Utterly Meaningless » 2005 » September

    Filed on September 30, 2005 at 9:20 pm under by dcobranchi

    I hate curfew laws. Here’s another terrific example of how they don’t work:

    While she supports what the law is trying to do, Debra Rodgers of Rockford wasn’t too thrilled Monday afternoon as she sat in court with her son, Dustin.

    Dustin is a college-bound senior at Guilford High School who got a daytime curfew violation on his way to school one morning. Dustin, 17, starts his school day at 10:25 a.m., a privilege he earned by getting most of his graduation requirements out of the way during the past three years.

    He never expected the law would grab him.

    “I don’t even have any unexcused absences,” Dustin said. “I’m there every day.”

    Dustin said he tried to explain to the officer that he had a late start time, but was issued the ticket anyway. The ticket requires the student and parent to go to court.

    “He’s a pretty good kid,” Debra Rodgers said. “I can understand the purpose behind this law, but I think they need to realize that there has to be some wiggle room. Is he going to have to carry a copy of his class schedule with him to prove that he doesn’t have to be in school?”

    The mother and son explained their predicament to Heaslip Monday and got their case continued.

    “The judge is being very understanding. … It’s just a hassle for something that shouldn’t be happening,” Debra Rodgers said with sigh. “I had to take off work and he had to take off school to be here today. And now, we have to come back.”

    So, the mom misses work and the kid misses one or two days or school. And this is supposed to be helping, how?

    God forbid a youth should walk the streets when the authorities don’t want him to. Why are these laws not a violation of the 14th Amendment?

    No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

    I would think that walking along a street minding one’s own business would seem to fall into the category of one of the “privileges or immunities of citizens.” I guess kids aren’t citizens in the modern police state.

    YES, MA’AM

    Filed on at 9:20 pm under by dcobranchi

    Here’s a very nice piece on a woman who has given her whole life to teaching kids how to ride. It’s only slightly on topic, but I love this quote:

    Each time Hollyday calls out an instruction, she is answered by a young voice or two saying, “Yes, ma’am.”

    And each time she hears that reply, her head gives an imperceptible nod in appreciation of the girls’ manners.

    “These girls are home-schooled, and they are the most polite of the lot,” said Hollyday as she donned a straw hat to shield her face from the hot August sun.


    Filed on at 9:19 pm under by dcobranchi

    I guess we really don’t need HONDA:

    Under a special test program, the Army is now treating home school graduates as educational Tier I, the same educational category as high school diploma-holders.

    The Army now offers home school graduates who qualify the same enlistment incentives as traditional high school graduates, including cash bonuses up to $20,000 for enlistments of three or more years and the Army College Fund, which provides up to $70,000 for college.

    The policy change is part of a special test program the Army is developing to predict first-term attrition among Army enlistees. Currently, the best single predictor of an individual’s likelihood of adapting to the military is a traditional high school diploma. However, many individuals with alternative education experiences are successful in the military.

    The goal of this new program is to identify applicants who are likely to adapt to the Army and successfully complete their first term of service.

    …At least for now, the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard are continuing to process home school graduates as Tier II education category (the same as GED), which means they restrict the number they allow to enlist each year.

    The claim is unsourced, so take it with a grain of salt for now (I’ve written the author requesting confirmation).


    Filed on at 9:19 pm under by dcobranchi

    Homeschoolers for Open Office (HOO!) I’ve written about OO before. It’s a good suite of programs. It does everything that nearly anyone could want. And it’s free. We already swim against the tide. The open source community are our kind of folks.

    Open Office is downloadable at http://www.openoffice.org/


    Filed on September 29, 2005 at 11:09 pm under by dcobranchi

    Check out the gas prices in Fayetteville,NC, ok? We’re running $2.99 to $3.05 a gallon, up $0.24 from Monday.


    Filed on at 11:01 pm under by dcobranchi

    First MSNBC, and now Time gives free rein to its inner snark.

    And while some critics maintain this argument is but a ploy to avoid the Supreme Court’s ruling, advocates of ID avoid identifying who or what that designer might be. Could be Klingons, even.

    …ID’ers will counter, failing to teach kids about the scientific controversy over evolution is tantamount to keeping them ignorant. Except that there is no significant scientific controversy. ID proponents are correct in maintaining that there are legitimate scientists — a relatively tiny handful — who maintain that evolution is bogus science. But you can also find an equivalent handful of legitimate scientists ready to challenge relativity, or quantum physics, or the idea that HIV causes AIDS, or pretty much any widely accepted idea in modern science. A handful of doubters does not a controversy make.

