Utterly Meaningless » 2003 » August
  • R*E*S*P*E*C*T

    Filed on August 8, 2003 at 2:04 pm under by dcobranchi

    About a couple of young chess whizzes:

    “They’re from a home-school situation, and when they walk in, everybody goes, ‘whoa, we’re going to see some serious play now!'”

    The article is mostly about their chess teacher.


    Filed on at 1:45 pm under by dcobranchi

    This editorial is so sickeningly fawning in its admiration for “professional educators” that it must have been written by a certified teacher.

    While teachers are the professionals who have learned the techniques for imparting wisdom and knowledge, there is a lot that can be learned from people who aren’t professional educators.

    Most honest educators will agree that it’s much easier to teach a child who has had the love of learning and respect for teachers instilled into them at home.

    There’s a large body of people who believe that parents are the most effective educators. Some have even taken it a step further and made the choice to homeschool their children.


    Filed on at 1:40 pm under by dcobranchi

    2nd verse, same as the 1st.


    Filed on at 1:39 pm under by dcobranchi

    It’s that time of the year- when parents of kids in the g-schools start looking for alternatives and the papers run articles about how to get started homeschooling. This time, the Miami Herald takes a crack at the standard newbie article.


    Filed on at 1:28 pm under by dcobranchi

    in West Virgina- up 700 percent in the last decade, according to the WV Gazzette.


    Filed on August 7, 2003 at 12:11 pm under by dcobranchi

    Lilek’s Bleat today is superb, especially the last third. It’s all about fathers and promises made.


    Filed on at 11:21 am under by dcobranchi

    Here are some very short snapshot reviews of educational software.


    Filed on at 10:24 am under by dcobranchi

    In Texas, evidently, 36=27. On this year’s 10th grade math test, the students were asked to calculate the perimeter of an octagon. The “correct” answer was 36. But, if the kids used trigonometry, they “could” get 27. Huh? 27 was one of the choices, so the TX DOE threw out the entire question. Texas doesn’t release old tests so I can’t find out what the “real” answer is. Maybe Kim Swygert will take a swipe at this one?

    Amazingly, throwing out this one question raises the percentage of kids who passed from 71 to 73%.

    UPDATE: Bas Braams of Scientifically Correct has all of the info on the questionable, er, question. And, my bad- the question is reproduced in the article that I linked above.


    Filed on at 9:55 am under by dcobranchi

    Chicago schools are facing a “logistical nightmare” (read “impossible task”). As many as 250,000 kids from over 350 failing schools will have the option of transferring out. The catch, only 5,000 slots are available in the receiving schools. Here’s the crazy part, though:

    This year, for 2003 tests, only reading and math scores were considered, but the poor performance of just one “subgroup”–such as low-income kids, special education students, African American kids or Hispanic students–was added to the mix.

    For previously low-scoring schools, that meant that if 60 percent of students schoolwide or 60 percent of students in any subgroup did not hit grade level on state math or reading tests, then all students would be eligible for choice. That 60 percent threshold was up from about 50 percent last year.

    What’s the point? If a particular school has a poor special ed program, let the kids in special ed transfer.

    Chicago schools on the tentative choice list included 11 honored as “schools of distinction” for progress on a battery of measures, including last year’s state tests. That included Shields Elementary, which was tripped up by the performance of about 200 special education and bilingual education students.

    …”I was a school of distinction,” said [Principal Rita] Gardner. “We’ve done nothing but raise our scores. But now I’m on a bad list. I have 2,000 kids. Where would they go? People are fighting to get their kids in here.”


    Filed on August 6, 2003 at 2:36 pm under by dcobranchi

    A group of homeschoolers has donated $1000 to their local public library in memory of a 6-year-old homeschooler who was killed in a car accident. The library is going to use the money to buy Five-in-a-Row.


    Filed on at 2:04 pm under by dcobranchi

    According to the Washington teacher’s union, it’s an extra day’s pay. The state legislature cut a “non-student learning-improvement day for teachers” in order to save money. The union promptly sued.

    “That day had become part of the definition of basic education in the state of Washington,” said Charles Hasse, the WEA’s president.

    The lawsuit argues that the decision violates … the Washington Constitution’s mandate that the state provide for basic education.

    I would have assumed that the Constitution was referring to the kids. Somehow I just doubt that the framers had teacher “work” days in mind.


    Filed on at 1:43 pm under by dcobranchi

    An update on Wilfredo Laboy’s travails. The superintendent is passing up the chance to take the test in September in order to provide additional study time. He still has one more chance to take the test before the end of the year. If he doesn’t pass that one it appears likely he will lose his job. I think this is just plain dumb. Why not take the September test? If he doesn’t pass, he could still take it in November. I don’t think I’d want to wager a $150k/year job on a single roll of the dice.


