Utterly Meaningless » 2005 » September

    Filed on September 17, 2005 at 11:51 am under by dcobranchi

    The Republican War on Science by Chris Mooney, Basic Books, $24.95, ISBN 0-465-04675-4

    Yeah- more ID. Mooney’s book is pretty good, overall, if a bit ponderous in places. He documents (explicitly) in just how many areas the GOP has attempted to manipulate and politicize science. From stem cells to global warming to ID, Mooney details just how far away we’ve gotten from the idea of scientists being able to speak truth to power. The closing ‘graf:

    [If] we care about science and believe that it should play a crucial role in decisions about our future, we must steadfastly oppose further political gains by the modern Right. This political movement has patently demonstrated that it will not defined the integrity of science in any case in which science runs afoul of its core political constituencies, In so doing, it has ceded any right to govern a technologically advanced and sophisticated society. Our future relies on our intelligence, but today’s Right– failing to grasp this fact in virtually every political situation in which it really matters, and nourishing disturbing anti-intellectual tendencies– cannot deliver us there successfully or safely. If it will not come to its senses, we must cast it aside.

    Anecdotally speaking, scientists have recognized this for a while. In all my professional contacts, I know of only one scientist who is a hardcore Republican (and he’s a self-described gun nut). OTOH, I know of many scientists who vote Democrat (myself included) precisely because the GOP does not appear to care about what the data show. I beat up on the IDers here because they are among the most obvious manipulators (and because ID is just so utterly non-scientific). But the biggest story most likely will be global warming. Bush’s ostrich-like approach may well doom us all. Katrina may be just a warning.


    Filed on at 6:11 am under by dcobranchi

    I’m back from the neverending business trip. Sorry, no photos. Long story short– Useless Air somehow lost my luggage (including camera) in Frankfurt. It arrived at the hotel as I checked OUT several days later. Their StarAlliance partner Lufthansa then outdid them and destroyed my luggage and permanently “lost” the camera.

    But the trip was a success (I think).

    And now back to blogging.


    Filed on September 15, 2005 at 11:21 pm under by dcobranchi

    I’m shocked — shocked! — to find that some school districts in Oregon are gaming the hybrid system for financial gain:

    Oregon education officials are cracking down on the public money that school districts receive to pay for home-schooled students who attend “alternative” programs.

    The stepped-up oversight comes after authorities with the state Department of Education found “questionable legality, and in some cases, outright illegality” among existing programs, said Gene Evans, a spokesman for the agency.

    Problems were centered around districts asking to be reimbursed for students who were not formally enrolled in the school district, or living within district boundaries, Evans said, and oversight of such programs from the state had been admittedly spotty.


    Filed on at 6:37 pm under by dcobranchi

    HSLDA’s Scott Somerville has just announced he’s shutting down his barely month-old blog — and without even hinting why. No fair, Scott — is it a legal ethics thing, or what?


    Filed on at 10:16 am under by dcobranchi

    HE&OS’s favorite academic pops up in a pair of posts over at Scott Somerville’s place.

    Sometimes I want to really dig in and engage him thoughtfully, because I agree with Scott that he’s a good guy and deserves to be answered, and other times it strikes me that he’s so divorced from the realities of home education that it’s pointless — he’s on an island of his own creation and keeps waving off our rescue copters.


    Filed on at 8:40 am under by dcobranchi

    Few chuckles in this double-barreled swipe:

    A new trend in the religious upbringing of children has recently emerged in the heart of the Bible Belt. “Home-churching,” the individual, family-based worship of Jesus Christ, is steadily gaining in popularity, as more parents seek an alternative to what they consider the overly humanist content of organized worship.

    Norville Tucker, who moved his family to the woods outside Shelby, AL in 1998 to “escape the damaging cultural influences of urban Mobile,” is widely credited with pioneering the home-churching movement. Tucker said he was inspired to home-church when his 10-year-old son Macon returned from Sunday school singing a lighthearted song about Zacchaeus, a tax collector befriended by Christ, and then later recited the parable of the Good Samaritan.

