Utterly Meaningless » 2006 » August

    Filed on August 7, 2006 at 8:55 pm under by dcobranchi

    I haven’t yet posted this one to the list-servs, as I’m sure it would cause major mental meltdowns.

    Under NC homeschooling laws we have to test every year. A lot of home educators send in those scores to the State. But under that same state law, they shouldn’t. That’s right– it’s a violation of state law to release the test results to anyone, including the state government.

    § 115C‑557. Standardized testing requirements.

    Each qualified nonpublic school shall administer, at least once in each school year, a nationally standardized test or other nationally standardized equivalent measurement selected by the chief administrative officer of such school, to all students enrolled or regularly attending grades three, six and nine. The nationally standardized test or other equivalent measurement selected must measure achievement in the areas of English grammar, reading, spelling and mathematics. Each school shall make and maintain records of the results achieved by its students. For one year after the testing, all records shall be made available, subject to G.S. 115C‑174.13, at the principal office of such school, at all reasonable times, for annual inspection by a duly authorized representative of the State of North Carolina. (1979, c. 506; 1981, c. 423, s. 1; 1987, c. 738, s. 180(c); 2004‑199, s. 30(c).)

    § 115C‑174.13. Public records exemption.

    Any written material containing the identifiable scores of individual students on any test taken pursuant to the provisions of this Article is not a public record within the meaning of G.S. 132‑1 and shall not be made public by any person, except as permitted under the provisions of the Family Educational and Privacy Rights Act of 1974, 20 U.S.C. 1232g. (1977, c. 522, s. 7; c. 541, s. 8; 1981, c. 423, s. 1; 1985 (Reg. Sess., 1986), c. 1014, s. 74(a).)


    Filed on at 6:59 pm under by dcobranchi


    Filed on at 5:59 pm under by dcobranchi

    Please, don’t.

    The “pink card spam-fest” threads continue:

    Wow, it has been awhile since I have been to any of the yahoo groups, I do believe I will find another one. IMHO, the first to groups of posts I read do appear to be people that are scared of the government and upset with others who still have faith in it. I am just thankful that I live in any state in the US. We could much worse off. I am going right this minute to pray for you people and I am not kidding.

    I honestly don’t get it. Where does fear factor in? I just want home educators to understand that what they’re doing is not required under the law and that, in so doing, they risk the very freedoms that they claim to cherish.

    BTW, this is a secular an inclusive group.


    Filed on at 12:22 pm under by dcobranchi

    Pejorative? You make the call!

    Yes, Scott, the last comment was mine.

    Aron ’06

    Filed on at 11:38 am under by Scott Somerville

    Since there seem to be actual Connecticut voters reading this blog, run–don’t walk!–to cast your vote for homeschool activist Judy Aron, who is running for the 18th District (West Hartford).
    Go Judy Go!

    A Prayer for the Dying

    Filed on at 9:10 am under by Scott Somerville

    I really like Joe Lieberman. When he was Al Gore’s running mate, I wanted to put up a “Bush/Lieberman 2000” sign in my front yard. I had long admired his support for school choice, and he struck me as one of the few Democrats who could talk about religion without needing a script or subsequent apology. Now he’s one day away from making history–or being history.

    Ban Balz has a piece in the Washington Post that spells out some of the implications of tomorrow’s Connecticut primary:

    The passion and energy fueling the antiwar challenge to Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman in Connecticut’s Senate primary signal a power shift inside the Democratic Party that could reshape the politics of national security and dramatically alter the battle for the party’s 2008 presidential nomination, according to strategists in both political parties.

    A victory by businessman Ned Lamont on Tuesday would confirm the growing strength of the grass-roots and Internet activists who first emerged in Howard Dean’s presidential campaign. Driven by intense anger at President Bush and fierce opposition to the Iraq war, they are on the brink of claiming their most significant political triumph, one that will reverberate far beyond the borders here if Lieberman loses.

    I’m not predicting who will win tomorrow. I intend to send money to Lieberman if he loses and runs as an Independent, though–and it’s not because I’m some “mean-spirited” Republican who’s just trying to spite the Democrats.


    Filed on at 5:44 am under by dcobranchi

    I hope she doesn’t teach this to those HEKs:

    Jones also learned a few tidbits at the launch that she plans to teach children. She is a science and poetry teacher for home-schooled children, and this year she is teaching physics. She said she wants to make her class more interesting for students by sharing her launch experience with them. Jones also can tell them the few physics lessons she learned while at the Kennedy Space Center, such as aspects of gravity and why the smoke from the shuttle stays around after the launch.