    Time equates the Dover trial with Scopes. Let’s hope that in the end the result is the same:

    So the Dover plaintiffs are bringing in scientists to try and persuade the court that ID isn’t really science, but rather the exact opposite. If they lose, they will likely take consolation from the fact that back in 1925, Scopes was actually convicted. But he won a moral victory, because publicity from the trial made a laughingstock of anti-evolutionists — for most of a century, anyway.

    I do believe that the leading newsweekly just call IDers buffoons. Sounds about right.


    Filed on at 8:27 pm under by dcobranchi

    The headline is horrible; the story, worse. If true, hangin’s too good for him.

    UPDATE: The paper has wisely changed the headline. It originally included the words “home school.”


    Filed on at 8:25 pm under by dcobranchi

    I’m not quite sure what to make of this. I think Joanna Dark is a video game character. If not, she’s quite precocious:

    Full Name: Joanna Dark

    Date of Birth: 03/18/2000

    Blood Type: O

    Height: 5’ 9”

    Appearance: Red shoulder-length hair with distinctive blonde streak, blue eyes, pale complexion, and a slender, athletic build.

    Distinguishing Features: Star tattoo on neck (left side).

    Occupation: Bounty hunter and bail enforcement agent. Certified for international operations.

    Her education is pretty interesting:

    How was Joanna Dark educated?

    Home-schooled, if it could be called that. Joanna followed her father and Chandra across the globe as they tracked down the most elusive criminals. She spent a short time in an American school in Beijing but never quite managed to fit into such an ordered environment. Joanna was invited to leave after hospitalizing a bullying quarterback.

    Her education as a result is patchy; online and remote teaching, some tutoring by stuffy AI lecturers. Joanna’s practical nature means she’d much rather be refitting a bike’s hydrogen fuel plant or field stripping a gun than find herself stuck at a keyboard. Jack and Chandra have taught her many combat and technical skills, with her innate curiosity filling in the gaps.

    Anyone know of other video game characters that were/are HEKs?


    Filed on September 28, 2005 at 5:15 pm under by dcobranchi

    Einstein’s most famous equation was published in a brief letter 100 years ago today.


    Filed on at 5:14 pm under by dcobranchi

    Here’s a nice profile of an HEK who’s making a name for himself in bluegrass circles.


    Filed on at 5:14 pm under by dcobranchi

    I’ve tried (somewhat unsuccessfully) to keep the Intelligent Design discussion over at the other blog and maintain a tighter focus on home education here. But this time, ID and HE run smack into each other. According to the AJC, the folks at Konos are responsible for igniting the current ID controversy.

    “When we wrote that book, we had no idea what was going to be coming down the road following it,” [Charles Thaxton] said of “The Mystery of Life’s Origin,” a 1984 work published by Philosophical Library Inc. that introduced the phrase “intelligent design” into the contemporary debate and served as a touchstone for the movement.

    Self-described creationist Phillip Johnson seized on Thaxton’s book and in 1992, after many conversations with Thaxton and others, published “Darwin on Trial,” which galvanized anti-Darwin forces under the intelligent design flag.

    “He … made public all these arguments about intelligent design, even though he is not a scientist,” said Thaxton of Johnson. “I gave him the vocabulary.”

    …Thaxton, who says he is a devout Christian, incorporates the Bible into the curriculum that he uses in a home school program offered through an organization called Konos Academy. Every year about 100 Atlanta students who are taught at home attend courses offered by Thaxton and his wife, Carole, who wrote most of the Konos curriculum. “It is a way of representing the Biblical worldview, with God at the apex of all knowledge,” says a Web site describing the program.


    Filed on at 5:14 pm under by dcobranchi

    Tim Haas found a great Brian Ray quote on why HEKs do so well in spelling bees. But I think the home educating fathers nailed it:

    George Thampy says it’s freedom.

    “Most schools have a system of learning that’s calculated to bore, that is calculated to suck the very marrow out of a subject,” he says. “Too often, the quest for grades impedes the quest for learning, while in homeschooling, without grades, kids are free to learn unhindered.”

    That’s another reason homeschoolers excel in bees, according to Charles Howell, a professor of education at Minnesota State University and the father of two homeschooled students.

    “Homeschooled students are typically given considerable scope to pursue subjects of interest to them,” Howell says. “Interest is one of the strongest motivating factors in a child’s education.”