    “I couldn’t believe that the liberal elite had infiltrated even the study of our Holy Scriptures,” Tucker said. “It was bad enough that my youngsters were being taught evolution in public schools, but when I discovered they were learning to embrace foreigners and Big Government in Sunday school, I drew the line.”

    Not that I know much about it, but isn’t the actual home church or house church movement essentially just a reaction against the institutionalizing of worship?

    -.-. — — .-.. !!

    Filed on September 11, 2005 at 8:11 pm under by dcobranchi

    The Daily Telegraph (U.K.) is running a regular diary from a newly minted home-educating mom, and if the first segment is any indication, it’ll be worth keeping up with:

    It all started back in April, when I removed Sam from pre-school. Since then, like Sam’s pirate ship, my convictions have pitched and rolled through dangerous, uncharted waters.

    The first wave to hit us was disapproval from friends and relatives.

    “How are they going to get their corners knocked off?” wailed one.

    I thought this was a bit rich coming from someone with more corners than a Louis XVI octagonal table.


    Filed on September 10, 2005 at 7:45 am under by dcobranchi

    I swear I thought this was written by a kid until the very end. It’s so bad, it’s good (and possibly fisk-worthy).

    Home-school if you like–it’s your loss
    Date published: 9/9/2005

    Alan Brymer promoted home schooling by belittling public schooling.

    Stafford’s high schools are equipped with occupational labs. Students become drafters, carpenters, Web designers, nurses, and CISCO-certified.

    Many of the schools offer auto mechanics, cosmetology, electricity, and masonry. Not many parents have the experience or equipment to match the schools’.

    Home-schoolers miss out on the chance to participate in academic and skills organizations. These clubs promote community and teamwork.

    Mr. Brymer scorns public education for fear of the exposure his children may receive. If his children will be influenced by immoral conversations, he has more to worry about than public education.

    I can attest that students raised not to swear don’t reprogram by walking a school hallway. If they did, I would question the quality of instruction they received when taught right from wrong.

    Social interaction must be developed. In elementary school, learning when and when not to speak is a challenge.

    In middle school, the art of storytelling is learned by trying again after failed attempts and sometimes ridicule.

    It’s better to learn to deal with bullies in public school than to face them for the first time as a young adult in the workplace.

    I’ve taught home-schooled students who’ve switched to public. They tend to make friends more slowly and have trouble joining conversations because of slang and ideas that are not experienced at home.

    Home-schooled children do tend to have “book smarts,” but they lack basic skills like note-taking and listening for content.

    Ultimately, it’s good parenting that will give a child the best chance at success.

    As a teacher, I’ve noticed that it’s the “good” students’ parents who are at the schools, monitoring their children’s progress.

    Kenny Johnson


    I especially love the bullies comment. I’m betting Kenny doesn’t bother breaking up too many fights in the hallways at his school. Better to get the crap beat out of you while you’re young and heal quickly. And those basic note-taking skills? Utterly useless once you’re out of school. But I wouldn’t expect Kenny to know that, as I have a feeling he’s mentally/emotionally/educationally stuck in high school.

    HA HA! (NOT)

    Filed on at 7:45 am under by dcobranchi

    The comic strip Gil Thorp recently introduced a new home educated character. It ain’t pretty.

    It starts last Saturday and then continues with this week’s strips. (Username: HEOS1234@mailinator.com Password: heos1234)

    UPDATE: The Charlotte Observer throws us a bone.


    Filed on at 7:45 am under by dcobranchi

    (I’m blogging from the Pittsburgh airport. OK, maybe I have OCD, too.)

    I just love it when the g-schools slip up and reveal their true agenda:

    im Marron, varsity boys basketball coach, at the board’s work session asked the school board to consider allowing home schooled students to participate in extra-curricular activities such as athletics, band, chorus and school plays.

    Marron said one of the positive aspects of including home schoolers in the extracurricular mix is that sometimes those students decide to join the district.


