WILD STAT OF THE DAY Almost 1/3 of Scots parents polled would choose homeschooling over sending their kids to traditional schools.
Fully 60% of parents said they did not trust the education system and 30% said they could do better than school teachers themselves.
2 + 2 = VELCRO An Australian mathematician has deduced the best way to keep one's shoes from coming untied. I think I've got a better way.


HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KATELYN Today my elder daughter (2nd oldest overall) turns 9. It is amazing how quickly they grow up. Already, a boy has started sending her secret "love" notes. One of the fringe benefits of homeschooling is that we get to spend more time with our kids while they can still stand having Mom and Dad around. This coming March the whole family is going to take advantage of a planned business trip to Orlando (PittCon for any chem-nerds out there) and explore sunny FL for a couple of weeks. This will be the first time that we'll get to travel as a family during the normal "school year", so this is definitely a turning point in our homeschooling adventure.
GOOD NEWS According to the HSLDA, the discrimination that some "underage" homeschoolers have faced in college admissions has been addressed by the US Dept of Educ. Evidently, some confusing language left over from the Clinton Administration had some college admissions officers believing that they would lose federal funding if they admitted homeschoolers who were still subject to compulsory attendance laws.


MUSLIMS HOMESCHOOLING Another article on the increase in Muslims who choose to homeschool. I like this quote:
They worry that their children will feel excluded in classrooms where pupils draw reindeer and color Easter eggs but have never heard of qataif, a Muslim pastry eaten during the holy month of Ramadan, when the daily fast is broken after sundown with a family meal.
Qataif is one of my favorite desserts. It is basically a cross between a pancake and a crepe, filled with sweet ricotta or pistachios, and drenched with orange syrup. Now I'm hungry. See y'all later.

QATAIF CORRECTION: The expert (Lydia, that is) informs me that the dessert is made with walnuts, not pistachios.
TESTING, TESTING High stakes testing may not help learning and may actually be counter-productive, reports the NYT today. A large study found that even while scores on the high-stakes tests were rising, scores on other nationally normed tests were falling. One possible explanation is that the teachers were "teaching the test" and ignoring other aspects of education. The study was commissioned by teacher's unions so may be suspect.


NONSENSE! A public school principal is opposed to a new charter school in his "neighborhood" for purely altruistic reasons.
CCHS graduates have been and continue to be getting an excellent education. You know their collegiate success stories; you don’t need me to recite them for you...

But, unlike the rest of the country, especially lately, we’ve been a community tolerant and respectful of our differences.

I believe generations of Cook County kids learned those values at home but practiced them by going to school together, something they won’t be doing next year. That’s why I don’t view this charter school announcement as terribly good news.
And why can't they practice these values at the charter school? As usual, the educrats hate competition for their kids and dollars.
WWHS- THE OUTRAGE This is enough to make any parent want to scream: a security guard allegedly raped a 13-year-old student during school hours. This alleged pedophile had been let go from several other schools for being too friendly with the female students. He is free on $1000 bail:
Colon was transferred from three other city schools, each time following complaints from female students, said Lawrence police Lt. Mary Bartlett. He was repeatedly warned to stop asking female students for their phone numbers and suspended at least once for 10 days for "being overly friendly with seventh- and eighth-grade girls," Bartlett said.
Shades of Cardinal Law.
INTERESTING ESSAYS This T. C. Williams High (yes, the same as in the movie Remember the Titans) substitute teacher has a ton of interesting thoughts on everything from the quality of education classes to the weight of modern textbooks. Well worth a click.


CIVICS AND SKATEBOARDING He must be a homeschooler. This 16-year-old helped to lead a group of boarders to lobby for a skateboarding park.
PITY THE EDU-CRATS They can't "supervise" homeschoolers if they don't know who (or where) they are.
"It is impossible for us to enforce school attendance laws, since we do not know who, in fact, is being home- schooled, nor to what degree," Tulsa Superintendent David Sawyer said...

Parents could notify the school district if they intend to home-school their child, but they don't, Sawyer said. Many parents who home- school their children do it because they don't want school-district oversight in the children's education.

"It is impossible for us to ascertain if the students are in school if we don't know they exist," Sawyer said.
THE TWILIGHT ZONE Aliens have been abducting kids and making them smarter for the last 30 years or so, according to one theory.
They go by many names, such as Star Kids, Indigos or Crystalline Children. Whatever they're called, believers say this group of prodigies started appearing about 30 years ago and may now make up as much as 90 percent of the population under ten. They also exhibit strange side effects, like a higher resistance to pollutants but an increased sensitivity to sugar and food additives. These are babies born with an inherent knowledge of art, language and spirituality, possessing an impressive wealth of wisdom. Some will even go so far as to say these kids are not only prime candidates for the gifted and talented program, but the next step in human evolution.
Er, yeah, sure.
SAXON PHONICS This one was news to me. Saxon has a phonics program out that is drawing rave reviews from the public schools using it.
"I sent some of my teachers toward the end of last year over to Ilchester to investigate it," said West Friendship Principal Corita Oduyoye. "They came back ranting and raving about how wonderful it was and what they saw the children doing."


WWHS AD NAUSEUM Steven Gallaher found this one which will find a prominent place in the file of reasons to keep our kids away from the public schools: A middle school band teacher is facing misdemeanor charges for placing his belt around a boy's neck and tightening it:
Turrubiate said her 13-year-old son entered a band classroom that was filled beyond capacity because two classes were combined. She said Dickey told her son to sit down, and that Jesse responded that there were no available seats.

Turrubiate was told that the request was repeated and that her son again said he could not comply, accompanied by a contemptuous facial expression.

“Mr. Dickey had his belt in his hand, so when my son didn’t sit down, he put the belt around my son’s neck,” said Turrubiate. “He left marks from one side to the other.”
The school requested that the mother not press charges. Wisely, she refused noting, “If it was the other way around — if my son had done that to him — they would have had him in juvenile hall that day. That’s what makes me really mad."
I'M NOT THAT ARROGANT I was mis-quoted (or at least quoted out of context) in the article that appeared in the News-Journal yesterday.
"Four or five months ago I was getting three, five, 10 hits a day. Now it averages about 80," he said. "If you're good, people will find you."
These were two disconnected statements. The first sentence I was joking about how LITTLE traffic I get. The second sentence I was talking about the advice I had given to an aspiring 16-year-old writer. I suggested she put her stuff on the web and "if you're good, people will find you." ARRGGHH! I sound like an ego-maniac.
BIG BLUE IBM's CEO Lou Gerstner weighs in on testing in this column.
Employers are well aware of deficiencies in education; they see how hard it is for young adults with inadequate preparation to move into the workplace. Any retreat from our national and state efforts now not only would harm students but would limit our competitive position in the global marketplace.

The best way to reform schools is to move forward with programs that raise expectations, invest in students and teachers, and measure how much our kids are learning. We must recognize our progress and build on it.

MERRY CHRISTMAS I'm in SC for the holidays so blogging will (obviously) be light for the next few days.


A BAD LAW A Monrovia, CA daytime curfew law has been upheld. Homeschoolers are exempt but are still being harassed.
JUST A BIT SLANTED The San Jose Mercury-News has a piece up on the California homeschooling situation. This is among the most unbalanced pieces on this issue I have seen.
California's outgoing education chief is attempting to crack down on parents who home-school their children on their own by exploiting a loophole in the state's education code.
Loophole?! From what I have read, the legislature explicitly included homeschools in the "private school" category.
But to ensure educational equality, ``they must have a relationship with a credentialed teacher. You must follow the state curriculum,'' she said...

Sherman Garnett, coordinator of child welfare and attendance for the San Bernardino County superintendent of schools, said guidance from a teacher with credentials guarantees that home-schooled students receive a well-rounded education.

