DEAR TERRY DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe sent me a copy of the Democratic Presidential Strategy Poll. Much obliged. Here's my favorite question:
What is your opinion about a woman's right to a safe and legal abortion?

I support a woman's right to choose.

I oppose a woman's right to choose and believe we need additional restrictions to limit abortions.
Unfortunately, Terry was too cheap to include a SASE so he'll never get to see my responses.

BTW Terry- I'm not a Democrat.
JUST FOR DADS NHEN has posted a page of articles for Dads by Dads. Some really good stuff.
CAPITALISM, FREUD, AND HOMESCHOOLING You probably never thought you'd see those three topics linked in a single article. I'm still not sure I get the connection but read this- maybe you can figure it out.
BEST-OF-SHOW? A homeschooler won "Best-of-Show" at the MT Junior Duck Stamp competition. Strange phraseology. Roths will go on to compete in the Nationals.
NO FUN 'TALL An OK reporter writes of his three-day "assignment" as a volunteer substitute in several government schools. Not a pretty scene.

BTW, the newspaper has the most obnoxious registration process I've ever seen. Fortunately, you can enter all fake data and they'll never know.


VERY NICE Here's a profile of two families with adult homeschoolers. Overall, a very positive article. As usual, the writer feels it necessary to quote a local edu-crat:
[State Education Commissioner] Driscoll said it is possible for a student to get the same quality of education from homeschooling as from a public school.

‘‘It is possible, but it takes a pretty special group of parents. And they are out there,'' he said. ‘‘It is an enormous burden to take on, as opposed to a system that has licensed people and all the services. But it is absolutely possible.
Yeah, it's possible- if we dumb down our curriculum by about four years. But, who'd do that?
DIY EDUCATION The Jacksonville Times-Union editorializes today in favor of increased school choice options. They push homeschooling as one of the options but warn that educrats may try to crack down on it.
It would not be surprising if the education establishment tried to ban homeschooling or otherwise prevent parents from having that choice. The tactic would be to complain about "accountability," which union bosses fight when it is proposed for public schools, but insist upon when parents exercise choice.

Meanwhile, there are 4 million children in public schools that are not meeting state standards, according to the Fordham Foundation.

The education monopoly is cracking, if not crumbling. Efforts to improve the public schools are making headway, but children who are slipping behind cannot wait and hope the efforts will succeed. Parents should have the option to bail out and ensure their child is educated -- even if it has to be a do-it-yourself project.
RIGHT IDEA, WRONG VENUE Chris O'Donnell blogged a story about sweet tea in GA. A legislator was aghast that he couldn't order sweet tea while traveling in Chicago. In order to make sure that this horror did not occur in GA, he is introducing legislation that would mandate than any establishment which served unsweetened tea would also have to offer sweet tea. There's only one problem here: GA restauranteurs would never fail to have sweet tea on the menu. The evil-doers who need to be coerced to do the right thing are the Damn Yankees Northerners. We need a Federal law. Sweet tea in DE- Woohoo!
A BRIEF HISTORY LESSON US military and civilian leaders are complaining that Iraq isn't fighting "fair". We've been studying the (US) Revolutionary War here. The British made the same complaint against the colonists. And, BTW, a suicide attack against a purely military target is not terrorism. Has the military forgotten the kamikaze pilots, too?


WHO THE HECK IS HE? Here's a pretty benign article on how homeschooling has "grown up." What caught my eye was this:
According to home schooling authority, Mitchell Stevens...
Never heard of him. He also doesn't appear to "get" homeschooling, either.
Mr. Stevens, a sociology professor at New York's Hamilton College, says the primary appeal of home schooling is its flexibility. "One of the biggest advantages of home schooling is that it enables parents to tailor an education program around a student's particular talents," he says. "So if a child is an extraordinary musician or has a big passion for a particular scientific or mathematical endeavor, you can create an academic program that really enables that child to nurture those particular talents. It grants families a degree of flexibility over their instruction that makes the pursuit of an extraordinarily high level of accomplishment a real possibility."
Yes, but that's such a tiny slice of homeschooling's benefits.

UPDATE: I love Google. I found this about Mr. Stevens. He's an academic who interviewed 100 homeschoolers and wrote a book about it. As far as I can tell from his CV, that is his sole qualification for the "homeschooling authority" label.
ANTI-CIVIL RIGHTS? Evidently I'm opposed to civil rights.
They are coming by bus, car, plane and trainfrom Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids and Lansing, from California, Texas, Virginia and dozens of other states.

...All support the University of Michigan's affirmative action admission policies and all are bound for Washington, D.C., on Monday to join what some are saying could be the biggest civil rights rally since the 1960s.
Somehow I doubt that Martin Luther King dreamed about affirmative action.
SMALLER IS BETTER Evidence continues to mount that students at small schools (particularly high schools) outperform students at larger schools.
Although in the short run there may be dollar savings resulting from consolidation, in the long run noteworthy and long-standing cost savings result when schools are smaller, including higher achievement, less violence, fewer discipline problems, and higher attendance and graduation rates. After examining both curriculum quality and cost-effectiveness, researcher Kathleen Cotton stated, “The perceived limitations in the program that small high schools can deliver and their presumed high cost regularly have been cited as justifications for our steady march toward giantism. The research convincingly stamps both of these views as misconceptions.” Smaller schools produce positive results. America should take notice of the impact smaller schools are making.
Of course, they don't get any smaller than homeschools.
EQUAL TIME Former Milwaukee teacher Daniel Pryzbyla attempts to counter the publicity that the pro-voucher Milwaukee School Board candidates have generated. It's pretty weak but worth a read to learn how the other side "thinks."
COOL! Vermont's governor has appointed a homeschooling parent to sit on the state Board of Ed.
The 10-member board oversees the Department of Education, teacher licensing and the standards of student performance. It also approves homeschooling curricula and independent schools.
Maybe in her new-found position, she can do something about that last bit.
A BILL DELAYED IS JUST FINE Arkansan legislators have decided to "delay" the bill that would have given the DOE the right to "undertake measures to ensure that home school students receive a quality education." In this case, "delay" means it's dead until at least 2005.
DIVERSITY OVERRATED? The NYT has published an interesting Op/Ed by Stanley Rothman, an academic who used anonymous surveys to study the perceived effects of "diversity" at colleges and universities.


BEE "S" A homeschooler won the RI spelling bee. Nice enough but the article then goes into homeschooling in general and includes the obligatory "S"-word comment from a local educrat:
Pawtucket currently has 30 children being home-schooled out of a total public school enrollment of about 10,000, according to School Supt. Hans W. Dellith.

Dellith said he has some reservations concerning home-schooling.

"The downside I see is the lack of socialization, the lack of interaction, the lack of other points of view which a student would get on the same subjects in a group setting," he said.


