Utterly Meaningless » 2003 » November

    Filed on November 6, 2003 at 7:47 pm under by dcobranchi

    A neat story about a homeschooling mom who went back to Med School at the tender age of 52. Fittingly, she goes by the name of “Rocky.”


    Filed on at 4:45 pm under by dcobranchi

    Email is back.


    Filed on at 2:50 pm under by dcobranchi

    The Modesto Bee has a pretty good piece profiling several homeschoolers. The article, written by a 17-year-old g-schooler, lists this “drawback” of homeschooling:

    As with any form of education, home schooling has its drawbacks. Although many home-schoolers spend time with other students on field trips, 4H, community volunteer work and church activities, they are not with other students as much as their public-schooled counterparts.

    I know a lot of parents who consider that a plus.


    Filed on at 9:51 am under by dcobranchi

    Educrats in NYC apparently can’t read or write the
    English language.

    Aghast teachers reeled in disbelief as they were:

    *Urged to “crate [create] a balance bean [beam] with masking tape.”

    *Told to “think about a time when your family work together.”

    *Identify “student strengthens and weaknesses.”

    *Read a story about a fish with “shinning,” instead of shining, scales.

    There are more examples. Pretty sad but probably not surprising.


    Filed on at 9:37 am under by dcobranchi

    My email has been down since yesterday evening. I can send but not receive. So, I’m not ignoring you.


    Filed on at 6:33 am under by dcobranchi

    Florida homeschoolers seem to be running a bit of a voucher scam, collecting thousands of dollars per student. The voucher law was written to explicitly exclude homeschoolers but several “private schools” were formed to funnel the money to parents. Legislators want to fix the loop-hole “but proponents of those changes face a lobby of influential home-school advocates who argue for their continued participation.”

    This issue has been simmering a while and it’s looking uglier all the time. Homeschoolers ought not to be playing this game. They need allies in the legislature. This money grab will just alienate the very people who regulate homeschooling. Dumb.


    Filed on November 5, 2003 at 10:27 pm under by dcobranchi

    I took one of those silly quizzes- “Are You Metro?” Thank God, I’m not.

    You’re a redneck.

    You need serious help.
    You need a new wardrobe.
    You need a haircut.
    You need to learn what grooming is. (Hint: it has nothing to do with marriage)

    Our advice: Get out of your double-wide and move to the city. Either that,
    or go buy a new truck. And tickets to a Kid Rock concert. Think about the merits
    of chewing tobacco. Join the NRA.

    And I don’t wear shoes.


    Filed on at 5:18 pm under by dcobranchi

    To the person who googled “What do you think about high stakes testing for pre-K” and ended up here,

    Anyone proposing such a lame-brained scheme should be drawn and quartered.


    Filed on at 5:12 pm under by dcobranchi

    You just never know what kind of idiot is standing in the front of the classroom. (via Kimberly Swygert)


    Filed on at 11:50 am under by dcobranchi

    Here’s a nice essay by a homeschooling mom about what’s really important.


    Filed on at 11:45 am under by dcobranchi

    This is one of the most bizarre child custody cases I’ve seen: lesbianism, Christianity, an adoption and freedom of speech. What a combination. And, of course, the victim is the child.


    Filed on at 9:53 am under by dcobranchi

    Wisconsin legislators are attempting to pass a bill that would force libraries to disclose to parents what books and resources their minor children were accessing. Some legislators are on the ball, however:

    Rep. Marlin Schneider (D-Wisconsin Rapids), who used Assembly procedural rules to block final approval of the bill, said he thought the measure was terrible public policy.

    “It’s a major invasion of the right of privacy of children,” he said. “Children need to understand their rights are protected, and if government won’t protect their rights nobody will.”

    …In the Senate, Sen. Fred Risser (D-Madison) said children should be encouraged to be inquisitive, to use public libraries to learn more about any subject they’re interested in, including some issues they may be unable or unwilling to discuss with their parents.

    “I think we should encourage kids to use libraries, encourage their minds to be open to new ideas,” Risser said.

    “I don’t know why we should have the public libraries be an investigative arm for parents.”

    Here’s a suggestion for Wisconsin parents- Intead of spying on your teenage kids, talk to them.


    Filed on at 6:53 am under by dcobranchi

    I’m in meetings most of the day. I’ll try to scour the web over lunch.


