Friday, July 29, 2011

Book Banning or something else

As someone outside the public school system, I'm fascinated by how curriculum is decided and what educators deem worthy of school time.

Missouri School District Bans 'Slaughterhouse-Five' and 'Twenty Boy Summer'

The school board in Republic, Mo., voted 4-0 to eliminate Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse-Five" and Sarah Ockler's "Twenty Boy Summer" from the high school curriculum and library, respectively, after a local man led an effort to deem the novels inappropriate.

Wesley Scroggins, a business professor at Missouri State University, who also pioneered a movement to reshape middle school sex-education classes in Republic's schools, wrote in a column last year that Vonnegut's classic contained enough profanity to "make a sailor blush," and warned that "Twenty Boy Summer" was similarly dangerous.

"In this book," Scroggins wrote, "drunken teens also end up on the beach, where they use their condoms to have sex."

The majority of comments that I read condemned the school board for being behind the times, prudish, and so forth. Others compare it to the censorship inflicted by totalitarian regimes. (Eye roll)

The school isn't banning a book. The school is designating this book of unworthy of school time and funding. It is not like the school is the only access a child would have to these books. Any parents or child can still easily get the books at the public library, on-line or in a dozen different book stores.

If a parent wants their kids to read about drunken sex and increase their children's vocabulary of swear words, parents can do it on their own dime at home. I imagine that many of them already do so in the form of R-rated movies and unsupervised internet access.

And, remember, this is middle school. My youngest daughter just turned 11 and will be in "middle school" this year (albeit at home). Would I want her to be forced to read these books as part of a school assignment? No. Would I want her to stumble across it in the school library? Wouldn't be my first choice. This is one of the reasons my kids don't go to public school.

Why would I want my 11 year old to be desensitized to swearing and be introduced to promiscuous sex? I don't see the benefit here.

These are what I call garbage books. They drag the reader through a garbage can theoretically on their way to some noble destination or under the guise of "reality" or "education." Garbage is still garbage. Garbage in equals garbage out.

Another problem with "adult content" for pre-adolescent children is that children beginning the physical changes of adolescence naturally see the world darker and scarier than adults. It is a physiological effect of hormones on the amygdala. Even a well written book on an adult topic, like the holocaust, still may be inappropriate for most young readers.

Simply put, children's brains aren't like adult brains. They process information differently than adults and are more negatively influenced, especially in the realm of their emerging sexuality.

There are many great books that take the readers through the hardships of life and the triumph the human spirit without an explicit description of sex and endless vulgarities. Since there are so many great books to choose from, why bother with the others?

I found this quote by the author of one of the banned books revealing:
"Not every teen who has sex outside of a relationship feels guilty, shameful, or regretful later on," Ockler wrote. "And you can ban my books from every damn district in the country -- I'm still not going to write to send messages or make teens feel guilty because they've made choices that some people want to pretend don't exist."

"That's my choice," Ockler continued. "And I'll never be ashamed of my choice to write about real issues."

It is clear that the author's intent is to normalize and glorify promiscuity. I'm perplexed that she thinks it is a noble endeavor.

I absolutely do not care if her book has any uplifting message or is artistically written. There are too many good books out there to waste educational time on garbage.

Another author added her point of view:

The award-winning children's author Judy Blume, whose books have frequently come under fire from schools, might have put it best when she wrote:

"It's not just the books under fire now that worry me. It is the books that will never be written. The books that will never be read. And all due to the fear of censorship.

"As always, young readers will be the real losers."

I read all the Judy Blume books as a child. I hated them. I never got why they were popular. It has been a long time, but I remember feeling "icky" and sad when I read Blume's books.

[In comparison, I don't remember that kind of response when I read books like The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas or One Red Rose for Christmas by Paul Horgan.]

Nor am I worried about censorship discouraging future writers. Recently, a friend of my mother-in-law's self-published a children's book, Pierre's War. It is a fabulous book and I loved it. It would be an ideal book to add to any library. Thanks to the changes in technology and the market place, you can order her book on Amazon with a click of a mouse (and I hope some of you do.)