    Filed on at 7:45 am under by dcobranchi

    The Myrtle Beach Sun-Times has a really poor piece on home education in North and South Carolina. Besides flunking basic math (“The National Household Education Surveys Program estimates that about 1.1 million students in the U.S. were being home-schooled in 2003. This represents 0.5 percent of the school-age population…“), the reporter has almost nothing good to say. One can almost sense a sneer through the phosphors:

    Mandated tests show some home-schoolers test below average, but most test above average. Research also has not found that home schooling harms children’s social or psychological development.

    The only pro-home education point is that we save the State money:

    Fields said the state of North Carolina saves $980 million each year because parents either home-school or send their children to a private school.

    “Can you imagine what would happen if all 47,000 [home-schooling] families sent their kids to public schools?” she asked.

    UPDATE: It’s worse than I thought. I found her source for the 0.5 percent claim. She not only flunked math, she flunks reading comprehension, too. From the National Center for Education Statistics:

    From 1999 to 2003, the number of homeschooled students in the United States increased, as did the homeschooling rate. The increase in the homeschooling rate (from 1.7 percent to 2.2 percent) represents about 0.5 percent of the 2002–03 school-age population and a 29 percent relative increase over the 4-year period.


    Filed on September 9, 2005 at 10:06 pm under by dcobranchi

    I can see all sorts of problems with this proposal:

    The Internal Revenue Service announced a program Thursday where employees across the country can trade in their sick or vacation days in exchange for cash to help victims of Hurricane Katrina.

    Under the program, employees can donate their sick, vacation or personal days back to their company, according to an IRS statement.

    The company in turn will make a cash donation to any qualified tax-exempt organization providing relief in the region.

    Employers can then deduct the amount of the donation from their taxes and employees do not have to count the donated time as income.

    The employees donate their vacation time and the company gets the deduction? And what’s to stop companies from “encouraging” their employees this way?


    Filed on at 4:44 pm under by dcobranchi

    since I posted anything on ID. Just so y’all don’t go into withdrawal, I want to highlight this terrific essay by Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ). Holt was a scientist before going into politics, and he knows his stuff. The last third of the essay gets into politics a bit too much, but the first 2/3 are primo. (via The Panda’s Thumb)


    Filed on September 8, 2005 at 4:43 pm under by dcobranchi

    There’s a free WiFi HotSpot outside of the TGIF in the AirMall at the Pittsburgh airport.


    Filed on September 7, 2005 at 6:38 pm under by dcobranchi

    I’ve got a business trip starting tomorrow a.m. (to the Czech Republic, no less). I might have ‘net access here and there but I’m not counting on it. I’ll be back to regular blogging on 9/17.


    Filed on at 6:37 pm under by dcobranchi

    OK, so I’m ripping off Mary. I just liked what these women had to say:

    “In general, New Mexico is a good state for homeschooling,” [Barbara] Senn said. “I don’t know of anybody (in the state) who’s had any problems with homeschooling.”

    Parents who homeschool children receive no tax breaks, but the parents at Tuesday’s meeting preferred it that way — with a tax break, they reasoned, the government would have some say over a curriculum.

    With that freedom comes a responsibility to create a sensible program.


    Filed on at 6:37 pm under by dcobranchi

    No, not “Homeschool Day.” Instead, a “park” aimed at home educating families.

    ROCHESTER, Vt. — On their last morning at Liberty Hill Farm, Isadora and Rayna Shamah rushed to the front porch to pull on dusty barn boots and set off eagerly for the big red barn and its wonders: massive Holstein cows in need of feed and milking; week-old calves and newborn kittens; steaming piles of fresh manure ready to be shoveled.

    Much had changed for the 6-year-old twins, residents of a New York City suburb, in the five days since they came to stay at Liberty Hill with their parents, who happily paid $240 a night to watch their daughters evolve into willing farmhands.