``All kids in the state of California have to have algebra. If a parent is having a problem with a concept, they can discuss it with a teacher,'' he said.
Educational quality? Well-rounded education? Aren't these the same teachers whose students are doing so well in the "system"?
Fifty to 90 percent of schools would fail to meet academic growth targets during most years, according to state projections discussed by the state Board of Education.
And then we have this:
``All kids in the state of California have to have algebra. If a parent is having a problem with a concept, they can discuss it with a teacher,'' he said.
And what guarantee is there that the teachers can do algebra, since a large percentage of teachers are teaching outside their field?


PEN VS. PC In this highly computerized age, how important is it that kids study penmanship? In our house, I punted and let the kids decide when and if they wanted to learn cursive. OTOH, I'm also not particularly concerned if they know how to touch type. I figure that by the time they would really need the skill, computers will be using some kind of voice interface.
A TWO-FER Buy one lunacy, get the second free. Both these appeared in the same "Independent" (UK) article: First, a school district has banned parents from taking photos of their kids' school play becasue pedophiles might obtain the images. Then, as a throwaway comment at the end, we find this outrage:
The Red Cross yesterday defended its decision to stop its charity shops displaying Christmas trees and Nativity scenes because they could offend non-Christians, particularly Muslims.
There's a reason it's called the Red CROSS. In Muslim countries, the organization is known as the Red Crescent. Christians, Jews, and Moslems all recognize the Old Testament as scripture. You know, the one that includes "You shall have no other god before me." (Exodus 20:3, NIV) So, when did we start bowing down and praying to the god, "Political Correctness?"

I'm sure Moslems laugh at this peculiarly Western disease; they haven't re-named any Red Crescent stores, right?
CALIFORNIA COAST CONTEST The California Coastal Commission is holding a Coastal Art & Poetry Contest. California students in grades K-12 are invited to submit artwork or poetry with a coastal or marine theme. Poetry will be accepted in English, Spanish, or American Sign Language (on video). Up to eight winners will be selected to win $100 gift certificates to an art supply or book store. Entries will also be eligible to win prizes in the international River of Words contest.

The postmarked deadline is February 15. For information and entry forms, visit www.coastforyou.org, email coast4u@coastal.ca.gov, or call (800)


CUT OFF YOUR NOSE This school board was facing community pressure because the students had formed a gay-straight alliance club. In response, the wimpy board members closed all clubs and then blamed the alliance.


HSLDA ON THE WARPATH They are threatening to take the Maine Principals to court over its refusal to allow homeschoolers to play sports for private schools.
OT BUT A REALLY GOOD READ Skip Oliva takes apart Dr. Martha Burk over the Augusta National Golf Club issue. There's lots of red meat in this story which really boils down to a First Amendment issue- the right to freedom of assembly. Grab a cuppa and enjoy.
YOU DON'T SAY This first graf is a hoot:
As students throughout Northeast Florida start winter break, teachers say there are plenty of educational activities they can do at home.
But, how will they learn anything without a highly-qualified, certified, credentialed, and blessed by Reg Weaver teacher around?
TEXAS STATE MOTTO: THANK GOD FOR CINCINNATI I thought the TX accountability testing situation was awful with a projected 50% failure rate. They're pikers compared to Cincinnati area schools where 80% of 4th-graders failed the reading test.
PUNDIT'S PUNS- PUHLEZE! Enough already with the puns on Trent Lott's name. Here's the latest- "Rent by Trent- Why we mustn't cast our lot with Lott." BTW, the article is well worth a read.

UPDATE: CNN is reporting that Lott is stepping down so we shouldn't have to endure any more bad puns.
EMILY POST Tunku Varadarajan in the WSJ points out how manners have decayed in recent years. I agree 100%. It has been nearly impossible for me to teach my kids to say "Yes, ma'am" and "No, sir." Perhaps I'm a relic of the South, but youngsters saying "Yeah" to an adult, or even worse, using the adult's first name, just drives me crazy. I don't even like the trend in church Sunday School, where the kids are told to call their teachers "Mr. Dennis" or "Miss Cathy."
MORE ON SMALLPOX The NYT has a nice summary of five smallpox articles that will appear in the January New England Journal of Medicine. The conclusion seems to be that the go-slow approach taken by the Bush administration is the correct one. Some interesting polling data:
Sixty-one percent said they would choose vaccination if it were offered. But that number climbed to 75 percent if a respondent's doctor decided to be vaccinated; it dropped to 21 percent if a respondent's doctor refused vaccination.
Instapundit notwithstanding, my family is sitting this one out unless there is an actual outbreak.


FAST FOOD, "FAST" EDUCATION The thesis behind this Phi Kappa Delta paper is that the current "accountability" reforms value the breadth of memorized facts versus the depth of knowledge gained. Maurice Holt argues that this is akin to "fast food" and that education reform needs to "slow down."
In the context of education, the form of schooling espoused under the banner of standards demonstrates the same deterministic thinking that governs the production of fast food. What is sought is a conception of educational practice that can be defined in terms of content and sequence and assessed in terms of agreed-upon ends capable of numerical expression. The engagement between teacher and learner should be as predictable as possible, and variation between one teacher and another can be offset by scripting the learning encounter and tightening the form of assessment. If the purpose of schooling is to deliver the knowledge and skills that business needs, this approach cuts costs, standardizes resources, and reduces teacher training to a school-based process. Above all, the efficacy of the operation can be measured and the results used to control it and its functionaries -- the teachers.

But if schools exist to equip students with the capacity to address the unpredictable problems of adulthood and to establish themselves in a world of growing complexity, then crucial disadvantages emerge. Classroom practice becomes a boring routine, teachers feel de-skilled, and, though what is learned is measurable, its educative value is diminished. The "fast school" offers a static conception of education that has more in common with training. And how can this kind of practice be improved? Since it derives from an impoverished view of theory, distinct from practice, only practice itself can guide improvement. Hence the emphasis on defining "best practices" or "what works," based on the dubious assumption that practice is context-free. But can it ever be?
Holt expands on the metaphor (perhaps a bit too far), but, in the end, basically comes down to a position that sounds a lot like homeschooling.
WANTED: FIRST AMENDMENT Here's one out of the UK that really surprised me. I hadn't given any thought to what it means to have a national church in a modern democracy. British kids know relatively little about Christianity. Here, that would concern the parents and the pastors. In the UK, it's a school issue:
The research, by academics at Exeter University, will compound fears that many schools are failing to ensure that pupils get a basic religious education. It will also increase pressure on Charles Clarke, the Education Secretary, to include religious education in the national curriculum...

Prof Copley said the findings illustrated the need for schools to be given clear instructions on how to teach Christianity. Without this, there would be even more ignorance in an increasingly secular society.
1955 HIGH SCHOOL = 2002 COLLEGE Identical tests of general knowledge given to high school seniors in 1955 and to current college grads yielded very similar results.

UPDATE: Here's the press release and here's the full report [PDF].
FYI HSLDA's Mike Farris is going to be teaching an online course on Constitutional Law beginning in January.
This 18-week Internet-based course follows Mike Farris' textbook,Constitutional Law for Christian Students, and uses a computer-based audio CD-ROM to deliver the "classroom" lectures. The syllabus,
posted on the class home page, lists the reading and listening assignments for each week and offers a flexible schedule for homework. Approximately every two weeks, students can participate in a live chat-room discussion--hosted by Mike Farris--to pose their questions and discuss the material. Twice during the class, students will submit essay exams for grading. A certificate of participation will be awarded to all students at the end of the class.
Cost is $200 including the text. More info is available at http://conlaw.hslda.org/.


SIX PACK O' RIGHTS The Onion is reporting that the New and Improved Bill of Rights consists of only six.
According to U.S. Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID), the original Bill of Rights, though well-intentioned, was "seriously outdated."

"The United States is a different place than it was back in 1791," Craig said. "As visionary as they were, the framers of the Constitution never could have foreseen, for example, that our government would one day need to jail someone indefinitely without judicial review. There was no such thing as suspicious Middle Eastern immigrants back then."
(via The Volokh Conspiracy)
IS THERE A PSYCHOMETRICIAN IN THE HOUSE? I've read this article a couple of times and still can't quite grasp it. At first blush, it appears that more than half of all students and close to three-fourths of African-American and Hispanic students are expected to fail the TX state exams and not receive a diploma. The numbers are based on a bunch of leading indicators and may be too pessimistic but, if accurate, would be disastrous. Could any state really come up with a new test that was so out of sync with what the kids had learned?
THIS IS TERRIBLE Another example for the WWHS file.
The mother says the boy began to "hug her and kiss her and tell her that he thought she was sexy and that he loved her."

