Utterly Meaningless » 2005 » February
  • Satirizing the satirists…

    Filed on February 21, 2005 at 1:57 pm under by Tim Haas

    A blogger makes fun of the recent anti-homeschooling cartoon from the Arizona Daily Star.
    It’s worth a look-see. He does a pretty good job at lampooning it.


    Filed on at 10:25 am under by dcobranchi

    Anyone want to get behind the mic?

    Alan Mundell of WILM radio station is looking for home schoolers to help him host a show tomorrow night (Tuesday, February 22). He would like the home schoolers to be interested in journalism and of high school age. The show tomorrow night will give home schoolers a chance to voice their view on current issues.

    I urge any home schooled high schooler interested in journalism to give Mr. Mundell a call ASAP at 656-9800. Even if you can’t make tomorrow night’s show, call him anyway, so he can contact you personally when the next opportunity arises.

    ZT IN TX

    Filed on at 9:50 am under by dcobranchi

    The Houston Press has an excellent piece on the shortcomings of Zero Tolerance. It’s long and not really excerptable, but it’s well worth a read if you follow these sorts of things.


    Filed on at 7:47 am under by dcobranchi

    An HEK won a KS spelling bee and qualified for state.

    [Aubrey] Cole, who outspelled 13 other contestants over 17 rounds to claim her title, is the third consecutive victor to represent the county’s home-schooled population. Erin Keeley won the title in 2003 and again in 2004.

    Unfair competition, I know.


    Filed on at 7:38 am under by dcobranchi

    Here’s a little follow-up on the Iowa case blogged yesterday. The Des Moines Register seems to be playing up the homeschooling angle.

    The girl was being home-schooled. Holtmyer’s 14-year-old son – who also lived at the home but was not there at the time police showed up Friday – attends public school. Burk said both children were placed in foster care.

    In 1991, Iowa relaxed requirements for home-schooling, allowing parents who weren’t certified to teach their children at home, provided they used standardized tests or portfolios as evidence of progress.

    Winterset Elementary School Principal Gary Anker said the girl did not take aptitude tests earlier this year, opting to take other tests that did not require her to appear at the school.

    Sen. Mike Connolly, D-Dubuque, co-chairman of the Senate Education Committee, said school districts should work with home-schooled students who don’t take tests at the schools. “I don’t think that is something you can legislate,” he said.

    I’m not sure what to make of Connolly’s remarks. This case absolutely has no relationship to home education. The girl wasn’t being physically abused. She wasn’t being starved. There’s no there, there.


    Filed on February 20, 2005 at 8:29 pm under by dcobranchi

    Accuweather has started a blog specifically about their site re-design. The anonymous blogger is pretty good, too. Is this part of the future for the blogosphere?


    Filed on at 1:12 pm under by dcobranchi

    Today’s APOD is on the naturally occuring U-235 reactors discovered in Africa. The reactors are thought to be approximately 2B years old.


    Filed on at 12:57 pm under by dcobranchi

    A couple of eyewitness accounts. A couple of things to note: The plainclothes officer was being trailed by uniformed officers; he shoved to the ground a woman holding a baby, and both witnesses claim that he never identified himself. If there’s any justice in SC, he ought to lose his job and the town should pay damages.

    One of the public school teachers that uses the park with us now, saw his knife on his belt and called the police saying that he had it out flashing it around their children, . . .A plain clothes investigator charged the shelter shouting at (another parent’s) son to take his hands out of his pocket and then shouting at my son that he was talking to him, he never announced that he was an officer, where his badge and gun were at on his hip no one could see at the time, when he reached out for my son, a mother stepped in and tried to keep him from grabbing him. He shoved her backwards while she held another mother’s baby. She shouted for someone to call the cops and he shouted he was the cops. He shoved my son to the ground and shouted for a uniformed officer who was catching up to him at this time to cuff her and arrest her. They walked **** to the police car and cuffed him and put him the car. She was already driven up to the police station and placed in a cell, all because she protected my son from a strange man that was being chased at a distance by uniformed officers. My son was arrested for carrying a deadly weapon/concealed weapon. She was charged with felony assault on an officer. One officer said he was about to draw his weapon, he had already unsnapped it and was pulling it out to draw and aim at my son, because he thought he was about to pull the knife on the plain clothes investigator. This same officer said no telling how many people could have gotten killed, in other words he was prepared to shoot towards the shelter with all the small children around. . .

