10/31/2002

NOT QUITE Alabama's Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate hasn't thought this through all the way. Either that, or he really doesn't understand economics.
"Alabama does not have an educational funding problem," he said. "Alabama has a government problem."

He said that while it costs $6,000 per year to fund a child's public education, home schooling a child only costs $2,000 per year.

"Where does that money go? Into lush offices and do-nothing projects; it's just waste.
Maybe HSers incur $2000 in out-of-pocket expenses. What about salaries? Upkeep on the school buildings? I don't think HSers are having to deal with those expenses. And that's to say nothing of the opportunity costs. Lydia could easily pull in $100K if she were working full time. We have chosen to forego that potential income for the sake of our kids. You might say it costs us $33,000 to HS each of our kids. There is a bright side, however. When our youngest turns five, the cost will drop to $25,000 each. :-)

10/30/2002

WELCOME to another blog by a HSing parent. Andrea Maitlin lives and HS in SoCal. I like her style. Here's a sample:
It makes me feel melancholy to drive through the hill country of North County and see all the development - the custom homes, the upscale residential neighborhoods thrown self-contained and gated into former expanses of Mediterranean shrub and canyon oak. They stick out like sore thumbs, shoulder to shoulder on each side with subsistence housing, the ramshackle kind of single family home whose useful life can be stretched out of proportion in this temperate climate zone. These are the houses whose residents collect monthly government checks of some kind, who didn’t mind pushing their 15-year old cars 50 miles back and forth to menial jobs in order to live someplace where they could keep horses and a few dogs. Dusty places. Places being taken over by vegetation. The custom developments even contrast uncomfortably with the in-between houses, the respectable if old and out-of-fashion stucco houses that in their day were the new and marginally welcome neighbors.
She's recently re-started her blog after a long hiatus; here's hoping that she keeps it up. I'm adding her to the blog-roll.
A STAND-UP GUY Comedian Dave Russo's routine includes a bit on "how to survive home schooling." If you're in Alabama you can catch his act Nov. 7th at the Univ. of South Alabama.
BOO! HISS!
The mother of a Rogers (Arkansas) girl claims her home-schooled daughter is being discriminated against because the child cannot compete in public-school interscholastic science fairs.

An official of the Arkansas Activities Association, which oversees such events, however, points out that the organization's constitution requires participants be from accredited schools that are members of AAA.
Change the rule!
CA AGAIN Education Week has an interesting discussion of CA's HSing laws, or lack thereof. As it stands right now, CA parents operate under a private school exemption from the compulsory attendance laws. Needless to say, the educrats hate this.
Nichole Winger, the director of communications for the state department of education, said she had heard discussion "through the grapevine" that some legislators believe, "'Well, we need to do something...'"

Ms. Winger... points to Pennsylvania as a model for how a state should address home schooling in its laws and written guidelines.
Not surprisinglyly, PA has the worst HSing laws in the country. You could not pay me enough to move there. I guess the thinking in CA is that if you have to allow some form of HSing, you might as well make it as onerous as possible to discourage anyone from trying.
NEW AND IMPROVED New Democrats, that is. The Progressive Policy Institute (apparently affiliated with the Dems) takes some very surprising educational stances: pro-charters, pro-choice, and pro-alternative means of teacher certification. There are some nice summaries here and tons of links. Worth a click.
EASTIN'S SUCCESSOR The new CA Superintendent of Public Instruction will be either "Jack O'Connell, a state senator from San Luis Obispo" or "Katherine Smith, a school board president from Anaheim." Guess which one I'm rooting for:
O'Connell, a Democrat, says public schools have a responsibility to teach students about the health and social issues they may have to deal with in life, including AIDS, sex, domestic violence and drug and alcohol abuse.

"We have to be prepared, and we have to have people who are trained to handle these issues in a professional manner," he said. "These are skills that aren't just relevant in high school but in their entire life..."

Smith, a Republican, objects to taking any time away from instruction to talk about social issues, unless it's in a high school psychology or sociology course. Such discussions should occur after school, with a parent's permission, she said...

Her message to the state's children would be: "Stay in school. Get an education. Get a job. Get married. Start a family. In that order. Because if you do not you are consigning yourself and the children you bring into the world to live in poverty for the rest of your life."

Schools should focus on teaching the three R's, she said. She advocates teaching the basics with rote math and phonics reading instruction. The state is over-testing children, she said, and needs to go back to the drawing board and redesign its entire accountability system.

10/29/2002

UNFAIR COMPETITION HSers took another award- this time in the field of Science, Technology, and Engineering.
Wichita Home School won the first place BEST Award and Game Award at the fourth annual Kansas BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology) event at Wichita State University...

BEST is designed to inspire and motivate students toward careers in engineering, science and technology, organizers say.

By winning both the BEST Award and Game Award, Wichita Home School qualified to compete in the national competition at Texas A&M University Nov. 22-23.
A GOOD IDEA HSers who want to play football are often out of luck. Many school districts don't allow HSers to participate and forming a team with 11 on a side may not be feasible. An option may be a six or eight man league.
Alabama has boasted respectable eight-man leagues for years. In panhandle states such as Texas and Oklahoma, eight- and six-man football is taken seriously, seeing as how a significant number of small, rural high schools have no choice but to participate in such leagues...

FCS, in its third year of playing eight-man football, spearheaded the effort to establish the Tennessee Valley Football Conference, to which four eight-man teams belong. Two of those teams are from the Birmingham, Ala., area. The other, Aaron Academy, is a first-year team of home-schooled kids from Hendersonville...

"[T]his is a good option for small, private Christian schools and some home-schooled teams.''
NOT IN MY HOUSE Why do educators often use the term "home school" when "school" would suffice? It makes for some entertaining quotes:
Duffey said he wants to become a familiar face in each school district.

"We need to do a little marketing with the home schools, and I hope to be in the home schools so kids get to know my face," he said.
ETA SIGMA ALPHA is the name of a newly-formed national homeschool honor society. It seems HSers aren't eligible for the real NHS. The eligibility requirements are kind of funny (for an organization run by HSers):
To get into Eta Sigma Alpha, a student must have a 3.5 grade-point average – plus a high score on a standardized test. That could be a 1200 on the SAT, a 26 on the ACT, or a ranking in the 90th percentile on any of a number of other tests.
GPA? Hah!

10/28/2002

REVIEW A REVIEW In the Fall Edition, Education Next reviews Kingdom of Children: Culture and Controversy in the Homeschooling Movement by Mitchell L. Stevens. The review is pretty glowing but I have to question some of the (admittedly second hand) claims:
Christian home schoolers (members of evangelical and Baptist congregations), whom Stevens estimates make up as much as 80 percent of the home-schooling families...
I know this can't be right. 80 percent Baptist and evangelicals? I think the actual number is about half that (I can't put my hands on the data. Does anyone have a link?)
There is a second group of home schoolers, whom Stevens calls the “inclusives,” a broad category that covers left-wing and counterculture groups as well as Jews, Catholics, and mainstream Protestants who are not comfortable with the Christian home schoolers’ pietistic style. Inclusives, especially the nonreligious majority, tend to emphasize child-directed learning via projects and self-guided work and are much less comfortable with anyone, including a parent, lecturing to students or with students’ learning through textbooks.
I guess he means "unschoolers" here. I know a lot of "Jews, Catholics, and mainstream Protestants" who school-at-home and some evangelicals who unschool. I think he's creating artificial distinctions here.
The more left-wing women among the inclusives are often well educated but dedicated to living counterculture lives. They are self-sufficient mothers who have bonded so deeply with their children that they cannot bear to entrust their education to anyone else. Mothers (and sometimes fathers) find ways to make modest livings, often in counterculture food and crafts organizations.
This graf is just confusing. Is the implication that the more right-wing women are less well-educated? And how 'bout those even further-right-wing "Christian" HSers? We must be plain ignorant. Yeah, I'm lurnning to reed rite thar with my kids. Homeskooling werks reel good!

