Utterly Meaningless » 2003 » May
  • FINALLY! More OT- Delaware

    Filed on May 19, 2003 at 5:28 am under by dcobranchi

    FINALLY! More OT- Delaware Governor Minner signed the Sunday liquor sales bill last week and stores were allowed to open on Sunday for the first time ever. The NYT reports that there is a growing trend among the states to bring down one of the last vestiges of blue laws. The purpose for the change is to increase tax revenues.


    Filed on May 18, 2003 at 7:23 am under by dcobranchi

    NICE PROFILES An Iowa homeschooler is profiled here. The article also includes a summary of Iowa’s homeschooling law: pretty bad law, IMO.

    And, this article, does a very nice job summarising the reasons several families in Florida have chosen to homeschool. There are no negative or snarky comments. Included among the families is a stay-at-home dad.


    Filed on at 7:11 am under by dcobranchi

    A MUST READ Kim Swygert has an excellent post about supposed racial bias in the SAT. Psychometrics is a fascinating field, even if I sometimes don’t quite get it.


    Filed on at 6:53 am under by dcobranchi

    WHY IS THIS SO HARD? The Boston Globe reports today that the national high school drop-out rate is approximately 25%, roughly three times higher than previous estimates. I don’t understand how the earlier numbers could have been so far off. If you merely counted incoming freshmen and then the number of graduates four years later for all high schools, you’d have a pretty good idea.


    Filed on at 2:48 am under by dcobranchi

    OT: I HAVE NO LIFE The NYT today has two articles that hit close to home. The first is all about blogging. The second, while focusing on Google, includes this throwaway line:

    The beauty of the Web, after all, is that it enables us to draw on the expertise of people who take a particular interest in a topic and are willing to take the trouble to set down what they think about it. In that sense, the Web is a tool that enables people who have a life to benefit from the efforts of those who don’t.


    Filed on May 17, 2003 at 7:44 am under by dcobranchi

    YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR This is just laughable. A high school student was fined $1.2M for an running an internet scam. His school then kicked him off the baseball team. He’s now suing the school for $50M for ruining his baseball career. He’s representing himself in the lawsuit, once again proving the old adage about being your own lawyer.


    Filed on at 7:15 am under by dcobranchi

    PRO-CHOICE PETE Former DE governor Pete DuPont has a school choice column in the WSJ’s OpinionJournal.

    The reason our public education system is failing our children is that monopolies don’t work. Insulated from competitive pressures–with a guaranteed student body and annual income, as Mr. Finn noted–school-board, state administrative and union bureaucracies govern the educational system.

    American education needs choice and competition and the freedom to innovate if it is going to improve. The rising tide of educational mediocrity so startlingly revealed in 1983 has not ebbed, and until the market forces that have propelled America to the top in other endeavors replace the establishment public education bureaucracies, it may even continue to rise.

    Worth a click.


    Filed on at 7:05 am under by dcobranchi

    POLITICALLY MOTIVATED? A high school student who sang with the Indianapolis Children’s Choir at a Bush speech has been told the absence will not be excused. She will not be allowed to make up any missed work and will receives zeros for the day’s assignments.

    Superintendent Mark Keen said the absence didn’t fit within the school’s policy — even under the excused category of “other educational activity.”

    The policy defines “other educational activity” as “relevant to the child’s academic growth and equivalent to the child’s school activities and experiences.”

    OTOH, I bet these kids had no problem getting their absences excused.

    FOX ON BOX FoxNews

    Filed on at 4:06 am under by dcobranchi

    FOX ON BOX FoxNews did a TV piece on homeschooling. They’ve posted something on the web but it doesn’t appear to be a transcript. A couple of factoids stood out that seem questionable.

    Thirty states mandate regular testing for homeschooled students; 42 states require a set curriculum; parents in Michigan who teach their own kids must first earn a teaching credential…


    Filed on at 3:51 am under by dcobranchi

    (DRUG) TESTING The NYT reports on a large-scale study that shows that drug-testing public school students does little or nothing to reduce the use of drugs.

    The study, published last month in The Journal of School Health, a peer-reviewed publication of the American School Health Association, found that 37 percent of 12th graders in schools that tested for drugs said they had smoked marijuana in the last year, compared with 36 percent in schools that did not. In a universe of tens of thousands of students, such a slight deviation is statistically insignificant, and it means the results are essentially identical, the researchers said.