OLDEST HOMESCHOOLER? 76-year-old George White has graduated from the St. James Academy Home Schooling High School. Way to go!
DUMBED DOWN? EdNews.org has begun a multi-part mock trial of the Texas accountability tests, TAKS. it promises to be entertaining. A tidbit:
This State document proves that an average of 86% of Texas students got the first 29, or easiest, questions right. That prompted us to take a look at the next six easiest questions on the test that the plaintiffs refer to as “buffer zone” questions. A student who gave the right answer to 36 questions would have achieved the math performance standard that the TEA uses to define its first level of college readiness.
So, nearly all of the 10th graders got the first 29 questions correct and 36 correct signified that they were at the "first level of college readiness." This is a multiple choice test with four possible answers. Random guesses should generate the 7 additional correct answers. Maybe the TX miracle is true and every 10th grader in TX is ready for college. But, what are they asking on those 29 "easy" questions? Here's one:
At a candy store, chocolate costs $0.35 per ounce. Hector bought 8.25 ounces, Jeanette bought 8.7 ounces, James bought 8.05 ounces and Shanika bought 8.42 ounces. Which list shows these weights in order from least to greatest?

A. 8.05 oz 8.25 oz 8.42 oz 8.7 oz.
B. 8.42 oz 8.05 oz 8.25 oz 8.7 oz
C 8.05 oz 8.7 oz 8.25 oz 8.42 oz
D. 8.7 oz 8.05 oz 8.25 oz 8.42 oz
10th grade level work? Admittedly, EdNews.org may have picked the absolutely easiest question as a straw man. I have no way of proving that they didn't. But, it makes you wonder if this test is legit or is designed to merely make the teacher's union (which wrote the test) look good.


DUMB BILL Republicans in OR have introduced a bill which basically classifies any form of protest against the war as "terrorism." Upon conviction, a life sentence will be imposed with no parole for 25 years.
SECTION 1. { + (1) A person commits the crime of terrorism if the person knowingly plans, participates in or carries out any act that is intended, by at least one of its participants, to disrupt:
(a) The free and orderly assembly of the inhabitants of the State of Oregon;
(b) Commerce or the transportation systems of the State of Oregon; or
(c) The educational or governmental institutions of the State of Oregon or its inhabitants.
(2) A person commits the crime of terrorism if the person conspires to do any of the activities described in subsection (1) of this section.
So, all those kids who walked out of class a week ago would have been guilty of terrorism. Let's just go a little overboard, huh? This is great example of how Libertarians and Republicans don't see eye-to-eye. Fortunately, this bill has absolutely 0% chance of getting past OR's Democratic governor.
GOOD NEWS! A new law in VA allows homeschooling parents to teach their kids the behind-the-wheel portion of Driver's Ed. Why is this not a bigger issue in the homeschooling community? If we can teach calculus, surely we can teach how to drive! Besides, who is going to be more concerned that the kids learn to drive safely- the "professionals" or the parents?

UPDATE: Here's the actual text of the bill.
HOMESCHOOL TAX Just kidding but I have no doubt homeschoolers will be hit by Contra Costa County's increase in overdue fines at the public libraries.
CRY "CENSORSHIP!" A pro-Israeli group has been buying ads in college student newspapers that depict Palestinians in a less than flattering light. Students have protested the ads and some papers have refused to run them.
"Calling for the censorship of advertisements is a flagrant violation of the freedoms of our great nation, and is further indication of the vile hatred of America that exists within the Palestinian community," Dorfman said.
I don't think this qualifies as censorship, which is a government act. The newspaper, for all intents and purposes, is an independent "business" which can certainly choose to run or not run advertisements depending on their readership's interests.
READY OR NOT According to MD teachers, only 52% of 5-year-olds are fully ready for the kindergarten "experience."
The report shows children in private nursery schools are best prepared for kindergarten, followed by those who attend formal pre-kindergarten programs, child care centers and Head Start, the federal government's preschool program for children in poverty.
Anyone else notice a missing category? Where are the kids who stayed home with a parent?


BOOK REVIEW The CSMonitor has a review of Morning by Morning: How We Home-Schooled Our African-American Sons to the Ivy League. They like the book.
UPDATE The NYT has some more info on the kid whose school outed him to his parents.
As Thomas McLaughlin tells it, the trouble began when his eighth-grade science teacher overheard him refusing to deny to another boy that he was gay. It got worse that afternoon, when his guidance counselor called his mother at work to tell her he was homosexual.

"The assistant principal called me out of seventh period, asked if my parents knew I was gay, and when I said no, she said I had till 3:40 to tell them or the school would," said Thomas, a 14-year old student at Jacksonville Junior High School in Arkansas.
The ACLU is pursuing this.

HYPERBOLIC A RI school district has come up with a "magnet" school proposal that they think could "transform education."
There wouldn't be a new building or a full week of classes. Instead, principals from Seekonk, Somerset-Berkley, Swansea, and Dighton-Rehoboth would each pick five sophomores to attend nine-week sessions at each of the participating schools every other Friday. Each school would focus on a different discipline. For the rest of the week, students would go to regular classes at their own schools.
Let's see- they'll be attending one day every other week for nine weeks. In other words, the whole program will last five days. That's not even a good start on a unit study.
PROM SEASON The CSMonitor has a nice article about a prom in Orlando. Unfortunately, they blow an important statistic:
There are approximately 2 million home schoolers in the United States, a figure that has increased 15 percent in the last 20 years, according to the National Home Education Research Institute in Salem, Ore.
I think they meant it has been growing at an average of 15% per year over the last 20 years. The article then veers into a discussion of the upcoming WB program, "The O'Keefes."
EXPENSIVE UNIFORMS, CHEAP SELF-ESTEEM Skip Oliva pointed me to an article in the WashTimes extolling the virtues of school uniforms. The $75 uniforms are, apparently, the greatest things since sliced bread: test scores are up; fights and weapons violations are down. The uniforms even help to boost self-esteem.
"When they go on field trips, [strangers] compliment the children on their appearance and behavior. That leads to an increased self-esteem," she says.
Behavior, yes. Uniforms? You can't buy self-esteem- not even for $75.


AN UGLY BILL Arkansas homeschoolers are fighting against a proposed modification to their current law.
(c) The State Board of Education may undertake measures to ensure that home school students receive a quality education.
That is one dangerous sentence. It would basically give the educrats carte blanche to regulate homeschooling.
HSLDA EDITORIAL Tom Washburne has a nice column up on "Homeschool Snow Days." The nut 'graf:
One of the reasons why homeschooling has really been successful in America is that homeschooled children are turning out to be quality young people. People often ask homeschoolers what it is that we do that results in such good kids. One big truth often overlooked is that we are not sending our kids mixed signals. We don't tell them that education is important, but then show them by our actions that it is more important for everybody to be at the same level than to allow them to excel. We don't close the school because a small percentage could not make it. We don't bog the kids down with wasted time, waiting for everybody in the class to be done before they move on. We also don't leave them behind. If one of my kids doesn't understand something, we don't move on until they do. What would be the point? In short, we are looking for and producing quality education.
Well worth a click.
A GOOD IDEA Maybe I have safety on the brain right now, but this product sounds like an excellent investment.
In the event of a home emergency, natural disaster, storm, power loss, fire or home intrusion children are taught to grab Herbie Hydrant from their bedside table to help find their way to safety. Once lifted from the battery-charging base, Herbie Hydrant's flashlight shines, an alarm bellows and strobe lights flash. The flashlight can help children find their way to safety and the alarm and strobes can aid rescuers in locating a child who may be trapped. Additionally, a digital timer starts once the unit has been lifted from the base. This timer can be used to practice home escape routes and provides critical timing information for emergency professionals. There is even a storage compartment where pertinent personal/medical about the child can be kept for quick reference by rescuers.
SEATTLE BEE Another homeschooler will be making the trip to Washington, D.C. for the Nationals.


