INTERESTING Pres. Bush has nominated Claude Allen to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. Allen is described as "an advocate of home-schooling and abstinence education."
GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT A FloridaToday editorial goes off on a House proposal to expand their voucher plan. This is fallout from the Constitutional amendment passed last fall that limits class sizes. The House has reasoned that one way to reduct them is to send the kids to private schools. This sounds reasonable to me but not to the newspaper.
[T]he House want to use more tax money to:

Give parents $3,500 a year to send their kindergartners to private schools.

Provide $4,800 to home-school families, with the payment including money for new computers and high-speed broadband access.

Drop already inadequate high school graduation requirements to 120 hours from 135 and let students graduate in three years instead of four.
First, what's inherently wrong with vouchers? And, second, the proposal is to provide $4800 per year to a cyber-charter operator. The parents wouldn't see a nickel (though they would get the computers and broadband.
HOMESCHOOL CONVENTIONS Samuel Blumenfeld has a column up on WND about his experiences at conventions over the years. I found this 'graf disturbing.
I also spoke to a mother, a non-homeschooler, who was at the convention to see if she could find materials to use with her kids whom she intended to enroll in public school in September. I told her that she was making a terrible mistake and that she and her children would pay dearly for it. I told her that it only takes six months in first grade to destroy a child's brain and that she would be paying for remediation and special ed for the rest of the child's school career. I intended to shake her up, and I believe I did.
Was he intentionally trying to make homeschoolers look like a bunch of wackos? Dumb!
WARNING: TN Tennessee's lottery proceeds are going to be used for college scholarships. Homeschoolers are eligible but the rules are still being worked out. Some legislators apparently see these scholarships as a way to drag homeschoolers into the accountability/testing morass.
[Rep. Ulysses] Jones also raised questions about testing of students who are home schooled.

Bruce Opie, legislative liaison for the state Department of Education, said if home-school parents work through their local school district, there is an assessment process, but there is no such process if the parent works independently.

Jones asked who gives a home-schooled child a grade; the parent, Opie replied.

''If I am a parent and have a home school, do you think I am going to give my child a D?'' Jones asked. He said testing procedures should be the same for public, private and home schools.
TN homeschooling parents should keep an eye on this guy.
MORE O'KEEFES Cybercast News has a piece up on the controversial WB summer program. Nothing much new here but Isabel Lyman is quoted.
MATH TEACHER GIVES BIOLOGY LESSON This woman is really dedicated to her profession. Although she was in labor, she kept on teaching. She gave birth at the school. Mother and daughter are doing fine.
BLUE RIBBON SCHOOLS The US EdDept is changing the application process for Blue Ribbon schools to emphasize test scores. This is probably a good thing as it will prevent instances of a BRS being labeled "failing" at the same time. This actually happened last year and was blamed on the different data inputs.
DAY 24: 214.5 Delta: -1.0, Net: -16.5

I still have a fighting chance to make my next goal, 210 by 5/13.


DAYTONA NEWS-JOURNAL ON HOMESCHOOLING My parents' hometown paper has a relatively neutral article on homeschooling in Florida. They quote an edu-crat who, of course, is opposed "as a parent." They also blow this factoid, big time:
The rising number of children being educated at home is causing a few states to reassess how they monitor and regulate home-schooling. The Delaware Department of Education wants to check home-schooled children more often to make sure they are being educated.
WRONG! There is no proposal in the DOE for increased regulation of homeschooling. This I know for a fact.
YOU'RE NOT HOMESCHOOLERS! Alaska has a very large public cyber-school, Alyeska Central School. Apparently, the parents there think they're homeschoolers.
As Alyeska home-school parents, we are writing in reply to Mr. Clark's letter (Empire, April 23) regarding Alyeska Central School...

A parent that home schools through another district has no voting rights in that district. With Alyeska, the home-schooling parents make up the advisory council. Alyeska is the only accredited home school in the state. You might pick some on-line home school offered by a district and find your child cannot get into college because the courses have no accreditation.
Helping Your Child Become a Responsible Citizen The Dept. of Ed has some ideas on how to teach citizenship. Conspicuously absent is knowing what our rights are under the Constitution.
EARTH SCIENCE ON THE WEB This website could be the basis for a homeschool study on earth science. The subject is broken into 29 Chapters which appear to be sufficiently separated that one could pick and choose.
DAY 23: 215.5 Delta: -0.5, Net: -15.5


CO-OPS, SPORTS, SOCIALIZATION D.C. homeschoolers have it all. The WashTimes has a completely positive article on homeschooling in the nation's capitol. If you're active on any of NHEN's listservs, you should recognize a couple of names. Thanks go to Skip Oliva for pointing this one out.
CHANNELING JAMES JOYCE This editorial appears to be written in stream-of-consciousness. It starts out as a criticism of the Indiana standardized tests but ends up here:
How does homeschooling affect the county?

Are students better off or do they suffer?

Can public schools win back any homeschoolers?

Should they try?

What of parental involvement?

Schools cry for more; many parents respond. Studies show a child's home life -- specifically economic status -- greatly affects his or her learning.

Where does the responsibility for quality education lie, ultimately, and how will Elkhart County see it's met?
DEAR CLUELESS, Please don't homeschool your kids; you don't care enough about them:
I feel there could be more security at the schools and on the buses. My 9-year-old daughter was a witness to the incident two years ago at North Hopewell-Winterstown Elementary School [a machete attack in a kindergarten class] and now is back at Edgar Moore Elementary. When the news came on the TV (Thursday) about the shooting, she began asking us questions. She did not want to return to school two years ago and I’m hoping that she does not feel that way again. She remembers almost every detail that happened then and wonders why it’s always in or near her school.
We are very concerned about the school district and security being that this is the second time this has hit very close to home. My husband and I are discussing the possibility of taking our children out of the district and home schooling both of them.

This kid rode a bus with three guns in his backpack and could have shot someone on the bus. Then what? There should also be some way to protect kids on the bus as well besides just at the school. They should not allow any type of backpack for school.
No backpacks. Yeah, that'll fix the problem.
GAG! One more reason to bash the teacher's unions:
At PS 182/Bilingual School in East Harlem, teachers averaged 18 days of absences last year. Given that the school year is only 183 days long, the total number of no-shows translated into a 10 percent absentee rate.

...The teachers union insisted that educators don't abuse sick-day privileges.

"The absentee rate in city schools is virtually identical to our kind of work force in the rest of the country," said United Federation of Teachers spokesman Dick Riley.

Teachers are entitled to a total of 10 sick/personal days a year.

But sources said teachers close to retirement - who have unused sick days in reserve - have an incentive to skip even more days in their final years to use the time up.
Sick days are for when you are sick. How can you possibly "save up" sick days? Of course, it's not the teachers' fault.
Some teachers said the stress of the job is making them sick.

Martin Luther King Jr. HS teacher Fern Lowenfeld said turmoil at the school over the past few years contributed to 13 absences per teacher.

