8/31/2002

IF YOU ONLY KNEW THE POWER OF THE DARK SIDE Well, I'm crossing over to the other side. One night a week, I will be teaching Chem 101 at a local community college. I'll only be adjunct and, thus, ineligible for the union (NEA, I think). Too bad, I was really looking forward to those meetings at the "local".
HELP WANTED- ONLINE NEWS EDITOR The Guardian (UK) needs some help. Here's the headline and lede from a recent article
Catholic Priests Sue Accusers

Some Roman Catholic priests who say they have been falsely accused of molesting children have turned to civil courts for relief, filing defamation lawsuits against the people claiming to be their victims.
And then, out of left field, we get this:
Life experiences, whether going shopping or travelling, become teaching moments for the youngsters.

As home-schoolers know, ``life is a classroom,'' said Michelle Doyle, chairwoman of the Quinte Christian Homeschoolers Association, which comprises about 30 families.
Threw me for a second.

8/30/2002

REVOKE HIS UNION MEMBERSHIP The title of this article: "How one teacher's experience overcomes lack of certification". Here's a quote that is sure to get him drummed out of the NEA
"People ask me what do you teach, and I say, 'I don't teach social studies. I teach kids,'" Katzen said. When you have a talent for teaching children, wherever they are on the academic scale, the certification is not so important, he said.
What?! Certification not so important? I thought that was ALL that mattered.
EDISON The Phila. Daily News is reporting that all 20 Philly schools that Edison is slated to take over next week have begun shipping supplies back to the warehouse.
Math workbooks, Spanish textbooks, science lab materials, art supplies, and gym equipment were loaded onto two trucks yesterday at one Edison school, the James R. Ludlow elementary school in North Philadelphia, district CEO Paul Vallas said.

"Unless you have some other money to pay for it, we're taking it back," a truck driver told the principal, according to Vallas.

Adam Tucker, a spokesman for Edison, yesterday said the supplies were picked up because his company's $11.8 million contract is not enough to pay for them...

[School District CEO] Vallas said the district will stock the school by Thursday with any supplies needed but missing.

The cost for the replaced supplies will be subtracted from Edison's contract, he said.
< SARCASM>A SCIENTIFIC POLL < /SARCASM> Should parents who home-school their children be required to have a teaching certificate? (re-blogged from Isabel Lyman)
VOLOKH ON HOMESCHOOLING Eugene Volokh has responded to the critics of his earlier HS comments. I am still opposed to mandatory testing for HSers. Aside from the fundamental rights question on which Prof. Volokh and I disagree, there are at least three practical considerations that make this proposal illogical and unworkable.

1) Why single out HSers for testing? Private schooled students are not required to pass any particular test and the imposition of testing requirements on religious schools raises all sorts of 1st Amendment questions.

2) Prof. Volokh lightly dismisses the scope & sequence question:
How, some people ask, can you decide exactly what the tests should say? Wouldn't any potential design be in some measure arbitrary? Sure. But there are all sorts of tough judgment calls that have to be made where laws relating to treatment of children are involved. How much physical discipline is too much? When does a diet become neglect? When are parents at fault for failing to provide proper medical treatment to their kids, and when is their action a reasonable decision? Tough questions, and often call for some pretty arbitrary line-drawing -- and, what's more, for line-drawing that is a lot vaguer than a test, and that may yield to much greater penalties for the parents (criminal charges as opposed to just an insistence that the parents send the child to an accredited school). Some such judgment calls are inevitable whenever the community chooses to in some measure limit parents' otherwise absolute power over their children, as I think it in some measure must. (Of course, one important proviso is that the mandated standards be relatively low floors, with lots of flexibility given to parents in most cases -- I surely don't think the test passage thresholds should be tremendously demanding.)
It's not quite that simple. Let's take U.S. history as an example. This year's National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) 4th grade U.S. history section included questions from the colonial period up to the "I Have a Dream" speech. Public school teachers (and text book publishers) know this, of course, and include the material in their books and lessons. We HSers may do things a bit differently. [WARNING: Personal anedote ahead.] My wife and I have chosen to go into significantly more detail with our (then) 4th-grader. It will take us three years to get through the same material. If my son had been mandated to take a test at the end of last year, he wouldn't have performed particularly well on that part. So, what is a HSing family to do? Continue to teach their kids the way they think is best and face retribution from the state or change their scope & sequence to match the test. Either way, HSers would lose their freedom.

3) These tests are a burden and a tax imposed on parents. Test preparation takes time and money. Most if not all states requiring testing do not pay for the tests but make the parents pay. HSers pay property taxes and other taxes that go to support the public schools. We then choose not to use them, thus saving other taxpayers money. We gladly pay for all of our educational materials without support from the state. Enough is enough; don't tax us to test us!

As Prof. Volokh points out, HSers who CHOOSE to be tested do extremely well (as a group). The experiment is over; HSing works. Mandated testing serves no useful purpose and unnecessarily burdens law-abiding Americans.

UPDATE: Skip Oliva again took Prof. Volokh apart piece by piece. (And yes, cynical reader, Skip kindly linked back to us here but that had NOTHING to do with my update. Honest!).

8/29/2002

SAT SCORES BY STATE And in case you're wondering, the low percentages recorded by the western states can be attributed to the fact that many of their colleges and universities require the ACT.
GAY STUDENT SETTLES LAWSUIT This story could fall into the WWHS category; if a youngster doesn't fit into the public school norm, he or she is liable to be harassed by fellow students or even administrators.
Henkle's story suggested that his school was anything but a safe haven. He said a group of kids once had tried to lasso him and drag him behind a truck. When he sat, quivering and afraid, in a classroom and called for help, it took almost an hour for the administration to respond.

Henkle said he had been transferred to three schools and been told by one principal that he "wouldn't have him (Henkle) acting like a fag in his school. " Henkle said the harassment was so pervasive that other kids would intimidate students who wouldn't taunt him.
MAYBE IT REALLY DOES TAKE A VILLAGE Here's a nice column on how real parents behave.
Mama and her friends and neighbors noticed everything. The night I nearly kissed the boy next door, her voice found me in a corner of the front porch and called me inside. Later, she banished another would-be boyfriend for failing to remove his hat in the house. Her eyes saw everything, and she could smell trouble while it was still struggling to take shape and claim a name.

She wasn't alone, of course. The neighborhood was full of watchers.

I grew up surrounded by men and women who told stories, spanked their kids and sat on front porches, rocking and looking. They were ready to step into the center of any situation and become the parents of any child they saw.

8/28/2002

WORRISOME STATISTICS
The annual unveiling of national SAT test results, presented yesterday by the College Board, shows that New Jersey students generally do better than Pennsylvanians on math - if they come from families making more than $40,000 a year. Pennsylvanians do better on the verbal portion of the college placement test - unless they come from families making more than $100,000 a year.
How does the College Board (or the states) have access to family income? This kind of stuff always bothers me; I refused to fill out the long portion of the census in 2000. The Census Bureau finally sent someone to my house to ask how many bathrooms we have. I didn't tell her either.
IS "AGEISM" ACTIONABLE? This article about a (former) high school principal suing for being demoted has the headline "Teacher charges ageism". I'm not sure but I don't think "ageism" is the same as "age discrimination".

