Utterly Meaningless » 2005 » August

    Filed on August 31, 2005 at 10:04 pm under by dcobranchi

    With reports of gas hitting $5/gallon in Atlanta, and Gov. Mike Easley warning North Carolinians that a gas shortage is imminent, folks were hoarding just a bit of gas at the local station a few minutes ago. I saw more than one person filling multiple jerry cans at $2.79/gallon.

    I filled both our vehicles, of course.

    UPDATE: Spelling errors fixed. Ugh!

    FURTHER UPDATE: The gas station on Ft. Bragg ran out of regular and mid-grade last night.

    YO, JO!

    Filed on at 9:08 pm under by dcobranchi

    The Happy Homeschooler is back.


    Filed on at 9:08 pm under by dcobranchi

    SAT scores are out today. Unfortunately, unlike the ACT, SAT scores for HEKs aren’t disaggregated:

    Charter, Correspondence, Home and Non-Accredited Schools are included in Type of High School as Other or Unknown unless otherwise specified by state officials.


    Filed on at 9:08 pm under by dcobranchi

    Conservative columnist John Derbyshire has an anti-Intelligent Design piece up on the National Review website. There’s actually a home education link here:

    If you are afraid that your children, being confronted with science in school, will turn into atheists and materialists, you have a wide variety of options available to you in this free nation. Most obviously, you should take your kids to church regularly, encourage them to pray, say grace before meals, and respond to those knotty questions that children sometimes ask with answers from your own faith. Or you could homeschool them, or send them to a religious school, and make sure they are not exposed to the science you fear so much.

    Of course, not all home educators are conservative Christians or are anti-Darwin. But I don’t think Derbyshire is taking a gratuitous shot at home education. He’s right; parents who are opposed to their kids being taught neo-Darwinian evolution do have lots of options. And as opposed as I am to teaching ID in the g-schools, I’ll support any home educator who wants to teach it at home.

    FU 5 TIMES*

    Filed on at 9:07 pm under by dcobranchi

    File under the “What were they thinking?”

    A secondary school [in the UK] is to allow pupils to swear at teachers – as long as they don’t do so more than five times in a lesson. A running tally of how many times the f-word has been used will be kept on the board. If a class goes over the limit, they will be ‘spoken’ to at the end of the lesson.

    I love the punishment for going over the limit. It’s overseas and we have no details, so it doesn’t quite rise to the level of another WWHS. Still pretty odd.

    *The title harkens back to a college football cheer at Furman University in Greenville, SC. Back in the 80’s, the school President, John E. Johns, would lead students in shouting “FU1 TIME! FU 2 TIMES! FU 3 TIMES! FU ALL THE TIME!” It was a Southern Baptist school. More FU football trivia– Furman is the only NCAA school whose mascot is the Paladin (one of Charlemagne’s elite guards). Legend has it that the original favored name prior to Paladins was Christian Knights. Can you guess why the school admin decided that that name would be a very bad idea?


    Filed on at 8:20 pm under by dcobranchi

    ’cause you’re gonna need a lot of it.

    A group of radical Christians want to take over a couple of Upstate South Carolina counties and form a Bible-based society:

    Christian Exodus activists plan to take control of sheriff’s offices, city councils and school boards. Eventually, they say, they will control South Carolina. They will pass godly legislation, defying Supreme Court rulings on the separation of church and state.

    “We’re going to force a constitutional crisis,” said Cory Burnell, 29, an investment advisor who founded the group in November 2003.

    “If necessary,” he said, “we will secede from the union.”

    I’m from the Upstate. Ain’t no way this is gonna fly. Ever. South Carolinians remember what happened the last time they tried to secede.


    Filed on at 12:36 pm under by dcobranchi

    Geez! Talk about corrupt politics. The NC legislature adjourned for the year last week, failing to pass a lottery bill by a scant two votes in the Senate. They called a special one day session yesterday, knowing that one of the opponents was on his honeymoon and another was in the hospital. We now have a lottery.

    Everyone who had a hand in these shenanigans (including the governor and lieutenant governor) ought to be voted out of office on principle.


    Filed on at 12:16 am under by dcobranchi

    The more I think about it, the more I hate co-ops:

    Josh, 10, and Zach, 8, have always been homeschooled, a style of education sometimes misconstrued as socially inept or curriculum-intense.

    Their mother, Carrie, and other parents of homeschooled children are turning to co-operatives, or co-ops, to change those misconceptions.