"A poor atmosphere in a school can make people ill. The last principal made it very hard for us," said Lowenfeld, also a union rep.
Right. Note to teachers: If you want to be treated as professionals, start acting like professionals. First!
WELL, WHY NOT? This lede is laughable.
Imagine paying $200 a school year per child just to ride the public school bus.
I'm pretty sure no state constitution guarantees "free" bus rides to school.
LATE BLOGGING TODAY I'm in meetings today until at least 1 p.m. See y'all later.
DAY 22: 216.0 Delta: +0.5, Net: -15.0


LOOK OUT N.C. The Charlotte Observer is on the warpath. There are two articles today about how little regulation NC imposes on private schools and homeschools.
I GIVE UP Since newspapers continue to use the term "homeschools" for virtual charter schools, I am giving up on the word "homeschool." I don't know what I'll call what we do (nor the new name for this website), but it won't have the "H"-word in it. The floor is open for nominations.
DAY 21: 215.5 Delta: -0.5, Net: -15.5


TESTING, TESTING Washington state is having a hard time getting the students to take their no-stakes test seriously, so they've resorted to bribery. What caught my eye, though, was this:
The state's six public colleges and universities have agreed to link WASL scores to scholarships and admissions before the Class of 2008 graduates. They are working with state Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson to address issues such as how to consistently administer the test and ensure that racial minorities -- already at the low end of the achievement gap -- aren't at a disadvantage for college admission.
I hope they keep in mind that not everyone has to take these tests.
KARATE KIDS I pity the fool who messes with these girls. Katelyn (left) and Chelsea tested at the karate studio last night. They're both in the homeschool class.

DAY 20: 216.0 Delta: -1.0, Net: -15.0
INSIDE BLOG-BALL The Happy Homeschooler found a really awful anti-homeschooling column written by a former government-school teacher. HH gave as good as we got, but I'd like to put my two cents in, too.
The educational choice that confounds me, though, is home schooling. Why would parents choose to isolate their children from a rich and varied learning environment?
We don't. That's why we homeschool. Homeschoolers have access to the whole world, populated by people of all ages, races, and national origins. Government-school students are stuck in (often racially segregated) classes with their age-mates. Who's more isolated?
The social setting in a school is ripe with learning experiences.
Like this one? Or perhaps this? Or maybe she means this kind of social setting.
The teaching staff in a public school can be colorful, too.
Yes, this fellow is certainly colorful. And these teachers, too.
Parents who home-school their children have their reasons, of course. But the effects of what these students are missing remain to be seen.
Yes. Homeschoolers are missing out on all those drugs, gangs, shootings, rapes, etc. I hope the effects on those government-school students are small.
It's a great training ground for the real world and, even better, it's free.
Maybe she should sit in with some homeschoolers when they study economics. She might learn something. (via Isabel Lyman)

UPDATE: Chris O'Donnell fisked the heck out of the same column.
WIMPY, WIMPY, WIMPY Homeschoolers in Florida are allowed by law to participate in sports and other extra-curriculars. Some homeschooling parents think that should include the prom and they're begging for crumbs from the edu-table.
"I'm asking you to develop a working production bridge between these two communities now," Benson said. "These kids in your community are rewriting the manual in education. Please help us build this bridge and make it a strong one. All we ask is that you let us be a part of this family." [emphasis added]
Whatever happened to the self-reliant homeschooling community? This is not an isolated incident. I'm beginning to think that homeschoolers participating in government-school sports might threaten the whole movement.


TOO MUCH FUN This homeschooling family has a unique business- they're an all-girl trapeze act. I like their attitude.
"My husband ran away with the circus and took me with him," she said.

The children were homeschooled through a Chicago-based Christian organization. They have traveled to every state in the United States in an RV. Sometimes, they still do the tourist thing, Gail Redpath said.

"If you're not happy in one place, you always know you'll be someplace else next week," she said.
A NIGHT OUT IN D.C. I'm not sure what this means but if anyone checks it out on a Tuesday night, please let me know.
DAY 19: 217.0 Delta: +1.0, Net: -14.0


LOCAL TRAGEDY A 14-year-old student at a middle school in York, PA shot and killed the school pricipal before turning the gun on himself.
LOCK 'EM UP This homeschooler is a Renaissance woman: Police cadet, tae-kwon do black belt, novelist, and flutist. Oh, and she rollerskates in her spare time.
NO SURPRISE HERE The NEA-lite, er, PTA is opposed to vouchers. I wonder if they actually asked the parents.
IT'S NOT HOMESCHOOLING I am so tired of newspapers confusing homeschooling with cyber charters.
TIMED TESTS This Op/Ed explains why untimed tests are a bad idea:
A Texas teacher might direct her students to read, highlight, check the questions, and then reread again. Next, look for key words in the passage that match words in the questions. Then look for words in the answer choices that match words in the text. Don't worry about time. On test day, they will have seven hours to read eight pages of text and answer 40 questions. Oh, and they can forget about reading Charlotte's Web. That would take all year.
But, sometimes going back and checking your answers is a good idea.
Elementary math teaching gets even more bizarre. Since students have all day to answer 40 questions or so, they have time to count everything out on their fingers or with pictures. Students may think that they know that seven times eight equals forty-two. [emphasis added]
Douglas Adams would have appreciated that.
WORRISOME EdSec Rod Paige has decreed that no Mass. government-school student can receive federal assistance for higher education unless he/she passes their accountability test, the MCAS. This would include student loans for technical schools like barber college. So far, private school students and homeschoolers are exempt but this would be one easy way for the educrats to force everyone to take the tests, regardless of what NCLB says. Something to keep an eye on.
DAY 18: 216.0 Delta: -2.5, Net: -15.0
POINT- COUNTERPOINT Yesterday, Isabel Lyman briefly defended Rick Santorum. Today, Skip Oliva resolves that Santorum would just as soon scrap the Ninth Amendment.

I'm with Skip on this one. Here's a snippet of Justice Goldberg's concurrence in Griswold v. Connecticut:
To hold that a right so basic and fundamental and so deep-rooted in our society as the right of privacy in marriage may be infringed because that right is not guaranteed in so many words by the first eight amendments to the Constitution is to ignore the Ninth Amendment and to give it no effect whatsoever. Moreover, a judicial construction that this fundamental right is not protected by the Constitution because it is not mentioned in explicit terms by one of the first eight amendments or elsewhere in the Constitution would violate the Ninth Amendment.
I think the Texas sodomy case (the one Santorum finds so troubling), is just a very small extension of this line of thought. What consenting adults do in their own bedrooms is their own business.

UPDATE: Lest you think this is all OT- Santorum is a homeschooling dad. I'd like to ask him, "Is homeschooling a fundamental right or is it a privilege granted by the state?" I'd argue that it is a right. The Supreme Court in Pierce v. Society of Sisters held:
[W]e think it entirely plain that the Act of 1922 unreasonably interferes with the liberty of parents and guardians to direct the upbringing and education of children under their control. As often heretofore pointed out, rights guaranteed by the Constitution may not be abridged by legislation which has no reasonable relation to some purpose within the competency of the state. 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.
But, where is this "liberty of parents and guardians to direct the upbringing and education of children under their control" written in the Constitution? It's not. The implication is that this is one of the unenumerated rights in the Ninth Amendment. The same amendment that makes Santorum so uncomfortable.

It's all related. How many kids to have (Griswold). When to have them (Griswold). How to raise them (Pierce). All of these are private decisions that the government cannot regulate. They're all founded in the right to privacy. The same right that Santorum thinks doesn't exist. It seems a strange position for a homeschooling dad to take.


DEFINITELY NOT AN UNSCHOOLER The PA spelling bee champ wasn't exactly enthusiastic about participating.
He said his mom "forced" him to participate, and preparing for the spelling bee was "torture." He'd rather have spent the time reading.

...[His mother Nancy] Metcalf said her son "would never have chosen to study the practice book if I gave him a choice."

..."I believe as a parent I know better what's good for him than he knows himself and I have that freedom to make him do things."
"FREE" EDUCATION Cash-strapped school districts are starting to charge students in order to ride the school bus.
ONE MORE REASON TO HOMESCHOOL We can avoid nonsense like this:
Prom is fast approaching, and Rashell Furneaux hasn't made up her mind about the tiara.