"And then he unbuttoned and unzipped her pants," she said.

The girl's mother says the boy fondled her daughter, and claims the principal knows this.

"Miss Hudson [the principal] told me she was ashamed it happened on her watch," she said.

The girl's mother is upset the boy remains in her daughter's class.
The kids are both 5-years-old.
HUH? The homeschooling brainwashing apparently didn't "take" for this kid.
Scott Stallard, 11, of Grand Island hopes to raise $3,000 as a home-school project to pay for school curriculum and supplies for an elementary school in Uganda run by missionaries with the Word of Life organization. He reports he has raised $675 so far with the help of sister Brittany, brother Phyllip and friends by selling doughnuts and candy bars door-to-door and he currently is looking for a place to hold a basket auction to raise more money. He can be contacted at 30 Havenwood Lane, Grand Island, NY 14072. (His sister held a carnival last summer to benefit Cornerstone Manor.) He writes: "You know all of us kids in America will probably get lots of things for Christmas this year, but I think that the kids in Africa will like the chance to go to school more than any toys we get. We sure are lucky to live in America, because school is free." [emphasis added]
Just kidding.
BLAME THE HOMESCHOOLERS This school district's enrollment has fallen some 20% and they are now running a deficit. They blame us (among others) for a loss of students (and state revenue). Dollars to donuts they haven't reduced the number of teachers and administrators by 20%.

UPDATE: Second verse, same as the first.
OT BUT A MUST READ Shelby Steele has an excellent column on racism, Lott, and putting yourself in another's shoes.
Democracies expand individual rights past the barriers of race, class and gender precisely by encouraging imaginative identification with difference--by asking men to put themselves in the shoes of women, whites in the shoes of blacks, and so on. And minorities are always asking others to put themselves in their place because they know this is how equality will be experienced and become undeniable. Minorities also know that racism and bigotry are always a failure of this kind of imagination. In the face of difference, imagination is the only way to common humanity. Thus minorities also know that racism and bigotry are the perfect collapse of imagination.
This one is definitely worth the WSJ's easy registration process.
GOOD NEWS! The NYT reports that the Federal Trade Commission is going to order the creation of a national "do not call" list. Lydia reports around 10 of these a day. Caller ID intercepts them, but it will be nice to not have the phone ringing off the hook while the kids are trying to do their work.

UPDATE: Skip Oliva blasts the FTC over the creation of the list. He has a lot of experience dealing with them and makes some good points here and here. I'm not convinced, though. I think you can make an argument that an unsolicited call into my home imposes on my family and is, therefore, coercive in nature. After all, the sales people could not force their way into our homes; why should their voices be any different?


FREE AT LAST Finals are done; grades are recorded. I enjoyed teaching again after a five year hiatus. Maybe I'll try again in '07.
OTOH Here's an equal time entry by a parent who argues that the kindergartner suspensions in Philly are a good thing.
WHAT DOES A DIPLOMA MEAN? That is basically the question that this op/ed poses. The author's son is autistic and is making progress on his IEP but will not be awarded a diploma under the current system.
If the diploma could indicate my son's drive and progress, the self-control he has learned by mastering his behavioral goal, for example, that skill set may be of more value to a potential employer than the fact that he could not perform 10th-grade mathematics. Tremendous improvement like that is invisible on the current MCAS-driven diploma, and would only be viewed as a failure by board policy.

If we are looking for ways to make children more marketable in this demanding economy, then we must allow them to earn real diplomas, provided they have been given by accountable schools like my sons'. Only then will we have a comprehensive and just system of public school education worthy of our children.
While I feel for this woman and her son, awarding a diploma to her son would only serve to confuse potential employers of MA graduates. How would they know if the diploma meant that the student had mastered the state curriculum or had drive, self-control and made progress? If potential employers don't feel that the state curriculum is relevant to the job, they probably won't care if the employee has a diploma or a certificate.
STRANGE BEDFELLOWS? New York's charter school law apparently prohibits on-line virtual charters although a change in the law may be in the offing. Surprisingly (at least to me), the League of Women Voters is opposed.
The League of Women Voters of New York State, however, said the charter school should be rejected. “It cannot meet the needs of certain at-risk populations, it will lead to re-segregation of education in this state, it cannot maintain the separation of church and state,” said Elsie Wager of the league.
That quote could have come directly from the NEA playbook. I was not aware that the LoWV was so left-leaning.
I'LL BE LATE New stuff should be up around 8 p.m.


MORONS Yes- it's now time for Daryl to go over the top once again. Michael Peach has posted some comments by public school teachers aimed at homeschooling, in general, and at him and his blog, in particular.
How can anyone get away with not educating their children and brag about it on the net?

This site is a real hoot. i really hope they keep posting, it is real comedy. The level of parody is beyond reproach. the site, as far as i can tell, is a parody of the 'PC' home tuition lot.

I had a terrible irreverent thought: these parents would be a nightmare, so thank God we don't have to deal with them.

Thanks for directing me to this site. It does almost read like a parody. I live in an area which is awash with home educators. The current crop have kids who we can be grateful aren't in the schools. Foul mouthed, "dyslexic", arrogant and precious. A lucky escape.

This stuff is great. home education! whatever will the government think of next to ease classroom overcrowding? Well done Tony!
And I thought our educrats were bad.
STUPID REGISTRATION The Chicago Tribune has another article about Muslims homeschooling but I refuse to go through their obnoxious registration process. If anyone has access and wants to comment, feel free.
AMATEUR ASTRONOMERS, TAKE NOTE Kim via email pointed to this NASA article mentioning that the next few nights should provide some of the best views of Saturn in 30 years. If you don't have a telescope, even a good pair of field glasses can suffice.
NOT ANY MORE A CA teacher has been preaching the gospel in her public school class. According to her, none of the parents or students object so it's ok. I'll bet that after the principal (or the ACLU) reads this article, she will be back to the 3R's.
IT'S MONDAY and time for the latest comedy of errors from Dennis Redovich. His rant this week is entitled "Jobs & Education and the Big Scam in American Public Education," but I'm hard-pressed to discern any difference between this and his other rants. Well, one small difference- he didn't butcher any physics equations this week. There are a couple of juicy quotes, though. In the middle of a long section on why it is basically a waste of time to promote higher education for more students we get this:
Increasing the number of college graduates is beneficial to society but will not create jobs, except significantly in education, which is very good because they are family living wage jobs.
So, it's good to send kids to college so that we need more professors. Then there's this section which is in bold in the original:
The major weapons used to label schools as “failing” to prepare students for jobs or for so called critically needed post secondary education are meaningless high stakes standardized tests for promotion and graduation that are destroying poor children for no good reasons. Money is too precious to waste on the education of the working poor and their children who cannot score at the immeasurable “proficient level” on the infallible tests prepared by the multimillion dollar testing industry. [emphasis added] Political leaders who strongly support useless education reforms and testing are well supported by the private sector business interests looking for a big share of the billions spent on education that could be privatized.
I don't understand the highlighted sentence and this is not the first time that Mr. Redovich has stated this. Either he is writing off a significant percentage of the US population as a "waste" of money or he is attempting to put words in the mouths of his opponents. As I am 100% sure that no education reformer has ever said that "[m]oney is too precious to waste on the education of the working poor and their children," I am at a loss. If this is a straw man, it has to be the flimsiest one I've ever seen.

Well, Redovich rants on for a while longer and promises another installment for next Monday- same bat time, same bat channel.


