Utterly Meaningless » 2003 » April
  • SOUNDS FAMILIAR Seniors at

    Filed on April 22, 2003 at 6:05 am under by dcobranchi

    SOUNDS FAMILIAR Seniors at Annadale High School in VA are wearing pajamas and bedroom slippers to school. Administrators are not happy. Heck, my kids do that ’bout every day! (via EIA)

    DAY 16: 219.5 Delta:

    Filed on at 4:14 am under by dcobranchi

    DAY 16: 219.5 Delta: -1.5, Net: -11.5

    NEW BLOG Kim Swygert

    Filed on April 21, 2003 at 11:55 pm under by dcobranchi

    NEW BLOG Kim Swygert has a blog up dedicated to studying the Goth sub-culture and lifestyle. An interesting read.

    BLOGROLL UPDATES I’ve finally

    Filed on at 11:21 pm under by dcobranchi

    BLOGROLL UPDATES I’ve finally fixed Skip Oliva’s and Cogito Ergo’s links. They should point to their active blogs now.

    DAY 15: 221.0 Delta:

    Filed on at 5:11 pm under by dcobranchi

    DAY 15: 221.0 Delta: +2.5, Net: -10.0

    I screwed up. I didn’t intentionally cheat but I thought the Brussels Sprouts were low carb. They’re not. And I passed up the pecan pie (my favorite) thinking I was being good. I should be back on track tomorrow. I hope.


    Filed on at 6:34 am under by dcobranchi

    WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE… The Arizona Republic has an editorial today that chides the Democratic governor for being anti-homeschooling. Good! But, then there’s this graf:

    Some fear lax policies could provide cover for irresponsible parents and potential abuse. The governor could make the case that the state has a clear interest in making sure kids learn, and that state laws should not be used as a way to keep abused or neglected kids out of school. All kids should be registered and tested.

    Keep your damn registrations and tests away from OUR kids. They do not belong to the state.

    UPDATE: Skip Oliva beats up the governor for the same sin.

    For their part, home educators shouldn’t take the governor’s snub too seriously. In this case, they should consider it an affirmation that they are putting their children before altruist political concerns.

    SAVE THE WHALES! Several

    Filed on at 6:27 am under by dcobranchi

    SAVE THE WHALES! Several pilot whales have beached themselves in FL. Volunteers are working to save the few surviving whales. The reporter seemed to get a kick out of the fact that one of the volunteers is homeschooled.

    Almost a dozen people sleep here every night, in trailers or tents, so they can remain close to the whales.

    There is no TV, no running water, and the dinner menu is whatever has been donated by local businesses.

    Few seemed to mind.

    ”This is the best Easter present I’ve had in my life, to be here with these whales,” said volunteer Sara Childers of Hollywood, who arrived Friday and has since been putting up tents, answering phones and sterilizing equipment.

    Sara is 11 years old.

    Her mother, Pam Childers, a full-time volunteer with the Marine Mammal Conservancy, is also here.

    In the coming days, Childers will continue home-schooling her daughter, as she normally does — only not at home.

    I thought all those kids were home, chained to their kitchen tables.

    PITIFUL If this is

    Filed on at 6:14 am under by dcobranchi

    PITIFUL If this is accurate, the history teachers at the schools should all be fired.

    More than half of the high school students in a recent survey didn’t even know George Washington commanded the colonial army during the Revolutionary War.

    Most guessed it was Ulysses S. Grant, according to historian David McCullough — and 6 percent thought it must have been Douglas MacArthur.

    Homeschoolers would not have made those mistakes.


    Filed on at 6:09 am under by dcobranchi

    PRE-SCHOOL FOR ALL That’s the name of an organization in Houston pushing just that- “free” pre-school for all 3 and 4-year olds. Here’s their ideal solution:

    [W]e can make a commitment to all of our community’s children that quality preschool education is an important first step in their educational path and work to maximize existing funding streams, streamline the existing preschool systems into one overall integrated system and, as needed, identify necessary additional funding over time to make a quality preschool education a reality for all of Houston’s children. [emphases added]

    I like that spin. Not “raise taxes” but “identify additional funding.” And, it certainly sounds like they would want compulsory pre-school. It’s coming. I’m still betting that within 5 years, some state is going to attempt to lower the compulsory ed age down to 4 or maybe even 3 years.