8/27/2002

NICE WORK Skip Oliva has a column up at the Center for the Advancement of Capitalism in which he lays out the argument against compulsory attendance. I hope Eugene Volokh sees this; I'd like to see his response.
VERY SAD STORY Isabel Lyman just blogged a story about a HS mom who shot and killed her two youngest kids (no permalink- look for "I hate to even post this but..."). The story mentions that the parents had been arguing over whether to send the kids to public school with the mother in favor. It sounds to me that she may have known she was slipping over the edge and was trying to get the kids out of harm's way.
DELAWARE SPECIFIC ITEM Just a reminder that the DHEA is holding its meeting tomorrow, 6:30 pm at the Dover library. Elections are on the agenda.
OT BIRD HUMOR
Researchers conducting the most elaborate wild goose chase in history are digesting the news that a bird they have tracked for over 4,500 miles is about to be cooked.

Kerry, an Irish light-bellied Brent goose, was one of six birds tagged in Northern Ireland in May by researchers monitoring the species' remarkable migration.

Last week, however, he was found dead in an Inuit hunter's freezer in Canada, still wearing his £3,000 satelite tracking device.

8/26/2002

INSTAPUNDIT BEATS UP ON DELAWARE and deservedly so. Wilmington police are stopping people, lining them up against the wall, frisking them, and taking their photos for future reference.
NEVER ENDING STORY In today's edition of WWHS, the pressures facing kids to look the part in order to fit in at the public schools.
Everything seems to matter.

The 50-cent folder with Barney the purple dinosaur is totally unacceptable.

The 50-cent folder with Lizzie McGuire, a Disney heroine, must be possessed.

While such distinctions mystify and irritate parents, back-to-school shopping is a crucial time for students, experts say. Decisions made now will help influence how they are judged by their peers - and how they view themselves.

"At least after age 7, the most important people in their lives are their peers. They dare not go back to face those peers without the trappings that are necessary for success. The clothing is extremely important, but the backpack and pencils are too," said researcher James U. McNeal, who spent the last 40 years studying the consumer lives of children...

By the time they reach first grade, McNeal found that children were not only identifying themselves with certain brands, but were making judgments of other people based on the brands they wear or consume.

"We even discovered that a drink cup is considered an extension of their persona," McNeal said. "They would prefer it say 'Big Gulp' rather than '7-Eleven.'"
I don't want my children taking any cues from their peers. If they want to, my kids could "do school" in their pajamas.

8/25/2002

HOMESCHOOLING GETTING CHEAPER in comparison to the alternatives. When exactly did public schools start charging fees?
At Bancroft Elementary in Walnut Creek, Kapur spent $50 on a parent donation and $10 for extra supplies. She expects to spend another $40 on such classroom necessities as napkins and tissue paper.

At Foothill Middle, registration included a minimum PTA donation of $60, a $30 wood shop fee, $35 P.E. uniform fee, $10 identification card fee, $20 English supply fee and $25 science lab fee.


8/24/2002

FINALLY GETTING CAUGHT UP Eugene Volokh blogged the CA HSing issue the other day. He comes down on the side of the HSers but misses the mark with his comments about requiring "certain output[s]" such as "good results on periodic tests."
Failing to make sure that one's kids are adequately educated seems to me to be a form of child abuse, and I think the government is morally entitled to protect kids against this, though there are obvious pragmatic and public choice risks even with such requirements.
I have a couple of problems with this.

First, why should HSers be subject to proving that the kids are getting a good education when we have given the public schools a pass for at least the last 50 years? Would this apply to each and every HSer? Would ALL of our kids have to score at or above grade level or face some kind of retribution from the state? On whose curriculum would these tests be based? HSers usually don't follow the same scope & sequence as the public schools; would a low score on a test even be meaningful?

On a more fundamental basis, though, I disagree with Prof. Volokh's assertion that the state is "morally entitled" to be involved in our children's education. I believe that the state has an interest in assuring that the populace is literate enough to vote. Beyond that, the state's interest is subordinate to those of the parents:
The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments in this Union repose excludes any general power of the state to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only. (Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 1925)
If the state cannot standardize its children's education, it certainly cannot demand a certain performance on standardized tests based on that education.

UPDATE: Skip Oliva picked up on Volokh blog, too. He just did it a bit more, er, enthusiastically than I.

UPDATE II: It's apparently unanimous. Chris O'Donnell went after Prof. Volokh here.
WWHS No commentary necessary here.
The Ohio Department of Education has recommended that the state license of a longtime teacher be revoked.

James Rokosky of Louisville was accused of inappropriate behavior with three female students...

In 1980, Alliance administrators asked him to quit after he admitted writing what they characterized as a ``love letter'' to a seventh-grader...

Rokosky left in 1982 after he refused to stop dating a 17-year-old East Canton High student. They subsequently married...

Lisa Brendel told Jackson Township police then that Rokosky forced her to have sex with him when she was a fifth-grader at Heritage Christian School in Canton in 1978...
HOW DID I GUESS? I knew this article HAD to feature HSers.
On the robotics circuit
Exhibition: Youths participating in a national engineering competition present a demonstration at the Maryland State Fair.
BULLYING IN THE (CANADIAN) PUBLIC SCHOOLS Unfortunately, it was the teachers making fun of a man with Parkinson's.
The British Columbia's teachers' union has apologized to Eric Rice, a government-appointed arbitrator who was teased by teachers during a demonstration over his shaky hands. The man suffers from Parkinson's disease.
The union is now in full damage-control mode. How stupid can you be? The man is an ARBITRATOR. I wonder if they'll get a sympathetic ruling.

8/23/2002

I CAN SEE! I CAN SEE! My 40 year old eyes were starting to protest the default font-size so I boosted it by 2 px. Hope y'all approve.
CHECK 'EM OUT Several new links to the left <-------------.
CREATIONISM VS. EVOLUTION The Cobb County (GA) School District Board of Education has voted to teach creationism on an equal footing with evolution.
HOMEBOUND GOOD, HOMESCHOOL BAD The key to this article is in the 2nd 'graph.
Selleck is a credentialed [emphasis added]teacher who works for the Home and Health Services office of the Oakland Unified School District. She's been teaching students in their homes or hospital beds since 1998.
Other than that, this could almost be written about any HSing parent.
Crystalyn Walker, a junior this year at Castlemont High School, worked with Selleck for about six months last year. Crystalyn said she enjoyed home study. "It was better than going to school," she said. "I learned more."...

Selleck's approach involves getting to know her students, including their interests, so she can tailor the curriculum to each one. It also means understanding each student's illness and potential limitations...

Selleck works with students for about six to nine hours a week and assigns a lot of homework. "Some can work more independently than others," she said, but all the youngsters she teaches are expected to be students when they're at home.
But, then again, we're not credentialed.



