Utterly Meaningless » 2007 » February
  • Principal with a clue

    Filed on February 28, 2007 at 8:37 am under by COD

    The preponderance of research clearly shows that homework for elementary students does not make a difference in student achievement. It is hard to believe that a strategy used so extensively has no foundation. Even the most ardent supporters of homework have only been able to produce evidence of associative rather than causal relationships. In addition, it is not surprising that there is no research that demonstrates that homework increases a child’s level of understanding, improves their attitude towards school or inspires a love of learning. For a large number of students we know the opposite is true– large amounts of homework stifle motivation, diminish a child’s love of learning, turn reading into a chore, negatively affect the quality of family time, diminish creativity, and turn learning to drudgery.

    David Ackerman, principal of Oak Knoll Elementary School in Menlo Park, CA

    The new homework policy in his school essentially boils down to this.

    Wow. Really, somebody give this guy an award. However, since he is so totally going against the standard practice, he’ll probably be lucky to keep his job.

    Hat tip: Judy Aron – cross posted from ODonnellWeb as I help keep the lights on here while Daryl is drinking working in Germany.


    Filed on February 27, 2007 at 1:27 am under by dcobranchi

    Mid-2008 or the second half of next year? CNN wants to know.

    Production on the new chips is slated to start in the second half of next year, Intel said, putting it ahead of AMD (Charts), which has slated 45 nanometer production for mid-2008, according to Reuters.


    Filed on February 26, 2007 at 5:38 pm under by dcobranchi

    Try searching Snopes before you make a fool of yourself (again).

    The fact is that the state has said abortion is not immoral, but that doesn’t end the debate, nor the struggle to end abortion which, nevertheless is increasingly held as a moral outrage. The same debate once raged over slavery. In 2005, Germany legalized prostitution, and gave it full legitimacy as a source of employment such that an out of work Information Specialist who was drawing unemployment benefits while seeking a job through the state’s job bank, was threatened with termination of her unemployment benefits if she refused an interview with a brothel. After all, it’s no longer considered immoral, right? Are we so numb that we even need to ask this question? While states are supposedly trying to end human sexual trafficking (slavery), this state apparently wants to give it the stamp of legitimacy and the force of law.

    German homeschooling and Nazis figure prominently in the piece, too.


    Filed on at 5:18 pm under by dcobranchi

    Must fight the HSLDA pull…. Arrrghhhh!


    In all seriousness, I don’t know anything about German law or culture (other than that Schweinschnitzel is REALLY good and they serve beer in half-liter mugs).

    HSLDA at it again

    Filed on at 2:30 pm under by COD

    In this press release HSLDA implies that homeschoolers are not capable of dealing with over zealous school officials on their own. I guess the 80% of homeschooling families that are not members of HSLDA are screwed.

    The Louis family’s experience should serve as an example to all family who are homeschooling or planning to homeschool. If local public school officials seek to meet with you and review your curriculum, you do not need to comply, and should contact our offices immediately.

    Taking charge of your children’s education also means taking charge of understanding the legal requirements. They are so simple in most states that needing a lawyer to handle them for you is ridiculous. That’s not to say that occasionally a lawyer is needed, because sometimes they are. However, one silly letter from the local Superintendent is not a crisis that requires the services of a lawyer. It requires a firm response from a homeschooler that understands the law they are homeschooling under. If they continue to hassle you, then you get a lawyer.

    A Picture is worth 1000 words

    Filed on at 11:43 am under by COD



    via Bacon’s Rebellion.


    Filed on February 24, 2007 at 4:17 pm under by dcobranchi

    I don’t know if I’ll have any kind of intertubes access while I’m in Germany.


    Filed on at 11:38 am under by dcobranchi

    I just realized I missed DNPE’s 10 day deadline for responding to their “invitation.”

    Curses, foiled again.


    Filed on at 6:14 am under by dcobranchi

    From WorldNutDaily, of course:

    Parker was arrested and jailed in Lexington in April 2005 over his request – and the school’s refusal – to notify him when adults discuss homosexuality or transgenderism with his 6-year-old kindergartner. That despite a state law requiring such notification.