The Cinco Ranch High School senior already is expecting to shell out more than $550 for the epitome of school dances and was thinking the accessory would add just the right touch. Anywhere from $20 to more than $500, the headpiece has for years now crowned more than the prom royalty.
BAD STATS? I have the answer to the ultimate education question of life, the universe, and everything. It's music appreciation. A poll (sponsored by companies that sell music products to schools) trumpets some very interesting statistics. Among the most outrageous claims:
The College Entrance Examination Board found that students in music appreciation scored 63 percent higher on verbal and 44 percent higher in math than students with no arts participation.
The National Association of Music Educators reports it as 63 and 44 points higher on the SAT. That is slightly different. It could have been an error by the UPI. Regardless, correlation does not mean causation.
Day 17: 218.5 Delta: -1.0, Net: -12.5

Back to my pre-Easter dinner weight.


SAM UPDATE The other day I jokingly referred to "Build your own shoulder-fired SAM" as a good homeschool project. Chris O'Donnell wondered via comment if I'd be the #1 hit on Google for that phrase. Well, I am! Woohoo! I haven't heard from the MIB. Yet.
THE DOWNSIDE OF GOOGLE-NEWS I googled "homeschooling" and came back with this hair-raising sentence:
This is why we're totally against home-schooling.
Of course, I had to read the whole article to find out why. It's tongue-in-cheek.
"Now, more than ever before, youth are relying on the adults in their lives for reassurance and guidance.'

This is bad news for our kids, who have been raised thus far with an incredibly jumpy father. A UPS truck rumbles down our block and we're apt to scream "EARTHQUAKE!' and snatch our kids and hurl them through the living room picture window for their own safety. About the most reassuring thing we've ever uttered to our children is "RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!'

This is why we're totally against home-schooling. We rely on schools not only to teach our kids about guns and sex, but also about the horrors of war, terrorism and other traumatic events. Because, after you strip away our almost transparent veneer of bravado, we're pretty much always packed and ready to bolt.
Mildly amusing.
WITH GOVERNMENT DOLLARS...File this one under "Duh!"
A group of parents who use the assistance of the Sequim School District to home-school their children are threatening to drop out of the program.

The parents' main complaint is that administrator Randy Hill, who was hired at the start of the school year, runs the program more like a traditional school -- something they are trying to get away from.
THE IDIOCY OF COMPULSORY ATTENDANCE LAWS Here's a perfect example of how educrats care more for "process" than they care about the kids. A young lady in NYC has been taking college courses since the age of 11. She's accumulated enough credits to get an AA degree from her local community college. But, because she's only 14, the college is forbidden from granting her the degree because she's "supposed" to be in high school until she's 16. She's taking a full load at the college but educrats are threatening to take her to truancy court because she's not being bored to tears in the government schools.
AIN'T SO "FREE" States facing financial crises are cutting back on education (along with everything else). These cuts have brought large demonstrations to several state capitols. Why am I not surprised, though, that the two people quoted in this article were a teacher's union official and a school board member?
EARLY EDUCATION This article made we want to pull out what little hair I have left. This week is The Week of the Young Child.
A week just doesn't seem long enough to salute the women who take on the task of early childhood education..."Kids know who really cares. We are the children's second parents, when they are here."
Sure. Babysitters, er "Professional Day Care Providers", deserve more than a whole week and Moms, who have the hardest jobs in the whole world and are the REAL educators, get a day in May. Makes sense to me. And, they're not 2nd, 3rd, or even 4th parents.
SOUNDS FAMILIAR Seniors at Annadale High School in VA are wearing pajamas and bedroom slippers to school. Administrators are not happy. Heck, my kids do that 'bout every day! (via EIA)
DAY 16: 219.5 Delta: -1.5, Net: -11.5
NEW BLOG Kim Swygert has a blog up dedicated to studying the Goth sub-culture and lifestyle. An interesting read.
BLOGROLL UPDATES I've finally fixed Skip Oliva's and Cogito Ergo's links. They should point to their active blogs now.


DAY 15: 221.0 Delta: +2.5, Net: -10.0

I screwed up. I didn't intentionally cheat but I thought the Brussels Sprouts were low carb. They're not. And I passed up the pecan pie (my favorite) thinking I was being good. I should be back on track tomorrow. I hope.
WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE... The Arizona Republic has an editorial today that chides the Democratic governor for being anti-homeschooling. Good! But, then there's this graf:
Some fear lax policies could provide cover for irresponsible parents and potential abuse. The governor could make the case that the state has a clear interest in making sure kids learn, and that state laws should not be used as a way to keep abused or neglected kids out of school. All kids should be registered and tested.
Keep your damn registrations and tests away from OUR kids. They do not belong to the state.

UPDATE: Skip Oliva beats up the governor for the same sin.
For their part, home educators shouldn't take the governor's snub too seriously. In this case, they should consider it an affirmation that they are putting their children before altruist political concerns.
SAVE THE WHALES! Several pilot whales have beached themselves in FL. Volunteers are working to save the few surviving whales. The reporter seemed to get a kick out of the fact that one of the volunteers is homeschooled.
Almost a dozen people sleep here every night, in trailers or tents, so they can remain close to the whales.

There is no TV, no running water, and the dinner menu is whatever has been donated by local businesses.

Few seemed to mind.

''This is the best Easter present I've had in my life, to be here with these whales,'' said volunteer Sara Childers of Hollywood, who arrived Friday and has since been putting up tents, answering phones and sterilizing equipment.

Sara is 11 years old.

Her mother, Pam Childers, a full-time volunteer with the Marine Mammal Conservancy, is also here.

In the coming days, Childers will continue home-schooling her daughter, as she normally does -- only not at home.
I thought all those kids were home, chained to their kitchen tables.
PITIFUL If this is accurate, the history teachers at the schools should all be fired.
More than half of the high school students in a recent survey didn't even know George Washington commanded the colonial army during the Revolutionary War.

Most guessed it was Ulysses S. Grant, according to historian David McCullough -- and 6 percent thought it must have been Douglas MacArthur.
Homeschoolers would not have made those mistakes.
PRE-SCHOOL FOR ALL That's the name of an organization in Houston pushing just that- "free" pre-school for all 3 and 4-year olds. Here's their ideal solution:
[W]e can make a commitment to all of our community's children that quality preschool education is an important first step in their educational path and work to maximize existing funding streams, streamline the existing preschool systems into one overall integrated system and, as needed, identify necessary additional funding over time to make a quality preschool education a reality for all of Houston's children. [emphases added]
I like that spin. Not "raise taxes" but "identify additional funding." And, it certainly sounds like they would want compulsory pre-school. It's coming. I'm still betting that within 5 years, some state is going to attempt to lower the compulsory ed age down to 4 or maybe even 3 years.


CATHY DUFFY COLUMN Ms. Duffy has a lengthy column on how accountability testing threatens homeschoolers. I don't buy the premise, though.
Could "Standards" Be Forced on Homeschoolers?

Early in 2001, the Maine legislature introduced legislation (LD 405) requiring homeschoolers to take the state's Maine Educational Assessment exam. Although this legislative effort failed, it demonstrates that it is not a farfetched concern for homeschoolers in general. [HSLDA News Release. (2001, February 16). Home School Legal Defense Association, Purcellville, VA. ] Also, as colleges and universities explore linkage of college entry to student scores on standards-based tests and exit exams, it is likely that they will come to expect private and home school students to pass the same tests just as they now take the same SAT I, SAT II, and ACT exams as public school students for college entry exams.

