    Richmond’s principal also was using “progressive discipline” with the boys, she said, by imposing increasingly harder penalties for each infraction, rather than just ousting them from the bus.

    In other words, the school was following protocol that was focused on protecting the troublemakers rather than their victims.

    There clearly was no sense of urgency about the situation or it wouldn’t have taken seven miserable weeks to get resolved.

    Unfortunately – as too many parents can tell you – Milligan’s infuriating experience with the school district is hardly unique.

    Peace finally returned last week to Samantha Milligan’s school bus.

    But the ordeal has left her mother without peace of mind.

    “I can’t believe I had to go through all this to get this done,” she said.


    Filed on November 25, 2002 at 6:49 pm under by dcobranchi

    BAD NEWS, GOOD NEWS Allen Reece has decided to take down his blog. OTOH, Allen has found a new edu-blog that is worth reading.

    GO, SPEED RACER Shelby

    Filed on at 6:37 pm under by dcobranchi

    GO, SPEED RACER Shelby Howard, a 17-year-old HSed race car driver, will be featured on ABC’s “20/20” this Friday.


    Filed on at 5:39 am under by dcobranchi

    A USEFUL SITE for fellow bloggers with limited HTML skills (like yours truly). HTML 4 Newbies has some simple lessons and links to color and symbol charts.


    Filed on at 5:27 am under by dcobranchi

    FOOD FOR THOUGHT This Bill Hanlon column pushes the notion that we are not always consistent in the demands we place on the public schools.

    On the one hand, many people will argue that students who are distractive, disruptive, dangerous or just plain mean should be booted out of school. But when kids are removed from school, the schools are criticized for having a high dropout rate. That’s contradictory.

    Another example is the idea that all kids should be able to reach new, more rigorous standards and graduate high school. In my opinion, if standards are developed that all kids can attain, then the standards must not be very high. But again, if students don’t achieve the new standards, particularly on the first attempt, the public doesn’t praise the schools for beefing up standards; instead, they’re blamed for failing to provide an adequate education.

    He may be right. I’m going to have to do some soul-searching (and archive reading) to see if I’ve been guilty of this.


    Filed on at 4:58 am under by dcobranchi

    AND THEY SAY I GO OVER THE TOP The lede from this weeks’ Center for the Study of Jobs & Education in Wisconsin And the United States screed is impressive in its over-the-toppedness.

    How can supposedly intelligent and educated people (many with advanced graduate degrees, including U.S. political and education leaders at the highest levels) be so dim-witted about the teaching of mathematics, science and standardized testing? They advocate senseless high stakes testing and elimination of social promotion based on standardized testing that is destroying poor children for no rational reasons. An intellectually challenged popular media gleefully perpetuates the war, without challenge, against public education by well-funded Machiavellian organizations and political and business leaders that erroneously use K-12 public education as a scapegoat for the social and economic problems of the United States.

    I am no fan of high-stakes testing as I feel there should be some input based on the kids’ actual classroom perfomance. That said, social promotion is just a bad idea. What purpose does it serve to promote children who can’t do the work? Is providing a false sense of security and self-esteem really helping them in the long run? Far better to work with those who are struggling to help them learn the material. Isn’t that what schools are supposed to do?

    GEOGRAPHY LESSONS are apparently

    Filed on November 24, 2002 at 6:17 pm under by dcobranchi

    GEOGRAPHY LESSONS are apparently lost on many American students.

    A recent National Geographic survey found that only one in seven Americans aged between 18 and 24 could find Iraq or Iran on a map. While 58 percent knew about Afghanistan, only 17 percent could find it on a world map.

    When asked to find 10 specific states on a map of the U.S., 89 percent could locate California and Texas, but only 51 percent could find New York. On a world map, Americans could only find seven of 16 countries in the quiz. Eleven percent couldn’t even find the U.S. on the map, and 29 percent couldn’t find the Pacific Ocean.

    There have been many similar articles in recent weeks. In fact, we’ve been inspired to add more explicit geography instruction to our kids’ homeschool assignments.


    Filed on at 1:39 pm under by dcobranchi

    SLOW NEWS DAY IN VA Several Virginia newspapers picked up this story on the large increase in the number of African-American HSers. Interestingly, it is very similar to an article that appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch several weeks ago.

    UPDATE: The Baltimore Sun ran a similar article today.


    Filed on at 1:23 pm under by dcobranchi

    SPAM-BLOG? BLOG-SPAM? I don’t know what to call it but I received spam email promoting a new edu-blog. They’re newbies so I’ll forgive the spam and pass along a link and a quick comment- it’s “Bleat,” not “Beat.”