    And from the other mom:
    The plainclothes officer was incredibly belligerent and angry right from the moment he rushed under the shelter. He could so easily have stopped as soon as he came up to us, announced that he was a police officer and needed to talk to the boy with the knife, but he didn’t do any of that. Instead he shouted, shoved, verbally abused, intimidated. He acted so horrible it never occurred to me, or to any of us, that he was a police officer. He just seemed like a crazy man. He never announced who he was until he had shoved the woman holding the baby and then she asked the mother of the baby to call the police. Only then did he say he was an officer. I asked him how we were supposed to know that and he said he was wearing a gun and a badge and so it was obvious. The gun and the badge were on the side of him that was turned away from all of us, I think, so I don’t know how we were supposed to see them. Also he was yelling so much we didn’t think to look at his belt. Anyway, I asked to see his badge and he thrust it at me. About this time a uniformed officer had come up and he confirmed that the plainclothes guy was a policeman. The plainclothes guy told the woman holding the baby to put him down, that she was going to be arrested. Iasked him what he was arresting her for since she hadn’t done anything wrong. He told me for assaulting a police officer. I protested that she hadn’t known he was a police officer. He told me to shut up or I would be arrested too. So not only can he arrest a boy for carrying a knife that was not concealed, and charge him with carrying a concealed weapon, not only can he assault a woman holding a baby, then arrest her for assaulting him, but apparently he can arrest people just for arguing with him.

    After the policemen took away the boy who’d had the knife and the woman who’d tried to protect the boy, the other kids started to show how upset they were. Some were crying. None of these children want to go back to that park ever, and we’ve been going there since xxx and I first started xxx nearly five years ago. We’ve felt very safe there before, and having the police station just beside the park seemed to be an advantage. We felt like nobody too bad would bother our kids with policemen so close by. We never thought it would be the police themselves that would be the frightening ones, the ones who would make our kids feel unsafe, who would make them have nightmares or keep them from even being able to sleep. . .


    Filed on at 9:56 am under by dcobranchi

    I’m in the home stretch of house repairs/sprucing. As such, blogging will be extremely limited for the next few days.


    Filed on at 9:52 am under by dcobranchi

    A couple of home educating parents locked their daughter in her room and then left the house. Luckily, everything worked out ok, though the parents are facing charges. To demonstrate the degree of the PR problem we’re facing, here’s the lede:

    Winterset police discovered a 10-year-old girl who weighs 59 pounds locked in a bedroom while her father and his girlfriend were away, Police Chief Ken Burk confirmed Saturday.

    The immediate assumption is that they’re starving the girl. *Sigh*


    Filed on February 19, 2005 at 7:59 am under by dcobranchi

    What are Virginia Delegates really afraid of?

    Mindful of the problems that home-schooling mothers have in hauling their children to the polls on election day, Sen. Ken Cuccinelli, R-Fairfax, introduced a bill to allow the mothers to cast absentee ballots.

    Cuccinelli said mothers whose children are at a regular school have an easier time getting away.

    Some committee members said they sympathized with home-schooling but couldn’t vote for Cuccinelli’s bill because they have rejected several attempts to expand absentee balloting. The bill failed on a voice vote.

    Del. Lacey E. Putney, I-Bedford, the committee chairman, repeated his warnings that expanded absentee balloting could lead to voter fraud.

    A Senate-passed bill that would allow people 75 or older to cast absentee ballots also failed. The sponsor, Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple, D-Arlington, said people 75 or older tend to have some form of disability.

    Del. Frank D. Hargrove Sr., R-Hanover, who is 78, said, “I don’t have any trouble. I ride my motorcycle to the polls. If you raised the age to 105, I would vote for it.”

    It failed on a 10-7 vote.

    I don’t think home educating moms need any special preferences; there are lots of folks that have difficulties getting to the polls. That being said, other states have dramatically loosened their absentee requirements in recent years. I don’t think any state has had any problems with fraud associated with absentee voting.