I'll probably read the book anyway.
CHOW TIME This former HSer owns two restaurants and works 80-hour weeks. The hook? She's only 19 and was recently recognized as Kansas Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

10/27/2002

SCHOOLS OF DREAMS I just want to get my thoughts and impressions about the conference down. The Rodel Foundation- Delaware sponsored the event along with the Wilmington (DE) Urban League. The Schools of Dreams Education Fair consisted of a series of workshops for parents as well as an expo consisting of booths representing approximately 30 educational options: public, private, charters, and HSers. There were also several community-based organizations that provide tutoring services to kids.

The conference seemed to be rather sparsely attended, though Rodel staffers said that they had had more pre-registrtions than they could accomodate. Apparently, there were a lot of no-shows on a rainy Saturday.

The big hit of the expo was a new charter school, Delaware Military Academy. Our booth was right next to theirs so I got a good chance to learn about their school. It's being run by a couple of retired career military guys (one army, one navy). "Sponsored" in part of the USN, some of their expenses will be covered by the Navy. Big on discipline and academics, their goal is to have a school-wide average SAT score of 1200. They have just started taking applications for their opening class in September 2003. The main interest so far has been from parochial students and HSers.

Our little booth was right up front but didn't generate too much interest. No biggie; I met a few newbie HSers and was able to answer some questions. I did have an opportunity to needle the PTA booth (very anti-vouchers) and my local school district. The school district had a bunch of their academic calendars out. I was astonished to learn that the kids have already taken their state tests. These are the ones that they have to pass to be promoted. They were barely back in school six weeks. What the heck are these tests showing? Are the kids being tested on material they should have learned last year? If not, how much new material could they have covered since Labor Day? The school district employees sheepishly agreed that it was pretty crazy. Last year parents didn't get the scores back until late May. Does it really take half-a-year to grade these? Kim Swygert, we need some help here.

10/26/2002

KA-BOOM! I just couldn't resist blogging this quote, although I have absolutely no idea what it means:
Experts are not infallible. They are subject to question, debate and if a sincere disagreement is met, you can take your child elsewhere. But if you are a parent of a public school student your options are limited. If you can afford it, you can go to private school. If there is space and you agree with the focus of study, you can go to a charter school. There's always home-schooling, too, but that area has more minefields for parents and students than any other option.[emphasis added]
WHISTLEBLOWER magazine is going to have a big spread on the "Homeschooling Revolution" in November's issue. Do any of y'all subscribe? Want to write a guest blog? The magazine is not available online. I'll look for it but it'd be fun to hear from some of y'all.

10/25/2002

REMINDER DHEA will have a booth at the Schools of Dreams conference tomorrow.
LATER! I'm getting ready to fly back to DE from CA so no more blogging today. See you tomorrow evening (after the Schools of Dreams conference).
WHO NEEDS ENEMIES When you've got the LAT on your side? This editorial is ostensibly pro-HSing. Until the last two grafs, that is:
The state is right about one thing: Though home-school wunderkind stories abound, the public is less likely to hear about the child who sits home watching "Springer." Home schooling is sorely in need of objective, scholarly study.

Pennsylvania takes care of the compulsory-education issue by requiring occasional testing for home-schooled children and annual portfolios of their work. Texas, on the other hand, lets such schools operate with virtually no oversight. A middle way might work for California. Parents could file a portfolio or an education plan with an independent commission. That makes more sense than turning them into outlaws.
If the state DOE would just correctly interpret the CA statutes, CA would have one of the best HSing environments in the country. The LAT's "solution" would be a major step backwards.
LOCK YOUR DOORS This could have been much worse. Moms, please keep your doors locked when you're home with the kids. Chances are, you're the only folks in the neighborhood.
Duluth police arrested a man Thursday who allegedly broke into several homes this month, including a Congdon Park home Thursday morning.

Sarah Eliason, 11, startled a man rifling through her mother's wallet in the family's home, at 2905 E. Superior St., shortly after 9:30 a.m.

Sarah, whose mother was out on an errand, stumbled onto the burglar as she came down a stairway to get ready for home school.

The man, whom she described as unshaven, wearing a black jacket, dark blue jeans, with messy brown hair, asked Sarah if her mother was home.

"Before I could finish my answer, he ran out the door, dropped the wallet and ran," Sarah said.
NOT EVEN CLOSE The other day I congratulated this TV station for recognizing that virtual-charters weren't HSing. Well, they blew it today. This short piece reads like it was issued by K-12's PR department.
The Arkansas Virtual School is described as a combination of the best that public, private, and home-schooling have to offer.
The best of HSing is a tailored, one-of-a-kind education. K12 is better than that? Not likely.

10/24/2002

NEITHER BRAIN NOR HEART Several students in a Chicago school were "promoted in error" after failing 6th grade summer school. A major screw-up. Then, to compound the problem, the teacher pointed the students out in class.
The teacher pointed to child after child, saying "you, you, you,'' in announcing each was being demoted, parents said. Some kids went home in tears.
CHARTER PAPER Lisa Snell has an excellent article on charter schools posted on the RRPI website.
A RACE TO THE BOTTOM? MI is considering dramatically lowering their educational standards so that they don't appear to have too many "failing" schools. They currently have some of the toughest accountability standards in the country.
"By lowering standards, we increase the flow of federal money into Michigan and protect a significant number of schools," said David Plank, a Michigan State University professor who studies K-12 issues. "On the negative side, we want our kids to achieve higher levels. To scale that back in exchange for money is not a legitimate bargain..."

Board member Michael Warren fears Michigan's standards will be diluted to the federal minimum requirement.
This is not how the NCLBA was supposed to work. They should have called it the "Unintended Consequences Act".

UPDATE: SecEd Paige has released an open letter to states asking that they not lower standards to avoid the "failing schools" label. Paige misses the point, however. MI is looking to lower their standards precisely because they exceed federal standards. The law basically punishes districts and states for setting rigorous standards. Until this is fixed, states will have no motivation to exceed the federal minimum standards. (link via Joanne Jacobs)

10/23/2002

A BET When the time comes, Lileks will HS. Scroll down to "Today I became One of Those People ." (link via Instapundit and Kim Swygert)
THEY'RE ALL OUTSTANDING Homeschooling Parent Magazine ran a contest to find America´s Outstanding Homeschool Students". They came up with 10 finalists for 2002. I really don't like this. It seems the very antithesis to my view of HSing- that all of our children are valued, unique, and precious. Why does HSP Magazine want to label 10 as "best"? I'd expect this in the PS-system; I'm embarassed that HSers are emulating it.
PSA Wisconsin HSers are eligible to apply for the "the 2003 Herb Kohl Educational Foundation Excellence Scholarship... Homeschooled students can also obtain information from the Wisconsin Parents Association at P.O. Box 2502, Madison, WI 53701-2502, or by calling 1-608-283-3131."
GET OVER IT A GOP political ad in HI carried an endorsement from former NFL star Leo Goeas, which included the following:
My wife and I have five kids and we have chosen to home school them or send them to private schools because we have lost any faith in Hawaii's public school system.
The HI Teacher of the Year apparently took it personally.
It discounts the hard work that educators put into providing a quality education system.
So, any criticism of the public school system is now an attack on teachers? So much for public discourse.
THE RAIN IN SPAIN At last- a big media company recognizes that cyber charters are not the same as HSing.
How does a free computer, printer, and internet connection sound to you? Those are some of the perks being offered to students of a new statewide school, set to open this December.

Learning on the computer, via the Arkansas Virtual School, or ARVS, will be a key component of this new option for kids. But, just because they'll be learning at home, it's not the same as home-schooling.

10/22/2002

HSING DISSERTATION Not by a HSer, but about HSing. I haven't read this, yet, but this portion of the conclusion looks interesting:
When we looked at intrinsic motivation in homeschoolers of different ages, we found that the older children were more intrinsically motivated in their learning than were the younger children. This result is remarkable considering that in past studies of schooled children, it has been shown that the older the children, the less intrinsically motivated they are. It might be that the characteristics unique to home education are in some way responsible for the fact that older homeschooled children had not lost their love of learning. Certainly, this finding suggests, at the very least, that the loss of intrinsic motivation throughout the school-age years is not, in fact, inevitable. Educators, politicians, and parents who have accepted that losing interest in learning is a natural part of growing up would be wise to take notice.
WWHS No commentary required.
It started nearly a year ago with a 7-year-old telling his teacher he had a bathroom emergency and his teacher -- a woman with a record of parental and staff complaints -- refusing to let him go to the toilet...

