ENGAGE BRAIN THEN OPEN MOUTH An Illinois legislator has dropped his proposal to "allow" homeschoolers to voluntarily register with the state. Shockingly, IL homeschoolers were opposed as they don't have any registration now.
Rutherford also offered home schoolers the option of a registration law, but said Thursday he will drop both proposals because of the lack of support from home school groups.

"I am not finding there is a consensus as to what should happen. With that being said, I'm doing nothing," he said.
He's being disingenuous. The consensus was that homeschoolers were ready to go to war. Why did he ever think that homeschoolers would be in favor of this?
BLECCHH! There are enough ugly quotes in this article to choke a horse. Ventura Co. (CA) schools want to "help" homeschoolers.
Under the program, the Conejo Valley Unified School District would provide a credentialed teacher to oversee the child's education, but parents would be responsible for day-to-day lessons...

The district would also provide opportunities for students to socialize with each other...

"Our hope is that, if they're connected to our district during their home-schooling years, they'll be better prepared when they come back to us," he said.
They're going to survey homeschoolers in the district to see if they'd be interested. I hope they tell them "Thanks but no thanks."
ANOTHER FIRST AMENDMENT DECISION A federal judge has ruled that a Pittsburgh school cannot punish students for "offensive or abusive Internet messages posted from home." The school's student handbook had gone too far in supressing protected speech, according to the judge. I like this quote from the mother of the affected student:
"Judge Ambrose's decision not only protects students' free speech rights," she said, "but also protects the parents' rights to raise and discipline their children for conduct that takes place in the family's home."
Parent's rights? In the schools? Heaven forbid!
COMMON SENSE WINS The 6th-grader who faced expulsion and jail-time for changing his grades on a teacher's computer will not be prosecuted and will be allowed to return to his school.
OUR HORRIBLE PRINCIPALS Teachers in Atlanta fear for their lives. Not because of the students but because a principal has said he'd like to shoot some of the employees. He remains on the job while undergoing psychiatric evaluation. Yet, another reason to homeschool- psychotic administrators.
DOUBLE JEOPARDY A Denver high school student was suspended for putting up posters promoting a student walk-out to protest Bush's war against Iraq*. Administrators had warned him that doing so would earn him a one-day suspension because a walk-out would disrupt the educational mission of the school. I think they're probably correct. But, they've threatened him with expulsion if students walk out. That's going too far. How can they hold him responsible the the actions of the other students?

*Yes- I recognize the political nature of this statement. IMO, when Pres. Bush stated that he didn't care how many protesters there were against the war, he was going to war anyway, it became his war. He does still work for us, right?


McKenzie [Mullins], from Gordon, [TX] is competing through Sunday in the World Cutting Horse Competition at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. The 85-pound girl will ride her father's 1,240-pound horse, Rosies Lena, last year's world champion.
The family rides the rodeo circuit and homeschools so they can compete.
APPROPRIATELY NAMED? One of Virginia's accountability tests is named the Standards of Learning writing test- abbreviated SOL test. I'm sure that's how a lot of the kids feel about it.
DUMB AND DUMBER! A special ed teacher apparently got into a disagreement with a 17-year-old student. They decided to settle it by having a boxing/wrestling match. During school. In front of the rest of the class. This is the second special ed teacher to get in trouble at the school. Earlier this year, a female teacher was found in bed with a (different) 17-year-old student, violating a court order not to see him. She faces up to 60 years in prison. It may be time for regime change at the school.
JOHNNY CAN'T READ Here's an article out of Canada that seems to be mistitled: How the schools wage war on boys The main point is that schools are doing a poor job of teaching reading and that boys, in particular, are not being well served. They make some good points about teaching phonics and really rag on the edu-babblers:
In Ontario, the education ministry at first proposed to define the problem away by relaxing the standards for the applied students. Meantime, among the education theorists, the definition of literacy itself remains in flux. Many of them are still wedded to the idea of "multiple literacies," which is the peculiar notion that some people can be literate without knowing how to read and write.

This may strike the layperson as bizarre. But in current education theory, the whole idea of "literacy" is subjective. It is a "social-cultural construct" that, in the words of one recent study, ought to take into account not only gender issues, but also "cultural and linguistic diversity" as well as "unequal relations of power, class, race and ethnicity."

This language comes from education researchers Heather Blair and Kathy Sanford, who also want to define the problem away. The problem isn't that boys are illiterate, they argue, but that they demonstrate their literacy in ways the current curriculum doesn't assess. "We need to deepen our understanding of the subjectivity of literacies for both boys and girls, given the socio-cultural configurations from which they emerge," they write. To encourage boys to get more involved with learning, they suggest putting video games and Pokemon in the schools.
I love the Pokemon part but the edu-crats are at least two years behind the times. Pokemon is dead- Yu-Gi-Oh rules!

BTW- we're in the process of teaching our younger daughter to read. Lydia chose the Explode the Code series and we really like the program. Of course, YMMV. Click here for several reviews.


INTERESTING ADS The banner ad on the top of this page for the last several days has been advertising a couple of libertarian sites. Other blogspot banner ads are for family sites. In each case, the ad seems pretty appropriate to the blog. How is this done? I guess blogger.com could scan the archives for keywords and then plug in the correct ad. Pretty slick, IMO.
THE LAW(YER) IS A ASS This has got to be one of the dumber lawsuits- and it's local. A while back, a teacher at a Catholic high school was fired for putting her name to a pro-choice advertisement. Personally, I think the school was in the right. Abortion is pretty much anathema to the Church. They should (and do) have the right to fire a teacher who publicly disagrees with their teaching. Well, her lawyer disagrees and has filed a lawsuit alleging "pregnancy discrimination." Yes, you read that correctly.
The 21-page complaint also alleges that Curay-Cramer's dismissal based on her abortion rights views violates the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which prohibits firing an employee for having an abortion. The complaint contends that though Curay-Cramer herself didn't have an abortion, she is entitled to the act's protections because of her views supporting abortion.

"It's a slam-dunk," Neuberger said of the charges. "There are no exemptions for religious institutions for sexual discrimination."
A slam dunk for the school, I'd guess.
SLIGHTLY OT The Phila. Inquirer has a piece on adoptions of kids orphaned in Africa. The three young girls described in the lede are being homeschooled and adjusting to life in America.
Mia saw her parents killed by rebels. Michaela's mother died of starvation. Mariel's mother developed gangrene from a bullet in her leg. And in war-ravaged Sierra Leone, where they were born, the girls suffered from malaria, food poisoning and malnutrition.
Only 343 African kids were adopted by Americans last year.
ANOTHER REASON This is a scary statistic: 20% of alcohol consumption in the US is by those between 12 and 20 years of age.
SHADES OF FDR Charter school proponents in MA may have found a way to beat the anti-charter opposition- pack the Board of Ed with charter school wannabes.
[S]peakers at yesterday's standing-room-only meeting, including elected officials and parents, claimed that the vote was fixed because four of the five approved charter schools came from applicants in the yearlong charter-school fellowship of the Pioneer Institute, the Boston-based think tank that backs charter schools and other school choice options...

The state Ethics Commission has cleared two board members - chairman James A. Peyser, Pioneer's former [Pioneer] executive director, and member Abigail M. Thernstrom, who sits on its academic advisory committee - to vote on charter schools after disclosing their ties. But the commission has requested more information about board member Charles D. Baker, who sits on Pioneer's board of directors, before letting him vote. Baker was absent yesterday.
Smart politics.


A GOOD BLOG Erin O'Connor's Critical Mass is a razor-sharp edu-blog. I'm adding it to the blog-roll. I particularly recommend this post.
GROWTH OR NO-GROWTH This article out of Arizona makes a big deal of the fact that homeschool numbers are up 545% in the last decade. But the population of the county is up 520% over the same period. Other than that, though, it's a pretty good article. The quoted educrat comes off as particularly whiney.