    And Del. Hargrove needs to be retired if he has so little sympathy for seniors who are incapable of riding a motorcycle. What a jerk!


    Filed on at 7:15 am under by dcobranchi

    This article includes the best home education photo I’ve seen. Someone at the Lompo Record has a good sense of humor.


    Filed on at 7:09 am under by dcobranchi

    Here’s a nice profile of a high-achieving HEK who decided that college was not for him.

    The Carthage Police Department officer’s overachieving ways did not end in the second grade. By 10 years old, he was writing and reading on a college grade level.

    Agee was goal oriented, but not for a college degree. Law enforcement has always been his sole top priority.

    “That was what I wanted,” Agee said. “That’s what I enjoy. Even on the bad days, I enjoy being a cop.”

    He loves his job. That’s really all that matters, isn’t it. If he’d stayed in the g-schools, no doubt the guidance counselors would have actively discouraged him from pursuing a career in law enforcement.


    Filed on at 7:02 am under by dcobranchi

    A plain-clothes cop accosted several HEKs (at a park with their moms) and basically attacked one. Simpsonville cops do not have a particularly good reputation (I grew up a few miles away, and my brother lives there still.) I have no reason to doubt that the story is as presented.


    Filed on February 18, 2005 at 8:23 pm under by dcobranchi

    To keep our kids away from perverts such as this guy:

    When a band teacher was arrested here and charged with sexually abusing 16 students, jaws dropped at the allegations: Police said the teacher had tied young girls to chairs with duct tape and rope and then re-enacted bondage scenes from his porn collection.

    Investigators now say the school district in this blue-collar Chicago suburb had received complaints about the teacher years earlier and had warned him in 2001 against “inappropriate touching” but never reported him.

    These are the folks who want to inspect and regulate us.


    Filed on at 7:15 pm under by dcobranchi

    PA has a proposed modification to their home education laws. I can’t see how it does anything to increase freedoms. An example:

    19 (h.1) An evaluator’s certification that an appropriate
    20 education is occurring shall be provided by the supervisor to
    21 the superintendent of the public school district of residence by
    22 June 30 of each year. If the supervisor fails to submit the
    23 certification due on June 30 to the superintendent, the
    24 superintendent shall send a letter by certified mail, return
    25 receipt requested, to the supervisor of the home education
    26 program, stating that the certification is past due and
    27 notifying the supervisor to submit the certification within ten
    28 (10) days of receipt of the certified letter. If the
    29 certification is not submitted within that time, the board of
    30 school directors shall provide for a proper hearing in
    1 in accordance with subsection (k).


    Filed on at 2:36 pm under by dcobranchi

    Frequent commenter Brian Sassaman has caught the blogging bug.


    Filed on at 9:23 am under by dcobranchi

    I think the challenger has a point when he accuses Wisconsin’s highest educrat of being in the pocket of the teachers’ union:

    [H]e said the department sided with the union in part of its lawsuit seeking to shut down a virtual charter school in Ozaukee County.

    The suit claims the school is illegal because it uses parents who are not licensed as teachers to provide “direct teaching.” State law requires anyone teaching in a public school to hold a valid teaching license. The suit also says the school improperly uses the state’s open enrollment policy; the schools’ enrollment comes from mainly outside the district, according to court papers.

    The suit names the Northern Ozaukee School District, the company that runs the school, and Burmaster.

    Although she is named in the suit, Burmaster filed a brief that contends the school violates the state requirement for teachers in public schools. Parents are free to home-school their children. The difference is the virtual school in Ozaukee County is funded with taxpayer dollars, which requires more interaction between certified teachers and the students.

    She’s named as a defendant and filed an amicus brief for the opposing side!? Bureaucratic malpractice, that’s what that is.

    “S” WORD

    Filed on at 6:48 am under by dcobranchi

    Beverly Hernandez at About.com found a pretty good “S” word piece out of North Carolina. The lede is a classic:

    Trash everything you think you know about homeschooling.

    Forget the images of a small family sitting around a table, working out arithmetic problems. Toss out the thought of children whose only friends are their parents, brothers and sisters.

    Today’s homeschoolers say they are nothing like that.

    The rest is quite good, too.