    …Her seats were three miles away from the space shuttle. It was the closest anyone could be because, if something went wrong, there could have been a nuclear explosion, she said.

    There is, of course, no fissionable material on the shuttle.

    Bonus points for identifying the late ’70s tune that provided the title.

    99 & 44/100% CORRECT

    Filed on at 5:25 am under by dcobranchi

    Mike Smith’s Op/Ed in the WashTimes is pretty good overall. Until the last graf, where he goes off the rails (and then attempts to justifiy HSLDA’s continued existence).

    Home-schoolers have earned the right to be free, and as more non-home-schoolers recognize that home-schoolers are both academically excellent and socially well-adjusted, the case will be stronger. Nevertheless, home-schoolers are realistic and recognize that most policy-makers will never fully trust parents to educate their own children. The battle to maintain home-school freedom will not end soon and, unfortunately, may never end.

    No! We haven’t earned the right to be free. We are free. Legislators and educrats may have temporarily usurped our rights and our freedoms, so we need to assert ourselves and take them back. Basing our claims to freedom on test scores is ridiculously short-sighted. There is no guarantee that HEKs’ scores will always exceed g-schoolers’. What then? Would we have lost the right to be free, merely because the g-schools get their act together?

    Every single time an HSLDA bigwig makes this argument I want to throw things. Hey, Scott! Does this kind of discussion ever get bandied about in the boardroom? Or is the idea of liberty dead at HSLDA, too?

    BOO! HISS!

    Filed on at 5:10 am under by dcobranchi

    Kay Brooks was voted off the island school board in Nashville. Disappointing but probably not surprising as her appointment back in May was very controversial.


    Filed on at 5:02 am under by dcobranchi

    A home educator wrote:

    I have to support Shay and Beth in this opinion. The more I listen/read, the more it seems as if families are ranging themselves in an “us against them” war with DNPE… which imho isn’t going to demonstrate the right values to the children involved.

    To which I responded:

    And what “bad” values would those be? That the State is not your friend? That you have to zealously guard your freedoms lest they be lost? That the government works for us and not the other way around? Why, those are the very values my wife and I try to TEACH our kids!

    I guess we have very different ideas of liberty.

    This is one of the conservative/Christian homeschooling listservs. Amazingly, I haven’t been kicked off. So far.


    Filed on August 6, 2006 at 6:18 pm under by dcobranchi

    This weekend it was back-to-school weekend in NC and VA during which one could shop for school supplies, clothing, and computers without paying sales-tax. I must confess that I don’t get it. If it’s a good idea that the State not collect sales tax on school necessities during the second weekend in August, why is not not a good idea the other 51 weekends?

    So, is this a pander to the sheeple or a sop to the merchants?


    Filed on at 2:03 pm under by dcobranchi

    This was posted in response to my listserv “spamming” on the extra-legal requests from DNPE:

    We all answer to someone; taxes come due April 15th.

    And who voluntarily sends in more money than they actually owe?

    UPDATE: At least one person gets it:

    But, it CAN hurt to comply with more than the required information. THAT is what leads to more requirements. If 80% of all hs’ers are sending it in anyway, it’s a tough argument to convince them that most hs’ers dont mind it and that making it part of the law will get the other 20% to do the same. (or whatever the actual percentages are!) If you comply with the LAW, that’s different, but the extra things they ask for us to do that are NOT law – that’s a path down a dangerous road.


    Filed on August 5, 2006 at 9:06 pm under by dcobranchi

    The lede pretty much says it all:

    ONTARIO, California (AP) — — A substitute elementary school teacher was charged Friday with lewd and lascivious acts involving a 10-year-old girl, and police said he claimed to have molested more than 100 students.


    Filed on at 7:52 pm under by dcobranchi

    This is utter g-school bullshit propaganda. If there are any Alabamans out there, I hope they’ll write a LttE to set the record straight:

    Q. What would I have to do to be able to home school my child in Alabama?

    A. Judy Rushton, attendance specialist at Huntsville City Schools, said that parents who wish to homeschool their children must notify the local public school system. In Huntsville, they would contact the pupil services department. “We have a little packet that walks them through the process,” said Rushton. Children must be schooled under the auspices of a certified teacher, said Rushton, which can mean through a church program, a private school, a private tutor or an online home school program.

    Per HSLDA’s analysis of the law, there is another option that is entirely ignored in this brief answer. Coincidentally, it’s the one that has no certification requirement. Amazing coincidence, that.


    Filed on at 9:36 am under by dcobranchi

    An interesting comment on the thread about the teacher who gave his students the test.


    Filed on at 6:27 am under by dcobranchi

    and their prostitutes.

