Utterly Meaningless » 2003 » September

    Filed on September 6, 2003 at 7:09 pm under by dcobranchi

    OK, there’s no such thing as a homeschool printer but this machine is just perfect for homeschooling. The printer is a 3-in-1 (scanner, printer, photocopier) inkjet. The printer portion works just like any other inkjet printer. Hohum. Where these 3-in-1 and 4-in-1 printers shine is the extras. The scanner is great for documenting the kids’ work, activities, or artwork. The photocopier is just perfect for printing out an emergency copy or two when it’s just not worth a trip to the local Staples. We purchased a Lexmark X5150 but every printer company has these machines now. Prices are around $150 to $200.


    Filed on September 5, 2003 at 6:55 pm under by dcobranchi

    The Barnstable (MA) Patriot has a piece about a homeschooler who wants to play golf on the g-school team. The odds appear long that he will permitted to play.

    Even if you have no interest in golf, you ought to click over to the article anyway. The B-P has what has to be the ugliest website in history.


    Filed on at 6:50 pm under by dcobranchi

    A Philly-area 4-H is sponsoring a Cooking Club for homeschoolers. This report must be out of a small town newspaper; they name everyone in the club.

    The group now includes Lorenz’s daughter, Jocelyn, 12, of Harleysville; Lisa Buckingham, 12, of Schwenksville; Daniel Maricle, 11, of Harleysville; Katelyn Maricle, 8, of Harleysville; Valerie Camburn, 12, of Harleysville; Rebekah Oliff, 8, of Creamery and Nicole Piacentino, 9, of Harleysville, who is not home-schooled.

    I guess Nicole was admitted for “diversity.”

    And, to go completely OT, Nicole and I may be very distantly related. Her last name means her family emigrated from Piacenza in the Emilia-Romagna district of Northern Italy. My family left that same small village more than 100 years ago.


    Filed on at 12:43 pm under by dcobranchi

    I’m still slowly working the excess poundage off (as of this morning I’ve lost 36 pounds). I’ve been doing the Atkins diet, though not religiously. What I’ve found is that if I cheat at supper time (usually with pasta or pizza- my favorites), I’m starving (and continue to cheat) for the rest of the night and into the next morning. It turns into a vicious cycle. But, if I stick with a low carb supper, I don’t feel the need to eat again for at least 24 hours. Some scientists think that they can explain this phenomenon.


    Filed on at 12:21 pm under by dcobranchi

    According to Pax World and The National Head Start Association more than 90% of Americans support Head Start in its current incarnation. I find this difficult to believe. In fact, I’d be surprised if 90% of Americans have ever even heard of Head Start. The press release doesn’t give me a lot of confidence in their survey, either. The one question they released seems a bit slanted:

    “With state budget problems, it is not a good time to turn Head Start over to the states.”

    They do include a helpful link to the full survey findings. There you’ll find a PowerPoint presentation of the survey results. Scroll down to the “Questionnaire” section and you’ll find… nothing. Not a single question. Do you think they may be trying to hide something?


    Filed on September 4, 2003 at 8:46 pm under by dcobranchi

    HSLDA chairman Mike Farris testified before a Senate panel in favor of a constitutional amendment to forestall the legalization of same sex marriage. It’s probably not a coincidence that Marilyn Musgrave, chief sponsor of the HSLDA-written HONDA bill, is the author of a proposed amendment in the House.


    Filed on at 4:48 pm under by dcobranchi

    A federal judge has again thrown out the obesity lawsuit against McDonald’s. Let’s hope this is the end of this nonsense.

    HH has moved

    Filed on at 1:11 pm under by dcobranchi

    Joanne (aka The Happy Homeschooler) has moved to a new bloghost. Update your links accordingly.


    Filed on at 12:15 pm under by dcobranchi

    The 6th Annual Homeschool Day is scheduled for Friday, September 19th. I haven’t ever been to Dollywood but have visited the Gatlinburg/ Pigeon Forge area many times. It’s lovely country. You might consider combining Homeschool Day with a camping trip to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. It’s an easy drive from one park to the other.