    Not quite. He was arrested for trespassing when he refused to leave the school after his “requests” were denied.

    Parker said he met with school officials to gain those assurances and then refused to leave until he got them. Parker stayed at Estabrook School for more than two hours, according to Superintendent William J. Hurley, as officials and Lexington police urged him to leave. Finally, they arrested him for trespassing.

    Parker, who refused to bail himself out of jail Wednesday night, said he spent the night in custody to prove a point.

    But why bother letting reality interfere with a good persecution yarn? Got to keep up the good fight against that “well-known liberal bias.”


    Filed on at 6:03 am under by dcobranchi

    Any home educators organizing a spelling bee as part of the Scripp’s National Bee should take note that there is now a $99 fee ($99? What is this? Best Buy?) in order to play. HEKs entering as individuals will pay $10.


    Filed on at 5:51 am under by dcobranchi

    Not from me, though.

    I thought this was powerful and deserved a little pub outside the Fayetteville area.


    Filed on at 5:28 am under by dcobranchi

    I’m guessing the principal isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer:

    BROOKSVILLE – It had been a hard Friday at Brooksville Elementary School, with lots of misbehavior that didn’t bode well for the start of state testing the following week.

    So the principal and a few staff members appealed to a higher power.

    They prayed and blessed their students’ desks with prayer oil.

    While the Christian prayers and anointing took place after school hours on the night of Friday, Feb. 2, the oil was still on desks the following Monday when teachers opened their classrooms.

    Some felt the extra help crossed a line.

    “We thought it was vandalism. It was greasy. It was oily,” said fourth-grade teacher Chris Becker, who resigned later that week to take a teaching job in Citrus County.

    Via Jesus’ General


    Filed on February 23, 2007 at 7:53 pm under by dcobranchi



    Filed on at 6:51 am under by dcobranchi

    Wife Swap (ewwww!) features a homeschooling family. This 2nd half of a two-parter should be loads of fun. Lydia watched it last week and reported that the HEK was a quiet girl who concentrates her time and energies on ballet. Of course, that meant the new mom got to use the “S” word a lot.


    Filed on at 5:53 am under by dcobranchi

    At least they’re consistent.

    Dear fellow homeschoolers,

    DNPE has instituted (revived) Community Record Review Meetings for homeschoolers. Currently DNPE is sending letters to second year homeschoolers in NC in various parts of the state requesting that homeschoolers participate in them.

    Cumberland County homeschoolers have been requested to meet with a representative from DNPE on March 5-7 at the Headquarters Library. This is the first group in Region 9 that has been selected, but in all likelihood there will be more over the coming months.

    I am listing facts for the purpose of allaying fear AND providing information so that each individual family can make an informed decision as to whether they participate and how they participate.

    1. The meetings are voluntary.
    2. The state has the right to inspect your homeschool records.
    3. The state is free to seek another method of inspecting your records.
    4. The state does not have the authority to inspect your children, your curriculum, or any of your school work.
    5. These meetings have taken place before (many years ago) without any negative repercussions for homeschoolers.

    Please use your own judgment when deciding whether to attend or not. NCHE is officially asking people to participate but each family must consider all the facts and make an informed decision for themselves.

    If a family decides to attend the meeting and wishes to have another person attend the meeting with you, I am willing to accompany you IF MY SCHEDULE PERMITS.

    Anticipated FAQ: If my family were requested to participate in the Record Review meetings, I would probably return the letter saying that I would participate. I would then bring to the meeting only what is required by law: attendance and test records. I would also try to be pleasant to the government representative since as a Christian I am to respect those in authority over me.

    If you have any other questions, concerns, or requests, please contact me by email, if at all possible. Address: region9@nche.com. Phone number (only if you cannot email): 910-xxx-xxxx.

