Utterly Meaningless » 2004 » December

    Filed on December 12, 2004 at 3:26 am under by dcobranchi

    Hey- that’s from the man who runs a creationist theme park in Florida.

    “There are a lot of creationists that are really smart and debate the intellectuals, but the kids are bored after five minutes,” said Hovind, who looks boyish at 51 and talks fast. “You’re missing 98 percent of the population if you only go the intellectual route.”

    OK. I was kidding. The article is about the park but homeschooling plays a prominent role. In fact, “homeschooling” apparently equals “creationist.” I guess HSLDA’s mission is complete.


    Filed on at 3:11 am under by dcobranchi

    From an article on a new CA charter school:

    Joan Peace, director of education for the Classical Kids charter, gave a presentation to the Menifee school board in November, outlining her plans for the school.

    She said Friday that she picked the Menifee district because there are many families who home-school their children in the area.

    I don’t have a problem with charters and g-schools marketing tthemselves to homeschoolers. As long as everything is out in the open, and the parents understand that they’re not homeschooling anymore, choice is good. It’s the (semi) free market at work.

    I SEE, I SEE

    Filed on December 11, 2004 at 8:58 am under by dcobranchi

    Now I understand why it’s so important that entering kindergartners know how to use scissors. It’s a Sharks and Jets thing.

    I SAY, I SAY

    Filed on at 5:08 am under by dcobranchi

    A couple of homeschool grads/ Patrick Henry College students won a moot court competition at Oxford University. By all accounts the Yanks did a terrific job. Of course, they had a built-in advantage; the “case” was a contract dispute involving Foghorn Leghorn. I’m sure the Brits didn’t “get” the cultural icon.


    Filed on at 4:59 am under by dcobranchi

    Warning: WND article ahead. Take with the traditional pillar of salt.

    A homeschool graduate wrote a screed decrying Canada’s move toward allowing gay marriage. It’s mostly self-consistent but this part struck me as wrong:

    In the Canadian court’s written opinion, the nine justices paint a fascinating picture of so-called “evolving” culture. Since Canada has attained the nirvana stage of existence shared only by France and a very small comet that travels through Orion’s Belt every December, it is apparently no longer obligated to be a society where marriage is a religious, traditional institution established by a Higher Being. “Canada is a pluralistic society,” the high court writes, and as such, “Marriage, from the perspective of the state, is a civil institution.”

    Core principle No. 1: Government, especially the judiciary, has the final say in all matters, including marriage. The antiquarian idea of a Higher Authority (dare I mention that terrible G-word again?) responsible for institutions like marriage will no longer do.

    The problem is not that the state is attempting to define marriage. The problem is that, on this issue at least, the State and the Church are commingled. If marriage were a purely religious function, the State would have no say in the matter. Or, stripped of religious meaning, the Church wouldn’t care about who was or wasn’t married. Instead, we have the worst of both worlds. The Church cares and the State controls (through sanctions and benefits).

    So, is there a solution? Maybe. I think the folks who want to get the State out of the marriage business are correct. Let the churches have the word. Then, in order to be married, one would have to go through a church. But, there would be no legal benefits for being married. Marriage would be a sacrament again. The State, if it chose, would codify civil unions. For all. If there were benefits associated with them, these benefits would be open to all. At that point, stripped of the religious baggage, the gay rights debate devolves into one of fairness. Conservative Christians would have saved “marriage,” and gays would be treated (by the State) like everyone else.

    Would we see fewer marriages? Probably. Lots of folks get married for the tax benefits. Would that be necessarily a bad thing? With the divorce rate hovering around 50 percent, I don’t think so.


    Filed on at 4:30 am under by dcobranchi

    Some class in the N-J:

    Congregation open to all kinds of people

    The Coordinating Committee of the New Ark United Church of Christ is keenly aware of the controversy regarding our denomination’s TV advertisements. The “God is still speaking” identity campaign has been planned for some time as the United Church of Christ seeks to share who we are with the larger community.

    We believe Jesus welcomed people with openness. We wish to emulate that and invite all to join us on our spiritual journey, no matter their age, sex, race, physical ability or sexual orientation.

    Our congregation believes God is still speaking if we will open ourselves to hear through the din of today’s chaotic world. Jesus lived in a different but also chaotic time, and people labeled him a radical who challenged the status quo. Perhaps that is what we are called to do.

    Peggy Dillner and the Rev. W. David Weddington, New Ark United Church of Christ Coordinating Committee members


    Filed on December 10, 2004 at 9:08 pm under by dcobranchi

    A member of SC State Board of Education is in trouble for selling textbooks to homeschoolers. Well, not really. But that’s how this article reads:

    A high-ranking member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans says he is unfairly being labeled a racist in criticism over his recent appointment to the state Board of Education.

