DREADLOCKS ILLEGAL? This sophomore was basically kicked out of public school because she wears dreadlocks. Check out this ridiculous quote:
House said the school is trying to prevent the potential ridicule, bullying and attention being drawn to a student with outlandish hair.

"We have standards, we have expectations," the superintendent said. "We're not singling out any one student. You set standards, you set your expectations for people to meet them and you do it for a reason. Our reason is that we're a learning institution, we're not a fashion school.

"We want all children when they come here to have the opportunity to learn with no distractions."
This has nothing to do with maintaining an orderly school and everything to do with conformity. The entire article is worth a read; there are some other eye-raisers in there.

BTW, she's going to be HSed until this gets settled.
BOYS VS. GIRLS For at least 10 years, schools have been focused on bringing up the scores of girls who were thought to be shortchanged in the public schools. Now it appears the tide has turned and girls are outscoring boys in the standardized tests and in other important catgeories.
For the first time, more girls than boys passed the math section of the 2002 WASL in all grades the test is given: fourth, seventh and 10th. In reading and especially writing, girls maintained large leads. In the seventh and 10th grades, nearly two-thirds of girls met the writing standard, compared with fewer than half of boys.

The gap mirrors national — and international — trends. In England, they worry about the "lad" problem.
This should be no surprise to anyone who has had a son in the schools. The emphasis these days is all on desk work, 6 1/2 hours per day (plus 2 to 3 hours of homework). Recess has been eliminated in many schools. Boys just don't have a chance to burn off their energy. This may be completely sexist and un-PC but boys and girls ARE wired differently. There's a reason the aphorism "Boys will be boys" became one. Still one more reason to HS.
REAL AFDC? Here's an interesting experiment: some poor Montana mothers are being paid to stay home and take care of their infants.
The pilot program pays the same child-care worker's wages - $17 a day in this state - to a low-income mother caring for children under 2.

To show you how this turns history on its head - or makes history - remember that Aid to Families with Dependent Children began in 1935 as a program that would allow widowed mothers to stay at home with kids. By the 1990s, with so many mothers in the work force, the cry was to end AFDC.

Welfare reform was based on an idea so radical that we didn't even publicly acknowledge it. The idea was that a (poor) mother's place was in the work force.

The problem is that we never answered one huge question: Who will take care of the children? For many families, especially for those with infants, wages were so low and child care so expensive that the math didn't work.
SO I LIED This story from the NYT is a sports story but that's not why it's blogged here. Instead, this is personal; my eldest son and I drove down to Baltimore yesterday (yes, we played hookey from church) and were there to witness the Yanks clinch home-field advantage and Soriano to choke. It was a glorious day- 78 degrees at game time, not a cloud in the sky. It was his first MLB game, so a true father-son ritual. Just a perfect day!

OBLIGATORY HS REFERENCE: We did drive by some historical old cannon in the Inner Harbor. :-)


WATCH THOSE LINKS UCSD has decided that linking to a web-site owned by a terrorist group (FARC in this case), may run afoul of the Patriot Act's prohibition on "providing 'material support or resources' to foreign terrorists who have been placed on a State Department list." At least one civil liberties group believes the school has overreached.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) said UCSD's reading of the USA Patriot act was laughably censorious.

"I think their interpretation of materially supporting terrorism is dreadfully overbroad and a massive threat to freedom of speech," said Greg Lukianoff, FIRE's director of legal advocacy. Lukianoff said FIRE was willing to represent the Che Cafe against the university, which must abide by the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech because it is a government school.

TESTING, TESTING, 1, 2, 3 More school districts are imposing random drug tests on students participating in extra-curricular activities. The NYT had a nice pro & con type article today.


OVERPAID TEACHER Another off-beat article.
Thanks to a computer glitch, the teacher was paid $7.9 million before taxes for 18 minutes of work. The teacher, who wasn't identified, received $4,015,624.80 after taxes.

Someone alerted the school district earlier this month, and the money was returned after six days, chief financial officer Ken Forrest said in Thursday's Detroit News.
"Someone" alerted the school district? And then it took six days to return the money? Sounds like this teacher was tempted to take the money and run.
OT- DEMON RUM This one's just a little too bizarre to pass up.
Chad Dillon was rescued yesterday after witnesses heard him screaming from within the back of the Waste Management truck as its driver picked up trash at the DeKalb County Fairgrounds.

Police say the truck compacted Dillon into loads of trash not once, but twice. He was released yesterday afternoon from a Fort Wayne Hospital after being treated for head, chest and arm injuries.

Auburn Police Chief Martin McCoy says Dillon apparently fell asleep in a trash bin somewhere in the downtown Auburn area, where a fall festival was held this week.

He says Dillon had been out drinking Thursday night at an Auburn bar.


OH, CANADA Here's a nice profile of "old school homeschoolers" in the Great White North.
The emphasis, Stephan says, isn’t on testing, but on learning. "When you’re working day by day with a child, evaluation is not as important. When a child sits down to do a math lesson, you know if they can do it," he says.

"If they’re having problems, we don’t make it a big issue. It’s not a matter of passing or failing."

Homeschooling for them is not just an experiment, it’s a lifestyle.

"We’re teaching them to enjoy learning," Stephan says, "so that when they leave our home they can continue to learn and they’ll know how to learn because they’ve been learning all their lives."
K12 Over at The Motley Fool (registration required)I am in the midst of a debate with the "Product Manager for K12's Online School," which is one of the reason's I find this article interesting.
Minnesota's slow journey into online learning received a high-profile push Thursday with former U.S. Education Secretary William Bennett pitching one of the state's newest schools...

Tapping into the rapidly growing home-school movement in the state and with Bennett's high-name recognition, the Minnesota Virtual Academy could rapidly expand Minnesota's online enrollment, which has lagged behind some other states...

K12 Inc. works in partnership with virtual schools in five other states. In its first year last year, it had an enrollment of 1,000. This year it has more than 7,000 students. About 60 percent of the students come from home-school families.
A CRUMMY HEADLINE This is just poor newspapering: Successes spotty so far in classes for home-schooled Half way down the article we learn that some courses being offered to HSers haven't generated much interest. What a shock!
Five years ago, the mother of one of Sandra Strassel's drawing students at Valley Art asked Strassel to start such a class. Strassel agreed if the mother would get at least six students to commit.

Now the Forest Grove gallery offers daytime classes for children in drawing and pottery and occasionally in calligraphy or bookmaking.

But the success of daytime classes for home-schoolers seems to be somewhat fluky.

At the other end of the spectrum from Valley Art is Dawn Webster, a teacher at Act-1 School of Dance in Cedar Mill. She offered a daytime dance class last term after some girls in her daughter's home-school Girl Scout troop asked for one.

"But nobody came for it," Webster said.
Hint: Advertise!

SCHOOL A LA CARTE A VA school district located right in HSLDA's backyard has decided to allow private schoolers and HSers to enroll in individual classes in the public schools.
TANSTAAFL or free tests, for that matter. Loudon County, VA public schools will allow HSers to take the PSAT at the schools for "free". Here's a telling quote:
School staff said this would be a convenient way to collect data on home school and private school students as well.
Heinlein said it best.
ZERO TOLERANCE = ZERO BRAINS From the same school district that expelled a student for having a bread knife in his pick-up truck comes this story about a middle schooler suspended for accidentally leaving a Leatherman tool (with a 2 3/4 in blade in the handle) in his backback.
DOD SCHOOLS EXCEL Here's another article on how well the military's schools are performing.
On the 1998 writing test, DoDDS eighth graders placed second in the United States. African-American eighth graders in DoDDS schools scored second in the nation when compared with their peers in non-military schools; Hispanics placed first among Hispanic students nationwide. African-American fourth and eighth graders also placed first on the reading exam, as did Hispanic fourth graders; Hispanic eighth graders ranked second.

The achievement gap between white and minority students also is narrower in DoDEA schools than in U.S. public schools.
MCAS LUCKS OUT The MA state test had a wrong answer in the key for the 8th grade tests. Luckily for them, there were no ramifications associated with this particular test. Otherwise, I bet the lawyers would be lining up to file a class action lawsuit. Perhaps one more reason to re-think high-stakes testing.


WONDER OF WONDERS choice works- at least to the extent that some schools are starting to have to deal with market forces. Tuscaloosa schools are "losing" state aid due to increased numbers of HSers.
“The more parents who choose to keep their children out of public schools, the less resources we have," said Shelley Jones, chair of the Tuscaloosa City Board of Education.