    “(My sons) are not huddled at home with the door shut,” Carrie Matthews said. “This provides a varied way of teaching to expose them to just more than studying at home.”

    See what I mean? By giving the school contagion an entry vector, co-ops are making even home educators denigrate home education. There’s more:

    “There are subjects, even as a certified teacher, that you’re not comfortable teaching…like chemistry or algebra II. But other parents have a passion for it,” said Kathy Anderson, who founded Master’s Hand Homeschooling Enrichment Program in Longmont seven years ago as a way for homeschooled students to learn in a classroom setting.

    As Barbie once said, math class is tough — but is forcing school on your kids, even for just a few hours a week, really the only answer?

    The Longmont campus this year is serving 60 students in 13 classes, Anderson said.

    Crikey, they have campuses!

    A licensed educator, Anderson began this co-op as a way for parents to pool their expertise and teach each other’s children.

    “It enables you to have control over your child’s education,” Anderson said.

    I hear freedom=slavery, too.

    Said Carrie Matthews: “Personally, I don’t know how I would homeschool without it.”

    Co-ops — homeschooling heroin.

    (And yeah, before anyone asks, I have plenty of personal experience with co-ops. Why do you think I’m so cranky?)


    Filed on August 30, 2005 at 9:13 pm under by dcobranchi

    This has to be the best blog post title ever. And it’s about the Flying Spaghetti Monster.


    Filed on at 8:39 pm under by dcobranchi

    Write a press release advertising your (very expensive) service while dissing potential clients:

    Average programs range from $400 to $4,000, depending on the level of skill you’d like to attain and how long you’d like to train. One-day classes, like those offered by Fast Lane Driving Academy, teach basic control skills every driver should possess. But if you’d like to know how to drive like a stuntman, it’ll cost you a few more bucks and a few more hours of your time.

    And don’t think that just because you’ve been driving for years that you possess the skills to teach your kids to drive — that’s what professional driving schools are for. You wouldn’t try to home school your kids without some sort of teaching experience or at least a degree, so leave the teaching up to professional teachers.

    I just spoke to an official at Fast Lane. He claimed to know nothing about the piece.


    Filed on at 8:39 pm under by dcobranchi

    The East Valley (AZ) Tribune has a very pro-home education editorial in today’s paper.

    As Arizona’s public school officials clamor for state regulation of parents who educate their children at home, the latest ACT college entrance exam scores again show that home-schoolers are doing just fine without bureaucrats sticking their noses in.

    …[T]here is no credible case for the state Department of Education barging in on parents who are teaching their children at home — unless it’s to politely ask, hat in hand, how they are achieving such success.

    Nonetheless, the Arizona School Boards Association probably won’t drop its misguided effort to sabotage successes that put public schools in an unflattering light. The latest round of test scores should dissuade state legislators from taking the ASBA’s demand seriously.

    …Home-schooling parents now have a broad range of curricula — many available online — from which to choose, along with teaching guides and legal support, if needed, from the HSLDA. The last thing they need, quite clearly, is the heavy hand of government.

    Very nice and, no doubt, true. But what triggered the editorial? Is something going on in Arizona?


    Filed on at 8:38 pm under by dcobranchi

    The Utah GOP met over the weekend to establish their state platform for 2006. The education plank deserves careful scrutiny going forward:

    They approved a “School Choice Resolution” calling for public education funding to follow students at home school, private schools or charter schools.

    A so-called “teacher amendment” requiring public accountability for that diverted funding failed.

    The GOP-owned and operated subsidiary otherwise known as the state of Utah may be trouble for home educators in ’06 and beyond. (cf. Alaska)


    Filed on August 29, 2005 at 5:20 pm under by dcobranchi

    An Alabama legislator is promising to introduce a bill which would allow HEKs to play g-school sports. I’m kind of agnostic on this issue, but I hate this common argument:

    Galliher said he believes that rule is not fair to parents who decide to teach their children at home.

    “They pay the same taxes as the parents who send their children to public schools. They should have the same rights,” Galliher said.

    Very lame. And misleading. Yes, we pay taxes for the g-schools and choose not to use them. But so do the private schoolers. And the folks who don’t have kids don’t have any choice at all.


    Filed on at 5:20 pm under by dcobranchi

    From a Q&A column on education:

    Q: I am planning to home-school my disabled son this school year. He was 7 years old in May, and he is just doing pre-writing and pre-reading work right now. I really don’t know what a kindergarten and first-grade child should know.