    Similarly, 21 percent of 12th graders in schools with testing said they had used other illicit drugs like cocaine or heroin in the last year, while 19 percent of their counterparts in schools without screening said they had done so.

    The same pattern held for every other drug and grade level. Whether looking at marijuana or harder drugs like cocaine and heroin, or middle school pupils compared with high school students, the fact that their schools tested for drugs showed no signs of slowing their drug use.

    The Supreme Court had justified drug- testing, in part, by its effectiveness in reducing the use of drugs by young people. This study dramatically calls into question that rationale.


    Filed on May 16, 2003 at 8:50 am under by dcobranchi

    LAUGH O’ THE DAY I feel sorry for this columnist. She met perfect homeschoolers and couldn’t handle the pressure. I think I’ll invite her over to our place; she’d feel right at home.

    BRAINWASHING Here’s a good

    Filed on at 8:36 am under by dcobranchi

    BRAINWASHING Here’s a good column on how edu-crats use youngsters to further their political agenda.

    They say a picture is worth a thousand words. That was certainly true of a recent photo of a little 7-year-old boy holding a sign demanding more money for the schools and holding his fist in the air.

    He was part of a demonstration organized by his teachers, and including parents and other students, all of whom were transported to California’s state capital in Sacramento to protest budget constraints brought on by the state’s huge deficit.

    There was a time when taking children out of classes to fight the political battles of adults would have been considered a shameless neglect of duty. But that was long ago.

    The little boy with the sign and his fist raised in the air is just one of the millions of victims of a shameless education establishment.

    Read the whol ething.

    LATE AGAIN More HazMat

    Filed on May 15, 2003 at 4:26 am under by dcobranchi

    LATE AGAIN More HazMat this a.m. and then it’s down to Dover for the Senate Education Committee meeting where SB103 (the “Homeschools Defined” bill) is on the agenda. Blogging may resume tonight but more likely tomorrow.

    AMERICAN GIRL Ideas on

    Filed on at 2:40 am under by dcobranchi

    AMERICAN GIRL Ideas on Liberty magazine has a nice article on how American Girl Dolls “sell” kids on history.

    the company has a successful product. My daughters’ school “social studies” books drain the life from American history. The Revolutionary War and Civil War become the opportunity for dry recountings of dates and names, mixed in with “inspiring” vignettes of diverse ethnic groups. These vignettes are, to be blunt, dull as dishwater because committees determined to offend no one wrote them. The American Girl books, on the other hand, are lively and engaging. Because they’re fun to read, they get read-over and over and over. My daughters have undoubtedly absorbed more American history from the American Girl books-including more of the social history of “underrepresented” peoples that school text-selection committees seem to value so highly-than from their textbooks and social-studies classes combined.

    My real girls have several of the plastic ones and last year Lydia used the book series in teaching history. There was no way our son was going to read an American Girl Doll book, but he didn’t seem to mind having Lydia read them aloud to everyone. (via Cathy Henderson)

    AMEN! Cathy Henderson nailed

    Filed on at 2:16 am under by dcobranchi

    AMEN! Cathy Henderson nailed one yesterday concerning the Laney Case.

    HOME-SCHOOLERS DEFEND RIGHTS“As the home-schooling New Chapel Hill mother accused of killing two of her children sits in a Smith County Jail cell, other parents who home school their children defend the right and argue cases such as the one against Deanna Laney are not the norm.” And this quote from a homeschool parent: “This takes a great commitment and not everyone can make this type of commitment…” (TX 5/13)

    Just a small suggestion. Part of the unintended consequences of carrying on and on about the “unselfishness”, the “sacrificing” and the “commitment” required, along with the “not for everyone” comments from homeschoolers, is that it results in just the reputation requested. I don’t “sacrifice” any self-interest; taking full responsibility for the education of my daughter is as selfish as anything I’ve ever done, as rewarding, as joyful, as any experience of my life. I raise my daughter and guiding her education is part of the job. Yeah, there are tough spots, but sometimes parenting is a little tougher than at other times, and parenting _is_ a commitment. It’s not nearly as hard as watching a public school make mincemeat out of childhood. Homeschooling isn’t a factor in pushing into madness. I do believe that concentrating a little less on the self-sacrificing-martyr deal is in order.