    …He defended selling textbooks to parents who home-school their children. One title, “Barbarians Inside the Gates,” touted a discredited theory that Jews are working toward world domination.

    And Amazon.com sells “Mein Kampf.” Does that make Jeff Bezos a Nazi?

    The guy may or may not be a racist. But, selling a book (even a racist one) isn’t exactly compelling evidence.


    Filed on at 8:57 pm under by dcobranchi

    And the winner of the Most Obvious Headline award goes to… (drumroll, please)…the Guam Pacific Daily News:

    Homeschooling child can be fulfilling

    This article also gets an Honorable Mention in the “Facts Which Aren’t ” category for this quote:

    “Most homeschoolers have a religious motivation … some do it for academic reasons,” Myers said. “And some parents do it because their children have physical handicaps that requires a constant flow of resources and staffing needs that can be emulated in the home with a dedicated and caring parent and with the support of others going through the same struggles.”

    Can y’all tell that it’s been a very long day?


    Filed on at 2:23 pm under by Tim Haas

    I just had a chance to look through USA Today, and came across this article.

    Girls are taking the nation’s colleges by storm. They’re streaming to campuses in greater numbers, earning better grades and graduating more often. The same phenomenal success shows in high schools, where girls dominate honor rolls, hold more student government spots and rake in most of the academic awards.

    Quick, Martha! Git the shotgun, there’s girls comin’ over the ridge, headed right at us!

    Impressive. But the real news is tucked into the deeper, darker corners of the report. Boys are doing miserably, and nobody knows quite why. On measures ranging from writing ability to the likelihood of needing special education, boys are flat-lining — or worse.

    (Over the sound of a flat-line on the monitor screen.) “Doctor, I can’t get a beat!”

    The impact could hardly be overstated. College-educated people earn twice as much as high school graduates. If boys can’t get to the good-jobs starting line, which these days is a bachelor’s degree, they won’t get a chance to use their natural competitive skills in the marketplace.

    Because, you see, girls don’t actually have any natural competitive skills. (Unnatural ones, maybe.)

    And when fewer men earn college degrees there are fewer partners whom educated women find desirable to marry. That’s a debilitating social phenomenon African-American women have struggled with for years.

    Be afraid. Be very afraid…

    The article concludes that the problem is most likely not in the education system but societal, with girls leading boys in the currently more coveted verbal and literacy skills (as they always have). The solution suggested is that school teachers should take courses on the biological differences between how boys and girls learn.

    The final thing that precipiated our son’s removal from school was the special education resource teacher’s repeated use of, “Boys like him…”. Our school, you see, was terribly progressive and knew all about how boys fail. They knew all about the different ways boys and girls learn. They looked at our son and saw a cranky child who hated to write and they boxed him right into to that box called, “Boy.” He was headed on a nice course of occupational therapy, single sex classrooms (full of “boys like him”), a reading program structured around Captain Underpants (because everyone knows those are the only kinds of books boys like), and lowered expectations. I appreciate all the kind intentions, but thank you, I’d rather not have folks trying to remediate my child for the misfortune of having been born a Boy.

    Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease!


    Filed on at 11:27 am under by dcobranchi

    Gerald Reynolds, the new head of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, doesn’t promise to be too popular among the group’s traditional constituency:

    Though he took pains to say racial discrimination exists, he also said it is surmountable with fortitude and made no bones about his belief that traditional civil rights groups — which he has sharply criticized in the past — overstate the problem. He plans a more skeptical approach.

    “Somebody can look at disparities in income and home ownership and conclude that it is due to discrimination, but before you can do that you have to perform an investigation because there are other factors that could explain these disparities,” he said. “The disparities could be the result of discrimination or it could the result of something else that has no relation to discriminatory conduct.”

    Need further evidence of his sheer cussedness? This former head of the Office of Civil Rights at the federal Department of Education is a homeschooling father:

    Mr. Reynolds left the Education Department in 2003 and eventually landed back in Kansas City, where he is now an assistant general counsel at Great Plains Energy. He lives here with his wife, Renee, a former research chemist who is homeschooling two of their children, Emma Marie, 10, and Ellison, 5.


    Filed on at 11:06 am under by dcobranchi

    Maybe Darby would be better qualified to comment on this, but it appears that the city of Edmonton has been conducting a long-term experiment in local control of schools — and for the most part, it works:

    Edmonton has been giving schools more control over budgets and decisions — that’s what site-based management means — for 25 years in some form or other.

