Utterly Meaningless » 2003 » September

    Filed on September 30, 2003 at 12:06 pm under by dcobranchi

    Isabel Lyman found an editorial in West Virginia that definitively proves that you don’t have to have any brains at all in order to write for a newspaper. According to the editorial, homeschoolers hurt the g-schools because we take money out of the system.

    By holding their kids out of the school system they are hurting their communities. School funding is based upon the number of students enrolled in a school system at the end of October. The fewer students enrolled in the school at that time, the fewer dollars available for the next year’s budget. School systems facing this situation, are facing layoffs.

    We have no idea about the number of students being homeschooled in West Virginia, but it is substantial and growing every year. While there may be good reasons for this, the fact remains that every student not in the public school hurts that school.

    And, I guess, the private schools and the parochial schools are “hurting” the g-schools, too. There’s a reason that the g-schools get money per student. If there are fewer students, it should take fewer dollars to educate the ones left in jail. In fact, since the homeschooling parents still pay property taxes, we are actually helping by pulling our kids out. It’s simple, really. But, evidently, too complicated for WV editors.


    Filed on at 11:33 am under by dcobranchi

    The Sierra Times has a nice article on getting started homeschooling. They list several good websites (but not H&OES *sniff*). Worth a click.


    Filed on at 11:29 am under by dcobranchi

    The Chicago Sun-Times has a short piece on how well homeschoolers are doing on standardized tests.


    Filed on at 4:51 am under by dcobranchi

    Sofia Bitela (a lovely, Italian-sounding name, that), an SMU student, commented upon the bakesale. I thought it deserved a little pub. I don’t agree with much that she wrote but I’ll play nice.

    Actually, upon re-reading it, I’m not going to play nice at all.

    Dear Ross,

    You asked a good question. Daryl’s right; since SMU is a private university, it does not fall under state legislation banning the specific use of race in admissions decisions. I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding, or more likely, unwillingness to understand about what happened. I personally know Matt Houston; we’re in the jazz orchestra together. The Young Conservatives of Texas set up a bake sale protesting affirmative action without alerting administrators to the true intention of the bake sale. Any event held on campus grounds must have paperwork filed through the appropriate offices and have prior approval. I did not appreciate the message they were sending out; whether intentionally or not, the bake sale presented a message in which minorities were considered of less value than whites. If they’re so sincere about “debating” the virtues and vices of affirmative action, they could have attended the open forum on October 8th. During the forum, both sides will be allowed to air and defend their views. No one is declared right or wrong; it provides the opportunity to engage in a healthy exhange of ideas. Holding a bake sale in which it takes four blacks or two Hispanics to equal the value of a white applicant is not the best way to get the message across to others. The bake sale was shut down because it violated SMU’ Student Code of Conduct, which specifically states, “All members of the University community are protected from harassment, including, but not limited to, members according to their race, ethnicity, age, gender, disability, sexual orientation, and religion. Any words or acts deliberately designed to disregard the safe or rights of another and which intimidate, degrade, demean, threaten, haze, or otherwise interfere with another person’s rightful action will not be tolerated on the basis of the standards of the SMU community.” Before anyone goes around crying about First Amendment violations, the statement that directly precedes it states that SMU ” will maintain the University as a forum for the free expression of ideas under the laws of the state and nation.” Setting up a protest which presents minorities as having less value than white applicants, whether intentionally or not, violated SMU’s Harassment Policy. As for affirmative action at SMU, I do not know SMU’s specific policies regarding race in admissions, but I do know that for every three images of the Aryan dream, SMU tries to bring one person of an ethinically diverse background. As of right now, the racial demographics are approximately 75% white and 25% minority, including all blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, international students, amd whoever else may fit in according to SMU’s guidelines. As for affirmative action itself, it can take many forms. It is not limited just to race or gender. Religious status is taken into account, as well as home environment (i.e. urban or rural). In fact, the University of Michigan, the defendant in the highly publicized affirmative action case, gave twenty extra points to individuals who came from a rural environment. Athletes were given about twenty or thirty points extra (don’t quite remember). Just about anything that sets you apart from another person gets factored into a college’s admission decision. If you want to cry about the unfairness of affirmative action, cry out against all of it. Complain about how those country people are taking up spaces that should go to city slickers. Bitch about how giving athletes extra points hurts those who are not athletically inclined, for whatever reason. I will not say affirmative action is perfect. I think it has serious flaws that should be addressed. However, I would rather have a world with affirmative action than without it. People who completely oppose affirmative action forget the former admissions policies, in which wealthy white Anglo-Saxon Protestant males were heavily favored since they had the greatest access, financially and otherwise, to academic and social opportunities and resources. Ross, I agree with you. I, too, am confused about why white students who obviously have been accepted to and are currently attending SMU would be upset about affirmative action. Affirmative action isn’t even about “filling quotas” or “taking another qualified applicant’s spot”, a pervading viewpoint that oftens results in the devaluation of a minority student’s presence, which goes to show that even with a program like affirmative action, racial minorities in particular have to work harder to prove themselves. What it’s really about is, when all things are considered equal in terms of high school transcripts and academic and extracurricular achievements, which applicant can help bring a different viewpoint to the campus and provide other students the opportunity to meet someone outside of their social bubble. Whether it’s the Hispanic kid, or the Jewish kid, or the kid from the town with a population of only a thousand people, or the star athlete, each one has a unique perspective on life; accepting different perspectives is essential to success both in school and in the workforce. Bringing in another Barbie doll or Ken from Millions of Dollars City, USA, won’t exactly help provide the diverse atmosphere students will encounter in the real world. I hope I helped shed some light on why the bake sale was shut down and the affirmative action issue altogether. Skip Olivia, what does the “death penalty” have to do with any of this? Feel free to email me at sbitela@mail.smu.edu.