    ALMOST PERFECT A homeschooling

    Filed on May 14, 2003 at 4:36 pm under by dcobranchi

    ALMOST PERFECT A homeschooling dad has penned a terrific column on his family’s homeschooling experiences. If not for the emphasis on certification, it’d be perfect. One to file.


    Filed on at 3:42 am under by dcobranchi

    LATE BLOGGING TODAY I have more HazMat training scheduled all day. Blogging will resume tonight.


    Filed on May 13, 2003 at 8:00 am under by dcobranchi

    THIS THEORY IS CRAZY In a story about the Laney case (where the mom killed her two young sons), CBS News predicts homeschooling will play a role in any trial:

    [B]oth women home-schooled their children – a factor that doctors in the Yates trial focused on as one of a few that pushed her into madness. If we ever see a Laney capital murder trial – if there is no plea deal for a life sentence – look for home-schooling to play a role in any insanity defense offered by her attorneys.


    Filed on at 7:14 am under by dcobranchi

    HOMESCHOOLERS AND THEIR ‘RENTS This short article is mostly about the homeschooling parents but the kid’s music is briefly mentioned. The parents sound interesting. They run a catnip farm.

    For many years, the Baslers sold their catnip wholesale to Cosmic Catnip of Maryland. Now they own their own Mountain Lion Catnip Company, which sells raw catnip as well as catnip mini-pillows, chin scratchers, and other whimsical cat toys.

    “We made political dolls during the elections,” Basler said. “The idea is that you order the doll that you didn’t want to win, and we’d put catnip in the neck, so your cat gradually rips its head off.”

    DEFINITELY TV Isabel Lyman

    Filed on at 1:39 am under by dcobranchi

    DEFINITELY TV Isabel Lyman points to a really scary column by a teacher who breaks the world down into TV people and Print people:

    “Print People do what they are told to do, almost all the time.

    TV People do what they are told to do, less than half the time.”

    The author claims in her bio that she is “the owner of ‘The Learning Clinic,’ where real reading, and real math, are taught effectively and efficiently.” Maybe not as effectively as she thinks.

    One day I stepped in front of a hall-roaming TV Person who was ignoring my request that he return to class, and stated, “Notice! I am not a TV, and you do not have a remote control! You may not like my ‘channel’ but it is the one you get to watch at this moment!” I might have saved my energy. He missed the point, looked at me as though I had lost my mind, and detoured around me to continue his out-of-class adventure. I noted not one touch of conscience, guilt, respect. The lights are on, but the reception is poor.

    Print people good; TV, bad. She claims that homeschoolers are Print people but I think she’s wrong. We’re definitely TV people. Shoot, the pioneers in the movement broke the law in order to do what they thought right. That’s not only questioning authority. It’s rejecting it, outright. That’s one of the real lessons our kids will learn from our choices. I’m sure that thought would terrify Ms. Taylor, but I think it’s just fine.

    A FISH TALE Here’s

    Filed on May 12, 2003 at 5:26 pm under by dcobranchi

    A FISH TALE Here’s another reason to homeschool– so Dad can go fishing.

    Most professional bass anglers love their jobs, although they hate leaving their families for extended periods, sometimes months…

    Spousal careers and school responsibilities keep many families home while pros hit the road for long periods. Alton Jones and his wife, Jimmye Sue, solved this problem. When Alton readies for a trip, the entire Jones family piles into a very large vehicle…

    Jimmye Sue home-schools the three children, Alton Jr., 11, Kristen, 8, and Jamie, 5. To share the road with her husband, Jimmye Sue gave up a $50,000 a year job as a nurse, at times the sole support for the family.


    Filed on at 10:42 am under by dcobranchi

    ANOTHER WHIZ KID This homeschooler will graduate from community college with 2 Associate’s degrees at the age of 15. A cute anecdote:

    There were a few bumps along the way.

    A Sinclair prof last year asked English 112 students to write about a first in their lives, such as getting their first driver’s license, going out on their first date, first time going into a bar, etc. The professor didn’t know Harry was 14 and hadn’t experienced any of those firsts just yet. Harry wrote about his first class at Sinclair instead.