“Our resources, our money, our funding is based on our enrollment, so if we don’t have them in our school system, we don’t get money to educate them."
Well, duh!
If home schooling digs much deeper into local school budgets, Salter said systems likely will have to promote themselves and their facilities to draw students back.

“We hope people have seen the progress we’ve made in the last several years and want to come back to our public schools," he said...

“What we have to do is offer the highest quality curriculum, the best teachers and the best programs we can and hope that parents will look at our record and want to send their children to our schools," she said...

But if loss of funding prompts public schools to improve to lure home schoolers back, home school mother Deirdre Aycock said the result can only be positive for all parties.

“Hopefully, having a choice will make public schools sit up and take notice and improve what they’re doing," she said.

HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL A CA school district is seeking to raise funds to replace ageing school buildings. Why is this news? Check out this optimistic quote:
Members of the Libertarian Party, providing the only organized opposition to the measure, say the district isn't looking at all the options.

To deal with space needs, party member Jack Hickey said the district should implement split sessions and encourage more parents to send their kids to private schools or home school.

"It would take a load off the school district, because they wouldn't have as many children to take care of," Hickey said.

"It's the parents' responsibility to take care of the children's education, not the government."
I wish you luck.
OH, NO! My favorite aggregator of "educ. stuff", EducationNews.org didn't publish today at all. Let's hope this is temporary; EdNews is a great site.
BRAIN OVER EASY Yes, mine is fried. I've been in one of those 8:00 - 4:00 meetings. Ugh! Blogging will now resume.


THIS KIND OF HELP WE CAN DO WITHOUT This IA school district wants to "help" HSers. Thanks a lot:
The group also discussed a possible home school assistance program. Christensen said that the number of home school students has been increasing across the state, and they feel it's important to help those who chose that route for educating their children.

The program requires a certified teacher to contact parents four times per quarter (two face to face and two can be by phone or e-mail).

"The certified teacher helps with lesson planning, teaching strategies, curriculum development and testing," Christensen said.
OT: GO WOFFORD This will likely be the only sports story you see here (at least until the Furman Paladins make the I-AA playoffs). I think the NYT underrates Wofford's chances at knocking off Maryland. The Southern Conference has a history of sneaking up on ACC teams. In four consecutive years back in the mid-80's, Furman beat GA Tech (ACC), the Univ. of South Carolina (independent), and NC State twice (ACC). Woof!
HS THEM A short article on what are termed "profoundly gifted" children and the problems they have in school. We all know the solution: Homeschool 'em!
A NEW HSING BLOG Laura Derrick from NHEN has a new Homeschooling & Unschooling blog. Not a whole lot of commentary yet but a nice collection of good links. I'll add this one to the blog-roll under "Laura Derrick".
OT BUT WELL-TIMED In light of the re-running of Ken Burns' Civil War this week (you did set the VCR, right?), I offer up Geroge Will's column on preserving the memory of the Battle of Chancellorsville. Anyone who loves history will appreciate the column.
ARE THEY "PROFESSIONALS" OR NOT? Public school teachers are constantly claiming they are "professionals" and should be paid as such. Maybe but, in my mind, professionals have some sense of the rule of law.
The Issaquah School District will open classrooms today without its striking teachers, who yesterday voted overwhelmingly to defy a judge's back-to-work order...

Kathy O'Toole, a Washington Education Association lawyer who represented the union in Monday's hearing, explained to members their due-process rights and the potential consequences of defying the orders...

One teacher questioned the burden of proof, if teachers defy the order.

"If we don't show up, isn't that proof enough?" she asked.

Linderman said teachers could say they were sick, or that a parent was sick. The district can't prove otherwise.
A fine example for their students from these "professionals".
DO NOT ADJUST YOUR SET Blogger has been flaky all morning; this is the first time I've gotten into the editor. Let's see how long it lasts.


OT: GOOGLE NEWS Jack Shafer at Slate has an article up about Google News.
According to the site's FAQ page, Google News software continuously crawls more than 4,000 Web news sources, looking for the most relevant articles from the most reputable sources. From those results, other Google automatons auto-generate news pages for its various section fronts, sorting them into: "Top Stories," world, U.S., business, sports, entertainment, etc. The pages include the source of the article, a clickable (back to the originating site) headline, the story's first sentence, and often a news photo. By my stopwatch, Google News produces all new section fronts every 12 minutes or so, satisfying even the most attention-deficit disordered news appetite. Enterprising readers who want to dig deeper can retrieve stories culled by Google News over the past 30 days by using keyword searches.
Without Google News and EducationNews.org this blog would be a blank "slate" (I'll leave it to you to decide if that would be an improvement).
THAT'S WHY THEY'RE CALLED "PRIVATE" SCHOOLS Here's a great example of the arrogance of some reporters: private secondary schools are being pressured to release "accountability" type data and they're pushing back.
Reshma Memon Yaqub, a writer for Worth magazine, graduated from a public high school -- Churchill in Montgomery County -- and is accustomed to such schools providing all kinds of information to reporters. But when she began to contact private high schools for an article on getting students into Ivy League colleges, she said, "the door was slammed in my face."...

"It was as if these schools felt it was their God-given right to charge $20,000 a year . . . and not be accountable to the public for the results," she said. [emphasis added]
They're private schools. They don't have to be accountable to anyone except the students and their parents. The article goes on to basically warn private schools that vouchers can spell the end of their independence.
Education experts say that if tax-supported private school tuition vouchers and other ways of funding private schools with government money become popular, private schools that receive such money will be obliged to report test scores, teacher qualifications and graduation rates, as public schools do now.

"I think it's very hard to argue that private schools receiving public funds should not be subject to the same information requirements as traditional public schools," said Doug Harris, assistant professor of education and economics at Florida State University and a research associate at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington.
BONUS: Lisa Snell is quoted in the article.
WOW! This reporter "gets" HSing. There are just so many good quotes in here.
Texas has from 110,000 to 150,000 home-schooled students, compared with 4 million who attend public schools. The annual growth rate nationally is 7 percent to 10 percent, estimate officials, who say that students taught at home get as good an education as traditional students.

Several examples back them up. Home-schooled students who took the SAT in 2001-02 averaged 68 points higher (1,088 to 1,020) than public-school students, according to figures released last month by the College Board, a national organization that administers college entrance exams...

Almost all home students (98 percent) live in a two-parent household, with the mother staying home to teach, according to the Home School Legal Defense Association. Eighty-eight percent of home-schooled students have continued their education beyond high school. And almost one in four home-school students has at least one parent who is a certified teacher. [emphasis added]
This last was news to me. And here's the money 'graf:
Public-school administrators say that it is unfair to compare the accomplishments of their students to those of home-schooled ones, whose lesson plans are not governed by any state or federal institution. Public schools typically have classrooms with 25 to 30 students; home schooling is typically one-on-one instruction.
Awwww, poor public school administrators. For years the NEA and educrats have claimed that you can't get a good education HSing. Now, we're not playing fair because we "teach" one-on-one. That's the point, isn't it?


PRETTY FUNNY I saw this list on HEM-Networking. I don't know the original author.
Top 10 Answers You Should NEVER Give to the Question "What?! No School Today?"

10. Well normally yes, but this time of year I need help with the planting and plowing.

9. Goodness, no!!! I graduated 18 years ago, but thanks for the compliment!

8. No, we homeschool. We're just out to pick up a bag of pork rinds and some Mountain Dew, then we gotta hurry home to catch our soaps.

7. What?! Where did you guys come from?! Oh my gosh! I thought I told you kids to stay at school! I'm sorry. This happens all the time. (sigh)

6. There isn't? Why, you'd think we would have seen more kids out then, don't you?

5. We're on a field trip studying human nature's intrusive and assumptive tactics of displaying ignorance and implied superiority. Thanks for the peek!

4. On our planet we have different methods of education. (Shhh! No, I didn't give it away... keep your antennae down!)

3. Oh my goodness! I thought that today was Saturday...come on kids, hurry!

2. Noooooope.Me 'n Bubba jes' learns 'em at home. Werks reel good!

And the number one answer we should NEVER give to the question: "What? No school today?"

1. "What? No Bingo today?"
An arrest was made Friday in the case of a 14-year-old freshman at Western Harnett High School who told Harnett County Sheriff’s deputies she was physically assaulted in the woods behind the school.

Olga Esther Perez, 16, of Bunnlevel was arrested at home late Friday afternoon by Western Harnett School Resource Officer James Gunter.

