Thursday, June 30, 2005

Wonderful news

Cobranchi's taking the Boeing! Apparently there has been talk of this for some time, but I just got here, so it's all news to me.

Congratulations, Daryl. I don't know who should be happier: you, us, or Home Education Magazine.

Free fireworks!

NASA Science News for June 28, 2005On the 4th of July, a NASA spacecraft will blast a hole in Comet Tempel. FULL STORY.

Tip credit: Diane Flynn Keith

Pride and Prejudice

More insight at HE&OS.
------------------------------------
This from the St. Petersburg Times:

No Room for Site Inclusive of All: An official at a national Web directory tells a mother that not discriminating against gays discriminates against "most major religions."

"(That) is too overt for a listing on our Web site," Pride e-mailed her. "Not discriminating on sexual orientation basically means discriminating against most major religions, since the two are mutually exclusive."

In the past four days, 49 homeschool groups in 21 states have joined Willingham in "outing" themselves as homeschool organizations that don't discriminate against any belief or lifestyle. The resulting National Directory of Fully Inclusive Homeschool Support Groups, posted at www.uuhomeschool.org/groups.php3 could be the first listing of its kind in the world of homeschooling - a sphere long dominated by conservatives who often home educate for religious reasons.

"I don't think I would have gotten a response like this five or six years ago," said Willingham, a 44-year-old author and Odessa parent of three. (Willingham contributes an occasional guest column on parenting and homeschooling to the St. Petersburg Times North of Tampa section).

All this positive coverage makes me feel feisty. PEAK is listed on the new inclusive directory. Anybody got a problem with that?

HT: Debbie

PWC Coverage in the Capital

From the Washington Post:

"Prince William has had a 20-year history of being punitive toward home-schoolers. We feel like this board is very responsive to the community," said Shay Seaborne of Woodbridge, founder of the local home-school group Family Oriented Learning Cooperative (FOLC). "We've built a bridge of respect and understanding."

"If there is any single group that has benefited since Jan. 1, 2004, it's been home-schoolers," School Board member Grant Lattin (Occoquan) said. "Many of the people who are new to the board ran to ensure that parents are given as much latitude as possible in school choice. The previous board did not support home-schoolers. But we underestimated how sensitive this was to home-schoolers. Parents were offended that they had to jump through hoops."

Positive coverage in the Post. Way to go. Shay and Amy, you two must be PR geniuses, because I keep waiting for the voice of educratic dissent to speak up. Has there been any negative press or rumblings behind the scenes that you are aware of?

HT: Shay

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Out to lunch

No bloggage today. New stuff tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Blogger issue...

I successfully loaded a translucent white background behind the text of the blog. I can see it when I preview the change in blogger, but after republishing, refreshing and reviewing...it's not there.

Any suggestions?

Touche'

This is rich.
The proposed development, called "The Lost Liberty Hotel" will feature the "Just Desserts Cafe" and include a museum, open to the public, featuring a permanent exhibit on the loss of freedom in America. Instead of a Gideon's Bible each guest will receive a free copy of Ayn Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged."
Granted, the recent Supreme Court ruling is not quite as scary as it seems and could be viewed as a (minute, tiny, microscopic) move away from federalism, but I'd prefer that not even the state have access to property via eminent domain.

TH: Jack Criss

Open wide!

Satire from a homeschooling mom (HT: Phil)
--------------------------------------------
Harens eh Inghil ha oo heh eir hilhen oo eee henhist...OW! Suction!

[translation: Parents in Springfield have to send their children to the dentist...or they will not be allowed to pick up report cards at the end of the year.]

Rinse. Spit.

HT: Jen

This editor must want some of Shay's cookies

Positively pleasant editorial in Potomac News about the policy change in PWC:
Home-schooling by nature, is not an easy endeavor. While it is very different when compared to the regular classroom experience, the fact that our universities and corporate board rooms are filled with former home-schoolers is a testament to its effectiveness.
HT: Shay

Monday, June 27, 2005

Fatty fatty boombalatty!

This article has been posted elsewhere in the homeschool blogosphere, so I felt it unnecessary to included it on RR&R. However, it's brief historical contrast been homeschoolers then and now raises such interesting questions juxtaposed with other recent and widely posted PA articles on PS/HS cross-participation, skyrocketing ps-cyberschool enrollment, and the creeping effects of both on small private schools that it gained new life.