    Filed on at 1:36 pm under by dcobranchi

    I got a new job. I still have my old one, too. Unfortunately, they are not in the same building so I’m running back and forth. Hopefully, things will settle down soon (as in a couple of weeks) but blogging is going to be later than usual for a while.


    Filed on August 5, 2003 at 3:19 pm under by dcobranchi

    3moms.com is at it again. A while back they had a link to H&OES on their scammy “Curriculum in a Box” page. Now, they’re trying to sell newbie homeschoolers across the country a bunch of crap they don’t need. Here’s a link to their “Delaware Homeschool Compliance Kit & Delaware Record Keeping Notebook.” Don’t worry if you don’t know DE homeschooling laws. The pages for every state package are identical (with only the names changed to protect the innocent). Just change the URL to reflect your state. Here’s what you get for $50.

    1. Homeschool Registration
    This section covers information about registering your child for homeschool with Delaware Homeschool. You will find the Delaware Homeschool requirements and laws that deal with this subject, things you need to do, and some important documents to have ready if you are ever audited or questioned. Don’t worry, we’ve got it all organized for you.

    Available on the DHEA website.

    2. Homeschool Testing/Evaluation Requirements
    You will find the Delaware Homeschool laws in your state dealing with testing for homeschooled children. You will also find out other information on testing and options available to you.

    We have no testing requirements here.

    3. Portfolio Requirements
    This section deals with what requirements there are in terms of keeping a formal portfolio in Delaware Homeschool. There are some options you should consider, and some guidelines to help.


    4. Record Keeping /Attendance Requirements
    This section deals with keeping track of how many days you spend homeschooling. The Delaware Homeschool laws aren’t always clear, so you may want to keep a basic record anyway. We’ll explain why, and we’ve organized exactly what you should do.

    We don’t keep attendance other than to tell the DOE we homeschooled for 180 days. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

    5. Immunization and Health
    Delaware Homeschool has laws dealing with health care and immunization. There are times that you may have to show some records. We’ll show you the issues involved, and we’ve got all the appropriate forms or exemption forms you need organized for you.

    No requirements.

    6. Contacts & Reference Information
    Here you will find Delaware Homeschool government contacts, Delaware Homeschool state-wide groups as well as Delaware Homeschool local support groups and associations. These people can also provide help and assistance as you need it. All the contact information is organized for you. Here you will also find other reference material you may want to use.

    All freely available on the DHEA website.

    This kind of nonsense ticks me off. Supposedly, the company was founded by three homeschoolers. Why would anyone in the community seek to take advantage of newbies this way? BAH!

    UPDATE: From the HEM-Networking listserv:

    Hi, I just spoke to “Bonnie” at 1-805-637-xxxx who said that even though the site says they will send you registration” materials and state-required testing materials, since the state does not require registration or testing the materials you get will tell you that. Ach! The conversation went on, but little progress was made. She sees no problems with telling people you are going to send them something and then, when they get it, having a note telling them they will not get the first thing because they really don’t need it. She says there is a money back guarantee. -sigh- If you have time, call her. Maybe she’ll do something if a whole bunch of homeschoolers call her.”

    Definitely a scam.


    Filed on at 12:58 pm under by dcobranchi

    A homeschooling mom in York, PA couldn’t find resources for homeschooling early elementary-age kids so she formed a co-op.

    She joined the York Homeschool Association last year, but found that although there were many resources for older homeschooled children, there wasn’t much available for younger students, particularly those just beginning school.

    Many parents would like to homeschool, Klinedinst said, but are unsure of how to begin. In addition, she said, some parents may feel intimidated by the public education system.

    She’s a newbie, too. I hope all goes well for them but I think she may be in for a shock.

    By next spring, Klinedinst hopes to have a core group of families who will teach and learn together as the children grow, providing members with a permanent, built-in support network.

    It’s a rare co-op that meets the needs of all member families for more than a couple of years.

    And, just for fun, the paper throws in this little tid-bit about PA’s awful homeschooling laws:

    Pennsylvania and South Carolina are the only two states that recognize high school diplomas issued by state-regulated home-school organizations. Pennsylvania has seven such organizations, which by issuing a home-school diploma, recognize that the student has met or exceeded the criteria for earning a public high school diploma. In 2001, it awarded 646 diplomas to home-schoolers.

    Alternatives to this option include parent-issued diplomas, or diplomas from national correspondence schools. However, they are not always recognized by colleges or universities, often forcing home-schoolers in other states to obtain a GED or attend a public school for their senior year to receive graduation privileges.