TEARJERKER This one is really sad but inspiring, in a way. A 32-year-old homeschooling Mom faced cervical cancer with conviction and courage.
HONOR SOCIETY FOR HOMESCHOOLERS Here's an interesting piece on the pros and cons. I understand the rationale- parents are trying to help their kids get into college- but I'm not going to be pushing for a Delaware chapter. My kids don't get grades and they take no standardized tests. There will be plenty of time for them to compare themselves versus the "competition", should they choose to go to college. I'm certainly not going to advance that by a few years.
FASCINATING Researchers using MRI can differentiate between good readers and poor readers based solely on which parts of the brain "light up" while reading.
COMMUNITY COLLEGES are beefing up their academics and selling themselves as an inexpensive entree' into elite universities for rising juniors. A personal anecdote- the CHEM 101 course that I am currently teaching at Salem Community College was surprisingly rigorous (as an adjunct, I don't have control of either text selection or syllabus). The students were expected to learn a lot of chemistry- much more than I remember seeing in any intro class.
ONE MORE REASON TO HOMESCHOOL The kids can wear pretty much whatever they (or more likely we) want. Check out this list of banned items in some Milwaukee schools:
1. Hooded sweatshirts
2. Clothes with the numbers 5, 6, or 13 on them
3. Clothes with stars and crowns
4. Head gear
5. Do rags
6. Hairnets
7. Caps
8. Belts with the number 13 on the buckle
9. Any item of clothing that is either black or red.
THOSE WHO CAN, DO Those who can't, fail the exam. At some GA teachers' colleges, over 50% of the prospective teachers failed the state exam for their license. Kim Swygert will love this quote:
Jeff Hubbard, a gifted programs teacher at Kendrick Middle School in Jonesboro, said test scores don't tell the whole story.

"For anyone to surmise a teacher's quality by using a paper and pencil test alone is asinine," he said. "For the state to make any assumptions about the quality of an education based on a paper and pencil test doesn't hold water."
Well, at least they're consistent.


FLY, PETER Kindergartners are being taught yoga.
Lying on mats, children close their eyes and are asked to think of something that makes them happy...

"Almost immediately, children can think of a happy thought," Mrs. Teicher said. When asked to do the same thing, she said, "invariably we adults have trouble finding a thought that makes us happy."
Shades of Peter Pan.
JUST A LITTLE OVER THE TOP This school hasn't yet provided text books for their AP Physics class. Dumb. But the students are claiming discrimination against the "best and brightest." Dumber.
OH, THAT'S WHAT TEACHING LICENSES ARE FOR They apparently prevent teachers from doing stupid things.
About 2,500 student teachers are in Iowa classrooms each year. A small percentage of them provide alcohol to students, have sex with them, and violate other rules, Kruse said.

Requiring licenses would not eliminate all gray areas, such as when a student instructor and a student of legal age have a sexual relationship, Haigh said.
Gray areas?
TOO FAR I can understand colleges banning cigarettes from dorms. The buldings commonly share an HVAC system and smoke can drift from one room to another. There can also be a fire concern. That said, banishing smokers to designated smoking corrals (or off-campus altogether) seems excessive. These students are all over 18 and, last time I checked, allowed to purchase and smoke cigarettes in most states. In loco parentis should only go so far.
JUST THROW THEM IN JAIL It seems the Philly school system's "get tough" policy may be going a bit far. In the first three months of school, 33 kindergartners have been suspended. Some of these kids have exhibited behavioral problems but "zero tolerance" can sometimes mean "zero sense."
Another student was suspended for violating the district's zero-tolerance policy on weapons by bringing a toy cap gun to school.
These are five-year-olds, for goodness' sake. You can't expect them to understand the consequences of their actions, much less prospectively comprehend the repercussions of bringing a toy gun to school.
MORE OT ON LOTT Fritz Schranck has a good bit on Lott's newest unapologetic apology. I especially liked the pictures.
MAGIC WITH A MESSAGE This couple does 500 shows a year at schools and fairs. They mix in a little morality instruction:
Madison, a young volunteer from the audience, went up on stage and was asked to hand over her shoe to Elf Robin, who then placed it in a magic box that was supposed to remove the shoe’s super stink. The box started smoking. When Robin opened it up, Madison’s new sneaker was charred black.

"Is you’re Dad a lawyer?" joked Tim.

Tim then asked Robin what went wrong.

"I don’t know. It’s not my box. I found it in the elf workshop." she replied.

"If something doesn’t belong to you, you have to respect other people’s property and leave it alone," said Tim.
Oh, yeah- there's also this:
So far, said Robin, raising a child while living on the road seven months out of the year has worked out better than expected.

"Soon we’ll start home-schooling him. Hopefully I’ll have the patience to teach my son," she said


SMALLPOX UPDATE Pres. Bush has decided not to call for a nation-wide smallpox immunization program, although 500,000 military personnel will receive the smallpox vaccine.
BRITISH ONION I was half-way through this article before I caught on.
The government has today announced plans to radically extend the role of state school heads, and give them increased powers over parents in an attempt to improve public discipline...

New ideas involve raising the profile of school heads in their community by a series of new measures. These include detaining parents after school for an hour if their children are "too cheeky by half", giving 100 lines to any parent seen dropping litter in the street within sight of their child, and fining parents for instances of repetitive failure to attend parent-teacher meetings or school concerts.
It's a sad commentary (either on my cognitive abilities or the school system- you make the call) that I could be convinced that these were actual proposals. (via BEdBlog)
IT'S NOT OUR FAULT Here's another letter to to editor- this time chiefly about charter schools. The following 'graf caught my eye:
It's time to stop blaming the charter school, parochial schools and parents who home school for the school district's problems. We have all made decisions to find alternative educational choices for our children because the school district did not provide what we wanted. Rather than criticize us, the School Board should consider making changes in the district schools.
ANTI-MORMON AND ANTI-HOMESCHOOLING In a story about a two-year-old who died (possibly caused by abuse) we run into this sentence:
Willoughby and his wife, Emily, said [the] family is Mormon and that they used to home-school their children.
How exactly is this relevant?
ANOTHER OPTION Here's a Letter to the Editor that appears in today's Oregonian:
Our family read Rene Denfeld's Commentary article about struggling public schools, "Fading fast" (Dec. 1), with interest.

We have felt similarly. We spent many hours volunteering and advocating, not to mention helping our children with schoolwork. We listened to our children's complaints about overcrowding and other problems.

Moving or private school were not options for us. In our frustration, we stumbled upon another option: home schooling. While our children were attending public school, we read every book we could find on the subject. We did a dry run over the summer to see if this would work for us.

We now accomplish more daily in the home setting than was done at public school and have the freedom to explore subjects that there is no time or funding for in public school.

Home schooling is a viable option that parents should at least consider.

NOT WHAT THEY WERE LOOKING FOR Bizarre hit again. Someone Googled "naked 1st grade teachers with huge breasts" and ended up here. Sorry to disappoint, guy.


"GREAT" MINDS THINK ALIKE Compare our Big Brother poster (see below) with the British version. (via Samizdata)

UPDATE: Steven Gallagher points out via comment that I missed perhaps the scariest logo of all- the "Office of Information Awareness." Here it is.

Is anyone else detecting a trend? I am not a conspiracy theorist. Yet, I have asked my wife to make all purchases with cash and not to use those "frequent shopper" cards. The internal spying on law-abiding Americans (and Britons) is only going to get worse.

TO VACCINATE OR NOT President Bush is apparently going to announce a plan to (voluntarily) vaccinate everyone in the US against smallpox. Last night, 60 Minutes II had a segment detailing the potential hazards of the vaccine. The estimate is 1 death per million vaccinated. Lydia and I discussed this after the show and concluded that we will NOT vaccinate the kids unless there is a genuine outbreak. What do y'all think?

