Utterly Meaningless » 2007 » January

    Filed on January 31, 2007 at 6:48 pm under by dcobranchi

    Letter of the Day.

    Q. I have a 3-year-old daughter. I am interested in home-schooling her. This seems to be a popular movement. How easy is it?

    A. Homeschooling is popular but not easy. There are three legal options for becoming able to home-school in California: First, parents must obtain a California teaching credential for the grade or grades they are teaching or hire a credentialed teacher. The second option is enrolling children in a public school independent-study program. The third option is enrolling children in a private school independent-study program.


    Filed on at 6:44 am under by dcobranchi

    is up at the PalmTree Pundit.


    Filed on January 29, 2007 at 5:20 am under by dcobranchi

    Shorter Wilmington News-Journal: We don’t want everyone to quit smoking because we need the money.


    Filed on at 5:05 am under by dcobranchi

    Here’s a harmless piece about the formation of a band for HEKs. My local paper is currently playing it up at the top of its website.


    Filed on at 4:37 am under by dcobranchi

    I still haven’t seen Jesus Camp and after reading this review I’m not sure I want to. A telling bit:

    I can’t tell you that I enjoyed Jesus Camp because I didn’t. I did, however, find it profoundly disturbing. The featured children and, I suspect, many of the others, are smart as whips. They’re also utterly convinced that everything they’ve been told is right, and that anything contradictory must therefore be wrong. They’re intolerant of others at best because, as Becky Fischer puts it, they’ve “got the truth.” In the case of those who are homeschooled (one of the film’s helpful statistical offerings informs us that the vast majority of homeschooled Americans are evangelicals), they’re grievously lacking in science knowledge and the ability to think logically which, in my opinion, seriously hampers both the individual and society as a whole.

    Let’s leave aside the lack of any good statistics on who homeschools. The term “evangelical” is almost meaningless. Does it mean fundamentalist? That would seem to be the implication, but the term is used to describe nearly every Protestant denomination in the country. Baptist. Methodist. Lutheran. They’d all be classified as evangelical. Does that mean that all of the folks in Baptist pews yesterday morning were evolution-denying theocracy-craving fundamentalist wackos? ‘Cause Dr. Bruce Prescott will be surprised to learn that he’s on the same team as Mike Farris.

    For all I know, the “vast majority” of homeschooling families may have attended evangelical churches yesterday morning. What I want to know (and what the film apparently doesn’t reveal) is how many of them are in the dominionist camp. No doubt it’s a much smaller number.

    But you don’t get an Oscarâ„¢ nomination for yelling “Fire!” in an empty theater.


    Filed on January 27, 2007 at 1:39 pm under by dcobranchi

    or runaway HEK? Hard to tell from this stub.


    Filed on January 26, 2007 at 1:15 am under by dcobranchi

    This one’s kind of strange. Home educators in Avon Grove, PA (just across the border from Wilmington, DE) are threatening to sue the school district if they do not allow HEKs to participate in the local spelling bee. The point of argument seems to be over whether or not the spelling bee is part of the curriculum or an extracurricular activity.

    What confuses me, though, is that the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee rules clearly state that the local sponsor (usually a local newspaper) has “complete autonomy” on how it allows HEKs to participate. But none of the suggested structures include HEKs entering the initial classroom level bees.

    What if my local sponsor tells me that home-schooled students cannot participate?

    Your local sponsor is mistaken. Chances are good that your local sponsor has little or no experience with home schools. With some friendly intervention from the national office, we can turn that sponsor’s no into a yes. All sponsors sign a sponsorship contract with the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee. That contract clearly specifies that the sponsor “hereby agrees to sponsor a spelling bee program for all schools, public, private, parochial, and home in the following counties . . . ” Attached to the contract are names of the counties that fall within the sponsor’s area of responsibility. If you reside in one of these counties and meet the other eligibility requirements, you can participate. However, please keep in mind that a local sponsor may turn anyone away if the local spelling bee program deadlines have passed.

    How do most local sponsors work with home schools?

    The local sponsor has complete autonomy to determine how home schools participate in its spelling bee program. Because every sponsor and its community is different, there are several different participation/qualification structures. If you do not participate within your sponsor’s designated qualification structure, you are not eligible. If the issue of home schooling is new to your local sponsor, you may want to take the initiative in suggesting a qualification structure for home-schooled students in your area.

    What is a qualification structure?

    A qualification structure pinpoints how any child in a sponsored area may advance from the initial level (home school or classroom) to the national finals. The local sponsor is responsible for setting the qualification structure.

    Here are some examples of qualification structures for public, private, and parochial school students:

    1. classroom, grade, school, county, local sponsor’s final spelling bee, Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee
    2. classroom, school, district, local sponsor’s final spelling bee, Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee
    3. classroom, school, local sponsor’s final spelling bee, Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee

    Here are some examples of qualification structures for home-schooled students:

    1. home school spelling bee among siblings and/or relatives, home school association spelling bee, local sponsor’s final spelling bee, Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee
    2. home school association spelling bee, local sponsor’s final spelling bee, Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee
    3. home school association spelling bee, county, local sponsor’s final spelling bee, Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee

    Suing the school district might serve little or no purpose if the local sponsor has set up a structure that allows HEKs to enter (say through a co-op or support group).