    This one (.pdf) is just too unbelievable to include on the WWHS list. A g-school football coach seduced a 14-year-old student, turned her out as a prostitute in DC, and was later arrested with 2 pounds of marijuana in his vehicle.


    Filed on at 5:48 am under by dcobranchi

    listservs will I get banned from today?

    I sent the following to all of the NC groups that I monitor:

    We got our “pink card” from DNPE yesterday. Although it was not at all mentioned in the letter that accompanied the card, filling it out and sending it in is entirely optional. There is no annual notice of intent required in North Carolina. I urge all home educators to toss the card in the trashcan. Voluntarily complying with extralegal requests just makes it easier for the educrats at DNPE and Raleigh to make it mandatory for those who choose NOT to volunteer.

    We best maintain our homeschooling freedoms by following the letter of the law and by watching the legislature like a bunch of angry hawks.

    Daryl Cobranchi, Fayetteville

    I’m betting that the letter never sees the light of day on at least one of them and that I’ll be politely shown the door.

    UPDATE 7:46 p.m. 3 have yet to post it (including the one I expect will boot me.)


    Filed on August 4, 2006 at 5:44 pm under by dcobranchi

    I’m disinclined to acquiesce to your request.

    Means “No.”


    A law-abiding home educator


    Filed on at 10:30 am under by dcobranchi

    Mamacita is still ragging on homeschooling in her backhanded kind of way. She really is utterly clueless. But her Statism credentials are without peer. (via Spunky).

    BTW, while you’re over at Mamacita’s, check out this other snide rip on home ed.


    Filed on at 5:30 am under by dcobranchi

    Here’s another one to keep an eye on.

    A measles outbreak in Indiana was “initiated” when an HEK who had never been immunized contracted the disease overseas. It then spread through her church.

    The day of her return, the girl attended a church gathering with about 500 people. The church itself had no position on vaccines, but a significant number of its members had refused to immunize their children against the measles because of rumored fears that the vaccine causes autism. These children were home-schooled.

    Of the estimated 50 people at the gathering who had not been immunized, 16 (32%) became infected with measles that day. Another 18 people in the community became infected over the next six weeks, bringing the total up to 34.

    …Although every U.S. state requires two doses of measles vaccine for children to attend school, only one state, West Virginia, also requires home-schooled children to be immunized, the authors said.

    I’m not sure about that last bit. NC requires that we maintain immunization records. I’ve never bothered to read up on the law as to what vaccines are actually required. Does anyone know other states where vaccines are required for HEKs?


    Filed on August 3, 2006 at 8:00 pm under by dcobranchi

    Here’s a new one:

    Shelley Lively said there are just as many reasons for a parent to decide to home-school as there are home-schooling parents. Some do it for religious reasons, some for political reasons. Some have children with special needs, and home-schooling provides that individual attention the children need. Some do it because they are dissatisfied with the quality of education available in public schools.


    Filed on at 7:47 pm under by dcobranchi

    Now this is encouraging:

    First the Dutch get their RFID e-passport system cracked, then VeriChip gets its “counterfeit proof” RFID implant copied by a pair of hackers in front of a live audience, and now some hackers in Germany have undermined some of the security behind the electronic passports that the United States and other countries are planning to implement this month. Lukas Grunwald did the honors this time, and says it took him about two weeks to figure out the hack, with most of his time spent reading the publicly available e-passport standards on the International Civil Aviation Organization’s official website. Since all countries will be adhering to the ICAO’s standard, his hack should work on other passports as well.

    Not only did he clone the RFID, he was essentially able to re-program the passport so that it read like he was someone else.

    My next passport is going in the microwave as soon as I get it. (You never know what kind of germs a passport may carry. Autoclaving in the microwave is an excellent way to kill all sorts of “bugs.”)


    Filed on at 1:24 pm under by dcobranchi

    Since Scott likes to play games, here’s another one in two parts.

    1) If the NYT called for the complete withdrawal of US troops from Iraq within 12 months, would that be a radical/left-wing/fringe position?

    2) Without resorting to Googling, what percentage of Americans do you think would agree with them?

    I’ll provide the answer to Question 2 later today. I think at that point the answer to Question 1 will be self-evident.


    Filed on at 9:23 am under by dcobranchi

    A group of NFL and CFL players has teamed up with PowerPrep and HSLDA to offer an SAT Prep CD/ROM for the cost of S&H. Regular price is $200.


    Filed on at 6:19 am under by dcobranchi

    Original DHEAYankee Traci passed along a piece that appeared on the local news in Philly. The advice just doesn’t seem to make sense:

    Melody McCrea loves to shop online but hates being barraged with pop-up ads.