    Beyond that, there are other big ways the 80,000-student district stands out.

    In Edmonton, you can be a home-schooled public school student and still have access to all the traditional school resources you want. You can attend a public school program based on hockey, Christian principles or girls-only classrooms. Also, in Edmonton, Catholic schools are publicly funded.

    Most students in this predominantly white, middle-class district opt for special programs rather than their neighborhood schools, meaning that students are commuting all over the city. Choice programs create competition as principals jockey for students. Local educators describe a veritable shopping spree in the spring as parents go looking for options for the next year.

    And when they say school choice, they mean school choice:

    [A] visit to Fulton Place School shows that Edmonton schools can be anything but standard when compared with Minnesota public schools. The separation of church and state is absent here. Student pictures and writing illustrating Bible verses are posted on the walls, and Advent wreaths and creche scenes are scattered throughout the school. When Price-Wagner needs to mediate a playground dispute, she talks to them about how Jesus would want them to act.

    One more Akron rebuttal …

    Filed on at 9:43 am under by Tim Haas

    This one comes to us from an education policy analyst at the Cato Institute …

    Learning Intolerance

    Tolerance has never thrived in America’s schools. It can’t, because in our public school-dominated system, only one group can control a single district or state. The result: an endless struggle for control.

    Look at Georgia, where a court will soon determine if creationists can force students to use biology textbooks outfitted with stickers declaring evolution a theory, not a fact. Or recall the wars over how math and reading were taught in the 1990s.

    And the fighting hasn’t always just been political. In 1844, 13 people were killed in rioting over a decision to allow Catholic children in Philadelphia schools to replace the Protestant version of the Bible with their own.

    While most people continue to fight, one group has decided to lay down its arms. They are home schoolers, and although they still pay taxes that support public schools, they generally ask nothing of them. They desire only to be left alone.
    Unfortunately, their enemies are determined not to let them escape our educational wars.

    Why? Because, as a recent series in the Akron Beacon Journal skewering home schooling made clear, home schoolers often have convictions their enemies refuse to tolerate.

    Homeschooling in Europe…

    Filed on at 7:21 am under by Tim Haas

    Too Cool For School

    When Poland was devoured by its German and Soviet neighbors in 1939, the school system officially stopped functioning. The home became the underground seat of learning for more than a million young Poles. In 21st century Poland, some Poles still learn underground, although their war is different.

    It makes me glad to be homeschooling in Canada these days…


    Filed on at 7:17 am under by dcobranchi

    I’m in a meeting all day today. Blogging from me will be light to non-existent until late today or tomorrow a.m.


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

    A bomb went off outside of an elementary school in Downingtown, PA sometime last night. Just another day in paradise.


    Filed on at 5:44 pm under by dcobranchi

    That’s essentially how Mother Jones portrays Grover Norquist, the not-at-all blue and only slightly fuzzy head of Americans for Tax Reform:

    Once a consigliere to Newt Gingrich, Norquist now has the ear of Karl Rove, the president’s top political adviser, who has been known to stop in at the Wednesday meetings. In turn, Norquist plays the role of national ward boss, delivering the coalition that has rallied around the president’s policy agenda.

    Norquist calls it the “Leave-Us-Alone Coalition,” a grouping of gun owners, the Christian right, homeschoolers, libertarians, and business leaders that he has almost single-handedly managed to unite. The common vision: an America in which the rich will be taxed at the same rates as the poor, where capital is freed from government constraints, where government services are turned over to the free market, where the minimum wage is repealed, unions are made irrelevant, and law-abiding citizens can pack handguns in every state and town. “My ideal citizen is the self-employed, homeschooling, IRA-owning guy with a concealed-carry permit,” says Norquist. “Because that person doesn’t need the goddamn government for anything.”

    MJ can tut-tut all it wants, but you know what? I and a lot of other homeschoolers I know resemble that remark (except for the CC permit — I’m in New Jersey, after all), and I’m glad at least someone close to power is taking the hands-off contingent seriously.


    Filed on at 9:00 am under by dcobranchi

    From the NYPost:

    A dozen teenage boys were arrested yesterday after a massive brawl — possibly sparked by gang rivalry — at a Midtown high school, officials and witnesses said.
    One school safety agent was injured trying to break up the melee at Norman Thomas HS when she took a shot of pepper spray in the eyes, school and police officials said.

    …Dozens of police and safety officers oversaw dismissal of the school at East 33rd Street and Park Avenue yesterday afternoon.

    But remember, schools are the safest place for kids. After all, homeschool riots requiring dozens of police are an everday occurrence.