    HSLDA may be threatening to sue for other reasons (like to establish precedent), but if the goal is really to get the girl into the bee, I don’t think they have much hope. [H/T: Carole]


    Filed on January 25, 2007 at 4:07 am under by dcobranchi

    Oh, the utter crap educrats are willing to spout. A WA high school’s environmental club’s plan to “air” Al Gore’s film “An Inconvenient Truth” is on hold because the spineless jellyfish in the front office are afraid of voter pushback. Yes, IAATM:

    Although the movie would be part of an extracurricular activity, Locke said, it is still considered supplemental because “it’s a supplement to anything that goes on under the direction of Eisenhower High School. Therefore it needs to go through our process.”

    A similar situation came up earlier this school year when Davis High School principal Lee Maras stopped the school drama club’s production of “The Laramie Project,” which had not been cleared with him first.

    The play is based on the circumstances surrounding the brutal 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student.

    At the time, district administrators expressed concern over negative community reaction to the play. While the production is still possible this year, Davis’ drama club adviser, Terry Cooper, said it would likely be after the March 13 bond election.

    The district is asking voters to approve a $65.7 million bond issue to replace four elementary schools — Garfield, Hoover, McKinley and Nob Hill — as well as Stanton Academy and the Discovery Lab School.

    Meanwhile, back at Eisenhower, the viewing of “An Inconvenient Truth” is awaiting approval from the instructional materials committee. Locke was unsure Tuesday when that meeting might be.

    My guess is March 14th. [Via Jesus’ General, who conveniently provides email addresses for the jellyfish in question.]


    Filed on January 24, 2007 at 9:44 pm under by dcobranchi

    Jeanne via the CoH found a terrific post about Rob Reich and democracy. Definitely worth a read.


    Filed on at 7:31 pm under by dcobranchi

    I forgot (again) to post a link to the latest Carnival.


    Filed on at 7:47 am under by dcobranchi

    A proposed law in TX would make it a criminal offense to miss a parent-teacher meeting.

    80R486 SLO-D

    By: Smith of Harris H.B. No. 557


    AN ACT
    relating to the failure of a parent to attend a public school
    parent-teacher conference; providing a criminal penalty.
    SECTION 1. Chapter 26, Education Code, is amended by adding
    Section 26.014 to read as follows:
    (a) A parent of a student commits an offense if:
    (1) the parent receives written notice by certified
    mail of at least three proposed dates from which the parent can
    choose for scheduling a parent-teacher conference between the
    parent and the student’s teacher;
    (2) the parent:
    (A) fails to respond to the notice; or
    (B) schedules a parent-teacher conference on one
    of the dates proposed in the notice or on an alternative date agreed
    to by the parent and teacher and fails to:
    (i) attend the scheduled conference; or
    (ii) before the scheduled conference,
    notify the teacher or an administrator of the campus to which the
    teacher is assigned that the parent will be unable to attend the
    conference; and
    (3) in the case of a student with more than one parent,
    another parent of the student does not attend a parent-teacher
    conference scheduled in accordance with this subsection.
    (b) An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.
    (c) An offense under this section may be prosecuted in a
    court in which an offense under Section 25.094(b) may be
    (d) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under this
    section that the parent had a reasonable excuse for failing to
    attend the parent-teacher conference.
    (e) The clerk of the court in which an offense under this
    section is prosecuted shall transfer the proceeds of any fine
    collected by the court under this section to the school district
    that employs the teacher with whom the parent was scheduled to meet
    in the parent-teacher conference. The district may use funds
    collected under this section only to:
    (1) provide additional compensation to classroom
    teachers in the district; or
    (2) purchase school supplies other than textbooks as
    defined by Section 31.002.
    SECTION 2. This Act takes effect September 1, 2007.


    Filed on at 7:02 am under by dcobranchi

    I think Razvan Rovinaru may have spent all of 5 minutes boiling the homeschool vs. public school decision down to six very short paragraphs. Pretty funny.


    Filed on January 23, 2007 at 5:36 pm under by dcobranchi

    This moron is dragging the name Carrie through the mud. Of all her suggestions for improving homeschooling, this one was my favorite:

    Require a license to teach homeschool to be prominently displayed – much like that required by restaurants.

    She really has thought this through, eh? [Tip credit: Jeff]


    Filed on January 22, 2007 at 4:38 pm under by dcobranchi

    In Augusta, GA.


    Filed on at 7:27 am under by dcobranchi

    Looks like I’ll miss Dubya’s visit to DuPont. My complete SWAG is that he’ll visit the Nafion® R&D facility at my old stomping grounds, the Experimental Station.


