Utterly Meaningless » 2004 » February

    Filed on February 19, 2004 at 9:20 am under by dcobranchi

    A 43-year-old male teacher in Delaware took two female students to dinner at an out of state restaurant where he purchased drinks for them. Fortunately, a parent complained and he’s now lost his job and been charged with providing alcohol to a minor.


    Filed on at 6:02 am under by dcobranchi

    He’s still trying. I turned the comments back on for one minute to see if he’d moved on. No such luck. Thanks for the emails. I’m going to try a plug-in fix until MT 3 comes out.


    Filed on February 18, 2004 at 9:57 pm under by dcobranchi

    The comment spammers are back in full force. I’m turning off comments until they move on. Email me with any comments; I’ll post them in.

    UPDATE: DAMN! I can’t seem to turn off the comments on old posts except one-by-one. I’ll have to delete the spam as it comes in.

    UPDATE: I think i’ve shut down all comments for the whole site. Unfortunately, my fix was to disable the system completely. Blame the spammers.


    Filed on at 1:59 pm under by dcobranchi

    Darn! I forgot to blog this. Lydia watched Law and Order SVU last night. It was all about a homeschooling family. Based on the 15 seconds that I saw, and Lydia’s description, it seemed to conflate several recent abuse cases including Collinswood.

    HSLDA is not happy.

    Did anyone else see it?


    Filed on at 8:55 am under by dcobranchi

    Not the town in Michigan, but the “Americans with Disabilites Act”

    World Net Daily has a terrific essay (it’s actually an introductory chapter from a book) on one man’s view of the ADA. It’s long but definitely worth a read. And, don’t miss the section on homeschooling way at the bottom. He absolutely endorses homeschooling kids who are disabled.


    Filed on at 6:12 am under by dcobranchi

    Illinois is doing a major re-shuffling of their educrats. Some people evidently aren’t happy about the proposed changes:

    “There’s no private school representation and also no charter school. It doesn’t cover home schooling,” said Paul Seibert, who also is director of Charter Consultants, which advises mostly private schools.

    Seibert said private, charter and home schools should have standards at least as high as public schools and have state monitoring.

    Calling for more regulation of your clients. I’m sure that’s a wise career move.

    I have no problem with state oversight of charters. They are g-school, after all. Private and homeschools? NOT! It’s the bargain we strike with the state- we don’t take tax money and you leave us the hell alone.


    Filed on February 17, 2004 at 3:42 pm under by dcobranchi

    Joe Stegner’s bill sounds really ugly:

    An Idaho senator seeks comparable coursework for home-schoolers. Friday, the Senate Education Committee passed a measure that would crack down on parents who falsely claim to home school their children.

    The bill would increase the state’s involvement in education for more than six-thousand kids taught at home. Lewiston Senator Joe Stegner says the bill he introduced should not impact legitimate home-schooling parents.

    The bill allows authorities to go after those who make no effort to educate their children. The bill states “kids not being educated in the public school system must be given comparable course work,” which worries some home schoolers because such course work is not defined.

    Kristina Davenport/Home Schooler–

    “They’re saying that if we don’t teach our children at home comparably to the public schools. What is comparable? What are we comparing it to? What are the guidelines? It’s kind of vague.”

    If the bill passes and parents are found guilty of not properly educating their children, they could be charged with a misdemeanor.


    Filed on at 11:33 am under by dcobranchi

    Do you have an anti-Bush blog? Marc Perkel wants you!


    Filed on at 11:27 am under by dcobranchi

    Do we tell our teenage kids about our own teen years? Mine know that I almost killed myself on a motorcycle. They don’t know the really bad stuff. I don’t plan to tell them either. But, what if they ask?

    FSP II?

    Filed on at 6:51 am under by dcobranchi

    Is Montana set to become a Western version of the Free State Project? Hey, Izzy, New Hampshire was a lot closer.