In the end, does the school board have the responsibility to remove books from the school curriculum?

Since parents have so little voice about what their children learn in school, the school board does have the responsibility to take action if it represent the parents' interests.
The article included no comments from parents. I would love to know what they thought.

In addition, the school board has the responsibility to represent the community and the taxpayers' interests. If the community doesn't agree with the school board, voters can let them know in the next election.

If I lived in that district, they would get my vote.

Reminder - send in a post for the next Carnival of Homeschooling

Please remember to send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling. It will be holding it at Home Spun Juggling.

Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission.

As always, entries to the Carnival of Homeschooling are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up - Preparing for the next school year

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up at

Conni starts the carnival with:

Well, the lazy days of summer are winding down, and it is time to start thinking about the fast-approaching school year.

The stores are loading up the shelves with the notebooks, pencils, and all the exciting goodies we homeschool moms love to see....and the kids often dread.

Towards the end of the school year, I will sit down and go through the next school year's materials. I'll do most of the lesson plans for the coming year, so when summer vacation comes around, Mom can be off too. But when that summer vacation starts heading into the last half, it is time to sit down with everything again and look it all over.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Reminder - send in a post for the next Carnival of Homeschooling

Please remember to send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling.  It will be holding it at

Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission.

As always, entries to the Carnival of Homeschooling are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

Extra note: Blog Carnival has not been forwarding the submissions.  We can dig out some of the information via the Insta Carnival, but for now it would be easier for the host if you send your submission directly to:  Please send the following information:

Title of Post
URL of Post
Name of Blog
URL of Blog
Brief summary of the post
(With "carnival" or "submission" in the subject field of the email.)


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Where has all the money gone?

Where Has All The Money Gone? Guest commentary by Ralph D. Westfall.

Interesting column:

For example, based on data in the California State University Statistical Abstract, the number of full-time faculty in the whole CSU system rose from 11,614 to 12,019 between 1975 and 2008, an increase of only 3.5 percent. In the same time period the total number of administrators rose 221 percent, from 3,800 to 12,183. In 1975, there were three full time faculty members per administrator, but now there are actually slightly more administrators than full-time faculty. If this trend continues, there could be two administrators per full-time faculty in another generation.

Hat tip: Instapundit

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up - One Thousand Gifts

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up at HomeschoolCPA

Carol explains the theme:

The theme for this blog carnival is based on  the book by homeschool mom Ann Voskamp One Thousand Gifts. We are focusing on all the gifts we’ve been given as homeschoolers and all the gifts (especially the unexpected ones) we’ve received.

FYI: Statistics on the Carnival of Homeschooling images

I just renewed my Photobucket account.  I looked at the statistics for the three Carnival of Homeschooling images.

The small image is loaded about 400 times a day.

Carnival of Homeschooling

The medium size image is loading slightly more, around 440 times a day. 

Carnival of Homeschooling

The large image is being loaded around 1,400 times a day.

Carnival of Homeschooling 

It is interesting that last year the numbers were 1000, 400, and 900, respectively.  So the total per day was about the same, but we had a dramatic shift to the large image.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Another new tradition: Weekly Family Councils

Over the years I’ve found that we start up new traditions in our family fairly often. Some traditions will last a long time while others end quickly. Eleven years ago my father and I took my two oldest daughters on a train trip to Sacramento. The girls had so much fun that family train trips become a yearly adventure. Ten days ago Janine and I put up our eight man tent in the backyard. We took it down a little while later so the grass had a chance to recover. But the younger two children had so much fun that I think this may become a monthly tradition during many summers.

I recently instigated another new family tradition: Weekly Family Councils.

Janine and I try to be pretty open with our children about what is happening and why. And while we make the final decisions we welcome input. Normally this is pretty informal. Sometimes at dinner we’ll ask where they would like to go on the next vacation. Or sometimes before scripture study I’ll go over the calendar for the next couple weeks.