After all the trailblazing work accomplished by the earlier homeschooling generations, I'd say the current generation has gotten a little too fat-n-happy. Legislatively lazy. Eaten up with entitlement envy, even. Why else would these people be so anxious to hand over these very hard-fought rights, some of which were won less than a decade ago? Because they didn't have to work for it, so they take it for granted...until its gone, that is.

Here's the pervasive myth behind the madness: My tax dollars entitle me to equal access to services provided by those taxes. Truth: No, it doesn't. It never has and never shall, no matter how much you or I wish it to be true.

In Mississippi and many other states, there is no such thing as a "school tax." Instead, money is collected from property taxes in the county, which distributes that money to the schools in the district where we live. If you own a piece of the Magnolia State, you are supporting schools in that area. Payment of those taxes does not entitle me, a homeschooling mom, equal access to public schools anymore than it does my single SIL, my childless friends, or my empty-nester neighbors, all of whom pay property taxes. They'd probably love to use the gym during off hours for a pick-up game of HORSE or maybe sit in on high school German just as I'd love to see my children in organized band or drama. Well, too bad for us. Likewise, I cannot elect to pay zero taxes for my zero access. No entitlement. No exemption. (Just theft, but that's another post).

Equal access for equal pay works only in the private sector and does not apply to government entities. Many of you are familiar with the trader's principle: I give something of value to you in exchange for something of equal or greater value to me, resulting in a voluntary exchange in which both parties experience a net gain. Knowing what we know about tax-fueled bureaucracy, what makes anyone think he or she can enter into a trade with the government and come out ahead? You may already be paying for them, but accessing school programs grants the government authority to further regulate and control you. Guess who comes out ahead?

This is not about what schools should be. This is about what they are and what they are not. Public schools aren't public parks. They're not community centers. They are an instrument of political power and coercion. If you want to create newer, better, more (or less) inclusive, broader opportunities for your homeschooled children, it is up to you. Not the government. Not "your" tax dollars. You.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Elusive inclusivity

Homeschool World and LIFE, Inc of FL recently decided to part ways when HW's Theodore Pride took issue with LIFE's listing on HW's groups page. The item that concerned him was the level of LIFE's inclusivity described in this paragraph from LIFE's site:
"LIFE Inc. welcomes all educators and students regardless of religion, race, teaching style, politics, marital status, age or sexual orientation. LIFE Inc. support groups respect and honor diversity in home and alternative learning and support the freedom of all individual families to choose the educational
lifestyle that suits each best."
LIFE's controversial inclusion of [whispering] sexual orientation elicited this response from Mr. Pride:
I'm afraid that specifically listing sexual orientation as one of the categories you don't discriminate on is too overt for a listing on our web site. Not discriminating on sexual orientation basically means discriminating against most major religions, since the two are mutually exclusive.
Terri of LIFE defended her group and held her ground:
Our members share homeschooling and alternative education interests in common, and their personal faiths and lifestyles are just that: personal -- and are not the point of the support and networking we offer. People are all welcome to come together to find others with whom they share educational interests at various levels, and there's a better chance of finding like minded friends and associates when all are welcome."
They mutually agreed to remove LIFE from the group page. While Homeschool World and Mr. Pride are certainly free to set forth rules limiting which groups to list, there is no policy, statement or checklist of eligibility on HW's site stating that such an exclusionary process exists. So... it's a SURPRISE! Or a secret?

As a result, a national directory of really, truly, honest to goodness inclusive groups has been created by the folks (including Terri) at HUUmans on the Web. Feel free to visit and list your unabashed inclusive support.

Whaddaya mean "WE"??

Excerpt from a brief, two-paragraph letter from HSLDA's Legal Dept to an undisclosed person regarding the events in Prince William County, VA:
"We worked with Amy Wilson, a local homeschooler, and last night, the Prince William County School Board took out the three day waiting period in the regulation, without adding any other wording that would have been detrimental to homeschool families."
For the record, the credit belongs to the local grassroots coalition, not HSLDA. And it does matter.

Friday, June 24, 2005

"My colors are Blush and Bashful."

Yes, the wall-to-wall pink is gone. I'll venture to guess that the only person disappointed by the change is Dagny, our four-year-old who helped pick out the original decor.

That was cute when noone was reading RR&R but, as the numbers have grown, it has become a little too girlie for mixed company. Besides, it's enough to expect some of you to put up with the occasional shoe post without subjecting you to a blog hosed down in varying shades of Pepto. Hence, the new look.