    Sandi Crosmun
    NCHE Region 9 Director

    And my emailed response:


    This was forwarded to me. I understand what you’re trying to do– dispel confusion about the meetings– but I think you’ve actually contributed to the confusion in your third point. The state (i.e., DNPE) is “free to seek another method of inspecting your records” in the sense that Rod Helder is free to demand that we all bow down and worship DNPE. That doesn’t mean that we have to or should even give it a second thought. These meetings are extra-legal. Period. Why would we want to give DNPE that first inch?

    Home educators are, of course, free to do what they want, even if it has potential negative consequences for all of our freedoms. But as for me and my house, Rod can pound sand.

    Daryl Cobranchi, Curmudgeon-at-large


    Filed on February 22, 2007 at 6:28 pm under by dcobranchi

    Delaware is considering mandating that insurance companies that write health policies in the state include Gardasil in their formulary. Yeah, this is anything but libertarian. But neither is the insurance/health market efficient.


    Filed on at 3:53 pm under by dcobranchi

    Jon Swift reports that conservative Christian HEKs now have an alternative to the Wiccan Wikipedia.


    Filed on February 21, 2007 at 5:39 pm under by dcobranchi

    Alt. title: Doctors can be stupid, too

    Human stem cell research has been destructive failure

    If it weren’t so tragic, it would be laughable to hear politicians talk about passing legislation to make human embryonic stem cell research ethical. It’s not possible. Every form of this research requires destroying human life in order to obtain the stem cells.

    Whether using leftover embryos from fertility clinics (they should pass a law to make producing extra embryos illegal) or cloning human embryos for the purpose of killing them, human lives must be sacrificed.

    It can never be ethical to spend precious funds or taxpayer dollars on a form of research that is devoid of successes after 20-plus years of effort. And it is looking likely that there never will be any successes with these cells because of their propensity toward tissue destruction, tumor formation and rejection in experimental animal models.

    It is immoral and cruel to give people who suffer illnesses false hope by continuing this failed line of research.

    That money could be more wisely spent on adult, umbilical cord, placental and amniotic fluid stem cells. But don’t take my word for it. Check it out at www.EmbryosArePeopleToo.com or www.stemcellresearch.org.

    Dr. Thomas A. Neef, Delaware Physicians for Life, Wilmington


    Filed on at 3:25 pm under by dcobranchi

    I’m no fan of the teacher’s unions who declared war on us long ago, but this is just so far over the top that it truly borders on evil. The speaker is right-wing talk show host Neil Boortz.


    Filed on at 10:27 am under by dcobranchi

    At edspresso.com, James Forman Jr. calls for a movement that will bring parents who have abandoned the g-schools in search of something better back into the system:

    I believe our response has to be collective, which is why it cries out for the leadership of Fenty, his team, and Gray. My colleague at Georgetown and former school board member Chuck Lawrence has written about this. He says parents with options almost always take their kids out of D.C. schools, because they make the decision in isolation. They are afraid that doing otherwise would be to sacrifice their own child’s education because of a philosophical belief in the importance of public education. Realistically they know that alone, they won’t really be able to improve their local school.

    But what if all these neighbors, who are all struggling with these decisions, knew that they would not be alone? What if they knew that around the corner, down the block, next door even . . . other people were making the same commitment to the public school? Of course, not everyone is going to choose the public schools. Some have religious reasons to choose a private school. Others want what they perceive as being the absolute best for their child and have $20,000 a year to spend on it.

    But the point isn’t to convince everybody. Even if we got half, or a quarter of parents, to make a different decision we could increase the number of people with a direct investment in the schools.

    So we need a city-wide movement (which could be a model for a national movement). And the movement needs leaders. Any takers?

    A nice sentiment that can’t (and shouldn’t) work. Sadly, inner city g-schools (and DC is just a bad example of a bad lot) are in such a state of systemic failure that turning them around will be a decades long proposal. We’ve been reforming them for decades already. What kind of parents, having made the decision to abandon ship for the sake of their kids, are going to re-enroll them in the hope that meaningful change is just around the corner? Sure, the educrats, like an abusive spouse, may make all kinds of apologies and promises about how this time it’s going to be different, how this time it will be a true partnership, how this time it really will be all about the kids.