NOT A MICROBE Blogstreet.com (whoever they are) has ranked H&OES in its Top 10,000 blogs list. Woohoo! Take that N. Z. Bear. Insignificant Microbe, indeed!
BULLSEYE Milwaukee has been one of the few truly innovative schools sytems. They've had a fairly large voucher program for 12 years. Not surprisingly, the teachers' union is not happy. They've targeted for election defeat one of the most vocal proponents of vouchers, school board member John Gardner. The union is prepared to spend more than $2M to defeat Mr. Gardner and seize control of the board. There's also this issue which might influence the union.
Mr. Gardner and four other Milwaukee school board members up for re-election next month comprise a pro-reform group, with a one-vote majority. They support school choice and want changes in a lucrative fringe benefits contract for 6,400 public school teachers. The contract has a current unfunded liability of $136 million a year.
If they can "invest" $2M and get a return of $136M per year, I'd say they have plenty of motivation to pull out all the stops in targeting Mr. Gardner. I wish him luck. (Thanks to Skip Oliva for the story.)
DELAWARE ITEM The News-Journal carried today a column entitled "A Sneak Assault on System." The author believes the war on Iraq is being used to hide a concerted effort by conservatives to starve the government by running a big deficit.
Hardly any attention is given to the possibility that falling government revenue, however much it derives from market imponderables, is convenient and useful to political forces that want nothing more than an impoverished and vastly reduced governmental structure at all levels.
I'm no fan of deficit spending but starving a bloated government would be the silver lining. Here's the best quote from the column.
Radical voices on the right have boasted that the federal government will be reduced by half within 25 years. That means many programs of social value will be eliminated, initiatives will be unborn, and the complex web of the American collective will unravel.
Interesting word choice- "collective." I thought the Soviet Union collapsed a while ago. I didn't realize that we had moved it over here. My bad. The rest of the column is no better.
SCIENCE OLYMPIAD It's that time of the year again. Here's a nice article about a regional competition in Akron. Homeschool groups are welcome to participate. I'm a judge for the Water Bottle Rocket event here in DE. The kids who do well have learned a lot of science and engineering and all concerned have a blast (sorry for the bad pun).
WWHS Schools continue to report sexual abuse of students by their teachers. Here's a quick summary of recent events in the Phoenix area:
• A 24-year-old teacher at Marcos de Niza High in Tempe was arrested Tuesday after rumors of a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student were reported to police.

• A 26-year-old Higley High teacher is awaiting the results of a paternity test after he was rumored to have fathered the child of a 16-year-old former student.

• A 27-year-old Gilbert Highland Junior High teacher was dismissed in February for having a romantic relationship with a 12-year-old student.

• A 27-year-old teacher from Cherokee Elementary in Scottsdale was indicted in January on 30 felony counts including child molestation. The principal resigned after a school district investigation found that he failed to discipline the teacher.

• On Friday, David Edgar Welsh of Scottsdale, a former Mesa teacher, and Ronald Henry Harris of Chandler, a former Glendale teacher, were given 19-year prison sentences for sex crimes against children.
Why are there ANY children still in these schools? What are the parents thinking?


BEACH UPDATE A perfect day. Temperatures in the mid-60's. Bright sunshine. And a bunch of people working on the beach. There were about 100 people at Bethany- about 5x last year's turnout. We got close to a mile of beach planted. Some photos of our crew.


TO THE BEACH No, we're not going on vacation (though I could certainly use one after the HazMat/WMD class). We're going to the annual Beach Grass Planting at the DE shore tomorrow morning. Volunteers from across the state will be planting grass to help hold the dunes in place. We're going to Bethany but DNREC has operations up and down the shore. It's supposed to be nice weather; come on out and plant some grass.
WRITE YOUR CONGRESSPERSON Mike Castle (R- DE) has introduced legislation that will update and reauthorize the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). IDEA currently provides funds to both public and private schools to assist kids who are struggling with disabilities. The funds are typically used for things like speech therapy. When originally written, it appeared that Congress meant for all kids to be eligible. But the legislative language refers to public and private schools. In many states, homeschoolers are "officially" neither. Homeschoolers are, therefore, ineligible in many states. The reauthorization is the time to fix this discrimination.

This is one of those "rock and a hard place" issues for me. I don't like the idea of government being involved in the funding of homeschooling. OTOH, the discrimination really rankles me.
ANOTHER HOMESCHOOL U According to Agape Press, Belhaven College in Jackson, Mississippi actively recruits homeschoolers. A large chunk of the faculty and the college president are homeschooling parents.
Belhaven president Dr. Roger Parrott, himself a home-schooling parent, says he understands the significance of home school education and that it is a great foundation for college-level work. He says the school offers special scholarships for home-schooled students.

"We find that [home-schooled students] come with high ACT [scores] and, because they are home-schooled, we add some [financial] incentive to that ... to help them," Parrott says. "We also know that ... if they come, they're going to persist and graduate because parents are going to be involved in their education. Part of the challenge of all of education is lack of parental involvement -- and we don't want that to end just when they come to college."
One to keep in mind.


I HATE BLOGSPOT The stupid software ate my last three posts. I'm too tired to recreate them. And they all were Pulitzer-worthy efforts, too. :-)
TELLING SPAM I received a spam from a company looking to market to homeschoolers. It contains an excellent anecdote evidencing how forcing homerschoolers to take standardized tests infringes on our parental rights.
Spring is in the air -- that is if you think of spring as continuous rainfall, with intermittent breaks of heavy mist. Oh well, this is just one of the many reasons we love Washington State. The other is their tolerant acceptance of home educators. While our 3 oldest have been out landscaping, gardening and training the horses in this gloriously damp weather, the 2 youngest have been housebound taking their annual standardized tests, which are mandatory according to the State of Washington.
So, instead of educating their kids in the manner they feel best, they have to keep them chained to the kitchen table "prepping" for the state-mandated test.
THANKS, I GUESS A (presumed) homeschooling parent wrote the editor in response to the Rob Reich nonsense from the other day. This is a thoroughly counter-productive letter, in my opinion. His main point seems to be that Florida homeschoolers are already "accountable" because they are tested each year. By government-school teachers, no less.
In all cases, annual evaluations are done by Florida-certified teachers. Results are reported to the School Board, stating whether or not a student performed adequately for his grade level.
This is a good thing? He then basically goes on to invite legislators to mandate that homeschoolers take the state accountability tests.
Florida law sensibly grants the option of using such tests. Until academic standards for the FCAT objectively exceed those of the SAT and ITBS, why would anyone with a legal choice use the still-evolving and grading-problem-plagued FCAT?