    Filed on at 7:52 am under by dcobranchi

    BILL O’REILLY GETS IT RIGHT… for once. I rarely agree with the stances that the Fox commentator takes but he’s spot on with his denouncement of GA politicians who wouldn’t even condemn an all-white prom in Taylor County, GA. It’s a private party so the ignoramuses have the right to hold the event. Politicans, though, should have been screaming that this is simply intolerable.

    POLITICAL BLACKMAIL “Community activists”

    Filed on at 7:40 am under by dcobranchi

    POLITICAL BLACKMAIL “Community activists” in Miami are threatening to boycott Florida’s tourism, sugar, and citrus induxtries unless Gov. Bush changes their high-stakes test so that fewer minority students will fail. To show just how clueless these people are, here’s a quote from one of the leaders.

    ”We will not continue to support a government economically that will not educate our children,” Bishop Victor Curry said.

    How will lowering the standards assist in educating their children? I think it would accomplish just the opposite.


    Filed on at 6:37 am under by dcobranchi

    PC RUN AMOK The University of Mass.- Amherst is considering replacing it’s Minutemen mascot because, at least in part, “the nickname is too violent (real Minutemen carried guns), too sexist (there were no Minutewomen) and too ethnic (all those white English people). “


    Filed on May 11, 2003 at 6:25 am under by dcobranchi

    HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to all moms but especially to those who have the hardest job in the world, homeschooling moms.

    SAD NEWS A homeschooling

    Filed on at 6:21 am under by dcobranchi

    SAD NEWS A homeschooling mom has killed two of her children in what sounds like an eery replay of the Yates case. This one is also in Texas.


    Filed on at 6:15 am under by dcobranchi

    HOMESCHOOLING IS BORING In Southern Illinois homeschooling must be so common that it is no longer newsworthy:

    The couple is also home-schooling their children, which doesn’t sound like a big deal — after all, more and more families are choosing to home-school these days.

    But then you hear how many children the Cherrys have: nine, ranging in age from 8 months to 18 years.


    Filed on at 5:43 am under by dcobranchi

    WHO’S THE LOSER? A Dallas middle school teacher had students who failed to do their homework write essays which began “I’m a loser because…” This teacher sounds a bit wacko. CHeck out some of her rules for the classroom:

    Stay away from Mrs. B’s desk unless I am giving you permission to get something,” and “Remember that I am the teacher. You are the student. You do not have as many rights as you think you have.”

    DAY 35: 209.5 Delta:

    Filed on at 5:08 am under by dcobranchi

    DAY 35: 209.5 Delta: -1.0, Net: -21.5

    OK, made my intermediate goal of 210 by 5/13. Next goal- 200 by 6/11.


    Filed on May 10, 2003 at 2:41 pm under by dcobranchi

    COINCIDENCE? The NY Post has an update on the Massapequa High students who went to a strip club. Interestingly, on the same page is a semi-nude Victoria’s Secret ad. If it were any paper other than the Post, I’d say coincidence.


    Filed on at 2:07 pm under by dcobranchi


    Boston police and school officials are investigating allegations that a seventh-grader at the John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science, one of Boston’s three exam schools, poisoned his teacher yesterday by pouring household cleaner into the teacher’s coffee mug, said school officials.


    Filed on May 9, 2003 at 2:41 pm under by dcobranchi

    A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT Traffic today has tripled because people are Googling “glenbrook hazing video” and ending up here. Not that I don’t appreciate the traffic, but you really want to use GoogleNews. Click here for the correct search.

    DAY 33: 210.5 Delta:

    Filed on at 2:36 pm under by dcobranchi

    DAY 33: 210.5 Delta: 0.0, Net: -20.5


    Filed on at 2:31 pm under by dcobranchi

    ONE FOR SNEAKING SUSPICIONS Fritz Schranck likes to award “Claudes” for headlines that leave a bit to be desired in the imagination department. Here’s a candidate: Tuition hikes might outpace inflation rate Wow! That’s only the 800th year in a row that this has happened. Stop the presses!

    WANTED: GROWNUPS Yesterday Isabel

    Filed on at 2:19 pm under by dcobranchi

    WANTED: GROWNUPS Yesterday Isabel Lyman blogged a story about a parent taking 15 Massapequa High School baseball players to a strip club. Today, we learn that the Chicago hazing incident may have been fueled by beer purchased by parents. Hey, parents, you’re not their buds. Grow up!