    Filed on at 6:39 am under by dcobranchi

    A pair of red-tail hawks that has nested on the side of an apartment building just outside NYC’s Central Park have been evicted. I just watched a television show on these hawks (Animal Planet?). It was really fascinating. There was this whole sub-culture that made watching the birds their raison d’etre. People even camped out when the hatchlings were attempting their first flights. All gone now.

    Why can’t we all just get along?


    Filed on December 8, 2004 at 8:40 pm under by dcobranchi

    Howard Dean, campaigning for the job of head of the DNC:

    We believe the path to a better future goes directly through our public schools. I have nothing against private schools, parochial schools and home schooling. Parents with the means and inclination should choose whatever they believe is best for their children. But those choices must never come at the expense of what has been — and must always be — the great equalizer in our society — public education.

    Translation: No vouchers. Actually, that’s not as bad as it could have been; he could have come out against homeschooling. And, since the GOP is not exactly pushing hard for vouchers (the new EdSec is anti), no biggie if the Dems are opposed.


    Filed on at 6:07 pm under by dcobranchi

    I know it’s incredibly foolish to indulge in romantic fantasies on the basis of a newspaper story, but this sure sounds like my idea of heaven:

    It was during an Australian stop that they decided to start a family. This marked the first time that Lucy had ever been seasick, but they kept sailing. Their son, Gerry, was born in New Caledonia. When he was 6 weeks old, they sailed to New Zealand.

    Sam says sailing the ocean gives one a true connection with nature. The couple never had a crew.

    “It was just the two of us,” he said.

    It was not an easy life. The couple survived on their investments, Sam’s writing (he wrote a book on underwater antiquities and did freelance writing for magazines), and by keeping life simple.

    “You take life and you strip it down to nothing, it just keeps getting better and better,” says Sam.

    “We were on our own… a sextant, compass and our own wits. In those days a real sportsman would sail in a pure way — studied books, ask locals, know the seasons,” Sam says.

    Their daughter Katrina was born during a stop in Florida. Lucy took advantage of their time on land to attend Florida Atlantic University to complete her degree in geography.

    With two children as part of their crew, Lucy focused on homeschooling, while Sam concentrated on his writing.

    They eventually put down anchor in Thailand for a few years, and lived on land for a while, with the children getting a taste of formal classroom teaching.

    But once again, the Pacific Ocean — which Sam describes as “an ocean of discovery” — called and they answered. Sam says they believed the children would benefit more from sailing than from being in a traditional classroom.

    The low moan you hear in the background is that of my wife becoming ill at the mere thought.

    Minnesota School Board weighs in on homeschooling…

    Filed on at 5:21 pm under by Tim Haas

    It’s a PDF document, and you’ll need to scroll down to about page 92…

    Be it resolved, that the Minnesota School Boards Association urges the legislature that in light of “No Child Left Behind” that we will no longer allow home-schooled children to be “left behind” for: 1) all teachers must be college educated; 2) all tests must be proctored by licensed teachers in a public school; and 3) all home-schooled students must take all standardized tests the public school students must take and pass.

    Other charming snippets include…

    No child should be left behind because parents have issues with the public schools.

    Minnesota School Board Resolutions


    Filed on at 11:19 am under by dcobranchi

    More on the “banned” Declaration of Independence.

    Some parents said Williams crossed the line into evangelizing, and they complained.

    “My daughter came home one day and said, ‘Mr. Williams talks about Jesus 100 times a day,’ ” said Mike Zimmers, whose daughter was Williams’ student last year and began complaining on the second day of school. “She’s adored every teacher she had until then.”

    …”This is not about teaching history, this is about indoctrination,” said Armineh Noravian, whose child was formerly in one of Williams’ classes.

    In a school district where 45 languages are spoken, Noravian asked, “what would happen if someone whose religion is not a majority religion would be doing this? It isn’t OK (for a teacher) to make a kid feel like he isn’t like you.”

    Dorothy Pickler informally requested that her fifth-grade child not have Williams as a teacher this year.

    “Because what he’s doing isn’t teaching history,” she said. “If you were teaching at a church school, that would be great. But he isn’t.”


    Filed on at 6:51 am under by dcobranchi

    A homeschooling family was charged with educational neglect when their daughter tested years below grade level. The state forced the parents to place the girl in a g-school but she will be transferring to a private school soon. Tennessee homeschoolers are on the ball:

    Kay Brooks, founder of a statewide information clearinghouse for home schools, said this appears to be a personal issue that spilled over into home schooling. She said her heart goes out to the family, but she hopes this incident doesn’t cast a long shadow over home schooling statewide.

    ”A lot of people will take this as ammunition and run with it,” she said.

