Utterly Meaningless » 2004 » January

    Filed on January 21, 2004 at 12:13 pm under by dcobranchi

    MA Governor Mitt Romney is proposing to allow private schoolers (and presumably homeschoolers) to access state scholarships if they take the state accountability test and place in the top 25 percent. I know it will be difficult to pass up “free” money, but I hope MA homeschoolers opt out of this program. You never want to let the state camel get his nose in the tent.


    Filed on at 12:05 pm under by dcobranchi

    Is there some requirement that in order to become an NEA official, one must first undergo a pre-frontal lobotomy?

    Spam the schools chancellor!
    That’s the order from teachers-union boss Randi Weingarten.

    …”We want 50,000 e-mails from members and parents to go to Klein and [Mayor] Bloomberg during the month of January about the micromanagement and mismanagement issues that make your job more difficult this year,” Weingarten said, noting the action was approved by union delegates last month.

    I’m sure Klein will be so impressed with what is basically a DOS attack that he will cave in immediately. What a bunch of goons! And they expect to be treated as “professionals?” How ’bout acting like it first?!


    Filed on at 11:35 am under by dcobranchi

    From an NBC affiliate down in NC:

    Wake County’s redistricting proposal is designed to keep students closer to home. School officials say 77 percent of students reassigned will have shorter bus rides than they have now — that means 23 percent will be on the bus longer.

    Thanks for the math lesson. And, of course they’re wrong as they make the assumption it’s an either/or proposition. I’m sure for some kids it will turn out a wash.


    Filed on January 20, 2004 at 5:38 pm under by dcobranchi

    Three young homeschooled brothers are experts in the somewhat esoteric field of orchids.

    “These boys are truly orchid experts,” says Randy Heiss, past president of the Grand Valley Orchid Society and owner of Gentleman Farmer Orchids in Fremont.

    “There are older people who never get to the point these kids are. They’re … unique.”

    He chuckles as he recalls an orchid society meeting when an expert on Michigan orchids presented a slide show. Jeffrey, Nathan and Matthew were in the audience.

    “Every time a slide came up, before the guy could tell what the orchid was, all three of them reeled the name right off,” Heiss says. “If they stick with this, they can rock and shake the orchid world.”


    Filed on at 2:48 pm under by dcobranchi

    Frequent visitor Andrea Roach reported that some idiot torched her local library, destroying some 6,000 books. The librarians are very homeschool friendly, offering a large section of materials. Here’s hoping it re-opens soon.


    Filed on at 8:02 am under by dcobranchi

    Actually, a lot of help. Chris O’Donnell had an excellent idea for my upcoming talk before the Delaware Libertarians. He suggested that I play off of the World’s Smallest Political Quiz.

    What I’d like to do is get a completely unscientific sampling of homeschooling parents’ scores from the test. If y’all would be so kind as to take the quiz and then post your numerical scores via comment (you can post anonymously), I would be sorely in your debt. Thanks.

    And, feel free to pass this along if you wish. The quiz is at http://www.theadvocates.org/quiz.html and a direct link to the comments section is http://www.cobranchi.com/cgi-bin/mt/mt-comments.cgi?entry_id=2448


    Filed on January 19, 2004 at 2:04 pm under by dcobranchi

    How else to explain this quote from the Wall Street Journal?

    “Question: Do your children attend public or private schools?

    “Answer: Public schools. Public school education in this country is excellent. I’m tired of right-wing politicians bashing the public school system whose failures are often due to lack of attention to early childhood education between the ages of zero and three.”

    If Dean gets the nomination, expect to see some kind of proposal for “voluntary” public pre-K education for all. Of course, voluntary would eventually morph into compulsory. And, we’d all be paying higher taxes to pay for the “free” babysitting. I’ve said it before, his early childhood education statements are downright scary. (Hat tip to Skip Oliva)


    Filed on at 9:23 am under by dcobranchi

    The Salem Co. (NJ) Today’s Sunbeam (yes, that really is the name of a small daily paper in South Jersey) has a nice profile of an MK (Missionary’s Kid) who was homeschooled from fourth-grade on.

    To Hill, life on a tropical island was normal.

    “I lived right on the Caribbean Ocean,” she says with a smile.

    In Bonaire, she attended school until the fourth grade and then began home schooling. She learned to speak Dutch and the island’s native language, Papiamentu. She also speaks Spanish and Slovak.

    Homeschooling is actually quite common among missionary families. The Calvert School got its start sending out curricula in a box (including paper, pencils, etc.) to far-flung missionary families. My wife’s parents, who were career medical missionaries, used Calvert when schools were unavailable.