According to a copy of the report obtained by the Daily News, investigators found substantial evidence corroborating the parents' complaints that the child was transferred to another classroom improperly at the insistence of the teacher and the teachers union, that police were called to remove the parents from campus and that school records were falsified and used against the boy's mother in a child-custody fight with her ex-husband...

According to the report, at least seven parents interviewed "gave anecdotal evidence that Ms. Johnson generally demeaned, humiliated, belittled and 'mentally beat up' their children for violating her rules." Some parents also backed the claim that she refused to permit children to go to the bathroom during class, even when they have emergencies.
NO PROBLEMO EdWorld has an article up on how to have a successful parent-teacher conference. Let's see how we HSers do, shall we?
Make parents aware of conference dates and goals.
So far, so good.
Make it as easy as possible for every parent to attend the conferences.
It'd be near impossible to NOT attend.
Prepare teachers to conduct successful conferences.

*Provide teachers with in-service training on conducting successful conferences.
*Provide teachers with information and skills for dealing with a variety of parent-related issues.
*Make sure teachers are familiar with district and school policies for dealing with parent-related issues.
Uh-oh. Policies? In-service training? It doesn't look good for the home(schooling) team. Some more:

*Dress professionally.
*Start every conference on time.
HSers? Hah! Oh, well. We only scored about a 50. Good thing we don't have to assign grades, eh?

10/21/2002

LITTLE DRUMMER BOY- NOT! This 16-year-old HSer is one of the best "field" drummers in the country.
CRAZY SCHEDULE I'm in training all this week so blogging will either be really early or really late through Friday.

10/20/2002

A NOTE TO OTHER BLOGGERS If you are using Blogger Pro, the publishing portion of Pro2 has not been working for two days. To publish, change to pro1 and publish there. It's been working fine.
JUST A LITTLE MORE TO THE LEFT This textbook has got to win the prize for most PC.
"Geography: The World and its People," published by McGraw Hill. Here we find lessons about:

Eye on the Environment: Danger – Ozone Loss

United States and Canada: Trash

South America: The Disappearing Rain Forest

Europe: Pollution

Russia: Chernobyl – Nuclear Disaster

Southwest Asia: Water – A Precious Resource

Africa: Desertification

Asia: Habitat Loss

Great Barrier Reef: Trouble Down Under
There may be hope, however.
Parents protest to their local school boards, who say they have nothing to do with what's in the textbooks. Textbook publishers publish what school districts purchase. Teachers teach what the state requires. The state requires whatever produces federal funds. The teachers' unions determine what the federal government requires.

Home schooling – and private schools – may be the revolution that collapses this public brainwashing system.
PLEASE LET THEM BE BABIES for a while longer. The testing craze has gone completely overboard (sorry, Kim). We're now subjecting kindergartners to tough academic standards. Why? Who the heck knows?
Many school districts have adopted policies, either formal or unwritten, that kindergartners should be reading by school year's end, a goal early childhood experts said is within the grasp of some, but not all, children. The goal needlessly sets up more children for failure, experts said, because no research indicates that reading earlier leads to higher academic achievement in later years...

One Chicago public school kindergarten teacher recently quit her job in part because of what she considered unrealistic demands of administrators, who expected kindergartners to sit all day at desks, go without recess and learn to read by year's end. The centers the teacher envisioned creating for science, art and dramatic play were prohibited.
Five-year-olds should not be expected to sit at a desk for an extended period of time. They need to be running around, exploring their world, playing for goodness' sake. Our 5-year-old (who is reading) does a maximum of 1 1/2 hours of "academic" work each day. She can take a break when she needs to and has access to lots of educational "toys" including software. Just another in the apparently endless list of reasons to homeschool.

10/18/2002

HEADS UP CBS Market Watch Weekend will have a piece on HSing. Check your local listing. Here's a link to the streamed version.
HOME-LEGISLATING? This is one of the funnier quotes from a candidate:
Benedict said his children are home-schooled, suggesting that home schooling is one area that could be looked at by the Legislature. "If a thing works in one area, isn't it a good idea to try it in another one?"
This could be a new trend. How 'bout home-surgery? Or, maybe, home-nuclear power generation?
DEATH THREAT UPDATE The two boys who were expelled for threatening their teacher probably will not return to their original school. The teachers threatened to strike if they had returned.
On Wednesday it was announced that the family of one of boys had agreed for their son to be sent to an alternative school, and now both families have agreed to a move.

But they held out against the boys' being put in a pupil referral unit for disruptive children.

A spokesman for Surrey County Council said on Friday: "Both sets of parents have confirmed that they now wish their children to go to alternative mainstream secondary schools.

"We will therefore be discussing their placements with other schools."
The fat lady has yet to take the stage, however.
Glyn's head teacher has said he might still have to take them back if his colleagues in other schools refuse to take them.
DE-SPECIFIC ITEM The Schools of Dreams Conference is scheduled for Saturday 10/26. I will be manning DHEA's booth. Drop in and pick up a "Homeschool Freedom Works" sticker.
AS LONG AS IT'S BLACK According to this editorial, IBM supports "school choice" in Vermont. Someone's (IBM's or the editor's) idea of "choice" is just a bit limited, though:
IBM's top concern is education, which is critical if the company is to maintain the skilled work force essential in the highly competitive computer industry. IBM supports public school choice, which would allow parents to select the public school they feel best suits the educational needs of their children.
EUREKA! I have discovered the true purpose of the public schools. It's not to teach the basics; it's to provide extracurricular activities and sports. That's why traditional public schools are better than charters, according to this educrat:
"Traditional schools offer so many extracurricular things and the opportunity to get a wider scope of education," said Ed Turner, North Tahoe High School vice principal.

"It prepares us better for life after high school."

Additionally, because of its small student body and budget, [charter school] Prosser Creek does not offer any after-school sports. While some parents feel this is not an issue, proponents of traditional schools see it as a major drawback.

"Sports are extremely important, they keep a lot of students in school," said Turner.


10/17/2002

LIVE OUT LOUD! in the blogroll has moved. Here's Kath's new URL.
PAGING BILL GATES A WA HSer saved up her babysitting money to buy a laptop for HSing use. Some cretin broke into her family's car and stole it.
She was excited and it was her little baby," says Mary Kispert...

Amanda learned that hard work pays off. But a few weeks later she learned another harsh lesson.

"They used one of those slim jims down the window," says Mary.

Amanda learned how quickly something can be taken away. Someone stole Amanda's laptop from the family van.

The Kispert's had been hiking at Mt. Si. Amanda brought her laptop so she could do some work on the way. She left the laptop in the van hiding it under the seat.

"I was mad, but there wasn't anything I could do about it, " says Amanda.

We hope that's not the end of Amanda's story. We hope there's someone out there who has a laptop to donate to Amanda, who by the way, has already begun saving up to buy another.

How To Help:

If you want to donate a laptop computer, you can call the People Helper at (206) 441-HELP, or you can email John Sharify at peoplehelper@komo4news.com
MORE ON CA
Parents say they're poised for a fight if the Legislature tries to pass laws restricting home schooling in the wake of a warning from state schools chief Delaine Eastin...

State Sen. Jack O'Connell, who is running for Eastin's post in November, said he expects legislators to take up her request. "The law needs to be clarified," he said...

O'Connell, a former Oxnard High School teacher, said he believes home-schooling parents should work with local public school districts. Under such an arrangement, these students are enrolled in the public schools' independent study programs, and they comply with the state's compulsory attendance law.

He said that allows all students to know the state's academic standards, socialize with other students and take part in extracurricular activities.

"I think it's in the kids' best interest," he said.

Such an arrangement would mean local school districts could claim state funding of more than $7,000 per child.
In an example of poor reporting, there is no mention of what the other candidate believes.
TAX CREDITS It seems that in this silliest season of the year, everyone and his brother is proposing tax credits for HSers. These proposals will all be promptly forgotten should any of these candidates actually get elected. Here are three:
Republican Clint Engler, who managed to garner less than 20 percent of the vote last time around, is back again for a shot at the seat...His education platform is the message conservatives have preached for at least the last decade — more local control. He also favors tax breaks for parents who home-school their children, with deductions for supplies.