    Filed on at 6:14 am under by dcobranchi

    Here’s a pretty cool website that has lots of free games (some of which are educational). I’ve played Typer Shark which actually is a nice typing drill. The games can be played online or are downloadable.

    Another nice feature, there is no registration process required to play the games. (via Home Ed Magazine)


    Filed on November 4, 2003 at 9:12 pm under by dcobranchi

    What a terrific essay by a 16-year-old. All about indoctrination in the g-schools.


    Filed on at 6:06 pm under by dcobranchi

    Newsweek has a short bit on how homeschoolers are buying “class” rings. What’s next? A homeschool prom? Oh, wait- we already have those.


    Filed on at 1:55 pm under by dcobranchi

    No, not H&OES. That’s the title of this piece in Business 2.0 about the company that wrote the MovableType software that powers a lot of blogs (including this one).


    Filed on at 11:07 am under by dcobranchi

    The Wilmington News-Journal reports on a new Catholic school, Nativity Prep. The school is a self-described “academic boot camp,” with days lasting from 7:30 a.m. to as late as 9 p.m.

    Classes are from 8:15 a.m. to 3 p.m. The students play sports from 3 to 5 p.m., then go home until 7 p.m., when they return Mondays through Thursdays for a mandatory two-hour study hall.

    Field trips are taken most Saturdays. The students’ summer vacation consists of three weeks in June and all of August. They will go to a mandatory academic camp at DeSales University in Center Valley, Pa., in July, which is considered part of the students’ school year.

    All of the kids there come from disadvantaged homes and are expected to continue their education at local Catholic high schools (most likely on scholarship).

    An interesting experiment but likely not scaleable; the cost to educate one pupil this year is expected to be approximately $30,000.


    Filed on at 10:17 am under by dcobranchi

    People in Denver are upset with Scholastic Books because of the lack of “scholastics” in the books and stuff they sell. We occasionally buy Scholastic books at the semi-annual warehouse sale but, more often, it’s Usborne. In fact, Lydia “joined” so she can get the monthly “special.” They’re 50% off on some excellent materials. Scholastic is also not very homeschool friendly. IIRC, it was months before we were approved for the educator’s discount.

    BTW, Scholastic typically holds its warehouse sales in early December. Here’s the link. (There’s a warehouse in New Castle, DE).


    Filed on at 7:27 am under by dcobranchi

    While reading this Vin article that Izzy linked to yesterday, I noticed his reference to the “government schools.” The term reminded me of a comment that Chris Bertram had made in this thread.

    Certainly I don’t believe that “g-schools” (an expression I hadn’t heard before) are right for everyone…

    A quick Google search indicates he’s probably correct; I’m the only one who refers to the government schools as “g-schools.” I started writing it that way because I got tired of typing out the full word. It is one of those that I invariably mis-type, spelling it “govnerment.” Sorry for any confusion I caused.


    Filed on at 4:39 am under by dcobranchi

    Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-NC), one of the signers of the “Dear Dan” letter, homeschooled his kids.


    Filed on November 3, 2003 at 5:20 pm under by dcobranchi

    Here’s a pretty decent article about homeschooling in Oregon. Some good stuff in here:

    The first rule in Mike and Shirleen Bailey’s household involves shoes.

    After morning devotions, Bailey Home Academy opens and its only remaining student sits down at a table and opens his algebra. Sam, 17, is still home, but he is required to wear shoes to “school.”

    I can barely get my kids to wear shoes outside the house (but we’re rednecks at heart). Worth a click.


    Filed on at 10:27 am under by dcobranchi

    This humorous column makes some interesting points about the state of higher education. I don’t get the title, though.


    Filed on at 8:30 am under by dcobranchi

    John Edwards is proposing an expansion of early childhood education.

    Features of the package Edwards introduced Sunday include bringing children younger than 4 years old into the preschool system, bolstering nutrition and parent education programs and expanding health care for youngsters in low-income families. When fully implemented, it would bring 1 million more children annually into preschool, the senator from Raleigh said.

    Presumably, this would not include compulsory attendance, but I still have a couple of problems with the proposal.

    The alternative, he said Sunday, is far greater spending on youngsters who start school unprepared. “The costs are enormous,” Edwards said. “Every dollar we invest in preschool saves $7.”

    That 7:1 ratio was from a study of the poorest kids in the most-deprived homes. There has never been any evidence that it is valid outside that demographic.