Private and home schools that choose to teach a significantly different curriculum will be faced with choices of sacrificing their own agenda so their students can achieve high test scores, accepting the risk of low student scores, or fighting for alternative evaluation.
First, NCLB explicitly exempts homeschoolers from having to take the tests. Therefore, we have complete freedom in choosing our curricula. The college issue is, I think, also a red herring. Colleges are now actively recruiting homeschoolers. They recognize that the kids are well-rounded and well-prepared academically. Why would they intentionally cut their potential applicant pool? Besides, colleges do not recruit from only one state. How could any college mandate passing a particluar accountability test?

There was section of the article, though, that I loved. Check out this definition of a liberal education from the Great Books Academy:
Liberal education is ordered toward making the student a free and happy individual. This freedom and happiness arises within the student as he is freed from ignorance and becomes better equipped to recognize the truth and beauty of the world around him. And it is truth which in turn leads him to freedom and happiness.
On this Easter morning, it is worth recalling Jesus' words on this topic:
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
John 8:32
DAY 14: 218.5 Delta: -1.0, Net: -12.5

This was yesterday's supper. One of those "What do we have in the cupboard?" recipes. It came out better than I expected.

Spicy Indo-China Chicken and Asparagus Stir-fry

2 boneless-skinless chicken breasts, 1 inch cubes
1 bunch asparagus, 1 inch pieces
1 habanero pepper, minced
Curry powder
Onion powder
Garlic powder
Soy sauce

Open all the windows before starting this recipe. The smoke from the frying pepper can burn your eyes.

Heat a large cast iron pan or wok very hot. Add chicken and asparagus. When chicken is nearly done, add habanero. Cook for approximately 1 more minute. Stir in soy and spices to taste.
THIRD TIME'S THE CHARM (I HOPE) Blogger's editor keeps eating this post. I hope this works.

Souderton, PA has decided that you lose your First Amendment rights when you enter the town. They are attempting to ban "loitering," which they define as a group of two-or-more people standing together anywhere in the town without "permission." This would include sidewalks and public parks. These lawmakers were obviously NOT homeschooled, or they would have remembered that (apparently unimportant) section called the First Amendment, which prohibits the government from interfering with our right to assmble peaceably." To help them remember, I've changed the headline at the top of this page.

Oh, yeah. The kicker- the proposed fine is $1000 and parents would be liable if their minor kids "hang out" with their friends.


CATCHING UP Brian Micklethwait had a good post on homeschooling the other day.
But, as any home schoolers reading this will not need to be told, it is precisely the "socialisation" offered by many schools that they are often anxious to avoid. The kinder, gentler rhythms of family life are not merely preferred on narrowly education grounds, but precisely because it provides a superior sort of socialisation, in the form of a more gradual easing of children in to the wider world.
Read the whole thing.
INTERESTING A just-released study has found that 1 in 4 kids in Harlem has asthma. The researchers don't provide a reason why the rate is so high. It certainly sounds like there may be an environmental cause as the rate for the nation as a whole is only 6 percent.
HUH? I'm not sure what this means, but it sure sounds insulting. A fired teacher has filed a federal lawsuit alleging "that a disproportionate number of black male students at the middle school have been and continue to be relegated to home schooling." Hey, that sounds like a good thing to me.
GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN A tiny one-room schoolhouse on top of a mountain in CA may close for budgetary reasons. Parents are faced with a choice between homeschooling or a three-hour commute to the nearest school in the valley.
MISSOURI ATHLETICS A bill that would have permitted homeschoolers to participate in MO extracurriculars has died in committee.
DAY 13: 219.5 Delta: +1.0, Net: -11.5

Didn't cheat. Probably just random fluctuation at this point.


ALASKA GEO BEE Another homeschooler is on his way to D.C. for the finals.
A REAL HOMESCHOOL DAY We started out a rainy Good Friday heading for the Franklin Institute in Philly. Apparently, everyone else in the Delaware Valley had the same idea, so we bagged it in favor of the American Helicopter Museum in West Chester, PA. Way cool! It's probably the ideal museum for homeschooling families. The little ones get to climb in-and-out of the 'copters, and the volunteers have a lot of scientific and engineering experience to share with the older kids. After the museum, we went to the Simon Pearce glassblowing workshop. The kids were fascinated; we had to drag Chelsea away kicking and screaming. The price was right, too- it's a freebie.

Click on the pictures for a larger view.

Anthony, Katelyn, Chelsea and Jonathan get ready for a mission in a V-22 Osprey.

Cue "Suicide is Painless (The Theme from M*A*S*H)."

The kids got a quick lesson from the glassblower. I'll be putting in their applications for the Glassblowing courses at Salem Community College on Monday.
DAY 12: 218.5 Delta: -2.0, Net: -12.5

I blew right through my short term goal and I'm not sure why. I still expect to slow down to 2-3 pounds per week. Next goal, 210 by my birthday, 5/13.


OH, THE HORROR! Schools do not teach kids to handle money. A Boston Globe columnist is aghast that teachers don't want to add yet another mandatory course to the education requirements.
If the educational community sticks to its guns and its established curriculum, the only choice for parents trying to raise money-smart kids is to do most of the education through home schooling.
What a concept! Parents teaching their children something without relying on the government-schools? Is that possible?
< SARCASM >DARN!< /SARCASM > The budget that NH legislators pass today will likely not have the $400,000 for homeschooling.
SAD NEWS Dr. Atkins (of the Atkins Diet) has died at the age of 72. He slipped on some ice in the early April snowstorm and suffered a cerebral hemorrhage.
AN INTERESTING HOMESCHOOL PROJECT Build your own shoulder-fired SAM.
John Armellino, 8, and his brother Paul, 6, preferred the life-size models of shoulder-fired missiles, a dream for any young man. Their mom used the event as a field trip.

“I home school them, and (John) has a technological mind,” said mom Camille Armellino. “He wants to know how everything works.”
PATENT PENDING I'm going to make a fortune on this invention: Kevlar backpacks.
A 13-year-old Delhi Middle School student can thank his backpack for taking the brunt of a bullet that struck him in the back Tuesday at school.

Merced County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Rick Marshall, who arrived at the scene shortly after the shooting, said the bullet entered the boy’s backpack, went through a notebook, and exited out the back, striking the boy in the hip.
The perfect solution for school violence.
SEPARATION OF CHURCH-STATE-SCHOOL We need a new organization:
Akron city and school officials have turned to churches for help in getting voters to approve an income tax increase for school construction.

Wednesday, they asked area ministers to endorse the proposal and speak about it from their pulpits.

Those ministers who are uncomfortable with bringing politics into the sanctuary can at least distribute campaign literature and line up volunteers to drive voters to polls, Akron schools Superintendent Sylvester Small told the breakfast gathering at Buchtel High School.
WHAT DO THEY KNOW? I think UK teachers are onto something here.
Children as young as four are being traumatised by a regime of formal school instruction in the Three Rs that has turned early learning into a straitjacket, teachers said yesterday.

Delegates at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers' conference in Blackpool said children, especially boys, became disruptive when starting maths and English lessons at too young an age. They were not ready to accept regimented lessons at four.

They called for the formal school starting age to be put back to six, as it is in most European countries.
But, what about the "free" daycare?
A TALE OF TWO SCHOOLS Interesting contrast here:
Ross Fu, a senior at Torrey Pines High School in Carmel Valley, illustrates how elusive Harvard can be, even for top students.