    I think Miss Bitela completely misses the point of the protest. These anti-AA bakesales do not demean minorities; AA does. The different prices echo the different admissions criteria that are applied based not the content of one’s accomplishments, but on the color of one’s skin.

    And, sorry, a bakesale demonstrating the fallacy of AA does not violate SMU’s harassment policy. If anyone violated this policy, it is the minority students who shut it down. Remember, the administration used “safety” as the excuse. Who was being threatened, eh?

    I love the Aryan comment- being anti-AA is pro-Nazi? That’s rich and a clear demonstration of Godwin’s law. Are these the kind of debating skills they teach at SMU? That October 8th meeting ought to be quite interesting, then.

    Here are the actual points awarded under the unconstitutional UM AA program:

    10 points – Michigan resident
    6 points – Underrepresented Michigan county
    2 points – Underrepresented state

    4 points – “Legacy” (parents, step-parents)
    1 point – Other (grandparents, siblings, spouses)

    1 point – Outstanding essay (since 1999, 3 points)

    Personal achievement [i.e., sports, non-scholarship]
    1 point – State
    3 points – Regional
    5 points – National

    Leadership and service
    1 point – State
    3 points – Regional
    5 points – National

    20 points – Socio-economic disadvantage
    20 points – Underrepresented racial-ethnic minority identification or education
    5 points – Men in nursing
    20 points – Scholarship athlete
    20 points – Provost’s discretion

    Miss Bitela is incorrect about city/rural and religion playing a role. It was all about race. It’s always been about race. And white guilt. AA doesn’t work. Or, at least, it doesn’t accomplish its stated goal- to level the playing field. It does divide the races and exacerbates the very problem it set out to solve.

    It’s late, er, very early. I’m done. Feel free to pick apart my or Miss Bitela’s arguments in the “Comments” below.


    Filed on September 29, 2003 at 4:27 pm under by dcobranchi

    A while back I posted about 3Moms.com. Well, today one of the 3 moms commented on the long-ago post.


    Filed on at 11:36 am under by dcobranchi

    California has such a bewildering array of schools and their homeschooling laws are so opaque that I’m just not sure. The article calls it homeschooling but it sounds like some form of cyber public school. The kids are “enrolled” and have to take the standardized tests. This quote raised the hairs on the back of my neck:

    Stan Miller, Nevada County’s assistant superintendent of schools, said home schooling has quickly shed its novelty status…”I think the state has made it a lot easier to govern home schools.”