    We have greatly enjoyed the best of the blogosphere — from the unsurpassable Lileks Beat, the unending stream of instapunditry by Glenn Reynolds, to the many excellent anti- and pro-war political blogs. We hope to add our, thematically distinct, voice to the choir.


    Filed on at 4:42 am under by dcobranchi

    DEAR DR. LAURA I don’t often listen to her show but when I do, it seems that every other call starts off with “I’m facing an ethical dilemma.” Well, Allen Reece is under some pressure to take down his blog and is facing that proverbial “ethical dilemma.” A supervisor has suggessted that it is improper for him to blog about the schools as he has. He is looking for help. Click on over and then, if you feel so inclined, drop him an email (his site doesn’t have comments). His addy is at the bottom of the blog linked above.


    Filed on November 23, 2002 at 2:43 pm under by dcobranchi

    24/7 CRADLE TO GRAVE Check out these two ledes from articles this week and tell me the educrats don’t want total control of our kids:

    Educators long have known that high-quality childcare pays off in better classroom performance and later on in better jobs. Now new research indicates it also pays off in actual dollars, an attractive carrot for taxpayers, according to a new report released by a Rutgers University think tank.

    There is growing evidence that good afterschool programming makes a difference in kids’ lives. Studies in child development and education suggest that attendance at afterschool is associated with better grades, peer relations, emotional adjustment, and conflict resolution skills. Children who attend programs also spend more time on learning opportunities and academic and enrichment activities than their peers.

    Coincidence? You make the call.

    PSA We interrupt our

    Filed on November 22, 2002 at 10:38 am under by dcobranchi

    PSA We interrupt our regularly scheduled blogging to bring you this Public Service Announcement. I get Nigerian Scam Letters at least once per week, as I’m sure many of y’all do, too. Clayton Cramer pointed out that the Secret Service has a website dedicated to dealing with these. The critical grafs follow:

    If you have been victimized by one of these schemes, please forward appropriate written documentation to the United States Secret Service, Financial Crimes Division, 950 H Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20223, or telephone (202) 406-5850, or contact by e-mail.

    If you have received a letter, but have not lost any monies to this scheme, please fax a copy of that letter to (202) 406-5031.

    We now return you to our “Selections of Light Bulgarian Dance Music, ” already in progress.

    HUH? Any formatting errors

    Filed on at 9:51 am under by dcobranchi

    HUH? Any formatting errors are blogger’s fault. This time I haven’t even touched the template.

    DITTO This column succintly

    Filed on at 5:33 am under by dcobranchi

    DITTO This column succintly states the case for parental control over education. David Kirkpatrick of SchoolReformers.com even cites my favorite SCOTUS decision.

    MARY HUD A really

    Filed on at 5:15 am under by dcobranchi

    MARY HUD A really nice article profiling Mary Hudzinski in PA. Typically, she scores points concerning the existing PA law.

    If there is a drawback to homeschooling, it is the state-mandated requirements that Hudzinski and others like her feel are unnecessary. They cost homeschooling families in terms of dollars, and stress, she says.

    Most importantly, Hudzinski feels they interfere with the freedom of parents to raise their own children as they see fit…

    “The most ridiculous one (subject) is that we have to teach the dangers and prevention of fire every year ‘til our children graduate,” Hudzinski says.


    Filed on at 5:03 am under by dcobranchi

    THE NEXT CALIFORNIA? More on the IL situation. A regional superintendent in Illinois is going above and beyond what state law allows to harass HSers.

    The only statute relating to home schools requires that children ages 7 to 16 be taught coursework equal to their counterparts in public schools, and that instruction be in English.

    However, the law does not specify courses or qualifications for teachers, and includes no regulatory or enforcement authority.

    [Superintendent] Dennison cited case law in his effort to check on attendance, curriculum and teaching standards at home schools in his area that he suspects might fall short of acceptable educational standards.

    That 1974 federal court ruling says regional superintendents can seek proof that a home-school curriculum is adequate and even require examinations to gauge children’s level of achievement.

    Dennison acknowledged that the ruling provides no enforcement authority but said his office could use the state’s truancy law to push compliance.

    OTOH, IL has at least one really sharp state legislator.

    State Rep. Dan Rutherford, R-Pontiac, said it’s unlikely the legislature will consider tougher laws for home schooling. Teaching your children, he said, is a fundamental right.

    “If the government starts regulating what parents do with their children, it starts to be what many of us would consider massive overstepping of its boundaries,” Rutherford said.

    UPDATE: Here’s another article about IL. This one has more (and scarier) details.