    Filed on at 10:39 am under by dcobranchi

    The bill; not the car. The Kaseman’s, writing in HEM, have published an article on why homeschoolers should oppose the HSLDA-written HONDA legislation. It’s a thoughful piece and I’m inclined to agree with most of their points. The executive summary (but be sure to click over and read the whole thing):

    Homeschooling legislation recently introduced in the U. S. Congress would open the door to federal regulation of homeschooling, perhaps through required standardized testing; generate a backlash against homeschoolers; and encourage homeschoolers to rely on so-called experts. It would not result in the benefits to homeschoolers that HSLDA claims it would. Homeschoolers who oppose this legislation need to contact their federal representatives so they do not assume that HSLDA speaks for homeschoolers or that homeschoolers want this legislation.


    Filed on September 3, 2003 at 8:17 am under by dcobranchi

    The Christian Science Monitor writes about a way to save on college tuition: take the courses at a community college while still enrolled in high school. Of course, homeschoolers have been doing this for years. As always, some educrats worry about what the kids are missing:

    But while some herald accelerated college as a creative solution to skyrocketing tuition, other educators are concerned by what it might mean to the college experience. They worry that the days of taking classes as impractical as Swedish literature or glass blowing could be dwindling. And that one consequence might be a narrowing of the American mind.

    Hey! What’s wrong with glassblowing. Salem Community College (where I am occasionally an adjunct) offers terrific programs in scientific glass technology and in glass art. Edusnob!


    Filed on at 7:24 am under by dcobranchi

    Researchers in Denmark report that they were unable to find any causal link between the use of thimerasol in vaccines and an incresae in the rate of autism. The rate continued to increase for several years after the use of the preservative was curtailed.


    Filed on at 4:20 am under by dcobranchi

    … in USA Today). Not one snarky comment. USAT usually publishes a counterpoint to their editorials; I’ll see if I can track one down.

    UPDATE: Yep- here it is. As I expected, it’s by an educrat and is about as dumb as they come. It’s time for a fisking:

    The popularity of home schooling, while not significant in terms of the number of children involved, is attracting growing attention from the media, which create the impression that a “movement” is underway. Movement or not, there are compelling reasons to oppose home teaching both for the sake of the children involved and for society.

    Approximately 2 million kids are homeschooled. True, this number pales in comparison to the 100 mill or so in the g-schools but homeschoolers vastly outnumber charter school students. Are charter schools also not a movement? Let’s move on to his reasons homeschooling is bad for the kids and society.

    Home schooling is an extension of the misguided notion that “anyone can teach.” That notion is simply wrong. Recently, some of our best and brightest college graduates, responding to the altruistic call to “Teach for America,” failed as teachers because they lacked training.

    Perhaps. But he’s comparing apples and oranges. I’m sure pedagogy and classroom management techniques are important when one is trying to manage 25 6-year-olds. Homeschooling families tend to be large but not that large. Educational “tricks” are just not a concern in a homeschool.

    Good teaching is a complex act that involves more than simply loving children. Research on student achievement overwhelmingly supports the “common-sense” logic that the most important factor affecting student learning is teacher competency.

    And what does this say about the approximately 25% of g-school teachers who are officially not “highly qualified?” These teachers didn’t even minor in the subjects they’re teaching. Are they incompetent? Or is the definition of competence somehow tied to an education degree? And, what are we to make of the fact that on the recently released SAT scores, education majors had the lowest aggregate scores? Apparently, competence doesn’t have much to do with knowing English, Math, or the subject matter.

    While some parents may be competent to teach very young children, that competence will wane in more advanced grades as the content and complexity increases.