    Only an edu-crat could rejoice at that one.


    Filed on at 8:01 am under by dcobranchi

    A twofer in this Gannett article. It is primarily about teens use of the internet and technology, but it spends a fair percentage profiling a homeschooling grad.

    For 18-year-old Heather Lawver, the Internet has been a way to stretch her creative wings, allowing her to make hundreds of friends around the world in the process.

    The Sterling, Va., woman went online seven years ago. Since then, she’s posted photography, artwork and even the beginnings of a novel, “(In)sane,” on her personal Web site (www.dprophet.com/ meggers).

    The Internet “gives me a forum to publish it. It gives me feedback and I can feel more confident in my ability” to write, Lawver says.

    It also has given her a sphere of influence greater than most young people ever dreamed of prior to the Internet age.

    In 2000, she launched The Daily Prophet (www.dprophet.com), an award-winning Harry Potter site.

    When Warner Bros. sent cease-and-desist letters to creators of other Harry Potter sites that it accused of copyright infringement in 2000, Lawver co-founded Defense Against the Dark Arts, an online effort that organized a worldwide boycott of Potter merchandise.

    The subsequent publicity brought the media company’s threatening letters to a halt.

    The product of home schooling, Lawver is quick to point out that her use of the Internet has put her in touch with about 250 people on a regular basis, all of different ages and ethnicities, all over the world.

    “I’ve learned so much more than I ever could have if I’d been stuck in a classroom,” she said.

    Factoid-of-the-day: According to the article, 14 percent of teens are bloggers.


    Filed on at 7:27 am under by dcobranchi

    States across the nation are playing statistical games with their test results to make it appear that they met goals that they probably haven’t.

    In Oregon, statistical latitude allowed one small high school to meet the state’s requirement that 40 percent of students pass the reading test, though raw test scores showed only 28 percent of students passed the test.

    There are valid reasons for recognizing that there is a statistical uncertainty in any measurement. There are two major problems, though, in how the schools are doing this.

    The first is that these uncertainty measurements are so large that it calls into question the methodolgy of analysis or the validity of the test. They may be statistically correct (the article doesn’t provide enough info to determine that) but why bother?

    The second problem is more insidious. The schools are using a one-tailed test to answer what should be a two-tailed problem. In other words, they apply the statistics selectively. If the raw scores indicate they missed the goal, they apply the confidence interval to make it appear that they might have “passed.” They “forget” to do that when they raw scores are good enough.

    I’m sure Kimberly, when she recovers, could shed more light on this. I’m a relative lightweight when it comes to statistics; she’s the real thing.


    Filed on at 4:59 am under by dcobranchi

    The New York Times weighs in on the inside blogball SacBee story. The main point of the article is that reporters who blog can (and must) maintain objectivity and can’t take sides.

    Ken Sands, the managing editor of online and new media at The Spokesman-Review, said that none of the 10 blogs on the newspaper’s Web site were edited before posting and that he could not recall anyone ever asking a reporter to significantly change content after a posting had been made. Part of the reason his bloggers need no editing, he said, is that most have 10 to 25 years of reporting experience and apply the tenets of good journalism to their Web logs.

    One of those reporters is Carla K. Johnson who covers health and medical research for The Spokesman-Review and who writes a blog on topics like “How to avoid a C-section” and “Playing politics with Rx drug costs.” Having long been a journalist, Ms. Johnson says she has fun with the more personal style the blog affords, but is careful to rein in her opinions.

    What’s the point, then? You might as well read a newspaper. Blogs (and blogging) are interesting precisely because the blogger gets to express an opinion. I know I’d quit if I had to “rein in [my] opinions.” Shoot, even the title of this post would have to be different.


    Filed on September 28, 2003 at 1:59 pm under by dcobranchi

    The Washington Post has a pretty good piece on the D.C. vouchers. Some private schools won’t participate because of the strings.