...Florida homeschoolers are already thoroughly accountable by law, and whether or not they take the FCAT is a thoroughly bogus issue.
This is really poor. The writer has completely bought into the argument that homeschoolers are accountable to the state. He's just arguing about the details. Pitiful. I hope another homeschooling parent sets the record (and this guy) straight.
TEACHER CERT This is interesting- EdSec Rod Paige has backed a new alternative method for teacher certification.
Mr. Paige yesterday endorsed the new American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE), whose mission is to certify subject experts, experienced professionals and military veterans as public school teachers, even if they don't have degrees in education.
So far, a couple of states have accepted this alternative as equivalent to an education school certification.
I'M TRYING Blogger is still completely wacko. It was down all last night. If it's working when I get home tonight, I'll have some new stuff. For now, here's a couple of stories from yesterday.


THE WORST SENTENCE EVER WRITTEN Joanne Jacobs blogged about the worst book. I think I've found the worst sentence ever written.
The hawks of Bush II are not afraid of disorder in the pursuit of American dominance. They have no interest in any coalition — except their own. They see the international "we" as an impediment to joy — and to destiny. The Bush doctrine is animated by "the big I." That self-regarding doctrine, concocted by Bill Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle back when W. was still merely a presidential gleam in Karl Rove's eye, preaches preventive pre-emptive preternatural pre-eminence.
Prease, er, please!

IT'S CONTAGIOUS Long-time blog-readers know that blogspot has been somewhat unreliable, with very frequent outages. Well, now that blogger.com has been purchased by Google (and moved to the Google servers), blogspot and Google are both down.
TAILOR MADE According to this CNN story, The College of the Ozarks sounds like a place where many homeschoolers would fit right in.
The 1,500 students at the four-year liberal arts college in southwest Missouri each work 15 hours a week and pay only room and board.

...Davis said the free education is enticing to parents, but so is the school's emphasis on character, Christianity and getting ready for the working world.

"The values here represent the best of what made America great," Davis said. "We are talking about hard work, faith and opportunity."


A HAPPY ENDING This one is just bizarre. The homeschooled siblings were playing in the yard behind their church. A thick pile of snow broke off the roof, completely burying the 5-year-old girl. Her brother was able to direct nearby state troopers to where he thought she was. The police dug her out, no worse for wear.
ANOTHER NEW BOOK HSLDA's Mike Farris has released a new book, The Spiritual Power of a Mother: Encouragement for the Home Schooling Mom.
A WASTE OF SILICON The US has spent billions of dollars to wire the government-school classrooms. Yet, most of the time, these computers sit idle.
In 60 poor, rural South Carolina schools, I recently counted more than 10,000 computers in 2,000 classrooms. Only twice did I see an elementary student in a classroom using a computer. I did see students using them in ''computer labs,'' but almost invariably to learn low-level keyboarding skills. Students seldom used modern, interactive instructional software. I did see teachers get e-mail during their breaks and a library aide watching afternoon soap operas on a big-screen TV.
The author has some recommendations as to how to "encourage" schools to use the technology, including this:
Offer subsidies to home-schooling parents to lease or buy software for their children's instruction.

The loss of revenue may eventually get the attention of the public school managers who now ignore technology.
Gee, thanks a lot. I think I'll pass.
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE This editorial wants educrats to "Use Zero Tolerance With Sense." Not likely. These policies were invented to shield them from criticsm for exercising discretion.


A PRODIGY This homeschooler is tearing up chess tournaments and regularly beats adults. He's 6.
A PSA I received an email today noting that The Cato Institute has just published a book Voucher Wars about the Cleveland voucher case. You can get more info here.
LATE BLOGGING I'll be in training all this week so blogging will have to wait 'til I get home in the evenings. I should have new stuff up by 7.


ANOTHER BEE, ANOTHER WIN A homeschooler won the Western PA spelling bee title and will be making the trip to DC for the Nationals.
BOO! HISS! Rob Reich, a PoliSci professor at Stanford, wants homeschoolers to be tested so that we are "accountable." Every time I read something from this "academic", I want to punch something.
"If we can't even know how many kids are being home-schooled, it's impossible to carry out a study on how they're doing on average," said Stanford University political scientist Rob Reich.

...States could require home-schooled children to take annual standardized tests like the FCAT, an idea Reich supports. If a child repeatedly fails to make academic progress, Reich suggested the state should step in and force children to attend public schools.
Reich has, in other writings (here and here), stated that he recognizes that the government schools have done an awful job of educating kids. Where's their accountability? He claims not to be anti-homeschooling but I have seen nothing to indicate that he is anything other than an enemy of educational freedom. I have no idea how the reporter chose him to interview. He is not an expert on homeschooling.

The rest of the article is relatively benign.
PRO & CON The Detroit News publishes a "debate" on whether MI should raise their compulsory attendance age to 18. No surpise I'm in the "against" camp but I think Mary Pizzimenti misses two important points. 1) How can we justify forcing kids to stay in school until they're 18 when, in this age of high stakes tests, there's no guarantee they'll graduate? 2) Why are kids subject to what amounts to a 11-13 year jail term in the first place?


GO FOR A THREE-PEAT A homeschool team successfully defended its TN mock trial state championship. Last year the same team went on to win the Nationals. Good luck, TN.
GOVERNMENT SCHOOL GRADS? A PA paper ran an online poll asking whether the school district should pay for students who enroll in a statewide cyber charter. 83 percent said "No!" These taxpayers just don't get it, though. Many of the quotes confused cyber charters with private schools or homeschooling. There were also several "socialization" quotes. Here's my favorite:
“I have had three children go through the public school system and would not have it any other way. They became well-rounded individuals and learned the proper social skills to survive in today’s helter skelter society.”
Proper social skills? I had no idea the government-schools were so good and wholesome. I think I'll enroll my kids on Monday.
DOWN IN FLAMES The bill which would have allowed MD homeschoolers to participate in government school sports programs died in committee. I'm sure some Marylanders are disappointed but, in the long run, I think this defeat is good for homeschooling. The fewer ties to the government and its "benefits," the better off we are


TESTING, TESTING, 1, 2, 3Powered by audblogaudblog audio post Pretty cool but I don't think I'm willing to pay $3/month for the privilege.
THE RITALIN SLIPPERY SLOPE? An airline attendant slipped some Xanax into a fussy 18-month-old's apple juice. Where on earth did he get the idea that it was ok to drug a child to get her to settle down and stop squirming in her seat?
RIIIIIIGHT! In another RI school, a 15-year-old boy was arrested for pulling a knife on a girl and threatening to kill her and her brother.
"I think he was kidding, but, of course, that doesn't excuse his behavior," said [Principal] Knowlton. "But I don't get the sense he brought the knife to school with any malicious intent...