    Filed on April 20, 2003 at 6:29 am under by dcobranchi

    CATHY DUFFY COLUMN Ms. Duffy has a lengthy column on how accountability testing threatens homeschoolers. I don’t buy the premise, though.

    Could “Standards” Be Forced on Homeschoolers?

    Early in 2001, the Maine legislature introduced legislation (LD 405) requiring homeschoolers to take the state’s Maine Educational Assessment exam. Although this legislative effort failed, it demonstrates that it is not a farfetched concern for homeschoolers in general. [HSLDA News Release. (2001, February 16). Home School Legal Defense Association, Purcellville, VA. ] Also, as colleges and universities explore linkage of college entry to student scores on standards-based tests and exit exams, it is likely that they will come to expect private and home school students to pass the same tests just as they now take the same SAT I, SAT II, and ACT exams as public school students for college entry exams.

    Private and home schools that choose to teach a significantly different curriculum will be faced with choices of sacrificing their own agenda so their students can achieve high test scores, accepting the risk of low student scores, or fighting for alternative evaluation.

    First, NCLB explicitly exempts homeschoolers from having to take the tests. Therefore, we have complete freedom in choosing our curricula. The college issue is, I think, also a red herring. Colleges are now actively recruiting homeschoolers. They recognize that the kids are well-rounded and well-prepared academically. Why would they intentionally cut their potential applicant pool? Besides, colleges do not recruit from only one state. How could any college mandate passing a particluar accountability test?

    There was section of the article, though, that I loved. Check out this definition of a liberal education from the Great Books Academy:

    Liberal education is ordered toward making the student a free and happy individual. This freedom and happiness arises within the student as he is freed from ignorance and becomes better equipped to recognize the truth and beauty of the world around him. And it is truth which in turn leads him to freedom and happiness.

    On this Easter morning, it is worth recalling Jesus’ words on this topic:

    And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
    John 8:32

    DAY 14: 218.5 Delta:

    Filed on at 5:31 am under by dcobranchi

    DAY 14: 218.5 Delta: -1.0, Net: -12.5

    This was yesterday’s supper. One of those “What do we have in the cupboard?” recipes. It came out better than I expected.

    Spicy Indo-China Chicken and Asparagus Stir-fry

    2 boneless-skinless chicken breasts, 1 inch cubes
    1 bunch asparagus, 1 inch pieces
    1 habanero pepper, minced
    Curry powder
    Onion powder
    Garlic powder
    Soy sauce

    Open all the windows before starting this recipe. The smoke from the frying pepper can burn your eyes.

    Heat a large cast iron pan or wok very hot. Add chicken and asparagus. When chicken is nearly done, add habanero. Cook for approximately 1 more minute. Stir in soy and spices to taste.


    Filed on at 5:06 am under by dcobranchi

    THIRD TIME’S THE CHARM (I HOPE) Blogger’s editor keeps eating this post. I hope this works.

    Souderton, PA has decided that you lose your First Amendment rights when you enter the town. They are attempting to ban “loitering,” which they define as a group of two-or-more people standing together anywhere in the town without “permission.” This would include sidewalks and public parks. These lawmakers were obviously NOT homeschooled, or they would have remembered that (apparently unimportant) section called the First Amendment, which prohibits the government from interfering with our right to assmble peaceably.” To help them remember, I’ve changed the headline at the top of this page.

    Oh, yeah. The kicker- the proposed fine is $1000 and parents would be liable if their minor kids “hang out” with their friends.

    CATCHING UP Brian Micklethwait

    Filed on April 19, 2003 at 9:20 am under by dcobranchi

    CATCHING UP Brian Micklethwait had a good post on homeschooling the other day.