    Filed on February 16, 2004 at 4:41 pm under by dcobranchi

    Just received this from numerous souces:

    DATE: February 6, 2004
    FROM: BARRY PETERS, ICHE Legal Advisor

    As stated in my last alert, I attempted to convince Senator Joe Stegner (R-Lewiston) to withdraw his Senate Bill 1233. Unfortunately, Senator Stegner has declined to withdraw the bill. That bill will make any home educating parent who fails “to place the child in school . . . or to have the child comparably instructed . . .” automatically guilty of a misdemeanor crime. Such a crime may be punished by up to six months in jail. The text of Senator Stegner’s bill may be viewed on the internet at http://www3.state.id.us/oasis/S1233.html.

    The old version of the statute that Senator Stegner seeks to revise merely required that, if such a failure occurred, proceedings would be brought against the parent under the same Act under which the juvenile charges were brought against the child. Under this system that has worked well for decades, the juvenile judge has a great deal of latitude. If the parents are cooperative in correcting the situation, no further action need be taken. If the parents are not cooperative, then the judge has a range of options including criminal charges against the parent. The text of the law as it currently reads may be viewed on the internet at http://www3.state.id.us/cgi-bin/newidst?sctid=330020007.K.

    Under Senator Stegner’s bill, the flexibility currently enjoyed by the judge would be taken away. The parents of any child whose home education was found to be inadequate would have to be charged with a misdemeanor crime even if the educational shortcoming was relatively minor. Any such criminal conviction may result in jail time and will affect both credit and employment applications later submitted by the parent.

    It is also worth noting that this statute is focused on home schooling families. The use of all other forms of education – public schools, private schools, and parochial schools – are expressly exempt from the statute. If a child is enrolled in any of those types of schools, neither the parents, nor the teachers, can be charged with any crime, regardless of how inferior the education might actually be. However, that fact is true under the statute both in its current form and under Senator Stegner’s bill.

    We anticipate an extended battle over this bill. It has been assigned to the Senate Education Committee for its first hearing. Unfortunately, that committee is stacked with 7 of 9 members who we have been told have received campaign funds from the IEA, the Idaho teachers’ union. If the bill is approved by a majority of the members of that committee, it will go to the full Senate for approval. If approved there, it will probably go to the House Education Committee where home schooling is highly regarded. If it passes that committee, it will then proceed to the full House for approval. If approved there, it will go to Governor Kempthorne for final approval.

    If we can block this bill at any one of these five junctures, the law will remain as it now reads. If we are unable to block the bill in the Senate Education Committee, subsequent alerts will be issued shortly before each new hearing. For maximum impact, it is important that each barrage of messages reach its destination as close to the time of the debate and hearing as possible.


    Filed on at 12:54 pm under by dcobranchi

    In the “Professional” Teachers post, I’m debating (read, arguing past) a g-school teacher who takes the position that the teachers who called in sick lost a day’s pay. Perhaps. I’ve always thought of sick leave as days you can take off if you happen to be sick, not days you get regardless, like extra vacation days. Apparently, teachers can accrue these for years and then cash them in when they retire. Those poor teachers. They’re so underpaid and unappreciated. No wonder they complain all the time.

    Hey, g-school teachers, in the real world, there ain’t no such thing as “sick leave.” If you’re sick, you call in sick. And, you better really be sick, not playing hooky. No staying home singing spirituals.

    Just one more thing to change when we can trash the whole system!

    99% CORRECT

    Filed on at 6:58 am under by dcobranchi

    The New York Timeshas a confused editorial on the financial problems state colleges are facing. The paper correctly points out the need to raise tuitions and to provide more freedom to the state schools. For a minute, I really thought they were going to call for the Separation of College and State. My bad. They veered back to familiar territory at the last second.

    One possible compromise would be to raise the tuition to levels now paid by out-of-state students — or perhaps even a bit higher — while shielding the poor with need-based aid. Meanwhile, the states should understand that there is no such thing as a free lunch. They can either create mechanisms for financing the public universities at realistic levels or they can watch these institutions wither and die.