    Yeah- Kay’s sharp; she won’t let the state use this as a wedge.


    Filed on at 6:25 am under by dcobranchi

    LSD, LSD
    Rockefeller makes it.
    Richard Nixon takes it.
    Why can’t we? Why can’t we?

    That’s a “poem” I remember from my childhood in NY. (Yeah- I had a strange childhood.) I remembered it this morning because NY has finally reduced its very stiff penalties for drug offenses that were instituted when Nixon was President. The laws which “inspired” the poem were then the harshest in the nation and are still among the stiffest. They were, perhaps, the opening salvos in the “War on Drugs.” Hopefully, this tiny turn towards sanity will be emulated by other states.


    Filed on at 6:15 am under by dcobranchi

    Roy W. Wright thinks the L. A. Times was being unintentionally ironic here:

    Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.), promoting his lifelong passion for the U.S. Constitution, has inserted into a massive federal spending bill a requirement that schools devote at least part of a day each year to teaching about the document.

    The provision would apply to all schools, elementary through college, that receive federal aid. Education groups worry that the provision could be the opening wedge in a campaign by Washington to influence what schools teach.

    Ironic. Moronic. What’s the diff?

    It really is sad that one of the nation’s “great papers” could write those two grafs and fail to mention that the feds have no business mandating anything concerning curriculum. Of course, that assumes that the reporters know the facts. As we’ve noted here before, ’tain’t necessarily so.


    Filed on December 7, 2004 at 9:39 pm under by dcobranchi

    In Colorado, apparently, one must take a public school loyalty test before one is installed on the school board:

    The two [candidates] were also asked why they felt public education was better than home schooling. Both said home schooling had its place, and some prefer it for religious or other reasons. The two also said they felt public education helped students with socialization skills.

    “Home-schooled children may be a little sheltered from what the real world is going to throw at them,” Brekel noted.

    And what sort of throwing did the real world do that night?

    Brekel was chosen after a secret, written ballot was taken. No final vote tally was announced; board president John Valdez merely announced that Brekel had won the majority of the votes. She will be sworn in at the Dec. 13 meeting.

    Welcome, comrade!


    Filed on at 8:38 pm under by dcobranchi

    Otherwise, there’d be nobody there to fix things when the system goes horribly wrong. Received via email:


    I wanted to share with you what happened to us today.

    Today began as a normal homeschooling day, we’d finished lunch and the boys were outside playing.

    My eldest came in and told me that a little boy had asked if my son had seen his mom. My son told me that he thought the little boy was lost.

    I went outside and saw this little blonde haired boy. I walked up to him and asked if he was lost. He told me no and pointed up the street and said that he had to walk that way and then turn. He didn’t know where the turn was though. We live on a service road, which is right off an interstate.

    I questioned the little boy some more. He was able to tell me his name but not his phone number and that he was in Kindergarten. His mom wasn’t there (on time) to pick him when the class was dismissed, up so he decided to walk home.

    I decided to call the school instead of the sheriff. The sheriff is thirty-some miles away. I’m a mom, I know how I’d feel if I went to pick up my child and he wasn’t there. I couldn’t put her through that kind of misery of waiting to hear something about her child.

    The school secretary knows me from when my boys were there. Yes, the mom was there to pick up the child. Could I bring him up to the school? This was thirty minutes after morning Kindergarten is dismissed.

    The mom and son were reunited and it ends happily.

    Does it really end happily?

    The NEA states that schools are the safest place for children — safer than the street, the mall, or even the home.

    Anyone that goes into this school has to sign in at the front desk, but a five-year-old child is allowed to leave under a teacher’s nose. School has been going on since the last week of August, she should know by now, who walks and who gets rides. She’s supposed to wait outside with the children for five minutes. I wonder if she did?

    I know that this happened fairly regular when my boys were in the system two and a half years ago and it’s still going on.

    It seems like nothing has changed and it’s no safer now than it was then.


    Filed on at 5:39 pm under by dcobranchi

    Just in from the AP:

    SAN DIEGO – A 16-year-old boy has won the U.S. Chess Championship, making him the youngest player to claim the title since 14-year-old Bobby Fischer won it in 1958.

    Hikaru Nakamura of White Plains, N.Y., won the $25,000 prize Monday after beating Alex Stripunsky, 34, of Rego Park, N.Y., in two overtime matches. The 11-day tournament in San Diego began with a field of 65 competitors.

    Nakamura, who was born in Japan, was taught chess by his stepfather and began playing competitively at age 7. A little more than two years later, he qualified as an American master. Nakamura became an American grandmaster last year, eclipsing by a few months Fischer’s record of attaining grandmaster status at age 15.