    Nikes or freedom? You make the call.


    Filed on at 5:13 pm under by dcobranchi

    This model/astrologer/Little League coach doesn’t quite get home education. It’s really fisk-worthy, but I don’t have the heart. Suffice it to say that we’re in violation of the spirit of separation of church and state. And whites don’t need blacks at school just to score touchdowns; it “goes deeper than that.”


    Filed on September 27, 2005 at 3:19 pm under by dcobranchi

    Methinks there’s something more behind this than the reporter managed to grasp (passwords at right):

    Homeschoolers have no reason to fear the district’s revised policy, Bristol Warren Regional School Committee Chairwoman Marjorie McBride said.

    The revised homeschooling policy, approved last night in its second reading, brings the committee’s existing policy in line with that of the state Department of Education by stating that parents must submit their teaching curriculum to the committee for approval, and that approval must be renewed every year.

    The policy was approved unanimously with no public comment from parents at the meeting, but homeschoolers have expressed outrage, she said.

    We don’t usually lose these sorts of battles. Any insights from Rhode Islanders out there?


    Filed on September 26, 2005 at 8:36 pm under by dcobranchi

    The Wisconsin State Journal has a very good article up on cyber charters. Home education is mentioned but only in the proper context:

    Jaime, Tori and Hope Leonard wake up at 6:30 a.m. and by 7:30, they are neatly dressed and – virtually – in school.

    Like children who are home- schooled, the sisters don’t have to leave their house… But unlike home-schooled children, the Leonards are actually enrolled in a public school – a virtual charter school that is part of the Appleton Area School District about 100 miles away.

    The article goes on to point out that cyber-schoolers have to take the state tests. And it goes a fair way into looking at the pros & cons of the e-schools. Worth a read.

    R-E-D H-E-R-R-I-N-G

    Filed on at 9:28 am under by dcobranchi

    You know, it’s nice and all that HEKs win memorization bees, but this is rather silly:

    “It really should not surprise us that they do well,” said Brian Ray, president of the National Home Education Research Institute. “They’re not constantly distracted by their peer group: Do I have the right $150 sneakers? Do I have the right makeup?”

    The typical g-school bee participant in Brian Ray’s world: “K-Y-R-G-Y-Z — hey, do these Nikes make me look fat?”


    Filed on at 9:08 am under by dcobranchi

    Ooh, a new type of entry in the September Is School Month propaganda cavalcade:

    Practicing running and kicking drills last month prepared Alicia Palivoda for the soccer field and for the far more unfamiliar territory of Padua Franciscan High School.

    Until this fall, Alicia, 14, had not spent time in a traditional classroom since second grade. For six years, her mother and others taught her at home. There were no classmates to contend with on athletic fields or in hallways.

    There also wasn’t a basketball cheerleading squad or concert choir, two activities Alicia looked forward to joining.

    “I kind of just wanted to go to a regular school,” she said before the school year began.

    The piece is full of tugs at the heart and subtle digs:

    One of the drawbacks: “Not seeing my friends,” she said. “There were times, especially when I was in the seventh grade, where I didn’t feel like I had any friends. It was really hard.

    And some parents who embrace home schooling find that as their children get older, they want access to more advanced classes and activities such as sports, clubs and music.


    The freedom of being educated at home is what Vinny will miss the most. But he willingly trades that for more regularity.

    “I like knowing that when I get up, I have a set schedule,” he said.

    As high school drew near, both the Palivoda and Mullin families decided it was time to stop home schooling.

    Providing more advanced academics as well as personal development factored in the decision.

    “The mistakes that are made in high school we thought would be better handled out here instead of when they’re away at college,” Alicia’s mother said.


    “The homework isn’t hard, but it’s not easy,” said Vinny, whose alarm now goes off earlier so he can take the Regional Transit Authority to school.

    “It took two days of getting used to. I was expecting plenty of homework and I’m getting it.”

    Alicia’s enthusiasm hasn’t dampened either, despite the homework and the “sprinting” to get to classes on time.

    “It’s still school, no matter how you look at it,” she said. “But I love it.”

    See how easily they became normal, kids? Wouldn’t you like to be normal too?



    Filed on September 25, 2005 at 7:40 am under by dcobranchi

    Life in Fayette-nam:

    Be careful, thoughtful when donating money

    Like many Americans, my family generously gave to the Red Cross after witnessing the wrath of Katrina. For a number of reasons, many of the same Americans wanted to recind their donations. My reason, I read my money may be going to help the poor.

