Utterly Meaningless » 2004 » January

    Filed on January 31, 2004 at 11:18 am under by dcobranchi

    Here’s a pretty decent article about homeschooling in Florida. Interestingly, one of the parents claims she didn’t feel welcome in “white” homeschooling groups. You can’t argue with “feelings,” but that is surprising. After all, in the larger context, homeschoolers are all minorities. Worth a read.


    Filed on at 8:59 am under by dcobranchi

    An 18-year-old graduated from NJIT with a 3.996 GPA and was named valedictorian. She must be one of those star kids. She was homeschooled, of course.


    Filed on at 8:32 am under by dcobranchi

    But since I can’t steal it, y’all please send me millions of dollars. OK?

    Former Washington Teachers’ Union president Barbara A. Bullock was sentenced yesterday to nine years in prison after telling a federal judge that chronic depression led her to steal millions of dollars in teachers’ dues to pay for her own furs, jewelry and designer clothes.


    Filed on January 30, 2004 at 4:35 pm under by dcobranchi

    Well, that was easy enough. Just hours after deciding that I couldn’t stand any more small government Republican rule, I’ve decided on a Democratic candidate. Joe Lieberman came out today to the kids being socialized at the Bowlerama in New Castle. Here he is signing autographs for the kids. That’s Chelsea in the red sweatshirt and Kendall Smythe in Kentucky blue.


    He asked Chelsea if she likes bowling and promised that if he wins she can come bowl in the alley in the White House basement. Heck, for an opportunity like that, I’d vote for him twice.

    Of course, since I’m a registered Independent, I can’t vote in the Delaware primary.


    Filed on at 6:39 am under by dcobranchi

    Here’s a promo from CBS News:

    (CBS) Just by watching girls play, it looks like an ordinary high school basketball game. But you might be surprised to learn that the players on one of the teams don’t attend a high school.

    Lydia Hotek and her teammates are being educated at home. Lydia explains, “It’s a home school team and we all come from all over this area.”

    They’re all taught by their own mothers at their houses. But that doesn’t mean that they’re missing out on the thrill of playing high school sports.

    Tune in Friday’s The Early Show to get the complete report.

    I’lll try to find a transcript of the segment later on today.

    UPDATE: Here it is.


    Filed on at 6:23 am under by dcobranchi

    The DesMoines Register picks on an easy target– college textbook publishers. The books have gotten really costly.

    Students will spend nearly $900 this year on textbooks, or almost 20 percent of what they pay in student fees, the study said.

    The cost of college textbooks has gone up 35 percent in the past six years, according to the National Association of College Stores. The price markup at college bookstores, meanwhile, has remained steady, at about 22 percent.

    But, they’ve always been expensive.

    I have a solution, though, that no one at the Register seems to have caught- make professors pay for their own books. That’s right. No more freebies for the profs. I guarantee that prices would drop immediately.


    Filed on at 4:29 am under by dcobranchi

    From the NYT:

    The Bush administration said on Thursday that the new Medicare law offering prescription drug benefits and private health plans to the elderly would cost at least $530 billion over 10 years, or one-third more than the price tag used when Congress passed the legislation two months ago.

    Gee. An expensive entitlement is going to be even more expensive than first estimated. Whodathunkit?

    Bush and the GOP look worse every day. It’s time for a change. Divided government works by not working at all. I’m voting Democratic for President.


    Filed on January 29, 2004 at 10:58 pm under by dcobranchi

    Glenn Reynolds (aka Instapundit) has a really good post on why education matters.

    America is richer than the rest of the world because we have smart people who work hard, under a system that encourages them to do so by letting them keep (most of) the fruits of their labor. But America’s wealth isn’t a birthright. Like our freedom, it has to be earned by each successive generation. It can’t be protected by legislation, it can only be protected by hard work.

    Part of that hard work lies in educating the next generation. It’s pretty clear that we’re dropping the ball in that department. Instead of worrying about outsourcing, maybe we should be worrying about that.

    Read the whole thing.


    Filed on at 3:09 pm under by dcobranchi

    I’ve had a request for the results of the survey
    Survey Results.jpg
    I had about 100 responses. Overall, we’re pretty centrist on economic issues and libertarian on personal issues. Not too surprising.


    Filed on at 2:42 pm under by dcobranchi

    here at H&OES. The other day, Chris dissed the arts:

    Yep – test scores don’t matter when the results don’t conform to an overly inflated sense of self worth. I guess the American economy is the engine of the world because of all those drama and art majors we are turning out. The service industries thank you though. Waiters have to come from somewhere.