UPDATE: Chris O'Donnell asks the same question.
BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU This graphic is on a page at the US Patents and Trademarks Office. The government as peeping Tom- wonderful. (via Freeside)
THEY JUST DON'T GET IT An educrat pushing a virtual charter school:
"The program is ideal for home-school families as it allows for maximum parent control of their child's education while working toward an approved high school diploma."
No, it's not ideal. Will they study the things the parents think they should study? Could they decide to spend a full year learning about the Civil War and visiting all of the major battlefields? Do they have to take accountability tests? I think y'all get the point.
THIS ONE'S CUTE Here's a nice article by a young first-time mother about her airplane trip with an infant. The homeschooler in the story gets a nice mention.
A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS A 4-year-old girl gave her Head Start teacher a baggie full of pot for a Christmas present.
NEWS TO ME Public schools in several states routinely release their students' personal information to anyone who asks.
Fort Worth school district staff attorney Bertha Whatley said that the district provides the information to anyone who pays the applicable fee. In addition to addresses and telephone numbers, people can obtain names, dates and places of birth, honors and awards, and dates of attendance.
ALL OR NONE NYC schools are being sued because they allegedly allow the display of Menorahs and the Star and Crescent in honor of Judaism and Islam, respectively, but prohibit the display of Nativity scenes.
The lawsuit is centered on a school policy set forth by the chancellor of New York City schools that prohibits the display of Nativity scenes in the city's schools during the Christmas season, but expressly permits and encourages these schools to display during certain religious holidays and seasonal observances the Jewish Menorah and the Islamic Star and Crescent.
I think Jews and Moslems will be surprised to learn that their symbols are secular.
"That policy expressly allows the display of secular holiday symbol decorations such as Christmas trees, Menorahs and the Star and Crescent," according to William Donohue, the president of the Catholic League.
I'd just as soon see the educrats remove all of the symbols. Let the parents decide which symbols the kids will see on Friday afternoon, Friday evening, or Sunday morning.
IMHO*, it's not too hard to translate IM (Instant Messaging) shorthand into normal text. The abbreviations and emoticons are starting to show up in students' more formal writing assignments, to the consternation of the teachers. I have been guilty of using these a time or two. :-)

*In case you're wondering, IMHO = In My Humble Opinion, BTW = By The Way, and IIRC = If I Recall Correctly (both in the previous post).
AND I'M BACK to just plain old "Daryl Cobranchi." I don't want to offend anyone or claim something to which I'm not entitled. Although the "Suarez" bit is true, I can't claim to be Hispanic. My maternal grandfather's family was from Spain and the only Spanish I ever heard growing up was what I learned in school. My (temporarily) hyphenated last name was just a tiny protest attempting to point out how wrong affirmative action policies based on something like a last name can be.

BTW, Izzy is legit. IIRC, her family is from America del Sur and she grew up speaking Spanish.


IZZY UPDATE I've been corrected- it's "Isabel Azuola-Lyman" Mrs. Azuola-Lyman has reclaimed her Hispanic heritage in the hope of landing a Bakke-influenced column at the NYT. And all I was hoping for was some linky love. Maybe I need to dream bigger. And in case you're wondering what all this hyphenating is about, start here and then follow the links.

UPDATE: IZZY jokingly reports this morning from her newly re-christened blog that she's already seeing dividends from her new Hispanic surname; she's been called a "guru" on a conservative pundit-blog. Congrats but I doubt it has anything to do with the name. Now, if she had changed her name to Swami-Shivaramakrishnalyman, there might have been a connection.
BULLYING UPDATE Skip Oliva says it wasn't bullying; it was socialization.
PRIORITIES This young woman has her head on straight; she revised her running schedule because "the number of practices and meets conflicted with her home-schooling and playing the piano, another of her passions."
HEAR! HEAR! Phil Luciano in IL takes the educrats to task for harassing homeschoolers. He wants the educrats to prove that they're doing as well raising their kids as we are with ours. Touche'!

UPDATE: Fox News has picked up the same story. An interesting factoid at the very end:
Ironically, one of the earliest reasons for the public school system was to spread a Christianity-based morality. These days, many homeschool parents decide to keep their children at home to infuse their education with religious ideals.
DEAR PENNSYLVANIA, Please pass a new homeschooling law so I don't have to read statements like this anymore:
Michelle Johnston of McConnellsburg was approved to home school her daughter Ashley Johnston for the remainder of the 2002-03 school year.
The idea of a prospective homeschooler having to ask permission of the school board just galls me.
CORRELATION DOES NOT EQUAL CAUSATION The Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning has committed the fundamental error of confusing the two.
An unfair distribution of qualified teachers makes it difficult for students in poor and minority-dominated areas of California to pass the high school exit exam, a study has concluded.
An alternative hypothesis: Students in poor schools and schools in minority-dominated areas have always struggled to match the performance of better-off students on standardized tests. Credentialed teachers opt to teach in these schools for any number of reasons (more money, better work environment, racism, etc.). Poor schools are forced to hire uncredentialed teachers.
EVOLUTION 1, INTELLIGENT DESIGN 0 The OH State Board of Education has ruled that students will not be required to learn about, nor will they be tested on, the "theory" of intelligent design.
Charles Darwin's theory of evolution will be subjected to critical analysis in the classroom, but Ohio's students will not be required to learn or to take tests on an ``intelligent design'' of the universe after last-minute action Tuesday by the State Board of Education.

Intelligent design -- considered a code for creationism -- is the idea that life is so complex that a supreme being or god formed the cosmos.
I believe this is a proper decision. Intelligent design is just not science. Science works by looking at all of the evidence, proposing some mechanism that accounts for that evidence, and testing the mechanism (theory) against newly discovered evidence. For the hard sciences, this testing is called experimentation. Some sciences, like biology, do not lend themselves well to these types of experiments, which is why evolution is still referred to as a "theory." If biologists could prove evolution, it would be a "law." That said, evolution is the best scientific theory we currently have to explain the biodiversity that we can observe. The problem with creationism (as a pseudo-science) is that it doesn't take us anywhere. There are no tests, no experiments we can perform. Knowledge is not advanced in the slightest. It is a scientific dead end.


A GROUP FISKING! Isabel Lyman found an anti-homeschooling article that is so bad, it's funny. If this is their best shot, I'd say "Advantage, Homeschoolers." According to the educrats, homeschooling might:
1. Deprive the child of important social experiences

2. Isolate the student from other social/ethnic groups

3. Deny students the full range of curriculum experiences and materials

4. Provide education by non-certified and unqualified persons

5. Create an additional burden on school administrators whose duties include the enforcement of compulsory school attendance laws

6. Not permit effective assessment of academic standards of quality

7. Violate health and safety standards

8. Not provide accurate diagnosis and planning for meeting the needs of children of special talents, learning difficulties and other conditions requiring atypical educational programs
But we get the last laugh. Homeschoolers fought back and gave much better than they got. Click here for a thorough fisking by a half-dozen homeschoolers.
DEFINE "BULLYING" In an article decrying the increase in bullying in the public schools, we find this unbelievable claim:
A survey last year by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that 10,000 children stayed home from school at least once a month because they feared bullies, and half the children surveyed said they were bullied once a week.
Half the kids each week? I find this just a bit hard to swallow. I have not been able to find the CDC report but I'd love to see what their definition of bullying includes.
JUST A NICE ARTICLE Nothing really profound here- just a wife (and homeschooling Mom) bragging a bit on her husband. Definitely worth a click.


NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP Check out the wonderful advice from this public school teacher:
In the sixth grade science classroom the teacher told the parents, in front of the boy: "Your kid is going to bring you nothing but heartache; it's my opinion that he will end up not amounting to anything. I know it's hard to hear, but be prepared to give up on him. If not, you will wish you had." (Hey now, there's an effective use of your public education tax dollars!)...

But see, the kid that was a "complete mess" in the mind of his sixth-grade science teacher was a real mess. But his parents stayed the course – took him out of the public school and tried a Christian school. Eventually, they moved to homeschooling. When that boy's mother finally became too ill to continue teaching at home because of her cancer, he re-entered the school arena, this time as a leader in his junior class, keeping an "A" average his junior and senior years.
LOOK OUT Educrats in Baltimore are looking to grab hold of the little ones.
To help raise pre-kindergarten skills, state and local government leaders, along with education advocacy and service organizations, have collaborated to form the Leadership in Action Program.