    Filed on February 17, 2005 at 6:45 pm under by dcobranchi

    I haven’t been posting much the last few days, and this is the little fuzzy-wuzzy reason why:

    Brava and Scarlett 2-16.jpg

    The large golden crescent-shaped canine is Brava, whom I hope you’ll remember from here. The little black-and-tan pillbug is Scarlett, who was just seven weeks old when she arrived on Monday.

    It’s actually quite advantageous to have Seeing Eye pups overlap for a few weeks — the older one often teaches the younger one basic skills faster than the humans can (most important: “Stop gnawing on me with those tiny razor teeth!”). Plus we’re told — Scarlett is only our third pup and our first overlap — that it can make the pain of separation less intense for us when the older one goes back for training. No date yet for Brava’s departure — we’ve already had her longer than usual, and we sort of hope they simply forget to come get her.


    Filed on at 12:03 pm under by dcobranchi

    It doesn’t seem to matter which letter, R or D, they have after their name.

    Georgia lawmakers concerned about childhood obesity are proposing legislation that would require schools to list students’ body mass index — a measure of whether they’re overweight — on their report cards.

    The intent is to “wake up parents who may not be aware their children are obese or heading that way,” said state Rep. Judy Manning (R-Marietta), one of the bill’s co-sponsors.

    Students’ weight problems are “showing up in their grades, their ability to stay awake, their ability to focus and their ability to run at recess,” Manning said.

    House Bill 497, introduced Wednesday, would require that the report card not only show twice a year a child’s body mass index — a formula based on weight and height — but also tell parents whether it is below, within or above the normal range.

    …Rep. Stephanie Stuckey Benfield (D-Atlanta), the bill’s chief sponsor, said it would require the weighing and measuring be done in a manner that respects students’ dignity.

    “It wouldn’t be any more embarrassing than getting your grades,” said Benfield, the mother of a preschooler.

    Let’s see Reps. Benfield and Stanning publicly step on a scale first.


    Filed on at 11:35 am under by dcobranchi

    The RFID program in a San Jose school was shut down yesterday. Negative publicity and conflict-of-interest charges apparently convinced the company to pull the plug.


    Filed on at 10:42 am under by dcobranchi

    This feature about a young home-educated golfing pro is quite interesting in light of the long comment discussion of HEKs in PS sports the other day:

    The Wednesday afternoon scene at St. Petersburg Country Club is filled with a smattering of doctors, lawyers and retirees who throw their 20 bucks into a pot and fight it out over 18 holes in a weekly skins game.

    Then there is the teenage girl with the ponytail attempting to whip them all.

    If Brittany Lincicome, 19, seems out of place among country club members playing golf on a winter afternoon, it really is nothing new.

    She competed at the highest levels of junior golf and never attended some fancy academy. She qualified for the LPGA Tour without the aid of a high-priced swing guru or caddie.

    And unlike some other players, she’ll embark on her pro career next week with mom and dad by her side, not an entourage of agents, sports psychologists or teachers.

    Granted, golf ain’t baseball, but this family made sacrifices without grumbling or asking the system to subsidize her development — to me, an exemplar of the true spirit of home education.


    Filed on at 10:24 am under by dcobranchi

    Sometimes when you build it, they don’t come:

    Wallowa County’s [Oregon] home education program was substantially cut back for the second semester of this school year. Previously, home school students were able to use the office in the Wallowa Valley Mall in Enterprise four days a week as a study space, testing center and for curriculum. Now the office is only open from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

    As to the future of the home education program in Wallowa County, it doesn’t look good. “Unless there’s a way for (the home education program) to be revenue expediture neutral it’s unlikely that it would continue next year,” said Boyd Swent, Superintendent of the Union-Baker Education Service District, which provides home education services to Wallowa County as part of its alternative education services.

    Of course, this might also have something to do with the way they billed it:

    Funding for the home school and alternative education programs comes from the state and is based on average daily membership (ADM). For a high school, ADM equals a total of about 990 student hours. Alternative education rarely log in that number of hours and home school students almost never do, so one ADM actually represents many students, Swent explained.

    The school district that a student is registered in receives about $5,000 per ADM from the state and then pays about $3,600 per ADM to the Union-Baker ESD to run the programs.