A MUST READ Here's a primer on how kids are brainwashed at school. Ignore it at your own peril.

8/22/2002

AND THEY SAY WE'RE UNQUALIFIED TO TEACH One in four PS teachers are teaching in a field in which they have had little or no training.
"It's clear that administrators have yet to get the message that they have to stop assigning teachers out of field," said Craig Jerald of the Education Trust, the Washington-based nonprofit that released the report Wednesday...

The group looked at whether classes in four core subjects -- English, math, science and social studies -- were assigned to a teacher who lacked a college major or minor in that field or a related field.

Nationally, about 24 percent of classes met those criteria; 12 states had more than 30 percent taught by teachers from outside the field. In four states -- Delaware [emphasis added], Louisiana, New Mexico and Tennessee -- the average exceeded one-third. Michigan's rate was about 20 percent.


NICE The San Antonio News-Express had a nice little article on HSing.
OFFICE SOFTWARE CHEAP, CHEAPER, & CHEAPEST Microsoft is offering their Office XP suite at a discount for students and educators. The discounted price is ~$129 compared to $450 list. For an even better deal, try Sun's competing StarOffice for only $30. And finally, for the ultimate in cheap software, download Sun's open source OpenOffice for free. I've used all three packages in one version or another; all are capable and similar.

8/21/2002

HOMESCHOOLING IS ILLEGAL in CA according to the state DOE.
There have been several cases this year of state officials pursuing truancy cases against parents for home-schooling, although the Home School Association of California points out that the cases all have been settled in favor of the parents.

We're not talking about school officials going after parents who refuse to educate their children, but of officials targeting well-educated students because home-schooling is perceived as a threat to the monopoly school system. It's a frighteningly totalitarian approach by a large and powerful bureaucracy.

8/20/2002

GOOD NEWS FOR VOUCHER SUPPORTERS although you'd never know it from this headline: Study: Most Americans oppose vouchers Although technically accurate, the headline definitely spins the results to the left. The lede has
Most Americans oppose the use of public funds to help parents send their children to private or church-sponsored schools, according to a study released Tuesday.
A couple of paragraphs in, though, we learn that
46 percent support the voucher program, up from 34 percent a year ago. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.

In a move that could drastically reshape education in the United States, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in June that using public funds to send children to religious schools did not violate the constitutional separation of church and state.

The poll was conducted before the Supreme Court announced its ruling.
So, a bare majority was opposed to vouchers before the Supreme Court ruled. I'd bet dollars to donuts that those numbers have already reversed. I'd even give odds that next year's results don't have a nice bold headline: Study: Most Americans in favor of vouchers.
BURN THOSE BOOKS or at least close the libraries. There is a petition drive in Stevens County (WA) to close down all of the public libraries. Apparently some large landowners don't read:
"With all the property I own, I'm probably paying up to $500 in taxes for the library, and that's just $500 wasted on something we don't need," said one supporter of the measure, Dave Sitler, a real estate agent.

Sitler, a member of the American Heritage Party, which calls for an end to all property taxes and for a government based on biblical tenets, also said that the head librarian's annual salary of $51,000 is too high.

"The salaries they pay those librarians, with health benefits and all that, it adds up," Sitler said.

The Stevens County library system operates on a budget of a little more than $1 million a year, with a full-time staff of 10. It makes do in metal- roofed sheds, converted cabins and abandoned buildings. County records show that to help keep the county's nine book outlets running, the average household here pays about $38 a year in property taxes, the equivalent of a month's basic cable television bill.
This guy is a real estate agent. Do you think property values might be negatively affected by closing the libraries? And here's a REAL HSer (grin):
But without the library system, some county residents said, they would have almost no link to the rest of the world.

"I home-school my kids, and our four library cards are maxed out at 40 books at all times," said Linda Arrell, who lives off the electric power grid with her family north of Kettle Falls. "They say everybody is on the Internet, so we don't need a library. Well, some of us don't have credit cards and some of us don't have power."
IT'S OUR FAULT Kentucky private school enrollments are up and the edu-crats are worried. There are some interesting HS quotes in here:
Madison County Superintendent Mike Caudill says he doesn't think the rise in private-school enrollment is about dissatisfaction with public schools, but about faith-based education.

"Parents who have the means are having a bigger hand in the moral piece of their children's education," he said.

But he is worried about the rise in home schools. The school system and courts have been more aggressive about truancy, he said, leading more parents to pull their children from school and say they are home-schooling.

"I have tremendous respect for the good home schools, but there are plenty of parents who do it because they don't want to deal with the school system," Caudill said.

In at least the past four legislative sessions, lawmakers have tried to pass rules that would govern home schools. But they've lost to a large and vociferous home-school lobby.

"I think you're seeing a whole new generation of people who chose private and home schools well before their children were of school age," said Martin Cothran, a home-school advocate with the conservative Family Foundation. "People don't perceive the public schools are focusing on academics the way they ought to, and there's the religious aspect."

Both reasons influenced Debra Gibson, a Scott County mother who home-schools her three children with the help of a local home-schooling group in Georgetown.

"My kids have the opportunity to do more things than we even have time for," she said.

Scott County has seen an increase in public-school students since the arrival of the Toyota plant. But more of them have chosen private schools since the 1990 Kentucky Education Reform Act went into effect, said Danny Glass, pupil personnel director.

"That's when we really saw the advent of home schools," he said. "I think parents are onto them because they didn't like KERA or because of religious convictions."

Richard Hardin, assistant superintendent of Jessamine County, thinks that the rise in census numbers is more directly connected to home schools than to their private counterparts.

"The growth is not alarming to us at the moment, but I do think that basically totally unregulated home schools are a potential problem," he said. "What we hope is that parents are going the extra mile to give their kids the best education they can."
This argument is getting SO OLD. We heard some of this in DE last year. Truants supposedly were claiming to be HSers to get out of trouble with the law and, therefore, we needed more regulation of HSing. It turns out that there were only a handful (single digits). Please just LEAVE US ALONE!!!
WWHS In today's edition of "Why We Homeschool"- some states are having major problems with high-stakes testing.
In July, Nevada officials reported that 736 sophomores and juniors had mistakenly been told they had failed the math portion of a test; when tests were rechecked, it turned out the students had passed.

In New Mexico, 70 percent of superintendents recently reported testing errors of various kinds, according to FairTest, a group in Cambridge, Mass., that objects to high-stakes testing.

In Georgia, Harcourt Educational Measurement could not deliver accurate results from last spring's Stanford 9 tests in time for this school year, throwing off students' assignments to gifted and remedial classes. The company called in several experts to help solve the problems with the tests, which were developed specifically for Georgia's third-, fifth-, and eighth-graders. School officials are considering fining the testing company.
One of the few things I like about the NCLB Act is that it exempts all HSers from these accountability tests.