LIBERTARIAN Eric Dickman
Our public education system repeatedly says it cannot accomplish its mission with the limited funds available. Nor can it name the amount needed to do so. It is time to accept this, and remove some of the burden. Extend full tax credits for parents who use private, parochial or home school.

CONSTITUTION Jeremy Bowen
What's the best way to ensure stable financing for schools? Close them. Government schools will always be in need of money because they will always be run inefficiently by bureaucrats that just want bigger salaries. Tax credits should be given to parents so they can choose their child's best education (private, home school . . .) instead of being forced into a broken system.
Don't spend those tax credits yet.

10/16/2002

CHEATER! Someone googled the following and ended up on this site: pros and cons research paper on taking under god out of the pledge. I hope they didn't find one.
FREE PRESIDENTS TIMELINE C-SPAN is offering a freebie to "middle school and high school social studies teachers". I signed up using our "official" school name.

Here's some info about the timeline.

YOU MAKE THE CALL Is it money or politics that influenced this mass-mailing?
The 12-page report, outlining achievements of the district and its nine high schools, features prominent color photographs of two School Board members running for re-election in November: President Kevin Clayborn and clerk Ian Hugh...

But district officials...said the report is one of four the district mails annually to draw new students.

"Every student we attract from a charter or private school means an additional $3,000 minimum to our district," Assistant Superintendent Gene Dudo said.
WHAT WOULD HAPPEN HERE? UK teachers are in favor of boycotting their version of the accountability tests.

10/15/2002

POT VS. KETTLE Newark (OH) City Schools are planning to start a cyber-charter to compete with a for-profit school. A couple of good quotes here:
Some of the students in the ECOT program were home-schoolers who were not educated in the Newark district. Still, the district loses $5,000 when the home-school student enters ECOT.
This is ridiculous. They lose $5,000 because a former HSer decides to enroll in a cyber-charter? Does that mean they were getting $5,000 because they had a HSer in their district? Not likely.

And then we have the winner of the "Black Kettle" award:
Interim Superintendent Keith Richards said the key to understanding ECOT is the term "for-profit."

"They could care less whether you learn or not," Richards said. "They just want to make money."
And why exactly are you starting a competitive school?
AND YOU THOUGHT OUR SCHOOLS ARE BAD This story out of the UK is just beyond belief. Two students who made multiple death threats aimed at their PE teacher are back at the school. The principal was criticized for "jumping the gun" in expelling them.
They left chilling messages on the answering machine in Mr Taverner’s office, including one that warned him: “Hello Steve, you are going to die soon, you are going to get stabbed in the back of the head.” The next day they repeated the death threat, saying: “You have five days to live.”

The torrent of phone calls — 44 in 18 separate days between April and May — was not enough for an independent appeals panel to support their expulsion. It ordered the boys back into the school after ruling last month that Stuart Turner, the head teacher, and the governors had been wrong to expel them...

The three-member panel made their ruling after a two-day hearing. Their report said that the panel “did not agree that this offence was so serious as to immediately move to permanent exclusion”. The school had “jumped the gun” and should have been satisfied with suspending the pair for two weeks.

They said that expelling the teenagers as they were preparing to take their GCSEs would be detrimental to them. There was “no evidence” that their return posed a threat to other pupils or staff at the school.
I guess you have to wait until after they kill the teacher before you can act. I wonder if a murder trial would lower their scores on their GCSEs.
I GUESS THIS IS GOOD NEWS
Just three years ago, Brentwood Elementary was struggling to keep its doors open...

But Brentwood's reputation has changed from the little school that couldn't to the little school that could. Now it's touted as one of the greatest success stories in the Escambia County School District...

"I never thought we would be this successful this quickly," said Reggie Lipnick, the school's magnet coordinator. "We have parents coming from home school and private schools who want to put their children here. All it takes is one tour."
ANYONE KNOW FL HS LAW? This is confusing:
A 15-year-old girl has missed 28 of 44 days of school at Pedro Menendez High School, the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office said, resulting in her mother's arrest...

Berthiaume told The St. Augustine Record Monday night that her daughter is mentally disabled and is in special education classes.

She typically refuses to go to school, Berthiaume said.

About two weeks ago, Berthiaume said, she and her husband met with school district officials, where she was told that her daughter could not be home-schooled...

Jim Welu, the district's executive director of Student Services, said Berthiaume's daughter had previously been home-schooled for nearly two years. "The rules are, you go on home-schooling, then you provide educational evaluations," he told The Record. "That never happened with that family."

The option to home-school goes away if parents do not provide evaluations for their children, he said.
Is this really the law in FL? I'm going to have to do some digging to see if I can figure this one out. I'll update later.

UPDATE: Steven Gallagher supplied a link and explanation of FL HSing law here.

10/14/2002

NO NEWS HERE Acording to this Gainesville, GA article, "homeschooling has begun to emerge as a viable option".
AND WE'RE FUNNY, TOO An astrophysicist and a glass-blower have teamed up to make "impossible" Klein bottles:
In 1992, while working as a researcher in telescope design at the University of California, Berkeley, Stoll persuaded a glass-blower friend to stretch the neck of a bottle through its side, and then to join the neck to a hole in the bottle's base. The resulting oddity, the author of ''Silicon Snake Oil'' said, was, if not a true Klein bottle, at least an image of a Klein bottle ''transferred into three dimensions...''

Stoll has sold nearly a thousand bottles, which start at $30. Why hasn't he sold more? ''Not many people seem to need boundary-free, nonorientable surfaces right now,'' he admits. ''But still, I've earned more money than Enron, right?''
THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT It's time for our weekly guffaw at the expense of Dennis Redovich. In this week's episode, we learn how terrific the US public schools are at teaching science.
The United States is the uncontested leader of the world in scientific research in respect to published accomplishments, Nobel Prizes, volume of research and expenditures on scientific research. The United States is the leader of the world in technology and the unchallenged leader of the world in the global economy...

There is no doubt; American schools produce the finest scientists in the world. And the American educational systems, most notably including American K-12 education, continue to upgrade the quality of their science graduates each year.
I have some personal experience in this area. Yes, Amercian schools lead the world in scientific training and research. Unfortunately for Mr. Redovich, it is the US grad school system that dominates the rest of the world. The K-12 system has little or no bearing on the quality of grad students because a very large percentage of US scientists and engineers came to the US for grad school and stayed afterward. If our economy were suddenly to be dependent on US K-12 educated scientists and engineers, we'd be facing a major economic crisis.
Math and science are mystiques because many students and adults have difficulty with math and science courses such as chemistry and physics. Mathematicians and scientists perpetuate the mystique by claiming super human powers for the skills they possess.
Yes, I can use my x-ray vision to see that Mr. Redovich is an idiot.
The following quotes are an example of typical nonsense published by Media across the nation.

“Preparing our children to succeed in the 21st century is our job as educators. Graduates of Massachusetts’s high schools should leave us prepared to someday compete for - and win - high-level jobs against their peers from other states and nations. It is our duty as educators to give them the skills they need to succeed once they're on their own, long after tossing their caps in the air on graduation day. This means feeling confident that the diploma they take home represents a top-notch education”.

“I am proud of the MCAS program we have developed, and I stand by our commitment to hold our students to the highest of standards. When expectations are set - and held - for students and teachers, they will rise to the occasion and meet them.”
[emphasis in original].
I guess Mr. Redovich would have preferred this:
“Preparing our children to fail in the 21st century is our job as educators. Graduates of Massachusetts’s high schools should leave us ill-prepared to someday compete for - and win - menial jobs against their peers from other states and nations. It is our duty as educators to give them self-esteem, ignoring the skills they need to succeed once they're on their own, long after tossing their caps in the air on graduation day. This means feeling confident that the diploma they take home represents a top-notch education, regardless of the true value of said diploma”.
Happy now, Mr. Redovich?