    Little did he know how right he was.

    Representative Louise M. Slaughter, a New York Democrat who is co-chairwoman of the Congressional Arts Caucus, said she was delighted to learn of Mr. Bush’s proposal [to boost the National Endowment for the Arts’ budget].

    “There’s nothing in the world that helps economic development more than arts programs,” Ms. Slaughter said. “It was foolish for Congress to choke them and starve them. We should cherish the people who can tell us who we are, where we came from and where we hope to go.”


    Filed on at 1:52 pm under by dcobranchi

    Moving to the suburbs doesn’t shield kids from the same problems that plague inner city schools.

    A report released Wednesday by the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, a non-profit education think tank, says suburban high school students are just as likely as their urban counterparts to smoke, drink, use illegal drugs and have sex.

    The 30-page study shatters the myth that moving to the suburbs provides children with a safer school environment and shows that many of the concerns fueling urban flight are unfounded, said Mike Hughes, executive director of PREHAB of Arizona, which operates four residential treatment centers for troubled youths and works with schools on drug abuse and gang prevention.

    No, it shows that suburban schools are just as bad. The concerns are well-founded; the “solution” is not. But, we all know a better solution, don’t we?


    Filed on at 1:26 pm under by dcobranchi

    Chris asked “What exactly do they do with all that money?” Evidently, they don’t use it to buy toilet paper.

    Dirty bathrooms, broken toilets, faulty stall doors and a dearth of toilet paper are not new problems in New York City’s 1,200 public schools. But they persist, said Eva S. Moskowitz, chairwoman of the City Council Education Committee. Ms. Moskowitz said dirty, broken bathrooms have been a recurring theme in her frequent conversations with parents throughout the five boroughs.

    “Whether I’m doing a town hall in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn, or whether I’m doing it on Staten Island, parents come up to me and say, ‘Can you get the toilets fixed?’ ” Ms. Moskowitz said. “I feel that I don’t even get to, often, the topics of curriculum or the challenges of math instruction, because we’re talking about bathrooms. It’s not only the toilets not flushing. It’s toilet paper, it’s soap, it’s paper towels.”

    I feel so sorry for the kids stuck in this horrible system. We need a modern day Moses.


    Filed on January 28, 2004 at 8:31 pm under by dcobranchi

    This “ad” was picked up by several papers. It actually does a nice job explaining Oregons homeschooling laws (whch are pretty sucky, BTW).


    Filed on at 11:10 am under by dcobranchi

    Homeschoolers just can’t catch a (snow) break.

    Christine Monroy, who homeschools five of her six children at the family’s Bowmansdale home, said she notices the kids tend to lose a lot of learning time to snowy days.

    There’s the shoveling, then the kids want to play in the snow before it disappears.

    Still, the lessons have to be completed, even if they continue into the evening, Monroy said.

    “That’s the big joke, that one of the downsides to homeschooling is you never get a real snow day,” she said.

    We also don’t let the kids take snow days. But, Lydia usually cuts back on the required work (especially if the snow will be short lived).


    Filed on at 9:31 am under by dcobranchi

    TX Gov. Rick Perry brought the house down with this howler.

    Gov. Rick Perry on Tuesday proposed establishing a $200 million fund to reward teaching excellence, but a requirement that local districts match the bonuses was greeted with laughter by school superintendents…”We’re going to stop the unfunded mandates and focus on funded incentives. Those are very sweet words for Texas public schools,” said [Education Commissioner Shirley] Neeley.

    The districts would have to come up with $2,500 before the teachers would see a dime. Neeley’s right. That’s not an unfunded mandate; it’s blackmail.


    Filed on at 5:30 am under by dcobranchi

    Chris O’Donnell savages a self-pitying column courtesy of the Oklahoma Education Association. A must read.

    UPDATE: A rare double-fisking. We are indeed fortunate.


    Filed on at 4:39 am under by dcobranchi

    The Press-Enterprise (Bloomsburg, PA) has two Opinion page articles that briefly mention homeschooling.


    Filed on at 4:09 am under by dcobranchi

    The New York Times has a thoughtful Op/Ed on the difference between “God” and “Allah.” (Hint- there isn’t any.) The piece is really aimed at journalists, but there are some interesting nuggets for us all. For instance…

    Christian Arabs use “Allah” for God, as do Arabic-speaking Jews. In Aramaic, the language of Jesus, God is “Allaha,” just a syllable away from Allah.

    Worth a click.

    (BTW, the title is a transliteration of the Arabic “God is great” or “God is greater than anything.” )


    Filed on January 27, 2004 at 10:09 pm under by dcobranchi

    Ken is a good friend as well long-time homeschooling parent and advocate.