    Can you give me any help?

    — Desperate

    A: While many parents are now home-schooling their learning-disabled children, it is not necessary. Your son has rights, and you need to find out exactly what those rights are and have them implemented.

    Go back to the school and ask for the document that details the parent rights for special-education children. It will have a list of advocacy agencies. A special-education advocate can help you get the services that your son is entitled to. There might or might not be a cost for this service. We advise you to use this approach before trying home-schooling.

    No reason is given for the advice.


    Filed on at 5:19 pm under by dcobranchi

    The University of California system has decided that certain religion-based high school biology courses will no longer be accepted as creditable for admissions purposes. According to the LA Times, two Christian schools are suing over the issue. The home education connection? The “banned” texts are from BJU Press and A Beka. (via The Questionable Authority).


    Filed on at 5:19 pm under by dcobranchi

    I wonder if Baltimore parents will get their kids on alternate weekends.

    Baltimore officials announced yesterday that they are providing $3.4 million to help fund an after-school program for more than 3,000 students at 39 city schools.

    … The after-school programs will be run in school buildings and will last three hours, five days a week.

    …The program’s purpose is to keep children safe, improve their school performance and lessen child care costs after school for working parents, program officials said.

    I just loooooove “free” childcare. HT: Ron R.


    Filed on at 4:23 pm under by dcobranchi

    Talented athletes are proof that ID is correct:

    And try telling a baseball fan that pure Darwinism explains Joe DiMaggio. As Tommy Lasorda once said, “If you said to God, ‘Create someone who was what a baseball player should be,’ God would have created Joe DiMaggio — and he did.”


    Filed on at 6:34 am under by dcobranchi

    No, it’s not ID this time.

    Nissan has been angering some neighbors of its Canton, Miss., auto manufacturing plant with its noisy attempt to change the local weather, according to news reports.

    Concerned that hail storms could damage the paint on newly manufactured cars, the company has been using “hail suppression cannons,” which send a loud sonic blast into the air above the factory, according to recent stories in the Jackson, Miss., Clarion Ledger and in the industry newspaper Automotive News.

    The system is supposed to protect about 12,000 brand new vehicles, worth about $400 million, parked in the factory’s shipping yard, according to a Nissan spokeswoman quoted in the Clarion Ledger.

    …Theoretically, the system prevents hail over an approximately 1-mile radius by vibrating water droplets in the air that form hail. Vibrating the droplets supposedly disrupts the hail-forming process, preventing hail storms.

    A National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration scientist quoted by Automotive News said there is no scientific evidence that hail cannons actually work.

    That there’s no scientific evidence to support this shouldn’t stop them. Just ask the Discovery Institute.


    Filed on August 28, 2005 at 9:05 pm under by dcobranchi

    A home educating mom(?) in Plano, TX, takes exception (passwords) to an article in the Dallas Morning News that I (and GoogleNews) must have missed. Strangely, I can’t find it in the DMN’s archives, either. Regardless, the letter:

    Demand more from school

    Re: “Doing the math on home schooling,” Sunday Texas Living column by Robin Galiano Russell.

    Your writer, editor and newspaper seem stuck along with the mainstream education industry in a very rigid box regarding the home-school movement and transition to higher learning. Your Stanford political scientist states that home schoolers face the risk of intellectual isolation. Home schoolers have the exact opposite experience. They are free from legislated textbooks, they are free to study multiple sources and they are free because they are outside the confines of the system.

    Home schooling has taken off because education has not been able to provide what parents demand for their children. The only ones isolated are those of you who can’t recognize social change.

    Lu Adair, Plano

    UPDATE: Perhaps this one from last Sunday is related. Maybe there was a sidebar in the dead-tree version?


    Filed on at 9:05 pm under by dcobranchi

    [Re-posted by permission]

    Mary Hudzinski, from a discussion on the HEM-Networking listserv:

    I have it on good authority – that of my state representative, a member of the PA House Education Committee – that any time homeschoolers request something, like dual enrollment, the response in the Committee indicates that the reps see this as a willingness to accept more oversight. It was in a conversation so I have no *chapter and verse* to refer to, but that does not mean it is not a true statement. There is an adversarial relationship between the education establishment and homeschoolers, at least in PA, and crossing the line ensures blurring to the detriment of homeschoolers.