    Missed it by that much. Sigh.


    Filed on at 6:32 am under by dcobranchi

    This one is OT but personal.

    ALTA — Eleven students bound in from recess — dressed in ski pants and snowsuits — with cheeks rivaling the pinkness of pomegranates. They have no swings, no slides or teeter-totters, but the students who attend the little one-room school in Alta wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Lydia and I went to grad school in Salt Lake City, just a $1 city bus ride from Alta. It was always our favorite ski resort. I can’t believe that parents had to send their kids all the way down the canyon; the road regularly gets wiped out by avalanches. And just so you ski bums know what you’re missing:


    Filed on February 15, 2004 at 8:17 pm under by dcobranchi

    Robinson Curriculum has re-printed a 1994 essay from Practical Homeschooling magazine. Except for the repeated use of the term “academic standards” as relating to homeschooling, it’s pretty darn good.


    Filed on at 8:03 am under by dcobranchi

    An Idaho semi-alert:

    Boise — The state may increase its involvement in the education that the six-thousand Idaho home schoolers are receiving on their home turf.

    The Senate Education Committee has passed a measure to crack down on parents who provide no such education to their children.

    But attorney Barry Peterson, representing home-schooling groups, says the bill now headed to the full Senate could put the state’s legitimate home-schooling parents at risk.

    Lewiston Senator Joe Stegner’s bill would allow authorities to go after parents who make no effort to educate their children. School and law enforcement officials say they lack those tools.

    Home schooling advocates say they’ll contact legislators to convince them to reject the bill.

    I’ll try to track this down.


    Filed on at 7:59 am under by dcobranchi

    As a homeschooling advocate, this brief article about a virtual charter worries me a bit.

    As a supporter of school choice? Good deal.

    After home schooling for four years, two of Lorie Brunner’s sons are enrolled for the second year in the virtual charter school, Wisconsin Connections Academy.

    Brunner, who lives near Cecil, said there are two main reasons she joined WCA — relieving the cost of home-schooling and getting teacher support. Students learn at home under the guidance of their parents who are given direction by certified teachers.


    Filed on February 14, 2004 at 10:08 am under by dcobranchi

    Part, whatever

    600 teachers in Bal’more called in sick following a union vote against a proposed 3.5 percent pay cut to close a budget shortfall.

    Teachers voted Thursday 3,824 to 1,402 to reject what city officials called a “pay deferral” because of the promise it would be repaid next year. During the vote, teachers received flyers urging them not to report to work Friday, and the system received more than 300 calls by Thursday evening.

    The union disavowed any responsibility for the sickout. Riiiight!

    “Morale here is better than it’s been in a long time because of the solidarity we showed in the vote,” [2nd-grade teacher Karen] Engerman said. “It felt good singing ‘We Shall Overcome’ with my colleagues – to protest what’s happening.”

    Oh, yeah. I know just how she feels. My colleagues and I sing spirituals all the time when we are fighting The Man.

    When teachers start acting like professionals, then they will be treated as such. And not a moment sooner.


    Filed on at 9:29 am under by dcobranchi

    Democrat Fenton L. Bland Jr., who represents the 63rd District in Virginia’s House of Delegates, needs to go:

    I voted in opposition to H.B. 675 (qualifications for providing home instruction). The bill would lower the minimum standards of education for the provider of home schooling. Currently, a parent of guardian must possess a college degree in order to home school his/her child. H.B. 675, would lower that requirement so that the provider would only need to have a high school diploma. I was one of 40 delegates voting in opposition to this measure (60 in support) and strongly stand behind my vote. Studies have shown that at every grade level, home-schooled children whose parents do not have a college degree under-perform those whose parents have a college degree. I am wholly dedicated to ensuring the proper education of our children and feel that H.B. 675 would undermine that effort.

    There is so much wrong in this short graf.