UPDATE: Kim Swygert also blogged this. Typically, she did a much better job with it than I.
BMOC Here's an unusual reason to homeschool- the kid was so tall he was getting picked on. He now stands 7-3 as a sophomore and is enrolled in a private school.
I KNOW HER Izzy Lyman has an article on WWHS in today's Ludwig von Mises Institute daily journal. (Thanks to Skip Oliva for the heads-up.)
WHO??? Canadian musician Remy Shand was homeschooled. I've never heard of him but I like this quote:
Even in the summer months, when most students were taking a break, Shand would spend from nine to noon on school and then switch to music, which he would practice for eight hours a day.

"It really gave me the discipline academically to work on my own," he told etalk. "It's like getting into what you're into and making that your life."
FREE THEY AIN'T Edison Schools promise "free" computers to kids in the school. This has been a selling point that educrats and politicians love. Apparently, though, the parents aren't buying.
At West Middle School, only 253 parents out of an eligible 1,100 completed the three training sessions that qualified them for a computer. West, which has been under Edison supervision since 2001, signed out the computers in December.
Edison and the educrats are shocked and disappointed. I'm not. I can think of many reasons why parents would reject these computers: For instance, perhaps they already have one (or more) at home. Computers are good tools but they are not the be-all and end-all to successfully educate our young. This was just an Edison gimmick that flopped. And, of course, the computers aren't "free." The cost is built into the contract and taxpayers are paying for them.
CLUELESS AZ parents are camping out in the street in order to be first in line to register their kids for a "good" pre-school.
"I know it's crazy, but I wanted her to get into a really good preschool and they seem to have a well-structured curriculum," said Young, 33, of Paradise Valley, who believes that a good preschool will give her 2-year-old daughter, Ashley, an edge in her education.

"I think it helps kids to be so much smarter. And they get a good head start."
Is there any evidence that kids who attend these super-exclusive pre-schools do any better than anyone else? These parents are kidding themselves if they think that the pre-school their kid attends will determine, even in part, what college the children will eventually attend.
APOLOGIES Major problems accessing the 'net today. I have not even seen EdNews.Org. I'll try again in an hour or two. Check back then.


CLAUDE WORTHY?* Here's a headline that, perhaps, only a DELDOT attorney could love: Home schooling works for many students, parents. Considering that there may be 2 million homeschoolers, I would hope it was working for at least a few.

*The title is stolen from the terrific Sneaking Suspicions blog. If it's not on your daily read list, it should be.
A PRIVILEGE, NOT A RIGHT Lest you think I always see the government-school glass as half-empty, here's an example where the educrats get it right. A boys basketball team will forfeit the rest of this year's games for shouting a profanity during a pep rally. These kids were simply out-of-control.
According to [Superintendent] Follbaum, there has been a total of 42 suspensions handed out to nine of the team's 13 players.

The suspensions have been for a variety of reasons: fighting, alcohol use, profanity, insubordination, missing practice, damaging a locker room and pulling a fire alarm as a prank.
Some lame-brained parents are appealing the decision to end the season.
PC ALERT Los Angeles schools are considering ceasing to name a class valedictorian because, said the principal, "If they are not number one, it could get their feelings hurt if they are self-motivating and high-achieving students." BLECCHH!
ANOTHER REASON TO HOMESCHOOL Our kids won't get fat (statistically speaking).
Historically, parents (and extended family) have controlled what, when and how much children ate. Our world, in which unsupervised children are allowed to choose their own food, is relatively new, as is the child-fat explosion.

This is, of course, a divisive line of thought -- and for some, a painful one. Many mothers work because they must. And those who can choose often feel they and their families benefit from their decision to work outside the home. Still, though it may be sexist and unfair, the link between absent mothers and overweight children is increasingly difficult to deny. This is true not only in the United States. A 1999 study of obese Japanese 3-year-olds identified "the mother's job" as the environmental factor contributing most to child obesity.


NICE AD A positive profile of two homeschooling families. The article serves as an ad for a seminar they're organizing.
ONE FOR (THE MIA) MICHAEL PEACH The British government is cracking down on truancy, scouring shopping malls for students out during school hours. In a recent sweep they picked up over 7,000 kids who were out with their parents. I wonder if any were homeschoolers. And, how would the truant officers know if they were?
TEST BOYCOTT Another parent is boycotting the FL accountability tests. What makes this interesting is that this parent is a member of the School Board. The FCAT is theoretically a high-stakes test but there are a couple of other ways that kids can get promoted if they don't pass (or take) the test. So, her act of civil disobedience is a little weak.


DOA The UT legislature is proposing a head-tax of $90 per child to fund the government schools. Of all the states, UT has to be the least likely to attempt this. The LDS (Mormon) Church basically runs the state and they don't exactly discourage large families.
SERVES HIM RIGHT A teacher whipped (with a narrow strip of plastic) a female special-ed student who had misbehaved. He hit her hard enough to leave a "pretty severe" bruise. The next day, the girl's older brother came to the school and punched the teacher in the face. He required stitches to close the wound. A grand jury refused to indict the brother (who happens to be the stepson of the Assistant Police Chief). The teacher's union and the teacher are claiming a civil rights violation since the teacher is black and, apparently, the police chief isn't. IMO, the teacher is lucky to have only gotten punched in the face. "Switching" a student hard enough to leave a bruise is child abuse, plain and simple. He should be facing charges.
JOEL KLEIN, MONOPOLIST Skip Oliva has an interesting column up on the monopolistic tendencies of former anti-trust lawyer and current NYC Chancellor of Schools Joel Klein. I especially enjoyed the closing 'graf:
If Klein had even an ounce of intelligence, he would embrace the free market in education. After all, if capitalism is good enough to provide Americans with food, clothing, and housing, it’s also good enough to provide quality education.
I was going to suggest that Skip sign the Proclamation but he already has. Cool.


ROFLMAO A SD legislator was opposed to a bill allowing homeschoolers to participate in public-school sports.
She said public school students are hard-working kids who have to "get up at the butt crack of dawn" to sacrifice for their educational and extracurricular activities. The typical public school student "pays a price. They don't get everything their way." They have to "put up with the same crap" day-in-day-out only to have to compete for a spot in the school play with some home school kid living on Easy Street who gets to sleep in, decide what he wants to learn, and has lunch made by good ol' mom. "How is that fair?"
That's some endorsement of the public-schools. I guess she can kiss off that contribution from the NEA.
MONTANA LETTER Here's a good letter to the editor concerning the proposed MT homeschholing regs.
Montanans speak up for home schooling

On Feb. 12, swarms of parents and home-schooled children gathered at the Capitol in the old Supreme Court Chambers to get a firsthand view of the workings of a government that is for the people and by the people. And whom do they have to thank for this unique lesson? Sen. Don Ryan.

Ryan introduced a bill to the Education Committee Feb. 12 that would mandate that home-schooled children participate in the standardized state testing. In an introduction that lasted almost 50 minutes, he assured his support of home-schooling for the first 10 minutes and proceeded to demonize the institution in his following 40 minutes. Following this lengthy oration, the chairman called for testimonies from the proponents of this bill.

You could have heard a pin drop.

Though the chamber was packed tighter than a sardine can with more than 400 persons, not a soul stirred to side with Ryan.

When the chairman called for the testimonies of the opponents, more than 100 people formed a line that extended outside the chamber doors and down the hall.

The Republican platform states: "We oppose any efforts to limit academic freedom of choice by state regulation of church, private or home schools." President Bush firmly echoed that position when he required that home schoolers be exempt from "No Child Left Behind" testing requirements.

Today we are proud to enjoy a tremendous victory for all Montanans and especially parents in having the freedom to determine and choose the best education possible for their children, whether that be public, private or home school. We rejoice that the "silent majority" was not silent today and thank them for raising their voice.