    Mary Hud
    Advocating freedom for home educators in Pennsylvania

    OK, maybe this isn’t true everywhere (PA is far from a typical state when it comes to home education), but I’d bet PA isn’t the only state where legislators would treat a request for equal access as an invitation to suck those FODers1 back into the system.

    1FODers = “Freedom or Death” home educators. (coined by Tim Haas)


    Filed on at 9:05 pm under by dcobranchi

    An acronymic two-fer– IAATM and CCANHS.


    Filed on at 9:05 pm under by dcobranchi

    The Cass County Democrat Missourian is running a series on home education:

    Editors note: This is the first in a three-part series about home schooling in Cass County. The series will address why people home school, the benefits of educating in the home and the misconceptions that tend to go hand-in-hand with the term “home school.”

    This first one is quite positive:

    There are many benefits to home schooling including flexibility, one-on-one attention and strong family closeness.

    “One benefit is to be able to teach each child according to their natural learning bent,” Brantley said. “One-on-one instruction allows one to focus on some of the more difficult areas and to move more quickly in areas that are easily mastered. There isn’t much boredom because you move ahead at your own speed.”

    See? Not even a “Homeschool advocates claim” modifier at the front of that first graf. It’s all like that.

    I’m looking forward to parts II and III.

    UPDATE: It appears that the Democrat Missourian is a weekly “paper.”


    Filed on at 7:14 am under by dcobranchi

    The NYT’s Op/Ed page today has a good anti-ID piece. Daniel C. Dennett does a very nice job of summarizing in layman’s term why ID isn’t science. My favorite part:

    The Discovery Institute, the conservative organization that has helped to put intelligent design on the map, complains that its members face hostility from the established scientific journals. But establishment hostility is not the real hurdle to intelligent design. If intelligent design were a scientific idea whose time had come, young scientists would be dashing around their labs, vying to win the Nobel Prizes that surely are in store for anybody who can overturn any significant proposition of contemporary evolutionary biology.

    Remember cold fusion? The establishment was incredibly hostile to that hypothesis, but scientists around the world rushed to their labs in the effort to explore the idea, in hopes of sharing in the glory if it turned out to be true.

    He’s absolutely right on this part. (WARNING: PERSONAL ANECDOTE AHEAD) I was there. I started out in Pons’ group at the University of Utah and later moved to Ted Eyring’s. Pons and Eyring shared the basement of the (then) new wing of the Henry Eyring building. So I saw everything from the front row. I even (unsuccessfully) attempted to duplicate some amazing results out of the U of Texas (nickel electrodes for that experiment). It was like that at chemistry departments all across the country. Everyone wanted a piece of the pie; there were no shortages of grad students to throw at it.

    ID is similar. It makes claims that 100 years of science have been wrong. Not only slightly wrong, but completely and utterly wrong in its most basic concepts. The scientists who can prove this would be science stars, household names even. That not one paper has been published in a reputable journal, that no young turks are pursuing this, speaks volumes about how real scientists view ID. There’s just no there, there.


    Filed on August 27, 2005 at 7:34 pm under by dcobranchi

    Oklahoma blogger Sean Gleeson delivers an absolutely devastating takedown of a local “if it bleeds, it leads”-style news report on HE:

    In George Orwell’s novel 1984, Winston and his fellows were subjected to a regular ritual called the “Two-Minute Hate,” a brief video montage of horrible images — crimes, murders, calamities, and such — at which the viewers were expected to boo and hiss. Then an image of the designated enemy would appear, so that the irate audience could channel their rage at this personification of evil, even though he was little more than a made-up scapegoat.

    Nick Winkler, a reporter at KWTV News 9 television station, has almost doubled the Orwellian standard. Instead of a mere two minutes, he treated Oklahoma City to a full Three-Minutes-and-Forty-Seconds Hate, complete with cruel child abuse, beating, and murder! His designated villain was homeschooling parents, every one of whom, he implies, should at least be presumed a potential child batterer.

    For full impact, watch the report first, then cheer Sean’s shot-by-shot fisk.

    Hat tip: Joan


    Filed on at 8:18 am under by dcobranchi

    I’ve converted.


    UPDATE: It’s a cool religion. We even have t-shirts.

    FURTHER UPDATE: My new official regalia. I haven’t got the eye-patch yet, so I substituted the Ray-Bans. I hope His/Her/Its Noodliness will forgive.