Miss Perez was charged with misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon and possession of a weapon on school property, also a misdemeanor. Her arrest report stated that Ms. Perez attacked her victim with “brass knuckles, by hitting her in the back of the head.”
Attacking someone with brass knuckles is a misdemeanor? But it gets better. Check out these ridiculous quotes:
The mother also stressed it was her daughter’s “first time skipping school” and she was not smoking marijuana, but other students were. She said her daughter has since passed a drug test...

“I feel that Western Harnett is as safe a school as any school there is. I would certainly not have any problem with my children being in that school,” [Superintendent] Andrews said.

FREE SPEECH ZONE? This preacher's message is sick but I find the school's proposed solution to be rather unworkable- protest is allowed only in a designated "free speech zone" located four miles from the football stadium. Who is he allowed to speak to way out there? The deer and the antelope?
REFUSENIKS This article may be good news for HSers. Colleges throughout the country are not automatically penalizing MA students who refuse to sit for the high-stakes exit exam, the MCAS. HSers are not permitted to take this test (probably because the state doesn't want the competition).
DOUBLE DIPPING? The University of Texas- Austin is set to open a charter school. Somehow, this just doesn't seem right. UT is a state supported school. On top of that, the UT charter will receive $5000/student from the local school district.
Under UT's plan, charter students would go to school one week longer than their counterparts in public schools. They also would spend an extra 30 minutes a day in class. In addition, classes would be smaller than the state-mandated 22-1 student-teacher ratio, with a 16-1 ratio in pre-kindergarten and 20-1 in kindergarten and first grade.
Well, sure. If you're double dipping you have plenty of money to lower class size. But how does that translate to the OTHER public schools?
WHY, OH WHY does EducationNews.org continue to publicize the rantings of Dennis Redovich, former teacher? At least he's consistent. Among the rest of this "well-reasoned" piece against the "spurious crisis in education" is this gem:
An academically challenged media reiterates the garbage of Corporate America about public education without serious challenge.
And where were these "academically challenged" reporters most likely educated? Why, those wonderful public schools, no doubt.


I'LL RUN for the School Board if this ever comes to Delaware. It'd make for some interesting local politics, that's for sure.
Some lawmakers and one candidate for governor say it might be time to let school boards raise property taxes without requiring them to go to voters.
LONG DISTANCE UNSCHOOLING How'd you like to try to HS while through-hiking the Appalachian Trail?
Long hours of hiking made it tough to follow a home-school curriculum, which Homer and Therese Witcher had hoped to do. Still, the children learned plenty, including plant and animal identification, and geography. By reading maps and adding trail lengths, Bennett became something of a math whiz.


SET THE VCR Ken Burns' Civil War is returning to PBS this week. The program has been updated with better graphics and sound.
SUCKERS! Just kidding- this is really sad. Teachers are spending a ton of money to buy supplies for their schools. The schools say they can't afford to provide the necessities. Maybe it's because they're spending all their money on laptops.
WELL, GO AHEAD THEN SC's Horry County has delayed releasing the high-stakes test results until October 4th and parents are getting frustrated:
"I don't agree with taking the entire year to focus on a test," said Martha Winebarger, whose son and daughter attend Bethel Elementary School. "Now, we're even talking about adjusting school start [dates] because of testing."

Lori Austin, who was waiting to pick up her children at Bethel this week, said: "I'm tired of people judging children. There are times when I feel like I should just home-school."
P.S. As a bonus, this has one of the most confusing bylines I've seen in a while. Horry County is on the coast (Myrtle Beach is in Horry County). Mauldin is in Greenville County- about as far away from Horry as you can get and still be in the same state. Bizarre.
THANKS BUT NO THANKS, MR. GUTTENTAG Another virtual charter school article. This school seems to stress that they are a public school with all of the accountability issues that entails. Bewilderingly, they seem to think this is a virtue:
With about half the 260 students coming from the home-school ranks, Guttentag said, “We’re bringing all these students back into the public school system and into the same accountability framework. These are students who never took state tests before or had a state aligned curriculum.”
HOUMA PART TWO These are out of order but I just received via email a link to the missing article. Beryl Amedee is mentioned again. There is also a variation on the obligatory photo. Instead of a mother pointing to a text book, we have a HSer studying same. Here's a strange quote:
The way Ellen Chauvin of Thibodaux makes sure her 11-year-old son, Caleb Chauvin’s academic performance is in line with his school peers is by closely following a preplanned school curriculum and by having Caleb take the SATs anualy [sic].
The "SATs"? For an 11-year-old? I guess it's possible.
IT'S A HSING SATURDAY here at the Cobranchi's. That means roller hockey at 10, a quick trip to the science store, and then HS Field Day at 1. Hence, blogging will be non-existent 'til this evening. Y'all come back now, y'hear.


A WEIRD COINCIDENCE Beryl Amedee was the subject of a very positive HSing article I blogged this morning. Then, this thoroughly disheartening HSLDA "e-lert" arrived this afternoon. Mrs. Amedee is prominently featured.
On August 13 2002, three Louisiana legislators met with several child welfare and attendance officers and a Christian Home Educators Fellowship (CHEF) of Louisiana representative. Beryl Amedee, wife of CHEF of LA President John Amedee, represented CHEF at the meeting. Mrs. Amedee attended the meeting expecting to offer constructive suggestions for improving Louisiana's truancy laws. Instead, she was told the meeting was dedicated to announcing the intent to "tighten up" on homeschools in Louisiana.

After the meeting, these legislators wrote to Cecil Picard, Superintendent of the Louisiana Department of Education. Their letter states, "We are interested in filing bills for the 2003 Regular Session to tighten up on the requirements for home study and homeschooling." The legislature will begin its session on March 31, 2003.
This gives us five months to get organized and block this legislation. Visit the link to read the letter.
ARRRGGGHHH!! Now the truancy cops AND the police are getting involved in the CA HSing mess.
Ronald Crozier, a Drug Abuse Resistance Education officer with the Oakdale Police Department, said truancy officers want stricter laws so they can crack down on parents who abuse the system.

He said he is pressing charges against a number of families who filed private school affidavits to get the officials off their backs.

He said the families call themselves home-schoolers, but don't have books or tests or attendance records to back up their claims.

"Our problem is with parents who are taking advantage of the system," Crozier said.
What a bunch of nonsense. CA law doesn't require books or tests or attendance records. Why should the truancy cops be able to demand them? We heard this same junk in Delaware last year. The state even organized a "Truancy Task Force", which stated in its "Final Report "
The committee has also considered other issues and their impact not only on the truancy court process but also on better serving youth that are most at risk for school drop out. Although home schooling can provide an effective educational opportunities for children, truancy issues have demonstrated that home schooling has become a well known loophole for parents to use to establish school attendance for their child without having to send their child to a school building. With no criteria for home schooling in this state it allows for parents who are not capable of providing an education for their child [emphasis added] a legal way to not send their child to school.
And who is to decide if a parent is "capable"? Why, the edu-crats who failed these kids in the first place, of course. More nanny-state nonsense.
COURIER-HOUMA TODAY PART III Here's part three of the series (I never did find part two). Some excellent quotes here.
"I would like to see less regulation. We’re doing a good job and really don’t need to prove that to the state because there are no benefits from it. The state doesn’t provide us with diplomas. The state won’t vouch for our progress. In many ways, the state, if anything, just interferes.

"Any attempt for the state to further regulate homeschooling would just have a negative effect on homeschool families. Not that they wouldn’t comply or live up to whatever the change would be, but it would just be one more irritant or aggravation. It would be one more case of the government stepping into your living room to try to tell you how to do something you’re already doing just fine," she explained...

There are no drawbacks to home education, Beryl said. The experience allows her to have a deeper relationship with her children.

"We are not isolated. We are not cut off from society. We don’t live in a cave, and we don’t keep the kids in a closet. Day to day, we’re out there … " Beryl said.