Jan and Jim Helgeson

FOUR YEARS OR SIX HOURS The NEA has put together a six-hour "crash course" for newbie teachers.
These are the things you don't learn in college, but which are vital to your success as a teacher," says Mary Jo Webster, a high school music teacher in Falls Church, Virginia, who took the training course through the Virginia Education Association (VEA).
Kind of undermines the value of that four-year certification program, eh?
ON THE ROAD, AGAIN I'm travelling today so blogging will be non-existent until this evening. In the meantime, those interested in politcs should check out polstate.com. Click on the archives link to see everything written about your state.


NO HABLAMOS ESPANOL Blogger is freaking out. It redirected my site to a Spanish blog. A re-fresh pulled up a cartoon (in English). So, no, I haven't lost my mind and gone all affirmative action again.
FIRST AMENDMENT BLUES A high school student in MI was sent home because he was sporting a t-shirt that labeled George Bush an "International Terrorist." The school has a large Muslim population and school officials wimped out were worried it would "inflame passions." I think the kid falls into the "useful idiot" category but he still has First Amendment Rights. (via Izzy and Bret of Our Horrible Children)
ANOTHER CYBER-CHARTER San Diego is starting a cyber-charter. Ho-hum. As usual, they confuse it with homeschooling.
Home-schooling is not a new concept, but there's a new wrinkle that's becoming more popular in San Diego.

Home-schooling via computer has an added attraction for the families that take part -- it's free. And that concept is prompting a debate over who's really footing the bill.
A new record- ignorance and stupidity in a single sentence! Cathy Henderson pulls off a deliciously snarky comment.
"Home-schooling via computer has an added attraction for the families that take part -- it's free." FREEEEEEEEE. All you have to do is let Bennett and the public school et al decide what your child should be learning, how they should be learning it, at what age they should learn it, and be monitored with periodic visits from "real" teachers, and take standardized tests. Oh. And pay taxes. Is that free or what?
HIGHLY QUALIFIED Pres. Bush's NCLB Act mandates that all public-school classrooms have a "highly-qualified" teacher. That's been interpreted to mean "fully certified." What, then, do we make of this statement from Susan Sclafani, an aide to U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige?
"Evidence of the value of (teacher) certification, in general, is equivocal at best."
Is certification important or not?
MORE SEP SCHOOLSTATE STUFF EducationNews.Org has been on a Separation of School and State kicklately. Today, David Kirkpatrick, the owner(?), editor(?) has a piece up on the subject. Nothing too profound but worth a peek if you're interested in the subject. And, if you're really interested in the topic, head over to SepSchool.Org and sign the Proclamation.


DISCONNECT The usually good CS Monitor confused me today. They start off a column on college costs with this lede:
It was not your average police-blotter item: Last week, federal marshals arrested four people in Minnesota who had defaulted on student loans. They weren't charged, but they were put behind bars until they turned over financial information to the Federal District Court in Minneapolis so officials could see what monies might be available to pay back their debt.

The operation's name: Anaconda Squeeze.

Some $25 billion in student loans stand in default.
OK, kids are in hock up to their eyebrows and can't pay it back. But, the Monitor follows with this non-sequitur:
But before more Anaconda-like operations are carried out, Congress ought to take a close look at raising the ceiling on how much a student can borrow in low-cost government loans, something it hasn't done for a decade.
How is allowing undergrads to borrow more money going to lower the default rate or help the students?
THIS SHOULD BE INTERESTING The Ashland, MA teacher's contract has a built-in pay raise scheduled for next school year. At the same time, the school district is facing a massive deficit. The district has asked the union to forgo the raise in lieu of layoffs. What will they do?
CHEAP B.S.! Gary North has a fascinating column on how to earn a bachelor's degree on the cheap- homeschooling! Distance learning programs allow students to take college classes over the internet at rock-bottom prices.
You can send a child to a distant campus, either tax-funded ($44,000 TRBB) or private ($80,000 TRBB). Or you can let him live at home, work part-time to fund his own education, and spend as little as $7,000 over 2.7 years...

Only about 10% of 4-year colleges and universities offer their students as many as half a dozen accredited distance learning degree programs, even when they offer a hundred majors to on-campus students. Most of these public universities charge the same tuition to in-state distance learning degree students that they charge to on-campus students, even though distance learning degree program students don't use the colleges' real estate. Most of the tax-funded universities charge three to four times as much tuition to out-of-state distance learning degree students. Nevertheless, some real bargains have slipped through the cracks. But you have to know about their existence and then go looking for them. Here is a good introductory list...
Apparently, the homeschool model continues to work through the bachelor's level.
Recent studies have revealed that students who have been educated in an off-campus learning setting produce higher performance rates than conventional classroom-based education does...

Why not keep the child closer to home for an extra two years, and then send the child off to college?

Even better, why not let the child stay at home for all four years, work part-time, earn enough to make a down payment on a home, and get the B.A. by mail?
Why not, indeed.


LISTEN FOR THE KNOCK ON THE DOOR Check out this ugly quote:
The Stratton’s children were put into the foster care system after reports of neglect. The Strattons said those claims are wrong.

DSS said the Strattons neglected their children by living in a substandard home, home-schooling the children and refusing to vaccinate them.
If that's the definition of abuse, we're guilty on at least two counts.
OAKLAND DEBATE There's going to to be a school choice debate Feb. 20th. The pro-choice position will be argued by Peter Brimelow, prominently mentioned in the blog entry earlier today. If anyone attends and would like to guest-blog, drop me a line.
EDUCATION NEWS? I don't see the connection but EdNews.org picked up a story on chitlin's. The Savannah paper extols the virtues of this "delicacy." I'm a bit familiar with these. Every year Salley, SC hosts the "Chitlin' Strut." Trust me- you don't want to be downwind of Salley that day.
WE ARE THE SOLUTION The WashTimes has published a column on the NEA written by Paul Craig Roberts. Mr. Roberts is no fan.
Mr. Brimelow uses the wrong tense when he writes "the teacher unions are destroying American education." They have destroyed it.
He seems to be ready to scrap the whole system.
If the NEA is to be undone, its undoing will come from parents and teachers deserting the schools. Homeschoolers, without benefit of fancy facilities, science labs, and huge expenditures of money, outscore public school students.
2 + 2 = 476,341 The Bozeman Chronicle editorialized in favor of their pending anti-homeschooling legislation. Apparently, the editor missed PHIL 201 at the University of Montana (Introduction to Logic).
Of the 3,500 kids who are home-schooled in Montana, do some lag far behind public school kids? Almost certainly. Are some not being taught at all, merely kept at home by deadbeat parents - possibly dissipated by alcohol or drugs - who can't be bothered with getting their kids to school?
Perhaps. But would SB276 fix this hypothetical "problem?"
That's what SB 276 is really all about - detecting and catching the kids who may be falling through the cracks. Students wouldn't be required to pass the test and the results would only be shared with parents.
I doubt that any parent "dissipated" enough to not educate their kids would even bother to administer any state test, much less care about the results. No, this is a power grab by the nanny-state and should be opposed vociferously. (reblogged from Izzy)


ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES JACK A DULL BOY Like Jack Nicholson in The Shining, we are snowed in. The Governor has declared a State of Emergency and cars are banned from the roads. In fact, I saw a Military Police HumVee drive down our street a few minutes ago. Dummy me- I was outside with my digital camera and didn't snap a shot. We already have about two feet on the ground, followed by 1/2" of sleet and now it's snowing again. Drifts are up to four feet deep. See y'all in July.
GOOD IDEA, BAD POLITICS Karl Rove must have been asleep at the switch to let this one go by. The DoD currently pays school districts to educate the children of soldiers who live on base. Fair enough since the bases don't pay local property taxes. But, they also pay for soldiers living off base. In effect, the school districts get to double-dip. The Administration correctly wants to end this policy. But, their timing is just atrocious and leaves them open to all sorts of editorialized reporting.
As thousands of sailors and Marines are sent abroad for a possible war with Iraq, the Bush administration is proposing to cut education funding for many children of military families.