The layout and host are the same. This is equivalent to a coat of paint. I hope you like it.

[Five bloggie points to anyone who can name the movie from which the title above came. Fifteen if you don't cheat with Google.]

The Mui Mui shui for YUI!


Sometimes, these things take time, but I have finally found the perfect shoe to commemorate the Victory in VA.

Definitely not the ho-hum lace-up of our daily homeschool uniforms, these sweeties don't exactly coordinate with denim jumpers. But who needs another pair of sneakers?? A special occasion calls for a special shoe!

These patent leather slides feature side studs and a base reminiscent of our generation's favorite Candies. However, the leather flower detailing, leather sole and manufacturing facility in Italy are all Prada.

A year and a half of work, a last minute crisis averted and, at long last, VICTORY. This extraordinary selection is well-constructed, versatile, fast on your feet, classy, sassy and bold. Just like you, PWC Coalition.

(For the rest of us, they're on sale at 25% off for only $232.87. Eat your heart out.)

-------------------------

[Note to new visitors: Natalie regularly celebrates momentous occasions such as personal and federal holidays, accomplishments, bad moods, bar mitzvahs, Spring equinox, hormonal fluctuations, etc,. with shoe purchases. However, in an attempt to rein in the budget, she has taken to blogging rather than buying the appropriate shoe for the occasion. In keeping with budgetary constraints, all shoes blogged on RR&R are on sale. Links provided for those of you with no self control.]

Thursday, June 23, 2005

You must be gellin'

While shopping around at Manolo's for the perfect shoe to blog (which I often do) in celebration of the happy occasion in VA, I found this.

I'm not quite sure what to say...or what I can say...or if I should say anything... except that the comments are even funnier.
------------------
Update: More blasphemy here via Cobranchi.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Congratulations PW County!

Via Shay Seaborne:

Thanks to local grassroots action, homeschoolers in Prince William County, Virginia are no longer burdened by the onerous "approval before removal" requirement. At tonight's school board meeting, board members voted 6-2 in favor of removing the offensive language from its current homeschool regulation. This leaves us with a regulation that is fully in line with state law. The coalition is gratified that after 1½ years of bridge building, we won the majority of the board to enthusiastic support.

One board member, who stated, "We need to get these obstacles out of the way and support our homeschool parents," even hugged a member of the coalition after the formal session ended. Most other board members' comments expressed support for the homeschooling community and frustration that the issue has dragged out this long.

Local homeschoolers and members of the PWCS board were taken by surprise by HSLDA's sudden and unsolicited involvement in this local issue. However, the national organization's actions did help to limit the changes to the current regulation solely to removal of the offensive clause, without the addition of any potentially problematic wording.

[deletia]

As a token of thanks, Ms. Seaborne presented the board and superintendent with a basket of cookies baked by herself and her children. This brought broad smiles of thanks.

Heart, passion, diplomacy AND cookies?? That school board didn't stand a chance. I knew it all along...

[wink]

Policy change is back on agenda in PWC, VA

I hate to sound like a party-pooper, but now that the lawyers are involved, that doesn't necessarily mean it will pass today. Please keep us posted.

Here's to a speedy, satisfactory resolution in VA. [Raising iced tea glasses in Mississippi]

"How often does your 6th-grade daughter have oral sex?"

I've read about this elsewhere, but I came across this thorough piece by Wendy McElroy on the YRBSS questionaire today. A few snips:

When Mark Fisher protested quizzing his 12-year-old daughter about oral sex (among other topics), the school authorities asserted their right to gather such information without his consent.

The questionnaire is not limited to Massachusetts; it is nationwide. And the 'problem' is not the gathering of information but the denial of parental rights and reasonable concerns.

McElroy lists several things parents can do protect their children. My favorite quote:
My immediate solution is to remove your child from the public school system and homeschool, if possible. (The long-term solution is to privatize education.)

Hat tip: Terri

Monday, June 20, 2005

HSLDA on Prince William County, VA

Now, apparently, HSLDA thought that policy change appeared there all by itself and was unaware of a year's worth of local efforts...as if they were dealing with a charitable school board that just UP and decided "You know, that 'approval before removal' policy really is unfair...Maybe we've been a little hard on homeschoolers in PWC! Let's change it!"...??

Since this is the second time a group of local homeschoolers has successfully lobbied for change in PWC without HSLDA assistance, and considering the potentially negative effects of HSLDA's current interference, do you think those member families will call HSLDA next time?