    Filed on January 21, 2007 at 7:05 am under by dcobranchi

    The Zanesville (OH) Times Recorder has four short articles up on home education. The paper gives no clue for the impetus, but the articles seem to be mostly harmless.

    From public to homeschool: Students prefer freedom and hands-on experience

    Library offers program to benefit homeschoolers

    Staying involved is key to success for homeschooling, say parents, students

    Reasons vary, but families happy with decision to teach at home


    Filed on at 6:47 am under by dcobranchi

    This town has a larger share of wackos than any other place I’ve lived. The question of the day concerned a possible moratorium on the death penalty in NC. My favorite response:

    Carry out executions quickly like Saddam’s

    By Raymond E. Wright
    Hope Mills

    The death penalty was carried out on Jesus Christ, who was without sin. Surely, it should not be a problem for those who decided to do a sin that warrants the death penalty. Jesus Christ gave his life as an example to all of us. God gave the laws to Moses in Leviticus 24:17, that he who kills any man shall surely be put to death. Even adultery and homosexuality were, and still are in some nations, capital offenses. When kings’ lives were threatened, those defendants were also executed.

    When people, especially our elected officials, make comments that it is good for people to be dead, then this nation is no better than Sodom or Gomorrah. Scripture says that if we hate our brethren then we are murderers, and if we say that we love God whom no one has seen, then we are liars. Vengeance is the Lord’s because he is the reason for us being, not man.

    “Thou shall not kill” should not be misconstrued with taking one’s life without reason; that’s murder. This is what the capital punishment is about. Sure, there are probably innocent people on death row, but today people are murdering people in front of witnesses and just don’t care.

    If the capital punishment for all of those who have murdered was carried out as quick as Saddam Hussein’s execution, the murder rate in this nation would decrease. Why? Even murderers don’t want to die.

    We don’t need a moratorium. We need law enforcement. Unsolved murders will be solved immediately if the law said that people who know who committed the crime but refuse to speak (no matter how long it takes) will be charged with the same crime.

    All we need is common-sense laws for this nation to have a chance of surviving.


    Filed on at 6:23 am under by dcobranchi

    from APOD.


    Filed on January 20, 2007 at 3:32 pm under by dcobranchi

    This one is too funny. A blog dedicated to some of the weird things that people post up on Freecyclye lists across the country.


    Filed on at 7:56 am under by dcobranchi

    There a a couple of announcements over at Hell’s Leading Daily that Cav and his human wife, Carol are the proud parents of newborn twin cambions. Congrats!


    Filed on January 19, 2007 at 9:55 pm under by dcobranchi

    I just don’t know what to say about this one. Other than “Ewwwww!” that is.


    Filed on January 18, 2007 at 4:31 am under by dcobranchi

    Dear Wendy,

    We do.

    Love & kisses,


    Work together to raise and educate children

    In response to the Jan. 1 letter, “Do random drug tests on school staff”:

    I am always taken aback (though don’t know why) by the lack of support school personnel receive from people in the community. I am equally surprised by the fact that most of the disgruntled people are parents of our students (who criticize but continue to use the system). Maybe I (a drug-free math teacher) took the letter the wrong way, but it sounded like it was dripping with sarcasm at the expense of school personnel. In which case, I say, why stop with school staff? We should vote for random testing of parents, and I’m sure we would be equally surprised by that outcome! After all, we deserve to know the hands we educators put our students into each evening.

    While there are always bad apples, the majority of educators try to do the right thing for the right reason. Most of us are in education because we really do enjoy teaching our young people. For someone to disagree with a board-made policy (note, the school board does not include school staff) is one thing. To make degrading comments about school personnel because of it is just wrong!

    It takes a whole community working together to raise and educate a child. If parents are so convinced our students are being educated by drugged-up teachers, they should feel free to use another school system. Better yet, get off the sidelines and get your hands dirty helping with the issues facing education.

    Wendy Chestnut

    For the record, I think the letter she’s complaining about was wrong. The stupid drug testing policy was instituted by the School Board. They’re the ones who should be forced to pee into a jar.


    Filed on January 17, 2007 at 9:22 pm under by Tim Haas

    You have to hand it to Charles Murray — after all the shellacking he got for The Bell Curve, he’s still not backing down:

    Education is becoming the preferred method for diagnosing and attacking a wide range problems in American life. The No Child Left Behind Act is one prominent example. Another is the recent volley of articles that blame rising income inequality on the increasing economic premium for advanced education. Crime, drugs, extramarital births, unemployment–you name the problem, and I will show you a stack of claims that education is to blame, or at least implicated.

    One word is missing from these discussions: intelligence. Hardly anyone will admit it, but education’s role in causing or solving any problem cannot be evaluated without considering the underlying intellectual ability of the people being educated. Today and over the next two days, I will put the case for three simple truths about the mediating role of intelligence that should bear on the way we think about education and the nation’s future.