10/13/2002

A FUN HS ASSIGNMENT Go out on the beach everyday to check the sea-turtle nests.
Indiana native Jan Ranger just moved into a rental home along Bonita Beach last week, and the last turtle next was right outside her back door.

"We've been checking it out every day," she said. "We home-school, so this is a great education for them."
WHY DOES THIS BOTHER ME? The Republican nominee for KS governor
wants to restrict late-term abortions, give tax credits to parents who homeschool their children and allow those who can pass a background check to carry concealed weapons?

10/12/2002

GOD SAVE THE QUEEN (AND THE BBC) The BBC has a profile of a HS family that is so positive it could have been written by one of us. There is not one snarky comment in the entire article. They even get in a good "S"-word quote:
For Heather, home education is no barrier to developing good social skills.

She said that following interviews for jobs at the local Boots store, the manager offered the positions to Rachel and another girl who had also been home educated.

"She said that the home-educated candidates had stood out way above all the other applicants - in particular they had been far more outgoing and confident."
ED-NEWS.ORG UPDATE The discussion is still going strong over at EducationNews.org. If you want to increase your blood pressure by about 50 points, read any of the posts by Ricardo, a very arrogant public school teacher.
A REALLY DANGEROUS SCHOOL A 15-year-old student brought a loaded gun to school for self-defense.
Mr. Samuels said the student indicated that he brought the gun to school for self-defense. “His statement was he brought the gun because some other students told him they were going to beat him up,” Mr. Samuels said.
This is not the first time I blogged a story about this school. About a month ago I picked up a story about a girl being beaten with brass knuckles in the woods behind the school. Sorry, I can't provide a perma-link; Blogger's archives appear to be down (again).
LOOK OUT FOR CPS This is terrible! A family is keeping their kids out of school so they can be made to work in the family sub shop.
"We loved the food there," Diane said with a chuckle. "And we wanted a business that allowed us to involve our children who are homeschooled and that allows us to all work together."

The Ruelle's two sons, Joey and Jeremy, work in the shop and are the designated delivery men.
Where's a social worker when you need one? < /sarcasm>

10/11/2002

IT JUST HAD TO BE The only perfect ACT score in the state of Iowa this year belongs to a HSer. A nice article but here's one stupid 'graf:
Kristin Crouse, a spokeswoman for ACT, said Gulleen is one of only three home-schooled students nationwide to receive a perfect score this past testing year, in which more than 1.7 million ACT assessments were given. The average composite score for those who took the test between September 2001 and June 2002 is 20.8.

"The statistical likelihood of a student earning a 36 is 1 in 10,000," Crouse said.
What an "apples & oranges" comparison! How 'bout providing us with how many HSers took the test?
SELF-INFLICTED WOUNDS HURT THE WORST Edison just can't win for losing. Day's after moving out of their Philly offices to save money, they blow $300G on a principals' retreat where, among the better ideas, was this gem:
[Philly schools' CEO] Vallas also said he will not allow Edison to use students as workers at the 20 Philadelphia schools it manages - an idea proffered during the retreat by Edison founder Chris Whittle according to published reports.
As usual, it was a misquote (protests Edison):
[Edison spokesman] Tucker... said Whittle's comments about students working had been taken out of context by a reporter who was listening through the wall.
Except
During one speech to the principals, Tucker said, Whittle suggested ways to "reshape the Edison design." One of those ways was to give kids real-life experiences in school such as working as computer- network engineers to better prepare them for life after high school.

"There is no plan, no proposal to do that," said Tucker. However, he said that raising such provocative ideas was in line with true school reform.
It looks like Edison is looking for ways to cut costs with essentially free labor. It really is too bad you can't short a stock under $5. Maybe they'll run a 1:100 reverse split.
DRUG TESTING "DEBATE" Kim Swygert picked up the beat on drug testing in schools (OOPS- the Permalink isn't working. Just click here and scroll down to 10/10/02) and via email pointed me towards one of her earliest posts on the same subject. Except for tobacco company executives, I think we can all agree that cigarettes are harmful and that minors should be discouraged from smoking. But why is this the schools' problem? Don't they have other, more important things to worry about? This whole drug-testing crusade is just one more example of creeping "nanny state"-ism. Here's a prediction: I bet that within a year we see someone proposing mandatory random cholesterol screening of public school students.
Come on, don't be a baby. It's just a little pin-prick.
Or maybe just random weigh-ins?
Hey, Beth, look's like you've put on a few pounds. How 'bout you step up on this scale?
Instapundit has a good line about politicians that I think may be equally valid for edu-nanny-crats:
Cut their pay and send them home.
ONE FOR IZZY A talented 14-year-old HSer has just published her first book, a collection of short stories. The main character in the book is also HSed.
Her mother, Catherine, thinks her daughter's love of writing began when she attended Durant Road Elementary School. The talent flourished in home school, Catherine added.

"Her dad and I are very proud of her," she said. "Home schooling allows her the time to do writing."
And if you wish to support her and puchase the book, here's the link to BN.com (and, no, I don't get any kickback on the sale).
READING, WRITING, AND HUNTING A nice profile of a young, HSing, female hunter:
Anna Coates' friends think it's "pretty cool" that the 11-year-old will don camouflage this weekend and be among 28 hunters in McLean County taking part in Illinois' first-ever Youth Deer Hunt...

Anna Coates began her quest to hunt by taking the mandatory Firearm Safety Course earlier this year. She got a perfect score on her test.

Darryl Coates incorporated a tracking course into his daughter's home-schooling curriculum.
Mr. Coates also provides us with the thought for the day:
"I think we should give children half as much money and twice as much of our time," he said.

10/10/2002

REALLY SCARY Michael Peach has provided a link to a UK program called Connexions. It is a privacy advocate's worst nightmare. It appears to provide each student who "volunteers" for the program a smart card programmed with all sorts of very private info.
Participation Achievements Basic Skills Key Skills Life Skills Aspirations Identity & Self Image Attitudes & Motivation Family & Social Relationships Risk of (Re-) Offending Capacity of Parents or Carers Family History & Functioning Social & Community Factors Housing Income Physical Health Emotional Well-Being Substance Use Issues

Each question is graded to five levels.

Therefore these kids will be carrying around cards with details of convictions, substance abuse issues, family background, etc. This information is then available to various gov. departments and businesses.

There is contention as to whether the info. will be available to the police or the social security benefits agency etc. (Of course NOT says the government but will they be able to resist for long).
Given that the US often seems to follow the education trends out of the UK, I'm keeping an eye on this one.
ANOTHER CYBER-CHARTER STORY The public schools are starting to compete for students. Good!
Lancaster City Schools see the digital academy as a tool for holding onto students it otherwise would lose to home schools. Disbennet, who left Lancaster High School over "personal issues," relishes the freedom from both the early school mornings and her peers.
Some edu-crats still don't get it, though:
The cyberschool is an alternative, not a substitute, for the real thing, said Steve Clippinger, president of the Board of Directors.

"No matter what alternative there is, it's not going to be as good as being in school," he said.

But it's an option for students whose parents keep them out of school for religious reasons or who are too sick to attend school, he added.
This is just a bit disingenuous. Students in this charter will still be public school students and will not get any kind of religious education. How will this school be an option for those opposed to the public schools for religious reasons?
ASKING FOR TROUBLE This is just plain reckless:
Monday, 8 a.m., and Swarthmore College student Kaiko Shimura can't decide what to wear. So she asks best friend Joseph Altuzarra for advice.

He obliges, giving a nod to a black T-shirt featuring the punk band Anti-Flag, gray pants, and a white necklace with stars. "Does my sweater have any holes?" he asks.

The two sophomores are roommates who live together in a campus dorm room, even though Shimura, 19, is a woman and Altuzarra, also 19, is a man.

Swarthmore, joining the ranks of a handful of schools around the country, has extended coeducational housing beyond buildings and floors to include actual rooms, making for one of the most liberal dormitory policies in the country.
INTERESTING
The brains of children and adolescents in whom attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is diagnosed are on average 3 percent to 4 percent smaller in volume than those of children without the condition, according to a large-scale government study whose findings were reported today...