8/19/2002

SEPTEMBER 11TH NEVER HAPPENED or, at least according to the NEA, we can't blame any group.
Suggested lesson plans compiled by the NEA recommend that teachers "address the issue of blame factually," noting: "Blaming is especially difficult in terrorist situations because someone is at fault. In this country, we still believe that all people are innocent until solid, reliable evidence from our legal authorities proves otherwise."
And since all of the alleged hijackers are dead and will never stand trial, noone did it.
SCHOOL IN UTERO OK, a bit hyperbolic but this school district is aiming for universal pre-school for 3 and 4 year olds. An interesting quote:
The New Haven preschool program comes at a time when ``universal preschool'' and ``school readiness'' are hot terms bandied about in the public and political arena. Study after study has shown that children who attend high-quality preschool programs are more likely to be ready for kindergarten, to read on time, to avoid special education, to finish high school and to stay out of trouble with the law.
More likely to be ready compared to whom? Kids in crummy pre-school programs? Well, that makes sense. Kids in homes where a parent is there and takes an active role in making sure the child is loved and cared for? Show me the data. Kids in HSing families? Sure!

8/18/2002

DAMNED IF HE DOES... Warning! Way OT! Warblog! The Wilmington News-Journal today picked up a Cal Thomas column in which he basically paints Pres. Bush into a corner, whereby Bush cannot go to war with Iraq without every newspaper in America screaming "Wag the Dog".
I asked Paul Weyrich about Republican prospects in the coming election. Weyrich, president of the Free Congress Foundation, has one of the best political minds in Washington. He was an architect of the 1980 Republican blowout that put Ronald Reagan in the White House and Republicans in control of the Senate.

Weyrich believes Republicans are doomed if they don't motivate their base, and that they could easily lose their House majority and fail to win back the Senate...

[H]ow does the GOP make political gains this fall? Weyrich says that in such a case, only a war of liberation in Iraq can reverse Republican fortunes.

"An 'October surprise' will completely change the dynamic of the election," he says. "The public will rally around the president and Republicans if it is well thought out and, in fact, Saddam Hussein is ousted. We can't have a situation like we do with Osama bin Laden where he hasn't been located and victory in Afghanistan is not clear."

Weyrich is right...

Now there's a good reason to go to war. I imagine every Democratic strategist is holding onto this column to point to in the event that there is an attack on Saddam.
MOTHER SHOULD I BUILD THE WALL The website's only so-so but I couldn't resist the name. Ten bonus points if you get it.

8/17/2002

MEA CUPLA, MEA CULPA, MEA MAXIMA CULPA Yesterday I inferred that Skip Oliva was a lawyer. I was wrong. Skip emailed (posted with permission)
Many thanks for the return link. Just to clarify, however, I am *not* an attorney...

I am the director of federal affairs at the Center for the Advancement of Capitalism, an Objectivist public policy group in Washington. We, uh, advance capitalism. Education is an issue we haven't done quite enough with, but we're planning to remedy that in the next few months.
MORE CYBER CHARTER I think the Kaseman's may have written the definitive article on why HSers are so wary about virtual charter schools.
Of course, homeschoolers have worked long and hard for many years to protect the right of parents to choose for their children an education consistent with their principles and beliefs. We understand that in the best of all worlds, parents who are willing to accept all the restrictions and drawbacks of a cyber charter school should have the right to enroll their children in one. There may be times when a cyber charter school, despite all its disadvantages, may be better than the local public school. So in the best of all worlds, cyber charter schools would co-exist harmoniously with homeschools. Students in cyber charter schools would not be called homeschoolers. The general public would understand that cyber charter schools are regulated in many ways that homeschools are not. Parents could choose among educational options that include homeschools and cyber charter schools.

Unfortunately, we do not live in the best of all worlds. Given the advantages cyber charter schools gain by recruiting homeschoolers and their aggressive marketing strategy, they are likely to call their students homeschoolers. Even if they didn't, much of the general public would still lump homeschoolers and cyber charter school students together and call them all homeschoolers. Only people who knew a lot about the subject would grasp the important distinction between the two. In addition, there are parents who want to homeschool or think it would be best for their children, but they think they don't have enough money or confidence or education or whatever. These people may decide they can manage a cyber charter school program, and they will want to call themselves homeschoolers.

So we have to either oppose cyber charter schools marketed to homeschoolers or sacrifice homeschooling (an approach to education that clearly works very well for many different families) to cyber charter schooling (an approach that is unproved, relies heavily on children's use of computers, and brings strong government regulation into the homes of families). Do we want to risk homeschooling as we know it today for the sake of a few families that might benefit from cyber charter schools?
OT AND WAY TOO FUNNY TO IGNORE CNN has a couple of headlines that make the President and Republicans look a bit hypocritical. Bush calls for deficit reduction and Bush backers get White House sleepovers
HOW MANY? This can't be correct. According to the San Antonio Express-News 420,000 people holding TX teaching certificates aren't teaching in the TX public schools. According to the Census Bureau TX's population in 2001 was 21,325,018. After accounting for those under 18, this means that nearly 3% of TX's adult population is a (former) teacher MIA. Or looking at it another way, if TX has an average student/teacher ratio of 20, approximately 2/3 of those holding certificates have gone AWOL.
SO MUCH FOR FREE ENTERPRISE The Contra Costa Times reports on a program in which the school district will provide after school care. This is apparently a result of the NCLBA. A telling quote:
Sophia Corsetti was thrilled to sign up her 7-year-old daughter for a grant-funded after-school program, believing it would save her nearly $3,000 a year in child care costs while she and her husband are at work.
So, now the school district (with the help of federal tax dollars) will unfairly compete with the private sector to provide after school care. When exactly did THIS become a function of government? I think here's another situation where we (as a nation) would be better served by some form of voucher system (if we need to subsidize after-school care at all, that is).
BUH-BYE Why do they call it "homeschool?" is a new journal-type HS blog. Good luck and welcome to the blogosphere. Oh yeah, kiss your life good-bye.

8/16/2002

AND BACK AT YA The Intellectual Passivist blogged the same CDC story but he does a better job. Skip Oliva is apparently a DC blogger-lawyer (yes, another one) who has an interest in education issues. He's got some interesting stuff- check him out. The link's over there. <-------------------
SOMEONE PLEASE FIX THIS Another charter has essentially shut down with no warning.
UPHILL BOTH WAYS The CDC says that more kids should walk to school for the exercise. We're doing our part- my kids walk down the stairs to the dining room table every day!
PAGING KIM SWYGERT Here's a headline only an edu-crat could love: Lowell officials say school's improving, though test scores are not
A BAG OF FLAMING POOP Joanne Jacobs re-blogs a really biting Transterrestrial Musings satire about a student who is claiming to be disadvantaged by not being disadvantaged. I think this true story may have been the inspiration.
Normally, a student with a 4.5 GPA and high test scores would get into Berkeley and UCLA but I didn't," said high school student Kyle Taylor.

Taylor might have had a better chance of being accepted at both schools if he’d suffered a gunshot wound, gone to a bad high school or was the son of divorced parents. That’s because a new University of California admissions policy called "comprehensive review" gives preference to students who have overcome personal hardships.