    But, as any home schoolers reading this will not need to be told, it is precisely the “socialisation” offered by many schools that they are often anxious to avoid. The kinder, gentler rhythms of family life are not merely preferred on narrowly education grounds, but precisely because it provides a superior sort of socialisation, in the form of a more gradual easing of children in to the wider world.

    Read the whole thing.

    INTERESTING A just-released study

    Filed on at 8:26 am under by dcobranchi

    INTERESTING A just-released study has found that 1 in 4 kids in Harlem has asthma. The researchers don’t provide a reason why the rate is so high. It certainly sounds like there may be an environmental cause as the rate for the nation as a whole is only 6 percent.

    HUH? I’m not sure

    Filed on at 8:10 am under by dcobranchi

    HUH? I’m not sure what this means, but it sure sounds insulting. A fired teacher has filed a federal lawsuit alleging “that a disproportionate number of black male students at the middle school have been and continue to be relegated to home schooling.” Hey, that sounds like a good thing to me.


    Filed on at 8:03 am under by dcobranchi

    GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN A tiny one-room schoolhouse on top of a mountain in CA may close for budgetary reasons. Parents are faced with a choice between homeschooling or a three-hour commute to the nearest school in the valley.


    Filed on at 7:46 am under by dcobranchi

    MISSOURI ATHLETICS A bill that would have permitted homeschoolers to participate in MO extracurriculars has died in committee.

    DAY 13: 219.5 Delta:

    Filed on at 7:42 am under by dcobranchi

    DAY 13: 219.5 Delta: +1.0, Net: -11.5

    Didn’t cheat. Probably just random fluctuation at this point.

    ALASKA GEO BEE Another

    Filed on April 18, 2003 at 5:01 pm under by dcobranchi

    ALASKA GEO BEE Another homeschooler is on his way to D.C. for the finals.


    Filed on at 4:13 pm under by dcobranchi

    A REAL HOMESCHOOL DAY We started out a rainy Good Friday heading for the Franklin Institute in Philly. Apparently, everyone else in the Delaware Valley had the same idea, so we bagged it in favor of the American Helicopter Museum in West Chester, PA. Way cool! It’s probably the ideal museum for homeschooling families. The little ones get to climb in-and-out of the ‘copters, and the volunteers have a lot of scientific and engineering experience to share with the older kids. After the museum, we went to the Simon Pearce glassblowing workshop. The kids were fascinated; we had to drag Chelsea away kicking and screaming. The price was right, too- it’s a freebie.

    Click on the pictures for a larger view.

    Anthony, Katelyn, Chelsea and Jonathan get ready for a mission in a V-22 Osprey.

    Cue “Suicide is Painless (The Theme from M*A*S*H).”

    The kids got a quick lesson from the glassblower. I’ll be putting in their applications for the Glassblowing courses at Salem Community College on Monday.

    DAY 12: 218.5 Delta:

    Filed on at 5:09 am under by dcobranchi

    DAY 12: 218.5 Delta: -2.0, Net: -12.5

    I blew right through my short term goal and I’m not sure why. I still expect to slow down to 2-3 pounds per week. Next goal, 210 by my birthday, 5/13.

    OH, THE HORROR! Schools

    Filed on April 17, 2003 at 10:28 am under by dcobranchi

    OH, THE HORROR! Schools do not teach kids to handle money. A Boston Globe columnist is aghast that teachers don’t want to add yet another mandatory course to the education requirements.

    If the educational community sticks to its guns and its established curriculum, the only choice for parents trying to raise money-smart kids is to do most of the education through home schooling.

    What a concept! Parents teaching their children something without relying on the government-schools? Is that possible?

    DARN! The budget that

    Filed on at 10:19 am under by dcobranchi

    < SARCASM >DARN!< /SARCASM > The budget that NH legislators pass today will likely not have the $400,000 for homeschooling.