Ross earned perfect scores on the SAT and SAT II. He received the highest marks on all nine advanced placement tests he took. He has a 4.68 GPA, is president of his school's writing club and is a talented pianist who recently interned at a molecular biology laboratory.

Harvard rejected Ross.

[T]here was a Houston Independent School District Yates High School student who had graduated with a 3.9 grade-point average, but who had scored only 990 on his SAT. He had been accepted to the University of Texas under the 10 percent rule and was awarded $58,000 in scholarships.

When interviewed, the student admitted he hadn't learned to study in high school, all he really had to do was "show up."
Perhaps Ross Fu should have applied to UT.
DAY 11: 220.5 Delta: -1.5, Net: -10.5


WND BOOKS has released 14-year-old homeschooler Kyle Williams' first book. It's available here.
CLUELESS Dearborn, MI is facing a budget crisis and is cutting teachers. One proposal has 1st and 2nd graders sharing a room (and teacher). At least one parent is unhappy:
Amber Lucas, a Dearborn mother of six, said she would rather home-school her children than see them in classrooms with students of a different grade level.

"Every kid deserves the chance to be a first-grader, not a second-grader," Lucas said. "That's not right. I'll pull all six of my children out of Dearborn."
Well, unless Ms. Lucas is the mother of sextuplets, she'll have more than one grade at home. That's not right!

UPDATE: Tammy McQuoid (no perma-link) picked up the same story. I swear, I didn't peak at her blog first- even though she did beat me by 20 minutes. I guess we're psychotic. I mean, psychic.
ONE DOWN, ONE TO GO Oregon's Homeschool Freedom bill passed the Senate 20-9. It's now headed for the House where its prospects look good.
LISA MARIE- HOMESCHOOLER Elvis' daughter homeschools (at least some of) her kids.
HOW DID WE GET HERE? A 9-year-old boy has been arrested for raping a 7-year-old girl in the girl's bathroom at their school.
A conference was held about the boy, [Superintendent] Mazzullo said. He said he is not sure whether the boy is still attending the school.

The other students at the school are not in danger, he said.
DAY 10: 222.0 Delta: -0.5, Net: -9.0
A USEFUL BLOG Tammy McQuoid runs the HomeschoolReviews blog. As expected, she posts reviews of materials (mostly books) that homeschoolers might run across. I'm adding it to the blogroll. (via Isabel Lyman)


IT'S NOT FOR EVERYONE Here's a nice article by a devout homeschooling mom who felt called to finally send her kids to school.
Gunmen armed with an AK-47 rifle and a handgun opened fire in a packed school gymnasium Monday, killing a teenage boy and wounding three girls in a spray of 30 bullets that sent some 200 students scrambling for cover.
(link via Our Horrible Children)
GAGGED AT HOME William Glaser, a homeschooler placed second at a national oratory competition. He won a $16,000 scholarship. Very nice. This quote, though, is hilarious.
"William got higher in the competition than any home-schooler ever has," [Lee Harris, spokesman for the American Legion National Headquarters in Indianapolis] said today. "You don't see home-schooled kids do this well because they don't get much opportunity or have that much experience in speaking."
Yeah, our home's like a morgue, it's so quiet.
LEDE OF THE MONTH I love the start of this article, entitled "Educrats Forbid Kids to Be Kids."
A demented new program designed to stop children from acting like children is spreading like a disease through schools across the nation.

The idiot idea is intended to make schools into something called "Ridicule-Free Zones," where no kid is ever exposed to such childish behavior as singling out those who wear glasses and calling them "four eyes," as kids have been doing to each other for as long as anybody can remember, with no demonstrable harm being done to their tender sensibilities.
The psychobabblers are out in full force on this "bullying" issue.
"It is not normal to have a child that doesn't want to join in activities," says teacher Laura] Harper. "If the antisocial behavior doesn't stop, we need to get that child to a counselor. They can become suicidal."
I was never a joiner in school. I'd just as soon sit under a tree with a book as run around on the playground. And look how I turned out. OK, bad example. :-) Seriously, when and from where did we get the notion that all kids are the same and need to be treated as such. They're people, for goodness sake. INDIVIDUALS! Another good reason to homeschool.
POOR KIDS Here's another story on universal pre-K. It's ugly down in Georgia:
Children spend six and a half hours a day in class...Since the program started, the Department of Early Childhood Education at Georgia State University has conducted frequent evaluations of it. The results have concluded that in several measures of academic and social achievement, kindergarteners who completed Georgia's pre-k program surpassed those who did not have the preschool experience. One study found that pre-k children scored more than three months higher on achievement tests—including the Iowa Test of Basic Skills—than children who weren't in such programs.
Three whole months. And it only cost $128M. What a deal!
A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME Chicago is in the news today for pushing its free babysitting (pre-school) for kids under the age of three.
Barbara Abel takes offense when people use the word “baby-sitting” to describe the new infant-toddler program at Chicago Public Schools’ gleaming new National Teachers Academy.

...[T]he cost of infant-toddler programs is steep and it’s unlikely they’ll be included in universal preschool programs anytime soon. Program costs run about $200 a week per child, says Marsha Engquist, president of the National Child Care Association.
Yeah, that "free" daycare is costly.
DUH! The San Antonio School District is complaining that, if TX adopts vouchers, they could lose students and the dollars that come with them. That's the whole idea behind vouchers. The school district is now supposed to raise its game in order to compete.
DAY 9: 222.5 Delta: -1.5, Net: -8.5


VERY COOL BUT IT'S NOT HOMESCHOOLING A couple is driving their vintage car from Argentina to Alaska. During the 3-year (and counting) trip, they've driven 31,000 miles (@ 35 mph) and had a baby.
SPORTS The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has several Letters-to-the-Editor concerning homeschoolers participating in government-school sports. All were opposed.
UNFUNDATED* The New Hampshire School Administrators Association has done a cost/benefit analysis of the NCLB. The "benefits" considered are exclusively the additional federal dollars brought into the state. They estimate a ratio of approximately $8 spent to bring in $1. My favorite "estimate" is the additional cost of attracting "high quality" teachers: $11,716,728.93. Surprisingly, they estimate it will cost even more to attract "high quality paraprofessionals": $16,558,344. And no sense, er, cents.

*I got tired of writing "unfunded mandate."
TEXAS MIRACLE EdNews has another column on the TX accountability tests. This one is pretty damning. The author has compared students who scored exactly at grade level on the TAAS (defined as a score of 70) vs. those same students' performances on the nationally-normed SAT9:
How did the students who scored at exactly the cut score of TLI 70 perform on the SAT9 math test?
· 92% of these students scored below the 50th percentile on the SAT9 test.

· 86% of these students scored below the 40th percentile on the SAT9 test.

· 68% of these students scored below the 30th percentile on the SAT9 test.

· 47% of these students scored below the 20th percentile on the SAT9 test.
Perhaps Kim Swygert can shed more light on this, but it appears to me that the SAT9 math test is significantly more difficult (for these TX students) than the TAAS. Since both are math tests (as opposed to, say, history), one would expect the skill sets at the 10th-grade level to correspond a bit more closely.