    Home-school advocates say that beginning in October, Bruce Dennison, regional superintendent of schools of the three-county area, sent a truancy officer, accompanied at least twice by police officers, to the residences of home-schoolers. They demanded proof of attendance and compliance with a curriculum that corresponds with public school policy…

    One home-schooling family said the situation has made their boys afraid.

    “They hear anyone on the deck, and the little one heads for the upstairs bedroom, and the bigger one heads under the bed,” said Roger Channell, father of Spring Valley fifth-graders Aaron and Chris.

    The boys were correcting mistakes on a spelling quiz at 10:45 a.m. Oct. 3, when [truan officer] Horwedel knocked on the front door, Channell said…

    Channell said Horwedel demanded to see the boys’ attendance record and school curriculum, and he refused.

    “He said, ‘You know, I can have your children taken away from you,’ ” Channell said.

    These educrats should lose their jobs.

    UPDATE II: WND has picked up on the same story.


    Filed on at 4:57 am under by dcobranchi

    EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN HSing started out on the fringes and eventually became mainstream. Well, it appears we may have shot right through the middle and back out again:


    Aug. 23-Sept. 22

    Even though your planetary ruler, Mercury, has moved into lucky Sagittarius, plans may not go exactly as you had visualized, especially regarding home projects, room expansions, travel and parental figures. Home schooling for a better career could also transpire, or maybe you’re planning to live abroad. Visits to the doctor and secret associations with co-workers or someone under the sign of Pisces or Sagittarius are shown for November 25. Good news concerning health and job issues are also seen at this time. Beware of overeating, overwork and incessant talking.

    FROZEN HSERAdam Smith, 18,

    Filed on at 4:53 am under by dcobranchi


    Adam Smith, 18, of Randolph, skated competitively for much of his youth. This year, he decided to turn professional and audition for Disney On Ice.

    The decision to join the ensemble of “Disney On Ice Presents Princess Classics,” which comes to the Continental Airlines Arena Tuesday through Dec. 1, was a good one, he says…

    Smith was home schooled and lived in the Hibernia section of Rockaway and in Morris Plains before moving to Randolph two years ago. He began ice skating at age 8 and spent countless hours practicing and working with a coach at the Mennen Arena in Morris Township. Since he had to practice whenever the ice was available, between two and six hours a day, home schooling became a necessity, he said.


    Filed on at 4:31 am under by dcobranchi

    FUTURE JOURNALIST Check out this well-written account of political bias at a CA high school.

    I am a senior at Santa Monica High School. We have student assemblies run by the school Activities Committee and the administration, at which guest speakers come to address the students. In my experience at the school, these speakers have all been members of the political left. It was last March that my friend, Chris Moritz, first came up with the idea of inviting David Horowitz to speak to our school. In December, we had invited widely celebrated ABC radio host and best-selling author, Larry Elder, to address students. As far as I know, he was the first libertarian ever to speak at Santa Monica High, and yet the school authorities stipulated that if he were to come he would have to be balanced by a left-wing speaker. The school administration failed to make any such demand for the left-wing speakers that both preceded and followed Mr. Elder, many of whom attempted to recruit students for their causes.

    Our motivation for inviting Mr. Elder was our desire to offset some of the left-wing bias at our high school. Not only are all the speakers invited to campus left-wing, but several teachers impose their leftist views in the classroom and recruit students for demonstrations such as the October March against the war with Iraq. Union organizer Dolores Huerta was a speaker at our school and recruited students to march on union picket lines against a localDoubletree Hotel, adjacent to our High School campus. Police were already present on the picket site because of the ongoing threat of violence. This is certainly not the only time students have been led by their teachers onto the picket lines, escorted by administrators — as though this is part of their educational curriculum.

    There’s lots more; well worth a click. [Reblogged from Chris O’Donnell]

    HOME STRETCH EAS finishes

    Filed on November 21, 2002 at 9:52 am under by dcobranchi

    HOME STRETCH EAS finishes this afternoon. With a little luck, I’ll be able to start getting caught up this evening.


    Filed on November 20, 2002 at 10:46 pm under by dcobranchi

    SEND IT TO ZOOM! The following editorial appeared in the Lebanon (PA) Daily News on 11/17. It was sent to me via email by a reader who has Lexis-Nexis access. As it is not available on the web, I have included the editorial in its entirety with my comments interspersed. Yes- it’s time for a fisking!

    Parents should have the right to homeschool their children.

    We believe that, as we believe generally speaking that individual rights and freedoms should not be trumped by unnecessary government rules and regulations – as long as the individual’s actions do not victimize or infringe upon the rights of another citizen.

    OK. So far; so good.