    1) His comparison is irrelevant. If he really insists on making comparisons, a better one (I’m holding my nose as I write this) is homeschoolers whose parents have a high school diploma vs. g-schoolers whose parents have the same. I’ll put my money on the homeschoolers.

    2) Whose kids?

    3) Is there no freedom left in the state that gave us the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution?

    4) He’s obviously too ill-informed to vote on legislation since, as Shay and Chris have noted, there is no college requirement.

    VA homeschoolers- only 9 months until Election Day.

    UPDATE: Chris O’Donnell responded. There’s a homework assignment.


    Filed on at 8:24 am under by dcobranchi

    From a Letter to the Editor at the News-Urinal

    Morning glory seeds turn out to be teens’ hallucinogen

    I was never aware that morning glory seeds, if ingested, have an effect similar to that of LSD. I work at a garden center in Wilmington, and a couple of weeks ago a teenage boy inquired about our seeds. He wanted to know if we could get a particular kind of morning glory seed in bulk, and if we could find a rare seed for his mother’s birthday.

    Thank goodness one of my associates knew why he was asking and refused to sell him the 10 or so packs of seeds he wished to purchase. It turns out that several kinds of morning glory seeds contain a naturally occurring tryptamine called lysergic acid amide, a hallucinogen. The effects are much the same as LSD. While a lot less potent than LSD, and from what I read less dangerous, there are still serious health risks and potential for illness or even overdosing.

    I went online to find out if all morning glory seeds contained this LSA, and it appears only several varieties are sought after. They are Heavenly Blues, Pearly Gates and Flying Saucers. That rare seed he wanted, Wood Rose, is also a hallucinogen.

    Several days later, some more boys come in looking for the same thing. They too were turned away, but when they ran out of the door they also took off with all of our Heavenly Blue.

    We joked about having to card our customers.

    Jennifer Friedel, Deerhurst


    Filed on at 7:30 am under by dcobranchi

    Delaware has a new law in which causing a death in a traffic accident can result in a midemeanor charge which carries a potential jail term of 2 1/2 years.

    In the newly announced case, the fatal collision occurred about 4:30 p.m. just south of the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal at the corner of Del. 896 and Bethel Church Road.

    Cecil was driving south on the highway in a Ford S350 pick-up truck pulling a horse trailer, when he hit the driver’s side of a Ford Tempo that Soriano was driving east on Bethel Church Road, Aviola said.

    Soriano went into cardiac arrest as he was being airlifted by Delaware State Police helicopter to Christiana Hospital near Stanton, where he was pronounced dead, New Castle County paramedics spokeswoman Kelli Starr-Leach said at the time. Cecil was not injured.

    So, a fender-bender can result in serious jail time? Something doesn’t seem quite right here.


    Filed on February 13, 2004 at 3:16 pm under by dcobranchi

    An engineer has developed a way of extracting hydrogen from ethanol (EtOH is the chemical shorthand for ethanol). As a chemist, I am singularly unimpressed with this puff piece on CNN.

    First, it takes a lot of energy (diesel fuels, fertilizers, etc.) to produce a gallon of ethanol. Methanol or methane, which can both be generated from trash and other waste, would be a much better choice.

    Then, extracting hydrogen directly from the alcohol is no big deal. Membranes for direct extraction have existed for a long time.

    Finally, the products of this reaction are water and carbon dioxide. So, it really doesn’t solve the global warming problem.

    I’m no expert, but it seems obvious that despite Pres. Bush’s endorsement, the only way a hydrogen economy makes any sense at all is if we can extract it directly from water using sunlight as the energy souce. Anything less is a losing game.


    Filed on at 10:20 am under by dcobranchi

    I have the Google toolbar running under IE6. I just noticed that the search windown has a background of pink hearts and the first “o” in Google has been replaced with a bright red heart. Way too cute.


    Filed on at 9:47 am under by dcobranchi

    A Manhattan special-ed teacher was arrested and charged with shoving a student to the ground and repeatedly kicking him because he refused to hand him a ball in gym class, police said.
    Shmuel Levit, 50, is accused of assaulting the 14-year-old boy in the gym at Public School 751 in the East Village, cops said.