    Georgetown Day School head Peter Branch and Sidwell Friends School head Bruce Stewart, among others, said it is vital for them to do some screening of applicants to ensure that a child can be successful at their schools.

    …Maret School head Marjo Talbott said that federal money always comes with regulations that would compromise a private school’s ability to make its own decisions about curriculum, hiring and admissions.

    That’s why vouchers are at best a half-measure to true education reform.


    Filed on at 8:19 am under by dcobranchi

    The New York Times writes that

    Threshold for Dangerous Schools Under New Law Is Too High, Critics Say

    Yeah- it’s been a rough start to the school year.

    Just this month, a 15-year-old in Cold Spring, Minn., killed a fellow student and wounded another; SWAT officers shot and wounded a student wielding a pistol in a high school in Spokane, Wash.; three students were stabbed in a high school parking lot brawl in Oakdale, Calif.; a teenage intruder stabbed a 13-year-old student at a high school in Annapolis, Md.; and a 16-year-old boy died after a fight at a Tucson school.

    At least 14 students have been shot at bus stops and just outside schools since the fall term began, 5 of them fatally.

    Don’t worry, parents. Just click your heels together and chant Marsha Smith’s refrain, “Schools are the safest place for students to be.”


    Filed on September 27, 2003 at 7:41 pm under by dcobranchi

    A St. Louis-area school district has decided not to allow the Gideons to pass out New Testaments inside the schools. I’m surprised that they’ve been inside the schools all along. When I was in the Gideons, the procedure was to hand them out to kids on the sidewalk after school. Going inside was verboten.


    Filed on at 7:36 am under by dcobranchi

    The Wilmington News-Journal today comes out in favor of the Do Not Call list. Hah! Around our home, the N-J is one of the worst telemarketing offenders. We get at least one call a month. (And, no, I’m still not interested in subscribing).

    Here’s the Letter to the Editor I sent them. Guaranteed it never sees the light of day.

    I noted with great mirth your recent editorial in favor of the national Do Not Call list. (9-27-2003) Since the Direct Marketing Association is asking its members to honor the list while the case is in the courts, does that mean that the News-Journal will cease calling me attemtpting to sell a subscription? My number is on the list.


    Filed on at 7:31 am under by dcobranchi

    The Dallas Morning News has an excellent editorial on the SMU affirmative action bake sale.

    The college experience is about exposure to new ideas, about challenging one’s preconceived notions, about learning how to think and debate. It is not a nursery school where students are to be guarded against ideas and expressions that upset them. Mr. Houston and Ms. Jones may not like it, but in a free and open society, that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

    OK, one bad pun but the rest is definitely worth a click.


    Filed on September 26, 2003 at 6:34 am under by dcobranchi

    This “diversity” camp sounds so treacly that it could cause a case of instant diabetes. (Paging John Banzhaf )

    Campers were uplifted with touchy-feely activities including group hugs and a campfire capped off with four verses of “Kumbaya.”

    And organizers frequently shouted for “rainbows” — the command to scramble around the room until everyone was sitting next to someone of a different race, religion or gender — and “two ups” — the reminder that every critical comment must be countered with two positive remarks.

    …In [another] exercise, students lined up shoulder to shoulder. An adult asked questions: Were your ancestors brought to the United States as slaves or indentured servants? Did you ever have to skip a meal because you did not have enough money?

    Indicators of privilege — being white or never going hungry — allowed students to step forward. Students of color or those who lacked bare necessities stepped back.

    Hey! While I was in grad school, I lived on air-popped popcorn for a whole month. Does that make me especially “noble” or “underprivileged?”

    School districts pay $165 per student for this nonsense. (link via Izzy)


    Filed on at 6:21 am under by dcobranchi

    This one may fall under the category of “the law is an ass.” But, I doubt it. An Indiana g-school student was harassed by a boy for years. Complaints to the edu-crats accomplished nothing.

    [N]othing could be done because of John Doe’s status as a special-education student. They suggested that Rachel Jones should get a friend or an escort to accompany her everywhere and to consider home-schooling in order to avoid the boy.