"For a parent to take the time to pour into their own children, that’s the only way the world is going to change for the better."
The only negative I see in this article is the all-too-standard "parent pointing at a book while child(ren) look on" photo. :-) If any paper ever decides to profile our family, I'm going to insist that they take a picture of the HS karate class or "swim & gym" at the "Y". Anything that shows the kids away from the dining room table.
EDU-BLOGGING AT SAMIZDATA Natalie Solent blogs a piece about an ongoing UK education scandal. Her solution sounds like it could have come from the Alliance for the Separation of School & State.
I know a breathtakingly simple way for Estelle to get out of this mess entirely. It's this: Get out of this mess entirely, Estelle! Yes! It's that easy! Kick over your ministerial desk, make a barbecue of all your papers, hurl your dispatch box over the balustrade of the magnificent interior balcony of Sanctuary Buildings, and be gone and free within the hour. I don't just mean resign. I mean make your last act the complete and inalienable renunciation of government interference in A Levels, AS Levels, right through to X, Y and Z Levels, with every record so much as touching upon the subject shredded or electronically wiped to make sure your courageous decision sticks. Because government interference is the only cause of all this mess and government butting out is the only cure.
Preach it, sister!
AN INTERESTING SENTENCE I promised not to blog any more teacher-student sex stories but this one's an update with a twist.
Tanya Joan Hadden, the San Bernardino teacher whose relationship with a 15-year-old student began with innocent car rides and after-school French fries but crossed the line -- and then the state line -- was given a suspended sentence Thursday and will avoid prison for now...

Hadden still faces additional charges in San Bernardino, where prosecutors have pledged to forge ahead with a second criminal case in an effort to put Hadden behind bars for years. What's more, Bonaventure recounted a litany of restrictions she'll live under forever -- from curfews to an inability to teach again to a requirement that she never date a man who has male children.[emphasis added]
Now, how exactly are they going to enforce this? What if she marries and they have a son?
BOILER ROOM I hate this.
The students have about 10 days to sell enough magazines to reach their goal of over $100,000 in sales...

On Wednesday, Wayne Miller of Bay Area Fundraising was on hand to explain the specifics of the magazine sale to students, mainly showing them how to fill out the magazine order forms.

Then, Miller whipped the students into a frenzy as he displayed the wide assortment of prizes available for those selling a certain number of magazines. Prizes include weepuls (small fuzzy characters with sticky feet), puka shells, stuffed animals, Borders and Old Navy gift certificates, a calculator/clock, personal water dispenser and a personal miniature refrigerator that can be plugged into a wall socket or used in the car with an adapter...

School officials discouraged from students going door-to-door for the sale. Instead, they were advised to sell magazines to family, friends and neighbors.

"Mostly what we'd like them to do is to call up their grandparents and people out of town, have mom or dad take the order forms to work with them, and go to doctors' offices," said King.
MISLEADING HEADLINE OF THE DAY A Boston Globe op-ed carries this whopper:
Educating America's new majority to headline a story on the effect the Mass. accountability tests have on "minorities". I was intrigued as I hadn't realized that so-called "minorities" were now in the majority. Well, of course, they're not. According to these census data, self-declared "whites" account for 73.3% (97.6% of 75.1%) of the U.S. population.


TESTING Please ignore whatever happens on this site for the next few minutes; I'm experimenting with inserting photos.

UPDATE: It appears to have worked. Cool. Thanks to PaulArk for the code. The image is clickable and should take you to a larger version. This is an old cartoon that I happen to have access to. No news here; move along, move along.

UPDATE: I have removed the cartoon for copyright reasons. It was, after all, just a test.
BLAME PRINCE Teachers are noticing instant messaging (IM) short-cuts creeping into students' written assignments.
As more and more teenagers socialize online, middle school and high school teachers like Ms. Harding are increasingly seeing a breezy form of Internet English jump from e-mail into schoolwork. To their dismay, teachers say that papers are being written with shortened words, improper capitalization and punctuation, and characters like &, $ and @.
I'm guilty of some of these sins myself. The shortcuts, though, predate the internet (to be precise, IM and the world-wide-web); anyone else remember Prince's 1984 tune "I Would Die 4 U"?

UPDATE: It may have been Van Halen's fault, too. I just remembered their album "OU812" from around the same time.

UPDATE: IMHO :-) it's definitely Prince's fault. Here's the first stanza from the title track of "Purple Rain":
I never meant 2 cause u any sorrow
I never meant 2 cause u any pain
I only wanted 2 one time see u laughing
I only wanted 2 see u laughing in the purple rain
$$$$$$$$$$$ Yes, it's all about the money. Another cyber charter targeted at HSers.
Letters will be sent out to families who home-school their children, telling them of the school district’s plan to implement a virtual school program...

In response to questions by board members he said that should home-schoolers take part in the program, the school district would receive credit in the form of state aid. One figure mentioned was $8,000 per full-time student...

Home-schoolers, it was noted, could be set up at their homes. While that would cost the district, the state aid would more than offset that cost, it was noted. "I think this is worth sending letters to home-schoolers and telling them this is what we are contemplating," board member Dave Pederson said. "I’ve talked with two (families) already and they are interested," Grimm noted. With between 40 and 50 home-schooled students living within its boundaries, Frederic School District has a somewhat higher percentage of home-schoolers, which plays into the district’s loss of approximately 100 students within the past decade — that, along with open enrollment and an apparent decline in the number school-aged residents...
ONE MORE THING TO DO And, after they've done all their homework (see previous post), they need to read at least forty minutes a day.
On average, very young children should read two to four familiar books a day, either independently or with an adult, and should have one to two other books read to them every day, school officials said.

First-graders should read four or more books a day and listen to two to four others. By second grade, students should read one or two short books or long chapters each day and have at least one more difficult book read to them.

By third grade, students should read at least 25 chapter books each year - not counting what they read for classwork - and should be read aloud every day to expose them to a richer vocabulary and to model good reading habits, officials said.
Probably good advice but where exactly are they supposed to find time to do this and still have SOME play time?
ANOTHER HS ADVANTAGE No homework (for the parents).
Who decided that parents must oversee every book report, give practice spelling tests and correct long division? Our parents never helped with homework. They sipped gimlets or watched Walter Cronkite while we toiled away in our bedrooms, conjugating verbs.
The whole piece is pretty funny- well worth a click.
THIS IS THE LAST TIME that I'm going to highlight one of these articles under the categroy of WWHS. It is just SO depressing (and predictable):
Carol Daubert, 37, pleaded guilty to indecency with a child and was sentenced in state District Judge Bradley Smith's court, said Assistant District Attorney Diana Adams...

Daubert of Rosenberg was an assistant band director at Lamar Consolidated High School when she began a sexual relationship with the 15-year-old girl in the fall of 2000, the prosecutor said.
THEY SHOULD KNOW BETTER The CS Monitor has posted an editorial with some supposedly good news:
The poll's findings dispel a widespread myth among the intelligentsia that Americans are ignorant of the Constitution and would throw away the Bill of Rights if left to their own devices, says Deborah Wadsworth, president of the group Public Agenda that conducted the poll of 1,520 citizens.
Unfortunately, it's not quite as simple as that.
Just how ignorant are Americans of their Constitution and Bill of Rights?

Not very, according to a poll that found two-thirds of Americans say it is "absolutely essential" to have detailed knowledge of the nation's constitutional rights and freedoms.
OK- so 2/3 believe it's important to know what is in the Constitution. How many of them actually do know? The CS Monitor is completely silent on this rather crucial point.


SLIGHTLY OT I don't often read Dawn Olsens' blog as it's a bit "blue" but I followed a link from Instapundit and found this very nice post about her 3 year old daughter.
A former special education teacher pleaded no contest on Tuesday to charges that she fashioned fake bombs and placed them in two schools where she used to work.
MICHEL (SIC) JAMES BRYANT, ESQ AND DOOFUS Fox affiliate KTXL (Sacramento, Stockton, & Modesto) has this transcript about HSing posted on their site.
The Rules for School in Your Home:

—The first call is to your local school board. most states require the board's OK for home schooling.

—Next, your home gets checked out. There is usually a hearing to evaluate the teaching environment and the teaching methods you plan to use.

—Then expect an end of the year exam for each child to check on learning.

Fail the test and the state may make Junior get additional tutoring, or refuse to allow more home schooling.

Teaching your children at home isn't easy. But it can be option now that you know the rules and have the legal edge.

I'm attorney Michel James Bryant.
Your home gets checked out? A hearing? On what planet is this attorney attempting to HS? Has this guy even read the law in his own state? This guy could do some damage; let's hope that Fox-40's ratings when this aired were in the single digits.