This makes me think of that Capital One credit card commercial:
"Never fear! UNderdog is--"
"nevermind."

What's in YOUR wallet?
[Hint: Not an HSLDA membership card]

With friends like these...

Let me preface this by saying that I understand that a lot of people in my neck of the woods think HSLDA is wonderful. I happen to disagree. Always have. Here is yet another example as to why:

Help PW County VA Protect Homeschool Freedom!

Dear Fellow Homeschoolers,

Homeschoolers in Prince William County, Virginia, need your help to protect homeschool freedom! For more than a year and a half, a grassroots coalition of local homeschoolers in PW County has been working with the school board to improve the division's regulations--including elimination of the onerous "approval before removal" clause that imposes a 3-day waiting period on parents who wish to remove a child from school to begin homeschooling. But now that our efforts have resulted in a peace accord, Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) is trying to charge in and revert us back to the awful regulation!

The new regulation is on the consent agenda for the June 22, 2005 Prince William County Schools (PWCS) board meeting. This means that the school board will unanimously accept the better regulation, along with other pre-approved items, through a single vote. [See County relaxing home-school restriction]

Elimination of the approval before removal (3-day waiting period) clause is a major accomplishment that one longtime Virginia homeschool activist called "a smashing victory" in this historically punitive county. HSLDA's counterproductive actions threaten to ruin a year's worth of work and goodwill building.

At the 11th hour, HSLDA attorney Scott Woodruff is -without conferring with the homeschoolers who live in the county-insisting that the new regulation be removed from the consent agenda, preserving the current regulation, with its 3-day waiting period! If this occurs, the bad regulation will remain on the books for an undetermined period of time, putting us back to square one. Months of additional policy committee meetings and board meetings would pass before this issue could come to resolution again. Meanwhile PWCS staff would continue to use the bad regulation to harass parents who are trying to exercise their legal right to homeschool.

Many people on both sides have worked to create a better relationship between homeschoolers and PWCS, and at the height of its success, HSLDA's actions threaten to subvert honest effort and bridge-building, leaving a mess for the local homeschooling community to clean up.

If you object to Home School Legal Defense Association's running roughshod over local homeschoolers' cooperative efforts and you would like to take a few minutes to let HSLDA know, you can call HSLDA's main switchboard, e-mail their main address or the president, send them a FAX, call the central office, and/or e-mail Scott Woodruff directly. Here is the contact information:

Home School Legal Defense Association
Phone: (540) 338-5600
Fax: (540) 338-2733
E-mail: info@hslda.org
President Mike Smith: president@hslda.org
Attorney Scott Woodruff: ScottW@hslda.org

Thanks for caring!

Shay Seaborne
Founder/Facilitator, FOLC Eclectic Homeschoolers of PW County
http://expage.com/folcfolks


I don't wish to distract from this important issue by editorializing further. However, I will say this. In the state of Mississippi, HSLDA is revered as the be-all-end-all of homeschool legislative knowledge. Folks, they are not. Often they do more harm than good. Save yourself $120.

Now, excuse me. I have a phone call to make...

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Cottage schools: Where the free market meets education

By Natalie West Criss
Assistant Editor
Metro Business Chronicle
Copyright June 2005

In a state where public education has become synonymous with “dysfunctional bureaucracy” in many circles (and “sacred cow” in many others), parents surveying the possibilities outside the public institutions generally opt for private schools while an increasing number of parents, like me, have chosen to educate their children at home. However, private schools can be prohibitively expensive and even if a family can swing the time management and income challenges of homeschooling, frankly, it isn’t for everyone. Well, leave it to the free market to find newer and better solutions.

An option that is becoming increasingly popular across the country and in Mississippi is the “cottage school,” an alternative method of education that blends the best of the classroom and homeschool environments. In a cottage school, one or more teachers instruct children outside the home for a limited time (such as ten hours a week broken up over two or three days) while the rest of the week is spent completing assignments or receiving additional instruction from parents at home.

So what does this have to do with business?

Unlike cooperative schools, or co-ops, which are largely dependent upon volunteers and often short-lived, cottage schools are private, home-based businesses owned by degreed and non-degreed facilitators (usually women) with the goal of helping children reach their greatest potential through individualized instruction. Unlike private schools, they cost far less offering an equally rigorous curricula (if that is appropriate). Unlike in homeschooling, the parent’s guidance is supported and supplemented. Unlike in local school districts, parents opting for cottage schools become direct partners and participants in their children’s education with direct access and input to administration. In other words, private money is invested and the results are generally better and more efficient than the government-sponsored equivalent.