On June 26th we had our first formal Family Council. I prepared agendas. Each of us had our own copy. We sat down and had a regular meeting. So far each meeting tends to take about a half hour.  If the children get side tracked I may bring them back to the topics on the agenda.

As our children have gotten older there seems to be more directions that we scatter to, so I find it very helpful to review the calendar so everyone knows what the plans are and we can bring up potential conflicts.  The Family Council makes this a formal process.

We also have discussion items. For example my parents recently gave the family some money for all the birthdays this year. At each of our family councils so far we have brainstormed about how to spend the money. (Currently the children are pushing for a dog.)

We have also reviewed the expectations Janine and I have for computer entertainment this summer. Our daughters love to watch videos on Netflix and Hulu. Janine and I don’t mind an hour a day, but we expect them to make more productive use of their time.

Each week I ask who should we send "Thank you notes" to? I’m trying to get the children to be more aware of when people do nice things for us, and then to show our appreciation.

There have been a dozen other topics that we have talked about.
The meetings have been going well. They have been productive. I think Weekly Family Councils are a tradition that will be around for a long while.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Example speaks louder than words

It isn't enough just to tell our children what they should be doing.  We also need to be setting a good example.

"Don't worry that children never listen to you. Worry that they are watching you."
--R. Fulghum.

Hat tip: Quotes for Parents

Review: TED Talk by Sugata Mitra's new experiments in self-teaching

My second daughter wrote this review of Sugata Mitra's new experiments in self-teaching:

I recently watched Sugata Mitra's TED Talk about his experiments in self-education. He starts his talk by mentioning how good teachers don't go to the unpleasant places they are needed. Several years ago he went to a isolated place in India and imbedded a computer. They found that children will learn what they want to learn. He found that the children could figure out how to do things like use the computer, play games the internet, record music, and so on.

Arthur C. Clark said, "A teacher that can be replaced by a machine should be." and "If children have interest then education happens."

Sugata Mitra continued to find groups of children figuring out how to use computers and at the end of two years they had begun to Google their homework.

He did another experiment. He got a group of children in India and said there is some very difficult stuff on this computer it's in English try to figure it out. He was excepting to come back test them and find that they had gotten a zero and say, "Well I guess they're some things you need a teacher for. (The stuff on the computer was Bio-technology. He was surprised two months later to discover their scores had gone up from zero to thirty present. He had a friend implore the grandmother method and the children's scores had gone up to fifty present which is the average in schools with a teacher.

Surta Mitra then tested this method in a class in New Castle. (His method being to give groups of children a computer and asking them to answer a question.) He came back two months later and found their testing scores remained just as good.

This TED talk made me think, what if my sisters and I could use this method to learn? It certainly seams effective in groups. I hope we try it out.

It is a fun video and worth watching:

I am speechless

School District Admits 'Big Mistake' Over 'Get Rid of Snyder' Phone Alert:

A public school district in Michigan has used its phone alert system to point voters toward the recall effort against Gov. Rick Snyder. In early June, shortly after the Snyder recall reached the petition-gathering phase, the alert system for Lawrence Public Schools sent out the following robocall to residents of the district:

“This is a message from the Lawrence Public Schools (inaudible) alert system. This is an informational item and not directly associated with the school. Concerned parents interested in cuts to education . . . we're here to inform you that there is information about the problem. Also, be advised that there is a petition to recall Governor Snyder. If you want, stop by Chuck Moden's house right by the school June 7th/8th between 3:30 and 4:00 pm. Thank you. Goodbye.”

Another reason to homeschool, so the school district won't tell you how to vote.