    “Basically everything has been a blur,” he said.

    He is tutored at home by his mother. He said school would take too much time from chess.

    His heroes are former chess champion Boris Spassky and Fischer. He said he didn’t see himself as the next Fischer, the enigmatic and brilliant player who beat Spassky to win the world title in 1972.

    “No, I think I’m a little bit more sane,” he said.

    In a separate tournament for women only, Rusudan Goletiani, 24, of Hartsdale, N.Y., beat Tatev Abrahamyan, 16, of Glendale for a $12,500 prize.


    Filed on at 4:18 pm under by dcobranchi

    Kimberly thinks that home educators fall right into this new group. I agree, especially with her closing sentence.


    Filed on at 4:12 pm under by dcobranchi

    I’ve been contributing to the delinquency of four minors and never knew it.

    GRETNA, La. A Jefferson Parish fourth grader has been suspended for taking what’s being described as a look-alike drug to school.

    Eight-year-old Kelli Billingsley brought homemade Jell-O cups to school at Boudreaux Elementary. Her mom says the school tested the Jell-O and determined it didn’t have any alcohol in it. But the school suspended the girl for having a look alike drug.

    The girl’s mom says her daughter was just trying to make a treat for her friends.

    The superintendent of Jefferson Parish schools says she will investigate the case.

    (From: Curt Sprang, WGNO-TV, New Orleans)

    (Via Kimberly who thinks the edu-crats are insane)


    Filed on at 3:12 pm under by dcobranchi

    At least I think that’s what this this tinfoil-hat rant over at WND says.

    UPDATE: And the ACLU, too.


    Filed on at 9:17 am under by dcobranchi

    This Op/Ed in the Chicago Sun-Times is just about as bad as it can get. The hed plays up to all sorts of racial stereotypes, and the text is even worse:

    Are white Utah couples ‘buying’ black children?

    Given the great divide between blacks and whites, a black mother who takes her child to Utah to be adopted by a white couple must be in a terrible state of mind.

    Impoverished black people definitely don’t trust well-to-do white people. In fact, most poor black people believe they wouldn’t be in such sorry shape if it weren’t for racist white people. So it is hard to grasp why black women are flying to Utah to give white people their children.

    …”I don’t have a problem with a white mother giving up her natural child to a black mother,” he said. “But some of these agencies are taking advantage of socio-economically challenged natural parents by enticing them to give up their children for a free flight, free hotels and free clothes.”

    He believes some Utah adoption agencies are “bad apples” that are essentially “buying” black children for white families. But without a collaboration between various civil rights organizations, it is too difficult to challenge these laws in the Supreme Court.

    Homeschooling rates a very minor mention.


    Filed on at 7:10 am under by dcobranchi

    In the N-J today:

    Bloggers knew that Jennings had lost

    Sadly, “Jeopardy!” is no better at keeping a secret than the federal government. Word of contestant Ken Jennings’ loss leaked out within days of the taping. Bloggers had it all (including the air date) by early October. The only mystery was the Final Jeopardy question that did him in.

    Daryl Cobranchi, New Castle

    I wrote this in response to this lame editorial. I was actually mistaken about the last bit; commenters over at Chris’ place not only nailed the Final Jeopardy “answer” but his total winnings, too. And, it was mid-September. I actually thought about trying to throw Chris some traffic via the LttE, but the N-J always manages to butcher URLs.


    Filed on December 6, 2004 at 11:58 am under by dcobranchi

    Just a follow-up to the Declaration of Independence story. Yesterday’s Cal Thomas column jabbed at Democrats, suggesting that they need to back the teacher in order to establish their bona fides with “values” voters. In my mind, that proves this was all a right-wing set-up. When Thomas tries to legitimately help the Democrats, you can pretty much guarantee that Hell has frozen over solid.

    GIVE IT A 75

    Filed on at 11:32 am under by dcobranchi

    HSLDA’s Michael Smith’s latest WashTimes column left me a bit cold. He tries to tie (once again) homeschooling to religious-right causes such as abortion and the FMA. He does score points, though, with comments about how homeschooling can bring families closer and how we’re not attempting to creat an army of ethically servile automatons.

    Overall: It’s got an ok beat you can dance to.


    Filed on at 10:58 am under by dcobranchi

    A self-described community activist in Philly apparently thinks homeschooling is akin to allowing our kids to drop out.

    People must become available for volunteer work at the school that your children attend.

    Involvement in school means participating in Safe Corridors, keeping the hallways and school surroundings safe, monitoring the cafeteria where your children have food fights every day, Home & School. Assisting the teachers who are overwhelmed with 20 to 33 of your children on a daily basis.