The president's plan would eliminate funding for military students who live in apartments or homes off base, a proposal that has incensed educators who say the timing couldn't be worse.
A GOOD DEBATE Insightmag.com has pro-and-con essays on affirmative action. I thought the "pro" argument was worth highlighting as I haven't seen this tack before:
[T]he white plaintiffs today say Michigan's efforts to diversify its universities violate the equal-protection clause of the 14th Amendment. But any justice who truly believes in "original intent" must reject this argument. Equal protection was added to the Constitution in 1868 by Radical Republicans to "secure 'to a race recently emancipated, a race that through many generations has been held in slavery, all the civil rights that the superior race enjoys,'" as Justice John M. Harlan argued in dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896).

The Congress that voted on equal protection wanted to topple the stubborn reign of white supremacy, not pretend it was not there. Congress designed Reconstruction in a specifically race-conscious way to uplift blacks and block the restoration of the slave masters. The so-called "Freedmen's Bureau" was set up to distribute free food and clothing not to all citizens but to blacks, and was authorized to sell 40-acre lots of confiscated land to them. The Radical Republican Congress also passed appropriations specifically to aid "destitute colored women and children." Thus, the members of Congress who wrote equal protection into the Constitution (and gave themselves power to enforce it) saw affirmative, race-conscious legislation as serving the 14th Amendment, not violating it.
Food for thought.


OT AND COOL Google has purchased Pyra Labs, the company that runs Blogspot. (via Instapundit)
SOMETHING NEW Homeschoolers have formed a Junior Toastmasters group in Columbus, NE. Good idea. Public speaking is a great skill.
SC ATHLETICS A bill to allow homeschoolers to partcipate in high school sports has been introduced in the state legislature. The sponsor is well-meaning but I think a bit naive.
He said the small number of home-schooled students in the state should make it easier to integrate them on athletic teams.

"There is no place in South Carolina where students are jumping out of the public system pell-mell," Fair said.

"With the high school report cards coming out, if failing schools continue to be failing schools, that might lead some parents to rethink this issue. But I'm not aware of any place where the numbers are growing, either in private schools or home schools."
I'd bet any amount of money that homeschooling in SC is growing at a nice clip (just as in the rest of the country). And, the percentage of homeschoolers in SC probably exceeds the national average. There are relatively few private schools and the public schools leave a bit to be desired.
APPROPOS Here's a sample reading question from the Florida accountability test. I thought the selection was especially appropriate.
MY WORLD AND WELCOME TO IT This is the view from my dining room window. For scale, the picnic table is about 2" thick. It's supposed to stop snowing sometime Tuesday morning.


IT'S THE THOUGHT THAT COUNTS The UNC-Charlotte student paper has a short article about homeschool admissions policies. It's pretty obvious that the reporter was not homeschooled.
Home-schooled students can learn from the same textbooks and have the same tests conducted as anyone attending a public high school.

Parents can order textbooks and teacher workbooks in order to create educational coursework for their children to follow and learn from.

After the student has met and fulfilled all of the requirements the state has set for anyone graduating high school, a home-schooled student has the same credibility to apply to any college as the person who graduated from a traditional high school.
Well, at least they tried.
EIGHT IS ENOUGH Here's a light profile of a homeschooling mom of eight. This article has one of the better typos I've seen:
Mihaly, who has no previous teaching background, started home schooling her children because she didn't like how area public schools taught math and reading, emphasizing sight-reading over phonies.
NOT BLOODY LIKELY What has Secretary of Education Rod Paige been smoking?
Paige said public schools must make more of an effort to win back students who have left in favor of private, charter or home schools.

"I believe we can get them all to come back" by making schools more appealing to communities and students and by increasing academic excellence, he said.
Maybe a few would go back but I think we've reached a critical mass that will self-sustain. When you see how well homeschooled kids turn out, it makes the lifestyle awfully tempting, regardless of your feelings about the public schools.
PRETTY FUNNY PROTEST UCLA Republicans staged an affirmative action cookie sale.
The sale, held on Bruin Walk on Feb. 3, offered cookies at different prices depending on the customer's race and gender. Black, Latina and American Indian females were charged 25 cents for cookies that cost males of minority descent 50 cents. White females were charged $1, and white males and all Asian Americans were charged $2.

Students selling the cookies were assigned name tags portraying them as "Uncle Tom," "The White Oppressor" and "Self-Hating Hispanic Race Traitor."

...As for the name tags of the vendors, Jones said many people would look at a black or Latino student taking part in a Bruin Republicans anti-affirmative action sale and either think to themselves or say out loud that the student is a traitor to his race. Therefore, the Bruin Republicans decided to "turn it on its head" and use the names themselves, before passers-by had a chance.
Democrats and minority activists were predictably outraged.
OT AND ASININE THE NYT published an Op/Ed by Dalton Conley, associate professor of sociology and director of the Center for Advanced Social Science Research at New York University, is author of "Being Black, Living in the Red: Race, Wealth and Social Policy in America" and "Honky." Given the titles of his books, it is not surprising that the subject is race, particularly reparations for slavery. Here's a classic example of victimization:
One way is to recognize slavery as an institution upon which America's wealth was built. If we take this view, it is not important whether a white family arrived in 1700 or in 1965. If you wear cotton blue jeans, if you take out an insurance policy, if you buy from anyone who has a connection to the industries that were built on chattel labor, then you have benefited from slavery. Likewise, if you are black — regardless of when your ancestors arrived — you live with slavery's stigma.
I guess black families don't wear blue jeans or buy insurance. The Perfesser's solution:
[The government] could address reparations by transferring about 13 percent of white household wealth to blacks. A two-adult black family would receive an average reparation of about $35,000.
Right. He then goes on to predict that his proposal won't be popular.
The unpopularity of this radical plan would no doubt be unprecedented. There are also no guarantees that reparations would be a magic bullet for lingering racial problems.
Actually, I'll offer up two guarantees- 1) This will never see the light of day and 2) Not only would this proposal not solve the "lingering racial problems," it would exacerbate them for generations to come.

An Open Letter to Reparations Proponents:
Get over it. They're not going to happen. Not now, not ever. They are an unworkable fantasy that would only be counter-productive. Please stop killing trees and electrons pushing this DOA idea. Thank you.
H&OES TO NYC: GOOD LUCK* Joel Klein, Chancellor of NYC schools, has perhaps an impossible job. There are over 1000 schools in the systems and many have just not done well.
Over all, only 39.3 percent of the city's elementary and middle school students met standards on state and city reading exams last year. Only 37.3 percent met standards on state and city math exams.
To bring scores up, Klein will impose a standardized curriculum, starting in September, on all but 200 of the "best" schools. The list of exempt schools was released yesterday and, predictably, people are upset. Klein had broken the schools down into three categories, based on percent of students eligible for free lunch. He then had a form of affirmative action for schools serving the poorest students- even if their schools were significantly below schools serving richer neighborhoods, they could still be exempt from the standardized curriculum.
[M]any middle-class parents, who prize their schools' independence and feared they would be unfairly excluded, complained.

Such fears were realized at M.S. 167 on the Upper East Side, where a sign outside boasts about the school's test scores. About 65 percent of the students passed the reading tests last year, and 63 percent passed the math tests. That put the school 12 points below the cutoff of 140 for schools in its socioeconomic category.
Parents are already promising to pull their kids out of the system. I just don't see how a uniform curriculum can work in a system with such broad spreads in achievment levels.
The idea was to replace what had become a vast patchwork of academic programs, so that every student could be learning more or less the same lessons at the same time.
Depending upon the level that the curriculum is set, you may see schools having to significantly "dumb down" their programs while other schools may be trying to teach material that is too advanced for the vast majority of their students. And, finally, the list of exempt schools is not static but will be revised each year. So, a school that finds itself on the bubble, may be switched back and forth a number of times. All-in-all, this plan seems unworkable. I wish Klein all the luck in the world.