    …Other farms are more rustic, or more comfortable. At Colonial Hill Farm in Petersham, Mass., where alpacas, related to llamas, are raised for their fleece, guests have been welcomed since last year, and stay in a separate wing of the 19-room house with private baths, owner Teresa Emmrich said. Four Springs Farm in Royalton, Vt., another farm that opened its doors to paying visitors a year ago, offers one cabin and eight campsites where guests pitch tents. Owner Jinny Hardy Cleland said she plans to cater to families who home-school children and can use the farm for hands-on science lessons.

    There’s a woman who knows her market. Sounds fun. Hey, Helen, are you renting out space on your place?


    Filed on at 6:37 pm under by dcobranchi

    The Arizona Republic has a profile on a home educator who publishes an e-mail newsletter 5 times a week.

    Manos’ Happily Educating ouR Own e-mail newsletter reaches more than 900 families five days a week, most in the East Valley.

    Anything related to home schooling is fair game for the free e-mail, including items for sale, announcements of activities and meetings. The HERO Web site lists more long-term items as well as a business directory of HERO-reader recommended businesses.

    Talk about OCD! Who in their right mind could write about home education issues every day for weeks and months and years on end? She probably has to get up at some ungodly hour like 5:19. You’d never catch me being that obsessive.


    Filed on at 5:57 am under by dcobranchi

    And it’s from NC. (Is there a bonus payment for the mom pointing with her thumb?)

    It’s a fair piece, but it includes far too many quotes from the teachers’ union president for my taste:

    Not all groups are as positive about the growth of home schooling. Some say home schools draw a disproportionately high number of white, middle- to upper-income families.

    “I don’t want to lose any of the parents who can bring about more resources for public schools,” said Eddie Davis, president of the N.C. Association of Educators, which represents 70,000 public school teachers and administrators. “But those are the ones who are interested in going [to non-public schools.]”

    …Home-schooling families may get some benefits, said Davis of the N.C. Association of Educators. But he said home-schoolers don’t get access to the resources and socialization they would have at public schools.

    …Davis applauded the home-school community for providing more activities to students. But he said they and private school students are missing out on the interaction with children of different backgrounds and opinions that are so important to later life.

    “If you’re not at a public school, you don’t get a chance to be with students who are handicapped or who are more economically disadvantaged,” Davis said. “That’s important as a way to understand the value of diversity.”

    I guess there are no handicapped or poor HEKs. Can someone please smack that guy upside the head?


    Filed on at 5:57 am under by dcobranchi

    A large home educating family in visiting MI was killed in a home explosion.

    A bit more info here.

    Still more.


    Filed on at 5:57 am under by dcobranchi

    Here’s a nice profile of what seems to be a new inclusive support group in CA. This bit intrigued me:

    The group also receives support from nonmembers. Jill Smith is an educational consultant with Usborne Books. She is trying to help the group build a community lending library for its members and has already donated some books and toys.

    “It takes a lot of commitment and discipline to home school,” said Smith, whose son is in 7th grade at public school.

    Am I too cynical or does this sound like a good marketing plan? And Usborne is MLM, so the group could provide fertile ground for sponsoring. Cynical, that’s me.


    Filed on at 5:57 am under by dcobranchi

    In defense of a daytime curfew in Yakima, WA:

    The Yakima district provides identification cards for registered home-school students, those attending contract school, night school or other alternative programs. Suspended students are given identification to verify why they are not in school.

    …Officers can verify student registration or home-school status by calling the Yakima School District’s registration office or the Union Gap School District.

    I’m pretty sure that not all HEKs are registered with the local superintendents. And, of course, this policy could easily trap private-schoolers whose schools likely don’t follow the g-schools’ schedule.



    Filed on at 4:55 am under by dcobranchi

    And the GOP wanted to amend the Constitution so Arnold could run for President?

    California lawmakers on Tuesday became the first in the country to legalize same-sex marriage, with the State Assembly narrowly approving a bill that defines marriage as between “two persons” instead of between a man and a woman.