In October, the organization unveiled a five-year agenda that will help ensure that all children up to age 5 have access to quality early childhood care and education programs, that the staffs in those programs are adequately trained, and that parents of young children are successful in being their child's first teacher. The goal is that by the 2006-2007 school year, 75 percent of all kindergartners will be fully ready for school.
Their aptly-named five year plan is not detailed in this article but you can bet there will be lots of things that will raise your homeschool hackles.
SIGN ME UP Oh, wait- we already did. Mary Krieske lists all the qualtities of her school.
I am a teacher. I work teaching the most wonderful children on the planet. The classes are small, nearly all the teaching is one on one, and the students can follow their interests for as long as they want. Field trips are abundant and easily accessible. The students and teachers love each other immensely...

The school is adamant about teaching morals and good judgment. This is done almost entirely through the actions of the teachers, but is discussed and explained at any point where a student has a question. We pride ourselves on the manners of our students, and their friendly compassionate ways. We have no gangs, drugs, sex, vandalism, weapons, or obscenity.
There's lots more. And, you know she's describing her homeschool, of course.
NO FUNNY HEADLINE I just don't even know what to say other than THIS GUY IS NOT A HOMESCHOOLER!
The head of the Battle Ground School District's home-school program will be arraigned Friday on child molestation charges unconnected with his position.

The child abuse center began investigating Pierson early this year after the alleged victim, a family member, told her mother that Pierson had rubbed her breasts on several occasions when she was spending the night at the home Pierson shares with his wife.

The incidents allegedly occurred between September 1999, when the girl was 11, and Aug. 31, 2001, when she was 13.
Wait- I do know what to say. Keep your kids away from the educrats!
FASTER THAN THE SPEED OF LIGHT The Confidence Man on Saturday blogged a story out of the Sunday NYT on the controversy surrounding Rice University's new affirmative action, er, admissions policy. The school is not permitted to base admissions on ethnic or racial background but it somehow manages to do so anyway. Hmm- my mother's maiden name is Suarez. Think I'll start hyphenating my last name; I wonder if Instapundit has an affirmative action linking policy.


OT- LOTT MUST GO H&OES is not a pundit-blog but this one has been eating at me for several days. We South Carolinians had accepted Strom Thurmond's racist Dixiecrat past as just that, the past. The new Senate Majority Leader apparently is still living in 1948 and regrets that the pro-lynching Dixiecrats lost.
NO COMPETITION If this is the work of a typical public school teacher, we are worse off than I'd feared. Some select quotes:
As a public schoolteacher, I look at the increase in charter schools as a threat to the future of public education. No committed teacher is afraid of competition.
Of course, they are afraid of competition. This entire letter to the editor is evidence that the one thing teachers fear above all else is compeition for state tax dollars.
Any method that affects learning, especially in at-risk students, is positive for society.
I assume this teacher means any method that positively affects learning. There are all kinds of things that affect learning that are not positive for society.
Public schools need standards and to be monitored to ensure that they are attempting to meet their students’ needs. Teachers should be expected to be well-trained and exposed to a variety of methods. The public should feel that its tax dollars aren’t being wasted.
Notice the weasel words? Public schools should only have to attempt to meet the students needs. Teachers should be exposed to a variety of methods; they don't have to master any of them. The public should feel its dollars weren't being wasted, even if they truly are.
Private schools get public money without the same evaluations and standards. Homeschooling runs the gamut of quality or lack of it.
She apparently doesn't realize that charters are public schools that have to meet the same accountability standards as the regular public schools. Her comment about homeschooling is, of course, a non sequitur as we don't take tax dollars at all.
America makes education accessible to more students at higher levels than any country in the world. When money is drained from public education, it can’t last for long.
Lord, I hope the current system can't last long.
Children are our future. We should pour public money into educating them.
I suppose we are expected to ignore the huge hole in the bottom of the bucket. Fix the hole first; if more money is needed, then we'll pour it in.
DANCE! This young man had to leave the regular schools and homeschool in order to take his ballet to the next level.
DON'T TELL THE NEA I love the headline that the NYT chose to introduce these letters to the editor.
A School Can't Do a Parent's Job
FIRST HORSE THEN CART I understand the fear expressed here but, in my mind, it is a bit hyperbolic.
Social studies never was one of the three R's.

Now teachers fear their students may lose the ability to become politically astute adults because of the emphasis Colorado and other states put on testing literacy and mathematics.
OK, now combining math and social studies might be a bit of a challenge, but, last time I checked, social studies textbooks had lots of words in them. The kids could read about social studies as part of their literacy work, no?
It's not that simple, said Kim Ursetta, a fifth-grade teacher at Denver's Newlon Elementary who still teaches social studies 45 minutes daily.

"I'm not supposed to be, but I am," she said.

"You could say nonfiction research and writing could be part of literacy," Ursetta said. But that excludes direct instruction - a teacher talking to students about history and current events, she said.
The kids would be much better off with more reading and less lecturing.
HERE NOW THE BLOG Joanne Jacobs points to this article about how the all-news networks are changing (read, "butchering") the English language. The lede caught my eye:
Every new form of journalism announces itself with a new syntax, which subtly shifts the sense of what news is.
Does that mean that blogging will eventually create its own syntax? We already have a slew of words specific to the blogosphere such as, er, "blogosphere."


SAY IT AIN'T SO! There has been an outbreak of common sense at this public school. Quick- we need to vaccinate the other teachers before this spreads.
When Mack passes out a narrative assignment, she'll establish separate expectations while maintaining the same lesson: One student might be required to write a series of complete sentences while another must add rich detail and dialogue to the story.

So goes the flexibility and blending of 7- and 8-year-olds under Mack's guidance. Hers is a multiage class at Centerpoint Elementary School in White Bear Lake. It's a teaching philosophy based on the concept that children learn at varied paces.
I was actually in one of these classes for 1st and 2nd grade, and then 3rd & 4th. I guess it was an early form of a gifted and talented program. It worked well for me in 1st and 3rd grades when I could work ahead but was terribly boring for the other two years as I was essentially repeating a grade.
A Bronx first-grader went berserk and tore up his classroom yesterday, tossing a chair and sending two teachers and a social worker to the hospital, school officials said.

The rampage began after the 6-year-old at Public School 18 in Mott Haven suddenly tried to throttle another student in his class, witnesses said...

The 6-year-old already had attacked two students this year, sources in the school said.

The student was sent for a psychiatric evaluation. He also faces a three-day suspension...
The child has attacked three kids this year and sent three teachers to the hospital and he gets a three day suspension? I'm amazed that all the other parents are not pulling their kids out now!
EARLY ED The following appeared on HEM-Networking listserv. It is posted here in its entirety (with permission):
Early Childhood Education is getting all kinds of discussion in the public schools. There is a move to begin requiring kids to attend public pre-schools. Many public schools now offer pre-school -- sometimes free --sometimes for a fee. Many others push "learning readiness" activities on new parents, and kids are required to pass a "Kindergarten Readiness" test in order to start school. This all concerns me because most of it involves pushing kids to learn skills very early that most kids acquire later on their own if left alone. Many schools now require kids to know how to count, read and write the alphabet, know their colors and shapes -- and be able to tie shoes and button and zip before they begin kindergarten. My oldest struggled with shoe tying so we bought him velcro shoes and waited until he was older -- he was happy with this plan but his kindergarten teacher sent home a note telling us that he was required to wear tie shoes and required to learn to tie them in order to pass kindergarten. It seemed both silly and developmentally inappropriate to me. It seems to me that the public schools want more and more control over the lives of kids -- and they seem less aware of developmental stages. Early stimulation is great for kids as long as it doesn't involve pushing and as long as you are aware that some skill just need to wait a while.
This trend is worrisome but, in a perverse way, may be "a good thing" because, one day, the educrats are going to push too far. On that day, parents will finally say "Enough!" and toss the whole rotten system. As long as homeschoolers are exempt, I'm not sure if we should oppose these moves toward earlier compulsory attendance or if we should just step back and let the whole system collapse. Because I'd hate to see a whole generation of babies abused by the system, I think the former but the latter is all too tempting.
IS SANTA A SNOWBIRD*? A cute post- David M. was fascinated by FedEx's package tracking feature and wondered where a letter to Santa would end up. Evidently, Santa vacations in Snowmass, CO. Read the letter to Santa- especially the post script.