    Let me re-phrase that. PA and SC are the only two states that have been snookered into thinking that some outside self-accredited organization is capable of evaluating how well we are homeschooling. The state-approved diplomas carry absolutely zero weight except for in-state g-colleges. Almost all colleges and universities now accept homeschoolers without diplomas or GEDs.

    And, what the heck are “graduation privileges?” The prom and graduation ceremony? Gimme a break!


    Filed on at 6:44 am under by dcobranchi

    Former superintendent Mike Carpenter thinks the program to give a laptop computer to ever MI 6th-grader won’t work and is big waste of money.

    The idea that equipping kids with laptops will somehow inspire them to become more engaged in school work has little basis in sound research. Michigan sixth-graders who can’t read at grade level (about two-thirds of them, based on various standardized test data) need instruction in reading, not in surfing the Internet or creating PowerPoint presentations. As far as extending the school day goes, who’s to say the kids will turn the laptops on or even bring them home after school? And what about families without an Internet service provider or even a telephone at home?

    And then there’s the cost. If $39.3 million sounds affordable now (or even if it doesn’t), multiply that times seven, which is the number of years it will take this year’s rising sixth-graders to graduate. Since each new class of sixth-graders presumably will have to be equipped with laptops, the price tag will rise to an estimated $275 million dollars a year by the seventh year. Where is this money coming from? One source state officials are hoping for is in-kind software contributions from the private sector. State officials also hope the feds will continue paying a part. In the end though, “hoping” for money to pay for programs isn’t a sound way to approach public policy.

    I think his math may be faulty here. Typical computer leases run 3 years so, unless the legislators were really stupid and only allocated enough money for the first year of the lease, these kids would have the computers through the 8th grade. Thus, the program would only cost a third as much. Other than that, though, he’s spot on. He proposes that the money would be better spent setting up vouchers or more charter schools.

    If Michigan would simply expand school choice through tuition tax credits and/or by allowing for the creation of more charter schools, parents would be able to hold schools accountable through their choice of schools. If they wanted laptop computers for their children, they could choose a school that provided them. This would create an atmosphere of free market competition that would eventually determine, at the most efficient price, whether or not computers are effective at improving student achievement.

    Cathy Cuthbert’s School Liberator sees some irony in Carpenter’s solution:

    But here’s the joke-what do you supposed charter school apparatchiks trying to corrupt homeschoolers offer them as inducements to put the ring back in their noses and join government schools? Yes, Mr. Carpenter, you guessed it, laptop computers.


    Filed on August 4, 2003 at 7:05 pm under by dcobranchi

    In an article about the increasing numbers of black homeschooling families:

    Public schools are failing to educate black children and do a poor job teaching black history, Burges said.

    “Some of our children can’t even read on a fifth-grade level,” [homeschooling mom Joyce] Burges said.

    They do a poor job teaching U.S. history, too. And English, math, science, and possibly PE. (Thanks to Nick Blesch for the prod).


    Filed on at 12:44 pm under by dcobranchi

    Steve Gallaher (the sleepless one) had a post a couple of days ago reminding folks to update the Win operating systems with the security patches found here. He also pointed out the need for a good firewall. I concur and have been running ZoneAlarm Pro. My employer requires its use from our home PCs. It’s a good product. Highly rec’d. The free version is almost as good.


    Filed on at 12:16 pm under by dcobranchi

    I would have blogged both these articles but Joanne Jacobs did such a terrific job (as usual) that I dare not. Just click over and read this post and this one, too.


    Filed on August 3, 2003 at 8:48 pm under by dcobranchi

    Eastside Charter School in Wilmington has registered the highest test scores in the state. All 16 3rd graders in the Edison-run school passed both the math and reading DSTP. According to the N-J, only one other school has managed this feat since 2000. The school serves a predominantly poor neighborhood.

    Small classes and a small school overall are the keys to Eastside’s success, according to its staff and others familiar with the school.

    “When it’s a small school like this, you become a family,” said Eric Ford, a fifth-grade teacher. “It’s almost like a small church. You can’t hide like you can in a big cathedral.” …At Eastside, youngsters stay in school 11 months of the year, another of the critical factors in its success, many believe. Their last day of school is today. In the fall, Eastside will have a sixth grade for the first time but doesn’t have plans to expand beyond that or beyond its classroom size of 16.

    Interestingly, two other charter schools in the same neighborhood (one an Edison school) recorded some of the lowest scores in the state.


    Filed on at 6:34 pm under by dcobranchi

    A homeschooling mom in Spotsylvania Co. (VA) has received the local GOP endorsement for school board. The current seat-holder was going to retire until he learned that a homeschooler (God forbid) was running. This is evidently beyond the pale.