    Thank God for the g-schools! Otherwise, how would our kids learn to walk, and talk, and use the bathroom, and tie their shoes, and, and, and…

    But schools serve important functions far beyond academic learning. Attending school is an important element in the development of the “whole child.” Schools, particularly public schools, are the one place where “all of the children of all of the people come together.” Can there be anything more important to each child and thus to our democratic society than to develop virtues and values such as respect for others, the ability to communicate and collaborate and an openness to diversity and new ideas? Such virtues and values cannot be accessed on the Internet.

    If the g-schools are so important for developing citizenship, why do 12% of g-school teachers send their kids to private school (compared to 10% for the country as a whole). Don’t the teachers care if their kids grow up to be good citizens? And, to answer the question, yes, there are more important things than an appreciation for diversity. How about the ability to read the Constitution? In my home state of Delaware, only 2/3 of the 10th graders can read on grade level and fewer than half perform at level on the state math test. Educrat, take the log from your own eye first.

    The isolation implicit in home teaching is anathema to socialization and citizenship.

    This “socialization” issue has been beaten to death. Move along. Move along.

    It is a rejection of community and makes the home-schooler the captive of the orthodoxies of the parents.

    Oh, I see. It would be so much better to subject the kids to the orthodoxies of the NEA and the educrats (click here for a good example in a college setting). Besides, the first compulsory attendance law wasn’t enacted until 1852. How did the country survive all those parents indoctrinating their kids?

    One of the strengths of our educational system is the wide range of legitimate forms of public, private or parochial schooling available for parental choice.

    And homeschooling is apparently an illegitimate choice? Geez!

    With that in mind, those contemplating home teaching might heed the words of the Roman educator, Quintilian (A.D. 95). In opposing home schooling, he wrote, “It is one thing to shun schools entirely, another to choose from them.”

    I couldn’t find that quote but I did find this gem by the same Roman orator:

    I would, however, be folly to shut our eyes to the fact that there are some who disagree with this preference for public education owing to a certain prejudice in favour of private tuition. These persons seem to be guided in the main by two principles. In the interests of morality they would avoid the society of a number of human beings at an age that is specially liable to acquire serious faults: I only wish I could deny the truth of the view that such education has often been the cause of the most discreditable actions. Secondly they hold that whoever is to be the boy’s teacher, he will devote his time more generously to one pupil than if he has to divide it among several. The first reason certainly deserves serious consideration. If it were proved that schools, while advantageous to study, are prejudicial to morality, I should give my vote for virtuous living in preference to even supreme excellence of speaking.

    Is there any doubt that the g-schools are “prejudicial to morality?” Q.E.D.


    Filed on September 2, 2003 at 9:06 pm under by dcobranchi

    Is the California state bird the cuckoo? Chris O’Donnell found an article about a couple of school districts that expect parents to cough up $40 when their kids miss school. The money would “reimburse” the schools for state money “lost” due to the absence. The San Marino Unified School District claims that half the parents pay up. I’m with Chris on the proper response to this request:

    “[T]he check’s in the mail” or maybe “kiss my ass.” Either would be appropriate 🙂


    Filed on at 12:21 pm under by dcobranchi

    The Kansas woman who was swept, along with her four children, from their minivan by a flash flood was a newbie homeschooler. The father was in the van but was sucked out the window by the flood. He was the lone survivor.


    Filed on at 6:45 am under by dcobranchi

    Jennifer Grossman, writing in the NYT, suggests that it’s time to bring back Home Ec in order to combat childhood (and adult) obesity.

    The new home economics should be both pragmatic and egalitarian. Traditional topics — food and nutrition, family studies, home management — should be retooled for the 21st century. Children should be able to decipher headlines about the dangers of dioxin or the benefits of antioxidants. Subjects like home finance might include domestic problem-solving: how would you spend $100 to feed a family of four, including a diabetic, a nursing mother and infant, for one week?

    While this kind of training might most benefit those low-income minority children at highest risk of obesity, all children will be better equipped to make smart choices in the face of the more than $33 billion that food companies spend annually to promote their products. And consumer education is just part of the larger purpose: to teach kids to think, make, fix and generally fend for themselves.