"The schools are safe," [Supt.] Scherza said. "... But I think this highlights, ironically, something we've been pushing for a while, which is the importance of getting a policeman in the schools."
I fail to see the irony.
NOT THE FIRST, BUT THE SECOND I don't think I've blogged any Second Amendment stories but this one is related to schools. It is also a good example of political knee-jerkitis. A couple of RI kids brought handguns to school to show-off for their friends. There is no indication they planned to use them as they were unloaded and kept at the school for several weeks. OK, kids do dumb things sometimes. But, they're kids. What excuse do the politicians have for their response?
[C]hange Rhode Island's law on safe storage of guns, making it a felony to allow anyone under 21 access to a gun, loaded or unloaded.

"Let's make it nice and simple," [Police Chief] Silva said. "If you have a weapon in your home, and there is a possibility of someone under 21 encountering that gun, you better secure it."

It would be a felony to basically allow anyone under 21 to touch a gun, even if unloaded and equipped with a trigger lock! This is just plain absurd. I learned to shoot in the Boy Scouts at age 13 and owned a semi-automatic rifle by my 14th birthday. I still have the rifle and will pass it to my oldest son when he is ready. (BTW, I think the rifle is probably officially an illegal assault weapon; it holds 18 .22 LR in the pipe.) I never thought I would be a gun nut, but the anti-gun forces have moved so far to the left, that I'm now right (in more ways than one).
A SHOCKER! Jefferson
Libertarian - You believe that the main use for government is for some people to lord it over others at their expense. You maintain that the government should be as small as possible, and that civil liberties, "victimless crimes", and gun ownership should be basic rights. You probably are OK with capitalism. Your historical role model is Thomas Jefferson.

Which political sterotype are you?
brought to you by Quizilla
Well, I don't believe that a "use for government is for some people to lord it over others at their expense." That is what happens in the current system but I'm pretty sure it wasn't designed that way.
THIS IS SINFUL and I use that word in the biblical sense. ColdFury blogs an horrific example of how kids who are "different" can get tortured in the government schools. This time, the kid is gay and his torturers are the administrators. They "outed" him to his parents, suspended him for talking about being gay, and forced him to read from the Bible as a "punishment." The ACLU is threatening to sue the school. Good! If the school wants to settle, the ACLU should demand that the teachers and administrators involved be fired. (link via Skip Oliva)


TEE HEE Here's a pretty standard story about a local spelling bee. The humor? The typo in the headline.
PLAY BALL! A MD paper has editorialized in favor of allowing homeschoolers to play high-school sports.
As long as homeschooled children meet the same criteria as full-time students in the district school they would otherwise attend, it seems fair to allow them access to extracurricular programs. If there is a minimum academic achievement requirement, that should also apply to homeschoolers.
That academic achievment requirement could be tricky. How do homeschoolers meet a minimum GPA requirement? Not all of us even assign grades.
$8,521 That's the US average expenditure per pupil for the government schools, according to the Census Bureau. (Turn to page 23 for the Table.) The District of Columbia, with arguably the worst schools in the nation, spends the most per pupil, a whopping $15,122.
FAIRLY UNBALANCED Fox News is reporting that some schools are notifying parents that they can opt-out of having their children's personal info sent to military recruiters.
Critics say the schools involved are acting shamefully by dodging the spirit if not the letter of the law. Because America’s armed forces are all volunteer, supporters of the law say the military must have valid contact information for prospective recruits.
Yeah- it's just terrible that these schools are notifying parents of their rights under the law. What is this country coming to? Fox then quotes a right-wing talk-show host (I guess he's an expert?).
Hewitt said such districts should be punished for violating the intent of the law.

"I hope the federal government comes along and does exactly what it said it would do, which is cut off their federal funds," he said.
Ridiculous! It was a bad law to begin with. I applaud the schools' attempts to protect their students' privacy.
NO KNEE-JERK HERE These school administrators got a First Amendment issue right!
Fifteen-year-old Christopher Little learned a lesson on the First Amendment Monday when he went to school wearing an anti-war T-shirt that said, ``Who Would Jesus Bomb?''

The Marshfield High School 10th-grader was questioned by school officials about the shirt, but they ultimately did a little research and decided that he could wear it.

...Schools Superintendent Thomas Kelley cited two court cases in ruling that Little could keep wearing the shirt.

Kelley said, ``We're comfortable with him expressing his free speech. The real question is whether it is disruptive to the educational process. In this case, the boy had worn it half the day and nothing had occurred.''
Good deal.
WHEN IS A VOUCHER NOT A VOUCHER? When it's called a "freedom scholarship" by a politician. A rose by any other name. Regardless, a TX state legislator is proposing a "scholarship" program that would allow students from poor districts to attend any private school. The teachers, of course, have declared war.
"Freedom scholarship or whatever, it's still a voucher," said Larry Shaw, executive director of the United Educators Association. "People are going to pull their kids, put them in private schools that are not qualified to teach them, and then we will get them back three years later."
Good, good. All the assumptions are right out there in the open: Unqualified to teach; back in three years.

I think this is just a feel-good proposal for the politicos, as the requirements placed on any private school accepting vouchers seem a bit off-putting.
In exchange for the money, private schools would be required to administer state assessments and to disregard race, national origin or ethnicity when accepting students. Schools with more applicants than classroom space should select students through random drawings, the bill suggests.
Those state exams will likely be the deal-breaker. They're curriculum based so a private school would either have to adopt the state's curriculum or see its students perform poorly on the test. Either way, not a very attractive offer.


REALLY BAD LUCK (AND BAD POLICE WORK) A homeschooling family of 10 bought a used van in an auction and then took it on a trip. Upon reaching a border crossing, drug-sniffing dogs "hit" on their van. A search found 22 kilograms of hashish hidden inside the upholstery. The family was arrested for narcotics trafficking. BUT- the van had previously been impounded by the police when they found 50 kilograms of hashish hidden in the engine compartment. The police sold the vehicle to the auction house. The father is hoping to be released on bail in three weeks.
CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE Max Burns (R-GA) and John Boehner (R-OH) are seeking co-sponsors for a bill that would prohibit edu-crats from forcing kids to take Ritalin in order to attend the government schools.
THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY The WaPo solicited ideas for improving government schools. They received suggestions from teachers and reformers, among others. Some of the more "interesting" ideas follow. (BTW, I Googled around looking for a .wav of the theme song with no luck. Just hum the "wa-wa-wa" to yourself as you read.)

The Good
Personalize education -- adopt something like the medical model, where we try to tailor a child's education to his or her skills, interests and needs. We need to create new small, innovative schools that focus on helping youngsters become competent, responsible adults who will be lifelong learners...