BOOKS ON SALE Waldenbooks is offering an "Educators Appreciation Weekend from Friday, Oct. 4, through Sunday, Oct. 6. All educators -- grade school teachers, home school teachers, religious mentors, college professors, student teachers, retired teachers, etc. -- will receive a 25% discount off of most store items, for both classroom and personal use, during that weekend."
INSTAPUNDIT IS A "BLITHERING IDIOT" according to Wilmington, DE Mayor James Baker. OK, he didn't single out Prof. Reynolds but the national media who were critical of the jump out squads. Instapundit blogged the police tactics a while back as evidence that DE was the root of all evil. (I concurred with Instapundit's opinion but my little 50 hits/day blog doesn't qualify me for "national media" status. Guess that means I'm less than an idiot) According to WDEL radio the ACLU representative did not appreciate being called a "blithering idiot".

UPDATE: I heard a longer excerpt. He used the word "idiot" or a variation three times in the short section I heard, claiming that if the media didn't think the police understood the Constitution they were all idiots. Let's hope the police know the Constitution better than the Mayor; in the same speech, he stated that the 9th Amendment governs interstate commerce. A nice quote from the Mayor:
"Anybody who doesn't like it can go to Hades," he said. "You're concerned about some innocent kook on the corner. Get a life."
SAME OLD SONG The Courier Houma (you read that one every day, don't you?) begins a three part series on HSing in Bayou Country. Part one doesn't have much new but it did include the standard "S"-word quote from a "counselor":
Karen Guidry, a licensed counselor who runs a private practice in Houma and has worked in schools since 1989, said homeschooling does isolate children from negative peer experiences. She is concerned, however, that positive influences, such as working with groups, may also be taken away.

"Socialization boosts children’s sense of self-worth and confidence. It helps them grow and mature as an individual. It helps them learn age-appropriate norms, while being with peers," Guidry explained.

"Children who are homeschooled may miss out on that, but it doesn’t mean that homeschool kids won’t be able to develop skills or long-term success. It probably will be more difficult for them as they integrate into social settings."
Do theses educrats all read the same books or periodicals? The argument is so old that it's threadbare. To her credit, the reporter presented the other side of the argument:
Rebecca Kochenderfer, author of the book, "Homeschooling for Success: How Parents Can Create a Superior Education for Their Child," (Time Warner), disagrees. She said homeschooled children are just as socialized as their counterparts who attend schools.

"Socialization is a myth. Homeschool children have richer socialization than kids in school, sitting behind a desk for six hours with kids their age," said Kochenderfer, who operates the Sacramento, Calif.-based, informational Web site, homeschool.com.
Interesting that she had to go clear out to CA to get a positive quote. I guess that's the power of having a good URL. Hmmm, maybe I should change my blog's address so I can get quoted. Nahhh!


ONE FOR IZZY The Libertarian Party candidate for MA governor, Carla Howell, is pro-HSing and, evidently, pro-Separation of School and State. From her 5 point plan for education:
1. End all state government funding of Education in Massachusetts.

2. End all state government authority and responsibility for Education.

4. End all Massachusetts state and local government authority, control, regulation, and oversight of private schooling, cooperative schooling, and home schooling. I trust parents, not politicians. Families, not bureaucrats.
FIRST AMENDMENT UPDATE Here's some more info on the Gospel Choir story. Prof. Eugene Volokh kindly pointed me to a related case, Bauchman v. West High School (10th Cir. 1997). These may be relevant paragraphs:
Vis à Vis Effect

To state a claim under this component of the endorsement test, Ms. Bauchman must allege facts indicating the Choir curriculum or Choir activities have a principle or primary effect of advancing or endorsing religion. United States Supreme Court precedent "plainly contemplate[s] that on occasion some advancement of religion will result from governmental action." Lynch , 465 U.S. at 683 . However, not every governmental activity that confers a remote, incidental or indirect benefit upon religion is constitutionally invalid. Id. Thus, as noted above, the Constitution does not forbid all mention of religion in public schools. The Establishment Clause prohibits only those school activities which, in the eyes of a reasonable observer, advance or promote religion or a particular religious belief. This is an objective inquiry, not an inquiry into whether particular individuals might be offended by the content or location of the Choir's performance, or consider such performances to endorse religion. Gaylor , 74 F.3d at 217.

We believe a reasonable observer aware of the purpose, context and history of public education in Salt Lake City, including the historical tension between the government and the Mormon Church, and the traditional and ubiquitous presence of religious themes in vocal music, would perceive the following with respect to Ms. Bauchman's factual allegations concerning the Choir curriculum and performance venues: the Choir represents one of Salt Lake City's public high schools and is comprised of a diverse group of students; many of the Choir's songs have religious content -- content predominately representative of Judeo-Christian beliefs; in contrast to a church choir, this Choir also performs a variety of secular songs; the Choir's talent is displayed in the diverse array of songs performed and in a number of different public (religious and nonreligious) settings, all of which reflect the community's culture and heritage. Certainly, any given observer will give more or less meaning to the lyrics of a particular song sung in a particular venue based on that observer's individual experiences and spiritual beliefs. However, the natural consequences of the Choir's alleged activities, viewed in context and in their entirety by a reasonable observer, would not be the advancement or endorsement of religion. Ms. Bauchman's complaint therefore fails to support a claim that the Choir curriculum or Choir activities have a principle or primary effect of endorsing religion.[emphases added]
So, the 10th Circuit Court held that the singing of religious songs (as a part of a broader secular choir curriculum) was permissible. A choir would presumably cross the line into an impermissible endorsement if it restricted its repertoire to songs exclusively expressing a particular religious belief.
TOO BAD! This school district is losing students- time to target the HSers:
To offset at least part of the losses, and the subsequent $5,000 per student hit in state aid, Semeja suggested last week that the district reach out to the parents of the roughly 25 local students who are home-schooled.

"I wish we could somehow make an attempt to attract them," he said.

Previous attempts, including a survey conducted several years, were largely unsuccessful in reducing the area home-school population. [emphasis added]
Admittedly, the phraseology is the reporter's but this is horrible. It makes HSers sound like unwanted vermin.
HOMESCHOOL TO HIGH SCHOOL This Miami Herald article details some of the pros and cons of "going traditional" when a HSer reaches high school age.
High school marks a transition for all students, but especially for those who have been home-schooled. Following rigid schedules; juggling schoolwork, homework and after-school activities; learning to adapt to various teachers' styles; and trying to fit into a school where friendships have already formed are special challenges for these teens...

Even as Ivy League colleges and state universities are welcoming students who have never spent time in a regular classroom, some home-schooling parents and students are deciding that high school is the time to go the traditional academic route. Meeting a broader range of students, adapting to different teachers and competing for athletic scholarships become more important during these years...

[F]or students accustomed to a tutorial environment where they can get through a day's assignments in four or five hours with no homework, spending seven to eight hours a day in school seems incomprehensible. Homework is an even bigger annoyance.

Even after two years in school, Ryan ''is still frustrated thinking about the number of hours spent on school in a day,'' said his mother, Robin. ``The amount of homework has taken away from his time to be creative on his own. He doesn't paint, draw or build models anymore. He hasn't noticed it, but I do.''...
MAINE GOVERNOR RESPONDS to the previously blogged USAT editorial criticizing his state for spending $37M for laptops for public schools.
None of us can predict the future with certainty, but we can be sure that it will involve the collection and use of information, an ever-increasing role for education and a growing reliance on technology. That future will be full of both opportunity and challenge; here in Maine, our kids will be ready.
PATRICIA O'DELL UPDATEI received this via email:


Vermont Homeschoolers, Supporters, Legislators & Media Members:

I traveled to Bennington today to talk with Patricia and find out what happened. When I arrived at her mother's home on Rocky Lane I was met by Ray O'Dell and then Patricia. Patricia was wearing an ace wrap on her lower right arm and wrist and her arm was in a sling. These bandages were applied by the emergency room doctor that
Patricia went to see after she was released by the police. Patricia also had a thumb print size bruise on the inside of her upper left arm from being man-handled by a state police officer. Patricia received these injuries when she was thrown to the ground by a state trooper, he placed his knee in her back and put handcuffs on her. Patricia was NEVER read her Miranda rights AT ANY TIME. She was hauled to a cruiser where the officer pulled her by the hair and he squeezed her face and screamed at her to shut the f--- up! All the while this trooper was yelling at Patricia calling her names and saying nasty, vile things about her so that Patricia's children could hear him. Another (calmer) officer offered to take Patricia to the station but the trooper who man-handled Patricia refused to let him and insisted 'he' would deal with her alone. Patricia's husband, sister and three brothers can testify to all this.