    Levit was arrested at the school about 2 p.m. Wednesday, just after the alleged attack.

    He’s been reassigned to a desk job. I wonder how many years it will be before he’s actually canned.


    Filed on at 9:27 am under by dcobranchi

    or “Why I hate teachers’ unions.”

    The union mentality is killing the schools.

    A plan to eliminate 1,000 school jobs to help plug an estimated $200 million Chicago public school deficit is an “outrage” that could trigger legal action by the Chicago Teachers Union, CTU President Deborah Lynch said Thursday.

    The cuts would all come from attrition. Horrors! We’re losing UNION jobs. Let’s file an unfair labor practice complaint.


    Filed on at 6:38 am under by dcobranchi

    Here’s an interesting study for those interested in anatomy: Virtual Knee Surgery. (via Brian Micklethwait)


    Filed on at 5:49 am under by dcobranchi

    New Jersey has just released a report on the Collinswood starvation case. At least in the New York Times summary, there is no mention of homeschooling playing a role.


    Filed on February 12, 2004 at 10:53 pm under by dcobranchi

    From the Dallas News:

    Some books are funny, others wickedly fun. Alice, I Think, an unusual first novel by Susan Juby (HarperTempest, $15.99), falls in the latter group. Ms. Juby’s droll take on normal childhood and adolescent angst in an awkward world inspires laughter and sympathy.

    Alice’s aging-hippie parents obviously failed to understand that the early years should prepare a child for school. Instead, they encouraged her self-expression and individuality, setting her up for certain torture on the playground.

    Alice discovers this sad truth when she arrives for first grade dressed as a hobbit. Her classmates have no mercy. When their attacks escalate to rock throwing, Alice’s mother opts for home schooling.

    Fast-forward a few years to find Alice recovering from her caseworker’s nervous breakdown, during which she accused the teen of having “an almost ‘freakish ability to see things the wrong way, coupled with a shocking poverty of age-appropriate real-life experience.’ ”

    The trigger? Alice’s observation that human peer interactions are like those of chickens who choose an outcast to peck.

    Alice’s new counselor, whom she dubs Death Lord Bob, seems at least as troubled as the earlier one. Because she feels responsible for her last counselor’s decline, Alice attempts to boost Bob’s self- esteem by devising life goals: She decides to become a cultural critic, attend high school and maybe even find a boyfriend.

    Unfortunately, the school administrators decide a nonconformist like Alice belongs in an alternative classroom, where she meets and is quickly thrashed by old playground nemesis Linda, now a gang leader.

    It’s fun to watch Alice cut her own road to her life goals in this acerbic comedy of manners.

    Based on this review, I can’t tell of this is good or bad. Anyone read it?

    UPDATE: At least one home educator was not impressed (from the Amazon site):

    Reviewer: A reader from Key Largo, Fl USA
    I saw this book at my library and grabbed it to preview and possibly recommend to my kids. (the cover is very misleading!!!) I will NOT let my kids read this book! All in all, I enjoyed this book. Really. That said, I was a little disappointed at the stab at homeschooling. (Yes, I homeschool). Also, I’m a little unclear about the need for pages (approx) 190-199. Internet porn in a book aimed at young adults, Come on! How is that relevant or appropriate? I would cringe if my almost 13 year old read this. Not that 13 is a young adult but I think it’s inappropriate for even a 16 year old. I’m not disillusioned, I am aware that kids that age know about internet porn, but did it need to be included in such detail in an otherwise entertaining and amusing book? I assure you, it added nothing, if anything I think it took something away.

    NO IT AIN’T!!!!!

    Filed on at 4:55 pm under by dcobranchi

    This article from Arkansas goes out of its way to confuse homeschooling with virtual charters.