NOTE: The TAAS has been replaced by the ostensibly more-difficult TAKS.
DAY 8: 224.0 Delta: 0.0, Net: -7.0

Next goal: 220.0 by 4/24


A TOUGH KID This 13-year-old has had a difficult time but doesn't give an inch. Definitely worth a read.
A GREAT IDEA A 5th-grade class has recorded books on tapes for distribution to young kids who are hospitalized. This sounds like something homeschool groups could emulate.
THAT'S THE POINT One day after being harassed for participating in the "Day of Silence" protest, a 16-year-old girl was attacked on the street and severely beaten, possibly with a baseball bat. The school insists there is no connection between the two events. WWHS.
DAY 7: 224.0 Delta: -0.5, Net: -7.0

Barely made it. I expect now to drop 2-3 lbs per week.


LIBRARY WOES A TN county wants to cut all funding for its libraries.
"Hmm, that's the first I've heard of it." The news came as a shock to library spokesman Bobby King. "That's not cool at all."
Homeschoolers are likely to be impacted. But, I've been re-thinking my position on public libraries. I'm not sure the county isn't taking the right position. Communities should be able to (voluntarily) fund their own libraries without the coercion of taxes.
DAY 6: 224.5 Delta: 0.0, Net: -6.5
FIRST AMENDMENT VS. FIRST AMENDMENT These kids don't quite get what the First Amendment is all about:
Administrators of the St. Paul college are "being hypocritical," [Senior Maria Retounotes] said after the 30-minute lunchtime rally, for blocking an unofficial campus organization of secular humanists and atheists from meeting at the school on Wednesday.
It's a Catholic school.
UNIVERSAL PRE-K The Orlando Sentinel editorializes today in favor of local governments offering universal pre-K. They quote a Chicago study which found a $7 return for ervery dollar "invested." There are any number of concerns here: 1) The Chicago study involved only "at risk" kids. There is no guarantee that the 7:1 return is scalable. 2) Universal pre-K can easily become a form of "free" daycare for middle-class families. 3) "Voluntary" pre-K can quickly morph into "compulsory."
ONE FOR "OUR HORRIBLE CHILDREN" This is nearly unbelievable.
A lunchtime fight at Alain Leroy Locke High School in South Los Angeles exploded into a major disturbance Friday, with teenagers allegedly swinging pipes and bats at one another, school and police officials said. As many as 300 students participated in the melee, which was the second such disturbance at a Los Angeles Unified School District high school in as many weeks.
Good socialization they have out there in LaLa Land. WWHS.


VERY SMART AND VERY DUMB An 11-year-old came in second place in the Washington State High School Science Fair. The kid is a prodigy.
At 2, he was assembling Legos into giant robots as tall as he was. At 6, he was mastering multiplication and reading Daniel Defoe. At 9, he was taking high-school French.
The schools didn't know what to do with him so they locked him up.
In the fourth grade, Issaquah School District teachers didn't know how to keep Andrew from being bored, and decided to put him in a separate room with advanced math and science books for a few days.
Wisely, the parents chose homeschooling, instead.
"We just provided a lot of materials, lots of books," said David Hsu, 43, a software engineer who makes educational videos. "We took him to the science center, the aquarium, so he could be stimulated from different angles.
He expects to enroll in college at the age of twelve.
KEEP YOUR MONEY The New Hampshire budget includes a line-item of $400,000 for homeschooling. The governor had requested $2M. I'd just as soon see it set at zero. With government dollars...
SIGH! This could have have bad. A school nurse mixed up phone numbers and sent a young girl home with an 89-year-old man who was not her grandfather (evidently the man didn't realize the girl was not his graddaughter). The little girl realized the mistake and ran home. No harm, no foul. Of course, the mom is suing.
CHEAP PROTEST A high-school sophomore boycotted the MA exit test yesterday.
To prove the point that she'd prefer not to graduate than take the MCAS test, Brookline sophomore Sara Skvirsky left school yesterday rather than take the exam.
Big deal! She has multiple chances to take the test over the next two years. If she boycotts ALL of them, then I'll be impressed with her courage. Several seniors also boycotted the test but they've already been accepted into several colleges and universtities. All ring pretty hollow, IMHO.
DAY 5: 224.5 Delta: -1.5, Net: -6.5

Off to a good start. My 1 week goal is 7 lbs.
PAIGE THREE The NYT is all over EdSec Paige today on its Editorial page.
That Education Secretary Rod Paige is a Christian eager to declare his fervor publicly is undoubtedly a source of personal strength to him. But for the nation's chief steward of public education to go further and state, as he recently did, that he personally finds Christian schools preferable for the values they teach is an appalling gaffe that cries out for condemnation.

...The secretary of education needs either to do some fast fence-mending or step down.
Expect press conference #2 with apology #1 soon.


OT: DELAWARE ITEM Joe Biden slipped the anti-civil liberties RAVE Act into Amber Alert legislation. The RAVE Act would hold business owners liable for any drug use on their property- even if they make good-faith efforts to stop it. This is similar to the awful Clean Indoor Air Act which does the same thing if someone lights up in a bar or restaurant. (link via Instapundit)
HOMESCHOOL ATHLETE The Sarasota Herald-Tribune profiles a homeschooler who participates on the local public-school sports teams. Florida law allows homeschoolers across the state access to extracurriculars.
BACK LATER I'm off to Dover to meet with the DOE to discuss homeschooling legislation.
DAY 4: 226.0 Delta: -0.5, Net: -5.0
DISRUPTIVE HAIR An 8th grade boy was excluded from his class photo because he has long hair, bleached blonde with black streaks. School officials said his hair was disruptive. Except, his hair has been that way all year; he get's A's and B's; and, the only time they've said anything to him was the day of the photo. Once again, this is the school deciding appearances are more important than what a kid is.
PAIGE UPDATE EdSec Paige continues to take shots for for comments about Christianity in the schools. Yesterday he attempted to "clarify" his remarks:
"I understand completely and respect the separation of church and state," Paige said at a hastily called news conference.

..Paige, former superintendent of the Houston Independent School District, said his comments were taken out of context because he was referring to universities and not public elementary and secondary schools.
Sorry- I'm not buying it. Here's the original (out-of-context) quote:
All things equal, I would prefer to have a child in a school that has a strong appreciation for the values of the Christian community, where a child is taught to have a strong faith... The reason that Christian schools and Christian universities are growing is a result of a strong value system. In a religious environment the value system is set. That's not the case in a public school where there are so many different kids with different kinds of values.
Does this sound like he's talking about students at a university? And it's not like the Southern Baptist Press would have been a hostile interview. Nope. Paige pulled a Lott. He opened his mouth without fully engaging his brain and told his audience what they wanted to hear. Unfortunately, as EdSec, the audience is a lot larger than the Southern Baptist Convention. The days of a politician getting away with this are long past. The 'net assures that.

My prediction- we'll see one or two more clarifying press conferences with perhaps a couple of apologies thrown in before this one dies away. I don't think Paige will lose his job over the issue but if he continues to follow the Trent Lott model of damage control, he very well might.


EMAIL Carmon Friedrich pointed out that she had re-blogged the story about some CA parents "censoring" their kids' books. I especially enjoyed this 'graf:
I'm not into saving the government schools. I'm one of those radicals who thinks the whole behemoth ought to be shot and quickly buried to stop the stench.
IRAQ, HOMESCHOOLING, & DELAWARE The Wilmington News-Journal has a nice piece on homeschool grad J. B. Hogan. PFC Hogan drives a Bradley Fighting Vehicle and is somewhere in Iraq.