    Some detractors will doubtless smell a plot to turn women back into stitching, stirring Stepford Wives. Others will argue that schools should focus on the basics. But what could be more basic than life, food, home and hearth? A generation has grown up since we swept home ec into the dust heap of history and hung up our brooms. It’s time to reevaluate the domestic discipline, and recapture lost skills.

    Hey, we’re cutting edge.


    Filed on at 6:29 am under by dcobranchi

    The Toronto Star has a thoroughly positive article about homeschooling in the Great White North. There are so many juicy quotes, it’s hard to pick out a favorite, but this one comes close:

    The best thing [about homeschooling]?

    “I get to spend every day with my best friend in the whole world — my brother Miles. He’s smart and he’s funny and he’s a really good reader.”

    Miles climbs over the back of the bench and slips his arm around his brother.

    “And Colin is my best friend in the whole world, too.”

    WWHS. And, thanks go to Owen for pointing me to this article.

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    Filed on September 1, 2003 at 9:06 pm under by dcobranchi

    Libertarian candidate for Governor in CA, Ned Roscoe is a homeschooling Dad.


    Filed on at 5:40 pm under by dcobranchi

    The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has a pretty good piece up on the compulsory “Pledge of Allegiance” issue. The reporter seems sympathetic to the ACLU’s position:

    Patriotism cannot be compelled,” said Witold Walczak, legal director of the Greater Pittsburgh chapter of the ACLU…

    “When a government tries to compel patriotism, it undermines freedom,” Walczak continued. “If you think about it, the hallmark of any totalitarianism regime is compelled patriotism.”


    Filed on at 12:17 pm under by dcobranchi

    Mike Farris, founder of HSLDA, is a strong supporter of Alabama’s Cheif Justice Moore (of Ten Commandments fame).

    Another prominent voice being raised in support of the Commandments is that of Mike Farris, a well-known constitutional lawyer and Christian minister. Farris is the president of Patrick Henry College and founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association.

    As an attorney who has successfully argued religious freedom cases before the Supreme Court, Farris says he has deep respect for Judge Roy Moore, whose defiance of the court order to remove the monument has resulted in the Alabama chief justice’s suspension. Farris says he agrees substantively with Moore and holds him in high esteem for sacrificing his career to uphold a principle.

    “I’m not sure that I wouldn’t have exhausted my legal avenues a little bit first, but that’s debating the small points of it,” Farris says. He feels the larger point is that something had to be done “to point out the aggressive actions of our federal courts in ways that are clearly outside the bounds of what the founding fathers intended,” he says.

    Farris and a group of his Patrick Henry students wrote a brief in support of Judge Moore in the Eleventh Circuit. Farris says he hopes Moore’s sacrifice works, and he feels sure the judge will prevail in the next election — perhaps more so than the other eight justices on the Alabama Supreme Court.

    Y’all know my feelings on this.

    I know my history. Most of the original 13 states had an “official” church in the 18th century and the Constitution only prohibits Congress from establishing a national church. BUT- the world and the country have changed dramatically in the last 200 years. When the Constitution was written, the states were still considered sovereign. We don’t really think of them that way anymore. So, do we really want to go back to 50 different micro-countries with different rights in each one? You Baptists living in Maryland, do you want Roman Catholicism to be the state religion again? No. For better or worse, the states long ago gave up their sovereignty. We really are one country and the First Amendment proscription against Congress establishing a religion applies equally to the states.


    Filed on at 11:43 am under by dcobranchi

    These three homeschooled brothers have a budding career playing bluegrass and contemporary Christian music. Here’s a nice ‘graf:

    [H]omeschooling all her children, [the boy’s mother] was able to recognize the boys aptitude for music and encouraged it. Someone recently gave Nathan a mandolin, and he is starting to learn how to play that.


    Filed on at 8:47 am under by dcobranchi

    For the third year in a row, we’re starting the new “school year” on Labor Day. Lydia accomodates me this way so that I can be there. Like last year, this first day is a bit light with some silly things mixed in with school stuff.

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