    Filed on at 2:56 am under by dcobranchi

    A Wilmington News-Urinal (see preceding post) Letter to the Editor:

    Weapons are poised to come to Delaware

    Talk about weapons of mass destruction. The U.S. Army has stockpiled tons of deadly nerve gas. And they are planning to dump it into the Delaware River.

    Margaret Reyes, Wilmington

    I happen to know a little about this. The nerve agents are first going to be destroyed in situ. The aqueous waste is then going to be trucked to Deepwater, New Jersey, where it will be treated. After treatment, then and only then will the water be discharged to the river. It’s perfectly safe.


    Filed on at 2:36 am under by dcobranchi

    From a Wilminton News-Journal article about the Eagles’ “hearbreaking” loss (which I thoroughly enjoyed):

    Wilmington Fire Department Lt. Richard Lamb drove through the freezing rain to the stadium after getting off work. For him, winter weather is what the playoffs are all about.

    “This is football weather,” he said. He and his friends smoked cigars and drank cans of Miller Lite as a light snow fell just before kickoff. The rowdy, daylong party was marked with the usual trappings of a tailgate including beer, barbecues and public urination.

    No wonder the paper is referred to as the News-Urinal. Expect an apology in tomorrow’s edition.


    Filed on January 18, 2004 at 7:35 pm under by dcobranchi

    Tim Haas emailed me a link to this absolutely awful editorial in support of the proposed homeschool legislation in NJ. The editor is an idiot as he apparently doesn’t understand that the state constitution does not force parents to accomodate themselves to the public schools:

    In New Jersey, where the state constitution demands that the Legislature “provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of free public schools for the instruction of all the children in the state between the ages of 5 and 18 years,” the total failure of government to ensure that every child learn the basics needed to function in today’s society is unacceptable.

    The legislature has to support the schools. Parents can take them or leave them. Geez! Good luck NJ homeschoolers. Please shoot this one down ASAP!


    Filed on at 3:02 pm under by dcobranchi

    A homeschooler won a Helena, MT VFW Voice of Democracy contest. Go team!


    Filed on January 17, 2004 at 7:59 pm under by dcobranchi

    Check out this spam I just received:

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    Filed on at 5:03 pm under by dcobranchi

    As I caught a bit of grief about my Philly Soda Ban post, I thought I’d post a quick update. The following beverage items were lying around the house.

                                      cal./oz      g sugars/oz.
    Mountain Dew Code Red             13.8          3.8
    Capri Sun (7% fruit juice)        14.8          3.7
    Juicy Juice Peach (100% juice)    15.0          3.4

    Juice doesn’t appear to be that that much better for fighting childhood obesity.

    BTW, I highly recommend MD Code Red. It’s a lime/cherry mix that tastes a lot like a drink I remember from my childhood- Lime Rickey (the non-alcoholic version).


    Filed on at 2:32 pm under by dcobranchi

    …finding enough kids to play kickball in the middle of the day.


    Filed on at 2:27 pm under by dcobranchi

    The Newark (Ohio) Advocate has a list of local plusses and minuses. They mis-categorized one, though:

    Plus: It’s good to see nearly 70 students enrolled in the Newark Digital Academy for two reasons. First, we believe the academy offers students who may struggle in traditional classrooms a fresh and exciting way to receive their education. Second, it should help the district stop the erosion of state dollars for students choosing to attend other schools or homeschool.


    Filed on at 2:04 pm under by dcobranchi

    I’ve been invited to address the Delaware Libertarian Party’s state convention on the topic of homeschooling. The preferred theme is “How do Libertarians reach out to homeschoolers and get them to vote for us?” although I have some freedom there.

    It’s an interesting assignment that, I fear, may be impossible. Homeschoolers may be libertarian (small “L”) on education issues, but span the political spectrum on just about everything else. I’d hate to spoil the “party” with bad news.

    Are homeschoolers a “core constituency of the Libertarian Party?”


    Filed on at 9:44 am under by dcobranchi

    The New York papers seem to find more reasons to homeschool every day. Lately, they’ve been chronicling episodes of violence in NYC schools. Today’s entry– a 15-year-old shoved a vice principal down the stairs, sending him to the hospital.


    Filed on at 9:40 am under by dcobranchi

    Prep-schools in the UK have admissions “tests” for 3-year-olds. The parents are nuts, looking for an edge to get their kids into the “best” schools. I realize it happens here, too. Doesn’t excuse the behavior, though.