    The smart parents– the ones who have already pulled the rip cord and sent their kids to charters or private schools or are home educating– will reject the call as way too little and far too late. And the ones who are making their decisions today, the quarter or half that Forman is pinning his hopes on, need to be given more meaningful choices. That’s how the system will (eventually) fix itself. More charters, more vouchers, more freedom. Yeah, it sucks for the kids who are left behind. But maybe the more altruistic among us can find time to volunteer at our kids’ former schools.


    Filed on at 10:23 am under by dcobranchi

    At Homeschool Hacks this week.


    Filed on February 20, 2007 at 6:52 pm under by dcobranchi

    Merck is going to stop pushing (i.e., lobbying) to make Gardasil mandatory. They should have listened to Lydia in the first place. 🙂

    UPDATE: If you haven’t been following the conversation in this thread, Andrea’s comments ought to be must reads.


    Filed on at 4:55 pm under by dcobranchi

    Montana home educators completely destroyed a bill that would have increased regulations.

    HELENA — The Capitol took on a youthful aspect Monday as students from around the state showed up for hearings on bills dealing with home schooling and compulsory public school attendance.

    Sen. Don Ryan, D-Great Falls, the sponsor of one of those bills, acknowledged the jam-packed Capitol — where well-behaved youngsters packed all the available gallery space, as well as the hallway benches and even the floors — with his wry observation that “This is one of the best lobbies in the state of Montana.”

    Ryan’s bill would require parents who home-school their children to register with their county public school superintendent. Montana’s home-schooling regulations are so loose in that regard that people fleeing custody fights in other states can simply hide out here and claim to be home-schooling their children, he said.

    “I want people to be on record, the next time some little boy or little girl has been hidden away in Montana … to say we think that’s OK,” Ryan said, as he recommended that his own bill be tabled after hearing the extensive opposition to it.


    Despite the hundreds of people visiting the Capitol because of the bill, Sen. Sam Kitzenberg, D-Glasgow, running the hearing in the Senate Education and Cultural Resources Committee, limited testimony to only 15 minutes after hearing that no one had showed up to support the bill.

    When he announced the lack of supporters, a cheer went up from the overflow crowd watching on televisions set up in the hallways. Ryan’s bill was eventually tabled on an 8-1 vote, with Ryan the lone “no” vote.

    I hope NC’s big statewide is paying attention.


    Filed on February 19, 2007 at 4:36 am under by dcobranchi

    Sarcasm is best dealt by a rapier wit. Blunt-force minds need not apply:

    Day-to-day variations in temperature disprove long-term trend

    I was reviewing my last gas and electric bill, looking at the section where Delmarva Power shows last year’s temperatures versus this year.

    Imagine my surprise to see that 2007 was nine degrees “colder” than the same period in 2006. How can this be?

    I heard global warming was a lock? Where’s the heat? I’d ask Al Gore, but heard he was stuck in last week’s ice storm.

    Mike Ray, Wilmington


    Filed on February 18, 2007 at 4:16 pm under by dcobranchi

    Meet “Sezor” (which means “polar fox” in the Enets-Samoyed tongue).

    We’ll be showing him.


    Filed on at 8:44 am under by dcobranchi

    The lede pretty much tells everything you need to know about this one.

    PICO RIVERA, California (AP) — A first-grade teacher was placed on leave after she allegedly hit and kicked fifth-graders who ran through her class during physical education, school officials said.


    Filed on at 5:49 am under by dcobranchi

    My coach class ticket to Frankfurt cost a about $800. I can upgrade to First Class by cashing in 60,000 frequent flier miles. I can buy Frequent Flier miles for 3.5 cents per mile (or $2100).

    So why does UselessAir charge $4800 for Business Class on the same exact flight?


    Filed on at 4:43 am under by dcobranchi

    One of the stranger stories I’ve seen. You’d think that those 365 newspapers lying in the driveway would have been a hint. 🙂


    Filed on February 17, 2007 at 1:15 pm under by dcobranchi

    The PBS kids cartoon WordGirl features an HEK as one of the “villains.” Click on Heroes, Villains, and Mere Mortals followed by Tobey.