UPDATE: I should have mentioned that I've crossed paths with Maggie Hogan (the Mom) a few times. DE is such a small state that the homeschooling community is just automatically tight. In fact, Maggie was one of the featured speakers at last week's ORCHID conference here. She made a big impression with my wife. I haven't ever met her son but hope to shake his hand when he gets back. An impressive family.
DAY OF SILENCE Joanne Jacobs has a nice take on the Day of Silence protest against discrimination and violence aimed at gays.
THAT DIDN'T TAKE LONG On Monday, EdSec Paige was quoted as saying "All things equal, I would prefer to have a child in a school that has a strong appreciation for the values of the Christian community, where a child is taught to have a strong faith... The reason that Christian schools and Christian universities are growing is a result of a strong value system. In a religious environment the value system is set. That's not the case in a public school where there are so many different kids with different kinds of values." I was surprised to hear a government official express this; it sounded more like something James Dobson would say. Civil liberties groups, as well as a teachers' union, are calling for Paige to recant (or at least clarify) his position or to resign.
The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said Paige's remarks showed "an astonishing mix of disrespect for both America's religious diversity and the public schools." In a letter faxed to the Department of Education yesterday, Lynn urged Paige to repudiate the remarks or step down.
DAY 3: 226.5 Delta: -1.0, Net: -4.5


WHAT GIVES? Isabel Lyman has a Blogspot ad for "Catholic Home Schools" while I have one for "Standard Deviants." Is blogger try to tell me something?
[Music teacher Thomas] Engler was pleased with his students’ performance at the Texas Federation of Music, District 9 Junior Festival sponsored by the National Federation of Music Clubs.

“I am very impressed with the dedication of these students,” Engler said. “Many of them are homeschooled, and they always do more than I ask of them.”
FUTURE COLLEGE PRESIDENT A young lady wants to start a Bible Club in her government school. Her chosen name: Truth Bible Club. The Student Council rejected her request based, in part, on the name.
"The name 'Truth' implies that everything else is a lie," said Camron Barth, 17-year-old junior vice president and friend of Stewart. He voted "nay." "We want to celebrate our diversity. I support the club, but the name should be changed."
Celebrate Diversity! I see. Diversity is the new god we must all bow down to. I'm pretty sure it says somewhere in the Bible not to do that.
DAY 2: 227.5 Delta: -3.0, Net: -3.5
OT: HOT FUSION The NYT reports that scientists at Sandia National Lab have produced controlled nuclear fusion by compressing deuterium (a form of hydrogen) with a shock wave initiated by a burst of x-rays. This is way cool if a little impractical. The instrument is capable of producing one shot per day, producing enough power to light a 40 W bulb for 1/1000 second. I still find this fascinating, perhaps because of this PERSONAL ANECDOTE: I was in the Chemistry Department at the Univ. of Utah when Stan Pons announced he had acheived "Cold Fusion." In fact, I worked for Pons for a brief period before moving next door (literally- we were also in the basement labs next to Pons' labs) into Ted Eyring's group. Ever since, I've tried to keep up with developments in the field. Fusion holds the potential to wean ourselves off fossil fuels. The deuterium in the oceans would be able to supply the world's energy needs for thousands of years. The trick is to generate the kinds of temperatures seen in the middle of the sun. That's what the Sandia researchers have done.


What: First [?] meeting of Philadelphia area bloggers
When: Saturday, April 12, 8pm
Where: Xando/Cosi coffee house, 325 Chestnut Sts, Philadelphia
Please RSVP to nicole@thegofish.com
COMMUNITY COLLEGES USAT has an interesting piece up about CC's and dual-enrollments. I find this stat hard to believe, though:
In the 1980s, 1 in 12 students attended college while in high school; that grew to 1 in 8 in the '90s, says Cliff Adelman, a Department of Education senior research analyst.
A couple of homeschoolers receive passing mention is the article.
MORE ON MICHIGAN Check out this ugly quote:
The state does not require home-school families to register, which makes getting an accurate count difficult. But based on Census data and statewide enrollment figures, more than 5 percent of Michigan's students may be schooled at home, Michigan State University researchers estimate.

"If you live in Michigan, chances are you know somebody who is home schooling his or her children,'' wrote the study's authors, Tara Donahue and David Plank. "And, if you do, chances are you know more about the education those children are getting than the state of Michigan does.''
Good! What gives the state the right to know anything about what our kids are learning in our homes paid for with our dollars?
WWHS A 9-year-old boy with epilepsy is now being homeschooled to keep him away from the bully who beat him up because of his epilepsy.
INSANE! According to the UK Independent 25,000 California teachers are facing layoffs at the end of the school year. To make matters worse, CA ed schools are expected to graduate another 24,000 new teachers this year.
In an effort to better communicate with parents, Desert Christian Schools has launched an Internet-based system that lets parents look at their children's school records, find out what assignments are due and what grades they have received, and even check attendance.
The school has taken some good precautions to assure security. This should help parents stay in touch when the teachers might not be physically available.
WHO'S YOUR DADDY? The SacBee has an article about parents "censoring" what their kids are reading in school. The teachers aren't happy:
A group of parents who want a stronger voice on curriculum matters say they are worried that some material is unsuitable and that their children don't have adequate alternatives.

Meanwhile, teachers fear their control over the classroom is being wrestled away.

"The big issue is who is going to pick the curriculum: educators or special interest parents?" said Janice White, an English teacher at Oak Ridge High School in El Dorado Hills.
The parents' crime? Reading the same books as the kids and publishing reviews on the internet. Good for them.

BTW, the SacBee has the coolest little web tool on the page. You can change font size o print it out right in the page. Neat trick.
DAY 1: 230.5 Delta: -0.5, Net: -0.5


NOT PARANOID, AFTER ALL Back in October, I predicted that within a year, the drug-testing fad would morph into schools having mandatory cholesterol screening. My timing was good- I only missed the disease.
Diabetes is on the rise in this country as Americans, including children, struggle with obesity, but that doesn't justify a bill that would require every student enrolling in a Louisiana school for the first time to be tested for the disease.
THROW AWAY THE KEY A NJ elementary teacher has been accused of having sex with a 13-year-old boy. The male teacher is HIV-positive.
WHERE ARE THE STUDIES? I'm really tired of diversity/affirmative action proponents coming up with a variation of this quote:
"I hope they leave things the way they are.

Diversity has been shown to enhance the academic environment," said [Univ. of Utah President] Machen, whose pro-diversity position always has been clear.
What studies? Enhanced for whom? Under what conditions? How 'bout a little data so we can judge for ourselves?
THIS WILL BE FUN The National Archives are now available online here. So far, some 50 million records including family histories and genealogical records are available.
DAY 0: 231.0 lbs
DIET BLOG This is so far OT that only I will care about it. I finally purchased a new bathroom scale. I am not happy. My diet starts NOW. I'll be using the Atkins Diet. I am going to record my weight here each day, so that I will be externally motivated to not cheat.
ONLY IN UTAH A Spanish Fork (pronounced "Fark") teacher faced firing because she is lesbian. Not because she pushed an agenda or came on to a student. Just because she is. The UT Supreme Court denied a lawsuit from some parents that would have declared her not to be a "good role model" and forced her removal.


INTERESTING ESSAY This teacher of 33 years is retiring in May. The essay covers his take on the state of the schools in FL. It's not a pretty picture but it is thought-provoking.
GEO BEE The MN state champ is homeschooled.


ZERO TOLERANCE I was going to blog this but Michael Lopez has said everything that needs to be said. And, BTW, the kid who got suspended was correct. I've heard kids use "gay" as a synonym for "dumb." It might not be PC, but it hardly seems fair to suspend the kid for using the word the same way all the other kids are.
NICE PROFILE The Naples (FL) News has a terrifically positive profile of the homeschooler who conceived of and organized the homeschool prom there. The reporter apparently spent the entire day following this young lady around as she prepared for the big night. Well-worth a click.
WHAT A SHOCK!A study of the government schools in WA found that they could be improved.
The ideal public school in Washington state pays teachers competitive salaries, has lower student-to-teacher ratios, provides more classroom technology and materials and allows more professional-development days for teachers.