    Nor does the second installment let up:

    There is no magic point at which a genuine college-level education becomes an option, but anything below an IQ of 110 is problematic. If you want to do well, you should have an IQ of 115 or higher. Put another way, it makes sense for only about 15% of the population, 25% if one stretches it, to get a college education. And yet more than 45% of recent high school graduates enroll in four-year colleges. Adjust that percentage to account for high-school dropouts, and more than 40% of all persons in their late teens are trying to go to a four-year college–enough people to absorb everyone down through an IQ of 104.

    I am reserving comment till I’ve had a chance to read all three bits and ruminate, but if anyone has strong reactions immediately, I’d love to hear them.


    Filed on at 3:34 pm under by dcobranchi

    One for Scott Somerville. Whodathunkit? Obeying the law might be a good idea after all.

    I guess elections really do have consequences.


    Filed on at 6:14 am under by dcobranchi

    A group of HEKs won the RI Lego League championship. Go, Team!

    The Engineers of Tomorrow have to raise $10,000 to for the Atlanta competition before April. Johnson said the team plans to tour the state with its robot and research presentation to help defray travel costs. They plan to hold a fundraiser over the coming months and are looking for corporate sponsorship.

    For more information on the team and FIRST LEGO League, visit www.engineersoftomorrow.com.


    Filed on at 6:08 am under by dcobranchi

    HEKs in Western North Carolina are eligible for many of the scholarships listed here. Deadlines are fast approaching.


    Filed on January 16, 2007 at 7:29 am under by dcobranchi

    This anti-TeenScreen screed (try saying that 3 times fast) keeps accusing supporters of the program of using straw men arguments. I don’t think the term means what they think it means.

    And I’m not particularly impressed with an online petition which has garnered a whole 16,000 signatures.


    Filed on at 7:22 am under by dcobranchi

    I dont beeliive that WUYFUY cna caws dain bramage.

    NEW AD ——>

    Filed on January 15, 2007 at 12:10 pm under by dcobranchi

    I haven’t reviewed the science yet, but at least they’re not Dominionist (in the apolitical meaning of the word).


    Filed on at 4:36 am under by dcobranchi

    in the sense that I want to see him banned. I want good regulations to apply to him who chooses to spew nonsense about homeschooling.


    Filed on January 14, 2007 at 12:34 pm under by dcobranchi

    How will kids in South Jersey find their way to Philly if the schools aren’t required to teach about Commodore Barry?


    Filed on at 8:06 am under by dcobranchi

    The reporter forgot the obligatory negative comment from the edu-crat. 🙂 Worth a read.


    Filed on at 7:52 am under by dcobranchi

    From PRWeb:

    On this weekend’s PBS show Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, Lucky Severson examines efforts by some religious families to create a system of homeschooling. The show runs at different times on each PBS station. The local affiliate usually lists it in their schedule under Religion and Ethics. This will also be streamed on the website along with a copy of the script.

    About the Filming:

    With shots of homeschoolers ice skating, working in their biology co-op and practicing their debating skills, the show will highlight the various options homeschooling children have in today’s world of computers, co-ops and businesses willing to open their doors to homeschoolers.

    Interviews with Dr. Bruce Shortt and Dr. Voddie Baucham, both homeschooling dads, and Jube Dankworth, National Director of Homeschooling Family to Family, an organization whose mission is to bring one million more children into homeschooling, this week’s Religion and Ethics takes a practical look at the real world of homeschooling.


    Filed on at 7:23 am under by dcobranchi

    but it ain’t homeschooling.

    Hybrid Schools – Double School Capacity
    A Possible Solution to WCPSS Growth and Facilities Challenges

    A High Level Proposal for: Wake County Public School System

    Elizabeth Granai
    Cary, NC

    January 10, 2007

    Purpose: To propose an outside-the-box, creative approach to addressing the current challenges faced by the WCPSS – rapid growth of student populations and the lack of available school facilities. Also, to propose an alternate or an additional option to the mandatory conversion to year-round schools – one that is far less costly than building new schools and one that will be better accepted by the community of parents opposed to mandatory year-round.

    Note: This proposal does not attempt to cover every facet of the creation of and conversion to the hybrid school concept, but it does strive to put forth a new idea for consideration.

    What is a Hybrid School?
    A Hybrid School is a school that combines traditional public school education in public school facilities with WCPSS-hosted online learning that is self-paced for the student and parent-facilitated. It also incorporates less formal, parent-led home schooling for subjects such as physical education, music, language, art, etc. Hybrid schools would fall under the magnet school category; however, would be distinct from typical magnet schools.

    How would Hybrid Schools Work?
    General: Hybrid schools would provide an abbreviated school day and curriculum at public school facilities for all students. The remaining daily instruction is obtained via WCPSS-approved technology based learning and parent-led lessons each school day. Technology-based solutions would require a scalable, web-based Learning Management System, Learning Content Management System, content development tools, blogs, wiki’s, discussion forums, etc. – all of which are being provided today by various eLearning companies.