    In the 2002-03 school year the home school program generated an ADM of 30, which means the Union-Baker ESD received about $108,000 to run the program, and local school districts kept about $42,000.

    “It’s hard to understand how you can come up with that many hours. It doesn’t look right,” Swent said. “I guess that’s why there’s an investigation,” he said, referring to an ongoing investigation into the way ADM has been counted by the Union-Baker ESD for alternative education.


    In September, October and November of this year, the home education program generated an ADM of less than one.


    Filed on at 10:12 am under by dcobranchi

    Twenty years ago, this was science fiction. Ten years ago, satire. Now? (Note: Shockwave movie.)


    Filed on at 9:56 am under by dcobranchi

    The superintendent of the Perry County schools in Kentucky must have a background in direct-mail advertising — how else to explain this passive-aggressive pitch?

    In a letter dated February 2, 2005, several homeschooling families in Perry County were surprised to receive a desperate plea from the Perry County Public School District Superintendent.

    The letter asked homeschool families to enroll their children in the public school because the “Perry County Schools provide a quality education in a safe and structured setting.” Not only that, but they “educate the whole child; physically, mentally, and emotionally.”

    If the letter’s opening statement does not convince you to enroll your child in public school, maybe the next one will: “By deciding to home school your child you have committed to spend 24 hours a day with your child. This can become quite frustrating to both the parent and the child.”

    But these reasons are not the only reason to enroll your child in public school!

    Whoever wrote this up for HSLDA did a nice job — almost blog-like!


    Filed on at 6:05 am under by dcobranchi

    Well, “news” anyway.

    Wilmington-area male prostitute / White House reporter Jim Guckert has been in the news a lot lately. It’s an interesting tale.


    Filed on at 5:30 am under by dcobranchi

    I think that’s what SC Gov. Mark Sanford implied in his defense of “Put Parents in Charge.”

    Governor Mark Sanford believes the vast majority of parents will rise to the occasion, “What you’re really saying is if you cut down to the chase is that some parents are too dumb to make this choice. I would say I don’t believe that.” Governor Sanford does acknowledge, “There will be individuals that don’t have the educational blessings that you or I did or our parents did, but there is a strong network within black churches and white churches alike that help some of those folks.”


    Filed on at 4:59 am under by dcobranchi

    Judy Aron found a silly / hilarious / alarmist website advertising an “official” ID card for HEKs. The family running the business are home educators, so I’ll go easy on them. I personally don’t see a real need for an ID card. If the kid is old enough to be riding around the neighborhood unsupervised, he’s probably old enough to explain that he’s an HEK. Still, I must admit that I made up cards like these our first year. Not for safety or truancy or student discounts, though. I did it as kind of a lark. The state required that we have a name for our “school.” We spent a fair bit of time playing with all sorts of crazy ideas. By the time we had settled on one, I just extended the joke a bit and printed up the cards.

    OK, now I have to blast them. I read through the “Fast & Simple” process to get one of these cards. According to the instructions, you have to have the application notarized! Next thing you know, they’ll be lobbying to make these kinds of things mandatory.


    Filed on at 4:35 am under by dcobranchi

    Adrian (aka Quincy) is trying to find an answer. You might want to read this post before clicking over to Adrian’s.


    Filed on February 16, 2005 at 9:50 pm under by dcobranchi

    Click on over to Chris’s site.

    No freedom of expression here…

    Filed on at 6:28 pm under by Tim Haas

    The question was rude (though I really don’t buy the idea that the your residence can be considered private anymore after you open it to public tours), but the reaction was unbelievably excessive, especially when you consider that all the other kids in the group had to pay for this one kid’s big mouth.

    The Governor General’s office is in damage-control mode, following a tour guide’s decision to cut short a school tour — all because of one curious student’s question.

    Jeremy Patfield, 15, was touring the Governor General’s official residence, Rideau Hall, when he actually spotted Adrienne Clarkson — and wondered aloud about her spending habits.

    “I said, ‘Is that the woman that spends the money on the Queen when she comes?’,” Patfield recalled in an interview with CTV News.