And it will take an additional $1.7 billion in annual state education spending, according to a Seattle-based bipartisan think tank.
Bet you can't guess who paid for the $175,000 study.


DELAWARE DISCONNECT Delawareans think their government schools are doing a much better job than they actually are. Surely, it couldn't have anything to do with the extensive DSEA "Great Schools" propaganda advertising program, could it?
LOOK OUT, MI HOMESCHOOLERS Michigan State University educrats are worried that they don't know who or where you are.
A Michigan State University report released Tuesday suggests there are thousands of children being homeschooled in Michigan that state education officials don't know about.

Parents in Michigan aren't required to tell the state they're teaching their children at home.

...[David] Plank said the state has an obligation to provide an education for all school children. However, he said he isn't suggesting more state oversight into home-schooling, rather a reporting system that would track where children are receiving their education.

Plank and Tara Donahue, the other author of the report, said the law should be amended to require that parents register, either with the state or their local intermediate school district, their child's name and the fact they are being home schooled.
Keep your eyes open.
AND THEY'RE OFF This young jockey is homeschooled so he can fit his education around his (and the horses) training schedules.
ONE BORN EVERY MINUTE Bennett's K12 company has just secured $20M in venture funding by, at least in part, playing on the 1.7 million homeschoolers who are the "market."
[VC] Miller said the deterioration in the quality of public schools, the fiscal crises in many states, the desire of parents to play a bigger role in education, which includes nearly 1.7 million students being home-schooled, are all factors stoking demand for K12's program.
It's not homeschoolers who are using the very expensive K12 program. Instead, it's the tiny market of cyber-schoolers. Suckers!


AN EXCELLENT IDEA HSLDA is creating a prayer list of homeschool graduates who are serving in the Middle East. Of the 17 who are currently listed, two (brothers?) are stationed right here in New Castle, DE.
GOOD LUCK Proposed legislation in SC would have the school districts pay homeschoolers.
If a student is home schooled in the manner provided by law, his resident school district annually shall reimburse his custodial parent or parents or legal guardian for the cost of his home schooling which is defined as one hundred percent of the district's per pupil expenditure determined by the State Department of Education based upon the Education Finance Act weightings."
SC's new governor is homeschool friendly so this may have a chance. I'm pretty sure the teacher's union will be opposed.

UPDATE: According to the Census, SC spends $8014 per student. Larger homeschooling families could be raking in the dough. I really don't think this one will fly, not even in conservative SC.
WWHS A 12-year-old girl was gang raped in a school bathroom for 30 minutes during school hours. Her attackers were between 12 and 14 years old. No one noticed the 7 boys who were missing from class.
In three cases reported to the Sheriff's Office during the 2001-2002 school year, three male students at the school were charged with lewd and lascivious acts after female students said they were attacked in school bathrooms, according to police reports. [Spokeswoman] English said five sexual battery or rape investigations were conducted at the school that year.
DRIVER'S ED A TX legislator wants to impose a $5 fee for a road test in order for kids to get their driver's licenses. A favorite quote:
Senate Bill 946, awaiting House consideration, would generate $501,000 for DPS from $5 fees to pay for the road tests.

"This is Republican 101," Ogden said of the funding strategy. "We're not going to raise taxes. We're going to charge a fee for services."
WHO'S RIGHT? The TX teacher's union claims that the dropout rate in Tarrant County is 1%. The IRDA, an advocacy group, claims that 40% of 9th graders don't graduate four years later. So, which is it? Is the dropout rate insignificant or is it a huge problem? Actually, the truth is probably somewhere in between. The IRDA data includes students who left schools because of transfers and homeschooling. The TEA considers kids who left schools and later got a GED as non-dropouts. It's all just a political football.


DELAWARE ITEM REMINDER- the ORCHID conference/ curriculum fair is scheduled for this Friday.
IDLE THREATS I was just reminded of this PERSONAL ANECDOTE. Read at your own risk.

The local YMCA has long-offered a Homeschool Swim class. The class consists of 30 minutes of instruction time and 15 minutes of free-swim time. The "Y" also cuts us a small break on the price. The regular swim classes don't include the extra 15 minutes. Some non-homeschooling parents complained that it wasn't fair that they paid more and got less. They even suggested that they should homeschool so they could save the few dollars represented by the discount. What a joke! Well, the "Y" caved and eliminated the discount and the extra 15 minutes. So, my wife is leading an exodus of homeschoolers across town to the very homeschool friendly Boys & Girls Club.

The end result: the "Y" will have a nice, empty pool during the day and the membership price at the "Y" will likely rise to cover the loss of revenue. Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of people.
LIGHTEN UP, MIKE HSLDA Pres. Mike Smith needs a vacation; he's taking things way too seriously.
Mike Smith, president of the Homes School Legal Defense Association, told Agape Press the 30-minute WB network comedy "The O’Keefes" unfairly insinuates home schoolers lack social skills.

...Smith said home schoolers test higher than any other group of students in terms of socialization and has asked Warner Brothers CEO Barry Meyer to revise the show’s content.
It's a SITCOM!
DEATH SPIRAL This school district had to cut 13 days from the school year due to budget constraints. Parents are angry and are considering homeschooling, which "would take even more money from the school district." Darn!
LET'S ROLL Our troops are short on toilet paper. This high-schooler is helping out. The publication date is April 1st. Nahh- couldn't be.
THE PROBLEM WITH VOUCHERS Some FL legislators are proposing legislation that would force voucher-accepting schools to take the FCAT (FL's state test). This Op/Ed argues against it.
Imposing this conformity on private schools by requiring that they administer the FCAT would prevent those schools from offering meaningful alternatives to the type of education offered in state schools. Not all children learn in the same way and not all families share the same philosophy of education. Allowing a diversity of approaches is precisely one of the most important benefits of having alternatives to public schools available through voucher programs.

Though private schools do not follow the state standards, we need not be too concerned that private schools are failing to adhere to adequate standards. The market forces them to have meaningful standards in order to entice parents to choose their school. Furthermore, since almost all private schools already administer nationally respected standardized tests, we can judge the value of a private school's standards by how well they perform on these tests.
Read the whole thing.
WAY OT Lileks has some new additions to the MEAT! Gallery. Some of these were so funny I had tears streaming down my cheeks. Make sure you click through them all. SOme of the funniest ones are towards the end.
TEACHING THE TEST Michael Lopez has a nice post on the difference between teaching the material annd teaching the test. A couple of quotes from the original article:
There is a fine line between preparing students and overemphasizing tests, said Carlton Jordan, a researcher for Ed Trust, a Washington-based research group.
And this school seems to have crossed it.
At least twice each month, all third- and fourth-grade students spend three hours taking a practice standardized test modeled after annual state and city exams.

More than two-thirds of the third- and fourth-grade students arrive at school by 8 a.m. every Saturday to attend four-hour classes on test-taking strategies and problem-solving drills. There are similar two-hour sessions after school three times a week.
I don't have a problem with practice tests. Some kids get "test anxiety" and don't test well. Whatever the schools can do to remove the stress is good, as it allows the kids to show what they know. But, as Lopez points out, multiple choice tests aren't real life. Spending months learning how to "game the system" is unproductive in the long run.