"I've never gone through anything really difficult, but, I mean, I don't see why that should affect how I get into college," Taylor said...

UC officials say the policy levels the playing field, but critics call it a transparent attempt to get around California’s ban on affirmative action in college admissions. But the courts may get the last word, as some students who were denied admission are considering lawsuits.


UPDATE: Highered Intelligence has a really good blog on this same topic.
$300??? I'm not often in favor of higher taxes but I think a hike may be in order in this Las Vegas school district.
While there is an understanding and acknowledgement that schools are underfunded, classroom teachers have to deal with the current reality. That reality includes some teachers receiving notes from their principals in the last couple of weeks about how much they will be allocated for classroom supplies this year...

One school was providing each teacher $300 for the whole year. What do the teachers get for nothing? Bulletin board trim and butcher paper.

The $300 allocation is supposed to pay for such things as paper, spelling tablets, folders, binders, rubber bands, index cards, chalk, paper clips, crayons, erasers, rulers, yardsticks, stapler, staples, scissors, Scotch tape, glue, white board markers, overhead transparencies, pencils and pens. Imagine $300 to pay for those supplies for 25 to 35 students for a whole school year. Are teachers really supposed to have the kids stop writing or practicing math when their paper supply runs out in December or are they expected to buy it out of their own pocket?

In some ways this means not all kids will be provided for equally. New teachers, especially if they are single, won't be able to afford to buy much for their classrooms on their $27,000 salary...

8/15/2002

A SLIPPERY SLOPE? Bill Bennett's K12 organization feels that HSing groups are opposed to public cyber charters.
Opposition to K12 is being mounted, predictably by the National Education Association, but also by an unlikely source, home school advocates...

Although the curriculum is home-based, K12's founder and CEO Ron Packard told CNSNews.com that its mandated rigorous curriculum, enforced accountability through state tests, and access to state-certified teachers makes it "dramatically different" than the home school approach...

Tom Washburne is an attorney at the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), as well as director of the National Center for Home Education, the HSLDA's federal policy and lobbying arm. Washburne said the HSLDA is reluctant to mix home schooling with public education.

"We've made great grounds in the last couple of decades on home school freedom and we don't want to see us taking a step back," Washburne told CNSNews.com...

Packard said he was "shocked" by the opposition being mounted by home school advocates. "It's really amazing to me that a group that has fought so hard for [its] right to home school would oppose someone else's parents who are fighting for their right to be doing at home a great public school education," Packard told CNSNews.com.

"The same level of intolerance that you saw in the education establishment toward home schooling, I think home schooling [groups] are showing toward us," he added.


I believe that this is going to be a major issue over the next several years. Choice is good; more choice is better. I don't think that HSers are opposed to cyber charters. I think they are concerned that there is confusion that these students are HSers. The slippery slope comes when the public and legislators start to confuse "homeschooling" as it has been traditionally defined with cyber charters. Cyber charter students are still public schoolers with the same curriculum and accountability issues. HSers have opted out of that system. Confusing cyber charter students with homeschoolers just complicates things and may give the state legislatures (with prompting by the NEA) the excuse needed to take away HSing freedoms. And if you don't think that this is on the agenda, check out this quote from the same article.
The National Education Association (NEA), which opposes home schooling in general and supports charter schools "with certain provisions," calls Bennett's K12 taxpayer "facilitated home schooling."
It's not HSing. Please don't call it HSing. Call it what it is- Cyber charter schooling.
FOR SALE Highered Intelligence is disgusted that a public school has sold the naming rights to its football field. The new name will be Rust-Oleum Field. I don't really have a problem with this. The article seems to describe a situation that has existed for a LONG time. My HS (way back in the late 70's) had a scoreboard that was donated by the local Pepsi bottler. Of course, there was a big ad and the concession stands sold Pepsi.
The donation by Rust-Oleum Corp., a Vernon Hills paint manufacturer, helped pay for the field's scoreboard, refreshment stand, lights and other amenities. Under the 20-year agreement, the company's name will be displayed on a plaque on a pillar near the entrance to the stadium and in the press room.

The deal, which also requires the company to provide paint to maintain the field's outdoor equipment, was viewed as a goodwill gesture, not as a marketing tool, officials say.

The donation "wasn't so much for the naming of the field," said Gene Childers, facilities manager for Rust-Oleum. "It's our way of giving back to the community."
This actually seems to me more benign than the scoreboard. I'd have much more of a problem if they were selling the naming rights to the school. Maybe I'm splitting hairs but what do you expect at 5:55 a.m.?

8/14/2002

HOMESCHOOLER DEPICTED AS "SAD" Re-posted from NHEN-Legislative:


I have heard from a number of you concerning the mural in the stairway leading down to the children's room in the New Cumberland (PA) Library. The mural, for those of you who haven't seen it, includes many little children involved in various activities like reading, skating boarding, etc. Every child, on their shirt, is labeled with the name of a New Cumberland area public school. These children are all happy. One somewhat sad child is labeled with the private school St. Theresa's. The HOMESCHOOLED child (the words are painted on his shirt) is sitting on a bench, a bench which has been recently painted. This child is not happy at all! There is a sign which clearly states "Wet Paint" on the bench. The complaints I have heard are that this part of the mural implies that homeschoolers are dumb and can't read. Or maybe implies that we aren't teaching them properly? (Maybe this mural was painted by a local public school art teacher?) If you see the mural, agree that it is degrading to homeschoolers, and feel led to talk to the children's librarian about it, please do so kindly and without anger. The librarian, Mrs. Franz, told me she has heard from some disgruntled homeschoolers, some of whom weren't very polite. Most of us have asked for the boys t-shirt to besimply painted over eliminating the words "homeschooled". It has also been wondered if a petition signed by local homeschool kids would persuade the library to change the mural, repaint the boys shirt. If anyone wants to write and distribute a petition, let me know. I guess this is just one of those "one step back" instances...it does seem that homeschooling in general is gaining in popularity and respect.

So, two steps forward we go!
But, since we're ALL HSers, who cares?

UPDATE: If you care to register a comment, the phone number is 717-774-7820.

8/13/2002

CHARTER CLOSES DOORS I'm definitely pro-charter schools but this seems to be a growing problem that has to be addressed:
Leighton and other parents who had enrolled their children in the charter school said they weren't notified that the school was closing.

"I feel totally betrayed," said Anna Maguire, who had paid a $165 deposit to enroll her son in the preschool program. "I was in just last week and was reassured everything was fine."

Owner George Guariglio said closing the school was a last-minute decision and parents were notified by phone over the weekend.

Guariglio said he ran out of money and had sought to sell the school but the deal fell through. He will try to find another building to house the prekindergarten through third-grade students.

This is the second school owned by Guariglio to close in less than two weeks. Guariglio closed the doors of Evergreen Charter School in Ahwatukee on Aug. 2.