*The title here alludes to the famous Daily News headline from 10/30/1975 Ford to NYC: Drop Dead.
ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST Homeschoolers are having great success fending off bad legislation. Yesterday, Washington state's effort to tie driver's licesnses to passing the state accountability test was tabled indefinitely. From the NHEN-Legislative list-serv:
Dear Sandra,
Thank you fro your letter regarding HB 1658 titled Linking success on academic assessments to driving privileges for persons under eighteen years of age. This bill declares an intent to increase the attention of middle and high school students on their academic responsibilities by requiring the students to successfully complete an assessment of their reading and writing skills before they obtain a driver's license. This is a procedure that has been used by insurance companies since 1960 and more commonly known as the "good student discount."

However, I think you will be pleased to know, Rep. Talcott (the prime sponsor) has decided not to peruse [sic] any further action on this bill. I am unsure of her reasoning but it may very well have been due to outcry from her constituency. So keep up the good work!

Thanks for writing Sandra.
Becky Hart
Legislative Assistant for
State Senator Dave Schmidt
44th Legislative District


FRY 'EM Three D.C. school district employees were arrested last week for sexually abusing students. Here's a particularly bad one:
Reginald Robinson Jr., 35, a part-time coach, was arrested and charged with fondling two Brown Middle students last month. He allegedly abused one of the girls in his car and the other in the school gym. One is 13 and the other is 14.

Robinson worked for the school system despite pleading guilty to a sex offense involving a minor two years ago, and his name was listed on a Maryland database of sex offenders.

District school system officials have promised to improve the background checks on employees.
My heart goes out to these kids.

WARNING: PERSONAL INFO AHEAD This is hard but I need to get something off my chest. When I was in 3rd(?) grade, I barely escaped being molested by my public-school music teacher. He had me alone in his classroom with my shirt off. Nothing else happened but he was arrested later that same year for molesting another boy in the school. I was naive and didn't tell anyone until after his arrest. These kids who come forward have a lot of guts. Even after all these years, writing this brings back some unpleasant memories. I just wanted y'all to know why I seem to pick up these stories so frequently.
WHITE MALES NEED NOT APPLY The state of Texas offers female and minority engineering students $6000/year grants. White, male students are ineligible for these taxpayer-funded grants. The American Civil Rights Institute is looking for plaintiffs to challenge this in court.
DOT EDU SNOBBERY The Commerce Department has okayed allowing specialty schools (like theology and beauty schools) to use the .edu domain suffix. The current occupiers of that space (typically universities and 4-year-colleges) are miffed.
“Somebody who goes six months to a beauty school, I would not consider in the same league as somebody who’s even been two years at a community college,” said Ralph Meyer, a retired administrator at Princeton University. “There’s too much dumbing down already.”

Mike Murphy, director of marketing for Phoenix College in Phoenix, Ariz., said the expansion could confuse prospective students into equating not-for-profit colleges with proprietary training schools.
This is ridiculous. My URL here ends with .com, just like Amazon.com. Is anyone out there confusing the two?
ILLINOIS: INTERESTING ARTICLE There is legislation afoot in Illinois to clear up the "Dennison situation". HSLDA is involved somehow. Illinois homeschoolers are not unanimous in desiring new legislation.
Jean Kulczyk of Waukegan will be representing Home Oriented Unique Schooling Experience, a group called HOUSE with 124 chapters throughout the state, at the Thursday night meeting.

"I'm not sure exactly what will be presented to us at the meeting tomorrow night," Kulczyk said today. "HOUSE's position is that we do not need any legislative action in Illinois. We are fine with the current provisions for home schooling."


OVERKILL An 11-year-old Florida boy used his teacher's computer to change several of his grades. That's pretty dumb. But, the school district's response is even dumber:
The sixth-grade student was booked into the St. Lucie County jail on a charge of illegally altering data in a computer, a second-degree felony, and then released to his father.
He faces expulsion and several years in a juvenile detention facility. Come on, guys. This is zero tolerance run amok.
LOL! Lilek's Bleat today is a classic. A snippet:
4. I'm Just The Other Woman (remake) - The MSR Singers

One of the more famous song-poems, and certainly one of the most painful. It’s a first-person account of the life of The Other Woman, and of course it’s sung by a man. To call this performance a falsetto would demean the fine traditions of doo-wop and the castrati; in fact, this song actually sounds as if the singer’s apparatus was being sawed off as the tune was recorded. And remember: the original was worse.
Trust me on this- you'll want to read the whole thing.
BODE MILLER, HOMESCHOOLER Here's a profile of the world's best skiier. I didn't know that he was homeschooled.
OPT-IN Several school districts are looking for ways to block the NCLB requirement that they turn over their students' personal information (including phone numbers) to military recruiters. At least one district is looking to make it an "opt-in" policy rather than the current "opt-out".

Opt-in is a good compromise. This way, kids who are completely uninterested in military service will not be harassed by telemarketers recruiters.
POLITICALLY CORRECT USAT is soliciting nominations for the ALL-USA TEACHER TEAM. Homeschoolers, private-school teachers, and most charter-school teachers are ineligible.
BEHIND THE TIMES OR AHEAD OF THE CURVE? You make the call. Wales is looking to scrap their early formal childhood education system in favor of one more play-based.
Some research has suggested that children do not begin to benefit from extensive formal teaching until about six or seven years old.

Studies have shown that children are given too many tasks to do while sitting at tables, when they would be better off learning through well-structured play, practical activity, and investigation.

Some sessions have been found to be too long for young people to maintain concentration, while classrooms have been criticised for not providing enough opportunities for practical activities and well-supported play.
The US, of course, is going in the exact opposite direction.


GOING, GOING,... DARPA's Total Information Awareness project is on its deathbed.
House and Senate negotiators have agreed that a Pentagon project intended to detect terrorists by monitoring e-mail and commercial databases for health, financial and travel information cannot be used against Americans.
Apparently, Congress wasn't too impressed with the DoD's efforts to self-regulate.
Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., senior Democrat on the subcommittee, said of the program, "Jerry's against it, and I'm against it, so we kept the Senate amendment." Of the Pentagon, he said, "They've got some crazy people over there."
AMEN! [link via Instapundit]
WILE E. COYOTE Here's one that just makes you shake your head in wonder- An 8-year-old Scottish homeschooler has been enrolled as a regular student in an online university in the UK.
Melissa McEwen, Jack's 37-year-old mother, has taught both boys at home since they were first able to talk.

The former teacher and museum curator said that in his quest for knowledge, Jack is one of the hungriest people she has ever known.

She said: "He's always badgering me for more lessons, even on Sundays when I sometimes want to take a day off...

"I just love lessons," he said. "And when mum says that is enough for the day, I moan that there's time for just a bit more."
[via Brian's EdBlog]
THROW 'EM TO THE WOLVES Someone's on drugs but I don't think it's the students. A school in Indianapolis had three student lockers last year register positive for a drug residue; no drugs were found. This is apparently tantamount to a crisis there, so the school board is bringing in the big guns:
The School Board has approved a measure to expand the role of police canine units patrolling for drugs and other illegal substances at Zionsville High School and Zionsville Middle School.

School administrators requested the move after three searches last year found residue in student lockers but no illegal substances.

"It may have been something that was in the locker months earlier," high school Assistant Principal Chris Willis said.

Under the new plan, canine units also will search student backpacks and purses, where administrators say drugs are more likely to be found. Students will not be searched directly.

Students will either place bags in the hallway during a search or leave the room while dogs search the classroom.

If an illegal substance is detected, administrators will contact the student's parents and then question the student without police or dogs present, Willis said.