    “Are your dreading filing your tax return this year? Are you confused by all of the tax law changes and new credits? If so, consider contacting the ‘Extra Mile’ Tax Prep Service, operated by Ken Klein. Offering ‘extra mile’, personalized quality service with competitive tax prep rates, attention to detail and strict confidentiality, we look forward to serving you.

    Also offered- free reviews of past returns to see if you have additional refunds due with an amended return. Phone 302-368-3427 or e-mail: diverklein@yahoo.com for more information.


    Filed on at 6:15 pm under by dcobranchi

    From the January/February issue of Business 2.0 (not yet available onine):

    Blogs will soon become a staple in the information diet of every serious businessperson, not because it’s cool to read them, but because those who don’t read them will fail.


    Filed on at 5:51 pm under by dcobranchi

    No, we’re not talking about DE and PA here, but the real Great White North. Here’s a nice article profiling several homeschoolers in Montreal. No negatives up that way.


    Filed on at 5:46 pm under by dcobranchi

    A recent homeschool grad is considering turning pro in table tennis. I didn’t know there were professionals in that game.


    Filed on at 5:39 pm under by dcobranchi

    [GA state] Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Sharpsburg, introduced a bill to give home school teachers a jury duty exemption. Private and public school teachers are already excused.

    My lovely wife had to serve last week. It definitely was a disruption for the kids.


    Filed on at 1:51 pm under by dcobranchi

    Teachers in a FL school district booed and heckled the school board during a meeting over the issue of automatic pay raises.

    Throughout the hourlong meeting, union members heckled district administrators and board members with loud yells, whistles, booing and clapping. Some yelled “You work for us,” at the board, while others chanted “Do the right thing.”

    What a bunch of idiots. The school board and the teachers work for the taxpayers, you morons! Geez!


    Filed on at 1:47 pm under by dcobranchi

    …Another meaningless war against something.

    Going to war against epidemic of childhood obesity


    Filed on at 1:43 pm under by dcobranchi

    The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has a list of some of the reasons why lost their jobs and/or licenses. A sampling:

    Dennis Wilson, 55, a math teacher in Pittsburgh Public Schools, license revoked after his conviction for delivery of a controlled substance.

    Stephen J. Burda, 43, a science teacher at Butler Area Junior High School in Butler County, did not lose his license but received a public reprimand after pleading guilty of driving under the influence of heroin. He lost his job at the junior high school in June 2002 for that offense.

    Nancy L. Mogle, also known as Nancy L. Erwin, 51, a math teacher at Marion Center Area School District, Indiana County; license revoked after conviction for complicity to aggravated assault. In June 2002, Mogle, who earlier had lost her teaching job in the district, had accompanied her husband to the district administration office where he shot a secretary.

    Unfortunately, there are many more.


    Filed on January 26, 2004 at 2:30 pm under by dcobranchi

    Reader Gary Davis thought this should be titled “Homeschool Your Pets” but I’m not sure the BBC isn’t pulling our wings, er, legs.


    Filed on at 12:23 pm under by dcobranchi

    Fit sP500 data.jpg


    Filed on at 5:07 am under by dcobranchi

    One more DE item (Sorry for all the local stuff but, remember, H&OES comes with a double your money back guarantee.)

    It must have been a slow day at the Wilmington News-Urinal (they’re not getting their real name back until they either apologize for the “public urination” comment or are number one on Google for that phrase. Anyone else want to contribute to a Googlebombing? Just link News-Urinal to http://www.delawareonline.com/newsjournal/)

    Anyway- a slow news day here. Check out this outrage:

    Heat knocked out at 20 Bear apartments

    The heat was out for, get this, two whole hours!


    Filed on at 4:49 am under by dcobranchi

    Evidently, floating in the Delaware Bay. (via the Volokh Conspiracy)

    create your own visited states map
    or write about it on the open travel guide


    Filed on at 4:37 am under by dcobranchi

    This one falls under the category of my day job.

    A security guard at a TX chemical plant was shot when he approached someone taking pictures of the plant’s ammonia facilities. Chemical plants would make wonderful targets. They hold tons (literally) of really nasty materials and many of them are located on navigable waterways. The Delaware River has more than a few of these. (via Instapundit)


    Filed on at 4:10 am under by dcobranchi

    Just kidding. But I found it interesting that two articles (one in Time and the other in Newsday) happened to include quotes from homeschooling moms. A coincidence? I’m not sure.