Problems at Evergreen came to a head this summer when it became known the teachers were not getting paid and checks were bouncing. Similar situations occurred at Palisades, parents said.
COMPETITIVE PARKING? No, this doesn't have anything to do with the kind of "parking" that you remember from your high-school days. We're talking here about students parking their cars at school. Apparently a 3-judge panel in NJ feels this is a competitive sport.
New Jersey appeals court ruled yesterday that a Hunterdon County high school can randomly conduct drug tests on students who participate in teams and clubs or who park their cars in the school parking lot.

The issue of testing students for drug use has been hotly debated around the country since 1995, when the United States Supreme Court upheld the testing of student athletes.

In June, the court expanded the earlier ruling and upheld the widespread use of random drug testing of public school students. The 5-to-4 decision upheld a program in a rural Oklahoma district that required students engaged in "competitive" extracurricular activities — including the future homemakers' club, the cheerleading squad and the choir — to submit to random drug testing.
EDISON UPDATE A couple of really negative stories today about Edison Schools. A Nevada school district is withholding payment until Edison comes up with some $7.7M in promised donations and Phila. Mayor John Street predicted that Edison will be out of business in about a year.
WHAT IS HOMESCHOOLING? I'm not sure I could come up with an all-inclusive definition but, as Potter Stewart claimed about obscenity, "I know it when I see it." I also know what isn't HSing. Unfortunately, I can't say the same about Paula Spencer who, in the 9/1/2002 edition of "Woman's Day" (don't get snarky), penned an article entitled "We're All Homeschoolers" (not available online).
Like every parent I know, I worry about whether my children are getting a good education...

Still, the second guessing haunts us. Are we doing enough?

For a surprising number of families I know, homeschooling is the answer...Lots of kids thrive in home schools. For a host of reasons, though, that's not for me. (To name three: I already have a job, I lack the right temperament, and I like having my kids exposed to a bigger world and other ideas. Not least, I'd go insane being around all four kids 24/7.)

I'm reassured by a cheering thought told to me back when my oldest started kindergarten: We're all homeschoolers. This insight came from a good friend...who's also a teacher, as her second career. Half of education, this wise friend pointed out, is what happens at home.


The executive summary: This mother of 4 kids feels guilty because she's not sure that her kids are in the "snazziest schools in the country". She believes that HSing is probably better but for her 3 excuses plus her one BIG reason, she chooses not to HS. To assuage her guilt, she and her PS-teacher friend attempt to co-opt the language: "I'm a HSer, too."

What a load of crap!
Today appears to be the day for updates. Here's more stuff about peanuts. The school district rescinded the "No More PB&J Rule".
Last week, Constance Carter, first-year principal of Nickajack Elementary School in Smyrna, announced that peanuts -- from nuts themselves to peanut butter sandwiches and even candy bars -- would be banned to prevent health problems.

Tony Arasi, an assistant superintendent of the Cobb County district, quickly countermanded her edict, but said all schools would create peanut-free zones in lunchrooms when necessary.

"We are not considering banning peanuts in schools," he said. "But the incident [involving Nickajack] leads us to believe we just need to clarify the protocol with principals and food service managers on how we would handle students with allergies, say, somebody allergic to peanuts."
Good news. New York State is cracking down on teachers who were essentially forcing their students to take Ritalin.
state education czar Richard Mills said he will instruct public-school districts not to strong-arm parents into medicating their kids with Ritalin and other psychiatric drugs.

His decision came hours after a top state lawmaker urged him to straighten out the mess - and threatened to create a law to cure it.

It also followed a statement from Gov. Pataki's office that said state regulations prohibit educators from diagnosing kids and pushing drugs.

"The State Education Department [SED] has a policy that prohibits the practice, and that should be enforced - no ifs, ands or buts," said Pataki spokesman Joe Conway.


8/12/2002

Every once in a while I like to check the hit logs. It's probably a bit of an ego thing but if someone links over here I like to return the favor. But sometimes, I just don't get it. The log traces back to a blog that makes no sense. No education stuff, no homeschooling stuff, sometimes not even in English. I think I may have finally solved the mystery - a random blog generator.
Homeschool=Time according to the Atlanta Journal -Constitution
For the dream of being a professional tennis player, a girl needs time and money.

So Glenn and Sandy Mueller of Roswell have allowed their 14-year-old daughter, Ally, to home school so she can hit tennis balls six or seven hours a day. That solved time.

A day in the life of Ally Mueller:
6:30 a.m.: Wake up
6:35 a.m.: Breakfast
7 a.m.: To work with dad
7:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m.: Schoolwork
11:30 a.m.-11:45 a.m.: Lunch
11:45 a.m.: To tennis with mom
Noon-3 p.m.: Tennis drills
3 p.m.-4:30 p.m.: Flex time*
4:30 p.m.-7 p.m.: More drills
7 p.m.: Home with mom
7:30 p.m.: Dinner
8 p.m.-10 p.m.: Relax
10 p.m.: Lights out

More on vouchers. The Washington Times gives a hint on how voucher opponents tactics will likely change:
Indeed, the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State — the group that successfully challenged the Florida program — said he believes "it's still a very fertile ground for anti-voucher activists."

The strategy of Mr. Lynn's group is to go after existing voucher programs for violating state laws.

"With voucher funds private schools in Ohio have to obey civil rights and health and safety regulations," Mr. Lynn said. "If they don't, I suspect they'll be sued."

In the handful of states with voucher programs in place, he said, his group will "continue to look for unfair treatment of students, unfair treatment of employees, and we would be happy to help anyone who is a victim."

I believe there may be no group more opposed to "accountability" than retired public school teachers. As evidence, check out this screed.
The No Child Left Behind Act scam has finally reached the great State of Wisconsin. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has been gleefully waiting for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction to release the Wisconsin “list of schools facing an escalating list of sanctions if they don’t show better results”. This is how a list of 84 schools, “in need of improvement” statewide was described in a typical infamous top of the front page August 8th Journal Sentinel article with the Bold headline, “38% of MPS schools face sanctions”, that subtly bashes the integrity of the exemplary [emphasis added] Milwaukee Public Schools...

Mathematics proficiency standardized testing is the most stupid feature of testing 3rd to 8th grade students nationwide. There is absolutely no rationale for establishing absolute high standards in math for students at any grade level. It is child abuse to label children who are arbitrarily labled deficient in math skills at any grade level. It is destructive of children at any age level and does nothing but increase dropouts and decrease graduation rates...

What is the rationale for higher-level math requirements for all? What is the rationale for high stakes testing for promotion or graduation and elimination of social promotion? When is the unintelligent testing and math mania going to end? When are political, educational and business leaders at the national and state level going to be held accountable for their educational polices?
Now, I am no fan of the NCLB Act. I think it is badly flawed. Allowing each state to define "failing school" just opens the entire process to political games. That said, this former teacher would do away with all accountability (at least for mathematics). We've been there, done that. It doesn't work.

8/09/2002

Sometimes Google News (beta) throws me a curve ball. Here's an exact copy of a hit for "education":

Pam & Tommy Lee Take Sacramento - National Review Online - 9 hours ago
... has her sights on leaving a lasting imprint on California public education. This
year alone, in addition to collective bargaining, she's sought to revamp ...