    Filed on at 12:21 pm under by dcobranchi

    No, opponents to the HPV vaccine really think it interferes with abstinence-only sex education.

    And don’t call me Shirley.


    Filed on at 7:01 am under by dcobranchi

    The trend in recent years has been to allow HEKs to play on g-school sports teams. So I find it interesting that Escondido, CA is considering kicking the HEKs off the hockey teams they’re currently allowed to join.


    Filed on at 5:23 am under by dcobranchi

    You don’t run across a Dune reference every day. As I was reading it, I was thinking that it sounded just like Frank Herbert. Evidently, so was the letter-writer.

    Fear is the oldest and strongest emotion

    All we have to fear is fear itself — a nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror, which paralyzes our efforts. Fear is the oldest and strongest emotion of mankind.

    Blacks fear whites; whites fear blacks. Haves fear have-nots. The rich fear the poor. Weakness fears strength. Ignorance fears knowledge. Wrongs fear rights. The past fears the future. Some old-timers fear the youth.

    As we liberate ourselves from fear, we find its other side…freedom! Fearing the unknown instead of securing knowledge and truth will continue to suppress the majority of people who cling to past beliefs. When faced with fear, thinking becomes short-circuited.

    Fear is a motivator, motivating us to do many things no matter if they are right or wrong. A life of fear is a life spent with “what-ifs,” producing the worst condition to be brought upon us.

    Having fear is nothing out of the ordinary; it exists from our cradles to our graves. We can’t escape fear; it is part of our personalities. Love, kindness, compassion, tolerance and peace can be implanted in the psyche of man only when fear and paranormal illusion are removed.

    As paraphrased from Bene Gesserit’s “Litany Against Fear”: We must not fear, it kills the mind bringing obliteration. We must face our fears and permit them to pass on by. Then simply look back at their paths. There will be nothing left when fears have gone.

    Only we will remain…Fayetteville: History, fearless heroes, hometown feeling!

    Cassandra McMillion

    And, in case anyone isn’t familiar with the original:

    I must not fear.
    Fear is the mind-killer.
    Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
    I will face my fear.
    I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
    And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
    Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
    Only I will remain.


    Filed on February 16, 2007 at 6:02 pm under by dcobranchi

    Dear Rod,

    Pound sand!


    A law-abiding home educator


    Filed on at 11:22 am under by dcobranchi

    I got my new RFID-embedded passport a few minutes ago. It came WITHOUT the lead-foil lined envelope that is supposed to protect from skimmers. I was, therefore, forced to improvise. 15 seconds in the microwave caused some very large sparks and the RFID antenna coil burned through the back in several places. I believe it is dead.


    Filed on at 2:07 am under by dcobranchi

    The anti-semitic, anti-Copernicus edition. Unbelievable.


    Filed on February 15, 2007 at 6:19 am under by dcobranchi

    Life in Fayetteville, where racists are apparently still welcome in high society. The last graf of this Op/Ed is pretty revealing.


    Filed on at 4:46 am under by dcobranchi

    Via HSWatch, a really awful bill is pending in the TX legislature. Under the guise of reducing truancy, the bill would change the entire legal basis of home education. Among other sins, this bill would create a new class of schools (homeschools) which would report “truants” to the local educrats.


    Filed on February 14, 2007 at 4:02 pm under by dcobranchi

    Does it make any sense at all that SC wants to offer a tax credit of $1000 for parents who don’t send their kids to the g-schools have kids in private schools yet only $500 for parents who don’t send their kids to the g-schools homeschool?


    Filed on at 3:55 pm under by dcobranchi

    Hoagland said she home-schools her daughter and three sons. She believes public schools don’t teach students how to think critically about such subjects as evolution, and “I don’t see it changing.”

    If creationists were really interested in critical thinking they wouldn’t be creationists.

    What Took Labour So Long?