    Students: All students would attend either morning or afternoon half- day sessions at the Hybrid School facility which would run from 8:00am-1l:30am and 12:30-4:00pm. There would be no lunch facilities needed and no time allocated for lunch. Lunch is the parents’ responsibility and happens off-site either before the pm session or after the am school session. There will be time allocated for healthy snacks brought from home for both morning and afternoon sessions.

    Teachers: All teachers would instruct in either morning or afternoon sessions with a 45-minute break for lunch and with additional hours (as needed to meet work schedule requirements) spent contributing as needed and assigned to support of the Online Learning Environment. Instructional design, curriculum development, test development, materials management, email support and discussion forum leadership, Q&A, FAQ development, blog support uploading and maintaining of files, etc. are all examples of potential deliverables outside of traditional instructor-led, classroom teaching.

    How would Hybrid Schools Address Extreme, Rapid Growth in Wake County?
    By combining Half-Day Public School Education with technology-based, curriculum based home schooling, each school that converts to a Hybrid will be able to serve double the number of students served. For example, if a school can hold 1,200 students in a traditional school calendar, by converting to a WCPSS Hybrid School, it can then support 2,400 students – also all in a traditional calendar school year.

    Is there a Market for Hybrid Schools? How many Students and Families
    Market research would need to be conducted to answer this question for certain. However, it is reasonable to expect that many local families, particularly affluent families with flexible work arrangements would find this option not only attractive as an alternative to year-round conversion but also highly desirable.

    Would there be Special Requirements for Hybrid Schools?
    Absolutely. There would be technology requirements at WCPSS and at each student’s home, there would be parent involvement and commitment requirements, and perhaps even parental education requirements.

    Each classroom would be shared by 2 teachers and 2 groups of students –one in the am and the other in the pm. Some creative physical space solutions will need to be implemented to allow teacher and class autonomy and personalization in Elementary classrooms.

    Are there other Benefits to Hybrid Schools besides addressing the Overcrowding and growth issues?
    Yes. This would be WCPSS’s foray into the future of education. It’s time to embrace what is here today and leverage technology as much as possible to reduce costs associated with building more facilities. It would also give WCPSS the opportunity to implement compelling curricula that is proving effective for school aged children in other areas of the country. Citizens, the media, academics, parents, students and teachers are all very critical about education today and how it desperately needs to be re-invented. Evaluation of use of curricula such as Core Knowledge (www.coreknowledge.org ) or other suitable methodologies would be possible – in an instant.

    From parents and families perspective, those who wish to have more involvement in their child’s day and their education would now have a excellent option that enables this. Some might choose this option and truly find that it offers the very best of all worlds…the best that public schools provide, the best nurturing learning environment at home and the best use of today’s powerful learning technologies.

    Thanks for your consideration.


    Elizabeth Granai
    A Cary Resident who would opt for a Hybrid School Education

    I don’t see this as anything close to a workable alternative to going to year-round schools. Right now, HEKs comprise approximately 2 percent of the school-age population. Could a “free” curriculum draw as many as another 2 percent? Perhaps, but in states that have formed online charters we’ve seen HEKs being pulled back into the system. So this proposal might be able to serve somewhat under 2 percent of the kids currently in the g-schools. In order to fill up her 1200 student school, she’d need to pull from a student population of 120,000. [Math error in original post fixed]

    Wake Co. enrolls approximately 125,000. [Tip credit: Toni]

    UPDATE: I heard from the author of the proposal. She’s going to delete references to homeschooling in future drafts. I wish her luck.


    Filed on January 13, 2007 at 6:49 am under by dcobranchi

    World Nut Daily is proclaiming Victoire! and crediting HSLDA. I somehow doubt it:

    A campaign of telephone calls and e-mails from American homeschoolers is being credited with convincing legislators in France to withdraw a plan that would have made such home instruction efforts there illegal, according to the Home School Legal Defense Fund.

    … [For any folks with reading comprehension problems who happen to wander by, those are ellipses, which mean I’m skipping ahead]

    “The French Minister of the Family, Philippe Bas, vocally opposed several articles of this huge bill entitled ‘Protection de L’Enfance,’ which means for “Protection of the Children,'” Klicka wrote. “He specifically opposed the sections regulating and essentially prohibiting homeschooling, saying in the French parliament: ‘As they are, I am not favorable to these amendments [numbers 127 and 128], I find them too restrictive…'”

    Sounds like French homeschoolers contacted the French government and got this pulled. Good deal. Doesn’t mean that the sheeple network had anything to do with it, though.


    Filed on January 12, 2007 at 1:36 pm under by dcobranchi

    The financial advice in Money Magazine is worth slightly less than what you’ll pay for it. I think every one of his assumptions and calculations are just whack.


    Filed on at 12:16 pm under by dcobranchi

    Via Techbargains, a decent point & shoot camera for $100.

    This one might be a good glove compartment camera.


    Filed on at 10:08 am under by dcobranchi

    A friend asked for “No” votes on the poll concerning “Do you think that more U.S. troops in Iraq can help stabilize the situation there?” (The poll is at the bottom of the right sidebar.)

    I read the Robesonian occasionally. It makes World Nut Daily look positively Left Wing.