    Unlike Massachusetts, where gay men and lesbians are permitted to marry because of court rulings, the legislators in California voted to amend the state’s family code without the threat of legal action.

    …The measure now goes to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, who has supported domestic partnership legislation in the past but has not taken a public position on the marriage bill.

    A spokeswoman for Mr. Schwarzenegger, Margita Thompson, said after the vote that the governor believed that the issue of same-sex marriage should be settled by the courts, not legislators, but she did not indicate whether that meant he would veto the legislation. The bill did not pass with enough votes to override a veto.

    “The governor will uphold whatever the court decides,” Ms. Thompson said.

    That’s some strong leadership there! Thank God he can’t become President.

    And, BTW, I support the legislation and hope the bill becomes law. Does that mean I have more guts that the Governator?


    Filed on September 6, 2005 at 4:51 pm under by dcobranchi

    Not a sexual assault case for a change. Instead, we have a possible homicidal maniac teaching U.S. History in MD. And the irony of a history teacher issuing death threats against protesters is just too absurd to ignore. (HT: Skip)


    Filed on at 6:17 am under by dcobranchi

    The Charlotte Observer has an interesting Op/Ed on Christianity and private schools. Home education gets a brief mention, but what I find apropos to this blog is the extension of the “leap of faith” argument to home education.

    We’re still a tiny minority, and I seriously doubt we’ll ever be anything but. So, by definition, we swim against the tide. We believe we can do a better job for our kids than the g-schools can, despite all of the “experts” telling us we’re wrong. Is it not just as much a leap of faith (even for the atheists among us) to do what we do?


    Filed on at 6:17 am under by dcobranchi

    As is our custom, we’re starting back today. I’ll try to get a nickel picture for Tim.

    No nickels. Maybe $0.02? The pics were all shot in the bonus room above the garage. The torn up (new, leather) couch is courtesy of the white wolf AKA Gracie.





    Filed on September 5, 2005 at 11:00 pm under by dcobranchi

    Check out this commonsensical and unschooly summing up from a longish HE 101 piece from a paper in Liverpool:

    Advice for anyone considering home education

    * Don’t imitate the classroom and tear up any timetables

    * Follow your child and don’t force them to follow a rigid syllabus

    * Education is far more effective when it responds to the child’s questions and moulds itself to their individual needs. This is a luxury that schools with classes of 30 cannot affordp Keep a simple diary. Make a note of what the child does each day. It’s amazing how much learning goes on when you stop and look. Like growing, children learn in spurts, so sometimes they will have apparently “quiet” phases followed by dramatic leaps in understanding. It’s easy to panic during the quiet periods

    * Make sure you set aside a couple of 10 minute childfree periods every day (I called them “sanity zones”). Have a bath. Read a chapter of a book. Chill out. You will return to your kids far more refreshed and the better for it

    * Most important of all – you are the world’s expert on your child


    Filed on at 1:26 pm under by dcobranchi

    From my old home-town paper. This one I’m going to have to pick apart line-by-line.

    Teach both intelligent design and evolution

    Why not teach creationism?

    The Discovery Institute is going to have to revoke his union card. After all, ID is NOT creationism. *snort*

    I do not understand why a decision to teach students both sides of a scientific argument should cause so much uproar. This decision should not be made for the masses by an empowered few.

    When did science become subject to a popular vote? Science always has and always will be defined by the scientists who are actually pushing the frontiers back. What the “masses” feel is right is completely irrelevant. If those masses want to teach ID or creationism in the schools, fine (assuming they can get that by the courts). Just don’t call it science.

    If intelligent design truly does not hold any water on a biological level, then let that be decided by students when they are presented with a fair view of both evolution and intelligent design.

    Even better, we’ll let a bunch of juveniles define science. That should prove interesting.

    Evolutionists should have no reason to worry that their theory might be disproved, if they are sure that what they have theorized is accurate.

    This has nothing to do with scientists worrying about what IDers can prove. It is all about what is proper to teach as science. Theology isn’t science. Philosophy isn’t science. And what the masses might want isn’t science.