    “I wasn’t about to give someone who knows nothing about the public school system a free ride into this position,” said Richard Fleming, 78, a furniture salesman whose seven children attended county schools.

    I don’t agree with her platform, which includes allowing homeschoolers to access g-school extracurriculars, but her candidacy certainly shouldn’t be discounted just because her kids have escaped the g-schools.


    Filed on at 6:11 pm under by dcobranchi

    Why does every article about homeschooling have to quote one?

    Art Jipson, a University of Dayton sociology professor, said home schooling can limit the social development of children.

    “How do you deal with somebody that has a different view of the world than you?” he asked. “You get to become more well-rounded in terms of how the world works when you are in the traditional school.”

    Dollars to donuts that the so-called expert has never even met a homeschooler.

    A “HOW TO”

    Filed on at 5:57 pm under by dcobranchi

    The St. Pete Times has a pretty good “getting started homeschooling” article. At least one of the moms interviewed is an unschooler. Worth a click.


    Filed on at 5:48 pm under by dcobranchi

    Sorry for the late bloggage. Right after church we went to the Summer Science Days program at Hagley Museum (sorry- no link available). A very cool program for kids which runs every Sunday afternoon in August. We’re planning on torturing the kids for the whole month. I’ll remember to bring the digital camera next week.


    Filed on August 2, 2003 at 9:54 am under by dcobranchi

    HSLDA’s Chris Klicka went a bit over the top with this quote:

    With 2 million students home-schooled nationwide and 100,000 in Texas, this is not a fringe population. Families are exiting the public-school system for specific reasons.

    “The two main factors are public schools – people are disgruntled with the academic failures and moral decline,” said Chris Klicka, senior legal counsel for the Home School Legal Defense, a national group with 76,000 member families. “The second reason is a lot of families are doing this for moral reasons, probably about 85 percent. They feel a call from God.”

    85 percent? That’s way too high. The last survey results I saw had “religious/moral” as the primary reason to homeschool cited by less than 50% of the respondents. Other than that the article is a pretty nice write-up of some Christian homeschoolers in TX.


    Filed on at 9:36 am under by dcobranchi

    Florida is all set to begin two cyber-schools this year. The program stems from a voter-passed constitutional amendment to reduce school class size. Wisely, homeschoolers are not allowed to enroll in the pilot program, which is expected to have 1,000 kids in its first year.


    Filed on at 9:08 am under by dcobranchi

    Homeschooling in NC was up only 10.5% in the past school year. This was the smallest increase ever. Another interesting stat: the Wake g-schools now enroll fewer than 83% of eligible students. That’s ok, according to the edu-crats.

    “Obviously I feel we’re offering a superior academic program, and that’s reflected in our results,” [Wake Superintendent Bill] McNeal said. “People make decisions for various reasons. Our numbers continue to grow. Their numbers continue to grow.”

    Good spin. The g-school enrollment grew by 3000 students solely because of population growth. The percentage continues to drop precipitously. Edu-crats had not predicted that they would reach the 83% level until 2007.


    Filed on August 1, 2003 at 4:08 pm under by dcobranchi

    Erin O’Connor found an interesting free speech case that takes place in my old hometown of Greenville, SC. North Greenville College was right up the street from Furman University. It’s a very small, very conservative Christian college.

    The League of the South is a neo-Confederate secessionist movement. It has been accused of being a racist organization.


    Filed on at 9:32 am under by dcobranchi

    Several refugees have filed suit against their (former) school. Nick Blesch at Twilight of the Idols does an excellent job summarizing the issues.


    Filed on at 7:01 am under by dcobranchi

    A Nebraska Sheriff in Nemaha County is asking local retail stores in his county to keep a list of people buying cold or allergy medicine from their stores in order to keep tabs on people who may be using them to manufacture methamphetamine. Under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations, a controlled substance cannot be purchased over the counter. It must be administered through a registered pharmacist — a way of tracking both the use and delivery of the drug. Over-the-counter drugs also fall under regulations administered by the FDA. Those drugs can be bought by walking up to a shelf, picking up a box and taking it to the check out. In some cases, the cashier might inquire about the age of the person, but placing a name on the list is usually not part of the routine.

    Someone needs to rein him in.


    Filed on at 6:55 am under by dcobranchi

    are all mentioned in this WND column by Kevin McMullough. The last two are throw-aways.


    Filed on at 6:47 am under by dcobranchi

    It’s not often that the News-Journal mentions homeschooling. In today’s paper, homeschooling mom Claire Turnbaugh rates a mention in an article about a branch library in Kent Co.

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