The Bad
More time to learn. Preschool programs, full-day kindergarten, extended school days, extended school year, and summer programs. Provide kids with the additional time to catch up. In Fairfax's Excel schools, when the school achieves its target, everyone in the school gets a bonus [up to $2,000 just before the holidays in December].
The Ugly
In order to enroll their child in kindergarten, parents should be required to take a semester-long course on parenting a successful student. A second course would be required before the child enters middle school and another as they enter high school. Teachers should get one semester paid leave every five years, during which they would go back to being students and prepare for future teaching experiences.
Two of the above were written by edu-crats. Bet you can't guess which ones. :-)

UPDATE: The more I think about "The Ugly" proposal, the more I like it. At first, I though it was written by a pedantic, arrogant, and completely illogical edu-snob. But, upon reflection, I see it as the work of a brilliantly sly and subtle reformer. How better to destroy the government schools and their ridiculous compulsory attendance laws? Parents can't be "forced" to enroll, attend, or pass these parenting classes. Right? So, the kids of these recalcitrant parents would be free! They couldn't attend school, much less be forced to attend. Private schools and homeschooling would flourish and the monopoly would be broken. How wonderfully cunning! Of course, by writing this here, I may tip off the NEA, thus killing any chance for this to happen. Drat!


BET THEY DON'T Some Bay area parents are mad at the local schools and have threatened to pull their kids out to homeschool them, if they don't get their way. Dollars to donuts they don't homeschool. Anyone with the mentality to use homeschooling as a threat couldn't handle it for a day.
BUSH'S BRAIN REDUCED In searching for some homeschooling articles, I ran across an ad for this, pointing out that Bush's Brain was on sale for $19.57. Or, you can buy a slightly used Brain for $19.09. I guess they really do sell everything at Amazon.com.
JOLLY GOOD SHOW Homeschool grad Eric Jensen has been awarded a scholarship to pursue graduate studies at Cambridge University.
LETTERS Oregon state Senator Starr stirred up a hornet's nest with his remark about pulling kids out of the government schools. Click here for a nice selection of Letters to the Editor- both pro and con.
GOOD NEWS! Three drug companies are developing an experimental compound which dramatically reduces allergic reactions to peanuts. Schools and churches, in particular, really struggle with this deadly allergy. The drug faces an uncertain future and, even if produced, could cost $10,000 per year.


WAY OT & WAY OVERDUE I should have linked to PolStateReport a long time ago. It covers local politics from the ground level. I'm one of the DE contributors. It's now in the blogroll.
"FUNNY" FAMILY The ABC Family channel has been running a reality series called "My Life is a Sitcom." Tonight at 8 p.m. the featured family are homeschoolers. If anyone gets this channel (we don't) and wants to review the show, please comment away.
SERIOUS MONEY NYC is spending $70M this year so that some 1000 teachers can go on six or twelve month sabbaticals. The veteran teachers collect 70% of their base pay but are required to take college courses while they're away. There is no requirement that the courses actually have anything to do with teaching.
The catalog of courses that Kingsborough [College] sends to teachers - obtained by The Post - offers a variety of light, therapeutic and recreational courses, including "Beginning Tennis," "Exploring Leisure" and "Introductory Horticulture."

United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said she will fight to retain sabbaticals in the next round of labor negotiations.

"Sabbaticals are a good retention tool to keep teachers teaching," Weingarten said.
I'm sure they are.
SMART KID Here's a brief profile of a homeschooler who started taking classes at a local community college at 13. This kid has his head screwed on straight.
Puente said he has not missed out on any experiences because he was home schooled.

"I heard nightmares about the drama of people making fun of each other and boyfriends and girlfriends breaking up," he said about friends who attended public school.

Puente said home schooling helped him build a strong relationship with his parents that most students don't have the opportunity to develop.


BUZZZZZ Slightly OT. Here's an article about keeping bees in MD. A homeschooling family is featured.
FUZZY MATH Here's a strong indictment of NYC's Everyday Mathematics.
The curriculum’s failure was undeniable: not one of my students knew his or her times tables, and few had mastered even the most basic operations; knowledge of multiplication and division was abysmal. Perhaps you think I shouldn’t have rejected a course of learning without giving it a full year (my school had only recently hired me as a 23-year-old Teach for America corps member). But what would you do, if you discovered that none of your fourth graders could correctly tell you the answer to four times eight?

The curriculum derives from a pedagogical philosophy that goes by several names—“Constructivist Math,” “New-New Math,” and, to its detractors, “Fuzzy Math.” I’ll stick with “Fuzzy Math,” since the critics are right. Nothing about Fuzzy Math makes much sense from a teaching standpoint.

One weakness is its emphasis on “cooperative learning.” Fuzzy Math belongs to a family of recent pedagogical innovations that imagine that kids possess innate wisdom and can teach each other while a self-effacing “facilitator” (the adult formerly known as a teacher) flutters over them. If the architects of Everyday Mathematics had their way, I would have placed my children in various groups, for the most part unsupervised, so that they could work on one elaborate activity after another, learning on their own.
We're teaching old math. Math-U-See is a great program with plenty of practice on the fundamentals.
ALL MY KIDS ARE VALEDICTORIANS The NYT reports that parents are suing school districts over who is or is not declared valedictorian. kids are chooisng their classes based on how many points an "A" is worth in the battle to win the title. In response, some schools are doing away with it completely. Of course, at the "Heartland Christian Academy" of New Castle, DE, everyone is valedictorian. :-)
RI SPELLING BEE Twelve-year-old homeschooler Coburn Childs won the Rhode Island spelling bee. On to the Nationals! The article is worth a read as it includes many words from the contest. I consider myself a pretty good speller and would have been tripped up by many of these.
OT: BUSH'S FAITH-BASED INITIATIVE I received a call from the ACLU the other day, requesting financial support to aid them in their fight against the President's push to allow religious organizations to run taxpayer-funded social programs. I gave them some money. Here's why.

BTW- in case anyone wonders about my bona fides, I'm an evangelical Christian (General Baptist Convention).


BIG NUMBERS This site is pretty cool. It explains large numbers (all the way up to quintillion) in terms of piles of pennies.
POINDEXTER WOULD LOVE THIS Steven Johnson of Slate tries to guess why Google purchased Blogger. He figures Google will be able to track and record all of your web wanderings into some blog-type software.
How might Google's tools improve the existing Blogger technology? One feature might work like this: Each time I search for something on Google, a list of URLs is generated. When I click on one of those URLs, the page I've selected is automatically blogged for me: storing for posterity the text and location of the document.
This is an extremely scary proposition: a database with all of your web-searching habits permanently recorded on Google's servers somewhere. I'm sure Poindexter and his Total Information Awareness project would just love to get their hands on that. And, we couldn't stop them, either. In fact, we probably wouldn't even know they had gotten access. This would be a privacy nightmare. If Johnson is right, I think it's time I start moving to MT.
HOW 'BOUT 24/7? This Boston Globe Op/Ed berates the Bush Administration for cutting funds for after-school care. It's just not right that kids are let out of jail three hours before their parents get home.
Our kids' school schedules are out of sync with their parents' work schedules. It is plain dumb that from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, we just let kids loose. Yes, many families make heroic efforts to deal with this problem. But many others -- especially in households that desperately need two incomes -- are put in a terrible dilemma. Filling the 3-to-6 gap is one of our most urgent social needs, a point made regularly by law enforcement officials.
Which article in the Constitution covers after-school care? Oh yeah, the same one that gives the feds the right to jail our kids for 13 years.