    I do not want one cent of my money going to help the “poor.”

    This is America. Poor people live in the dirt, where nothing grows, where disease is rampant, where there is no free education or education period. They are not obese and they don’t have cell phones and wear gold.

    There are no “have and have nots” in America, rather “do and do nots.”

    In addition, no one seems to know where to direct this money. Heaps of supplies are sitting in an evacuated New Orleans. The $2,000 debit cards are reportedly being used at places like Victoria’s Secret and Circuit City.

    I’ve learned my lesson. I will be careful and encourage all others to put thought into their generosity rather than follow their hearts.

    Patrick McNamara, Spring Lake

    I have no idea why the local paper prints letters such as this. Is it because they have so few that they have to print every one to fill the space? Or maybe they’re holding this up as a negative example. I hope it’s not because they believe that this kind of attitude is proper or common. God, I hope it’s not common.


    Filed on at 7:06 am under by dcobranchi

    I hate daytime curfews. Well, actually any curfew aimed at a citizen merely because of her age. Here’s at least part of the reason why:

    As part of the effort to reduce crime citywide, the agency is getting ready to start enforcing the city’s new daytime juvenile curfew law next month. Mankin wouldn’t say exactly when.

    …It isn’t known yet exactly what effect the curfew will have on reducing crime. Police proposed it as a way to help prevent juvenile crime and keep children from becoming crime victims.

    Under the new law, officers can ticket truant middle and high school students who are out in public during school hours if they can’t prove that they are home-schooled, allowed to be off campus or are unable to give a legitimate excuse for not being in class.

    Prove that you’re home educated. That’ll be fun. And does it surprise anyone that this was the police’s idea? There’s a reason that oppressive governments are called “police states.”


    Filed on at 7:05 am under by dcobranchi

    It really is an occupational hazard brought on by all that self-back-patting:

    For the first time since 2001, the Wichita school district has gained students over the previous fall.

    The district’s unofficial enrollment as of Tuesday was 48,865 — up 47 students from last year.

    …”At a time when urban districts across the country are experiencing enrollment decline, our continued strong enrollment speaks to the high-quality education and safe school environment we provide students in the Wichita public schools,” superintendent Winston Brooks said Friday in a news release.

    …”What we are seeing at Stucky is that kids who had not been part of the district because they were either home-schooled or in private schools came into the district because of our program and high-quality staff,” Johnson said.

    A 0.1 percent increase following years of decline does not a trend reverse. In fact, I think they probably would have continued on their death-spiral were it not for a special circumstance.

    Woodman and Allen led all elementary schools, gaining 103 and 94 students respectively.

    Johnson attributed Woodman’s increase, in part, to the growing enrollment in its program for students learning English. Woodman and Allen also have new prekindergarten programs that allow 4-year-olds to attend neighborhood schools.

    Ahh, “free” baby-sitting. Makes all those rehab sessions endurable.

    R.I.P. ID

    Filed on September 24, 2005 at 1:52 pm under by dcobranchi

    When the relatively conservative MSNBC rags on ID, you can pretty much write its obituary. And not a moment too soon.

    Evolution was and still is the only scientific theory for life that can explain how we get complexity from simplicity and diversity from uniformity.

    ID offers nothing comparable. It begins with complexity — a Supreme Being — and also ends there. The explanations offered by ID are not really explanations at all, scientists say. They’re more like last resorts. And, scientists argue, there is a danger in pretending that ID belongs next to evolution in textbooks.

    “It doesn’t add anything to science to introduce the idea that God did it,” Provine told LiveScience. Intelligent design “would become the death of science if it became a part of science.”

    Actually, I don’t want ID to rest in peace. I want to drive a stake through its heart, shoot it with silver bullets, and then sink its coffin in the Marianas Trench.


    Filed on at 12:42 am under by dcobranchi

    This he said/she said piece on HONDA is really pretty poor. First, it’s about 80 percent for the “pro” position. And the proponents don’t seem to know a whole lot about what the bill would or wouldn’t do:

    Lowes said getting her daughter Victoria’s homeschool hours accredited for college admittance will be difficult if they don’t go through some of the homeschool programs that have online classes… The bill would make it easier on homeschoolers across the nation if there were nationwide standards for college admittance, Lowes said.