*A snowbird is a person from the North who winters in warmer climes.


WOW This Princeton paper has a long, positive article on homeschooling in NJ. Not a single snarky comment in the whole thing. Kudos to The Packet.
CALL ME SEXIST, misogynistic, or a troglodyte- I think this is good news.
The decades-old trend of both parents working outside the home has not only slowed, but is reversing. In four years, the number of families with one stay-at-home parent has grown slightly...

U.S. News and World Report recently reported that the percent of young families with one stay-at-home parent has grown from its low of 38.9 percent in 1997 to 41.3 percent in 2001.
WWHS The lede says it all:
Liz Lackey, a 15-year-old from New Braunfels, has been in high school a mere four months, but already she's solidified her place in the campus' social hierarchy.
MEET THE NEW BOSS The Federal Department of Education issued new guidelines "forbidding school districts from denying children a transfer option because the better schools have no room." Does this make sense to anyone? If the better schools have no room to accept students, what exactly are the school districts supposed to do? Kick students out of the good schools to open up a slot? I just don't understand this one at all. Can anyone enlighten me?
I'LL BE LATE I'm travelling today and won't be able to blog until late this afternoon. See y'all later.


I SHOULD HAVE DONE THIS A LONG TIME AGO I like to check the site's referral logs so I can return the favor when someone links here. For two days in a row, this blog showed up but as near as I can determine, they must have stumbled into H&OES via NextBlog. But, while wandering around there I found this post on the ACLU which inspired me to sign up here.
WHAT 13TH AMENDMENT? I saw this TownHall.com column earlier and meant to blog it but Nicholas Provenzo beat me to it and does a fine job.
Mackenzie issues a call for mandatory universal service for America’s youth. “Compulsory universal service—one year with an eight-week military component, men and women, no exceptions except for physical or mental incapacity—would work miracles for this beleaguered nation's heart and soul.” Mackenzie quotes Ted Sorensen, John Kennedy's former speechwriter, addressing young people: “For at least part of your life, part of the time, give something back to this country. Put service ahead of self. Try it. You'll like it."

Oh, really? Put service ahead of self? Rather than save the nation’s heart and soul, I think compulsory universal service would destroy it.
Compulsory Universal Service sounds an awful lot like the terrible mandatory volunteerism being foist on some students as a high school graduation requirement.
LILEKS-LIKE This column by "lawyer, comedian, public speaker" and homeschooling Dad, Sean Carter, is one of the funniest pieces I've read in quite a while. I'm not going to spoil it; you'll have to click over for the full effect.
LOOK QUICK Tam Newlin has posted a copy of a very positive homeschooling article from American Legion Magazine (not available online). A favorite quote:
"Homeschooling can be difficult, and it's not for everyone," [homeschooling Mom Noreen McCann] continues. "But when the day goes really well, it's a slice of heaven. I think it's family life at its best."
PARTIAL VICTORY? The MD Board of Ed has postponed a decision changing the registration requirements for homeschoolers. The proposal has been vehemently opposed by homeschoolers there.
HOMESCHOOL B-BALL Here's a nice article on some NE homeschoolers who play high-school level basketball. One was offered a college scholarhsip.
Teenagers who attend worship and rate religion as important have positive self-images, are optimistic and enjoy school, a study released yesterday said.

The survey of thousands of 12th-grade students found that optimism and confidence correlate with exposure to religion as much as with success, race, wealth or "self-esteem" education in public schools.
"UNDER GOD" UPDATE This one was a bit of a surprise to a lot of pundits.
A three-judge appellate panel allows an atheist to pursue his hot-potato case against the Elk Grove school district.
YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK I don't know if this was bad luck or poor planning.
A $160 million high school that has never been finished because of toxic gases in the soil at the construction site also sits atop an earthquake fault that probably precludes use of two of its six buildings, the superintendent of schools said today.


MAJOR SHRINKAGE HERE This local story is just too funny:
Debbie DeMarco was driving west on Naamans Road about 4:30 a.m. Monday when she said a blue Volkswagen Jetta roared past her with a naked man clinging to the roof...

"I'm looking, and there's a man hanging from the top of the car ... naked!" said DeMarco, who called 911. "All this guy had on was white socks and a T-shirt."

The driver, Lori Ann Becker, 20, of Aston, Pa., and the man, Becker's estranged husband Michael, 25, of Linwood, Pa., were arrested after she crashed the Jetta into a concrete barrier near Highland Avenue and Front Street in Chester, according to a police affidavit...

Lower Chichester Township Police Officer Ralph Conte said in court papers that an "extremely cold" Michael Becker fell off the Jetta's roof and pushed the woman back into the vehicle, held her down on the floor and punctured her thigh 17 times with a small tool that was dangling from the rearview mirror.

Michael Becker told police he was trying to stop his estranged wife from stealing the car from his driveway when she took off with him hanging onto the side, Conte said in court records.

Michael Becker told police he grabbed the roof rack as the car sped down the street.

Lori Ann Becker was charged with attempt to commit homicide, simple and aggravated assault, reckless endangering, harassment and stalking, disorderly conduct, drunken driving, driving without a license, careless and reckless driving, and accidents involving damage to unattended vehicle or property.

Police charged Michael Becker with simple and aggravated assault, reckless endangering, terroristic threats and disorderly conduct.

DeMarco said she's never seen anything like it.

"It's freezing, how can he possibly hang on?" she said. "We see all kinds of funny things happen early in the morning, but this beats all."
It was 17 degrees this morning at 4:30.
WELCOME I am always right to the blogroll. Tony Rosenberg and his wife are newbie homeschoolers in TX. Tony has lots of good posts- definitely worth a click.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY I ran across this quote from Plato's Republic: "Let early education be a sort of amusement; you will then be better able to find out the natural bent." Which reminded me of this proverb: "Train up a child in the way he should go [and in keeping with his individual gift or bent], and when he is old he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6 The Amplified Bible)

POWER PLAY Maine is prohibiting homeschoolers from participating in interscholastic sports for private schools, but they are allowed to play for the public schools. Reading through this article, I was almost convinced it was a competition issue- keeping the private schools from cherry-picking. That is, until I got to the money graf, buried near the bottom:
In order for Stotts to play for Poland Regional High School, his local public school, his parents would have to file a home-school education plan with the state. And the Maine Department of Education would have to approve it.
Just another effort in the educrats' unending quest to keep homeschoolers under thumb.


NUMBER 2 PENCIL (aka Kim Swygert) asked via email that I post a note that she is pulling out her hair with Blogger problems. She's been trying to post for three days. Keep checking back; eventually Blogger will get their act together.
WHO LET THAT IN? Newsweek is not exactly an arm of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy so I was rather surprised at this pro-charter column.
Why are teachers unions and school boards trying to kill charter schools?

Charters represent a good compromise between status-quo mediocrity and vouchers. But fearful of losing control, “The Blob”—the education establishment—is trying to strangle the movement. Some states are refusing to expand the number of charters they grant in certain areas. (Chicago, for instance, is allowed only ten)...

Instead of judging by results, some states (under pressure from “The Blob”) have started heavily regulating charter schools, trying to make them more like the ordinary schools they are meant to challenge. Republicans nationally are generally more open to the movement than Democrats, who remain in bed with teachers unions. But at the state level, GOP lawmakers are also thoroughly compromised by the vested interests of the “educrats.”
Educrats? Is Alter really Jacobs?