AMEN What a wonderful Letter to the Editor.
Please allow me a moment to express my appreciation to some unsung heroes in our Pahrump Valley - our home-schooling families.

During the last several years of traveling to and residing in the valley I have had the good fortune of meeting with a number of local families that, upon talking to you I learn, are home-schooling (their chil-dren).

In each and every case, I have been impressed by children's character, their respect for other people (adults and children of all ages), and pleasant spirits. Your election to accept your God-given responsibility to educate your children, and do it fervently, is highly commendable.

The more research I do in this area, the more I look into studies of educational achievement and achievement of all kinds by home-schooled children, I become completely convinced that your children are indeed getting a superior education. So I thank you. Thank you for your sacrifice. Thank you for your investment of your time, your money, yourselves in your children's education. Yes, you pay your property taxes like everyone else, and yet you still make the sacrifice of footing the bill to pay for your own children's education, whatever it takes. Every person in this valley concerned about the amount of property tax he or she pays, even if he or she never has had the good fortune to meet you, should be grateful for the responsibility you are accepting yourself and thus saving everyone else tax dollars.

Beyond that though, because of you and the growing number of others like you around the country and indeed around the world, people can also have considerable hope for the future of this valley, this country, and our world. I know I do. I pray the Lord continues to bless you and your families in your commitment.
NEA TARGETS MEN The NEA laments that the number of male government-school teachers is at its lowest level in 20 years. They aim to recruit more men into the profession:
Identify and Recruit Young Men into Teaching in High School
There is a perennial shortage of male applicants to schools of education. Initiatives to identify prospective teachers early in their academic careers have proven successful. Secondary school surveys, career counseling, and college preparatory courses can help boost enrollment.
What? No affirmative action?
SOME SYRUP, SENATOR? And speaking of politicians, the OR State Senator who told parents to run away from the public schools has waffled.
"We all say things we'd like to take back," said Starr, R-Hillsboro. "I've devoted a good part of my life to trying to encourage improvement in public schools."

...Starr said he wrote the line in anger after getting a letter from a constituent who said children were being harmed by home schooling.
PARANOIA A WI school district is facing a budget crisis. In a public meeting, the following exchange occurred:
A questioner, citing estimates of 20 to 40 home-schooled students whose attendance at Butternut School could considerably increase the amount of state aid, raised a question about a compulsory attendance law that was also raised by another questioner at a presentation on the referendum question at the Chippewa Town Hall on Feb. 20.

He said that when he went to school, the law required attendance until the age of 16. Sherman said the law still exists, but those home schooling their children have succeeded in arguing that being home schooled satisfies the requirement.

Asked whether there were any kind of standards for holding parents accountable, Sherman said every attempt to impose such accountability on parents home schooling their children and on private “choice” schools in Milwaukee gets defeated when it comes up in the legislature.

He said there is a new standard of accountability for public schools under President George W. Bush’s “Leave No Child Behind” program, but there is no accountability for parents home schooling their children or for the private schools.
Subtle. Notice- We have "succeeded in arguing" that homeschooling is "real education." That "succeeded" speaks volumes. Likewise, the accountability questions. I'd love to vote for a politician who, just once, would come right out and say that homeschooling is legal, it's a parental right, and just get over it!


HOMESCHOOLED FOR A DAY A high school freshman thought she could learn what it was like to be homeschooled by "pretending" for a day. She didn't "get" it, at all.
Although I found many advantageous and attractive aspects to home schooling, in the end, I needed socialization.

If you are home-schooled, although there are several alternatives to making new friends, you miss out on a lot of extracurricular activities.

The fact that you have no true peers except your family makes me feel lonely! As a social butterfly, I guess I wasn't cut out to be home schooled!
ILLINOIS EDITORIAL This is one of the lamest editorials I have read in a long time. The editors present no facts to back up their position that IL homeschoolers should face government regulation. To tell the truth, I'm not really sure what they're even trying to argue.
Who is making sure children are schooled?
State Sen. Dan Rutherford may have been waiting for the wrong crowd to speak up over his proposal to have home-school parents register with public school officials.

The Chenoa senator said he was dropping his proposal for voluntary registration because of a lack of support among home-school groups. That lack of support isn't surprising. They don't want government intervention.

But what about the voice of the children? Who is guaranteeing that they are being educated if they are not in school? Home-schooling parents need not be chastised or ridiculed, but educators should be up in arms if there is no guarantee that children are receiving an education.

If a child is enrolled in public school and misses a few days, parents are required to explain the absences. Doesn't anyone care when children never show up for public school?
A MUST READ The latest EducationalFreedom journal is up. Some really interesting (and sad) articles are linked, including Cathy Henderson's response to Isabel Lyman's "The Why of Homeschool?" article from the other day. I'm shocked- shocked, I say- that Cathy's homeschooled daughter doesn't speak six languages. :-)
SORRY, CHRIS A fat one down the middle. This article incorporates two of my favorite things: homeschooling and my beloved Yankees.
Chris Hammond is a small-town guy from Wedowee Ala., and he always will be. No matter that Hammond has signed on to pitch the next two years of his career for the Yankees in the world's largest media market. He's a down-home guy with a thick southern drawl and a keen sense of the importance of family. In fact, his family is so important to him they they'll all be coming with him this year, everywhere he goes.

His wife, Lynn, will be home-schooling oldest son Andy (6), and Jake (4), and daughter Alex (3) will be on every trip, too.
I now have a new favorite pitcher. Way cool. (via Cathy Henderson)
A TIME FOR WAR Not on Iraq, but on the public schools. At least, that's what this NYT Op/Ed claims we're in. Schools, as government agents, are facing budget crunches and are being forced to cut back.
"It's the worst thing I've ever seen, and I've been in the district 35 years," [the Buffalo superintendent] said. "I mean we're looking at crazy things, like a four-day week, no kindergarten, no pre-kindergarten, no sports."
It just goes to show how far the schools have drifted from their mission that cutting pre-K and sports are considered "crazy things." I'd start by eliminating pre-K but parents would never be willing to give up that "free" daycare. Guess I'll never be elected to the School Board, eh?


WHEW! OK, I'm finally home and can take a serious look at the TN article below. I am not a heartless ideologue. Parents who hurt their kids, IMO, deserve the worst punishments society can devise. Drawing-and-quartering comes to mind. The article is ostensibly about a poor 4-year-old boy who was slain, apparently by his parents. The lede, though, immediately raises alarms:
An unknown number of Nashville children are being missed by the educational system and falling beyond the reach of a possible safety net because the resources aren't available to track them, officials said.
Danger! Danger! This type of paragraph often leads to "some people may claim to be homeschooling but may just be using it as a cover-up of abuse."
Schools provide ''a system of checks and balances to see that a child is properly fed, clothed and emotionally stable,'' said Metro Police Department spokesman Don Aaron. ''If a child is not in the school system, you lose one of the checks and balances.''
And, we all know which kids aren't in the "system."
[S]chools are an important safety net, said Carla Aaron, Department of Children's Services spokeswoman...But the system fails when children don't go to school, said Catherine Knowles, director of the Metro Schools Homeless Education Program.
OK, they're not talking about homeschoolers. But...
Regardless of the resources, advocates believe that it's incumbent upon the community to call the local school system and report when they see, or suspect, that a child is not being educated.
Watch out TN homeschoolers.
AS DUMB AS IT GETS A man was arrested for wearing a pro-peace T-shirt in a shopping mall. He was charged with trespassing when he refused security guards' "request" to take off the shirt, which he had just purchased in the mall. The alleged trespasser is a lawyer. I hope he eats the town's prosecutors for lunch. A true no-brainer.