According to Patricia, Ray (her husband), Amanda (her 20 year old sister), Adam, Jason and Ron (her brothers) and Fred (her step-father) this is what happened:
Patricia's mother (Patricia Stewart) arrived home in the afternoon after being at the hospital receiving medical tests all day to find state and local police swarming over her property. She informed them they could not come onto her property without a warrant which they did NOT have. Prior to this the police had arrived onto the property
and proceeded to chase down Patricia's 8 year old daughter, Elizabeth, when she was spotted standing near a wooden structure at the edge of the lawn. These officers chased little Elizabeth some distance across the yard, through the woods into a clearing and then down a side road. They hunted Elizabeth down like some animal. Elizabeth was last seen on a dead run and screaming. Once the trooper detained Patricia another continued to pursue Elizabeth. No one knows what became of Elizabeth after that--the screaming stopped and Elizabeth was gone!


Mrs. Stewart informed the officers they needed a search warrant. While the rest waited and AFTER Elizabeth was taken one of the officers went to acquire a search warrant! He returned hours later with the warrant. The warrant was signed by Judge David Howard at 18:35 hrs. (6:35 pm) and the names of Patricia' three children
Andrew, Samantha and Angela were on it. Elizabeth's name was added to the right side but she was already taken by force earlier in the afternoon.

The warrant reads in part: This warrant may (not) be executed without knocking and announcing the presence of law enforcement officers and their purpose (FEDERAL LAW). The words 'may' and '(not)' were neither highlighted or crossed out. WHILE THE WARRANT WAS BEING BROUGHT TO MRS. STEWART IN THE FRONT OF THE HOUSE TWO OFFICERS KICKED IN THE BACK DOOR LEADING TO THE KITCHEN WITH THEIR HANDS ON THEIR WEAPONS!!! THEY DID NOT WAIT FOR THE WARRANT TO BE SERVED, NOR DID THEY KNOCK TO ENTER!

The court order giving authority to remove Patricia's children states: The court believes that the continued temporary detention or shelter care of the child will be in the best interest of the child and of society for the following reason: The conduct, condition or surroundings of the child are endangering the child's health and welfare or that of others.

An officer told Patricia's brother that he 'knew' the children were in fact living there. THEY WERE NOT! They were visiting their very ill grandmother who is scheduled for major surgery on Tuesday. In fact, Patricia and her family were and are presently registered and staying at a local motel in Pownal, Vermont. Patricia has the receipt
and showed me the key to their room with the name of the motel on it. Patricia and her family lived in Connecticut this past winter and did some camping in New York and Vermont this summer.

Patricia's constitutional and God-given rights are being trampled here. So are the rights of her mother, Mrs. Stewart. A trooper waived a canister of pepper spray in Mrs. Stewart's face prior to obtaining the search warrant and threatened to use it on her. Mrs. Stewart had just returned from the hospital and was being assisted into the
house. The trooper told her she needed to re-read her Constitution when Mrs. Stewart informed him that they needed the warrant. After that the troopers went to obtain their warrant. Seems to me Mrs.Stewart knew more about the law than the troopers did.

We are having a rally in support of Patricia, Mrs. Stewart (who also homeschools her 10 year old son, Matthew) and in support of HOMESCHOOLERS across Vermont. The VERMONT DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION is behind these shenanigans. They are using the power of SRS and the police to harass and hound homeschoolers--ESPECIALLY POOR ONES who do not have the means or resources to hire lawyers to fight them.

Homeschoolers lobbied hard last year at the legislature in Montpelier and now the VT DOE is madder than hell at us. MANY HOMESCHOOL ENROLLMENTS AT THE VT DOE ARE NOW BEING DENIED BECAUSE OF THIS! Natalie Casco has the power to approve or deny many of these enrollments. She established this fact at a homeschooling hearing I attended last October. Public schools are losing major funds due to the increased enrollment in homeschooling here in Vermont. Patricia's
family alone is denying the public school system more than $20,000.00 (more since two of her children were in special ed on IEP's). THE SCHOOLS WANT THE CHILDREN BACK BECAUSE THEY WANT THE MONEY THAT FOLLOWS THEM!!!...

LONG OVERDUE I've added the libertarian group-blog Samizdata to the list at left. That list started out as mostly edu-blogs but has grown a bit eclectic over time. If you haven't checked out some of the newer links- there's no time like the present, as they say.


AN INTERESTING 1ST AMENDMENT QUESTION This one may be worthy of Volokh: Is it appropriate for a public school district to sponsor a gospel choir?
[T]he school district announced that it was adopting a new policy that would forbid any school choir from taking part in an event sponsored by or located in a church. Reportedly, the school district is even looking into banning the gospel choir entirely.
David Limbaugh obviously feels otherwise, but I think the school district is probably correct here. A state sponsored gospel choir performing at a church service could certainly give the appearance of the establishment of Christianity as an "official" religion. That said, they probably went too far with this:
Not long ago, the school prohibited choir members from praying among themselves before their practices. After receiving that order the choir asked school authorities whether they could, in lieu of praying together, have a moment of silence. Again, the answer was an emphatic no.
Now, they are violating the choir members' free speech and free exercise rights.

P.S. And in case anyone is wondering about my own beliefs, I'm an evangelical Christian (Baptist) who just happens to have a libertarian bent.
GRADE INFLATION? According to this article, universities are finding that incoming students' math skills are on the decline even though their high-school grades and SAT scores are increasing.
"There's a certain paradoxical nature to it. Our students are coming in with considerably higher SATs and GPAs [grade point averages]," said Patrick M. Fitzpatrick, chairman of Maryland's math department, "but quite a number of our professors who teach first-year calculus say the algebra skills of students are not as good as they used to be."

In response, the university has created an elaborate developmental math program that now enrolls more than 800 students. About 13 percent of all freshmen and transfers participate. Only after passing one of the remedial courses can students take the college-level math course required to graduate.
We've been hearing stories of grade inflation for years, so it's not too surprising that the correlation between GPA and math skills has decreased. What I don't get is the corresponding change in the predictive ability of math SAT scores. Maybe Kim can provide some insight.
FLABBERGASTED The WaPo is one of the more, ahem, liberal papers in the country. That's why I'm shocked at this thoroughly positive HSing article.
Roger asked to be home-schooled, Knight said. The family wrestled with the decision.

"My husband, Dan, said, 'What if we fail?' I told him, 'We're failing now,' " said Knight, who said she still goes through "tons of moments" where she wonders whether she's doing the right thing.

"But the thing that I have to remember is that I have to trust my child. I truly believe that children are driven to learn, until we drive it out of them."
I also like the "Not Back to School" picnic idea.

P.S. 5 bonus points go to the WaPo for including an actual link in the text of the article. Next thing you know, they'll be blogging!


RENAISSANCE TEEN This 14-year-old HSer is something else (and she blogs, too).
When Nell Cohen isn't creating Web sites or making comic books, she might be recording music in the style of her favorite band, Weezer, and mixing the songs on her computer. Then again, she might be drawing, making a movie or updating the reviews, rants and journal postings on her very cool home page, "Kibbles's Lovely and Amazing Super Site"...

Nell's parents also home-schooled her sister, Megan, a sophomore at Stanford, and say they wanted a nurturing environment for their daughters -- a place they could develop skills and interests without the social pressure and rigid structure of school.

"We followed the 'unschooling' approach," says her mom, "which was basically an unstructured approach where you encourage the kids to pursue their interests and you build on that and respond to that and bring resources to them."

VT HSER UPDATE Here's some more info on Patricia O'Dell (from http://groups.yahoo.com/group/VT-homeschooling/message/458) Apparently Mrs. O'Dell's "crime" was not wanting her kids in special ed. I have yet to confirm the seizing of her kids, but everything seems to check out so far. Mrs. O'Dell and her family no longer reside in VT; I really don't understand how the VT DOE can claim any kind of jurisdiction.
October 5, 2001

Dear Mr. & Mrs. O'Dell:

I am writing to inform you that I am calling a hearing, pursuant to 16 V.S.A. Section 166b (e), on the grounds that I have information that creates a significant doubt about whether you home study program can provide a minimum course of study for Andrew Veach, Samantha Thompson, Angela Cameron and Elizabeth Veach. The specific grounds for calling this hearing are set forth below.

You have not included any adaptations in your curricula for any of the children to address their handicapping conditions. 16 V.S.A. Section 166b (a) (5) requires that the curriculum submitted for each child include a description of the services and adaptations made to accommodate any handicapping condition. 16 V.S.A. Section166b (i) requires that the educational content in each area of the minimum course of study is adapted to the age and ability of the child and any handicapping conditions of the child. This is especially important because of the following:

In 1998 Andrew was evaluated for special education services and was diagnosed as learning impaired. During the 1999-2000 school year, Andrew was observed by his public school teachers to be significantly delayed in all academic areas.