    In addition, Edwards wants tax credits of $2,500 for families with newborns, effectively doubling the existing child tax credit, that would go even to people whose income is too low to pay income tax.

    I don’t see what this has to do with education. And, then the piece de resistance:

    Features of the package Edwards introduced Sunday include bringing children younger than 4 years old into the preschool system, bolstering nutrition and parent education programs

    Government-mandated -led parent indoctrination education programs? *Shudder.*


    Filed on at 8:15 am under by dcobranchi

    Reversing a long-standing position, the Amercian Academy of Pediatrics is telling parents NOT to administer syrup of ipecac in case of accidental poisoning. Instead, they suggest immediately calling the nationwide Poison Control number 1-800-222-1222 for advice.


    Filed on at 7:10 am under by dcobranchi

    and time for Redovich’s rant. I’m just going to excerpt the lede. That will tell you everything you need to know.

    Corporate America funds a war on public education in the United States through its conservative foundations and so-called think tanks. Corporate America has manufactured a spurious crisis in American education using millions of dollars to proliferate lies and deceptions about the foundation of our great democracy, American public education. An academically challenged media reiterates the garbage of Corporate America about public education without serious challenge. The reason is the greed and avarice of Corporate America, which includes the American media. Money is too precious to waste on the public education of the children of the working poor!

    Why EducationNews.org publishes this guy every week is a mystery. Maybe Redovich is blackmailing Jimmy Kilpatrick?


    Filed on at 7:05 am under by dcobranchi

    Here’s one that provides some food for thought. The thrust seems to be that there really might be a homework monster, but only for “middle and upper-middle class” kids with pushy parents.

    In her new book, ”Unequal Childhoods,” Annette Lareau, a sociologist at Temple University, argues that middle- to upper-middle-class families today tend to practice a child-rearing strategy she calls ”concerted cultivation,” which involves, among other things, frequent interventions at school on behalf of your children, active (and often opinionated) monitoring of homework and the organizing of family time around children’s extensive schedules of team sports, lessons and performances. (One of the more striking documented changes in how children spend their time is the increase in hours spent watching siblings perform.) Children in working-class and poor families, by contrast, are more likely to be raised in a spirit of ”natural growth,” meaning they spend less time in the company of adults like teachers and coaches and more with other children in the kind of self-directed, open-ended play for which affluent parents often profess nostalgia these days. The effects of these differing strategies — which are not only a matter of resources but also of beliefs and habits — are to reinforce class divisions, helping to prepare middle- and upper-middle-class children for life in the middle and upper classes by accustoming them to asking (and nagging and negotiating) for what they want, and giving them the sense of entitlement that comes from having so much of the family’s life formatted around their activities. In this context, homework can seem like a burden because it interferes with other cultivating activities.



    Filed on at 6:18 am under by dcobranchi

    The Wilmington News-Journal today calls for “federal standardization” of Driver’s Ed. It’s FOR THE CHILDREN(tm), of course. Just like national math standards. And history. And writing. And reading. And. And. And…


    Filed on November 2, 2003 at 7:34 pm under by dcobranchi

    Unfortunately, a lot of these kids sound all too familiar.


    Filed on at 3:50 pm under by dcobranchi

    A Labour MP is facing the prospect of losing her position in Parliament. Why? For sending her son to a private school. No big deal except she had earlier criticized other MPs and even the Prime Minister for doing the same. “Do as I say and not as I do” usually doesn’t play well in democracies. Opponents of school choice here should be paying attention.


    Filed on at 2:15 pm under by dcobranchi

    The WaPo has a nice piece about Muslims teaching their kids. There’s a new Islam-based curriculum out this year. Good.


    Filed on at 5:43 am under by dcobranchi

    13-year-old surfer and homeschooler Bethany Hamilton lost an arm in a shark attack off Kauai. She is said to be doing well in the hospital.


    Filed on at 5:17 am under by dcobranchi

    The Atlantic City Press today comes out in favor of increased oversight of homeschoolers. They explicitly support further regs for children in the DYFS system and implicitly for all NJ homeschoolers.

    Unlike other states, New Jersey does not require home-schooled students to register and does not authorize school districts to monitor the children.

    With home schooling in general, this lack of control is worth debating. When the children have been adopted or placed in foster care through DYFS, the lack of oversight is a potential for disaster.