While not considered philosophically “pure” homeschooling, cottage schooling is indeed legal in Mississippi and falls under the same few laws that apply to home schools (and other non-public schools). This means there are no mandatory curricula, no required testing, no record keeping and no compliance with No Child Left Behind. Therefore, there is no bureaucracy, no red tape, and no flaming hoops through which to jump.

This distinction is important to note because while their privately funded, relatively regulation-free, highly individualized nature makes cottage (and home) schools uniquely useful and successful, this causes concern for many bureaucrats whose livelihoods depends on government control of education (aka “educrats”).

Slovak School, a cottage school in Pearl operated by Karen Slovak, was recently featured in a news article in which two education authorities were critical of cottage schooling. David Easley of Mississippi Home Educators Association, a statewide Christian homeschooling organization, objected on ideological grounds. However, Peggy Peterson, Director of Compulsory Attendance stated her objection based on lack of government oversight.

In the face of legal obstacles, at least two cottage schools in the Metro area have been the targets of harassment. Neither operator wished for her school or identity to be published. One cottage school was nearly shut down by an over-zealous elected official but managed to survive. The other was subjected to repeated requests for unnecessary information from the Department of Education and the Department of Human Services. She is no longer teaching. Both women have provided a sound educational environment in which students thrived.

Why did this happen? The prevailing theory is simple. Public education in states like Mississippi is operating in the red. Test scores and attendance rolls provide the slide rule with which federal and state funding is determined. As more families opt for alternative forms of education (from private to cottage to home schools), districts receive less funding. Understandably, we alternative schoolers are beginning to look like gold, if only certain public schooling proponents could figure out a way to mine us.

Increased and expanded regulation via “compromise” would accomplish just that by chipping away at educational freedom and limiting educational choices. By promising free (read “paid for with taxes”) computers and curricula to home schools, many states have outlawed cottage schools and replaced them with home-based cyber charters that expand public school into the family den. In exchange, students are enrolled with the local school district as a public school student. That student is then required to perform on tests mandated by the state and by NCLB. With alternative schoolers now registered and performing on tests, the school system wins by a mile.

Many proponents of public education fail to see that the end—students who excel at taking tests but possess no love of knowledge—does not justify the means—propping up an antiquated system and postponing its inevitable demise. Bright students who do not fall in the median range of test scores are deemed less valuable and cast aside as arrogant troublemakers (typical for assertive “gifted” students who demand better quality instruction than the current “teaching to the test”) or learning disabled failures because they process information differently. Neither is adequately served in the current public school environment.

The niche that fills this gap is privately run cottage schools. Families in Mississippi have far more to lose than the school system has to gain if these businesswomen are forced out of existence by bureaucracy.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Picking up on a pattern

Instead of a legal defense fund, perhaps we should pool our money and buy a ranch! The Criss crew starts lessons next month. Despite gentle efforts to convince her otherwise, our younger girl who will turn four in a few days is thoroughly convinced that a pony of her "vewy own" will be waiting in the backyard for her birthday. Think the Homeowner's Association would mind?

[Katie and Bones in Petit Jean State Park in AR. Katie is the tall, lean, smiling one. Bones is the tall, lean, hairy one.]

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Today must be my birthday!

Comments have been disabled. View archived RR&R comments here.
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[Update: More from Mimi and Howie (and others) in the comments here. ]

I just found this in my inbox:

My name is Mimi Rothschild and I have been an active and avid supporter of homeschooling and child advocacy issues for the past 22 years. I believe we share many of the same values and goals regarding our views on education and children.

It has come to my attention that you have posted unfavorable things about me on your blog. It is very hurtful and I am writing to ask you to please call me if I have in any way harmed you. I have no idea what would cause you to be so angry with me and to post such unpleasant things. I would greatly appreciate it if you would contact me directly.

Thank you.

Warm Regards,
Mimi Rothschild

Warm regards. Isn't that nice? I think we could be friends, except that--contrary to her above assumption--we don't have that much in common. Plus, I don't think she really likes me. She didn't address me personally, refer directly to anything allegedly "unpleasant" so that I might properly make amends, list a phone number so that I could "please call" her, or send her note to my widely published email address. Even the subject line "Important Message for Natalie Criss" just doesn't seem all that warm and fuzzy.

Suddenly, I don't feel so special anymore.