Sounds like one of those typical celebrity "casues", right. Nope, the article is really about CA Gov. Gray Davis and the CTA.
If one were to set Sacramento's inner workings to film, Gray Davis and the California Teachers Association would be the Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee of California politics. They've coupled (CTA donated about $1.3 million to Davis's first gubernatorial race, plus worked the phone banks to get out the vote); they've bickered on collective bargaining and other educational policies; their quarrel has mushroomed to a public spectacle played out before the cameras.
And the woman who "has her sights on leaving a lasting imprint"?
Elected to the state assembly two years ago, Goldberg is one of four lesbian lawmakers who make up the so-called "lavender caucus". Goldberg is loud, brash — and not shy about advancing her left-of-Left agenda be it for the benefit of the downtrodden, the transgendered, or the union-labeled. The Los Angeles Daily News has depicted her in cartoons as a grotesquely overweight Jabba the Hutt-like figure. The alternative New Times LA calls her "the Duchess of Dumb," "a complete creep," and, in the same Star Wars vein, "a human Jabba the Hutt who consumes the good while producing the bad".

Having graduated to Sacramento, the assemblywoman has her sights on leaving a lasting imprint on California public education. This year alone, in addition to collective bargaining, she's sought to revamp standardized testing and failed in her bid to rid all California public schools of Indian mascot names. Small wonder that CTA's Johnson has hailed Goldberg as "a brilliant person who could not be more aligned with teachers and the public schools."

8/08/2002

Say it ain't so! This school has banned peanut butter from the campus.
The classic childhood lunch, a PB&J on white bread, will be confiscated on sight this year at one of Cobb County's elementary schools.

So will peanut butter crackers and cookies, peanut butter cups and anything else containing Georgia's top-selling homegrown snack.

The ban on all things goober is no joke. Several children entering Smyrna's Nickajack Elementary School this year have allergies so severe they are life-threatening, said new Principal Constance Carter. Some people are so allergic that even breathing peanut dust can trigger a reaction.
I can understand not allowing the school to serve any peanut-derived product, but confiscating lunches seems way over the top. I doubt peanut butter sandwiches spread too much "peanut dust" around.
On vacation (again!). This time down in SC to celebrate my in-law's 50th anniversary. I have my laptop (no disk crash yet) so I may be able to post but it'll likely be light until Sunday.
The NY Post (I know, I know) has a series of articles on the use of Ritalin in the public schools.
http://www.nypost.com/news/regionalnews/54243.htm
http://www.nypost.com/news/regionalnews/54218.htm
http://www.nypost.com/news/regionalnews/54229.htm
Here's an update to the drug-sniffing dog search of kindergartners. It may not have happened.
Ken Cotton, the lawyer for the school board, gave a starkly different description of the searches, which he said took place on April 24 and May 6 at the Wagner district's K-12 school.

"When the searches were occurring—and I hesitate to call them searches—it was more like dogs passing through classrooms," Mr. Cotton said. And the K-2 pupils and their classrooms were not even searched, and neither dog escaped its leash or chased any children, he maintained.

According to Mr. Cotton, police brought the specially trained dogs to the school because of two complaints by parents that their children had seen students in possession of marijuana on the school playground, and because a survey of students had found that they perceived the school had a drug problem.
Tom Washburne (of the HSLDA) has posted a response to Rob Reich, Department of Political Science, Stanford University. Some background: Reich's paper, Testing the Boundaries of Parental Authority Over Education: The Case of Homeschooling, set off a firestorm in the HS community. Reich posits a separate (from the parents and the state) interest of the child in his/her education. This interest is centered on developing "autonomy".
I understand autonomy to mean something close to the etymological meaning of the word: self-governance. Minimally autonomous persons possess the capacity to develop and pursue their own interests and are able, if they so choose, to participate ably as equal citizens in democratic deliberation about the exercise of political power (pg. 21).
I doubt too many HSers would want less for their kids. The problem arises, though, because Prof. Reich does not believe HSers are willing to expose their children to a variety of people and ideas.
I submit that even in a minimal construal of autonomy, it must be the function of the school setting to expose children to and engage children with values and beliefs other than those of their parents.54 To achieve minimal autonomy requires that a child know that there are ways of life other than that into which he or she has been born. Minimal autonomy requires, especially for its civic importance, that a child be able to examine his or her own political values and beliefs, and those of others, with a critical eye. It requires that the child be able to think independently. If this is all true, then at a bare minimum, the structure of schooling cannot simply replicate in every particularity the values and beliefs of a child’s
home (pg. 30).
In other words, this is the "S-word" issue all dressed up in academic language! Washburne does a good job picking apart the rest of Reich's argument. I have one quibble, though. Washburne wonders why Reich spends so much energy "helping" the small HS community when there are much bigger fish to fry. Mr. Washburne then answers his own question:
The real root of the problem home education presents to Reich is that home educators have
removed themselves from America’s educational system and its underlying values. Their children are beyond the reach of the elite and the predominate worldview of relativism or secular humanism. As home schooling continues to grow and prosper, this will become increasingly troublesome to the educational establishment. But more than being beyond the intellectual elite, the children of home educators are largely beyond the reach of the state.
Based on many emails that Prof. Reich has posted to NHEN-Legislative, I don't think this is his motivation. Instead, I think this is good old-fashioned opportunism. Recih has found a small but growing educational niche. It seems to have some political clout. It has only been minimally studied. Eureka! Fodder for lots and lots of papers. Reich is an academic, through and through. All of this is merely a theoretical exercise. Regardless, though, Washburne's final comment is one to keep in mind:
What Reich is doing, intentional or not, is setting an academic framework by which an activist judge might rule in favor of heavy restrictions on home education, while at the same time avoiding the obvious assault on precedent and the Constitution.

8/06/2002

Other papers are beginning to pick up the PA HS-law story.
Other home-schooling parents say the paperwork, like the education objectives, gives them a structure to follow to ensure their children get the education they need.
"The current law simply provides a framework of accountability that helps us educate our children," said Susan Richman, a mother from Pittsburgh and a board member of the Pennsylvania Homeschoolers Accreditation Agency, the largest of the state's seven home-school associations.
"It's all about how parents pick their attitude," Mrs. Richman said. "You can do it in a minimal way, and in the end you can find it really worthwhile and meaningful."
What The WashTimes misses is that Mrs. Rcihman is not exactly an unbiased observer; PA HSers Accreditation Agency is the Richman's for-profit business which stands to lose big if PA passes the proposed law.
And the next "Toni Braxton" (who?) is also a HSer.
Kiah and her dad moved to New York so she could do the show [the "Lion King"]; while here, her father will home-school her. The young actress is in a six-month contract, which may be renewed, providing "Disney likes her," says her dad, and she doesn't grow too much (actors playing the young Nala cannot be taller than 58 inches; Kiah is 52 1/2 ).