The penalty for possession of an illegal substance at school may be considered case by case, Willis said.
TO COMPEL OR NOT TO COMPEL The Detroit News takes on the state Superintendent of Public Instruction on the issue of raising the compulsory attendance age fro 16 to 18.Two quotes:
DN: One of the worst ideas raised in Lansing is to raise the dropout age from 16 to 18. All that would accomplish is filling schools with students who don't want to be there. Just because kids are forced to attend class doesn't mean they will participate in the learning process.

SPI: Let's not forget that this is one social problem with a built-in solution. Under Proposal A, Michigan's schools are funded by the number of students attending; for every child who drops out, the local school district loses a minimum of $6,700. In Detroit, the foundation allowance is even higher -- $6,784. If 100 students drop out, the Detroit Public Schools lose $678,400, and each child loses hope, opportunity, and a future.
Let's see- the educrat thinks that money grows on trees and the Detroit News points out you can't forcibly educate someone.

Advantage: Detroit News
LIBERTARIAN = BLONDE? According to this WSJ editorial, "Libertarians have more fun--and make more sense." Susan Lee succinctly points out the difference between conservates and libertarians:
But perhaps the single distinguishing feature between conservatives and libertarians is that libertarians are concerned with individual rights and responsibilities over government--or community--rights and responsibilities. Consider how conservatives and libertarians divide over cultural issues or social policy. Libertarians are not comfortable with normative questions. They admit to one moral principle from which all preferences follow; that principle is self-ownership--individuals have the right to control their own bodies, in action and speech, as long as they do not infringe on the same rights for others. The only role for government is to help people defend themselves from force or fraud. Libertarians do not concern themselves with questions of "best behavior" in social or cultural matters.
Heh. Maybe the Free-State will be DE and I won't have to move. Just kidding.
BOOOORING!! No, not Izzy's blog (which is terrific, as always) but the picture that accompanies the article. I promise we'll never be caught "posing" like this. I'd rather see a photo of a homeschooler doing something out in the community.


ANOTHER TAX BREAK FOR TEACHERS Georgia is proposing a $250 tax credit for out-of-pocket expenses. But, get this, homeschoolers would be eligible!
"Considering the home-school parents are already paying taxes for public schools, I think we ought to look at giving them the same deal as teachers employed by the state," [Rep.] Rogers said
As long as there are no strings attached, why not?
IT'S NOT THAT HARD! Virginia homeschool parents want to be able to teach their kids to drive. This is apparently a shock to the "system". Here's the stupid comment of the week:
To some the idea may sound a bit over the top, parents actually taking the place of driving instructors, but not to [homeschool mom] Wendy [Shields].
We can teach them calculus and chemistry, but not Driver's Ed? Gimme a break!
400:1 At a public hearing for Montana's proposed anti-homeschooling bill, 400 people spoke out against it. The only one who spoke in favor was the bill's author. I'd guess that this has little chance of making it into law.
NO, VIRGINIA, THERE IS NO SOUTH VIETNAM The state of Virginia wants to fly the South Vietnamese flag at school functions despite the fact that South Vietnam ceased to exist in 1975. The State Department and business interests are opposed. This bill will probably die in committee and may not be worth blogging, but I couldn't resist the title.
POOR TEACHERS The state of California has suspended a tax credit for teachers due to state fiscal crisis. Not surprisingly, teachers are complaining because they spend their own money on school supplies. But, this program was poorly designed- documentation for the claimed expenses was not required and it is a dollar for dollar credit based on seniority. Long-time teachers could get a $1500 credit even if they didn't spend a dime of their own money. Time to start over.


MATH CHALLENGED OR WHISTLING PAST THE GRAVEYARD Here's a positive article on homeschooling in CO. I found the educrats' defensiveness pretty funny:
[S]chool officials said the increase of home-schoolers simply mirrors the student population growth. Student enrollment increased from 14,437 students in 1998 to 17,610 students this year.
Elsewhere, we find that
This year, 200 children in Greeley-Evans School District 6 are being home-schooled by their parents, guardians or other relatives. In 1997, 88 students were home-schooled.
So, public-school enrollment is up 22% in four years and homeschooling "enrollment" is up 127% over five years. Close enough for government work-(ers), I suppose.
IN DEFENSE OF CHARTERS The Winter edition of Education Next includes a deconstruction of the AFT's "research" into charter schools.
The schizophrenic personalities of the teacher unions are on full display in Do Charter Schools Measure Up? A decade ago, the AFT is fond of telling us, the AFT claimed the mantle of reform by advocating charter schools as a way of promoting innovation and sidestepping administrative bureaucracy. But now that the charter school movement has grown to a point where it actually threatens the monopoly of unionized school districts and the salaries and perks of teachers, the AFT is changing its tune. This is unfortunate. As scholar Bruce Fuller points out, charter school proponents need “a devil’s advocate, a loyal opposition,” a role played by the RAND Corporation and by academics like Fuller himself. But whereas RAND calls for more experimentation so that more evidence can be gathered, the AFT, revealing its real purpose here, wants charter schools to be choked off in their infancy. The scary thing is how powerful their lobby can be. But so far, parents appear to be more powerful.
A good read for anyone interested in charter school successes.
THE "S"-WORD IN THE UK The UK newsletter Freedom in Education has a brief column about socialization. Apparently, "home educators" there face the same questions as homeschoolers here. I like this graf:
When home educators are asked about the ‘social aspect’ they usually give a standard answer along the lines : “Our children have many other home-educated friends”, “Our children are in lots of clubs”, “Our children mix with all sorts of people of different ages”, or “Our children have lots of friends who go to school”. Whilst these answers may be factually correct, they obscure the real truth, which home educators barely dare admit to themselves and which other people are certainly not prepared to hear: children are happy to be at home with their families. They do not particularly want to go to clubs, to schools, or to meetings, and they are not consumed with a desire to make friends with people of their own age. Surprisingly enough, when home-educated children get together with children who go to school, the school children never ask the home-educated children about friends, they simply say how wonderful it must be to not have to go to school and to be able to be at home with your mum and dad.
This is food for thought. Virtually all of our kids' non-homeschooled friends have expressed jealousy about our kids being homeschooled. I guess it could be for any number of reasons: no homework, being finished with "school" by noon, etc., but I hadn't really considered that it might be the very aspect of leaving home each day that they would reject if possible.


CALIFORNIA ATHLETICS A reader wrote and asked about opportunities for his natural-athlete 15-year-old homeschooled son. They're in the San Francisco area. Any ideas? Joanne Jacobs- that's your neck of the woods, right?
GOOD LETTER TO THE EDITOR A pro-voucher letter appeared in yesterday's WaPo. This graf says it all:
We must complete the civil rights movement by giving every child the opportunity to learn in a good school. We must allow competition for students to raise the standards of all educational institutions. We must see that all students achieve to their full potential so that we won't be arguing about affirmative action for the rest of our lives. We must stop one more child from reaching high school without being able to read, write and do basic math. We must have school vouchers in the District now.
STUPID QUOTE OF THE WEEK Early childhood education is in the news again- this time in Michigan. The governor there wants to "re-define" education as beginning at birth. But, the educrats may have tipped their hands and revealed their true motivation:
[Early childhood education] would mean more productive citizens who make more money for themselves and their families, and create more revenue for the state...
Follow the money.

Actually, I don't think this is the main reason for the sudden push. IMO, it's all about control. The educrats want good little robots for political reasons. The best time to "program" them is when they're young. That's one reason they hate homeschooling.
OT: DADS MIA A short column on the importance of dads. This one struck me, as we're studying Dobson's Bringing Up Boys in Sunday School.
RECYCLED More blacks are homeschooling. And more Hindus, Muslims, Christians, atheists, Wiccans, whites, Asians, Pomeranians (ok, I'm kidding about Pomeranians). There's more of every racial and ethnic group. There's one factoid in this article that I'm not sure I believe:
Blacks now make up nearly 5 percent of the estimated 1.7 million children who were home-schooled last year, according to estimates by the National Home Educators Research Institute in Oregon, a non-profit organization devoted to research on home-based education.
That's about 85,000 black children — almost 10 times as many the federal government estimated in 1999, when blacks made up only 1 percent, or 8,500, of the estimated 850,000 home-schooled children.
10X in four years would be quite an increase. What seems more likely to me, is that one or both of the estimates were off. Regardless, any growth in homeschooling is welcome and anything that gets kids out of bad schools is a good thing.