    BTW, Massapequa is near-and-dear to my heart; I grew up there in the 60’s and 70’s (yes, I’m that old). It’s very typical post-WWII suburbia. In fact, the original Levittown is just down the street.


    Filed on at 2:06 pm under by dcobranchi

    WHAT A WASTE OF MONEY St. Paul cops are “enforcing” the city’s reading program by stopping kids at random and asking if they’ve read “the book.”

    Beginning today, about two dozen St. Paul police officers will randomly ask students and other residents about their reading habits. Those who’ve read “The Watsons” will be rewarded with a T-shirt saying, “I Got Caught Reading by the Saint Paul Police.”

    Those who haven’t read the book will be let off easy — this time. They likely will be handed — not thrown — a copy.

    I’m all for encouraging reading but this is just dumb. Police officers are government law enforcement agents. They’re sending the message that not reading the (politically) “correct” book borders on criminal behavior.


    Filed on at 4:14 am under by dcobranchi

    LATE BLOGGING I’m up in Somerset, NJ again all day. I’ll post some more this afternoon.


    Filed on at 3:51 am under by dcobranchi

    DELAWARE ITEM: WE HAVE A NUMBER Sen. Dave Sokola filed the proposed homeschooling legislation yesterday. It’s SB103. A quick glance didn’t find any differences from the DOE proposal but I’ll be going over it line-by-line later this afternoon.


    Filed on at 3:25 am under by dcobranchi

    VALEDICTORIAN UPDATE A federal judge has ruled that Blair Horstine, the girl suing her school about her valedictorian status, will get to fly solo. Joanne Jacobs picked up on this story today and really blasts Horstine. Kim Swygert’s blog from last week continues to generate very interesting comments (including several by Horstine’s classmates). I think I had her pegged from the start.

    365 AND COUNTING Today

    Filed on May 8, 2003 at 7:09 pm under by dcobranchi

    365 AND COUNTING Today marks the end of one year of blogging. Here’s my first post:

    Welcome to my blog. This blog is dedicated to homeschooling and other education articles that I find interesting. It may also include some Delaware-specific “edustuff”. Forewarned and all that.

    Except for my occasional forays into libertarian land, I think I’ve pretty much stuck to the original format. I leave it as an exercise for the reader to determine if that is a good thing or not.


    Filed on at 12:20 pm under by dcobranchi

    USA PATRIOT ACT If accurate, this is downright scary.

    A month ago I experienced a very small taste of what hundreds of South Asian immigrants and U.S. citizens of South Asian descent have gone through since 9/11, and what thousands of others have come to fear. I was held, against my will and without warrant or cause, under the USA PATRIOT Act. While I understand the need for some measure of security and precaution in times such as these, the manner in which this detention and interrogation took place raises serious questions about police tactics and the safeguarding of civil liberties in times of war.

    Read the whole thing.

    DAY 32: 210.5 Delta:

    Filed on at 7:50 am under by dcobranchi

    DAY 32: 210.5 Delta: -0.5, Net: -20.5

    LUCKED OUT A 14-year-old

    Filed on at 7:22 am under by dcobranchi

    LUCKED OUT A 14-year-old student brought a loaded pistol to school in March, claiming he was going to kill the principal, vice principal, and several teachers. He even showed the gun to several of his friends, one of whom finally told police this week. WWHS.


    Filed on at 7:16 am under by dcobranchi

    THE BEATINGS WILL CONTINUE UNTIL MORALE IMPROVES Here’s an example of how NOT to use state accountability tests.

    A fifth-grade teacher punished four pupils last week because they didn’t write a long-enough essay on their AIMS tests, the father of one of the students said.

    Joseph Estrada, 11, and three of his Cheyenne Elementary School classmates weren’t allowed to watch a movie or play outside late last week after they turned in short essays on the Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards test, Daniel Estrada said…

    Results from the high-stakes test determine schools’ labels, which in turn can affect everything from a school’s funding to curriculum. Cheyenne Elementary has the second-highest label: “improving.”

    Got to keep those ratings up.


    Filed on May 7, 2003 at 12:45 pm under by dcobranchi

    TWO, TWO, TWO PUNS IN ONE Someone at Reuters has been smoking something funny.