    Filed on at 4:00 am under by dcobranchi

    comes college. The AP has put out a pretty good piece on homeschoolers making the transition to higher education and colleges’ increasing recognition that the kids are ready. Lots of papers have picked up this good pub. Here’s one.


    Filed on January 25, 2004 at 7:41 am under by dcobranchi

    An interesting Letter to the Editor of the Wilmington News-Urinal argues for health care as a right, using g-schools as a positive example:

    Rights are not measured by their price tag or the number of naysayers. Do we doubt the right to public school education because private schools exist?

    A right? Yes, I doubt it. Rights are inherent to all people, everywhere. Were we violating every kid’s “right” to a “free” public education prior to 1852 when Massachussetts passed the first compulsory attendance law? In no place is education mentioned in the US Constitution. Delaware’s State Constitution does include the public schools, but in Article X, not in Article I, the Bill of Rights. So, no, public education is not a right. And, neither is health care.


    Filed on January 24, 2004 at 9:46 am under by dcobranchi

    This couple of homeschooling “parents” (and I use that term in the biological sense only) ought to be drawn & quartered. Not for the squeamish.


    Filed on at 9:40 am under by dcobranchi

    A researcher has found that homeschooling parents don’t cover “health” issues (i.e., sex ed)the same way that the g-schools do. Surprise! Surprise! I got a huge laugh out of this sentence.

    The average time the home-school educators in this survey had been in the profession was one to three years.

    Don’t you have to get paid to be in a profession? The article then takes a turn to the dark side, though.

    This study indicates a need for public school systems to consider addressing the health education needs of all the students in their communities, Clark says.

    Yes- the g-schools are the solution to all “problems.”

    BTW, my lovely wife (the professional home educator here) pointed out that if the majority of homeschoolers in the survey had only been homeschooling one to three years, it implies that the kids are most likely third grade or younger. Not a whole lotta reasons to teach sexual health at that age, eh?


    Filed on at 7:13 am under by dcobranchi

    The WaPo reports today on an increasing number of red (i.e., Republican) states that are considering rejecting federal education dollars in order to escape the strictures of NCLB.

    By a vote of 98 to 1, the House passed a resolution calling on Congress to exempt states like Virginia from the program’s requirements.

    The resolution is toothless but a vote of 98-1 in a Republican-controlled body is pretty significant. The law is in serious trouble.


    Filed on at 7:02 am under by dcobranchi

    Reading through Gov. Minner’s 2004 address I found the following gem:

    Let me turn now to the opportunity we have to combat one of the most serious health issues facing Delawareans: cancer…We now know, thanks to research completed this year, that cancer victims without health insurance receive less than 60 percent of the health care that cancer patients with health insurance get. This means that health insurance for cancer victims can be the difference between life and death…I am asking the General Assembly to make Delaware the first state in the country to guarantee health insurance for every person in the state diagnosed with cancer. Some will say, “no other state has done it.” To them I say, it’s about time that someone did, and Delaware will lead the way.

    Something’s missing here. The survival rate. Do those with health insurance survive at a significantly higher rate? Or is this just an example of what happens when someone else is paying the bill? “You want to run a super-expensive test, Doc? Well, I don’t know. Oh, insurance will cover it? Sure, then. Why not?”

    Minner singles out cancer but I’d bet you could fill in the blank with just about any disease you want. We now know, thanks to research completed this year, that (heart, liver, spleen, excema, bad breath, etc.) victims without health insurance receive less than 60 percent of the health care that (heart, liver, spleen, excema, bad breath, etc.) patients with health insurance get.

    So, is the state going to buy Listerine for everyone who can’t afford it? Oh wait- that’s already covered in her air pollution solution.

    I don’t like slippery slope arguments but singling out a single class of diseases is the obvious first step to universal health coverage. I hope this proposal goes nowhere.


    Filed on January 23, 2004 at 8:57 pm under by dcobranchi

    You just never know when you’ll run across some really great writing. You’ll kick yourself if you don’t follow the link.


    Filed on at 6:11 pm under by dcobranchi

    Joanne the Happy Homeschooler has discovered yet another reason to homeschool- freedom of attire.


    Filed on at 1:05 pm under by dcobranchi

    A PA legislator wants to test all g-school kids for drugs.

    The $23 million testing plan, targeted at grades 8-12, would not be mandatory, but parents who do not want their children to participate would have to opt out. It is sure to draw critics who argue the pilot program will invade student privacy.

    “In my view, I’d like to see everybody tested,” Peterson said.

    Do PA lawmakers have to pee in a cup? I’d bet not becasue this guy would surely fail. Mandatory testing for everybody would surely be held unconstitutional.