    Supporters of the Virtual School insist that there is a difference between “public schooling in the home” and homeschooling: namely, that homeschoolers choose any curriculum they want and aren’t accountable to the state for what their children learn.

    The numbers, however – and the Virtual School’s application for charter school status, approved by the state Board of Education last fall – seem not to split that hair so finely.

    …Of the 450 students who started the 2003-04 school year, 55 percent were homeschooled previously, with 24 percent coming from public schools and 8 percent from private schools. The remaining 13 percent were kindergartners, Greenway said.

    Of the more than 1,000 applications for the 2004-05 school year, 33 percent were for homeschooled children, 51 percent from public school, 4 percent from private school, and 12 percent from kindergartners.

    The majority of current applicants are g-schoolers! Yeah- some homeschoolers will take advantage of a program like this. So what? It’s a choice that the g-schoolers don’t have now. Because homeschoolers like it too, that makes it a bad thing?

    “If we redefine public education to include homeschooling, the next logical debate is, why not broaden it to include private schools or church schools?” [Rep. Argue] said.


    In homeschooling the parents are in charge! Geez! Why is this so difficult to understand?

    Well, it’s a moot point anyway. The AR legislature shot down the charter proposal.


    Filed on at 7:43 am under by dcobranchi

    Shay Seaborne posted a comment on the Virginia legislation. As that thread has scrolled off the main page, I’m reproducing it here.

    I was wondering how legislators and the press come to believe that parents, who do not have a BA, cannot HS in VA. So I did a little poking around at the HSLDA site and, poof, there it was! *Eight* “E-lert” references to that idea, with all but one written by Chris Klicka, Senior Counsel for HSLDA. Here’s one, for example:

    2/10/2004 8:25:01 PM
    Home School Legal Defense Association
    Virginia–Senate Hearing Rescheduled but Calls Still Needed for Homeschool Bill


    “We drafted HB 675 to end the baccalaureate degree requirement in Virginia. If passed, this bill will allow families to homeschool with just a high school diploma.”

    And now HEAV (statewide HSLDA affiliate in VA) is touting the bill as “a great opportunity to make the most sweeping change in Virginia’s homeschooling laws in 20 years,” although VHEA’s (statewide, *inclusive* and not affiliated w/HSLDA) 1998 bill did far more to improve the Home Instruction statute.
    I keep wondering why HSLDA and HEAV are making such a huge deal out of this quite minor change to the law. I mean, aside from their general need to tout a “victory” and their ability to claim the title as implementers of the most recent improvement in the Home Instruction statute. (Not sure they’ve ever made any before, and if they did, it was probably the work of Will Shaw, who left HEAV and founded VHEA.)

    Thanks, Shay.


    Filed on at 6:43 am under by dcobranchi

    but not for the reason cited by the Washington Post.

    A teacher who was (possibly) falsely accused of hitting a student committed suicide after the police had decided not to pursue the case further. The WaPo states that he was cleared but that’s not exactly accurate.

    On Oct. 15, the police informed the school that they had found no evidence to support the allegation against Mayfield. School officials did not pass the information on to Mayfield, his family said.

    The paper then goes on to use this story as a metaphor for all teachers who are falsely accused of abuse or sexual abuse. I’m sure it happens and may have even happened here. We do know he touched the kid and then lied about it.

    The Post, though, glosses over the really sad part of the story: The man had told his wife and parents he was considering suicide. He even handed his wife a suicide note. When he told them that he had changed his mind, they “believed” him. Five days later he was dead.


    Filed on February 11, 2004 at 5:04 pm under by dcobranchi

    After a Boston-area town voted down a tax increase for the schools, the school board closed the school libraries and cut all sports. Students stormed out in protest. Not surprisingly, the edu-crats are sympathetic:

    They found a sympathetic ear with principal Stephen F. Chrabaszcz. He promised no disciplinary action.

    “The town needs to provide a better education for its children,” he said. “They should have a right to a sports program.”

    Yeah- “free” sports programs- right up with with Life & Liberty.