    Filed on at 2:17 am under by dcobranchi

    Interesting piece in today’s Fay Observer:

    A student said he took a 9mm handgun to Westover High School in February to protect himself from other students.

    “I was going to sell it, but at the same time I was having a problem with a couple of guys who were going to Westover,” 17-year-old Lamar Hagood told Superior Court Judge E. Lynn Johnson on Thursday morning.


    In the 11 months since Hagood’s arrest:

    * A student was charged with taking a handgun to Westover High in June. Investigators reported that the boy said he brought the gun because he had been threatened.
    * A Westover High football player was accused of shooting another student with a BB gun on campus in August.
    * A 14-year-old boy was arrested last week and accused of shooting into car with three students in it as they were leaving Westover High for the day. The teen, who doesn’t attend Westover, was charged with three counts of attempted murder and one count each of discharging a weapon into an occupied property, possessing a firearm on a school campus and trespassing.

    What would Marsha Smith say?


    Filed on January 11, 2007 at 10:27 am under by dcobranchi

    I’m so sick of $!%*% sheeple passing along whatever garbage the “shepherds” shove into the internet tubes. This one, although not homeschooling related, has been making the rounds on homeschool lists today:

    Stop holding your representatives accountable

    That’s what they want you to do.

    Lots of things going on lately that we need to be aware of and this one is at the top of the list.

    The very first bill scheduled in the Senate this year intends to get you out of their hair. The mostly Democratic side of the aisle of the US Senate has set their focus to limit the free speech of Americans from trying to keep track of and affect the actions of our legislators by limiting and stopping grass roots efforts.

    The U.S. Senate is about to vote on legislation aimed at curbing lobbying corruption. Much of the bill is good. But there is a section of the bill which unfairly targets grassroots lobbying organizations and would penalize them for alerting Americans about important issues and attempting to influence government policy. If the bill passes, organizations like Focus on the Family Action, the American Family Association, FRC Action and American Values may be severely hampered from informing you in the future about significant legislation affecting the family and family values.

    Instead of addressing the true lobbying problems – high-paid lobbyists buying influence with members of Congress with international trips and fancy dinners – Section 220 will place the bulls-eye squarely on you.

    Section 220 will require that organizations such as Focus on the Family Action that alert Americans to important legislation affecting our country be burdened by miles of new red tape. These bureaucratic restrictions are unconscionable, and failure to comply could result in $100,000 fines.

    Hear yesterday’s Focus on The Family Broadcast explaining this issue. http://tinyurl.com/yxw3d3

    To reach your congressman and senators, call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121.

    Dobson is lying out of his ass. Here’s what Section 220 really says [emphasis added]:


    (a) Definitions.–Section 3 of the Act (2 U.S.C. 1602) is amended–
    (1) in paragraph (7), by adding at the end of the
    following: nd“Lobbying activities include paid efforts to
    stimulate grassroots lobbying, but do not include grassroots
    .”; a
    (2) by adding at the end of the following:
    “(17) Grassroots lobbying.–The term `grassroots lobbying’
    means the voluntary efforts of members of the general public to
    communicate their own views on an issue to Federal officials or
    to encourage other members of the general public to do the
    “(18) Paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying.–
    “(A) In general.–The term `paid efforts to
    stimulate grassroots lobbying’ means any paid attempt
    in support of lobbying contacts on behalf of a client