    Filed on at 9:22 am under by dcobranchi

    At last, a reporter who “gets” it. This story, out of North Carolina, does a really good job explaining the difference between the two as well as the dangers that confusing the two presents to traditional homeschooling. Definitely worth a read. (Hat tip to Judy Aron)


    Filed on January 16, 2004 at 1:50 pm under by dcobranchi

    Not a work stoppage but a thought stoppage, instead.

    A NYC principal announced over the school’s PA system the names of students who were in danger of failing. She was subsequently reassigned. The union has come to her defense with some pretty outrageous quotes. My “favorite”:

    [Principal] Bobo “did nothing inappropriate. There was no corporal punishment,” a CSA official insisted.


    Filed on at 1:30 pm under by dcobranchi

    Police arrested an Indiana teacher for being drunk in the classroom. He tested at 0.15 percent BAC.

    I’m not even gonna say it.


    Filed on January 15, 2004 at 9:43 am under by dcobranchi

    Steven Greenhut on LewRockwell.com utterly destroys Bush’s latest marriage proposal. (link via Izzy)


    Filed on at 9:14 am under by dcobranchi

    Philly schools are banning sales of softdrinks because of the new obsession of childhood obesity. I see a couple of problems here.

    1) No diet drinks will be sold. High-calorie juices, though, are A-OK.

    2) Teachers and administrators will still be able to purchase sodas in the teachers’ lounge.

    I guess fat teachers are ok. What a stupidly mixed message.


    Filed on at 9:03 am under by dcobranchi

    I don’t think I’ll be buying this book on creating radical democracies in schools any time soon:

    In Chapter 2, the authors present their view of the marketization of education, describing the failure of the current economic system to provide a viable life for all. In a radical democratic culture and a compassionate socio-economic order, those who are valued are not motivated by greed or selfishness but are those who place the protection of all human lives and the natural and social environment above the right of the individuals to limitless personal wealth. (p. 34). A radical democratic process would provide avenues for all individuals to solve the collective problems of the community.


    Filed on January 14, 2004 at 9:13 am under by dcobranchi

    This meeting announcement pissed me off:

    Homeschooling facts

    Keyes to Learning Charter School is having a discussion Jan. 23 on “Homeschooling With a Public Charter: Facts and Myths.” The discussion will be presented at 2 p.m. at Roller King, behind FoodMaxx at Briggsmore Avenue and Prescott Road in Modesto.

    If it’s a charter school, it’s not homeschooling!


    Filed on at 8:35 am under by dcobranchi

    A couple of good columns by Cathy Cuthbert and Michelle Malkin.

    In the first, Cathy Cuthbert, who is a major SepSchool activist, recognizes that separating schools from the state really is only a first step. The bigger problem is institutional schooling.

    [I]t is the daylong institutionalization of children of all ages that must be condemned. Through daylong institutional schooling, America’s parents have rendered themselves utterly impotent. Having farmed out the rearing of our children, we are not parents at all, but boarding house proprietors, providing little more than room and, if the children are lucky, three squares a day. We are in danger of becoming, wholly unwittingly, the next Spartan race with our children this country’s first generation to be raised not by parents, or even part-time parents, but by a procession of strangers. The wide acceptance of serial parenting is a Gordian knot that separating school and state alone cannot cut.

    Of course, the government does everything in its power to encourage serial parenting. Or, more precisely, to become the surrogate parent. And, government and kids just don’t mix, as Michelle Malkin notes:

    While New Jersey politicians attempt to punish law-abiding homeschoolers for the sins of DYFS and the Jacksons, one of every 14 children in foster care in the state is placed in a home operated by someone with a criminal conviction or documented as having mistreated a child. Moreover, according to a study released last summer by the School of Social Work at the University of Pennsylvania, one in 10 were abused or neglected by the agency caregiver and one in five didn’t receive needed medical care. “The DYFS picture is not just bleak; it is one of chaos and tragedy,” the report concluded. “From the reading of the disorganized and incomplete case files, to the statistical analysis of the status of children in the ‘care’ of DYFS, institutional abuse, neglect and ineptitude are the dominant themes.”

    Sense a theme here?

    The problem is systemic and institutional. Kids belong with their parents. I know I’m preaching to the choir here but…



    Filed on January 13, 2004 at 9:44 am under by dcobranchi

    AHEM has a pretty good rebuttal to the recent attempts to link homeschooling with child abuse. (Hat tip to Judy Aron)


    Filed on at 8:25 am under by dcobranchi

    First it was almanacs. Now this:

    In a story that appeared on The Register last week, it has come to light that America’s ‘heightened state of awareness’ regarding all potential terrorist threats has reached a new high, after a mother’s enquiry about Microsoft Flight Simulator for her ten year-old son sparked concerns at a Massachusetts branch of Staples, which lead to a police visit at her home.