    The family has filed a federal lawsuit. I hope they win.


    Filed on at 6:12 am under by dcobranchi

    A PA homeschooling family lost their home to a fire yesterday. The 13, 12, and 9-year-old kids were home alone when the fire broke out. All escaped without harm. Neighborly, er, neighbors have established a fund for anyone who wants to help out. Info available here.


    Filed on at 5:56 am under by dcobranchi

    Another federal judge has halted the implementation of the “Do Not Call” list. Wednesday, a federal judge had ruled that Congress hadn’t given the FTC the authority to establish the list. Personally, I thought it a fairly lame ruling, and that Congress had been clear about what they wanted. Well, Congress made it crystal clear yesterday and voted overwhelmingly to explicitly authorize the FTC to create and enforce the DNC list.

    Enter stage left- Second federal judge. This one ruled that the DNC list unconstitutionally limits commercial speech while exempting political and “charitable.” This is a more substantive ruling. The First Amendment cannot be “fixed” by Congress (thank God!). Stay tuned, folks; this one’s sure to go to the SCOTUS.


    Filed on at 5:43 am under by dcobranchi

    School @ Home has been added to the blogroll. Tenn may be the first vegan homeschooler in the list.

    WARNING AND A HINT: I’ve had some problems with the site. The page loads but I can’t scroll down more than a day or so. Refreshing doesn’t help. The solution is to change your text size to one smaller and then change it back. I don’t know why that works. It just does. The trick works on Erin O’Connor’s site as well.


    Filed on September 25, 2003 at 5:25 pm under by dcobranchi

    Here’s an interesting article about how homeschool grads in NY are not being allowed to graduate from college (regardless of their grades) because they lack a HS diploma. This really is crazy. Homeschooling groups are working with state to change the law. Let’s wish them luck.


    Filed on at 3:35 pm under by dcobranchi

    Southern Methodist University shut down an anti-affirmative action bakesale because of “safety concerns.”

    Matt Houston, a 19-year-old sophomore, called the group’s price list offensive.

    “My reaction was disgust because of the ignorance of some SMU students,” said Houston, who is black. “They were arguing that affirmative action was solely based on race. It’s not based on race. It’s based on bringing a diverse community to a certain organization.”

    He’s right. Some SMU students are ignorant.


    Filed on at 3:17 pm under by dcobranchi

    CNN has a piece that shows how the states gamed the “persistently dangerous school” list. I love this quote:

    Marsha Smith, a physical education teacher in Rockville, Maryland, and a consultant on teenage health and school safety, added, “The public may believe that schools are dangerous, but it’s quite the opposite. Schools are the safest place for students to be.”


    UPDATE: Is there a category for “Persistently Dangerous Transportation?”

    HO HUM

    Filed on at 3:11 pm under by dcobranchi

    Second and third school shootings. This week.


    Filed on at 10:56 am under by dcobranchi

    I’m currently reading Grisham’s The Runaway Jury (Now a Major Motion Picture (are there ever minor motion pictures?)). It’s a quick read- all about a fictional tobacco trial. Something one of the defense witnesses said caught my eye:

    By the time a child is three, the child can hum, whistle, or sing whatever the current McDonald’s jingle happens to be. The child’s first trip to McDonald’s is a momentous occasion. This is no accident. The corporation spends billions to hook children before its competitors do. American children consume more fat and cholesterol than the last generation. They eat more cheeseburgers, fries, and pizza, and drink more sodas and sugared fruit drinks. Do we charge McDonald’s and Pizza Hut with devious advertising practices for targeting the young? Do we sue them because our kids are getting fatter?

    Grisham wrote this in 1996. Was he prescient or were the lawyers planning the stupid obesity lawsuits way back then?


    Filed on at 10:18 am under by dcobranchi

    …of a three-year-old girl playing in a swimming pool got a woman detained by police at a Walmart in Kansas. I haven’t seen the photos and can’t judge if Walmart’s claim that “the photos could have led a reasonable person to conclude the child was being sexually abused” is legit. The woman is suing Walmart for $262,473 for medical expenses and pain and suffering. Good grief! Why does anyone even slightly inconvenienced think that they’ve hit the Lotto and are entitled to a fortune?