    to influence the general public or segments thereof to
    contact one or more covered legislative or executive
    branch officials (or Congress as a whole) to urge such
    officials (or Congress) to take specific action with
    respect to a matter described in section 3(8)(A),
    except that such term does not include any
    communications by an entity directed to its members,
    employees, officers, or shareholders.
    “(B) Paid attempt to influence the general public
    or segments thereof.–The term `paid attempt to
    influence the general public or segments thereof’ does
    not include an attempt to influence directed at less
    than 500 members of the general public.
    “(C) Registrant.–For purposes of this paragraph,
    a person or entity is a member of a registrant if the
    person or entity–
    “(i) pays dues or makes a contribution of
    more than a nominal amount to the entity;
    “(ii) makes a contribution of more than a
    nominal amount of time to the entity;
    “(iii) is entitled to participate in the
    governance of the entity;
    “(iv) is 1 of a limited number of honorary
    or life members of the entity; or
    “(v) is an employee, officer, director or
    member of the entity.
    “(19) Grassroots lobbying firm.–The term `grassroots
    lobbying firm’ means a person or entity that–
    “(A) is retained by 1 or more clients to engage in
    paid efforts
    to stimulate grassroots lobbying on behalf
    of such clients; and
    “(B) receives income of, or spends or agrees to
    spend, an aggregate of $25,000 or more for such efforts
    in any quarterly period.”.
    (b) Registration.–Section 4(a) of the Act (2 U.S.C. 1603(a)) is
    (1) in the flush matter at the end of paragraph (3)(A), by
    adding at the end the following: “For purposes of clauses (i)
    and (ii), the term `lobbying activities’ shall not include paid
    efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying.”; and
    (2) by inserting after paragraph (3) the following:
    “(4) Filing by grassroots lobbying firms.–Not later than
    45 days after a grassroots lobbying firm first is retained by a
    client to engage in paid efforts to stimulate grassroots
    lobbying, such grassroots lobbying firm shall register with the
    Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House of
    (c) Separate Itemization of Paid Efforts To Stimulate Grassroots
    Lobbying.–Section 5(b) of the Act (2 U.S.C. 1604(b)) is amended–
    (1) in paragraph (3), by–
    (A) inserting after “total amount of all income”
    the following: “(including a separate good faith
    estimate of the total amount of income relating
    specifically to paid efforts to stimulate grassroots
    lobbying and, within that amount, a good faith estimate
    of the total amount specifically relating to paid
    advertising)”; and
    (B) inserting “or a grassroots lobbying firm”
    after “lobbying firm”;
    (2) in paragraph (4), by inserting after “total expenses”
    the following: “(including a good faith estimate of the total
    amount of expenses relating specifically to paid efforts to
    stimulate grassroots lobbying and, within that total amount, a
    good faith estimate of the total amount specifically relating
    to paid advertising)”; and
    (3) by adding at the end the following:
    “Subparagraphs (B) and (C) of paragraph (2) shall not apply with
    respect to reports relating to paid efforts to stimulate grassroots
    lobbying activities.”.
    (d) Good Faith Estimates and De Minimis Rules for Paid Efforts To
    Stimulate Grassroots Lobbying.–
    (1) In general.–Section 5(c) of the Act (2 U.S.C. 1604(c))
    is amended to read as follows:
    “(c) Estimates of Income or Expenses.–For purposes of this
    section, the following shall apply:
    “(1) Estimates of income or expenses shall be made as
    “(A) Estimates of amounts in excess of $10,0000
    shall be rounded to the nearest $20,000.
    “(B) In the event income or expenses do not exceed
    $10,000, the registrant shall include a statement that
    income or expenses totaled less than $10,000 for the
    reporting period.
    “(2) Estimates of income or expenses relating specifically
    to paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying shall be made
    as follows:
    “(A) Estimates of amounts in excess of $25,000
    shall be rounded to the nearest $20,000.
    “(B) In the event income or expenses do not exceed
    $25,000, the registrant shall include a statement that
    income or expenses totaled less than $25,000 for the
    reporting period.”.
    (2) Tax reporting.–Section 15 of the Act (2 U.S.C. 1610)
    is amended–
    (A) in subsection (a)–
    (i) in paragraph (1), by striking “and”
    after the semicolon;
    (ii) in paragraph (2), by striking the
    period and inserting “; and”; and
    (iii) by adding at the end the following:
    “(3) in lieu of using the definition of paid efforts to
    stimulate grassroots lobbying in section 3(18), consider as
    paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying only those
    activities that are grassroots expenditures as defined in
    section 4911(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.”; and
    (B) in subsection (b)–
    (i) in paragraph (1), by striking “and”
    after the semicolon;
    (ii) in paragraph (2), by striking the
    period and inserting “; and”; and
    (iii) by adding at the end the following:
    “(3) in lieu of using the definition of paid efforts to
    stimulate grassroots lobbying in section 3(18), consider as
    paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying only those
    activities that are grassroots expenditures as defined in
    section 4911(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.”.

    So, who’s paying Dobson and Focus on the Family? And what percentage of the $!%*% sheeple will bother to actually read the bill in question?


    Filed on January 10, 2007 at 7:57 pm under by dcobranchi

    Today’s APOD is simply beautiful. Even cooler, though, is the linked Hubble viewer. You can zoom way in to see dozens of galaxies.


    Filed on at 7:39 pm under by dcobranchi

    There’s been a vigorous argument going on over at HEM-Networking over the future of home education now that the Democrats are in control of Congress. Some folks argue that the Dems are looking for payback and are targeting groups they perceive as right-wing. Homeschoolers supposedly are among the targets. Total bullshit, of course.

    I mention all this, though, as the backstory for highlighting this ugly quote from the REPUBLICAN House leader in Colorado.

    Republicans are also committed to providing parents and students with the tools and choices they need to succeed. Charter schools, home schooling and online education are all choices that parents should have when they consider which environment will help their children meet with greater success.

    These options are particularly valuable to at-risk students, who in traditional public school settings often struggle to keep pace. All of these schools help to form our public education system, and deserve our support. We should always be looking for ways to help them advance and improve, while still demanding the accountability that our taxpayers deserve.

    We’re not part of the public education system and we owe the taxpayers zero accountability.


    Filed on at 7:18 pm under by dcobranchi

    I’m not sure what to make of this conservative Christian group:

    Beck’s legislative wish-list is, in fact, broader than what we’re used to seeing. It includes the standard bullet points familiar to most religious conservatives — among them a ban on embryonic stem cell research, the ultrasound bill, and support for a measure to award vouchers to disabled public school students.