    SAD NEWS Dr. Atkins

    Filed on at 9:27 am under by dcobranchi

    SAD NEWS Dr. Atkins (of the Atkins Diet) has died at the age of 72. He slipped on some ice in the early April snowstorm and suffered a cerebral hemorrhage.


    Filed on at 7:43 am under by dcobranchi

    AN INTERESTING HOMESCHOOL PROJECT Build your own shoulder-fired SAM.

    John Armellino, 8, and his brother Paul, 6, preferred the life-size models of shoulder-fired missiles, a dream for any young man. Their mom used the event as a field trip.

    “I home school them, and (John) has a technological mind,” said mom Camille Armellino. “He wants to know how everything works.”

    PATENT PENDING I’m going

    Filed on at 7:35 am under by dcobranchi

    PATENT PENDING I’m going to make a fortune on this invention: Kevlar backpacks.

    A 13-year-old Delhi Middle School student can thank his backpack for taking the brunt of a bullet that struck him in the back Tuesday at school.

    Merced County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Rick Marshall, who arrived at the scene shortly after the shooting, said the bullet entered the boy’s backpack, went through a notebook, and exited out the back, striking the boy in the hip.

    The perfect solution for school violence.


    Filed on at 7:23 am under by dcobranchi

    SEPARATION OF CHURCH-STATE-SCHOOL We need a new organization:

    Akron city and school officials have turned to churches for help in getting voters to approve an income tax increase for school construction.

    Wednesday, they asked area ministers to endorse the proposal and speak about it from their pulpits.

    Those ministers who are uncomfortable with bringing politics into the sanctuary can at least distribute campaign literature and line up volunteers to drive voters to polls, Akron schools Superintendent Sylvester Small told the breakfast gathering at Buchtel High School.


    Filed on at 7:14 am under by dcobranchi

    WHAT DO THEY KNOW? I think UK teachers are onto something here.

    Children as young as four are being traumatised by a regime of formal school instruction in the Three Rs that has turned early learning into a straitjacket, teachers said yesterday.

    Delegates at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers’ conference in Blackpool said children, especially boys, became disruptive when starting maths and English lessons at too young an age. They were not ready to accept regimented lessons at four.

    They called for the formal school starting age to be put back to six, as it is in most European countries.

    But, what about the “free” daycare?


    Filed on at 6:56 am under by dcobranchi

    A TALE OF TWO SCHOOLS Interesting contrast here:

    Ross Fu, a senior at Torrey Pines High School in Carmel Valley, illustrates how elusive Harvard can be, even for top students.

    Ross earned perfect scores on the SAT and SAT II. He received the highest marks on all nine advanced placement tests he took. He has a 4.68 GPA, is president of his school’s writing club and is a talented pianist who recently interned at a molecular biology laboratory.

    Harvard rejected Ross.

    [T]here was a Houston Independent School District Yates High School student who had graduated with a 3.9 grade-point average, but who had scored only 990 on his SAT. He had been accepted to the University of Texas under the 10 percent rule and was awarded $58,000 in scholarships.

    When interviewed, the student admitted he hadn’t learned to study in high school, all he really had to do was “show up.”

    Perhaps Ross Fu should have applied to UT.

    DAY 11: 220.5 Delta:

    Filed on at 4:12 am under by dcobranchi

    DAY 11: 220.5 Delta: -1.5, Net: -10.5

    WND BOOKS has released

    Filed on April 16, 2003 at 7:55 am under by dcobranchi

    WND BOOKS has released 14-year-old homeschooler Kyle Williams’ first book. It’s available here.

    CLUELESS Dearborn, MI is

    Filed on at 7:50 am under by dcobranchi

    CLUELESS Dearborn, MI is facing a budget crisis and is cutting teachers. One proposal has 1st and 2nd graders sharing a room (and teacher). At least one parent is unhappy:

    Amber Lucas, a Dearborn mother of six, said she would rather home-school her children than see them in classrooms with students of a different grade level.