I suspect this a form letter she sends out after googling her name. Bothering me is a baseless waste of time, but you know what they say: There's no such thing as bad publicity.

Dear Mimi,

You're welcome.

Sincerely,
Natalie Criss
-------------------
[Note: There was no disclaimer included with this email, therefore I don't have any qualms publishing it. When dealing with a threatening person it's best to keep all this out in the open, therefore this is as direct as any response to Mimi from me will get. Just wanted to lend some perspective to anyone who might have thought I was being unfair.]

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Religion, Politics, Science and the State

According to Wired News, "the National Academies has unveiled a new section of its website dedicated to teachers' resources on evolution in an effort "to quell a growing movement to teach creationism in U.S. schools."

The site was designed "to confront advocates of intelligent design, which is not a science," according to National Academies spokesman Bill Kearney.

The site features academic papers supporting evolutionary theory and supplements for educators detailing how to teach evolution in the classroom.

I am well aware that evolution is a theory. However, unlike creationism, it is thoroughly supported (not proven) by observable, scientific phenomena. The evidence offered to support creationism is, well, the absence of evidence to the contrary. The assumption that we must treat it as equally possible is not science. That is not even sound logic.

There are many Christians who do not consider evolution and creationism to be mutually exclusive concepts. However, if we expect the government to teach that something larger than ourselves set into motion all that we see before us without creating a state sponsored religion, how do educrats decide which version to teach? In the absence of proof, what makes one brand of creationism more credible than another? Popular consensus? Legislative decree?

Allowing the state to interfere in something as intimate as personal philosophy is dangerous. Even if the majority of society believes it, even if those in positions of power claim to agree, we are not safe in that world either:
"One of the great myths of our time is that you can't legislate morality," [Texas Gov. Rick Perry] told the ministers, according to a transcript provided to The Associated Press by his campaign..."I say you can't NOT legislate morality."
Whose standard of morality are we to be held accountable? Yours? Mine? A TX politician's?

Here's an idea. Teach your child reason. Prepare him to think critically so that he may recognize frauds like Rod Parsley and fallacies like intelligent design. Give him the tools to rely on his own intellect so he may stand apart as an individual and not fall victim as a ward of the state subject to the whims of the masses. His freedom depends on it.

[forgot my manners]
Wired News hat tip: Terri
Big Myth hat tip: Debbie

Homeschoolers=$$$

This is just another example of how floundering school districts wish to cash in on homeschoolers.
According to RE-1 Executive Secretary Rebekah Schneider, there are 75 students in the district registered as home school students. Because school districts receive funding based on the number of students enrolled, home schooled students represent money the district does not receive.

Sides says it's still not a valid criticism. "When you have a $1 million shortfall, not only are we not the reason for it, we're not the answer to it," Sides said.
See? G-schools are not concerned with providing a solid education for America's future generations. It's about getting out of the red. And then there's this little gem:

Fleharty and Sides also warn against a newer version of home schooling - government-funded "enrichment programs" where parents teach their children at home using curriculum provided by the government.

They claim those are not true home schoolers because the students are counted as public school students and - most importantly - the parents are not choosing the curriculum.

And there's more where that came from.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Why Peggy Peterson Picks on Pecks of Pliant Parents

Because Peggy Peterson, Director of Compulsory School Attendance Enforcement with the Department of Education (Mississippi), is afraid of losing her job. Rather than focusing on her own department's shortfalls, we fast-breeding, uncontrollable, homeschooling rebels are an easier, more controversial target:

Truancy program called ineffective: This article criticizing Peterson's program was published in July, 2004.

Drop-out Prevention (PDF): This is a co-effort to justify the existence of the truancy program and lists Peggy Peterson as a co-presenter for several dates in Sept of 2004. Scroll down to page 10 and read their suggestions for preventing drop outs. The graphics are funny, but their repetitive insistence that earlier, frequent, long-lived gov't intervention is the answer to all that ails education in MS is not.

Homeschooling worries official: Notice the use of the word "tactic."

Official cites Miss. homeschool program as too lenient: Notice the title "director of homeschooling for the Mississippi Department of Education." There is no such thing. Now or then. Also, absence of the word "tactic."

Education official concerned about homeschooling popularity: Similar to the above article except that her title is correct. Again, no "tactic." Begs the question why an article that was pulled from AP (and probably written by a reporter in Meridian...I'll find out later) appeared with the word "tactic" solely in the Clarion Ledger.