In 1998, Angela was evaluated for special education services and was diagnosed as learning impaired. She was also diagnosed as having a speech and language impairment. During the 1999-2000 school year, Angela was observed by her public school teachers to be significantly delayed in all academic areas. In addition she demonstrated poor language skills and major articulation problems which made her speech difficult to understand.

Although you refused to allow Samantha to be evaluated for special education services, during the 1999-2000 school year her public school teachers observed her to be significantly delayed in both language arts and math.

The independent professional evidence form that you submitted for Elizabeth last year, which is dated September 18, 2000 and signed by a physician, indicated that Elizabeth had speech/language difficulties and could benefit from an indepth evaluation. Although you informed Department of Education Consultant, Marcy Fox, that you had arranged for such an evaluation and would send her the results you never provided this information.

Last year the Department called a hearing, pursuant to 16 V.S.A. Section 166b (f) to terminate the home study enrollment for Andrew, Samantha, Angela and Elizabeth. The hearing was withdrawn as part of a settlement agreement in which you agreed:

a.) to the performance of a progress assessment in all areas of the minimum course of study for each child by a licensed Vermont teacher or a teacher from an approved Vermont independent school who had experience in working with children with disabilities;

b.) that, to the extent possible, the assessment would be performed at the location where instruction is, or has been provided and;

c.) that only Mrs. O'Dell and the children would participate in the assessment. There would be no media or other person present, unless mutually agreed upon by the Department and Mrs. O'Dell.

Your enrollment for this year did not include a progress assessment that conformed to the terms of this settlement agreement. Your progress assessment is a parent report rather than a report by a teacher experienced in working with children with disabilities. Further, this parent report does not address the children's progress in each area of the minimum course of study. Therefore, in addition to not conforming to the terms of the settlement agreement, your progress assessments do not meet the requirements of 16 V.S.A. Section 166b (d).

Patricia O'Dell is listed as the sole instructor for the home study program. During the years that your children attended public school, public school staff observed that Mrs. O'Dell was limited in her own abilities to read and write. In addition, the home study curricula that Mrs. O'Dell submitted for the 2000-2001 school year were replete with spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors. Accordingly, I have a significant doubt as to your ability to provide instruction in a minimum course of study, as defined in 16 V.S.A. Section 906.

16 V.S.A. Section 166b (i) and 16 V.S.A. Section 906 require that the minimum course of study be adapted to the student's age and ability. The curricula that you submitted for Andrew, age 14 and Samantha, age 13 are virtually identical.

I have appointed Bruce Bjornlund as the hearing officer in this matter. He will be in touch with you to schedule the hearing. You may request that the hearing be held in the location where you reside.

Please be advised that, pursuant to 16 V.S.A. Section 166b (g), your children will not be enrolled in home study unless and until a hearing officer issues an order to this effect.

Respectfully yours,

David S. Wolk
Commissioner of Education

CC: Bruce Bjornlund, Hearing Officer
Natalie Casco, Home Study Consultant
Barbara Crippen, Legal Counsel
ANOTHER HISTORY LESSON Anyone studying the Civil Rights movement will be interested in this:
A federal judge ended more than 40 years of court-supervised desegregation monitoring in the city's schools today, closing a chapter in a battle over integration that began in the 1950's...

The 1982 lawsuit had its roots in a 1956 case that led to the tumultuous integration of Little Rock schools. President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent troops here in 1957 to enforce a federal integration order after the governor used the National Guard to keep out nine black children.
ALL TOGETHER NOW charters aren't homeschools.
Brennan [a for-profit charter school operator], meanwhile, said his schools -- Hope Academies, Life Skills Centers and one catering to parents who home-school their students -- wouldn't have waiting lists had the public schools met their responsibility of providing a well-balanced education in a safe environment to each and every student.

The following took place at 364 Rocky Lane, Bennington, VT, at the home of Patricia Stewart (Patricia O'Dell's mother). The telephone number there is 802-442-7270. Patricia and her family have been instructed to take photos of the damage caused by the state and local police when they surrounded the house, kicked in the back door and invaded (and trashed) the home. They've also been instructed to take photos of the injuries caused by the brutal treatment of the officers. The three girls were also manhandled and Patricia is horrified at the thought of what might happen to those three girls in the hands of strangers--all in the name of education! I will be traveling to Bennington tomorrow to take photos and to get their stories.


Tonight (September 13, 2002) at approximately 6:00 p.m. the home of Patricia O'Dell's ailing mother was surrounded by state police, SRS agents and local police the same way the Gonzales house was surrounded in Florida a few years ago. Patricia informed them they could not enter the home without a warrant. While the house remained surrounded these stormtroopers went and got their warrant and then kicked in the back door.

Patricia was visiting her ailing mother who was just recently released from the hospital. Patricia's mother was summarily threatened with pepper spray and Patricia was dragged from the house by the hair and thrown into a police car. The stormtroopers then ransacked the house in search of Patricia's homeschooling children, terrorizing all who were there.

Patricia and her family were visiting from Connecticut where they have been living since last fall. The reason for the visit was to care for her seriously ill mother. Three (all young girls) of Patricia's four children were dragged kicking and screaming from the house and thrown in awaiting vehicles. They are now being held prisoner within the SRS system where children have been known to be neglected, abused, sexually abused, raped and God knows what else. Her oldest son is in hiding.

Patricia's crime?!................HOMESCHOOLING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Patricia is devastated. Her family has been ripped from her and Patricia has been physically brutalized by the state and local police. Patricia is desperate for help. This state is out of control here!

Patricia is being arraigned in Family Court in Bennington at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, September 16, 2002. The court is located on Memorial Drive in Bennington, Vermont.




BE THERE WITH CAMERAS, SIGNS, FLAGS, HORNS, WHISTLES AND FRIENDS! We need to be heard, once and for all, by these out of control state officials who think our children belong to them.

PATRICIA NEEDS A 'REAL' LAWYER!!!--not some law school flunky assigned to her from Legal Aide who works for the state. Karen Maple was assigned a court lawyer and she ended up in prison for 14 days!

PATRICIA NEEDS SOMEONE TO TAKE STILL AND VIDEO PICTURES of the damage done to her mother's home when the stormtroopers broke in and ransacked it.


Please place phone calls to the following people most able to help Patricia:

Representative Neil Randall (802) 222-5952 (Libertarian who helped Karen Maple)
Senator Hull Maynard (802) 773-2087 (Senate Education Committee)
Senator John Crowley (802) 438-5500 (Senate Ed. Committee & lawyer)
Bennington Banner, 429 Main Street, Bennington, Vermont
WCAX-TV (802) 658-6300

If I do not immediately respond to your emails it is because I am having difficulty with my server. Please feel free to pass this info along.

WAY OT I'm a NYYankees fan so this recommendation is not based on agreeing with the content; I just think this is the best blog that I have read. The writing is tight; the subject, focused. Lots of links. Just a great example of what a blog can be. My Dad (a BIG Yankees fan) will probably disown me, but I'm adding this to the list <---------------.
OT: HISTORY AND GEOGRAPHY "LESSON" Here's an interesting NYT article on old maps, forgery, and Nazi Germany.


TARGET: HSERS A WI school district is aiming a virtual charter right at HSers.
Bauer said the virtual school will benefit home-school children and people who are interested in getting a diploma but not currently going to school...

Bauer said the program is exciting because it's bringing students back into the district.
Follow the money.
ALASKA GOES DOWNHILL AK is supposed to be a very HS friendly state. Too bad no one told this school district
The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District school board voted in favor of home-school accountability..

"We certainly wouldn't want people to read this and think there is not good accountability for some home-school students," said school board member Deborah Germano. "But we need to make sure all kids are getting some education."

At present, Germano said, there is no accountability system for students who are educated by their parents. While some parents do a good job, others may not meet the standards set by public education.