    Considering the controversy Clarkson’s budget has spurred in the past, the question was not that unusual. But, in light of the fact it was uttered within earshot of the Governor General herself, it was particularly ill-received.

    A tour guide who overheard the teen’s comment took swift action.

    “Our group got kicked out for my comment towards the Governor General,” Patfield explained. “It was supposedly my fault that we got kicked out.”

    One more thing not mentioned in the article is that the principal of Jeremy’s school announced that he will be facing additional disciplinary action from the school itself – a three day suspension.


    Filed on at 5:36 pm under by dcobranchi

    I have a theory that all chemists down deep are really firebugs. This guy’s down deep apparently starts at skin level.

    A high school chemistry teacher was arrested after students claimed he taught his class how to make a bomb, authorities said.

    I know a little bit about this subject. As a kid I was “honored” to be a pallbearer for a friend who blew himself up with a pipe bomb. At DuPont my job was to study high energy and explosive reactions. I worked with RDX and even have a program on my laptop that can calculate the exact ratio of AN to FO to maximize the explosive punch.

    Bombs are nothing to be playing around with.


    Filed on at 1:51 pm under by dcobranchi

    Jason Wright pointed me to these “free” land offers out in Kansas.

    Move to Marquette, and the town will give you a parcel of land valued at $8,000 provided you build a home on it within one year and live in it for a year. The town has built streets into the new neighborhood and provided hookups for water, electricity, sewers, and gas.

    It looked pretty interesting until I noticed this:

    Ellsworth, Kansas calls it the “Welcome Home Plan.” You build the house, and you get the lot for free. You’ll also receive $1,000 toward the down payment on the house for each child you have who will attend the local schools. They’ll even help you find a job. Results are encouraging. USA Today says Ellsworth boasts 24 new residents, four of whom reserved free lots. They also have 16 new schoolchildren, who draw $6,000 each in additional state education aid.

    Paying for g-schoolers? Bah!

    Hey- I just thought of a good scam. Some school districts receive money based on the number of kids who live in the district, not necessarily those who enroll. So why can’t a large home educating family play the same kind of games that large employers do? You want me to move to your town with my kids? It’ll cost you a grand per year per kid.


    Filed on at 10:18 am under by dcobranchi

    Until I coined it this a.m., Google had not seen the phrase “home educrat” before. I think that’s a good description of our friend in Pennsylvania. Anybody want to pick up the bomb ball?

    UPDATE: And just so y’all don’t think I’m being unfair to the home educrat in question, I submit this quote from the Jan-Feb 1993 edition of HEM (archived here):

    PA Homeschoolers has created a parallel bureaucracy to that of school and government officials.


    Filed on at 6:29 am under by dcobranchi

    I just realized that Tim’s quote yesterday used the phrase “home education” and not homeschooling. Cool.


    Filed on at 6:14 am under by dcobranchi

    This one is very confusing, but it appears that an abusive man talked his live-in girlfriend into home educating her son. Long story short– the woman end up beaten and taped to a bed, and her son was clubbed to death. Police are holding the man and his adopted son, though they haven’t been charged with the boy’s death.


    Filed on at 5:54 am under by dcobranchi

    Guess which group of home educators I side with.

    The heated battle over a controversial school tax credit bill is about to sizzle as opposing groups square off today in dueling State House rallies.

    …One constituency that will be heavily represented on both sides is home schoolers, who also would qualify for tax credits under the plan, dubbed Put Parents in Charge by its supporters.

    The families of some 14,000 home-schooled children in South Carolina are split on the bill because some fear it would invite increased state regulation.

    Ann Ashley, director of New Beginnings Home School Association in Summerville, and other home-school families fought to gain autonomy from state regulations in the mid-1990s. Any erosion of that freedom is unacceptable, she said.

    “By accepting money, it allows the state to come into our homes to determine what we can and can’t teach,” Ashley said.

    Kathleen Carper, president of the South Carolina Association of Independent Home Schools, said Ashley and other opponents of the bill are “misinformed.”

    Carper, whose group represents 1,200 families from around the state, said the bill is crafted so it wouldn’t intrude on what parents teach.

    On curriculum matters, home-school families now answer to one of three entities — local public school boards, Carper’s home-school group or “third-option” groups.