    Filed on November 1, 2003 at 10:05 pm under by dcobranchi

    The New York Times will just not let go of the starvation case. And, they continue to play up the homeschooling angle.

    Under New Jersey law, the schools were not in a position to help either.

    When the Jacksons first took Bruce in, for example, he was enrolled in special education classes. Soon after he was adopted in 1995, and legally theirs free of state supervision, the Jacksons began saying they were home-schooling him, though it remains unclear what kind of education, if any, he received at home. It was a pattern repeated with each boy but not with the girls.

    As it turns out, New Jersey is one of 23 states requiring parents who wish to home-school to do no more than send letters of intent to their local school boards or do nothing at all. Beyond this letter, New Jersey does not require parents to file curriculum or to do follow-up testing to make sure their children are keeping pace with their peers as many states, including New York, do.

    “If someone wants to home-school a child, they can just home-school them,” said Richard Vespucci, a spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Education. “It is a matter between the family and the local school board.” The same hands-off policies apply for children with learning disabilities and handicaps, even if parents have no training for dealing with students with special needs.

    “In this case it is a shame,” said Jess McDonald, co-director of Fostering Results, a nonprofit advocacy group for foster children, and former director of the Illinois Department of Children of Family Services. “Education is the one universal system that could have been a check on these kids.”


    Filed on at 6:02 pm under by dcobranchi

    I really don’t like book-banning. Especially when the parent driving the ban is a homeschooler. Why she’s spending her energy banning a book in the local g-school is beyond me.


    Filed on at 5:56 pm under by dcobranchi

    New Jersey homeschoolers are not quite out of the woods.

    I would like to update everyone on how things look right now on the
    political front.

    HSLDA received an official response from Assemblyman John McKeon’s office late Thursday night in which his chief of staff states: “The Assemblyman has communicated that it is not his intent to restrict or regulate homeschoolers” and “Homeschooling, as an educational choice for our children, is not the issue and was never the intent of our research.” Though that last statement is somewhat ambiguous, for now we believe it shows a good-faith understanding of the real issues in the Jackson case.

    On the other hand, Assemblywoman Mary Previte’s official response from late Friday morning, while saying nice things about homeschoolers, gives us a little more cause for concern. She does say that she was not interviewed for the Philadelphia Inquirer story that prompted the NJHA and HSLDA alerts, but she does not specifically disavow the story’s claim that she has initiated the drafting of legislation to regulate homeschoolers.

    Even more worrisome is what she does admit doing: “I have started by asking the Office of Legislative Services to explore how other states create a safety net. I am exploring all directions (including DYFS) to protect New Jersey’s most vulnerable children. […] I seek ways to include the network of parent-educators in the home schooling community in a wider safety net[…]. I believe home schooling parents want to help.” Some homeschoolers in Ms. Previte’s district have reported receiving personal responses of a similarly vague nature. A request for further clarification has not yet been answered.

    HSLDA has prepared an alert for Monday that will recommend that members stop calling Mr. McKeon’s office at this time but continue to call Ms. Previte’s office, request to speak to her personally, and ask that she give a straightforward answer about her intentions regarding homeschoolers.

    Please feel free to forward this to other lists.

    Tim Haas
    New Jersey Homeschool Association


    Filed on at 10:22 am under by dcobranchi

    This is pretty neat.


    Filed on at 7:00 am under by dcobranchi

    The new Education Gadfly is up.


    Filed on at 6:39 am under by dcobranchi

    This is amazing, if true: A government official estimated that “10-15% of students moving to [Fayette County (TN)] are home-schooling.” Is southwestern TN a homeschool mecca?


    Filed on at 5:59 am under by dcobranchi

    Nicholas Kristof, writing in the New York Times, laments the passing of the one room schoolhouse.

    One-room schoolhouses are a reminder that what makes a great education is often those intangibles in which small schools excel: close bonds among students and with teachers, parental involvement and a cozy atmosphere that builds self-confidence and ensures that no one slips through the cracks.

    Why does this sound so familiar? Oh, I know- he just described homeschooling:

    close bonds among students and with teachers


    parental involvement

    We couldn’t get any more involved.

    a cozy atmosphere that builds self-confidence and ensures that no one slips through the cracks

    What’s cozier than sitting in an overstuffed chair with a small child in your lap, reading “The Hungry Caterpillar” together?

    No, one room schoolhouses haven’t disappeared. They’ve just moved into three bedroom houses all across the country.

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