"Many times, home-school students come back into the public schools and need incredible remediation," added school board member Sammy Crawford. "It's difficult for the district to bring them up to speed."
Bull! And how many times does a new HSer have to de-school for 6 months just to begin to allow the kids to recover from the public schools? What gall!
AN INTERESTING USAT EDITORIAL in opposition to Maine spending $37M on laptops for 7th and 8th graders. The editorial board sees the computers as a "luxury" and would spend the money elsewhere. I generally agree with the opinions expressed but have a question about one of the "facts" used to back up USAT's position:
Compare that with the payoff that comes from investing in high-quality teachers, who can boost students' test scores as much as 50 percentage points after three years, according to studies by education researchers in Tennessee.
50 percentage points? In comparsion to what? Does this mean that a "high-quality teacher" could take a group of students performing at the 25th percentile to the 75th percentile in three years? I find that hard to swallow. Unfortunately, USAT doesn't provide a link to the original source (I've been spoiled by bloggers, I guess). Anyone out there know the real scoop?

UPDATE: Ken Hirsch (see Comments) pointed me in the direction of the Tennessee study. It's intriguing although I still haven't found where the 50 percent figure comes from. An interesting paragraph:
In 1996, Mr. Sanders used data from two Tennessee districts and divided their teachers into five groups--from least effective to most effective. As in TVAAS, each teacher's effectiveness rating was based on students' gains. The researcher found that, on average, students who had been taught by three of the least effective teachers in a row scored below the 50th percentile in mathematics by the end of the third year. By contrast, those who had had three highly effective teachers scored above the 80th percentile.
Elsewhere on the site it says the statistics are on the up and up, but this graf sounds like a classic trap of using "in sample" data to prove the theory. Basically, it's a circular definition. The teachers are grouped by effectiveness based on how well their students do. Then, the students are evaluated based on how effective their teachers are. If you use the same teachers and students, then, by definition, the most effective teachers will show the largest increase.
TOO YOUNG FOR SCHOOL This article out of the UK examines whether they are forcing their kids to start school and start reading at too young an age. The official age is 5 though some kids apparently start a year younger.
Although we get our children off to an early start, we wallow at the bottom of league tables of international literacy and numeracy, below economic rivals such as Holland, Switzerland, Canada and the US, where children start school later. In fact, research continually shows that children whose formal education starts later soon catch up.

According to the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), of 32 countries in which reading standards have been measured, the top 10 all have a later starting age. In countries where children are not taught reading, writing or written numbers until they are six or seven, they make very rapid progress once these disciplines are introduced, having developed attention span, listening and memory in the meantime.
Looks like HSers (particularly unschoolers) have been on the side of the angels on this issue all along. Compare the Europeans attitudes towards early schooling with this story from June. Think our fascination with starting them young would have any relationship to this quote from the UK article?
There is, of course, one very good reason for many people to be happy with the current school starting age - child care.


It was quiet time in the Blum house.

Samuel, the littlest one, was napping. The other three young ones were working on home-school assignments. The three oldest boys were out.

In the hush, Daniel Blum had time to read aloud to his wife, Vickie. They were reading a creation science book, "In the Beginning."

Then Vickie smelled smoke, Daniel found fire, and the peaceful moment on a sunny Tuesday afternoon came to an end at about 3:30.
So, why the emphasis on the HSing angle? The fire was after normal school hours. Even if the kids were enrolled in school, they could have still been home when it broke out. This could be innocent but I just get the feeling that the reporter is making fun of these "religious wacko HSers". Hope I'm wrong.
SEEING RED! Teachers in nearby (to me) Brookline, PA are in tense salary negotiations and are threatening to strike. Why do I note this? Because of this quote:
The teachers said they believe that they are worth the money.

"I browsed the district's websites and have read all the districts accomplishments," said Penn, who received thunderous applause after her address. "Those accomplishments did not happen in a vacuum. Those accomplishments happened because of the teachers of Haverford."

"Yes, you teachers make a world of difference," responded Ellen Hollin, school board member, "but there are a whole lot of parents that support their children ... and we also have a lot of smart kids and a lot of kids who also work day in and day out."

Those sentiments brought groans from teachers in attendance, and were further emphasized outside the school board meeting in a gathering in the parking lot.

"If they think their kids are so good, home-school them," said Corcoran, HTEA chief negotiator.
AAARRRGGGHHHH!!!!! What the heck is that supposed to mean? That only the "smart kids" can be homeschooled "successfully"? Gimme a break!
A NEW REASON TO HS News of the Weird picked up this one.
The incident involved nine female students who say they were strip-searched in the school's administrative office by principal Jane Wright and teaching assistant Rebecca Turner after another student claimed someone stole $50 from her backpack...

The motion states that the mother of one of the girls testified during the deposition that the strip-search incident was the precipitating factor that led to the decision to home-school her daughter.
SEX ED Former Surgeon General David Satcher believes sex ed is an absolute necessity for the public schools. A pretty funny quote here:
About half of the pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended "because people don't have the knowledge or means to prevent it," Satcher said.
I seriously doubt people don't know HOW to prevent pregancies; they just don't think that they'll get caught.
SOCIALIZATION PART DEUX Wife #1 is still traveling so today I got to make sure that Child #1 (of the male persuasion) was sufficiently socialized. :-) We're home now so blogging can resume.


INTERESTING Here's another positive article. One sentence, though, gives me pause:
According to Cindy, she talks with local teachers and uses the ISTEP test to confer and gauge the progress of each of her children.
Are these cyber-charter students? I hope not as it would be evidence that the media are confusing "homeschooling" and "cyber charters". I have written the reporter for a clarification; I'll update if I hear back from her.
"NIGGARDLY" UPDATE Now the School Board is involved.
The New Hanover County Board of Education has instructed the superintendent to meet with a teacher and her principal regarding the use of the word "niggardly" in a fourth-grade classroom.

The board's attorney, Wayne Bullard, made the announcement Monday night after an hourlong closed session with the school board.

"The board is very concerned about the situation," he said, adding that the board wants a "quick and immediate resolution."


GOOGLED A GOOD ONE Here's one of those rare, completely positive portrayals of a HSing family. A couple of Larry Kaseman quotes, to boot.
WHAT THE...? I try to GoogleNews (beta) "home school" on a regular basis. I usually get 1-3 hits for articles published in the last week or so. I just ran this search and got 315!
READ A NEWSPAPER The first graf of this story makes the teacher sound like an idiot:
Bill Clinton's re-election as president is the last thing covered in eighth-grade history textbooks at Orange Grove Middle School for the Arts in Tampa, leaving teacher Susan Farmer no guidance when teaching students about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and aftermath.
Does she really need a textbook to teach her kids about Monicagate, FLA2000, and 9/11? Pitiful!
VACCINATIONS QUESTIONED This is a hot-button issue in some HSing circles.
Lainson is one of a small but growing number of parents nationwide who have chosen not to follow recommended guidelines for childhood vaccines. In this picturesque city at the base of the Rockies, a low vaccination rate is believed to be spurring a resurgence of whooping cough, which can be deadly for infants.

''Nationwide, parents who choose not to get any vaccinations for their children has held steady at less than one-half of 1 percent,'' said Barbara Fisher, president of the National Vaccine Information Center, which distributes information on possible side effects of vaccines. ''What is growing is the number of parents who pick and choose which vaccines are right for their children.''
SOCIALIZED OUT THE WAZOO! If anyone ever raises the "S"-word question with me, I'm going to point them to our schedule today:

7:30 am - noon We "did" school (we're not unschoolers (yet))
Noon - 12:30 pm Lunch
12:30 - 12:45 pm Drive to gym
1:00 - 2:00 pm Child #2 and Child #3 (both of the female persuasion) had gymnastics
1:00 - 2:00 pm Child #1 and Child #4 (both of the other gender) accompany Father #1 to the mall to pick up gift certificates for Build-A-Bear (more about this later)
2:00 - 2:15 pm Drive home to pick up gear Children #2 and #3 forgot
2:16 - 3:00 pm Drive to ballet
3:00 - 4:00 pm Child #3 dances her little pink slippers off while Children #1 and #4 play football with the other HSers. Child #2 observes the class.
4:00 - 5:00 pm Child #4 and Child #3 trade places. Football segues into futbol.
5:00 - 5:30 pm Carschooling again
5:30 - 6:15 pm A little multi-culturalism at the local Chinese takeout restaurant
6:15 - 6:30 pm Back to the mall for a Build-A-Bear b'day party. Children #2 and #3 hand over gift certificates purchased earlier.
6:30 - 8:00 pm Father #1 and Children #1 and #4 kill time at mall. Father #1 buys a bunch of books on clearance for Child #1 (who would rather get a bear)
8:00 - 8:15 pm Carschooling to home. Father #1 gets to explain why books are better than a bear.
8:30 pm Children #1 - #4 in bed
8:52 pm Father #1 blogs this
8:53 pm Father #1 passes out. :-)