    Third-option groups were created in 1996 and are made up of 50 or more home-school families who operate independent of state oversight.

    Members of those groups are leading the anti-tax credit faction among home schoolers.

    Actually, no guess needed. Howard Richman Kathleen Carper is on the wrong side here. The state will get to approve or disapprove expenses, giving them direct control of what can be taught. Sure, you don’t have to take the money. It still splits the community and threatens home ed freedoms. But I wouldn’t expect a statist “home educrat” like Ms. Carper to understand that.

    As an aside, SC has some of the worst home education laws in the country. Maybe Ms. Carper’s group ought to lobby to fix those. Riiiiight.


    Filed on at 5:35 am under by dcobranchi

    Here’s the other side of the story. It’s much more sympathetic to the home educators. I’m still not going to watch.


    Filed on at 5:27 am under by dcobranchi

    Or, more precisely, the Sun imitates Van Gogh.

    Today’s APOD is a fascinating look at a sunspot from various heights above the surface of the sun. The final pic really looks like something that Van Gogh could have painted in the latter stages of his schizophrenia.


    Filed on February 15, 2005 at 9:24 am under by dcobranchi

    I don’t often agree with edu-crats when they go up against home educators, but this time they’re right.

    A bill allowing home-schoolers to participate in public school sports would establish a double standard, school officials said Monday.

    Academic, attendance and behavioral rules, they said, would be more lenient for home-schoolers than for public school students under Legislative Bill 270.

    The bill, discussed during a hearing of the Legislature’s Education Committee, would require school boards to adopt policies that address both extracurricular and academic opportunities for “exempt” students, which includes home-schoolers.

    School administrators said participation in extracurricular activities is a privilege students earn by successfully completing classes and meeting other requirements. Newman Grove Superintendent Jim Koontz said schools wouldn’t be able to monitor whether home-schoolers were meeting those standards.

    Several parents who home-school their children told the state senators on the committee that they pay property taxes that support public schools.

    The committee took no action on the measure.

    We shouldn’t be fighting for the “right” to play g-school sports. Let’s show some spine and stick to our convictions. We opted out of the g-school system. Why the heck are some parents begging for crumbs from that same system?


    Filed on at 5:58 am under by dcobranchi

    This Missoulian.com editorial is about the Montana bill (blogged below) but it is so good that I didn’t want to bury it in an update. A sample:

    The state exists to serve the people, not the other way around. The people created the state, and they created the public school system. The responsibility for raising children, which includes their education, begins and ends with parents. Most parents see definite advantages to delegating some of their schooling responsibilities to professional educators. And many people understand there are definite advantages to contributing to the general education of other people’s kids. But parents are the ones who are directly responsible for their own children.

    As they say– read the whole thing.

    BTW, if you want to thank the editor, here’s the link.


    Filed on at 5:48 am under by dcobranchi

    Tim Haas is quoted in this South Jersey piece on home ed. Not a whole lot that’s new except this:

    In New Jersey, there were 2,671 home-schooled youngsters in the 2003-04 academic year, according to the state Department of Education. That represents 0.2 percent of the statewide student population.

    There ain’t no way the actual number is that low. Tim can correct me here if I misstate the law, but home educators are not required to notify anyone. I’d bet that the 2,671 listed above are the ones that the state knows about for one reason or another. Dollars to donuts that the real number is 10 times that.

    UPDATE (from Tim): The piece Daryl quotes is a sidebar to a larger feature on a HEK who has been awarded a scholarship for acing seven AP exams.


    Filed on at 5:40 am under by dcobranchi

    I dislike reality television. I especially dislike the idea (I’ve never watched the shows) of these family/wife swaps. So I won’t be watching Wednesday night when a home educating family is one of the swapees. As described here, the father in this family comes off as a total wack-job and the girls not much better. Don’t you just love stereotyping?

    DOS & DON’TS

    Filed on at 5:28 am under by dcobranchi

    Well– actually only “don’ts. ”

    Kimberly Swygert has a roundup of recent goings-on in the world our kids live in. It ain’t pretty. Now, y’all please excuse me for a moment; I have to place a call to a convent.