    When did science shift from using data to generate theories, to molding data to fit theories?

    This is too funny, since this is exactly the way ID works. The IDers have taken their theology and then molded a pseudo-scientific framework to fit.

    It is no longer science when one decides to close the mind to any other ideas besides those which one believes to be true.

    Another apt description of creationist thinking.

    Randy Reed, Newark

    Well, at least he got his name and town correct.


    Filed on at 11:29 am under by dcobranchi

    School at home? How ’bout school is home? 11,000 square feet of an old elementary school building. (Use HEOS1234 for the username and the password.)


    Filed on at 11:29 am under by dcobranchi

    In an otherwise nice piece on a “home-learning” family in WI, the reporter falls back on the trick of quoting an alleged expert to provide balance:

    Michael Apple, a professor of education policy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who has studied home schooling extensively, has been quoted as saying home schoolers are cutting themselves off from people with different backgrounds.

    He says home-schooled kids are missing out on the more subtle lessons that public teach about interacting in a diverse society.

    “Public schools are important to democracy,” Apple said. “They teach people how to work with others across political, religious, class and racial lines. It would be a disaster to give up on that.”

    Republic. Democracy. What’s the diff? And I guess the republic must have been fortunate to survive all those years before the compulsory attendance laws were passed.


    Filed on at 11:28 am under by dcobranchi

    Get rid of all g-school sports.

    REASON #2,143,564

    Filed on at 11:28 am under by dcobranchi

    Here’s a benefit I hadn’t seen before:

    “You can go to lunch and have whatever is in the refrigerator; it’s not set up for you,” he said with a smile.

    It’s a nice piece profiling a home educating family of eight. Worth a read.


    Filed on September 4, 2005 at 11:53 am under by dcobranchi

    Hal Young thought this blog-worthy. I agree:

    A private high school for students recovering from addiction to drugs or alcohol could open next month in Chapel Hill.

    Katrina Williams, a former addict who moved to Chapel Hill from Indiana this year, said she wants students to benefit from her experience.

    “I have been there,” she said. “I can relate to where the children are. I know the steps they need to take to find healing.”

    It is so sad that tere’s even a need for this. But, of course, there is. I wish the unfortunately-named Ms. Williams and all the kids luck.


    Filed on at 11:52 am under by dcobranchi

    A LttE touches on the problem of HEKs playing g-school sports.

    There are challenges that must be worked out, however.

    How will eligibility be determined? There are strict academic and residency requirements on all students, so there have to be assurances the home-schooled student lives in the correct school system, as well as considerations for academic eligibility.

    There’s the rub– How do you determine academic eligibility? Standardized testing? Portfolio analysis? An affadavit from the parents? Any of these could easily be expanded from just the athletes to all HEKs. I know, it’s a slippery-slope argument and, so, inherently weak. I just can’t shake the feeling that when dealing with legislators and the teachers’ unions, the slope really is covered in Crisco.

    So I feel for the kids who might not have the opportunity to play on teams comprised entirely of HEKs. For them g-school sports teams might really be their only option.

    I’m just not sure the price is worth it.


    Filed on at 11:48 am under by dcobranchi

    Can someone explain how Orleans Parish was left off this list?! And note the date.

    Worst. President. Ever.


    Filed on at 11:08 am under by dcobranchi

    Intelligent Design is not allowed in Biology textbooks. HT: Sarah Poppins


    Filed on September 3, 2005 at 9:46 pm under by dcobranchi

    An HI boy has been kicked out of a private school for violating the school’s hair standards. Real important stuff, I know. The really interesting question, though, is how did the educrat keep a straight face when making this comment?

    “On occasion, we are asked to provide exemptions to this policy,” [Headmaster] Chun wrote. “These requests are always carefully considered, but have never been granted. This year, one of our incoming freshmen requested an exemption from our grooming rules and, like others before him, was turned down.”

    As long as they were carefully considered, OK!


    Filed on at 9:45 pm under by dcobranchi

    I think we could relax the rules a bit, no?