DARN SNOW! With the snow yesterday I fell behind in my reading and missed this story from the Del State News:
FELTON, DELAWARE—A first-grade teacher at Lake Forest North Elementary School was arrested Monday for reportedly taping a student's mouth shut.

The Dover Newszap reports that Felton police charged John A. Duffy Jr., 24, of Rehoboth Beach, with offensive touching in connection with the Jan. 29 incident.

Felton Police Chief Levi Brown said Mr. Duffy was arraigned at Justice of the Peace Court 6 in Harrington and released on $500 unsecured bond.

The incident was brought to the school's attention by the student's parents. Mr. Duffy was placed on administrative leave.

According to court documents, the victim told authorities that Mr. Duffy had warned him stop talking in class or he would tape his mouth shut.
This is just awful but it might not be illegal. Under DE law, teachers are permitted to issue corporal punishment pretty much when and how they choose. The DE ACLU lobbied last year to end this but SB 149 died in the House.

Thanks to Skip Oliva for catching this.
NOT "ALMOST" ANYMORE Ailina has started homeschooling. Her first couple of days sound pretty typical. Worth a read.

BTW, I've added her to the blogroll.
GIFTED & TALENTED Here's a positive article detailing how more parents are choosing to homeschool kids who have been labeled "gifted."
"Many parents are dissatisfied with how schools, both public and private, are addressing the needs of our brightest youth. Many gifted children are introverted and highly sensitive, and home schooling provides a healthier balance of time with large groups and time with family or small groups," said Lisa Rivero, author of "Creative Home Schooling for Gifted Children: A Resource Guide."
WHAT ARE THEY TRYING TO HIDE? I love the irony here- the DoD formed two panels to supervise their Total Information Awareness program in order to "keep Congress from supervising the program closely." The parallels between their opposition to Congressional oversight and American's privacy concerns are apparently lost on them.


WOW! Tulsa homeschoolers have been taking some abuse from a school superintendent. In today's Tulsa World, a homeschooled "sophomore" responds. This young lady is a terrific writer with a bite!
Dr. Sawyer, you've been fiddling while Rome burns. Please spend your time and energy bringing your own students out of the quagmire.

Sincerely, home-educated students are always looking for community service activities. What can we, as home-educated students do to help teach your students to read? We could tutor them, but we'd have to use our own tried and true curricula.
Ouch! Definitely worth a click.
PA'S PLEDGE LAW which mandates a daily recitation for all public and private schools was scheduled to take effect today. It's been placed on hold pending resolution of a lawsuit filed by the ACLU.
TOXIC TEENS Here's one of those WWHS stories- a 13-year-old girl, who had lost a leg to cancer, was being bullied and harassed by a group of girls.
Henderson said her young daughter was called a "whore" and warned to "watch your back." One message carried the sentiment, "Die bitch, die," the anxious mother said.
Where do they learn this behavior?
ARE YOU STILL BEATING YOUR WIFE? An Edison school is being investigated by the FBI for allegedly padding their student roles to bring in more money. Bad stuff, if true. I had to chuckle, though, at this:
When asked if falsifying of attendance records was still going on the Westport Charter School Board President Duane Fox said, "the board is confident that attendance is currently being accurately reported to the state."
Nothing like a loaded question.


HEAVEN, I'M IN HEAVEN Well, they don't get too much better than this- a civil liberties and a homeschooling victory in the same article.
A home schooling family has settled its case against Erie County social workers and Vermilion police for the coerced entry into the family’s home on Feb. 21, 2001...

Paul and Linda Walsh filed a lawsuit after police and caseworkers entered their home without a warrant and without permission. The social workers said they were acting on an anonymous tip about unspecified “hazards” in the home, and claimed they had a right to enter the home without a warrant.
Read the whole thing. And, then, click here for a great primer on how to handle the DSS.

Thanks to Tony R. for the link.
GET A GRIP An 11th grader is suing his "school principal, superintendent and all seven school board members" because he only got an "A" instead of an "A+" in a work-study assignment that only gives up to an "A". He is worried that losing out on the "+" will hurt him in his quest to be valedictorian. Wonder of wonders- his mother's a lawyer.
YEE-HAH! Wyoming Senate File 110 has apparently been tabled. The website is not available right now so I have no details. I'll update ASAP.

UPDATE: Although the bill has been tabled, Sen. Sessions is not giving up. She wants homeschooling parents to work with the DOE to "be part of the solution, not part of the problem." From here, it appears that the problem is an over-reaching educrat/politician who doesn't understand NCLB. The only "solution" is for her to tuck her tail between her legs and withdraw this bill. If she insists on pushing this, it will cost the state big bucks to defend and they'll still lose. And, homeschoolers will remember come election time.
HEM ONLINE The January-February edition of "Home Education Magazine" is up. Larry and Susan Kaseman have a good column on privacy, one of my personal bugaboos. (OK, I recognize the incongruity of a blogger worrying about privacy. And, I even blog under my real name. Sue me.)
People need privacy to preserve a sense of integrity, personal worth, and self-respect. When we do not or cannot maintain our privacy, we feel used, violated, exposed. We begin to lose our sense of being responsible people managing our own lives.
WARNING: PERSONAL ANECDOTE AHEAD! This homeschooling thing really works. The other day I was discussing the Total Information Awareness project with my wife. Our oldest son was in the room. I asked him if he saw a problem with a government agency collecting information on what books you read and how you spend your money. His answer: "No privacy!" Smart kid. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have come up with that answer at age 11. But, 30 years ago, there would have been no TIA to worry about.


SWEET! A homeschooler won a regional spelling bee in NC. What really caught my eye, though, were the last three grafs:
When Marshall rattled off cacophony for the win, his 5-year-old brother, Tanner -- sitting still and quiet for the entire two-hour bee -- couldn't hold it in any longer. He scrambled on stage and jumped into his brother's arms for a celebratory hug.

Marshall didn't mind sharing the spotlight, since he considered the win a family affair. "My mom helped me, too -- she quizzed me a lot," he said.

Since both brothers are taught at home, "they get to spend a lot of time together," said dad Eric Winchester. "They're best friends."
That's homeschooling!
FLORIDA FOLLIES Florida expects approximately 1 in 5 third-graders to fail the state test and be held back this year. What is unusual here is that students can pass other normed tests in place of the FCAT. There's a catch though; the students have to score much higher on the alternative tests in order to be promoted.
[A] third- grader at FCAT level one would score in about the 30th percentile on nationally normed alternative tests. But if a student does poorly on FCAT and wants to use one of those national tests to qualify instead, the state demands a score in at least the 51st percentile - which is better than 49 percent of test-takers across the country...[I think this is an error- the 51st percentile is better than 51% of test results]

The state has considered that discrepancy, but it's sticking with its rules.
A foolish consistency...
CLUELESS I'm sure this columnist had a point to make about Oregon's response to NCLB, but she's so confused I can't dig it out. This really would be a barrel-fisking, so I'll just throw out a couple of quotes.
Oregon just isn't making the grade. According to the recent report card given by the Oregon Department of Education, 247 schools earned an "unsatisfactory" grade. This could potentially make Oregon school districts nervous about another provision in No Child Left Behind -- parents being given vouchers to move children out of underperforming public schools and into "charter schools," which are publicly funded on five-year grants but have higher accountability than regular schools.
NCLB has nothing to do with either vouchers or charter schools. Now, I have zero knowledge of Oregon's charter school law, but I'll bet money that any public school student is already allowed to transfer into any charter that has space. Then, there's this gem.
I think many parents will pull their children out of school and either homeschool them or send them to private schools, and the self-esteem of these students will sink lower.
A two-fer: an idiotic homeschooling comment and "self-esteem" in the same sentence.
100% POSITIVE There's not one snarky comment about homeschooling in this entire article. Bravo!
TV IS FUNDAMENTAL A Maryland teacher reports that she was reprimanded by the principal for allowing her third-graders to read at their desks instead of watching television.
After delivering the letter of reprimand, the principal took to sneaking up to my classroom and standing in a spot just outside the door where she could see in but I couldn't see her...