    Filed on at 8:05 am under by dcobranchi

    Alaska home educators are also feeling the tug of the edu-crats reeling in the ones they sucked back into the system:

    Since 1997, parents in Alaska have enjoyed state support for homeschool expenses with almost no academic restraint—provided any religious-themed teaching materials were purchased with private money. No more.

    …Armed with a new application of an old statute, Alaska’s Department of Education and Early Development (EED) declared that teaching a majority of core subjects with religious-based materials—even those privately purchased—disqualifies parents from receiving government funds. It employed a 1966 law, which states, “Partisan, sectarian, or denominational doctrines may not be advocated in a public school during the hours the school is in session.”

    …Assistant attorney general Kathleen Starsbaugh confirmed EED’s interpretive broadening of the law, labeling private homes as public schools.

    So home educating families are now officially adjuncts of the g-school system. It should surprise no one that the edu-crats are pushing this idea. It’s been pretty obvious for a long time that that was the goal of their “support” for home education.

    There may be a silver lining here. Home education (real home education, free of government strings) might be in for a renaissance. I only hope that there are enough independent-minded folks left in AK to re-form a critical mass.


    Filed on at 8:05 am under by dcobranchi

    This is depressing.

    Dozens of parents and their home-schooled children picketed Thursday, protesting the Junction City School District’s decision to limit its contract with an alternative education program to basic academic courses.

    Shelley Reed, a parent and an instructor in the Homesource program, which is affiliated with the Bethel School District, organized the protest. She said about 16 area home-schooling parents representing 36 children learned on Aug. 18 that the private alternative school’s board of directors had rejected Junction City’s proposed contract terms.

    That would cut the district’s home-schooling families off from state funding for Homesource services.

    The State cutting services is not the depressing part. That I couldn’t care less about. Home educating families protesting that they’ve lost their “free” education. That’s the depressing part.

    These folks have no one else to blame but themselves. When you take the king’s gold, you have to play by the king’s rules. Even when those rules take the gold away.


    Filed on at 8:04 am under by dcobranchi

    Via Ulrike, Linda Dobson is teaching an online course “Homeschooling Your Children” at BNU (Barnes & Noble University):

    One of the most important decisions you’ll ever make as a parent is choosing which of the growing number of educational options is best for your child. Can the increasingly popular homeschooling option provide your child with the rewarding, successful learning experience you’re searching for? This course offers a rare opportunity to receive the information you need to tackle that decision making process.

    Homeschooling Your Children reveals how homeschooling diverges from traditional schooling, its benefits, and its potential challenges, including legal, time, money, and social issues. You will gain inside knowledge on how home educators build a solid support system and adopt the “learning lifestyle” you may have heard about. Whether or not you decide that homeschooling is right for your family, you’ll discover what steps you can take to make your child’s learning years as effective and enjoyable as possible.

    Estimated completion time is 24 hours over 4 weeks.


    Filed on at 8:04 am under by dcobranchi

    I might catch some flak for this, but I think there really are parents who should not home educate. This may be one of them:

    [Joyce] Zoss says when her daughters Cindy and Candy went to Chocowinity Middle School for the first day of class; they were wearing the same thing they’ve worn for years. Candy says, “I thought, ‘why do they want me to put it on?'”

    Joyce says when administrators made them change to the new dress code, they went too far. So will she dress them differently tomorrow? She says no.

    Reporter: “Is your stubbornness getting in the way of your children’s education?”

    Zoss: “No, I’ll home school them if I have to. If it comes right down to it, I will home school them. That’s entirely up to what the school wants. If the school thinks they can give them a better education, they need to allow them to come to school in the clothes that I have.”

    There are millions of good reasons to home educate. Spiting the g-schools isn’t one of them.


    Filed on at 8:03 am under by dcobranchi

    This sounds very school-ish:

    Class will soon be in session for Fort Belvoir students who are home schooled.

    More than 80 families are now members of the Fort Belvoir Home Educators, according to group coordinator Kathy Baker, a mother of two who teaches her children at home.

    “It’s a blessing to be able to do this,” she said.

    The home educators kicked off the new school year during a registration drive Monday night at the Sherwood Regional Library in Alexandria.

    To each his own.


    Filed on at 8:03 am under by dcobranchi

    to dislike K12 Inc. They’re anti-science.