    …To the parents of the 50 most troublesome kids at Stetson, I say this: Get back in that child’s life, get them the attention they need, be it counseling or just some of your love, time, attention and discipline.

    If you can’t be responsible, then home-school them yourself so that those who want to learn can do so without distractions.

    Feels like letter-writin’ time.

    It’s amazing where homeschooling shows up…

    Filed on at 10:48 am under by Tim Haas

    I was reading the November 28th New York Times magazine, and came across an article titled, “Constructing a Teen Phenom” (sadly only available now for cash purchase).
    The story starts with a profile of Tommy, a 14yo baseball player at a private school, where…

    IMG Academies, known mostly for turning out tennis phenoms under the legendary coach Nick Bollettieri – the latest is the reigning Wimbledon champion, Maria Sharapova, 17, who began training in Bradenton at age 9 – now has 221 soccer, basketball and baseball players among its 637 ful-time students. (The rest are tennis players and golfers.) Girl’s softball is likely to be the next sport added. IMG students practice their sport four or more hours a day, at least five days a week from early September through May – longer than most professional seasons. They participate in intense physical conditioning at what IMG calls its International Performance Institute and undergo weekly “mental conditionings” or sports psychology sessions.

    Tommy’s courses begin at 7:30 am, and end at noon, in order to accomodate his practice schedule. His mother purchased a condominium on campus so she could live nearby while he attends school, and his father visits for long weekends.
    “Extras” include individualized physical training, and private “mental conditioning” (there’s something creepy about that phrase) as well as the production of personalized inspirational tapes, and coaching on how to handle media. All told, a year’s costs can reach $70,000 dollars, or more.
    Despite Tommy’s apparent contentment with this arrangement, and his parents’ staunch defence of the program, by the end of the article some small measure of sanity seems to have been regained…

    On Nov. 15, Tommy Winegardner returned to Maryland. He had dropped out of IMG. Until at least the end of this school year, he will be home-schooled and may play baseball for a private school that allows home-schooled kids on its team. “All of us were missing each other too much,” Lisa Winegardner said. “It didn’t have anything to do with IMG.” … On the day they left Florida, Tommy and his father went directly to a fitness center after their plane touched down in Maryland – so Tommy could work out and continue the speed and strength training that they hope will make him a more accomplished baseball player. “He has been there a year and a half – we just decided it was time to come home and regroup,” Chuck Winegardner said. “But the plan is for him to go at it harder than ever.”

    I still can’t help but wonder… what would happen to the sport if we paid all of our professional athletes nothing more than a simple living wage? 😉


    Filed on at 8:11 am under by dcobranchi

    Does anyone have a copy of Parade Magazine from yesterday’s paper? I just learned that there’s a photo of our dog, Gracie, in it. Our paper only carries USAToday’s magazine.


    Filed on December 5, 2004 at 2:45 pm under by dcobranchi

    The look on this homeschooling mom’s face makes the photo worth at least two nickels.


    Filed on at 6:58 am under by dcobranchi

    Mike Peach has an update to a sad tale where a girl, who had been bullied mercilessly at school, killed herself rather than go back. The edu-crats actually threatened the parents with jail for not having her in school, never once telling them they had the right to homeschool her.

    There’s a special circle of Hell reserved for those who value the “system” more than the lives of the kids.


    Filed on at 6:48 am under by dcobranchi

    These young, newly-married homeschool grads have faced every parent’s worst nightmare- a life-threatening illness- with faith and courage.


    Filed on at 6:36 am under by dcobranchi

    In a NYT Op/Ed, Thomas Friedman calls for increased spending for the National Science Foundation in order to fund a crash program of American energy independence in 10 years. He likens it to Kennedy’s call for the moon landings. It’s not a particularly apt analogy. In 1962 we knew how we could get to the moon. Sure– it would require bigger rockets and a lot of terrific engineering, but the science was known. Today, we have absolutely no idea how we could achieve energy independence.

    Nuclear (fission) isn’t really an option for all sorts of good and political reasons. Methanol/ethanol are interesting potential fuel choices, but they’re tied up in corn-belt politics. It also takes more than a gallon of oil to produce a gallon of ethanol from corn. So, that’s a net loser. Same goes for bio-diesel. The hydrogen economy is a real pipe dream, especially over the short term. The current major source of hydrogen is natural gas. Electrolysis of water is very energy intensive, so we’d need to build many power plants (burning coal or natural gas) to split the water. Fusion (hot) will someday probably be net energy positive. But, we’re not there yet. Cold fusion is (literally) a bad joke. (Brief aside– I worked for Stan Pons for a short period in grad school. After I left his group, the grad student who took over my work eventually ended up on the cold fusion program.)