    Filed on at 9:39 am under by dcobranchi

    First “they” co-opted the term “homeschooling.” Now, it’s “blog.”

    The “Disarray Perception”
    A Blog on the Charter School World’s Leadership

    It ain’t a blog. She’s probably just trying to boost her Google standing.


    Filed on at 9:24 am under by dcobranchi

    That’s not how the New York Times spins it (their hed: “Utah House Rebukes Bush With Its Vote on School Law”), but that’s what the legislature has done.

    After earlier threatening to give up all federal ed money to get out of the NCLB restrictions, UT legislators have, instead, voted merely to spend only federal dollars (no state money) in order to comply.

    As an aside, there’s a funny quote from the state EdSec:

    “Every time the federal government gets engaged in education policy, some states get nervous. They have a concern as federalists, but we believe that the law respects and honors the principals of federalism.”

    The NCLB honors the pricipals of federalism? ROTFLMAO!

    There are three possibilities here, none of which is particularly attractive:

    1) The EdSec doesn’t know anything about NCLB.
    2) The EdSec doesn’t know what federalism is.
    3) The EdSec is a liar.

    You make the call.


    Filed on at 9:14 am under by dcobranchi

    House Bill 2548 in the AZ legislature would raise the compulsory attendance age to 18. Boo! Hiss! AZ homeschoolers- contact your “representatives” to let them know how you feel about this.


    Filed on at 9:10 am under by dcobranchi

    This seems somehow related to the “S” word:

    UCLA junior Chris Lam (homeschooled from Kaimuki, HI) received the United States Tennis Association Sportsmanship Award at the USTA/ITA National Team Indoor Championships in Seattle last Saturday.

    Lam was chosen for the annual award by the 16 participating coaches for displaying outstanding sportsmanship and exemplifying the spirit of college tennis during the course of the tournament and throughout their careers.

    He is the first Bruin to win the men’s award.

    Lam plays No. 2 singles and is currently ranked a career-high No. 18 in the ITA national singles rankings.

    Why am I not surprised?


    Filed on at 9:04 am under by dcobranchi

    From CNN:

    Lifeguards at a beach post north of Sydney couldn’t believe their eyes when a man walked in with a small shark attached to his leg.

    Luke Tresoglavic swam 300 meters (1,000 feet) to shore, walked to his car and drove to the local surf club with the 60 centimeter (23 inches) shark biting his leg and refusing to let go.

    He survived. The shark didn’t.


    Filed on February 10, 2004 at 2:47 pm under by dcobranchi

    The GA statewide (HEIR) has produced a terrific example of a legislative alert. Very clear explanation of the bills and why they are cause for concern. I especially recommend the section on SB210 which deals with my old bugaboo- homeschoolers playing on the g-school teams.


    Filed on at 12:12 pm under by dcobranchi

    I’ve noticed that a lot of commenters take the time to enter some ficticious email address in order to avoid the killer spambots. I’d just like to point out that you can leave the whole thing blank; it’s not a required field.


    Filed on at 9:50 am under by dcobranchi

    The Church of England is considering changing the “Wise Men” to “Magi” in their litany. Personally, I’ve got no problem with that. My beef is with Reuters:

    In the authorized 17th century King James bible used by up to 70 million worshippers in Anglican churches around the world, the gift-bearing visitors are referred to as “The Three Wise Men.”

    Nowhere in the NT are they referenced as “The Three Wise Men.” In fact, it doesn’t state anywhere how many Magi there were. The number three is inferred from the gifts. Geez! How hard would that have been to fact-check?


    Filed on at 9:27 am under by dcobranchi

    I finally understand why home educators beg school boards to let their kids play on the g-school teams.

    WHY NOT?

    Filed on at 7:28 am under by dcobranchi

    The federal government has done such a great job with all it’s other unconstitutional “projects,” we might as well let them take over education, too.