    “Every kid deserves the chance to be a first-grader, not a second-grader,” Lucas said. “That’s not right. I’ll pull all six of my children out of Dearborn.”

    Well, unless Ms. Lucas is the mother of sextuplets, she’ll have more than one grade at home. That’s not right!

    UPDATE: Tammy McQuoid (no perma-link) picked up the same story. I swear, I didn’t peak at her blog first- even though she did beat me by 20 minutes. I guess we’re psychotic. I mean, psychic.


    Filed on at 7:43 am under by dcobranchi

    ONE DOWN, ONE TO GO Oregon’s Homeschool Freedom bill passed the Senate 20-9. It’s now headed for the House where its prospects look good.


    Filed on at 7:38 am under by dcobranchi

    LISA MARIE- HOMESCHOOLER Elvis’ daughter homeschools (at least some of) her kids.


    Filed on at 6:46 am under by dcobranchi

    HOW DID WE GET HERE? A 9-year-old boy has been arrested for raping a 7-year-old girl in the girl’s bathroom at their school.

    A conference was held about the boy, [Superintendent] Mazzullo said. He said he is not sure whether the boy is still attending the school.

    The other students at the school are not in danger, he said.


    DAY 10: 222.0 Delta:

    Filed on at 4:08 am under by dcobranchi

    DAY 10: 222.0 Delta: -0.5, Net: -9.0


    Filed on at 3:24 am under by dcobranchi

    A USEFUL BLOG Tammy McQuoid runs the HomeschoolReviews blog. As expected, she posts reviews of materials (mostly books) that homeschoolers might run across. I’m adding it to the blogroll. (via Isabel Lyman)


    Filed on April 15, 2003 at 4:43 pm under by dcobranchi

    IT’S NOT FOR EVERYONE Here’s a nice article by a devout homeschooling mom who felt called to finally send her kids to school.

    THIS IS TERRIBLEGunmen armed

    Filed on at 2:31 pm under by dcobranchi


    Gunmen armed with an AK-47 rifle and a handgun opened fire in a packed school gymnasium Monday, killing a teenage boy and wounding three girls in a spray of 30 bullets that sent some 200 students scrambling for cover.

    (link via Our Horrible Children)

    GAGGED AT HOME William

    Filed on at 7:34 am under by dcobranchi

    GAGGED AT HOME William Glaser, a homeschooler placed second at a national oratory competition. He won a $16,000 scholarship. Very nice. This quote, though, is hilarious.

    “William got higher in the competition than any home-schooler ever has,” [Lee Harris, spokesman for the American Legion National Headquarters in Indianapolis] said today. “You don’t see home-schooled kids do this well because they don’t get much opportunity or have that much experience in speaking.”

    Yeah, our home’s like a morgue, it’s so quiet.


    Filed on at 7:21 am under by dcobranchi

    LEDE OF THE MONTH I love the start of this article, entitled “Educrats Forbid Kids to Be Kids.”

    A demented new program designed to stop children from acting like children is spreading like a disease through schools across the nation.

    The idiot idea is intended to make schools into something called “Ridicule-Free Zones,” where no kid is ever exposed to such childish behavior as singling out those who wear glasses and calling them “four eyes,” as kids have been doing to each other for as long as anybody can remember, with no demonstrable harm being done to their tender sensibilities.

    The psychobabblers are out in full force on this “bullying” issue.

    “It is not normal to have a child that doesn’t want to join in activities,” says teacher Laura] Harper. “If the antisocial behavior doesn’t stop, we need to get that child to a counselor. They can become suicidal.”

    I was never a joiner in school. I’d just as soon sit under a tree with a book as run around on the playground. And look how I turned out. OK, bad example. 🙂 Seriously, when and from where did we get the notion that all kids are the same and need to be treated as such. They’re people, for goodness sake. INDIVIDUALS! Another good reason to homeschool.