    I’m not negative on the idea of energy independence. Over the long haul, I think it’s vital that we, at the very least, drastically reduce our imports of oil. I just don’t think that throwing billions of dollars at the problem will automatically make it happen. Especially not in 10 years.


    Filed on December 4, 2004 at 5:03 pm under by dcobranchi

    Here’s an article for the ABJ the next time they try to tie homeschooling to racism. It’s not about homeschoolers at all but “home-school” and “racist” both occur in the piece, so the ABJ’s in-depth research technique (i.e., Google) will surely pick it up.

    Of course, now Google will pick up this post, too.


    Filed on at 4:59 pm under by dcobranchi

    Here’s a nice positive article profiling several homeschooling families in Oklahoma.

    Sex-ed curricula that doesn’t inform…

    Filed on at 1:10 pm under by Tim Haas

    Fed Funded Abstinence-Only Sex Ed Programs Give ‘False’ HIV Information

    Federally funded abstinence-only sex education programs present “false and misleading information,” according to a report released on Wednesday by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.). Several million children ages nine to 18 have participated in the more than 100 federally funded abstinence-only sex education programs since 1999, when such programs began, the Washington Post reports (Connolly, Washington Post, 12/2).

    I found this one via Education at the Brink: Abstaining from the Truth, where the author makes several good points about not lying to kids.

    I don’t know if anyone else here remembers the anti-drug classes they took in highschool, but I do. I remember reading the list of awful debilitating side effects and wondering why anyone would ever want to take drugs anyway(think “Reefer Madness”). Then a friend of mine told me that my teacher had lied. My friend showed me real studies proving that most of those horrible effects happened rarely or not at all, and she told me the drugs made you feel really good. I didn’t go running right off to try drugs, but I do remember feeling quite betrayed and deciding I’d NEVER believe anything they told me in Health class again.
    It seems like we haven’t learned anything about honestly and respectfully educating our kids in the past several decades…


    Filed on at 11:28 am under by dcobranchi

    Spare a thought, if you would, for my son Alex, thrown in among sweaty-palmed bubble-fillers five years his senior so that he might stay qualified for the CTY program at Johns Hopkins. As I watched him leave the house this morning at an hour when he’s not even customarily awake, I couldn’t decide whether I felt more proud of him for taking on such an exercise at his tender age, more thankful that he has a healthier attitude toward the test than most of these poor high schoolers convinced by their parents and guidance counselors that the course of their lives hinges on one four-hour exam, or more wistful that he has already crested the peak of our time together and every moment gathers speed toward his own independent future. Sunrise, sunset …


    Filed on at 9:05 am under by dcobranchi

    The College Board is cutting their own throat by trying to suppress analysis of SAT scores. They’re claiming copyright which is just plain dumb. That issue was settled about 100 years ago with the phone directories; numbers aren’t copyright-able. I have no idea if FairTest’s analysis is, er, fair but this episode just gives the appearance that maybe they’re onto something.


    Filed on at 7:20 am under by dcobranchi

    I think the reporter who wrote this graf could use a copy of The Fallacy Detective.

    Research has shown that children who attend quality preschool programs do better in school than other kids. They are more well behaved in class, less likely to commit crimes when they grow up and more likely to graduate from high school and attend college.

    I think Chris is right; there aren’t too many reporters who could reason their way out of a paper sack.


    Filed on December 3, 2004 at 7:07 pm under by dcobranchi

    The guys who wrote The Fallacy Detective take the ABJ to task here. It’s pretty funny. (Hat tip: David W.)


    Filed on at 4:51 pm under by dcobranchi

    I just don’t what to say about this:

    Police said Lissett Alfaro, 31, of Wilmington, was driving west on Maryland Avenue with her three young children in the minivan when she lost control and slammed into an oncoming eastbound Honda Accord carrying a 21-year-old man and a child.

    …Aviola said the incident apparently began when Alfaro cut in front of the Bronco, driven by Robert Johnson, 39, of Elsmere, as the two vehicles were traveling on Maryland Avenue.

    “As they go further down the road, it escalates with verbal threats exchanged between the two drivers and hand gestures,” Aviola said. “At one point, they get to a red light and the Ford Bronco stops and the van starts doing circles around it.”

    Aviola said Alfaro’s 8-year-old son, who was sitting in the front passenger seat, threw a cup at the Bronco, triggering another chase.

    “At that point, the woman driver gets behind the Bronco and tries to cut him off again on the right and loses control of her vehicle, crosses the center line into eastbound Del. 4 and hits the Honda,” Aviola said.

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