    A patchwork of state standards is failing to produce high school graduates who are prepared either for college or for work, three education policy organizations say in a new report. The solution, they say, is to adopt rigorous national standards that will turn the high school diploma into a “common national currency.”

    …Working through what they call the American Diploma Project, the organizations — Achieve Inc., the Education Trust and the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation — consulted with higher education officials and business executives in five states to develop standards they say will ensure that high school graduates are equipped to move into either college-level work or a decent-paying job.

    Fordham is Chester Finn’s organization. I hadn’t realized they were such statists.

    Federalizing education is not going to help in the least. Some states are already considering opting out of NCLB and giving up the federal dollars. If the US government seeks to impose a national curriculum we could see a wholesale rebellion among the states. Hmmm, maybe this isn’t such a bad idea, after all.


    Filed on at 7:12 am under by dcobranchi

    The PJStar profiles a girl whose mom appears to be abusing her right to homeschool.

    Eleven-year-old Ashley Sharp spends her weekdays baby-sitting her 8-year-old brother and a few other young cousins.

    She fixes lunch for herself and a 2-year-old cousin, she said; instant soup for her, Cocoa Puffs for the toddler. The other kids are on their own, she said during an interview while her dad, James Sharp, was present.

    Ashley also changes diapers, washes dishes, does the laundry and folds it between selecting the Disney videos that keep the kids occupied, she said. She even settles their arguments, which sometimes turn into fights.

    But she’d rather be in school, she said. “I pretty much miss it.”

    Expect the follow-up editorial to call for strict regulation of IL homeschoolers.

    Thanks to Tim Haas for the tip.


    Filed on February 9, 2004 at 6:47 am under by dcobranchi

    A teacher’s union official has said that g-school teachers are incompetent. I’m sure she didn’t mean to but it is the only logical conclusion.

    1. Teachers are underpaid (according to the union official)
    2. “If you don’t pay competitive salaries, we’re never going to get competent teachers.”

    Therefore, the current teachers must be incompetent. Q.E.D.


    Filed on at 6:11 am under by dcobranchi

    Here’s one of those crazy situations that you come up with as a hypothetical which could never happen in real life. Except it did, right here in my little ol’ hometown.

    1) A SpEd kid took a standardized test.
    2) Parents, none too pleased with the results, reviewed said test.
    3) Said parents disagreed with the grading on one question.
    4) Challenged question was re-scored, giving the kid a slightly higher score.
    5) As a result of said kid’s slightly higher score, his entire school was raised from the “failing” category to “commendable.”

    Amazing. And, of course, there’s really no way around it. Any time you have to meet hard and fast goals, there is always the potential to be so close and yet so far.


    Filed on at 5:09 am under by dcobranchi

    The Guardian has a pretty good piece updating us on the shark-attack survivor. It spends too much time detailing the activities of her agent. Probably not surprising; it is the Guardian, after all.

    Thanks to Diane for the tip.


    Filed on February 8, 2004 at 9:10 pm under by dcobranchi

    This is why I don’t like home educators begging to get their kids on g-school sports teams.

    [T]he High School Activities Association would pass regulations – including requiring home-schooled students to go onto public school campuses and take the same achievement tests that public school students have to take under the federal No Child Left Behind law.

    Parents, please think twice before you do this. You may be jeopardizing your and our freedom for the sake of a stupid game.


    Filed on at 9:25 am under by dcobranchi

    Fortunately: New York has re-scaled it’s Regents Math test which was ridiculously difficult.

    Unfortunately: They may have made the new test too easy.

    “It appears that the passing grade was too low. If that is so, then we are causing more damage than good, because you’re allowing kids to pass a course who are not prepared to go on into the next math course.”


    Filed on at 9:18 am under by dcobranchi

    Fortunately: Math scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress reached their highest levels in a decade.

    Unfortunately: Only one-third of students “passed” the test.


    Filed on at 7:40 am under by dcobranchi

    Does anyone know if it’s possible to take the RSS feed from one blog and directly import it into another? An enquiring reader wants to know.

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