    K12 Inc. has received strong criticism for using federal funds to service private and religious homeschoolers, and for its anti-scientific approach to evolution and its aggressive, high-priced lobbyists. Said Bennett, “We’re centered in the Judeo-Christian tradition. We do not ignore faith and religion and we do not ignore the arguments against evolution.”

    Is it common knowledge that their materials are not strictly secular? I swear this is the first I’ve heard of it.


    Filed on August 26, 2005 at 7:10 pm under by dcobranchi

    A doubly dumb reporter. On a new cyber charter:

    Nearly 60 Salem-Keizer children will work at home with their parents under the direction of the Oregon Connections Academy. They will get textbooks through the mail and will have unlimited contact with certified teachers in Scio.

    It’s all free.

    …The rise of online schools has been accompanied by concern from some teacher unions, public-education bean counters and orthodox home-school families.

    So the new hotness (the “free” cyber school) is worrying devotees of the old and busted (orthodox homeschooling).

    Call me Tommy Lee Jones.


    Filed on August 25, 2005 at 8:47 pm under by dcobranchi

    The ExPat teacher, weakly defending himself, mentions that he googled the above phrase and found our favorite janitor’s screed. Of course I had to try the same search. I didn’t find the NEA piece, but I did come across something possibly even funnier– a scam (graduate level) term paper for sale.

    Homeschooling: An Adequate Education

    This ten-page graduate-level paper presents a variety of effective arguments against homeschooling, citing academic, social, and practical reasons. The paper then rebuts arguments in favor of homeschooling, and concludes by observing that American children deserve the best education they can get, and can only obtain that from the best-trained teachers in the world-American public school teachers. 10 pgs. Bibliography lists 4 sources.

    * Pages: 10
    * Bibliography: 4 source(s) listed
    * Filename: 5696 Homeschooling Adequate Education.doc
    * Price: 89.50

    A ten-page paper with only four sources? Pretty weak. And, given the anti-home education viewpoint, shouldn’t the title be “Inadequate”? I’d love to take a peek, but there’s no way I’m shelling out $90.

    NOTE: BE sure to check the comments at the other site.


    Filed on at 8:46 pm under by dcobranchi

    Another lawyer blog. 🙂 Drop by and say hello. (via Chris)


    Filed on at 8:45 pm under by dcobranchi

    You’ll have to click over to O’Donnellweb.com for the punchline. Classic snark.


    Filed on at 8:44 pm under by dcobranchi

    Time magazine has a very nice piece on Christopher Paolini and his sequel to Eragon. Only one swipe at home education:

    One expects home-schooled kids to be a little odd, and Paolini is–just a little.

    Grossman’s article is very sympathetic towards Paolini; it’s obvious that she likes the young man. Worth a read.


    Filed on August 24, 2005 at 7:47 pm under by dcobranchi

    Chris forwarded an essay on “15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense.” (pdf) Despite the title, it’s actually a pretty good primer.


    Filed on at 11:50 am under by dcobranchi

    From an article on the Florida Virtual Academy:

    Nearly 500 children statewide are enrolled in Florida’s Virtual Academy, a pilot program similar to home-schooling but with state-approved lesson plans and certified teachers who communicate with students through conference calls or e-mails or online message boards.

    Similar like apples and oranges are.

    The rest of the piece is quite good, though. The reporter does a nice job pointing out the benefits of distance learning and also spends a fair bit of time explaining that the kids are still g-schoolers and have to take the state accountability tests.


    Filed on at 11:49 am under by dcobranchi

    There’s a press release out for a nameless home education company run by a nameless person who threatened to sue me. You’ll have to GoogleNews it yourself as I’m not going to link it.


    Filed on at 11:49 am under by dcobranchi

    Another “home education is on the grow” article:

    Hammond is one of a steadily increasing number of Manitoba parents who opt to school their children at home.

    The number of students being home-schooled has been on a steady climb since the late 1980s, although they represent less than one per cent of those enrolled in the public system. The most recent figures show 1,661 Manitoba students from 833 families were registered for home-schooling last year, up from 392 students in 1988. This gradual growth followed a Canadian trend.

    No discouraging words are heard.


    Filed on at 4:39 am under by dcobranchi

    They’re so subtle.


    Filed on at 4:34 am under by dcobranchi

    Diane points to an, er, interesting thread on a bicycling forum. One scary dude.


    Filed on August 23, 2005 at 5:03 am under by dcobranchi

    Today’s New York Times “Darwinism” piece is just out-and-out superb. It’s all about scientists’ individual struggles with faith. No ID and no snark. Absolutely worth a read (especially for the scientists out there).