    On refugees from Katrina:

    [DeSoto County Superintendent of Education Milton] Kuykendall said children already going to school in Mississippi will be enrolled more easily, with their grades and placement already part of a statewide network. “Under MSIS, they can be tracked,” said Kuykendall. “We just enroll them and write down their names.”
    Children from out of state will more or less be treated like returning home-school students and will have to provide shot records and other information. Placement tests will also be involved… “They will have to go to the health department to get a statement of immunization.”

    Geez! These families haven’t been through enough already? Let’s make them jump through a bunch of hoops.

    If this is mandated by state law, I hope the Mississippi legislature sees fit to fix it. Yesterday.


    Filed on at 9:44 pm under by dcobranchi

    Reason #4,563,784 – We don’t have to waste time if we don’t want to. Joanne Jacobs thinks 11th grade pre-calc students don’t need to be doing collages.

    My niece started her junior year at a highly rated California high school. For her honors pre-calculus class, she was assigned to do a collage about herself. My sister thinks 11th grade is time enough to stop doing time-wasting — and mathless — art projects. “It’s a math class!” she said. “Why aren’t they doing math?”


    Filed on at 5:44 pm under by dcobranchi

    I got my hair cut today. In the barber shop was a woman whose husband is part of some search and rescue team down in the Biloxi area. He was activated Sunday and arrived Monday. So far, according to his wife, he and his team have done nothing but sit around the base, waiting for an opportunity to help. Thursday, they were finally ordered to some storm-ravaged town that had seen zero assistance. As they pulled into town, the folks were lined up on the street, hollering and cheering. Before the rescue crew even turned off the engines, FEMA ordered them out of the town to some point two hours away.

    Can we impeach the entire Administration?


    Filed on September 2, 2005 at 8:40 pm under by dcobranchi

    HSLDA is organizing temporary housing for displaced home educating families. Scott Somerville has all of the details.


    Filed on at 5:32 pm under by dcobranchi

    Apparently high morale stops IEDs and RPGs:

    Sheehan should talk to soldiers in Iraq

    I am a military spouse. My husband and many friends are serving their country. I would like for Cindy Sheehan to take her happy protesting behind over to Iraq and look my husband and his comrades in the face and let them know that they mean nothing. Let them know how she spits in their faces and, for that matter, her own son’s.

    I’m sure Sheehan’s son would be proud that his mother is making a mockery of his death. He died for what he believed in. You’d think Sheehan could be proud of him but she is not. She is using him. Sheehan is a disgrace to this country and every soldier fighting.

    Maybe if Sheehan had taken her energy and boosted her son’s morale, there might have been a different outcome.

    Sheehan: Go home where you belong and use that big mouth for the good.

    Oh, by the way, where were Sheehan’s protests before he died? Funny, huh? Does her son’s casket make a nice pulpit for her?

    Denise Sirois, Fayetteville

    Life in Fayette-nam.


    Filed on at 3:29 pm under by dcobranchi

    Here’s the first sentence that Izzy was too much of a lady to blog:

    Home-schooling is sort of like a college student’s virginity: People figure it’s a mark of religiosity, but nearly as often it’s just personal taste, or a lack of better options. The majority of families who home-school are conservative Christians, to be sure. But another sizable portion are secular counterculturalists, and then there are the diplomats, foreign-aid workers or those living in the desert or Alaskan wilderness–anyone far from a school. Home-schoolers put their numbers at about two million, the federal government guesses closer to one million, but everyone agrees that the number is growing by 5% to 15% a year.

    All of which means that there are millions of parents buying books for their children’s kitchen-table schooling. And while many of these moms and dads are assigning their children books that would be familiar to school kids anywhere, many are not. A new class of best sellers has arisen–mainly old books, given new life by the Internet, specialty bookstores, librarians and word of mouth. There is no one book they all read, but each camp has its favorites, and some have crossover appeal.