While smaller, the brains of the children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, also referred to as A.D.H.D., followed the same progression of development as those of the normal children. And the size difference, Dr. Castellanos said, could not be used to diagnose the disorder, because the difference was calculated using group averages and did not necessarily apply in individual cases.

"There are some kids with A.D.H.D. that have the second largest brains in the whole distribution," Dr. Castellanos said. It is not clear whether the size difference between the groups was present at birth but it did appear before school age, he said...

The researchers used magnetic resonance imaging to examine the brains of 152 children, aged 5 to 18, who had A.D.H.D. and 139 normal children in the same age range. Forty-nine of the children with the disorder were scanned before they had received any medication to treat it.
OT: WHY BOTHER? Apparently Congress doesn't have any real work to do:
The House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly -- though not unanimously -- on Tuesday for a bill that would keep mentions of God in the Pledge of Allegiance and national motto.

The House bill gives directions on the appropriate manner for saying the pledge, which includes the removal of nonreligious headgear with the right hand to be held at the left shoulder as the hand rests on the heart.

The Senate is expected to pass an identical bill soon. It had already approved a bill that did not contain the headgear references. The bill will then go to the White House for the president's signature.
SHOULD HOME SCHOOL PARENTS BE CERTIFIED? EducationNews.org is starting a discussion thread on this topic (based on the CA HSing mess). Here's a link, in case you want to weigh in. My opinion is that, if not certified, we're at least all certifiable. :-)
EDITORIAL AS NEWS This reporting seems a little slanted (not that I don't agree with the sentiment):
Anyone who wonders about the climate for change in public education in Rhode Island might have gained some insight at last night's forum on reforming high schools.

There, one union leader after another faulted the Board of Regents' sweeping plan for transforming large education factories into places where students feel known and valued.

They said it wasn't realistic to insist that teachers have common planning time without providing more resources. They said it wasn't fair to hold all students to the same set of graduation requirements.

Some questioned the need for mandatory literacy training. Others spoke out against a recommendation to assign every student to an adviser. And who, they asked, would pay for these new mandates, the state or the district?
HE SAID/ SHE SAIDThe Flint (MI) School Board is warning parents that Edison is headed for bankruptcy. Edison doth protest (too much, methinks).
SLOW ON THE UPTAKE The LAT finally picked up on the CA HSing story. Nothing like timely reporting, eh?

UPDATE: David Mecklenburg at SabertoothJournal blogged this LAT story today. He rips the CA schools pretty good.

10/09/2002

LET'S HEAR IT FOR HONESTY This charter school makes no pretense about their ideology (unlike the regular public schools).
"If you want to be the next Cesar Chavez or the next Martin Luther King, there is no place to go," said Lowenstein, 59, who is executive director of the school. "One of the real motivations for me to start this school was to change that."

Already, the campus has set itself apart.

While many schools commemorated the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks by listening to patriotic songs or making memorial banners, students at the Leadership Academy instead learned about the oppression of Afghan women under the Taliban and about Muslim Americans whose civil liberties have been violated in the United States over the last year.

As Columbus Day approaches, plans are underway to teach about historical injustices against Native Americans.
UH OH! Here comes the CPS. Two kids were being mis-treated. CPS was on the case. Then their guardians withdrew them from school to HS and CPS dropped the ball. Now, they're blaming HSing and looking for a "solution".
The two boys were being home-schooled. They told child welfare workers that if they made too many mistakes in their work they didn't get anything to eat.

For days, sometimes, no food.

If the boys had been attending conventional classes, public or private, their teachers likely would have noticed something was wrong and reported it. Statewide, some 18.8 percent of the 179,432 cases of child abuse investigated last year were reported by school personnel...

A CPS spokeswoman said the agency's "peak time" normally is in September and October, after kids return to school. "Teachers are such good eyes and ears for us," she said, adding that "teachers' calls tend to be very accurate."...

Regarding the two boys who were starved, a CPS official said that being home-schooled "meant the family could hide them better." ...

CPS officials knew their mother was in prison. They had investigated earlier complaints that the boys were being mistreated. They knew the boys had been transferred from public schooling to home schooling. They knew that teachers wouldn't be helping out in this case.

Can't we find some way to protect kids like these two little boys without infringing on the rights of all our home-schooling families?

WRITE YOUR SENATOR This should be a no-brainer.
A bill introduced by Rep. Mark Kennedy, R-Minn., that protects the privacy rights of home-schoolers nationwide passed the U.S. House this week. But for the bill to become law, an identical bill must pass the Democrat-controlled Senate and be signed by the president. So far, no companion bill has been introduced in the Senate.

The bill would close a loophole in federal law that makes the records of some home-schoolers -- including report cards and personal data -- public information. Some school districts have interpreted the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act in a way that does not apply to home-schooled or private school students.
The bill number is H.R. 5331. (Student Record Protection Act ).

10/08/2002

ANOTHER HS BLOG TO READ This one from somewhere in the UK, I think. Michael Peach is a stay-at-home HS Dad.
DRUG TESTING If you've been reading this blog for a while, you've probably figured out that I usually come down on the side of personal freedom. That's why I'm opposed to random drug testing for public school kids. The Boston Globe has an article out today that makes two good points about why these tests are a waste of time & money and a generally bad idea.
Breath mints won't do anymore for students who have been smoking in the bathroom; some schools around the country are administering urine tests to teenagers to determine whether they have been using tobacco...

Alabama's Hoover school system randomly tested 679 of its 1,500 athletes for drug use this past school year. Fourteen high school students tested positive, 12 of them for tobacco.
So, to catch the 1.76% of student-athletes who were smoking and the 0.29% who were using illegal drugs, the school district subjected the other 97.9% to an invasive, embarassing, useless test. This testing craze started out with the "drug problem" among student-athletes. Then we started sliding downhill to testing students participating in competitive inter-scholastic events (like "choir"). This morphed into testing students who needed to drive to school. And now the slope carries us down to testing nearly everybody for pretty much any damn thing the schools decide to test for. Your tax dollars at work (and another good reason to HS).
IT MUST BE THAT TIME OF THE YEAR when politicians feel free to give away other peoples money to buy votes. In this particular case, FL Gov. Jeb Bush is attempting to buy off the teachers:
Teachers in Florida may be able to repay college loans at a reduced rate and buy a house with no down payment under two new programs Gov. Jeb Bush announced yesterday.
TEST 'EM ALL -Legislators, that is. Here's a bit of sarcasm from FL on how their accountability tests can be used to improve the state government.
UNSAFE SCHOOLS One of the reasons often cited for HSing is an unsafe school, but it's not often that the school building itself is the culprit.
The school was evacuated twice last week after reports of noxious odors. Last Tuesday, 55 students and teachers were taken to area hospitals with complaints of nausea and headaches..

Among Ross' pictures of construction debris in a stairwell and missing ceiling tiles near the cafeteria are pictures of a blocked-off area marked with a "Danger -- Asbestos" sign and wires jutting out of a hole in the main hallway wall. The wires are held in place by a piece of cardboard...