    Like what? A GED? And why should private colleges not be able to discriminate if they so choose? All of which is besides the point since HONDA doesn’t really address college admissions. Here’s the bit of 20USC1001 the bill seeks to modify:

    For purposes of this chapter, other than subchapter IV, the term “institution of higher education” means an educational institution in any State that–
    (1) admits as regular students only persons having a certificate of graduation from a school providing secondary education, or the recognized equivalent of such a certificate;

    No nationwide standards for admission. And someone holding a GED would already be covered.

    The next bit is just plain dumb:

    The bill also would allow federal education savings accounts to be used for homeschool expenses.

    Ray said she would be interested in using those accounts for her homeschool expenses “if there’s not a lot of strings attached.”

    It’s the federal government; of course strings are attached. And of all the bits in the bill, this one would have the least impact. Think about it– we mostly live on one income. For many home educators homeschooling expenses are hand to A beka’s mouth. Coverdell ESA contributions are not tax deductible. Only the income is tax free. So, unless you’re financially well off (in which case home education expenses are of relatively little concern), funding a Coverdell and then taking the money out a year or two later won’t generate enough interest or capital gains to be worth the trouble. An example– The annual limit for a contribution is $2,000. Let’s say you contributed the maximum for six years and then started making withdrawals so that the money would be exhausted after twelve years of homeschooling (It wouldn’t make any sense to make a withdrawal and a contribution in the same year.) Further, let’s assume you earn a nice safe 3 percent on your money. At the end of the 18th year, you’ll have earned $3,595.92 in interest, or an average of $299.66 per year of homeschooling. At the 30 percent tax bracket, you’ll save an average of $89.90 in federal taxes. Contribute only $1,000 per year and your tax savings drop to $28.95. Yeehah!

    And, BTW, it appears that many home educating expenses may already be covered by Coverdell ESAs.

    Eligible elementary or secondary school. This is any public, private, or religious school that provides elementary or secondary education (kindergarten through grade 12), as determined under state law.

    Qualified Elementary and Secondary Education Expenses. 3. The purchase of computer technology, equipment, or Internet access and related services is a qualified elementary and secondary education expense if it is to be used by the beneficiary and the beneficiary’s family during any of the years the beneficiary is in elementary or secondary school. (This does not include expenses for computer software designed for sports, games, or hobbies unless the software is predominantly educational in nature.)

    Are some home educating families discriminated against in the current regs? In those states that define homeschools as a separate category from private schools, yeah. Will this make a difference in anyone’s life? Hardly. Will I go to the mat over this section? Nope.

    NEW AD ——>

    Filed on September 23, 2005 at 3:57 pm under by dcobranchi

    Dueling magazines. 🙂 TOS has one 4th down on the right.


    Filed on at 6:04 am under by dcobranchi

    This former HEK went on to found the college of the same name.


    Filed on at 6:04 am under by dcobranchi

    I’d never thought of this one:

    El Paso County election officials need about 200 more pairs of hands to help run the Nov. 1 election.

    The daylong duties of a citizen election judge run from taking absentee ballots at curbsides to checking identification and running vote-counting machines at polling places. About 1,400 people had signed up for duty on Monday morning, but the county needs 1,598 judges, said Sarah Mann of the county election office.

    The pay for election judges is about $100, plus $10 for attending a training course before election day. A student judge gets paid $75, must be a high school junior or senior and at least 16 years old.

    …Home-schooled children also can be election judges.

    For a politically aware teen, that could be a very interesting day. But what’s with the pay discrimination?


    Filed on at 6:04 am under by dcobranchi

    Here’s an interesting education experiment— dual enrollment for the last two years of high school.

    Florida Gulf Coast University hopes to start recruiting in December or January students who want to attend the university’s Collegiate High School set to launch next fall.

    Juniors and seniors from public high schools will qualify for state tuition waivers and have their books paid for under a dual enrollment program that would make it possible for a student to earn an associate’s degree or two years toward a college education by the time his or her high school graduation rolls around.

    Home schooled and private school students can get their tuition waived.

    I like that last sentence*. And we didn’t even need a federal law!

    *Of course, I’d rather they just charged everyone the normal tuition. But I doubt g-schooler parents would go for that.


    Filed on at 6:04 am under by dcobranchi

    Diane sent along a link to an article about a couple of young’uns at Cal-Berkley. Real young:

    A 13-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl from San Pablo, who are siblings, are the youngest transfer students this fall at the University of California, Berkeley, where both are juniors… [The brother and sister] passed their high school equivalency exam in 2001 and then enrolled at Contra Costa Community College in San Pablo that same year at the ages of 9 and 11, respectively.