    But Beck has also declared his group to be an ally of AT&T, and will support a bill to ease the way for the phone company to become a major TV and Internet provider in Georgia.

    “This is a decent example of the issues we’re going to get into,” Beck said.

    Why? Home-schoolers, most of whom are conservative Christians, require cheap and easy access to the Internet, he said. (Cynics will also point out that many non-profit organization require contributions to thrive, even from corporations.)

    I think the cynics may have a point.


    Filed on at 7:08 pm under by dcobranchi

    Evidently it’s so important that kids in Chatham schools wear uniforms that the educrats would rather keep kids out of school than let them attend without the required dress.



    Filed on January 9, 2007 at 10:52 am under by dcobranchi

    Homeschoolbuzz is holding the CoH for ransom.


    Filed on at 8:58 am under by dcobranchi

    3Moms.com appears to be up to its old tricks.


    I just found your blog site after doing a search on information regarding 3Moms.com. I wish that I had done this search before making my purchase.

    Unfortunately, I ordered from this company on 12/1/06, and I have not received my order to date. However, my credit card was instantly charged for my order. I am wondering if the information on their site is bogus since I have only received automated responses from the numerous emails I have sent them inquiring about my order. Their website has no phone number listed, and there is no address information that I can find. I am frustrated and upset because this is the first time that I have purchased software from a home school site. It’s disappointing because I am on medical disability and my family income is very limited. I ordered from this site hoping to buy good software for my children only to discover that I have been scammed.

    I find it interesting that they claim to be a “little behind” on fulfilling their orders when they still send me their newsletter on a weekly basis. I received another newsletter from them just this morning. Once again I have sent an email inquiring about my order. This time, I used the two emails that were listed in your blog which were posted by someone named “Laura” who supposedly handles their customer service. I instantly received their automated response email from someone named “Zoe”.

    Their responses are as follows:

    1st Email: Sent to 3moms.specialcare@gmail.com


    Hello! Thanks for your email. Just wanted to let you know that we got your email and that we are working to resolve any problems you may have. We will respond to your email as soon as we can. Thank you.


    Customer Service


    2nd Email: Sent to sware.cs@gmail.com:


    Thanks for your email. Just wanted to let you know that you have reached customer service at FreeHomeschoolSoftware.com. We will get back to you as soon as we can with your question or status.

    Customer Service

    I also tried an email address I found under the portion of their website that advertises the Curriculum-Fair in a box. My email was rejected from this address with the following message:

    Hi. This is the qmail-send program at mail2.opentransfer.com.

    I’m afraid I wasn’t able to deliver your message to the following addresses.

    This is a permanent error; I’ve given up. Sorry it didn’t work out.

    : does not like recipient.

    Remote host said: 550 5.7.1 No such recipient Giving up on

    Thank you for allowing me to ramble and vent my frustration. Please keepinforming potential victims about this company’s business practices.

    Thanks again,

    I’m pretty sure it’s a violation of federal law for a mail order firm to charge a credit card before the product ships.


    Filed on January 8, 2007 at 8:54 pm under by dcobranchi

    Or, more precisely, an uber geek:

    Wikipedia creator keeps low profile off Internet

    …Confessed cheapskate Wales fled high-cost California for St. Petersburg four years ago with his wife, Christina (a former Mitsubishi steel trader whom he met while living in Chicago), and their home-schooled daughter Kira, 5.


    Filed on at 5:09 pm under by dcobranchi

    Our tax dollars at work:

    Millions of Britons who visit the United States are to have their fingerprints stored on the FBI database alongside those of criminals, in a move that has outraged civil rights groups.

    The Observer has established that under new plans to combat terrorism, the US government will demand that visitors have all 10 fingers scanned when they enter the country. The information will be shared with intelligence agencies, including the FBI, with no restrictions on their international use.

    And, of course, other countries will retaliate against American citizens traveling abroad. Thus, our fingerprints will will end up being stored in police databases all around the globe, including here in the US.

    We all get to be Brandon Mayfield now.


    Filed on January 7, 2007 at 2:31 pm under by dcobranchi

    Good Morning America is working on a story about the continued increase in homeschooling in our nation. Many stories in the past have highlighted this important and unique discipline of education.

    And now, there is a new angle we are interested in profiling…how do full time working parents find a way to homeschool their children. We would love to hear you share your tips, and explain how it works for your family.

    Initially, we only want to speak with families via phone and continue from there. We would love to speak with you!

    Please contact the producer, Susan Kriskey, if you are interested in helping to explore this topic for a news story. Contact info…office 212 456 7648 or email: susan.m.kriskey@abc.com. Thanks very much in advance.


    Filed on January 6, 2007 at 8:15 pm under by dcobranchi

    I wonder if anyone at the paper caught the irony in this lede:

    ROBBINS — Moore County narcotics agents on Thursday raided a home at 338 Hemp St. Extension and seized about 1,387 grams of marijuana and 319 prescription pills.

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