    POOR KIDS Here’s another

    Filed on at 6:47 am under by dcobranchi

    POOR KIDS Here’s another story on universal pre-K. It’s ugly down in Georgia:

    Children spend six and a half hours a day in class…Since the program started, the Department of Early Childhood Education at Georgia State University has conducted frequent evaluations of it. The results have concluded that in several measures of academic and social achievement, kindergarteners who completed Georgia’s pre-k program surpassed those who did not have the preschool experience. One study found that pre-k children scored more than three months higher on achievement tests—including the Iowa Test of Basic Skills—than children who weren’t in such programs.

    Three whole months. And it only cost $128M. What a deal!


    Filed on at 6:42 am under by dcobranchi

    A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME Chicago is in the news today for pushing its free babysitting (pre-school) for kids under the age of three.

    Barbara Abel takes offense when people use the word “baby-sitting” to describe the new infant-toddler program at Chicago Public Schools’ gleaming new National Teachers Academy.

    …[T]he cost of infant-toddler programs is steep and it’s unlikely they’ll be included in universal preschool programs anytime soon. Program costs run about $200 a week per child, says Marsha Engquist, president of the National Child Care Association.

    Yeah, that “free” daycare is costly.

    DUH! The San Antonio

    Filed on at 6:19 am under by dcobranchi

    DUH! The San Antonio School District is complaining that, if TX adopts vouchers, they could lose students and the dollars that come with them. That’s the whole idea behind vouchers. The school district is now supposed to raise its game in order to compete.

    DAY 9: 222.5 Delta:

    Filed on at 6:08 am under by dcobranchi

    DAY 9: 222.5 Delta: -1.5, Net: -8.5


    Filed on April 14, 2003 at 9:41 am under by dcobranchi

    VERY COOL BUT IT’S NOT HOMESCHOOLING A couple is driving their vintage car from Argentina to Alaska. During the 3-year (and counting) trip, they’ve driven 31,000 miles (@ 35 mph) and had a baby.

    SPORTS The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    Filed on at 9:27 am under by dcobranchi

    SPORTS The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has several Letters-to-the-Editor concerning homeschoolers participating in government-school sports. All were opposed.

    UNFUNDATED* The New Hampshire

    Filed on at 6:06 am under by dcobranchi

    UNFUNDATED* The New Hampshire School Administrators Association has done a cost/benefit analysis of the NCLB. The “benefits” considered are exclusively the additional federal dollars brought into the state. They estimate a ratio of approximately $8 spent to bring in $1. My favorite “estimate” is the additional cost of attracting “high quality” teachers: $11,716,728.93. Surprisingly, they estimate it will cost even more to attract “high quality paraprofessionals”: $16,558,344. And no sense, er, cents.

    *I got tired of writing “unfunded mandate.”

    TEXAS MIRACLE EdNews has

    Filed on at 4:49 am under by dcobranchi

    TEXAS MIRACLE EdNews has another column on the TX accountability tests. This one is pretty damning. The author has compared students who scored exactly at grade level on the TAAS (defined as a score of 70) vs. those same students’ performances on the nationally-normed SAT9:

    How did the students who scored at exactly the cut score of TLI 70 perform on the SAT9 math test?
    · 92% of these students scored below the 50th percentile on the SAT9 test.

    · 86% of these students scored below the 40th percentile on the SAT9 test.

    · 68% of these students scored below the 30th percentile on the SAT9 test.

    · 47% of these students scored below the 20th percentile on the SAT9 test.

    Perhaps Kim Swygert can shed more light on this, but it appears to me that the SAT9 math test is significantly more difficult (for these TX students) than the TAAS. Since both are math tests (as opposed to, say, history), one would expect the skill sets at the 10th-grade level to correspond a bit more closely.

    NOTE: The TAAS has been replaced by the ostensibly more-difficult TAKS.

    DAY 8: 224.0 Delta:

    Filed on at 3:15 am under by dcobranchi

    DAY 8: 224.0 Delta: 0.0, Net: -7.0

    Next goal: 220.0 by 4/24

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