    HEKs, of course.


    Filed on September 22, 2005 at 6:15 am under by dcobranchi

    This sounds awfully familiar.

    Rebecca Valois is working to become a lawyer — without setting foot in a law school.

    She’s studied for three years at the private Virginia practice of her mother-in-law, Judith Valois, who was admitted to the state bar in 1986 after getting her legal education from her husband.

    They are “law readers” — people who study law in offices or judges’ chambers rather than classrooms.

    …”If I were redesigning the entire legal education system it would definitely provide more of a real-world, mentored experience,” Blasi said.

    …Judith Valois, who supervised the studies of both her daughters-in-law, said friends tease her about being the “Valois School of Law.”

    She said a big benefit to law reading is that students get one-on-one instruction from someone who cares about them.

    Home(law)schooling is even more unusual than homeschooling. I think the folks who try this route are pretty gutsy.


    Filed on at 6:14 am under by dcobranchi

    Not for the family gathered ’round the old PC for the next e-school lesson. I have no problem with the cyber schools; they seem to fill a need. I do have a problem with quotes like this, though:

    “It’s the best of public education and homeschooling,” she said. “(It) tailors the program to individual needs so a student can go at his pace, whether it’s slower or faster.”

    It may be an improvement on standard factory g-schools, but it’s a far cry from the best of home education. Of course, a home educating parent who signs her kids up for any flavor of g-school probably never knew what the best of home education was all about.


    Filed on at 6:14 am under by dcobranchi

    How did the Pledge of Allegiance, written by Socialist Francis Bellamy, become an object of worship for so many (supposedly) vehemently anti-socialist folks?

    That’s not a rhetorical question; I’m genuinely curious. The pastor at the church we’ve been attending preached on Sunday that we need “under God” in the Pledge and that we need the Ten Commandments posted on the walls of every courthouse (I almost walked out on his sermon at that point). This same church has 10 flags posted throughout the sanctuary– 1 Christian flag and 9 American flags.

    OH, GOD!

    Filed on September 21, 2005 at 5:02 pm under by dcobranchi

    Here we go again. Rita was just elevated to Category 5 status.

    UPDATE: There appear to have been only 25 Category 5 hurricanes in the last 77 years.


    Filed on at 6:57 am under by dcobranchi

    Scott Somerville is blogging HSLDA’s “official” response to HONDA criticism over at Chris O’Donnell’s blog. So far I don’t think anyone’s mind has been changed, but the conversation is just getting started.


    Filed on at 6:57 am under by dcobranchi

    Homeschooling seems to be completely “other” for film makers. Here’s a brief write-up of yet another fish-out-of-water tale about an HEK enrolling in the g-schools for the first time.


    Filed on at 6:56 am under by dcobranchi

    These brothers seem to have come out ahead.

    More often than not, he’s done just that. McDougal has won nine of the 10 races he’s run as a Liberty Flame, including 8Ks this year at Virginia Tech and VMI. The only time he didn’t win was at last year’s cross country nationals, when he finished 13th, not a bad result for a freshman, but one that was still somewhat disappointing to McDougal after some of the scintillating races he ran during the year.

    McDougal, and his younger brother Jordan, are raising the profile of Liberty’s cross country program. The Flames, who used to compete only regionally, are sending a squad to Stanford next week for a high-profile meet against some of the nation’s top runners.

    …At Virginia Tech, Jordan and Josh, showing just how close they are fraternally and competitively, crossed the finish line hand-in-hand. Josh wanted to give his younger brother the win, but the scorer gave it to Josh, giving him his eighth win in eight regular-season meets.

    “We intentionally tied,” Josh said. “If anything, I thought I let him cross the line first. I don’t know why they gave it to me.”

    The gesture was typical. Josh has always been more an encourager as an older brother than a bully, Jordan said. That’s helped Jordan make the early transition from high school to college seamlessly.

    Gee! And I can’t get my kids to stop bickering over who gets the computer next.


    Filed on at 6:56 am under by dcobranchi

    We’re not immune to kids just going bad:

    Two brothers accused of holding a gun to a woman’s head and stealing her car from the Hampshire Mall were ordered held on bail yesterday.

    Eastern Hampshire District Court Judge W. Michael Ryan set bail for Amir Perez, 20, of 256 Main St., Amherst, who drove the stolen 2004 Mercedes convertible, at $10,000. Bail for his brother, Bryant Velez, 17, of 30 Gatehouse Road, Amherst, was set at $5,000.