    True story: A few years ago, while traveling in Italy, I was killing time while a friend shopped in a Bennetton store. Typically male, I looked for the nearest bench to wait out the torture of clothes shopping. The whole thing collapsed beneath me and I tumbled to the floor. In the US, I’m sure I would have been questioned and had some kind of legal statement taken. The Italians were much more relaxed. A clerk asked me if I was ok and then fixed the bench. I shoulda sued!

    (And, all you perverts who Googled “topless photos” should be ashamed of youselves.)


    Filed on September 24, 2003 at 10:03 pm under by dcobranchi

    View image


    Filed on at 8:02 pm under by dcobranchi

    This is so far out there that it’s almost funny. Almost.

    Virtually every single adult human being alive today, born into & raised up within a “civilized” society, was intellectually raped during their childhood. And more often than not, the intellectual/mental tortures they were subjected to, have had an even greater, more profound impact upon their lives than the physical/sexual torture that most of them also endured. Insane lies and mythology, very often based upon perverse hypocrisy, such as the god myth, are mandated by society itself as “required teaching” for children. All lies and myths warp the minds of children, destroy the natural, instinctual sanity and rational thinking ability that all children are born with. In adulthood, these tortured, mentally ill, brainwashed victim-creations of society are determined to infect the minds of their own helpless child-slaves, just as brutally as their own minds were infected during their childhoods.

    …What other Parental Rights do you slaveowners enjoy? The list of brutalities is literally endless. You are given the right, in a majority of societies, to murder your children as they sit helpless, trapped within your wombs. You are given the right to kill your children by telling doctors that you want life-support systems for your sick child, shut off. You are given the right to deny your children medical care, by claiming to be fervent believer in certain Insane God Myth doctrines. You are given the right to keep your children as slaves even if they hate you and want nothing to do with you. You are given the right to impose the thousands of insane beliefs, myths, false rationalizations that you base your lives upon, onto the helpless, vulnerable, undeveloped minds of your children. You are given the right to lie to your children, to deceive them, to bribe them, to intimidate them. You are given the right to destroy the instinctual self-love and self-value that every child is born possessing. You are given the right to infect your child’s minds with your own insane, diseased, untrue, and invalid personal beliefs and ideologies. You are given the right to rob your child of all Natural Instinct, and infect your child with all unnatural, artificial, irrational and insane societal doctrine. You are given the right to deprive your children of a proper education, by “home-schooling” them.

    So, homeschooling is akin to abortion? It’s really long and I couldn’t force myself to read the whole thing.


    Filed on at 12:46 pm under by dcobranchi

    Here’s a pretty good Op/Ed on the problem of banning or challenging books in the g-schools and in public libraries.


    Filed on at 12:35 pm under by dcobranchi

    A homeschooling family in WV sued the Dept. of Ed., the school board, and the local athletic association over whether their 7th grade son should be permitted to wrestle on the junior high g-school team. Bah!


    Filed on at 12:14 pm under by dcobranchi

    A B.C. school district has admitted that they are “poaching” students from other districts. This zero sum game (other local school districts are using it, too) only enriches the consultants. I really wish they would quit using these hunting metaphors; it makes me fear that homeschoolers may soon be on an endangered species list.


    Filed on at 7:41 am under by dcobranchi

    The New York Times profiles a small, private school in Brooklyn in which poor black and hispanic children vastly outperform their g-school counterparts. The school charges only $3,000 tuition. Of course, edu-crats have excuses:

    But even educators who admire his success say the school, with 470 students from nursery to eighth grade, is an anomaly, not a model. It is skimming the most committed families from the public school population, they say, and operating without the encumbrances of a system that receives government funds.