Hat tip: Instapundit

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Another good gift to give our children

Advertising constantly tells parents how important it is to give children things, better toys, nicer clothes and so on.  The truth is there are more important gifts to give our children:

“The best things you can give children, next to good habits, are good memories.”
—Sydney Harris

Hat tip: Quotes for Parents

Reminder - send in a post for the next Carnival of Homeschooling

Please remember to send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling.  Carold will be holding it at HomeschoolCPA.  Carol has announced that the theme will be one thousand gifts.

Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission.

As always, entries to the Carnival of Homeschooling are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

Extra note: Blog Carnival has not been forwarding the submissions.  We can dig out some of the information via the Insta Carnival, but for now it would be easier for the host if you send your submission directly to:  Please send the following information:

Title of Post
URL of Post
Name of Blog
URL of Blog
Brief summary of the post
(With "carnival" or "submission" in the subject field of the email.)


California Government schools may be forced to change

This will be interesting.  Parent Trigger Regulations Approved by California State Board of Education: Let the Reform Begin! reports on what may be a huge change in California public education.

Huge victory today for the education-reform camp, and charter groups ready to flip public schools into places of learning, not administrator-heavy cesspools of FAIL:

At about 10:20 this morning, after not even an hour-and-a-half of deliberations, California Governor Jerry Brown's new State Board of Education unanimously approved a set of rules that will regulate the Parent Trigger -- a radical parent-empowerment law passed under former Governor Schwarzenegger.

The Trigger lets parents petition for their children's school to either undergo major staffing changes or be taken over entirely by an outside charter organization.

I can see this going in various directions.  One option will be that parents will petition, and the schools will say thank you very much for your concern, but not fundamentally do anything different.  It is possible that this will lead to improvement, but given the last four decades of decline in our government schools I am not very hopeful.

Hat tip: Waiting for "Superman"

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up - The Simplified Edition

Laura is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling at A Life Supreme.

Laura explains the process for selecting the carnival's theme:

Fortunately, the skies are clear, the a/c is working (the heat index was 118 degrees last I heard), and connection to all necessary grids is intact, so all I need is a theme.

It's hot. (I don't want to think about it.)
I'm living in my car driving kids all over town during the "lazy" days of summer. (Maybe.)
I just got a haircut. (Um... no.)
We're moving. (Hmmm... aaaaand.)
We're purging. (Go on.)
And simplifying. (Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!)

A plain, simple, straightforward blog carnival. That's the ticket!

Extremely cool: 3D printer

I want one of the home versions!

I wonder how long it took to print the wrench?

Hat tip: My mom

Good definition of character

From A.Word.A.Day:

The measure of a man's real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out.
-Thomas Babington Macaulay, author and statesman (1800-1859)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Politics and teacher unions

ReasonTV shows you need to be careful about believing what teachers tell you:

A wonderful music video of the Declaration of Independence

I love this - Too Late to Apologize: A Declaration:

Time - the most valueable gift you can give your children

The most important thing we can do as parents is to spend time with our children:

A young successful attorney said: ‘”The greatest gift I ever received was a gift I got one Christmas when my dad gave me a small box. Inside was a note saying, ‘Son, this year I will give you 365 hours, an hour every day after dinner.’ My dad not only kept his promise, he said, but every year he renewed it and it’s the greatest gift I ever had in my life. I am the result of his time.”

Hat tip: Quotes for Parents

I can do this some of the time, so am I a partial saint?

From Dan Galvin's Thought For The Day mailing list:
Sainthood emerges when you can listen to someone's tale of woe
and not respond with a description of your own.
-Andrew V. Mason, M.D.

A couple articles on Google+

Sitemeter reported that my request Monday for feedback on Google+ drew lots of hits. 

Many of our readers may enjoy this article: Google goes social with Facebook rival (Update). The article starts with:

"Online sharing is awkward. Even broken. And we aim to fix it," Google's senior vice president for engineering Vic Gundotra said in a blog post about the long-awaited social networking initiative from the Internet giant.

Unveiling Google+, Gundotra stressed the ability it gives users to separate online friends and family into different "Circles," or networks, and to share information only with members of a particular circle.