10/07/2002

OT: WHAT A HOOT! I've come to the conclusion that EducationNews.org publishes Dennis Redovich's rants for their entertainment value. Today's column has some real howlers:
The inspirations for this commentary are 1) My annual visit to Las Vegas, the greatest architectural and economic wonder in the history of the world...
Snorting coffee out one's nose is not a pleasant experience.
These workers in turn spend their incomes for housing, food, cars etc. etc. and create more jobs. Fortunately, many if not the majority of workers in Las Vegas, even in unskilled jobs such as taxi drivers, food serving and housekeeping are organized and receive wages above the poverty level. This is a benefit to the economies of Las Vegas, Nevada and the entire United States. The taxes these younger workers pay, their contributions to Social Security and Medicare and the revenues created by their consumer spending are significant, as the population of the United States grows older...
Unions = higher pay = more taxes. And this is supposed to be good for the economy?
William Greider in his 1989 best-selling book Secrets of the Temple gives an analogy from the physical sciences, which is paraphrased as follows. In the laws of physics,

Force = mass x velocity (squared) A small mass with high velocity (a bullet) has tremendous force, while a 1,000 pound ball rolled slowly has little force. A large amount of money ($1 Billion) in the hands of many thousands who spend the money for goods and services has an enormous economic force because of the high velocity turnover of the money. One billion in the hands of a few in paper wealth has little velocity or force and should be fairly taxed for the benefit of everyone.
OK, basic physics lesson here: force = mass x acceleration; kinetic energy = 1/2 x mass x velocity squared. Ignoring that, what the heck is this supposed to mean? Is he claiming that $1B spent is better that $1B saved and invested? Well, maybe if the billionaire buried it in his backyard, but I doubt Bill Gates has too many tin cans hidden away in Redmond. (Note to self: buy a metal detector just in case).
Giving tax breaks to the rich and “reducing” levels of government spending that goes to many low and middle class income individuals and families is economically bad for everyone and slows economic growth, creating recessions...
I thought Keynes was dead.
Raising the minimum wage and subsidizing essential low wage jobs like nursing assistants and child care workers will do much more good for the Wisconsin economy than big tax breaks for wealthy corporations to encourage the creation of a few so-called high pay high-tech jobs.
Evidently the law of supply and demand is also dead. Raise the minimum wage and the economy will demand fewer workers. So we subsidize the salaries of these fewer workers with the taxes "fairly taxed for the benefit of everyone"? To what benefit? Why not just pay everyone in the country $1B/year? Then we'd all be rich and wouldn't mind being "fairly taxed".
It is paradox that Dental Hygienists at a median salary of $43,677 are the highest paid WTCS graduates while the median salary for 2,577 Nursing Assistant graduates in 1999 was one of the lowest at $17,676. Why do Dental Hygienists earn more than twice the median pay of child care workers ($16,838)?
Why is this a paradox? Apparently, in Wisconsin, they really care about having clean teeth. Supply and demand. Oops I forgot it was dead. I guess it really is a paradox.
CHANGE THE NAME! Homeschool advocates face a constant struggle to keep the labels "homeschool" and "cyber-charter" separate. Now along comes this CAcharter school: "Shasta Secondary Home School, for seventh through 12th grades."

UPDATE:
Here's a blurb written by the school's director. I can't tell for sure if it's a cyber-charter or not.

10/06/2002

C YA I've got a mild case of blogathy. See y'all in the morning.
SLIGHTLY OT Duke University runs summer camps for 7th & 8th graders who score relatively high on standardized tests. It doesn't state explicitly in the article but HSers may be eligible.
TIP asks schools and districts to identify students who qualify for the program through high scores on standardized tests and send letters home to their parents. Parents also can contact TIP officials (go to www.tip.duke.edu/ for information) to determine whether their children qualify.
TOO BAD this HSer's not a little bit older. We could arrange for him to meet her.

10/05/2002

GOOD NEWS / BAD NEWS The good news is that several AK schools should be safer with newly-installed police officers roaming the halls. The bad news is that AK schools need police officers roaming the halls. Another WWHS story.
I HOPE THIS WAS A JOKE FL Gov. Jeb Bush is opposed to a referendum that would limit class size, claiming that it would be too expensive. But his quote, if accurate, is just a little bizarre:
''I have a couple of devious plans if this thing passes,'' Bush said during a Wednesday meeting with a group of Panhandle legislators, attended by a reporter from Gannett Regional Newspapers of Florida.
Note to Bush: "Devious" is how your opponents are supposed to describe your plans.
HSING = ANTI-ESTABLISHMENT according to the New York Post. The article profiles a musical family that is a bit different:
Jason and Tina Trachtenburg, and their 8-year-old daughter, Rachel, compose the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players, a musical outfit in which Jason plays piano and sings, Rachel drums, and Tina mans the slide projector - which is filled with pictures of other people's lives.

"Each slide is a line," says the 32-year-old Jason, who resembles Rick Moranis and sings in a lilting falsetto. "A verse might have four slides. We use about 450 slides per performance...

In keeping with their anti-establishment bent, the Trachtenburgs buy organic food, support independent businesses, make many of their own clothes and home-school Rachel (they were appalled at how apathetic New York public schools are toward their students, and kept her there for exactly one day).
VOUCHERS FOR HSING? This candidate for Nevada state senate probably should stay out of NY and NJ.
Schumann is wary of spending more money for education, saying throwing more money at a problem is not always the way to solve it.

“Go to New York or New Jersey, those schools are really bad and they are spending twice as much as Nevada,” Schumann said.

Instead, Schumann parents should have the choice and voucher support to use charter schools and home schooling.
Did he really propose "voucher support" for HSing?
NOT A SPORTS STORY A 6'10" (and still growing) HSer is one of the top basketball prospects in the country. The article (onerous registration required) paints a positive picture of HSing, in general, and this kid, in particular, but it does include a comment that I find worrisome:
For college eligibility, traditionally schooled students must be certified by the NCAA's Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse. Home-schooled students must go through the "initial-eligibility waiver process," as administered by the NCAA national office and based on the school's application.

The application must include an SAT score, a list of textbooks and a home-school transcript.
Textbooks? Transcripts? I'm sure a significant percentage of HSers have neither. What about unschoolers? Does this mean that they would have a hard time establishing NCAA eligibility? College admissions offices have learned how to process HSer's applications. I wonder if we will have to educate the NCAA, next. I'm going off to do some research. I'll update this if I find anything useful.

UPDATE: Well, that was easy enough. The NCAA has a page for HSing - NCAA eligibility FAQs with more info available here. I'm not sure it answers all my questions, though.

The waiver application must include the following items:

Home-school transcript;

ACT/SAT test score;

Evidence of outside assessment, if available (tutors, tests graded by an outside agency, etc.);

Evidence that home-schooling was conducted in accordance with applicable state laws;

Detailed description of home-school teaching environment (e.g., name of instructor(s), method of instruction, number of hours of instruction per day);

List of titles of all textbooks for all home-school courses;

Copies of the table of contents for textbooks utilized in core courses (a sampling);

Samples of work completed (tests, papers) by the student

Some of the materials the NCAA asks for, like evidence of outside assessment, I do not have. I did not have any outside assessment during my home schooling. Will this hurt my chances of obtaining a waiver?

NO. The committee recognizes that each home-school experience is unique and would not expect a student-athlete to produce supporting documentation that was not part of your home-school program. You should provide the materials that are applicable to your home-school experience.

What are some of the key elements the NCAA will look at to make my certification decision?

The primary factors that will be considered in determining whether you are a qualifier are: the required number of core courses successfully completed; ACT/SAT test score results; evidence of following state laws governing home schooling; and outside assessment results (if available).
The "core courses" that are referred to are defined here.

10/04/2002

IT'S UNIVERSAL Parents everywhere have to be ever vigilant to protect their kids from a culture that seeks to drag them down. This story out of Barbados could have been written by just about any concerned parent in the US.
THE guys stood by grinning from ear to ear. Then one of them nudged the other and said, “Look at the sexy girls.”

There is nothing really wrong with this picture except that the guys who are commenting about the girls are four year olds...

I immediately thought of trying to circumvent the law and finding some way of adopting home schooling methods to protect my boy from these types of situations until he’s about 45 years old. I recognise that more than ever I am faced with the awesome task of training up this child “in the way he should go” and society has now made it harder...

It is time for us to regain the dignity that we once had. Bedroom business should be kept there and parents should, at the appropriate time, be the ones to introduce their children to sexual education. I shouldn’t have to fear that my offspring would one day get it on the street. And even if he did, I would feel comfortable knowing that 1) he told me what he heard and 2) I would had already given him the correct information.
Amen.
SIERRA TIMES I don't know anything about this self-proclaimed "Internet Publication for Real Americans " but they have two columns up today at least tangentially realated to HSing. Click here and here.
YEE-HAH!!! Here's another HSer who leads an interesting life. Randi Walden raises and shows champion cows.
Randi's grand champion steer, a lean 970-pound white-faced black Maine chi Angus cross named Dooley, brought a price of $14 per pound and was purchased by Publix stores for $13,590. Her grand champion heifer, also a 970-pound red Maine chi Angus cross named Mustang Sally, was not for sale. She will be kept for breeding. In March, both the steer and heifer were 500-pound calves...