    Filed on September 23, 2003 at 4:47 pm under by dcobranchi

    The Charlotte Observer asked a bunch of teens what should be done to reduce overcrowding in schools. I like this answer:

    Kimberly Flanagan, 15, Shepherd’s Way home school, Charlotte: I think a great idea would be for people to home-school. Think about it: How often do home-schoolers complain that they are stuck in a mobile classroom? Also there are fewer guns and drugs, and higher grade scores from home-schooled teens. Taxes would be lower if more people home-schooled since each parent would be in charge of paying for their children’s books and schooling.

    I’m not sure about the gun issue. Liberty-loving homeschoolers may be more likely to have guns in the home. But I like her stance on the tax issue. Maybe she should run for the school board.
    Read more »


    Filed on at 4:36 pm under by dcobranchi

    I have no idea what this headline is supposed to mean:

    Homeschool can be solution to other child-like problems

    The article is pretty pointless, too.


    Filed on at 4:32 pm under by dcobranchi

    The Newton (MA) school board distributed a nosy survey to homeschoolers asking why they chose homeschooling. Perhaps it is a function of MA’s awful homeschooling laws, but I’m shocked that 66 percent of elementary parents responded. Evidently, the ‘rents of middle-school age kids are sharper- not one turned it in.


    Filed on at 10:01 am under by dcobranchi

    A 17-year-old in WA pulled a gun in school, ordered the teacher and students out of the classroom, and then barricaded himself in. The stand-off ended when he pulled the gun and officers opened fire. The student underwent surgery and is still in critical condition (as of this report).


    Filed on at 9:38 am under by dcobranchi

    The Detroit teachers union is encouraging all teachers to take a personal day on Thursday in order to protest the opening of new charter schools. The move will effectively close the district and cause 153,000 kids to miss a day of school.

    “We are taking the classroom to the Capitol to stand up for the rights of our children to receive a quality education,” said Janna Garrison, president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers.

    An education in union strong-arm tactics, no doubt.


    Filed on September 22, 2003 at 7:48 pm under by dcobranchi

    I’ve added Nick Blesch’s Twilight of the Idols to the blogroll.


    Filed on at 5:26 pm under by dcobranchi

    I hesitate to blog this because H&OES rates a minor mention at the end, but Isabel Lyman has a nice column up on liberty and homeschooling.


    Filed on at 3:52 pm under by dcobranchi

    My Dad owns a few shares of Proton Energy Systems, whose hydrogen generator was touted by CA Governor-wannabe Arnold Schwarzenegger. The quote from the CEO is a gem:

    Our core technology transforms electricity into fuel,” said Walter W. “Chip” Schroeder, Proton’s CEO. He added, “What the Schwarzenegger team recognizes is that Proton’s products enable the use of hydrogen as a non- depleting and non-polluting fuel for cars and in distributed energy applications to supplement our over-stressed electric power systems.”

    So, their technology takes electricity, uses the electricity to split water and generate hydrogen, and uses the hydrogen to generate electricity (via a fuel cell). That is definitely a losing game (since you can’t achieve 100% efficiency) and will do absolutely nothing to “supplement our over-stressed electric power systems.” To be fair, the CEO did mention wind and solar power, but they don’t make those.

    The stock is up 30% today.


    Filed on at 1:01 pm under by dcobranchi

    Here’s a short piece on Gen X-ers who are choosing to be stay-at-home moms.


    Filed on at 12:53 pm under by dcobranchi

    US News & World Report is running a poll to determine the most influential documents in American history. You can vote for up to 10 of the listed 100 documents.

    Some of their nominees seem a bit odd. For instance, I’d never even heard of “Gibbons v Ogden,” and the description doesn’t makes it sound terribly important.

    This Supreme Court decision forbade states from enacting any legislation that would interfere with Congress’s right to regulate commerce among the separate states.


    Filed on at 7:04 am under by dcobranchi

    The reporter in this NYT piece on telemarketers and the “Do Not Call” Registry seems to have a “thing” against them:

    “What I’m doing is a valuable service,” she said. “I’m telling people what their options are in life.” Lately, she has been telling them they have the option to pay $9.99 a month for an identity-theft protection service.