What happened next was surprising and glorious: My students began reading surreptitiously, hiding books under their desks and sneaking glances at me when they thought I wasn't watching. We had achieved the impossible—my Internet Age children were actually choosing books over television! Of course, I had to make a show of telling them to stop when I caught them, but my heart was never in it. And they persisted, to my secret delight.
Read the whole thing.


VERY SNEAKY! Washington legislators are attempting to force homeschoolers and private-schoolers to take and pass the state accountability tests (or an equivalent) in order to qualify for a driver's license.
(b) A person who is enrolled in a private school approved under chapter 28A.195 RCW or an education clinic under chapter 28A.205 RCW, or who is engaged in home-based instruction under chapter 28A.200 RCW, shall demonstrate successful completion of the reading and writing assessments on one of the assessments in (a) of this subsection or on a comparably rigorous assessment from a list of assessments, with required performance levels, identified by the academic achievement and accountability commission.
The law is not aimed solely at homeschoolers; public school students would have to pass the test, too.
HOMESCHOOL PROM April 25th in central Jersey. This seems pretty cool. Homeschoolers and their guests (age 13 and up) are invited. Tickets and additional info are available here.
WYOMING UPDATE According to this report, Senate File 110 must be released from committee this week or it will die. Let it die!
JUST GET ON THE BUS Here's an nice article about Catholic homeschoolers in Ohio. There are no parochial schools in the area so homeschooling is the only option.

BONUS: In the obscure music department, 10 points to anyone who can figure out how the title relates to the post.
NCLB RUNAROUND The Boston Globe reports on one woman's quest to transfer her son out of a "failing school." Among the roadblocks the schools set up were impossibly tight deadlines, "unlisted" phone numbers, and good schools that were "full" and had waiting lists.
[F]or Fenton, navigating her way through Boston's school system was a lesson she won't soon forget.

''My son is supposed to be entitled to switch to another school, or get outside help from outside sources,'' she said. ''I had four days to have all my paperwork filed, and right now, I'm frustrated.''


BETTER LATE THAN NEVER SF Gate's Jon Carroll indirectly endorses homeschooling here.
Maybe it would be better if we just stayed home and taught them what we know. Not all of us are famous mandolin players, of course,

but all of us are something. We garden, we cook, we sing, we collect clocks. Nothing the matter with teaching a kid to collect clocks.

The bonus is obvious. We get to spend time with our kids; they get to spend time with us. They'll want to spend time with their friends too, and they should, but there are lots of hours in the day if you look for them. And you'll begin to build a relationship based on something other than the natural power differential in families.

Not that I did this when my kids were young. I was having an important career. It worked out OK in the end, but I ain't gettin' those hours back, and I think about that sometimes, even now. [emphasis added]
Thanks to Diane Patterson for pointing this one out. And, make sure to read the comments on Diane's blog- an interesting debate.
HOMESCHOOL SPORTS and a prediction. A Maryland Delegate has introduced a bill to permit homeschoolers to participate in public-school extracurriculars as long as "their involvement doesn't prevent public school students from taking part." MD homeschoolers seem to be in favor of the bill:
"We're interested in any bill that would extend options to home-schooled students," said Dave Smith, deputy director of the Maryland Association of Christian Home Educators...

One mother of seven home-schooled children in Suitland isn't quite as reserved.

"Wow, that's wonderful," Wendy Magloire said.
OTOH, educrats are not amused
But one athletic director fears the bill might increase bickering over playing time.

In Howard County, where 2 percent of the students are home-schooled, sports coordinator Don Disney feared the biggest impact will be with regard to who plays and who doesn't, even though the bill intends to give preference to the public school's students.

"Either way, someone's going to be disappointed," Disney said, while the teams won't improve.

"As to whether we'll have more teams in the Top 10, I see no impact whatsoever..."
My prediction: There will be EXACTLY 10 teams in the Top 10.
CHECKMATE The National Champion chess player in the 12 & under category is a homeschooler from Hawaii. His two older sisters are also accomplished in chess among other interests.
Robert's mom, Linda Inouye, who has home-schooled all three children, is quick to say that her children have interests beyond chess. Robert plays piano, violin and basketball. Emily plays percussion ukulele and piano and wrote a play that was performed at the Honolulu Theatre for Youth. Kate writes music.

"These kids prove what is possible with home-schooling. They are really well-rounded kids who play chess well but also have other skills and talents," said Randy Prothero, president of the Hawaii Chess Federation, who has known the three siblings for years, partly through the Mililani Chess Club, where he is director.
ANTI-CATHOLIC? PRO-CATHOLIC? I couldn't tell from this headline.
Ex-Cardinal spreading Christian message
Actually, the article is about a former Louisville Cardinal basketball player (and current homeschooling dad).


A POSITIVE ARTICLE on homeschooling in today's Boston Globe.
For an increasing number of families in New England and across the country, home-schooling is not a religious or philosophical choice, but a workable response to dissatisfaction with traditional schools. Parents express a variety of frustrations - from feeling that a struggling student is not getting the right help, to concern that gifted students are ignored, to worry about a child's physical safety. In some cases, families hopscotch among public, private, and home schools, depending on a child's needs.

''We see more parents today who are simply frustrated, with no acceptable options for their children, so they make the decision to change their lifestyle and home-school,'' said Tammy Rosenblatt, founder and director of the Family Resource Center in Salem, which estimates there are 100,000 children being educated at home in New England.
Only one negative comment from an edu-crat and he doesn't even mention the "S"-word.
WHO BENEFITS FROM THE END OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION? Statistically, the group that may benefit the most could be Asian-Americans.
After a federal court in 1996 barred the University of Texas from practicing affirmative action, the state began offering admission to all high school students ranked in the top 10 percent of their classes. Given the racial and economic segregation in the state's high schools, the assumption was that blacks and Hispanics would be given a fairer chance to enroll, without having to compete directly with whites who lived in richer districts.

But as it turned out, the main beneficiaries were Asian-Americans. The percentage of freshmen entering the Austin campus who were Asian-American rose to 18 percent last fall, compared with 14 percent in the fall of 1995. Thus, almost one in five freshmen at the university's flagship school is Asian, in a state where only about three of 100 residents are.

As the admission rate of Asian students rose, to 71 percent from 68 percent over that period, the admission rate of whites fell, by one percentage point to 66 percent. So did that of blacks, to 43 percent from 59 percent.

Hispanics were admitted at a rate of 56 percent in 2002, down from 72 percent in 1995. They make up about a third of the state population but less than a fifth of the freshman class at Austin.
ALICE LIVES HERE AGAIN I re-added Alice Bachini's blog to the roll. I have no idea how it disappeared. Alice, if you're reading this, no slight was intended.


YOU GO, GIRL! A 15-year-old has decided to boycott the Texas state tests. Her arguments against the test are a bit weak, but I like the fact that she's willing to face the consequences for her act of civil disobedience.
MILLENIUM BUG REDUX Those darn two digit dates struck again as a 106-year-old woman has been told to report to kindergarten. She's being a pretty good sport about the whole mix-up.
Thuen, who gets around with the help of a walker, reckons she may do better than her first-time peers.

"Since I can already read, maybe I should skip a couple grades," she joked.