The last three articles (or versions of the same article) were published in Oct 2004, three months after the initial criticism of Peterson's dept. Her widely published remarks on homeschooling came less than a month after our Sept 15 homeschool declaration deadline, during which time she was on the coast presenting her "Gov't Cures All Things" powerpoint. Rather than dealing with the real issue of truancy in the public school system, she shifted the focus to homeschoolers. That's why her comments here are more critical than they appear.

Karen Slovak's Cottage School

I know that I promised some local folks a good, hard blogpost on my friend, Karen, and the recent article featuring her education services. As a was writing it, a thought occurred to me: This would be a great editorial for my MS Biz column in the Metro Business Chronicle. She's a businesswoman in the Metro area with an interesting story. Plus, I just happen to have a relevant opinion (or two) I'm dying to share. That far exceeds my criteria, so I'm going to "blog" it there, then blog it here.

I'll also be sharing a few opinions at RR&R that won't make it in the MBC editorial, because I promised my husband (my editor and boss :p) I would not turn my column into a homeschooling rant-apolooza. When we put this issue to bed, I'll crosspost the link.

Until then, thanks for being patient.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Congratulations to my husband

I just wanted to take a moment to say how proud I am of Jack for finishing his first marathon, the San Diego Rock n Roll Marathon. It wasn't easy. He trained and competed while injured. He is really sore. But he's happy, lean, motivated and inspired.

Jack raised over $4400 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Mississippi and trained with their Team in Training program. He ran in memory of MS Governor Kirk Fordice who died of leukemia last fall.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

"I'm a Robot"

When I saw this video (pleasantly tolerable rap, if you believe in that sort of thing) by Pete Miser, it immediately made me think of John Taylor Gatto. I've been keeping up with Chris's chapter summaries of The Underground History of American Education on O'DonnellWeb and look forward to reading the book this fall.

I wonder if I'll have the same reaction as the fella in the video.

HT: Phil Hord (a homeschool dad in GA whose kids just competed in OoTM World Finals and came in 29th. Congrats! Phil is installing another "carputer" and chroncling his (mis) adventures at his blog.)

No kiddin'

According to an article in The Oregonian, charter schools are confusing:

The Oregon Education Department sent a memo on rules to school administrators across the state Wednesday, said Cliff Brush, an education specialist with the department, after a comprehensive review this school year found confusion surrounding rules governing publicly funded programs serving home-schoolers.

"I think the lack of clarity made it possible to have programs like these operating without being certain whether they were in or not in compliance," Brush said. "I'm not sure that everyone was well informed about what the rules are."

Village Home Education Resource Center ("a self-described hybrid center") contracts with school districts to educate homeschoolers (emphasis mine. This could be the premise of a punchline to a joke: An educrat, a charter school administrator, and a homeschooler walk into a bar...).

The new memo says, among other points, that home-schooler programs getting public money "must assist the students in achieving the local and state academic
standards" -- basically that the home-schoolers have to reach for the same
standards as other students in the state.

The decision is a blow to groups such as Village Home, a Washington County program that serves about 250 home-schooled students, currently with tax dollars. That group had already chosen to forgo public funding and raise money privately for the next school year, in the wake of an education service district's review.

The change means that the center will no longer have to conform to the same Oregon Department of Education rules and could have greater freedom... [and that ]conforming to the evaluation "would have turned us into a school, a full-time program, and that's not what we are," Walker said.

My understanding is that Village Home will now be considered a sort of resource center for homeschoolers as opposed to a "hybrid" charter school. The Family Resource Center in Massachusetts is a private-owned business. One of these days, it'd be great to have a resource center in the Metro.

HT: Diane Flynn Keith

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Evolution of a homeschooler: Getting to where you're going

[Amendment: In fact, I actually did "go Cobranchi" on a newbie Jana when she posted a whine about how mean and unfair homeschoolers are toward cyberschoolers. I'd link to the post, but she took it down shortly thereafter. ]

This was far too good not to blog. The following is a comment left by Jeanne Faulconer in response to two others who are continuing the cyber charter debate. I am reposting this here so that it will not get scanned over, lost in all the discussion or suffer some other injustice.

While I still assert that cyber charters are bad (more on that later) and have probably been guilty of "going Cobranchi on someone" (though never on a newbie, let the records show!), Jeanne does an excellent job of communicating the changes a long-time homeschooler experiences. It offers depth and perspective to other homeschoolers who just aren't "there" yet.