As for any other successful businessperson, producing a good product demands time and hard work. Randi's daily routine is a rigorous one. It has been so busy this school year that Randi and her parents decided to continue her education by home schooling. She has met many of her high school requirements and posted a 940 on the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test.

A typical day for Randi begins between 7:30 and 8 a.m. and ends around 8:30 or 9 p.m.

She alone is responsible for washing her steers and heifers, and she says she keeps them clean by using Joy dishwashing liquid once a week and conditioning with Mane and Tail, designed for horses. She uses fans with misters to keep their coats tame. She brushes her animals three times a day and walks them two times a week
TEACHERS CAN READ? AND ADD? COOL! Alabama is about to institute testing for prospective public-school teachers. The rising ed-college juniors will have to pass a pretty easy test and the Mobile Register is none too pleased:
The writing test isn't ready yet and probably won't start until next year. But the News reports that prospective teachers will be expected to understand the meaning of words and to comprehend stories.

They will also have to prove they can add, subtract, multiply, divide, work with fractions and decimals, calculate percentages and averages, and so forth. At least, they have to prove that they can beat the minimal passing score.

There's no testing for competency in subject matter the student would teach someday. And if a would-be teacher flunks, his or her career is not over.

Students who have maintained a 2.5 grade-point average in core subjects and who can pass a remediation course in reading or math can get a teaching license anyway.
EDISON IS DOOMED if this is how they run their business.
The company quietly abandoned its local headquarters on Spring Garden Street Wednesday and planned to reopen an office in a public school.

But school district CEO Paul Vallas, alerted to the move by the Daily News, yesterday gave Edison the boot from the school before the company even moved in.

"They can't do that," Vallas said last night. "It's not legal. You can't have a for-profit entity in a public institution. It's not only a violation of their contract, it's a violation of public law."

Edison spokesman Adam Tucker initially disagreed, saying the company's contract includes the right to move into the school.

But Vallas stood by his call, saying the district's attorneys researched the issue.

"First of all, they didn't ask," Vallas said. "If they would have asked, we would have told them."

Edison then relented. The company plans to be shopping for real estate today.
Q: What kind of company packs up and moves it offices without first confirming that they have a place to move into?

A: A very unprofitable one.

10/03/2002

ISRAEL, PALESTINE, & HSING Many Palestinian schools have been closed due to the violence and curfews in the region. As a result, parents are seeking alternative means of ensuring their kids get an education.
The mobility restrictions in these areas have necessitated the creation of a substitute schooling system. Many Palestinian school children are now being home schooled by their parents, or gathering in makeshift classrooms such as mosques, basements and alleyways.
LIES, DAMNED LIES, AND STATISTICS A candidate for MD state senate had this to say about the public schools:
Shellenberger supports vouchers and charter schools _ not, she said, because she wants to, but because of the "failure of the public schools."

"Young parents are absolutely desperate for alternatives, she said, contending that a third of the Montpelier community's parents home-school and another third send their children to private schools.
That's a stat that I find hard to believe.
A NEWBIE Here's a brand-spanking-new HS blog. Welcome, Tam. She's(?) off to a great start; it took me a couple of months to get perma-links installed.
BRILLIANT! Maryland's accountability tests only cover reading and math. According to the WaPo, some MD principals have "started telling their teachers not to bother teaching history and science -- or at least not to teach much in those subjects -- given that science and history won't be on the test." I'm pretty sure that's not how these tests were supposed to drive school reform.
I'M NOT BLOGGING this story or this one, "though others have."

10/02/2002

LOCAL MEDIA NBC-10's Lisa Mishler took a brief look at the reasons parents choose to HS and also at HSing laws in PA, DE, and NJ. The report is well-done but doesn't point out that kids in heavily-regulated states don't do any better than kids in less-regulated states. A minor quibble- in DE we don't have to "get direction from a homeschool association or their local school district." We may choose to HS our kids any way we see fit.
COOL! This family homeschooled on a trans-Atlantic sailing voyage. What a life!
A highlight of the trip was waking up in Antigua after a nighttime arrival. Anchored in Falmouth Harbour, we woke to hear the kids on deck checking out our new surroundings. It sounded like Christmas morning as they oohed and ahhed with excited voices, seemingly identifying each feature of the anchorage. "Look, they even have palm trees. And check out that green house on the hill!"

"Where? I want to see. Give me the binoculars, Annie!"

They were delighted, and Cindy and I were enrapt listening to them point out ordinary things as if they were incredible new discoveries. Their interest and awareness had been enhanced by almost 20 days at sea—our first transocean passage completed together as a family.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR Here's a letter pushing for the passage of PA's proposed HSing law, HB2560. I hope it passes; their current law is absolutely terrible. We live a couple miles from PA. You couldn't pay us enough to move to the other side of the border and be subject to the current HS law.
ARRRGGGHHHH!!! Here's one of those stories that makes we want to pull out what little hair I have left. A MN school board has issued a preliminary decision to bar HSers from taking any classes in the public schools.
Board member Ken Ziebarth, one of five policy committee members who voted in favor of the change, said he believes students should have the choice of public education or home-schooling, though he is personally against home-schooling. But he says families that choose home-schooling "should not be picking and choosing" which courses they want to take in the local public school system.

"If our math is good enough, then all our programs should be good enough," he said.

Ziebarth also said he felt students are deprived of "social factors" when they are home-schooled, although, again, he said this is the choice of parents. "There are other things but course work that are important for kids," Ziebarth said...

Ziebarth says students "miss a lot if they're not in school." He added that the district would not discriminate or punish kids, adding that he believes parents are punishing kids "by not allowing them in school." He said parents who don't feel comfortable home-schooling certain subjects should not be able to use public schools for only those subjects while rejecting others. "The Constitution says all kids are afforded the right to a free education and that's how we set up the public school," he said. "If you choose something else, that's your choice. But I have a problem with picking and choosing." [emphasis added]
I hope this idiot is referring to the MN Constitution because it's certainly not in the U.S. Constitution.
THE NEXT VENUS WILLIAMS is a HSer.
Albanese awakes at 5:30 every morning, practices from 7 to 10 a.m. and then again from 3 to 6 p.m. Three times a week, she works on her speed and agility at the Cris Carter FAST program in Boca Raton, a high-tech training facility owned by the former NFL player. Albanese also regularly runs up and down staircases at Florida Atlantic University and a local hotel she would rather not reveal because non-guests probably aren't supposed to be chugging up stairwells without permission.

Sometime in between, she does an average of four to five hours of home schooling a day. She quit regular school after fifth grade.

''My goal is to turn pro as soon as I turn 14, start getting my points by playing in small 10,000s [$10,000 tournaments] and then by 18, be top five in the world,'' Albanese said, matter-of-factly.

10/01/2002

OT BUT GOOD Newsweek has a nice column on political correctness and diversity:
I am a sexist. A racist. A homophobe. A zealot. It’s enough to make me hate myself. And I would if I believed it. But these labels do not really describe me—they are names I’ve been called because I’m religious and conservative...

I quickly realized that “celebrate” and “embrace” were code words for “endorse” and “agree.” On my way to lunch, I’d occasionally stop outside the cafeteria to talk to the students who were signing kids up for campus activities. When the activity was something I had ideological differences with, like a pro-choice rally, and I expressed my point of view, the conversation would come to an abrupt end. Once, the angry young woman manning the table said it was people like me who were responsible for the Crusades and the Inquisition...

So what’s my point? It’s that when we demean those who have dissenting opinions by calling them names, we discourage intelligent debate—and original thinking. Sometimes I feel like I’m one of the few who don’t simply regurgitate politically correct drivel.

So I encourage you to do what in this political climate seems truly liberal: think for yourself. Don’t believe what you hear about my “kind of people” or any kind of people. Listen to what the individual has to say. Hasn’t that been the goal all along?

READ THE CONSTITUTION PocketDeclaration.org is encouraging Americans to read the entire Constitution. This is a smart organization; look who they believe will be ordering copies in groups of 100 or more.
BRAINS WIN The Leatherman tool incident has been settled with the kid essentially being exonerated. A parents group is going to review the whole "Zero Tolerance" policy.