8/05/2002

Highered Intelligence blogged a quote from Chris Klicka that helped me make up my mind not to re-up with HSLDA.
"Initially, nobody was certain that homeschooling really works – thus the need for heavier regulation, or in some cases, complete prohibition," said Christopher Klicka, senior counsel for the Home School Legal Defense Association in Purcellville, Va.
The "need"? No way! There was never a "need". A desire by the NEA and their legislative supporters perhaps. I hope Chris was mis-quoted. If not, this is worrisome. If the senior counsel for a HS lobbying group believes that HSing is a privilege earned by being good boys and girls and "proving" that HSing works, then we are in trouble. Hey, Chris, HSing is not an earned privilege; it is a right! Go back and re-read Pierce v. Society of Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary.
The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments in this Union repose excludes any general power of the state to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only. The child is not the mere creature of the state; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.
The (supposedly) vacationing Isabel Lyman pointed out (via email) that the next Britney Spears (ugh!) was homeschooled.
''I auditioned for 'The Mickey Mouse Club' when I was 11,'' Latona recalls. ''I lost out to Christina Aguilera.'' That was back in Pittsburgh. Latona's parents -- her dad is a retired truck driver, her mother currently works the graveyard shift as head of security at Planet Hollywood in Orlando -- eventually decided to home-school their two kids and moved the family to Florida so that Amanda and her older brother could pursue entertainment careers.
The implementation of the NCLB Act is being slowed by the states and the federal government. The schools claim they don't yet know how to implement the "choice" provisions for kids in failing schools. This may be true but I have a feeling there are ulterior motives for slowing things down:
Officials at several metro-area school systems are actually urging parents not to request transfers.

Judy Robinson, a Coweta County Schools assistant superintendent over curriculum and instruction, said moving a child to a new school may not be the best decision for some children.

"I'd recommend parents leave their children where they are, at least in our system," Robinson said. "I never say to parents one school is better than another.

"The disruption it causes in a child's education for them to move from one school to another for whatever reason is not worth whatever benefits" that would come from going to a higher-performing school, Robinson said. Parents should "just work with the school to make sure their child gets a quality education."
Welcome to Coweta County, GA, where all of the schools are above average.

8/04/2002

I'm sure there's a lesson here. I just don't know what it is. GIs' kids, often uprooted, thrive at on-base schools
With small, personalized classes and a record of high academic achievement -- students consistently score above the national average on standardized tests -- the schools are so popular that there are long waiting lists to live in military quarters.

A Vanderbilt University study last fall concluded that if all Department of Defense schools were lumped together as a state, the system would rank first or second nationally. As in many large urban districts, 40 percent of the students are minorities, and half are poor enough to qualify for the federal lunch program.

On tests such as the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the students are among the highest scorers. The gap between the scores of blacks and Hispanics and those of whites and Asians is one of the nation's smallest.

Some factors responsible for the success cannot be readily duplicated elsewhere. Every student has at least one parent with a high school degree or more and a job.

But most parents and school officials say the biggest reason is the involvement expected, even demanded, of parents.
Pink!

8/03/2002

Tinkers to Evers to Chance (with a nod to Chris). Lisa Snell adds some info to a Joanne Jacobs blog regarding the recruitment of Ph.D. scientists for an alternative teacher certification process. [editorial comment: The original article refers to "mathematicians and scientists". Mathematics is a science so I did not propogate the error.]
It also follows the popular education trend of placing unnecessary burdens on what would otherwise be innovative education programs. Using math PhDs to teach high school math is an obvious innovation--sticking potential teachers with yearlong training requirements is not.
This has always struck me as one of the grand mysteries of life. I have taught chemistry in college. Why is it assumed that I would need two years additional training to teach the same subject to 10th graders?
If you can't pass, CHEAT! Redux. Here's an update to the story about the school administrator who cheated her school's way to a "exemplary" rating.
Jean Bailey was hired in June as a language arts teacher, said Doug Reed, Danbury superintendent. Reed said he and the Danbury Middle School principal interviewed Bailey. Reed said he also contacted Bailey's references from Brazosport, where she was a teacher before joining the Fort Bend system. Reed is also a former Brazosport administrator.

"We did hire Jean Bailey. Her resume and background are excellent," Reed said. "I think she's going to be a good addition to our staff.

"Everything I heard led me to believe she has done nothing illegal," said Reed.
What about setting a terrible example for her future students? I hope she doesn't give tests in her laguage arts classes as I'm sure cheating would be rampant.
Just say no! Apparently anit-drug programs in schools are ineffective.
In a study published today in Health Education Research, researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill say many schools are using popular programs such as DARE, Here’s Looking at You 2000 and McGruff’s Drug Prevention and Child Protection, which haven’t shown the results schools should expect, despite years of use.

8/02/2002

The Boston Globe today had a good Op-Ed today on The big lie: 'No child left behind' They report on multiple school districts throwing up road blocks preventing students in failing schools from transferring. It's probably not entirely the SD's fault, as there are literally hundreds of thousands of eligible students and not nearly that many empty slots in better schools.
With all the restrictions Duncan has put in place, there will be only 2,900 transfer slots. Chicago will keep between 97 and 98 percent of its 125,000 students in their traps in failing schools. Duncan said he will spend $35 million of federal money on the failing schools. But the odious whiff of enforced segregation in his plan makes you wonder if the dreamy rhetoric of ''neighborhood schools'' is just another South African pass law.

''We fully support the spirit of the law, but there is a practical reality to deal with,'' Duncan said. ''If every student in every school exercised choice, there would be a great deal of chaos in the system. We simply don't have enough space for the students.''

8/01/2002

This is a hoot (OK, so I'm a bit of a hick). Yesterday I re-blogged a bit out of Samizdata, writing it sounded like Joanne Jacobs. Well, it turns out it kind of was. Follow the link to Joanne's blog for the rest of the story.
The left coast is at it again. California’s Attack On Home Schooling
Historically in California, the only requirement for parents to home school their children has been that they fill out a so-called private-school affidavit that designates the parents’ home school as an individual private school. Now, however, the California Department of Education (CDE) has become more aggressive in its long-held opinion that home schooling is illegal unless either of two stringent conditions are met: 1) children are enrolled in a public school independent study program or charter school; or 2) the parent possesses a teaching credential and is tutoring his or her child. Since most home-school parents can’t meet these conditions, the CDE charges they are operating unlawfully. Mike Smith, who heads the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), observes that the CDE “is saying that the only home schooling allowed in California is one that is under its control.”
Former DE Governor Pete DuPont (didn't he start out as "Pierre"?) has a nice summary of a voucher decision by the much-maligned Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Washington State had withdrawn a grant because the student had decided to major in pastoral ministry. The court held this to be unconstitutional.
A Washington statute prohibits the awarding of aid to any "student who is pursuing a degree in theology," and the state constitution says that public money shall not be "applied to any religious worship, exercise or instruction."

But on July 18 the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held that the Evergreen State's policy denying the use of state education scholarships to individuals studying to be pastors was unconstitutional: "A state law may not offer a benefit to all . . . but exclude some on the basis of religion."