    Filed on at 8:18 am under by Tim Haas

    Looks like Blair wants to put another notch in his legacy belt:

    Imminent Government Consultation about Home Education

    The Government is planning changes to the monitoring of home education. Proposed changes include: a mission statement and clear plan which we stick to, targets, a broad and balanced curriculum, more surveillance and monitoring from the LA to make sure we are “doing it properly”.

    Our English brethren and sistren are not, however, taking this lying down. (I say English because the Scots already have their own intrusive oversight system.) More information here.


    Filed on February 13, 2007 at 5:55 pm under by dcobranchi

    Glenn Reynolds has evidently crossed into full-blown dementia as he calls for the assassination of Iranian scientists.

    NEW AD ——>

    Filed on at 1:44 am under by dcobranchi

    For the Free State Project.

    Honest Abe Wouldn’t Have Slacked Like This

    Filed on February 12, 2007 at 9:13 am under by Tim Haas

    One needs no better example of the power of unions in New Jersey than the fact that state employees are getting today off for Lincoln’s Birthday as well as next Monday off for Washington’s Birthday. Or Presidents’ Day, as it was called when I was a kid.

    It was damned cold standing out in front of the DMV till I figured out what was going on.


    Filed on at 6:42 am under by dcobranchi

    The pictures are ok. The language is a bit spicy.

    The Dis Brimstone/Daily Pitchfork has discovered Purity Balls.


    Filed on at 6:26 am under by dcobranchi

    Pending legislation in PA would allow nursing mothers, home educators, and several other groups to opt out of jury duty. I’m generally in favor of having small children home and no daycare arrangements be a legitimate reason to get out of serving. But I’d encourage home educators to serve if they possibly can. We’re a not insignificant part of the community. IOW, we’re somebody’s peers.

    Before enrolling for certifications like HP0-W02, it is ideal to first do 3M0-600. However if thinking about going for 000-062, this is not necessary.


    Filed on at 6:15 am under by dcobranchi

    Another home educating family is to be featured in this week’s edition of the odious “Wife Swap”.


    Filed on February 11, 2007 at 7:26 am under by dcobranchi

    During a debate on alternative teacher certification:

    “The biggest detriment to doing a good job for education in this state has been the (teacher) unions,” Rep. Dave Kasten, R-Brockway, said.

    The bill was defeated.


    Filed on February 10, 2007 at 4:18 am under by dcobranchi

    Is chocolate really the product of child-slave labor?


    Filed on at 3:57 am under by dcobranchi

    Today’s APOD is way cool. The high res version of the photo is definitely worth a click.


    Filed on February 9, 2007 at 5:41 pm under by dcobranchi

    HSLDA is banging the drum for American homeschoolers to do something (What?) to “help” German homeschoolers.

    Last week, German police and social workers removed 17-year-old home-school student, Melissa Busekros, from her home. Then the authorities proceeded to place the teen in a Nuremberg psychiatric hospital, where she was interrogated by a psychiatrist for more than four hours and finally released.

    But as Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) senior counsel Chris Klicka point outs, that was not the end of the student’s troubles. “Fifteen police officers and some social workers came back, and they removed Melissa, took her into state custody, and put her in the psychiatric ward because the psychiatrist, believe it or not, had concluded she had ‘school phobia.’ It’s just completely ridiculous,” he says. “She’s still in the hospital.”

    Klicka says the German government has no sympathy for Christian families who want to home-school their children. He points out that home schooling has been illegal in that country ever since it was banned by Nazi leader and dictator Adolph Hitler.

    And unfortunately, the HSLDA attorney notes, incidents targeting home schoolers are increasingly common in Germany today. He says the government has been after home-schooling families, and “there’s over 40 cases that are pending throughout Germany; half of those families have had to flee to Austria or Switzerland or France — nearby countries that do allow home schooling.”

    Klicka is urging Christians to heed the biblical command to “help the least of these” by calling the German Embassy in Washington, DC, to protest the German government’s harsh treatment of Melissa Busekros and the many other home-school students and families who are being targeted in that country.

    I’ll be in Germany in two weeks. Maybe I’ll drop by the Bundestag and tell them what’s what!

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