    Some people in the industry, though, deserve what they get:

    Mr. Selfe’s employees are trained to start each conversation with the question: “Do you have a crack or chip?” If the answer is no, they call back three months later and ask again.

    With the do-not-call list limiting the number of potential customers, Mr. Selfe said his telemarketers would have to call more frequently to those still open to solicitations. “Instead of calling every three months,” he said, “we may call every month.”

    Death spiral, for sure.


    Filed on September 21, 2003 at 4:20 pm under by dcobranchi

    Homeschool grad Stuart Buck has a great post on the problem of age-segregated classes and schools. I hadn’t seen his blog before; I’ll definitely be back.


    Filed on at 2:06 pm under by dcobranchi

    TX legislators took a couple steps in the right direction this year. Two new laws should help parents fight back against the drug-pushing edu-crats.

    One law bans school employees from recommending a psychotropic, or mind-altering, drug or suggesting a diagnosis. A school medical official such as a nurse still can make a referral to a health care provider.

    The other law prevents parents from being reported to state officials as neglectful solely because they refuse to place a child on psychiatric drugs, or refuse psychiatric or psychological treatment or testing.

    “It basically says to school employees that you need to back off from diagnosing and suggesting drugs to children, and putting parents in awkward situations and pressuring them and threatening them,” said John Breeding, director of Texans for Safe Education.


    Filed on at 1:54 pm under by dcobranchi

    The News-Journal has a Lockman column on NCLB. Overall, he’s relatively uninformed about the law.

    No Child Left Behind is wracked with a ratings system so complex that it will take a new layer of school and government bureaucracy just to keep track of it.

    Actually, the ratings system is simple- perhaps, too simple. Schools and school districts either pass or fail. There is no grey.

    And it does give parents with children in underperforming schools at least a theoretical option of choosing publicly subsidized alternative education that is beyond the control of traditional public schools.

    Wrong again. NCLB gives kids the chance of tranferring to another public school in the same district. That’s it. Not charters. Not private schools.

    There is no defensible reason for a school that does well in the big categories to miss on the smaller ones. That is the fundamental mission of No Child Left Behind. Missed ratings, even in small categories, are intended to be serious wake-up calls.

    As I mentionered here, the NCLB’s “participation” requirements are very stringent and can easily cause an entire school district to be labeled “failing.”

    Wilmingtonians deserve better from their resident Pulitzer-winner.


    Filed on at 8:25 am under by dcobranchi

    As a result of this post, I’ve learned that Kim and Mrs. Du Toit are homeschoolers. Mrs. Du Toit has penned an excellent essay on why they became homeschoolers. It’s long but an absolute gem. My favorite line:

    You can read every child psychology and child development manual out there, but it still does not prepare you for the reality of your own child. You become a parent through trial and error, with way too many errors. I had secretly decided when Wendy was about 2 that the best I could hope for was to see her through to adulthood and offer to pay for her first two years of psychotherapy.

    I’ve added both Du Toits to the blogroll.


    Filed on September 20, 2003 at 9:26 pm under by dcobranchi

    Here’s the group photo of all the kids.


    Filed on at 8:24 pm under by dcobranchi

    P9200017.jpgToday was the 13th Annual Tri-state Homeschool Field Day. There were 90 kids registered and a bunch of walk-ons. The weather was a perfect 80 degrees with bright sunshine. Hard to believe that two days ago we were fighting Isabel. Here are some shots of my kids being socialized.

    This first one is Katelyn showing off her world-class Frisbee form.

    P9200021.jpgAnthony, future right-fielder for the New York Yankees.

    P9200026.jpgChelsea- setting a new world-record for the standing high jump, 6-year-old division.


    Filed on at 9:18 am under by dcobranchi

    A girl in CA wants to start a Caucasian club. The schoool already sponsors a Black Student Union and an Asian club. The local NAACP is not amused.


    Filed on September 19, 2003 at 10:51 am under by dcobranchi

    Parents are bringing their kids home:

    As schools buldge [sic], more learn at home

    Perhaps the schools are spending too much time in front of the “fridge.” (link via Izzy)

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