    “I just always x out,” explained McCrea.

    But the federal trade commission says that doesn’t necessarily get you out safely.

    “We often see pop-up ads as a common form of negative option marketing,” said Gregory Ash of the Federal Trade Commission.

    With negative option marketing, companies take your silence as acceptance and bill you until you opt-out or cancel.

    Ash says pop-ups are the newest form of attack by unscrupulous marketers.

    “Even hitting that x signs you up to the service,” added Ash.

    According to the FTC, these sneaky pops ups appear after you’ve bought something online. The store is partnered with the marketer and gives them your credit card number.

    Consumers don’t know they’re enrolled until they notice the charge and that’s what happened to melody.

    “I noticed toward the end of the month, every month since January, I’ve been getting charged this $14.95,” explained McCrea.

    The company told Melody she accepted a free gift card after buying a present online and that automatically enrolled her in a buyers club.

    Melody says she never accepted any offer, and probably just x-ed out of a pop-up.

    “You think oh, that’s never going to happen to me. If I’m x-ing out, how can they possibly trace it to my email or my credit card,” said McCrea.

    So, how can you get out of a pop-up safely?

    “Hit alt f4, and that will close out the window,” said Ash.

    You can also hit control- alt- delete just once.

    That’s what melody is doing now.

    “I’m going to be more aware when I look at credit card statements, look at all the charges,” said McCrea,

    Not all pop-ups are sent by unscrupulous marketers. However experts say it’s hard, if not impossible, to know which ones are, so it’s important to avoid clicking anywhere in the ad and to use your key board to close them.

    Alt+F4 closes the program. So how is that any different than closing a window?


    Filed on at 2:56 am under by dcobranchi

    “etch out a future of your own design
    well tailored to your needs
    then fan the flame and keep the dream alive
    of a continent
    a continent a continent a continent” — Thomas Dolby

    This is a really cool application of solar energy to create electricity.

    An Honest Question

    Filed on August 2, 2006 at 1:47 pm under by Scott Somerville

    I generally love being inflammatory, but this time I’m really going to ask a question because I want to know the answer. (Don’t worry–I’ll continue to bait Daryl as long as he leaves the keys to this blog lying under the mat!)

    But here’s today’s sincere question. The New York Daily News has a book review (if you can call it that) of The Management of Savagery, a book written in 2004 by Abu Bakr Naji, a high-level Al Qaeda strategist. It spells out Al Qaeda’s strategic plan:

    In “The Management of Savagery,” Naji argues that the jihadis failed in the past to establish an Islamic state because they were focused on toppling local regimes. These efforts were fruitless, he argues, because jihadis were seen as fighting their own people, which alienated the masses. Moreover, the local governments proved impervious to revolution as long as they were supported by the U.S. Based on his understanding of power politics, Naji says that the jihadis had to provoke the United States to invade a country in the Middle East.

    This would 1.) turn the Muslims against local governments allied with the U.S.; 2.) destroy the U.S. aura of invincibility, which it maintains through the media, and 3.) create sympathy for the jihadis, who would be viewed as standing up to Crusader aggression. Moreover, the invasion would bleed the U.S. economy and sap its military power, leading to social unrest at home and its ultimate withdrawal from the Middle East.

    Naji’s strategy assumes “the invasion would bleed the U.S. economy and sap its military power, leading to social unrest at home and its ultimate withdrawal from the Middle East.” Bush fell for Part I of his evil plan… but has the loyal opposition here at home fallen for Part II?

    1.984 HEKs PER FAMILY

    Filed on at 7:21 am under by dcobranchi

    That’s the estimate provided by our friendly bureaucrats at the North Carolina Division of Non-Public Education.


    Filed on at 7:15 am under by dcobranchi

    This story is a bit sketchy, but apparently proposed rules against recruiting at the high school level have the potential to affect HEKs.

    “The proponents of the rule are those who feel in the interests of keeping integrity in the community that there needs to be a strong definition of recruiting,” said Goodlette, who enlisted the help of Naples High football coach Bill Kramer when it came to the specifics. “And any recruiting that’s documented needs to be dealt with fairly severely. That’s what the impact of that proposed rule would do.

    “As for the opponents, who primarily are the school choice and home-schooled people, they believe that they don’t require the same inability to compete or participate if the student is in the arts or sciences. Their concern is that this only applies to sports, so there are valid issues for both sides.”

    The speaker is the deciding vote. FL residents can contact him here.