    The piece is fine as far as it goes — I recommend Kenneth Grahame, Arthur Ransome’s “Swallows and Amazons” books, and the “All-of-a-Kind Family” series by Sydney Taylor myself — but its rigid definitions of who’s who in the HE world and what “they” like sure doesn’t indicate much of a tolerance for nuance.


    Filed on at 9:52 am under by dcobranchi

    A “Breaking News” email from CNN:

    “The results are not acceptable,” President Bush says of Hurricane Katrina disaster relief efforts.

    Only 1159 to go.

    NEW AD!!! ——->

    Filed on at 6:53 am under by dcobranchi

    Don’t worry about the politics. Just give, ok?

    NEW AD!!! ——->


    Filed on at 6:33 am under by dcobranchi

    Since he’s such a fan of homeschool co-ops.

    With days to go to the start of a new school year, a Gladwyne home schooling group may be looking for a new home.

    The Lower Merion Zoning Hearing Board voted Aug. 18 to deny the American Academy’s requests for zoning relief to continue meeting at Gladwyne Methodist Church.

    …When [Lower Merion Zoning Officer Michael] Wylie visited the site, however, he found some 33 students taking part in classes with the academy’s four or five paid tutors. Sessions were being held five days a week during normal school hours. Students studied a curriculum designed to meet state requirements. They wore uniforms to class. Anthony acknowledged that parents paid tuition of $6,600 per year.

    Sounds pretty school-ish to me.


    Filed on at 6:33 am under by dcobranchi

    Another former HEK has made the Donald’s unreality show.

    Jennifer M. (Los Angeles, Calif.) Ad Sales Manager
    Jennifer M., 26, former Miss Oregon USA, is a consultant and speaker with a national advertising firm. One of twelve children, she was home-schooled and, inspired by her father’s entrepreneurial spirit, she dove into business at age 17. By the age of 21 she started investing in and developing real estate ventures. At age 23, Jennifer secured a management position with an advertising firm, and developed new businesses throughout the state of Oregon. She recently moved from Southern Oregon to Los Angeles where she continues to oversee her real estate development business.


    Filed on at 6:32 am under by dcobranchi

    There’s really no direct home ed connection (other than the title) in this piece on Home Depot’s and Lowes’ free clinics. I’ve attended a couple of these; they really are a great way to learn a new skill from an expert. And kids (maybe 12 and up) would easily be able to handle the material. Worth a look if you have HEKs who might be inclined towards a trade (or if you need some help handling that big home repair project).


    Filed on at 6:32 am under by dcobranchi

    I think this is Chris O’Donnell’s hometown paper:

    When my wife and I mention to our well-intentioned friends that we are strongly considering home-schooling our children, we are without fail asked, “But what about socialization?”

    Fortunately, we found a proven method by which our kids can receive the same socialization that public schools provide.

    On Mondays and Wednesdays, I will personally corner my son in the bathroom, give him a wedgie, and take his lunch money.

    On Tuesdays and Thursdays, my wife will make sure to tease our children for not being in the “in” crowd, taking special care to poke fun of any physical abnormalities.

    Fridays will be “Fad and Peer Pressure Day,” in which we will all compete to see who has the coolest toys, the most expensive clothes, and the loudest, fastest, and most dangerous car–all while dyeing our hair the same color and ripping our jeans.

    However, every day, my wife and I will adhere to a routine of cursing and swearing in the hallways and mentioning our weekend exploits with alcohol and immorality.

    If our kids attempt to use the bathroom without permission, we will punish them immediately; and we have asked them to hold us to a similar standard by reporting us to the authorities in the event we mention God or try to bring up morals and values.

    And just think–all these benefits without a dime of taxpayers’ money!

    Alan Brymer



    Filed on September 1, 2005 at 4:20 pm under by dcobranchi

    Does anyone know of a Katrina relief site that accepts PayPal?

    UPDATE: Donate to the Red Cross (via PayPal) here. Blogcritics doesn’t take a cut.

    FURTHER UPDATE: An offer you can’t refuse.

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