    Filed on August 22, 2005 at 6:11 pm under by dcobranchi

    Google’s new Desktop utility is way cool. It includes all sorts of neat utilities including an automatic RSS reader a slide show of all of the photos on your hard-drive. Plus you can then do a Google search of any text on your computer. It’s free and a fast download.


    Filed on at 7:34 am under by dcobranchi

    ID is so utterly useless and ambiguous, why are we even discussing it in the NYT? Behe’s latest:

    Dr. Behe, for example, said he could imagine that, like an elaborate billiards shot, the design was set up when the Big Bang occurred 13.6 billion years ago. “It could have all been programmed into the universe as far as I’m concerned,” he said.

    So the ‘Big “G”‘ might have started the Big Bang and then let the universe unfold in accord with the natural laws of the universe. And this is supposed to undermine Darwinism, how?

    So let’s take Behe’s possibility and express it in the language of science: All evidence points to an expanding universe approximately 13.6 billion years old. Theory holds that at some point in non-time, all matter, the entire universe, existed as a singularity occupying no space. For reasons that we do not yet understand, the singularity exploded. The universe as it exists today, and all life in it, is the result of that explosion.

    I guess that makes me an IDer after all.


    Filed on at 6:48 am under by dcobranchi

    The Milwaukee Sentinel-Journal points out the popularity of using Microsoft PowerPoint in the g-schools.

    Teachers say creating a PowerPoint presentation captivates students and gives them background using a technological tool common in business.

    Critics say PowerPoint requires students to do little more than assemble outlines and is a poor replacement for age-old standards such as essays.

    I’m with the critics. PowerPoint teaches (if it teaches anything at all) how to make pretty slides without writing a complete sentence. If the kids are going to need it for business (and I use it all the time at work), there will be plenty of time to learn it after they’ve learned to write.


    Filed on at 6:48 am under by dcobranchi

    Check out today’s Doonesbury. We mostly didn’t abuse our kids, either.


    Filed on at 6:48 am under by dcobranchi

    Mike Antonucci, who runs the Education Intelligence Agency, has started posting the terrific stuff he finds on his new blog. I haven’t found an RSS feed yet.

    UPDATE: Mike added an RSS feed.


    Filed on at 6:48 am under by dcobranchi

    Jeanned tipped me to the release Tuesday of former HEK Christopher Paolini’s sequel to Eragon, Eldest. Amazon has all of the permutations of both books.

    We listened to Eragon on CD. The actor (Gerard Doyle) who did the voices was pretty good (though not in the league of Nathaniel Parker, who does the Artemis Fowl books).


    Filed on at 6:48 am under by dcobranchi

    The New York Times has a lengthy piece on home education on Long Island (Wooh! Wooh!). It’s pretty good, and the obligatory quotes from the union president are just precious:

    [S]ome professional educators have major reservations about putting that degree of control in parents’ hands. Richard C. Iannuzzi, president of the New York State United Teachers union, said in home schooling he sees “a lot of well-intentioned but misguided parents who think this is a better way to educate their children.”

    “If they were presenting something that met the needs of students both socially and academically, it would be worth looking at, but that’s not the case,” Mr. Iannuzzi said.

    … It is the potential for imprinting a particular worldview that concerns some educators. Mr. Iannuzzi, the teachers’ union president and formerly an elementary school teacher in Central Islip for 34 years, said he believed that a major drawback of home schooling was that “these students are denied exposure to students from other cultures and ethnic backgrounds.”

    “When we think of democracy, we think of a system that depends on its pluralistic nature and depends on shared educational experiences so we understand what we’re each talking about,” Mr. Iannuzzi said. He said the real issue was social interaction. “Public education has always understood that was part of its mission,” Mr. Iannuzzi said. “As a classroom teacher, I can validate that the whole issue of educating the total child – social, emotional and psychological development – all comes from peer interaction and relationships that these children are denied.”

    The view of the teachers’ union, he said, is that uncertified home-teaching and exempting students from standardized tests “detracts from what the state is trying to do towards higher standards and validating progress.” Thus the union has pressed the Board of Regents for tighter regulation of home schooling and urged that home-schooled students be required to take Regents exams and other tests.

    There’s so much good stuff in there, it’s probably fisk-worthy. Anyone want a clean shot?

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