    Filed on at 6:45 am under by dcobranchi

    For Doc:

    For J.R. and Robin knight, owning a bed and breakfast is everything they’ve always wanted. “We came here in search of our dreams, my wife always wanted a bed and breakfast and I always wanted a restaurant,” says California native J.R. Knight.

    But recently their dream has turned into a nightmare, all because of a flag they’re flying outside. “It’s a rainbow flag – to some people it means friendship to some people it means gay pride,” says Knight. But for knight, it was just a souvenir from his 12-year-old son.

    Knight says the local Meade newspaper is trying to put him out of business and was frustrated when it ran an article about the flag and did not even bother to contact him regarding why he put it up. In fact, most people we spoke to in Meade said they didn’t even know what the flag meant until the article ran. But once word got around, the reaction was harsh.

    Knight says the radio station has called him threatening to remove the restaurant’s commercials if he does not remove the flag. A local pastor stopped by said it was equivalent to hanging women’s panties on a flag pole. When Knight jokingly said he might consider that – the preacher said he would have him arrested.

    His business has suffered – down to only a few local customers. The folks in Meade who’ve boycotted say it’s too offensive for them to eat there.

    Local resident, Keith Klassen says the flag is a slap in the face to the conservative community of Meade. “To me it’s just like running up a Nazi flag in a Jewish neighborhood. I can’t walk into that establishment with that flag flying because to me that’s saying that I support what the flag stands for and I don’t,” says Klassen.

    Yeah, ’cause those gays and lesbians gassed how many millions of straights?

    Would Kansas just please go ahead and secede and leave the 21st century to the folks who want to live in it? (via C&L)


    Filed on at 3:58 am under by dcobranchi

    Yes, it looks like magical thinking/creationism/ID got killed. Again. But like all good horror shows, there’s always room for a sequel.

    Academic Freedom at the New York Times

    Filed on August 1, 2006 at 10:10 am under by Scott Somerville

    I’ve been waiting for the Times to do something that deserved a scolding… and today’s my lucky day. The “paper of record” headlines lecturer Kevin Barrett as a “skeptic” on 9/11. Dr. Barrett teaches one course at the University of Wisconsin, but that one course has proved to be quite controversial.

    Anne Althouse, my favorite law-professor-blogger, is a full professor at U of W, and she’s blogged about the issue. Here’s her take:

    But you don’t find the truth by “sifting and winnowing” in a pile of obviously worthless ideas. And you don’t learn to exercise critical thinking by reading a lot of material that is clearly wrong. And could the Capital Times learn the difference between “controversial views” and crackpot conspiracy theories? Focusing on the statements of some Republican legislator is a very easy route for the Madison newspaper. How about paying some attention to the interests of students who would like to be able to take a creditable introductory course on Islam? How about some consideration for Muslims who may not appreciate having their religion connected with ridiculous, unscientific, politically motivated bilge? How about a little less attention to the inflammatory question of whether a teacher should be fired and a little more attention to how he got the job in the first place?

    Prof. Althouse is committed to teaching the truth, not “reporting both sides of the issue.” She’s an academic, not a journalist. She’s all for “reality-based teaching” and she thinks Barrett is an embarassment to the good name of a fine university.

    If Dr. Barrett used his tax-funded teaching position to promote Intelligent Design, I think I could predict Daryl’s reality-based reaction. But I can’t predict his take on this one.

    What’s the word, Mr. Cobranchi?


    Filed on at 6:34 am under by dcobranchi

    Teaching the test applauded:

    It’s a teacher’s job to prepare students for test questions

    It’s not Mark DelPercio’s fault that he is a good teacher. (He is the teacher-coach at Middletown High School, where most 10th-graders said they received math test questions in advance, July 25th edition)

    I thought that a teacher’s job was to prepare his or her students for any kind of test or quiz that may come about in the future.

    Students have stated that when they were given the state test, that they had recognized some of the questions. So what’s the problem? It would kind of defeat the purpose of the test if they had no clue what the answers were. The reason for a test is to ensure that the student knows and understands the material that was presented to them during class.

    Timothy Danz, Newark

    I can only assume that Danz is 150 years old and senile. Or this letter is a spoof. Anything less is just plain scary.

    EAT ME

    Filed on at 6:11 am under by dcobranchi

    An HEK won a contest in which part of the prize is to have her photo appear on boxes of Kraft Mac & Cheese. Pretty cool and almost as good as being on a box of Wheaties. But I think they really need to re-think the placement of the pic.


    Filed on at 5:43 am under by dcobranchi

    Today’s the day science and rational thought kick ID and magical thinking to the curb (again). Good luck RSR.

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