"We'd like to bring the nuance and richness of real-life sharing to software," he said. "We want to make Google better by including you, your relationships and your interests."

In another article, How Does Google's New Social Network Measure Up? compares Google+ to Facebook and Skype in a variety of areas.

Humor - Another Victor Borge

This is from when Victor Borge was a bit younger:

Review: TED Talk by Patricia Kuhl: The linguistic genius of babies

My second daughter provides this review of Patricia Kuhl's TED talk: The linguistic genius of babies:

One of the TED talks I have watched recently was by Patricia Kuhl on the linguistic genius of babies. Research has found that young children have a greater ability to learn other languages. There is a critical period in which the brain in more open to learning other languages. Young children to the age of seven are geniuses for learning other languages but after that there is a decline and it becomes more difficult to learn other languages.

Scientist do not dispute this theory but the do not have any idea why it is that babies learn languages so easily. It seems that babies learn and take statistics on what sounds they hear and then work on those sounds.

Here is the TED Talk:

Information about why College Costs have climbed so high over the last couple decades

This is less than three minutes (and it is worth watching):

Hat tip:

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

CIA page for children

This is educational:  CIA page for children.

Hat tip: My mom

Resource for Improv

I have a friend who is really into Improvisation.  He said Improv Encyclopedia is a great resource for learning and improving in improvisation.

I love this thought

From Dan Galvin's Thought For The Day mailing list:

The only people with whom you should try
to get even are those who have helped you.

-John E. Southard
The (Other) Thought For The Day

Circle of Moms' Top 25 Homeschooling Blogs

The Circle of Moms has published their Top 25 Homeschooling Blogs.  We came in at number 18!

Humor - the Crown's response to the Declaration of Independence

This is kind of cute:


The Court of King George III
London, England

July 10, 1776

Mr. Thomas Jefferson
c/o The Continental Congress
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Dear Mr. Jefferson:

We have read your "Declaration of Independence" with great interest. Certainly, it represents a considerable undertaking, and many of your statements do merit serious consideration.  Unfortunately, the Declaration as a whole fails to meet recently adopted specifications for proposals to the Crown, so we must return the document to you for further refinement. The questions which follow might assist you in your process of revision:

1.  In your opening paragraph you use the phrase "the Laws of Nature and Nature's God."  What are these laws? In what way are they the criteria on which you base your central arguments?  Please document with citations from the recent literature.

2.  In the same paragraph you refer to the "opinions of mankind."  Whose polling data are you using?  Without specific evidence, it seems to us the "opinions of mankind" are a matter of opinion.

3.  You hold certain truths to be "self-evident."  Could you please elaborate.  If they are as evident as you claim then it should not be difficult for you to locate the appropriate supporting statistics.

4.  "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" seem to be the goals of your proposal. These are not measurable goals.  If you were to say that "among these is the ability to sustain an average life expectancy in six of the 13 colonies of at last 55 years, and to enable newspapers in the colonies to print news without outside interference, and to raise the average income of the colonists by 10 percent in the next 10 years," these could be measurable goals.  Please clarify.

5.  You state that "Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new Government..."  Have you weighed this assertion against all the alternatives?  What are the trade-off considerations?

6.  Your description of the existing situation is quite extensive.  Such a long list of grievances should precede the statement of goals, not follow it.  Your problem statement needs improvement.

7.  Your strategy for achieving your goal is not developed at all.  You state that the colonies "ought to be Free and Independent States," and that they are "Absolved from All Allegiance to the British Crown."  Who or what must change to achieve this objective?  In what way must they change?  What specific steps will you take to overcome the resistance? How long will it take?  We have found that a little foresight in these areas helps to prevent careless errors later on.  How cost-effective are your strategies?

8.  Who among the list of signatories will be responsible for implementing your strategy?  Who conceived it?  Who provided the theoretical research? Who will constitute the advisory committee?  Please submit an organization chart and vitas of the principal investigators.