    Reserve US Airforce pilot Julie Olearcek home schools her son, but her enquiry about flight simulators reportedly alarmed the Staples staff so greatly, that a call to the authorities was placed. The upshot of these concerns was a state trooper flashing a torch through her windows at 8.30 one rainy evening – rather disconcerting I’m sure you’ll agree.

    The FBI recently issued a terror alert for citizens to beware of drivers with maps and reference books, and it appears the staff of Staples were simply acting on this vigilance.

    Acting out of ignorance, I’d say.


    Filed on at 8:12 am under by dcobranchi

    The legislature is back in session today. That means two things.

    1) Remember- “No man’s life, liberty or property is safe while the Legislature is in session.” (BTW- that quote is often misattributed to Mark Twain)

    2) It’s COOKIE DAY! Bring your homebaked goodies to Leg Hall at noon today. Meet&Greet your representatives. Teach the kids about grassroots politicking! You just gotta love Delaware.


    Filed on at 8:02 am under by dcobranchi

    From the Wilmington News-Journal:

    Full-day kindergarten should be one option
    I was dismayed to read the General Assembly is considering spending $29 million to implement full-day kindergarten in schools statewide. I am opposed to full-day kindergarten and do not this this large expenditure is the best use of the state’s educational resources.

    While studies show that full- day kindergarten may benefit some students, it does not necessarily benefit all. Parents and students should be given a choice. Currently schools offer half-day or full-day kindergarten, with fees charged to families using the full day option. Parents in my daughter’s school were polled two years ago to see if there was interest in more full-day classrooms and the answer was no.

    It is sad that many 5-year-olds are forced into a 40-hour work week with less leisure and family interaction.

    It’s fine to have a full-day option for those who choose it, but it is not fair to force it on everyone. I am a stay-at-home mom with two children. My oldest is in first grade. She and her half- day kindergarten peers are at the top of their class in reading and writing, outperforming children who attended full-day kindergarten.

    Proponents of full-day kindergarten assume that children are in day care full time anyway, which is a poor assumption. All-day kindergarten is essentially state-sponsored day care and should not be disguised as education. If the state wants to subsidize day care, that should be done on its own merits without restricting the program to one grade level and with a tax break for families with a stay-at-home parent.

    The $29 million earmarked for full-day kindergarten would be better spent reducing class sizes across all grades.

    Christine Wesley, Graylyn Crest

    She’s right about the daycare.


    Filed on at 7:53 am under by dcobranchi

    Don’t read this article- just the headline:

    Schools head stuns Scottsdale, gets job

    Let’s see how many silly interpretations we can ome up with.


    Filed on at 7:48 am under by dcobranchi

    From a piece on school accreditation:

    For students at Centennial, the greatest concern is that their diplomas will be worthless. Lekisha Watkins, a 17-year-old senior who is president of the student council, says, “I don’t want the hard work I did to be in vain.”

    In reality, California will grant Centennial’s students high school diplomas regardless of the school’s accreditation status. College is the real problem. Many if not most, schools, including the University of California, require that applicants come from accredited schools.

    That just doesn’t sound right. What about all of CA’s homeschoolers using the “private school” option? They’re certainly not accredited. Any CA readers explain this?


    Filed on at 7:14 am under by dcobranchi

    This is now more a historical document than a news flash. Sorry, Tim.

    A broad-based group of state homeschooling representatives met on Saturday, January 10th, to discuss the threat of A4033 and coordinate responses. It was unanimously agreed that no compromise is possible — we will accept nothing less than the total defeat of this ill-conceived and deeply offensive bill.

    Currently, we believe it is unlikely that the sponsor will suspend legislative rules to force a vote on Monday, the last day of the session. However, to help make sure this doesn’t happen, each group is asking for eight to 10 volunteers to travel to Trenton on Monday morning.

    We are not holding a rally, but instead will stay in the statehouse throughout the day to meet informally with legislators, distribute pro-homeschooling materials, and practice the lobbying skills we will undoubtedly need during the next session when this bill is refiled. Groups leaders have also called a press conference, tentatively scheduled for 11:30 a.m., to relate the venerable history of homeschooling freedom in New Jersey and expose the flawed thinking behind each section of the bill.

    NJHA members and friends who would like to be part of our efforts on Monday are invited to e-mail me for details. I look forward to hearing from you.