    Filed on at 12:37 pm under by dcobranchi

    … or free money, either.

    Minner’s bold ideas stake out a future when money is freer

    Winner of the dumb headline of the day, week, month, and year! Thanks, News-Urinal, for making my job so easy!


    Filed on at 12:08 pm under by dcobranchi

    I guess the law of supply and demand has been revoked in Delaware.

    New Castle County paid the owners of 316 acres west of Middletown more than $2.3 million Thursday to guarantee their land always will remain a farm.

    The farm, on the Middletown-Warwick Road, is the first to enter the county’s farmland preservation program.

    Under the deal, Dennis and Morgan Clay retain ownership of the land, but lose the right to build homes or businesses there.

    The land has more value if it can be developed so the state, in its infinite wisdom, decides to use our money to bribe farmers to stay farmers? All this accomplishes is wasting money and driving up the price of land that can be developed. But, it makes politicians feel good (and look good at re-election time). Why aren’t the Republicans and the Libertarians screaming bloody murder about this?


    Filed on January 22, 2004 at 8:55 pm under by dcobranchi

    Received via email:

    The bill known last session as A4033 has been reintroduced as A1918. The bill text is not yet available online, but most likely it is exactly the same.

    As I and the other group leaders mentioned below receive and confirm more information, we will send out updates with suggestions for individual action. The key thing to remember is that this is not the same kind of last-minute crisis as A4033 was. This is the time for reasoned opposition and ongoing personal lobbying.

    We do not seek compromise, and we will accept nothing less than the total defeat of this legislative travesty. Whatever your family’s methods and beliefs, please prepare to join the fight with, and for, all New Jersey homeschoolers.

    Tim Haas
    New Jersey Homeschool Association

    Kill this POS!


    Filed on at 4:38 pm under by dcobranchi

    Check out this review of the movie “Spellbound”:

    Spellbound (Columbia TriStar, 2002) – The hit documentary about the 1999 national spelling bee features Emily Stagg of Hamden among the eight contestants profiled. The winner was not one of the eight because his parents, who home-schooled him, would not cooperate with the filmmakers. George Thampy’s victory has made him the poster boy for the militant home-schooling movement, as though it proves the inferiority of public schools. I don’t agree, but if that’s their argument, they should accept Thampy’s horrible speech impediment as another result of home schooling. Not rated.

    Militant homeschooling? I wonder what Larry Williams has against homeschooling.


    Filed on at 12:31 pm under by dcobranchi

    Here’s a ledeonly Fritz Schranck could love:

    The Maryland State Teachers Association endorsed a proposal yesterday to raise the sales tax by a penny to help fund a landmark school aid package.

    The teachers’ union is in favor of more money for schools. Whodathunkit?


    Filed on at 11:18 am under by dcobranchi

    According to a very sarcastic Letter to the Editor in today’s Wilmington News-Urinal, a local school district closed last week because of wind-chill.

    I look forward to spring, when schools can close because the sun’s glare is too bright and the weather is balmy and conducive to daydreaming.

    I’ve noted that the DE schools are run by a bunch of wimps, willing to close the schools at the mere threat of snow (or, evidently, wind).


    Filed on at 11:09 am under by dcobranchi

    Here’s a testing article about Delaware’s three-tiered diploma system. DE has a really screwy program. The kids take a standardized test in 10th grade and, based on the results of that test, when they graduate they are awarded one of three diplomas: distinguished, standard, or basic. This system was implemented in lieu of a make-or-break exit exam.

    No one that I know likes the current system and parents are lobbying to scrap it. At a hearing yesterday, a student testified about his experience:

    Max Castorani, a senior at Alexis I. du Pont High School, told the committee he scored 1520 on his SAT test, is a National Merit Scholar and a candidate for the presidential scholars program, based on his test scores. But he told the committee that based on his state test he will receive a standard diploma.

    It does sound like something may be wrong but, to be fair, all students do have the opportunity to re-take the exam. The article gives no indication if Mr. Castorani availed himself of the option.

    My big problem with the system is it’s a big “Who cares?” There are absolutely no ramifications if one gets a standard or distinguished diploma. Colleges have long since made their admissions decisions and businesses are not going to ask to see the diploma. Much ado about not a whole lot.


    Filed on January 21, 2004 at 7:29 pm under by dcobranchi

    Chris O’Donnell found some way cool animation of the Mars Rover. A must see.


    Filed on at 7:11 pm under by dcobranchi

    This family is going to do it right. I’d love to be able to pull something like this off.

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