    Filed on at 4:49 am under by dcobranchi

    The NYT has an interesting article on the state of “covenant marriage” as a legislative attempt to reduce the number of divorces. The idea hasn’t really caught on– only three states since 1997 have passed similar laws and only 1 to 2 percent of folks there sign on. I’m not sure how I feel about this. If there are no children involved and both parties want out, why should it be impossible to dissolve the marriage? Yeah– divorce is many times an evil thing. But sometimes it may be the lesser of two evils.


    Filed on at 4:16 am under by dcobranchi

    The bill that Tim blogged here was tabled indefinitely. From the HEM-Networking listserv:

    The hearing on this bill was today.

    The Senator who introduced the bill, Senator Ryan, spoke first.

    He stated to the multitudes of homeschoolers there, that there are cases where CPS is getting involved in investigating public school children, and the parents pull them sign up as homeschoolers and no one can do anything.

    I knew at that moment this man was one donut short of the full dozen. He didn’t have sense enough to realize if the schools reported them to CPS, CPS is still obligated to follow through.

    He also did something so offensive to me it was incredible. He said, if this bill you oppose is a problem I want everyone who testifies to tell me how the homeschool community intends to oversee the problem (meaning neglect and abuse).

    I thought to myself, what are we the Secret police?

    Another comment he made was on the status of a young girl, age 18, that wanted to be a nurse. When the nursing school evaluated her they told them that it would take the 18 year old 4-6 years to catch up in order to get into nursing school. This Senator Ryan indicated was unacceptable, and what were we homeschoolers going to do to correct the problem if this bill wasn’t the answer.

    Dee Black of H$LDA [sic] testified and of course Brian Ray. They cut Dee Black off.

    Then in the line to testify was a lady who came to the podium and said, I’m the mother of the 18 year old that Senator Ryan mentioned with nursing school. What Senator Ryan failed to tell the committee is that my daughter who is 20 years old has cerebral palsy. The Senator did not mention that the school district and doctors when she was a small child, said she’d never speak or be able to read or write. Nor did he mention that she is finishing up her first year of college. We brought her home, loved her and worked with her. Nor, did he mention that she has a brother that is in college and doing very well.

    I don’t think that went in Senator Ryan’s favor.

    We didn’t expect a vote on this bill today, but the vote was taken and it was 9 to 1 for putting the bill on the table. Which means that Senator Ryan could ask for a vote on it, but it’s not likely.

    I wish the best to the other states out there fighting. I think we’ll be okay.

    There were 1000 people registered to speak against the bill and only 5 in favor (including Sen. Ryan). Moral of the story? Don’t mess with the home educators.

    UPDATE: Here’s more. I like the lede:

    A roar of approval erupted from some 1,200 Montanans in the Capitol Monday after the Senate Education Committee tabled a bill that would have, among other regulations, forced home school parents without a college degree to submit to inspections from certified teachers.


    Filed on February 14, 2005 at 6:30 am under by dcobranchi

    It’s Monday, and that means it’s Redovich Rant Day. This week’s rant is entirely predictable: money, working poor, K-12 education. Blah, blah, blah. The only interesting part was this throwaway line:

    However they want all taxpayers to contribute to the spending of billions on roads that benefit transportation by car and sewer and water systems that subsidize affluent suburban communities utilizing huge tracts of land.

    Huge tracts of land? You can’t use that phrase anymore. The mental image is just too funny, as it’s been “ruined” by Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Now I have to picture Redovich with his hands held just so in front of his chest. Hmmm…. come to think of it, put a beard on him and he would look a bit like the King.


    Filed on at 5:59 am under by dcobranchi

    Kate Tsubata, who writes about home ed issues for the WashTimes, falls into the g-school “homeschool” trap.


    Filed on at 5:55 am under by dcobranchi

    Home educators in Kansas must feel like they have big bullseyes painted on their backs, as not one but two statewide cyber schools “target” them.

    Families who home school their children are the primary market for the Lawrence and Wichita programs, which do not charge tuition to provide computers and curriculum to students. Teachers interact regularly with students, who must also take state tests.

    I understand the rationale and applaud the entrepreneurial spirit of these schools. I just hope that they don’t harass home educators nor take advantage of their status as g-schools to obtain personal information.

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