    Tim Haas
    New Jersey Homeschool Association

    I’M BACK

    Filed on at 7:10 am under by dcobranchi

    Sorry about the silence. A quick trip to Vegas (No, I don’t gamble) with no net access.


    Filed on January 11, 2004 at 8:34 am under by dcobranchi

    Homeschooler Bethany Hamilton, who lost an arm to a shark 10 weeks ago, competed in a surfing competition yesterday and placed fifth. This girl is just terrific. I saw an interview she did about a week after the attack. She was very upbeat, even thanking God for the opportunity to witness. She’s got heart, too.

    Hamilton rejected any special treatment, said Bobbi Lee, NSSA Hawaii Conference director.

    “I offered to give her more time (between heats) or put her in a more favorable heat,” Lee said. “She refused. She said she wanted to be treated like anybody else.”


    Filed on at 7:10 am under by dcobranchi

    This generic article about homeschooling (in Mississippi, this time) is about four months late. A good quote, from homeschooling mom Cassie Dabbs:

    “Anybody who has a desire to try to homeschool should go for it. Don’t expect perfection,” Dabbs said. “Have realistic expectations and set some goals.”

    One minor complaint- the picture! Talk about “school-at-home”!


    Filed on at 6:53 am under by dcobranchi

    The New York Yimes has a lengthy piece on teens’ use of journal-blogs. It seems that 90 percent of all blogs are basically online journals kept by young people. Who knew? These journals really are quite different from H&OES and even from the blogs linked in the blogroll. An interesting read.


    Filed on January 10, 2004 at 7:30 pm under by dcobranchi

    A pretty good post over at Lew Rockwell. It’s not what you think it is.


    Filed on at 10:47 am under by dcobranchi

    This can’t possibly be true.

    Indiana is one of eight states that do not offer state-financed preschool programs open to all children.

    Forty-two states have taxpayer-funded pre-schools for all kids?! When did that happen?


    Filed on at 10:39 am under by dcobranchi

    Luis A Huerta (Teachers College- Columbia University) and Maria-Fenanda Gonzalez (University of California, Berkley) have a really long paper in the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education’s e-zine. What a waste of electrons! The title alone should tell you that these folks are clueless:”Cyber and Home School Charter Schools: How States are Defining New Forms of Public Schooling” Throughout, they refer to cyber g-school students as homeschoolers. Even worse, here’s EducationNews.org’s hed for the same article:”Does Home-schooling impact your neighborhood schools? Your wallet” . When will they ever learn?

    I’M TORN…

    Filed on January 9, 2004 at 6:04 pm under by dcobranchi

    on this proposal for tuition tax credits in SC. It appears that families that make less than $75,000 would be eligible for a tax credit of up to $4,100 per student who homeschools or enrolls in a private school. I’m always wary of homeschoolers taking money from the government, but if this really is a straight credit with no other hoops to jump through, SC homeschoolers should be safe.


    Filed on at 7:05 am under by dcobranchi

    The Great Debate winds down today. I don’t know that anyone’s mind was changed but it was a lot of fun. It’s good to have your beliefs challenged once-in-a-while. Keeps the brain alive.


    Filed on at 6:25 am under by dcobranchi

    A homeschooling HAM operator explains why pursuing the hobby might fit into your kid’s homeschool program.


    Filed on at 6:16 am under by dcobranchi

    A 16-year-old homeschooler is getting set to enroll in a MBA program after graduating from Penn State. The reporter seems to be enchanted that this “prodigy” is a Goth. The girl sounds quite cute. Worth a click.


    Filed on January 8, 2004 at 12:41 pm under by dcobranchi

    “Oh, please don’t suspend me Mr. Superintendent.”

    A teacher in England was suspended for alleged “inappropriate touching.” With full pay. For nine years!


    Filed on at 12:17 pm under by dcobranchi

    EdSec Paige must be feeling a little heat over NCLB. How else to explain this quote:

    “I find it staggering that the very critics – the very critics – and organizations that fought so hard for civil rights could leave minority children behind,” said Paige, the first black education secretary, in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute.

    Criticizing a flawed law is not akin to racism or a desire for segregation. Geez!


    Filed on at 7:27 am under by dcobranchi

    Lots of new posts over at CHN. Interestingly, some of the best posts are by frequent visitors to H&OES. Way to go, y’all.


    Filed on at 4:29 am under by dcobranchi

    Your email address bounced. Please email directly by clicking here.


    Filed on January 7, 2004 at 7:24 pm under by dcobranchi

    Now, this is different.

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