UPDATE: I guess I'm the dummy. According to Instapundit and Volokh, the Supreme Court overturned the position that "malls are the modern day town square" a while ago. Evidently, there are no First Amendment rights at the mall. Some state Supreme Courts have interpreted their constitutions differently. I should leave the lawyering to the lawyers.
ONE TO WATCH I don't have time to properly comment on this now but I wanted to post the link so I could find it again. It's one of those "We need the schools to make sure parents aren't abusing their kids" stories.
STARR REPORT Oregon State Senator Charles Starr, that is. The Education Committee chair told parents in his state to run-- not walk-- away from the public schools.
Starr's statement in the letter won't cost him his job running the education panel, Senate leaders said. But school advocates and officials, who look to the Legislature for help in improving the state's public schools, said Starr's comment shows a clear disdain for the system. And they note that he has a disproportionate share of power in deciding its future.
Gutsy politician. I like that.
A BUSY DAY I'm tied up 'til around 9 pm. I may be able to sneak a blog or two before then but definitely before bed.


ATHLETICS REDUX The South Dakota legislature has approved a bill to allow homeschoolers to participate in high-school "athletics, music, debate and other sanctioned activities offered by schools." The bill gives each school district the choice on whether or not to allow homeschoolers to participate. Better than nothing, I suppose.
GOOD JOB! A 12-year-old homeschooler measured the pH of a nearby stream as part of his science studies. He noted that the river was polluted and filled with trash.
"I wasn't really mad, but it just inspired me to change it. A lot of it was put there by people who lived there a long time ago, when that was common practice," he said. "There's also acid rain and sewage leaks."
He's leading a 40-person effort to clean up the stream. Way to go!
DIVERSITY IN SCIENCE I am all for having more women scientists and engineers but this article about gender diversity just comes across as too whiney.
"You don't want solutions to the world's problems to come from the same type of people. You end up with less diversity, creativity and innovation," said Yen, a University of Washington assistant professor of industrial engineering who spoke at Bellevue Community College on the dearth of women in science and technology.
Actually, I wouldn't care if one person solved all of the world's problems, as long as they were solved.
Yen said women are more likely to think collaboratively than men, who she said tend to think competitively. That's increasingly seen as an asset in the corporate world and in the scientific community, she added.
Women think "collaboratively?" I was not aware that they were telepathic. Hmmm. That would explain a lot.
Yen cited ingrained gender bias for the slower rates of progress than in other academic and professional areas.

"It starts right from the moment you put some Legos in front of a 1-year-old boy but not a 1-year-old girl," she said.
If you give 1-year-old boys Legos, there will likely be a lot fewer male scientists in the long run. Enough already.
DO IT YOURSELF Some parents in Seattle were frustrated with the public school system so they decided to start their own private school. The educrats are very supportive.
Mike Riley, superintendent of the Bellevue School District, said he has no argument with parents starting their own school — as long as it is backed up with the expertise of teachers and school administrators.

"Honestly, I think the competition is a good thing," said Riley. "It gives us the inspiration to do a better job."
Actually, I don't think these parents stand much chance of success. They have no building, no land, and tuition will be a pricey $17,700.


PSA A 14-year-old homeschooler ran away with a 56-year-old murderer that she "met" on the internet. This is one to keep in your prayers.
A DUMB QUESTION Why does every elementary school in the country have to be architecturally unique? The reason I ask is that a Boston area school district wants to spend $1M to design a school that they don't even have the money to build. It seems to me there must be plans lying around from the last several schools built that they could recycle, thus saving the taxpayers a ton of money. I guess, though, when you're spending other people's money it just doesn't matter that much.


PA HOMESCHOOLERS Here's a positive article about homeschool co-op groups in Pennsylvania.
VACCINE NEWS Slightly OT but a hot-button issue for some homeschoolers. Thimerasol, a mercury-based preservative, has been accused by some of causing (or triggering) autism. Scientific studies are slim-to-none so, for now, there is just a correlation between the use of thimerasol and the incidence of autism. Parents were outraged when a rider was slipped into the Homeland Security bill protecting Eli Lilly (the manufacturer) from lawsuits. According to this article, the protection for Lilly was recently repealed. Good! I know how companies can get nailed by juries who don't necessarily have a good understanding of the science. My own employer, DuPont, was hit by a bunch of lawsuits over Benlate. But, IMO, preventing lawsuits by means of special legislation is a cure worse than the disease.
VOUCHER DEBATE The NYT has a review of the book "All Else Equal," which is supposed to be a scientific study of existing voucher programs and the results so far. They have also posted the first couple of pages. From this limited view, it appears the authors take a dim view of vouchers. Of more interest, though, may be the authors' exposition of Milton Friedman's position on vouchers. They do a nice job framing the debate and make Friedman's view sound eminently logical (at least to this libertarian). Friedman's website has a ton of info and links on school choice. Looks like I've got a lot of reading to do.


HAPPY BLOGIVERSARY to Isabel Lyman and the Homeschooling Revolution. Izzy always has interesting stuff, usually with a good human-interest angle. Click on over and enjoy.
A LITTLE PERSPECTIVE PLEASE The NYT has a story headlined Teacher Accused of Rape, Another of Theft. In the body of the article, we learn that one teacher was charged with having sex with a 16-year-old student. The other, identified as a "home-school teacher," was charged with using a student discount card on the subway. Not exactly in the same league, IMO. I have no idea if the NYT is using the "home-school" label for a homeschooling parent or for some public school employee.
WAY TO GO OREGONIANS Oregon has elected a father-son combination to the state Senate. Both are pro-homeschooling (I think).
Charles Starr heads the Senate Education Committee for a second session in a row. He is a critic of the education establishment and school reform movement and is best-known for his attempts to change the direction of Oregon’s schools, “because I am alarmed at our continuing failure to educate all children.”

Bruce Starr said he will work with his father on laws affecting home-schooling.

“I expect he and I have similar views on that legislation,” he said.
THIS COULD BE FUN A Lexington, KY columnist wants "ideas for cutting education." I'm sure we could come up with some ways to cut the budget dramatically.
TOLD YOU SO I predicted this last month. Recruiters are using the info they get from public schools to harass students.
[S]ome students say the recruiters, strengthened by an obscure provision in a recent federal law, are using techniques that border on intrusive telemarketing and harassment.
SORRY 'BOUT THAT I'm not sure how the template broke but it's fixed now.