UPDATE: I have determined that Alters is really a pseudonym for Lisa Snell.
While this will be difficult to pull off, even with the Los Angeles education elite supporting it, a 100 charter schools in Los Angeles in five years would provide real competition to perhaps the biggest education BLOB of all...
Has anyone ever seen the two of them together? Huh?
SARCASM @ THE EDUCATION INTELLIGENCE AGENCY This one is too good to pass unblogged. EIA has noticed that some anti-testing activists have gone off the deep end and concluded that increased test scores are a bad thing.
Anthony Ralston, professor emeritus of computer science and mathematics at the State University of New York at Buffalo, termed rising test scores the “next disaster in American education.” Ralston claims that higher scores reflect “the learning of particular skills, often unrelated to the further study of mathematics and often at the expense of a broader curriculum that would really prepare students for the further study of mathematics.” Worst of all, Ralston says, higher scores “give parents a false sense that the learning of their children is improving when it is not."
EIA then goes on to predict the effects of "Ralston's Law" on American society as a whole.
Ralston’s Law (as it will be later enshrined in college textbooks) will catch on in other aspects of American life. The Postal Service will hire only those who can’t remember zip codes on its standardized test. The FBI will hire only those who can’t identify suspects on its standardized test. The state will instead certify lawyers who fail the bar exam. Knowing the location of molars will disqualify dentists. Contractors’ licenses will be given to those who think “roof” is something a dog says.

The New American Order will culminate in the endowment of the Ralston Chair for Applied Mathematics at the State University of New York at Bizarro. Me so happy, me want to cry.
I cried, too (from laughing too hard).


HOMESCHOOL COOKIE DAY The first day of the new Delaware Legislative Session is January 14, 2003. As we did last year, homeschoolers from across the state will be making a "peace offering" of home(school)-made cookies to the legislators. Here's a link to the info from the Delaware Home Education Association website. One of the advantages to living in tiny DE is that we can very easily gather at the state capitol. It's also very common to be on a first name basis with the legislators.
AND YOU THOUGHT HAVING TO ASK FOR PERMISSION TO GO TO THE RESTROOM WAS BAD Some MN children are forced by school drug policies to leave their asthma inhalers at the school nurse's office. This is a stupendously bad policy that can cost a child his/her life. A couple of years ago, I was on hand when my nephew had a bad asthma attack in the middle of the night. In the few seconds it took him to grab his inhaler, his bronchi closed and he passed out. My physician father-in-law later said that he had nearly died. Zero tolerance drug rules just don't make sense in these situations. Any school administrator who happens to see this: Please allow the kids to carry their inhalers without hindrance. They struggle with this disease already; don't make it tougher on them.
IDLE THREATS More on the IL homeschooling situation. When the truancy officer threatened to remove the kids from their home, he was blowing smoke.
The regional education office in Illinois has no authority to remove children from their homes, and DCFS officials said they cannot remove children for truancy violations.


AN OLDIE BUT A GOODIE Education News linked to this compilation of "Answers to Objections To Homeschooling." It seems pretty complete and worth filing away for future reference.
HOMESCHOOLING DRAWBACK The kids never get to ride a school bus.
WHAT A SHOCK MA parents are in favor of spending mega-tax dollars to provide universal "pre-school" for 3-5 year olds. I'm sure this is all in the best interest of the kids and has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that many of these parents are spending their own money for pre-school now. As Scottish historian Tytler noted, "Democracy can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury."


Three teachers who took home more than $60,000 in overtime pay last year are under investigation by the Chicago Board of Education...

One of the three teachers, Demetrie Smith, said her $88,000 in overtime is a reward for her hard work, not evidence of wrongdoing.

The Chicago board also will investigate a custodian-engineer who made $138,815 in overtime in 2000, the Tribune reported.
A NEW HSING BLOG I stumbled across.
Amy Kropp is a Catholic home schooling mom who has temporarily set aside her career as an attorney to stay home with her kids. On this site, Amy discusses home schooling, Catholic blogs, Catholic books, and other newsworthy issues. "More Like Mary, Less Like Martha" refers to Luke 10:38-42. Amy strives to be "more like Mary" in this story, attending first to the things that are important, rather than the things that seem urgent.
CLUELESS IN CONNECTICUT HSing is apparently unusual in Shelton, CT.
"I get asked all the time why isn't [Reed} in school," Carol Mayhew said. "I just say we're done for the day." When she tells people that she home schools her children, Mayhew said some people inquire whether it is legal to home-school children.
ONE SMART EX-GOVERNOR This article describing the plans of ex-Gov's ends with this one:
[Maine's Ex-Governor King] has mapped out a vastly different plan - with pins on a large map in his living room. He and his wife bought a 40-foot mobile home and are planning a six-month tour of the country, home schooling their two children along the way.

After that, King's not sure what comes next. The former businessman might teach, he might go back into business, he might write. "My wife says whatever I do, it won't involve a coat and tie."

VACCINES IN THE NEWS More and more parents are not having their kids immunized.
THIS JUST ISN'T RIGHT Parents seeking to get their kids into one of NYC's gifted and talented programs, are told to start preparing two years before their kids are ready to enroll.
In a pinch, parents can turn to consultants like the folks at Smart City Kids, an organization primarily devoted to helping parents get their children into private schools but which also offers workshops ($195 for two and a half hours) geared toward the public schools' gifted and talented programs. Free tip offered on the Web site: "The application process for some of the most selective public schools in New York City often begins a year before your child is scheduled to start school. Allow yourself this year's time to do the research." How many working-class parents can spend a year prenavigating the system?...

The number of good schools and good programs is still tiny. As long as that's the case, most parents who can do so will move mountains on behalf of their own children — mountains of cash for the Jack Grubmans, or of singlemindedness and savvy, with maybe a little bit of string-pulling, for many of us. But what about everyone else?


A DAY LATE The true story of the first Thanksgiving.

THIS IS NOT FUNNY Quotes from a chat room for teachers:
"If you had complete freedom in the classroom what would you do to make your class behave, the more extreme the better."

This brought the response: "I think I would nail their hands to the desk, tie them in their seats and liberally use gaffer tape around the mouths.

"I may also keep a machete handy and talk about how Saudi Arabia gets it right!!"

"A large handgun, which is used to blow the head off of the first pupil who has failed to shut up/do homework/sit properly at their desk/speak politely to me.

"obviously a light-hearted and humourous [sic] thread where people are saying things they don't really mean".
PHENOM This HSer has a pretty impressive resume (at 17) and even more impressive plans:

Well, she is just 17, and ... Karisa Solt already has played two soccer seasons for the New Jersey Institute of Technology and is closing in on a degree in biomedical engineering.

At a time when most teens her age are thinking about the senior prom, Solt is thinking about graduating college in less than four years so that she can attend Bible college before heading off to medical school.


SO, I LIED I can't resist blogging this. We are preparing our Thanksgiving meal to the absolutely gorgeous sounds of the Llewellyn Family. The Llewellyn's are HSers who worship and play some wonderful classical music together. If you have a music lover on your Christmas list, click the link above or drop me an email for the Llewellyn's email address. They also perform at functions.
OTOH I do rest on Thanksgiving Day. See y'all tomorrow.
THE ENEMY NEVER RESTS (not even on Thanksgiving Day) David Broder has a column up extolling the virtues of universal preschool for 3-year-olds.
The special feature of this study was its effort to measure the economic benefits. The Abecedarian Project was pretty expensive, as preschool programs go -- $13,000 per child in current dollars, about twice the cost of the average Head Start program. That is because the classes were small, the teachers well-trained and well-paid, and the curriculum challenging.

But it paid off in multiples, the researchers said. The lifetime earnings of those in the project are projected to be $143,000 greater than those in the control group. The program also involved the mothers of these youngsters, helping them improve their basic skills in reading, mathematics and other subjects. As a result, the mothers' incomes are projected to grow by $133,000 over the years.

Extrapolation is a dangerous thing. The cited study involved low-income families. Extrapolating these results to the population at large takes a leap of faith. But Broder is willing to make it (with our kids and our tax dollars, of course).
That is a huge return on the investment, and explains why the Committee for Economic Development, a leading business group, has endorsed a rapid expansion of high-quality preschool programs, with the goal of making them available for all youngsters starting at age 3.
How long before universal availability becomes compulsory attendance? I'd give it five years or less.