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I often see that new homeschoolers are "put off" by the seemingly or actual radical positions that longer-time homeschool parents may hold.

You may be interested in my article http://www.vahomeschoolers.org/PoliticalEd.PDFabout how homeschooling began affecting my other beliefs -- when I started out as a very traditional, mainstream (whatever that means) type.

PLEASE NOTE, as I suspected I would and alluded to in the article, my views HAVE continued to evolve. I mention in the piece that vouchers seemed to make more sense to me at that time -- but I admit that indeed, having read about, thought about, and listened about this issue, I no longer have any interest in vouchers for homeschoolers, and realize that my interest at that time was part of my getting to where I was going. Once I saw how strings are attached to money that comes through the government, I became opposed to vouchers for homeschoolers. Just another example of how stepping outside the mainstream, over time, may cause thoughts and tenets to change. I have, I suppose, become increasingly libertarian in this regard.

My views have also changed over time with regard to why it matters what is *called* homeschooling. Having homeschooled in 3 different states and started more political networking with homeschoolers on a national basis, I realize that my first thought that it didn't matter and it was divisive was actually because I was seeing my own personal trees and not the forest. In my state, it did not yet matter. But at the very same time, in other states, the stage was being set for government officials and educrats to begin expecting all homeschoolers to meet public school requirements because there were many folks who called themselves homeschoolers or who were called homeschoolers by the charter or e-school with which they were affiliated -- and, if they were getting public money, they indeed DID have to meet those requirements.

And I gradually began to see the forest.

I think something that is a funny ingredient in all this is the kids. I think if you have a child who is "typically academic," your views on this may change less. That is, with my extremely round peg oldest child, I kept having to get further and further from the traditional institutional vision in order to meet his educational needs. This has no doubt contributed to making me more radical on these issues, because I can feel my blood begin to boil when people start to insist on things like homeschooling with a "proper curriculum" or "proper oversight" or "proper accountability and testing." On the other hand, had my middle son been my only, I may have never found this to boil my blood -- he's a left brain mathematical-logical/linguistic kid -- a perfect fit for an e-school, a curriculum, or public school methods of accountability.

So new homeschoolers might be where I may have never moved from had I only had the kid for whom those things weren't a big deal. I may have continued to cling to the institutional vision and not realized that for some children, this contruct of curriculum/testing/accountability is extremely damaging. I might have continued to think, "what's the big deal?" if public e-schoolers called themselves homeschoolers, because, after all, we're all just doing what is right for our families.

I do think that e-schools/public cyber charters may be a good solution for some families, as long as they realize that if they are enrolled in public school, they have to march to that drummer. But I don't want it to be a bad thing for MY family, for whom marching to the public school drummer did not work. One of the ways I can keep that from being a bad thing for my family is for me to keep pointing out what I have learned -- that while these other options may indeed be good schooling opportunities, they should not be confused with independent homeschooling. That protects my ability to continue to develop a homeschooling style that meets my particular children's needs -- the signature as to why the whole weird thing of homeschooling works.

You may not be weird yet. If your child functions well with the very first homeschooling method/curriculum you choose -- and it's a very traditional academic-type curriculum -- you may not even have to get weird. If your child doesn't function well but you continue to insist on that paradigm as the structure that your family will work with, you may not have to get weird (but you quite possibly will return to public schooling and, I feel for you during your child's adolescent and teen years.)

But, if any of your children begin to show you the way to something else and you respond to it --or yours don't but you rub elbows with homeschoolers whose kids seem to be flourishing because they are doing things like apprenticing in a bike shop for six hours a day and never cracking a book (but mysteriously learning to run a cash register, figure taxes, fix the computer, master the physics involved in bike building, etc) -- then you may begin to get weird.

I guess until then, there truly is a gulf that is difficult to bridge. I can't bring you here to live with us for me to show you the emotional health and incredible competence and knowledge of my kids -- and how lumping their education with other educational choices called *homeschools* but which still require government restriction might harm what we are doing.

And you can't jerk us old-timers back to newbie-ness -- when leaving one of society's most revered institutions behind feels radical enough to inspire aversion to further weirdness.

But we can definitely reach across that gulf. I will believe you when you tell me how radical we seem. I hope you will believe me when I tell you that it is borne of concern that homeschooling be kept free and independent -- a real choice to do things differently than they are done by the institution of school -- so that other prospective and new homeschoolers (YOU) can benefit as my family has.