    Cops hang up pot phones

    Marijuana-scented cell phone covers pulled from tech show after joint protest by authorities, PM.

    SYDNEY, Australia (Reuters) – Marijuana-scented cell phone covers caused such a buzz in Australia that the company selling them had to pull them out of a technology fair in Sydney Wednesday.

    SHELTERED UPDATE Here’s some

    Filed on at 11:58 am under by dcobranchi

    SHELTERED UPDATE Here’s some more info on the football game turned hazing.

    Amateur videotape shot at the scene, of what was supposed to be an initiation for Glenbrook North High School junior girls, shows several students huddled together on the ground while others throw objects at them, including large plastic buckets.

    One girl walks behind the seated girls and slaps them on the back of the head. Another girl holds up what appears to be an intestine. At least one girl reported having a pig’s intestine wrapped around her neck…

    “Basically it started out as a fun hazing like our initiation into our senior year,” one girl who had been injured said. “About 10 minutes into it, everything changed — buckets were flying … people were bleeding. Girls were unconscious…”

    “When I looked up and I saw blood, I knew that this wasn’t right,” another girl said. “This is from a paint can being thrown at me,” she said, pointing to her shoulder. “Tabasco sauce, vinegar and stuff like that [was put] in my eye.”

    Witnesses also reported urine, feces and fish guts were thrown, and others said they had been forced to eat mud.

    I don’t think this was what Cyndi Lauper had in mind.


    Filed on at 6:30 am under by dcobranchi

    GOOD LUCK, DOC I hope this homeschooling dad and physician makes it; he sounds like a nice guy.

    After graduating medical school at Pennsylvania State University, Rumbaugh moved to Pequannock with his wife, Suzanne, and set up shop on Newark Pompton Turnpike. Until last year, Rumbaugh had a successful practice that was 12 years strong.

    But in June 2002, he and Suzanne moved to Honduras to participate in mission work for seven months. They also took their four children with them. Before leaving, Rumbaugh sold most of their belongings and closed his office. He referred his patients to several colleagues.

    “Being a missionary was something both my wife and I found infinitely important. The Lord has blessed us, and we need to return the favor,” said Rumbaugh, a part-time family-life pastor at Cornerstone Chapel in Pequannock. “We also felt it would be important for our children to really learn the meaning of giving back.”

    Suzanne, who holds a bachelor’s degree in education, homeschools all of their children, a practice she began a decade ago in Germany. Rumbaugh was a flight surgeon in the U.S. Air Force, and his assignments brought the family to different camps from Europe to the Middle East.

    “There weren’t any schools to put our children in, so Suzanne did it,” Rumbaugh said. “Our children excelled, and we kept it up.”

    The family returned from Honduras in January and Rumbaugh had to rebuild his practice from the ground up. He bought a beat-up Ford Taurus that works sporadically (on the other days he rides his bicycle), and started a family practice.

    “This time around, I needed a niche,” Rumbaugh said. “At first I thought I’d start a physician hot line, where people could call in and ask questions. Then I thought I’d start a nighttime-hours practice to cater to working people after 5 p.m. But then the house-calls idea hit me.”

    He printed fliers and advertised in town. His ads read, “Remember the Good ol’ days when doctors made house calls? They’re here again! Introducing The House Caller M.D.”

    House calls should be popular with homeschooling families who don’t want to drag a herd of kids to the doctor’s office. I know Lydia would welcome it. Perhaps he should advertise in homeschooling newsletters.


    Filed on at 6:05 am under by dcobranchi

    CHARTER COMPETITION WORKS? I heard this on WDEL-AM this morning driving in to work. The Colonial School District in New Castle County (DE) is hoping to start a Junior Air Force ROTC program by Fall 2004. Why do I find this interesting? Because a nearby school district has chartered the Delaware Military Academy which will be organized as a Junior Navy ROTC and opens this Fall. The new charter has been very popular and is already oversubscribed (Disclosure: My niece will be attending). Coincidence? You make the call.

    DAY 31: 211.0 Delta:

    Filed on at 4:22 am under by dcobranchi

    DAY 31: 211.0 Delta: -2.0 (2 days), Net: -20.0

    20 pounds in a month. Not bad at all.

    « Last | Next »