    …Defense lawyer David Mintz said that Velez, who lives with his mother and was home-schooled since he was in second grade, has lived in the area most of his life.


    Filed on September 20, 2005 at 6:01 am under by dcobranchi

    The worst sentence ever written in support of home education:

    The homeschool environment promises a more wholesome atmosphere and academic progress that can be monitored closely by parent instructors with a vested interest in the student’s learning outcome.

    The rest of the longish piece is similar. And even after reading through the whole thing, I still don’t get the point.


    Filed on at 6:00 am under by dcobranchi

    This is one of the strangest hurricane pieces I’ve seen. It starts off with a bit on life getting back to normal because a school district has resumed football games. And I have absolutely no idea why the reporter chose to mention that the school cheer includes “Roll Tide Roll.” Black humor, perhaps?

    The piece then jumps (sans segue) to a nice section on a home educating family who are surviving (without football, apparently):

    Even with schools closed, the lessons have continued – in compassion, grief and loss.

    Kathie Broom teaches her five children at their Ocean Springs home. After weeks on hurricane duty, the Broom children will resume their normal studies today as well.

    “We haven’t done a lot of book work,” Mrs. Broom said. “But all of life is school. The things they’ve learned since the storm are just as valuable as algebra and chemistry.”

    The three youngest children weathered the hurricane at home with their father, Reggie, a pediatric dentist. They learned to stand guard with a 7-iron golf club against water rats and snakes trying to swim into their bayou-front home.

    They watched their piano float out of the flooded game room and the country club’s sign float in.

    After the storm passed, they added waterlogged Sheetrock removal to their home-school curriculum. And they helped clear brush and comfort distraught neighbors with a cake or kind words.

    The children had questions, though, that the Brooms couldn’t quite answer.

    Joshua, 11, asked, “Why did God send that storm?” Mrs. Broom responded: “He intended us to walk through it, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

    And then it’s back to football again. Very, very strange.


    Filed on at 4:28 am under by dcobranchi

    The Pastafarian Prophet grants a reporter an audience.


    Filed on September 19, 2005 at 9:47 am under by dcobranchi

    Holy moley, now even coming home from school each day is a “transition” to be managed by opening one’s wallet:

    Parents who want to help their young children transition more easily from school to home have a new resource to help them do just that. The After School Snacks program is the inspiration of Gaithersburg, Maryland mom, Virtual Assistant, and former teacher. Goldberg’s program includes the After School Snacks e-book, a monthly newsletter, and a website filled with resources. It addresses the need parents and children have to create a positive, meaningful — yet also easy and quick — daily ritual that can be easily implemented in spite of hectic schedules.

    Well, at least this is one faux problem we home educators will never be badgered to … whoa!

    “I’ve been doing the After School Snacks thing for four years, and it’s been hugely successful, shares Goldberg from her Gaithersburg home office. “I’ve given it to other parents, and THEY have found it to be effective in their homes. Even my homeschooling friends use it — their kids need snacks, energy, and a chance to transition just like kids who go to school outside the home.


    Filed on at 8:27 am under by dcobranchi

    Yes, it’s that day!

    UPDATE: This is a Holy Day of Obligation for Pastafarians. All good Pastafarians must sit down to a “hearty” meal of spaghetti. Arrrgh!


    Filed on at 6:17 am under by dcobranchi

    I don’t know if Helen is in the Mat-Su voting district, but these challengers deserve support:

    Mat-Su School Board President Mike Chmielewski [Boo! Hiss!] cited potential for abuse as one reason why he supported increased state regulation over private home schools.

    …School board candidates Neal Lacy and Cheryl Turner are both running against Chmielewski for a seat on the Mat-Su School Board. Both Lacy and Turner said they oppose state control over private home schoolers.

    “I’m fully aware that we have our percentage of people that abuse the home-school program, but we also have inadequacies in the public system,” Turner said. “Your true home-school parents are dedicated to their children’s education.”

    Lacy agreed.

    “If they aren’t getting state aid, then why should we test them?” he said.

    The district acknowledges that they have no legitimate rationale for their call for increased regulation. It’s really just one more way to harass home educators. I hope Chmielewski loses his job over this, but with two candidates potentially splitting the pro-liberty vote, chances don’t look good.

    UPDATE: Helen commented on the other blog that she is indeed in the Mat-Su voting district.