    And while we believe that Pennsylvania is correct to seek to ease its regulations for homeschoolers, we cannot fully support the legislation sponsored by state Rep. Samuel E. Rohrer, R-Pa.


    Rep. Rohrer’s legislation would very nearly eliminate all government oversight of homeschooling. Considering our opening premise, one might expect that we would view this as a good thing – favoring individual freedom over the state. We don’t, in this case. There’s too much chance of creating a victim.

    This is standard nanny-state lingo. "Irresponsible gun-owners might shoot someone. Irresponsible speech might hurt someone’s feelings. Irresponsible homeschoolers might victimize their kids with an inadequate education. To prevent all these hypotheticals, you good gun-owners (speakers, homeschoolers) shouldn’t mind a little preemptive regulation. We’re only going after the bad guys. This will hardly affect you."

    Under the proposal, homeschoolers would not need to keep student records, obtain year-end evaluations from a state-approved assessor or participate in standardized testing. They would only be required to carry out 180 days of instruction and teach certain subjects at certain grade levels to children of a given age.

    This places too much personal freedom into the hands of the parents, and does not do enough to protect the rights of the children. Therein lies our objection.

    It is, first and foremost, the parent’s responsibility to protect the rights of our children. We are responsible for their lives and liberty until they reach majority. The Supreme Court, in Pierce v. Society of Sisters held, "The child is not the mere creature of the state; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations." The state should not interfere unless parents abrogate those responsibilities.

    First of all, let us state that from our observation, most parents who choose to homeschool do so with the best of intentions, and many do it quite well, at least in the child’s elementary years.

    But the fact is that without oversight, it would be quite possible for parents who are misguided or incapable of educating their children to use the homeschool option to deny their children a basic education.

    Just because it rarely, if ever, happens is no excuse. We have to prevent victimization by any and all means.

    What’s wrong with that?

    Let’s throw stones at the straw man. Make some outrageous claim; attribute it to your opponents; and, then, debunk it.

    As a society, we have assumed a responsibility not only to provide for the education of every child, but to ensure that every child gets it. It’s the child’s right. That’s why special education evolved for special-needs children. It’s why school enrollment by a certain age became mandatory in the first place. It’s also why parents are held accountable for truant schoolchildren.

    No, the history of compulsory attendance laws shows school became mandatory in order to create a ready supply of workers for the newly industrialized country. But, that is a history lesson best left for another day.

    There are good parts to Rep. Rohrer’s legislation. He’s correct that we should not make homeschoolers jump through a bunch of hoops set up by an overwrought bureaucracy, so certainly the thing should be made as simple as possible.

    But some oversight, either by the local school district or the state, is in order. Homeschooled children should be assessed, if not every year, then every second or third year, to make sure that their parents are actually teaching them – with at least a minimum of competence.

    Back to preemptive regulation, again. There are too many things left unsaid here. How are the children supposed to be assessed? And, by whom? To what standard of performance are they to be held? And, what is the enforcement mechanism if they don’t achieve it? And to what end? How many homeschoolers are really going to let their kids sit around and do absolutely nothing for two, three, or more years? 1 per cent? One-tenth per cent? So, the nanny-state is going to inconvenience and harass 99+ per cent of homeschoolers on the off chance that they’ll catch the "bad" homeschoolers.

    No, homeschooled kids, on average, should not be expected to perform to the academic level of those who are being educated by professionals, any more than a shirt made by a plumber should be expected to fit as well as one stitched by a tailor. But they should be able to meet certain minimum standards.

    This is laughable.

    Because here’s the thing: Children are citizens, too. And while parents should have the right to homeschool their child, they should not have the right to deny that child an education. The student’s right to an education trumps the parent’s right to homeschool.

    I don’t believe any homeschooler has ever claimed the right to deny an education to our children. If we wanted to do that, we’d send them to the public schools. The "tailors" there do a wonderful job of not-educating. No, what homeschoolers claim is that it is our responsibility to educate our children. We also claim that the state has shown no compelling interest in the education of same. Absent that, "rights guaranteed by the Constitution may not be abridged by legislation which has no reasonable relation to some purpose within the competency of the state" [Pierce v. Society of Sisters].


    Filed on at 3:44 pm under by dcobranchi

    THE RIGHT DECISION This blog won’t win me too many friends in the HS community and may lose me some readers, but I think the 6th Circuit Court made the correct ruling.

    The Adams County/Ohio Valley School Board must remove the Ten Commandments from the grounds of its four high schools while it appeals a ruling that they’re unconstitutional, a federal appeals court here ruled Tuesday.


    Filed on at 3:34 pm under by dcobranchi

    INVOLUNTARY SERVITUDE In response to the 13th Amendment story from the other day, Skip Oliva pointed me to this WashTimes article. The last graf is a killer:

    Mandatory community-service learning in schools — in which students not only perform public service, but write and talk about it — is essential, Mr. Culbertson added. Learning about what causes the problems “engages kids — that’s what gets them excited,” he said.

    This is nanny-statism at its worst: “We want kids to be engaged. We want our kids to volunteer. How can we do this? Force them under threat of not graduating.”


    Filed on at 3:03 pm under by dcobranchi

    THIS TAKES THE CAKE Of all the idiotic, lame-brained statements I have read concerning public schools vs. HSing, this is the absolute dumbest (have I gone over the top yet, Fritz?):

    The amount of state aid was of concern both during the general discussion of planning for the district’s future and later discussion of efforts under way to bring about a long-term co-op sports agreement with the Park Falls School District.

    During the general discussion, Mertig recalled that the school enrollment in 1981 was 316, compared to 218 presently. He said he has nothing against home schooling, but noted that there are 18 students in the district who are being home schooled and it would help the district considerably in terms of eligibility for more state aid if those students would enroll in the school instead. He suggested anyone present who knew people who were home-schooling their children to try to convince them of the importance of enrolling their children in the school.

    I think I can pretty much guarantee that anyone who goes to the trouble of HSing will not give it up so the school district can get more money. If I could figure out a way use HSing to take money out, I would. As long as the educrats essentially have unlimited funding, schools will never improve. It is only the threat of competiton and the concomitant loss of funding that keeps them honest.


    Filed on November 19, 2002 at 2:53 pm under by dcobranchi

    LA PRESIDENTE I’m off to the President’s Reception at EAS. The conference starts tomorrow at 7 a.m. so I probably won’t be able to blog anymore until tomorrow evening. See y’all then.


    Filed on at 2:49 pm under by dcobranchi

    ACCOUNTABLE TO WHOM? This article aims at an even-handed discussion of HSing issues but fails badly. They got off to a bad start with this headline:

    Accountability lacking for home-schooled students


    Filed on at 2:41 pm under by dcobranchi

    SEVEN IS ENOUGH The McCaughey septuplets are going to be HSed when they turn five this year.

    GOOD NEWSPatrick Henry College,

    Filed on at 2:30 pm under by dcobranchi


    Patrick Henry College, founded in 2000 with a strong homeschool student base, has received initial accreditation from the American Academy for Liberal Education.


    Filed on November 18, 2002 at 1:32 pm under by dcobranchi

    QUOTAS FOR RIGHTIES As a protest of Tuft University’s diversity policies, as conservative has claimed “oppressed minority” status and demanded (un)equal treatment. Not surprisingly, he was turned down.

    ”This was from the get-go an attempt to demonstrate how ridiculous the notion of diversity seats is,” he said the other day. ”They are nothing more than a way of giving preference to favored groups on campus.” And what better way to prove the point than for a disfavored group to apply – citing exactly the criteria used to justify other ”diversity” set-asides – and get turned down? That is exactly what happened late last month when the student senate voted to deny Hertzberg’s request.


    Filed on at 1:05 pm under by dcobranchi

    THIS MAKES ME ILL A PS superintendent in Illinois is harassing HSers with police cars and threats of legal action:

    Christine Fortune told WND that two squad cars showed up at her house in Geneseo, Ill., in Henry County, in late October to deliver a letter demanding that she appear at a “pre-trial” hearing.

    One police cruiser pulled into her driveway, another parked on the street. One policeman then accompanied a truant officer and case worker to her door, while the other police officer waited in his car.

    “I was very angry,” said Fortune, who homeschools her 14-year-old daughter Stephanie. “[My children] were really perplexed why the police were coming for me. It was way overkill for something that was not even a certified, subpoena kind of letter. It was just something they could have popped in the mail.”

    According to the HSLDA, the super is exceeding his authority. HSers in IL don’t have to prove anything to anyone.

    P.S. Sorry about the bad pun; guess I’ve been reading SneakingSuspicions too much.


    Filed on November 17, 2002 at 2:22 pm under by dcobranchi


    An alarming majority of Ontario Grade 12 students have not performed the 40 hours of volunteer work they need to graduate this year, schools say — an oversight that could cost them their high school diploma.

    I really dislike this involuntary “volunteerism.” This story is out of Canada so I don’t know about their laws but I’d bet we would have all sorts of interesting federal lawsuits (13th Amendment anyone?), if a student were denied a diploma for lack of “volunteering.”

    Next »