    Filed on at 6:15 am under by dcobranchi

    The Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette has a well-written article on the issue of mental health screenings in the g-schools. The folks from the commission that started all this insist that there’s never been any thought to making these screenings mandatory. I’ve written many times on HE&OS that I think this whole thing has been blown way out of proportion. The P-G seems to agree.


    Filed on at 6:15 am under by dcobranchi

    The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has a piece up that just about obliterates the future political career of the home educating state legislator who attempted to push through a tax credit for home education.

    TomReynolds is not your typical state senator.

    He’s so out there, in fact, that Republican Party bosses are worried that Reynolds’ peculiarities could cost them a Senate seat the party has held since 1993.

    And they haven’t even heard some of the best stories.

    …Here’s the type of things they’re worried about: A half-dozen sources told us that Reynolds makes job interviews for potential staffers extremely personal by asking applicants such questions as whether they are born-again Christians, will remains virgins until married or have been divorced.

    …Along with the very personal questions during job interviews – often conducted jointly with Reynolds and his wife around their plywood kitchen table – the office did not hire any women during his first couple of years in office, sources say, per the insistence of his wife.

    There’s a bunch more pretty wacko stunts.


    Filed on at 6:15 am under by dcobranchi

    A couple of HEKs in SC are making and selling (passwords)kudzu-inspired ceramic pieces. Except for the actual firing, the boys run the entire business as a business.

    “It’s terrific because it’s entrepreneurism at its best,” said Pat Fritz, Hartwell Downtown Development Authority executive director. “I was quite impressed with those two young men.”


    Filed on at 6:15 am under by dcobranchi

    OK- I’m not a Scrooge and have been doing what I can to help Katrina evacuees. But this bit just struck me as presumptuous:

    Stanford encourages parents not to let their children stop learning. Whether in a shelter, hotel, or living in some other temporary arrangement, Stanford said parents can take their children out to see and do things and learn about the community. “Learning does not happen just in the classroom,” Stanford said.

    She said parents can associate with a home school group to take advantage of their activities or can go to the local school and request books and activities for their children to do while they are not in school.

    As I being too sensitive? Or does this read like Stanford assumes we’re a public resource?


    Filed on at 4:46 am under by dcobranchi

    As of this morning, the NYT is charging for access to their editorial page. They can do what they want with their business model, but in my opinion this is a very stupid move. They sell ads on the website, don’t they? I’ve just unsubscribed from their email service and will not be linking to any NYT articles going forward.


    Filed on September 18, 2005 at 6:17 pm under by dcobranchi

    It’s OK to admit you’re a home educator:

    The family moved to College Station from Shreveport, La., in 1999. The girls are home-schooled by their mother. “I’m dyslexic, and I wanted the kids to learn phonics,” Wendi Lamphear said. “Shreveport didn’t teach phonics, so I home-schooled them.”

    “We reevaluate that every year,” Barry Lamphear said. “Public school has a lot of things to offer.”

    So, was the reporter asking leading questions to prompt a certain response, or does Dad still have issues after all this time?


    Filed on at 8:05 am under by dcobranchi

    You can’t make this stuff up.

    Federal lawmakers want to make sure your children know the answers to these and other questions about the Constitution, so last year they passed a law mandating its teaching on “Constitution Day.”

    Public Law 108-447 didn’t start out as a bill to promote civic education. It is actually an appropriations bill.

    Sen. Robert Byrd, D-West Virginia, added an amendment designating September 17 as Constitution Day, mandating the teaching of the Constitution in schools that receive federal funds, as well as federal agencies. Since September 17, the actual birthday of the Constitution, falls on a Saturday this year, schools will be observing the day on Friday, September 16.

    Perhaps they can cover the part of the Constitution that covers federal involvement in, er, education.


    Filed on September 17, 2005 at 7:16 pm under by dcobranchi

    Phishers are getting quite lazy:

    Bank of America Higher Standards Online Banking

    Your Online Banking is Blocked

    Because of unusual number of invalid login attempts on you account, we had to believe that, their might be some security problem on you account.

    So we have decided to put an extra verification process to ensure your identity and your account security.

    Please click on continue to the verification process and ensure your account security. It is all about your security.

    Thank you.

    And the idiots even screwed up the html to make the hyperlink active.


    Filed on at 12:28 pm under by dcobranchi

    Everything you need to know about why HONDA is a piss-poor idea, courtesy of fellow turnip-truck passenger Chris O’Donnell.

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