9.  You must include an evaluation design.  We have been requiring this since Queen Anne's War.

10. What impact will your problem have?  Your failure to include any assessment of this inspires little confidence in the long-range prospects of your undertaking.

11. Please submit a PERT diagram, an activity chart, itemized budget, and manpower utilization matrix.

We hope that these comments prove useful in revising your "Declaration of Independence."  We welcome the submission of your revised proposal.  Our due date for unsolicited proposals is July 31, 1776.  Ten copies with original signatures will be required.

Management Analyst to the British Crown

Good thought about being a better father

As fathers we should watch what we say:

A father’s words are like a thermostat that sets the temperature in the house.”
—Paul Lewis

Hat tip: Quotes for Parents

Economic freedom

This is a good video about the importance of Economic Freedom & Quality of Life:

Hat tip: My Mom

Some of our best posts from February 2006

Janine and I have been blogging about homeschooling for over five years now. If you missed some of our early posts, you have missed some of our best thoughts. Here are some highlights from February 2006:

Henry wrote about The long term consequences of being too nice to students.

We provided an Introduction to Homeschooling, Steps to becoming a homeschooler and some Internet resources on Homeschooling.

Janine wrote about one of our favorite Reasons for Homeschooling: Family Time.  Another good reasons is extending the growing season for our children in Waiting to Bloom.

How Do You Get To Carnegie Hall? is a post about the importance of PRACTICING.

Teaching reading - the lost stages is about improving our children's ability to read.

One hour video on College Conspiracy

This is long, but makes some great points:

Instapundit calls this problem of rising costs of college education the Higher Education Bubble. 

I was surprised to learn textbooks are now $200, each.

Hat tip: Consent Of The Governed.

Humor - Victor Borge in Dance Of The Comedians

Recently I was sharing some Youtube videos of Victor Borge with my children.  They were laughing, almost hysterically.  He did such a good job. 


Book review: The Path Between the Seas by David McCullough

Quick summary: Bad management. Bad politicians. Good engineers.
David McCullough, author of the famous biography on John Adams, is an amazing writer. He does a fantastic job of researching his subject and then tells the story in a mesmerizing way.

In The Path Between the Seas, Mr. McCullough breaks the story of the building of the Panama Canal into three stages. He starts with the first attempt, by the French. This ended in disaster. In the second stage of the story, America helped the Panamanians revolt against Columbia. Then McCullough concludes with the details of how the canal was finally built.

Reading about the French attempt reminded me of the manager from the Dilbert comic strip. So many decisions were made by people who had little expertise or knowledge. Estimates for the cost were almost pulled out of the air. Then sometimes these estimates would be divided in half, just because.

In 1879, a vote was taken to authorize the expenditures of funds to build a sea level canal, which would prove nearly impossible. Of the 74 who voted yes, only 19 were engineers and only one of them had been to Panama. It was not surprising that the French spent so much money and accomplished so little.

After the French fiasco, the project was dropped for a while. Then the Americans took up the challenge. I was surprised to learn that it was backing the Panamanian revolt that turned much of Latin America against the United States. Since the founding of the United States of America in the late 1700s, people to the south had looked to the US as an example in their struggles against European powers.

But President Theodore Roosevelt wanted a canal. He was upset that the Columbian government was slow to give him what he wanted. So this rough rider hinted to the Panamanians that they would be protected if they revolted. They revolted and President Roosevelt sent in the troops. Latin America came to distrust the big power to the north that would more and more would push its nose into their affairs.

In 1904, the US started building their attempt at a sea level canal. The design included a canal with a series of locks and a lake in the middle. This would save a huge amount of effort. John Stevens was put in charge. As a long time railroad man, he recognized the problem wasn’t so much digging a ditch problem, but a transportation problem of moving all the dirt. He spent time laying the foundation for moving the dirt. He put down heavier rails and placed orders for over a hundred locomotives with thousands of cars. Once this system was in place, the sea level canal become a reality.

This is a great book to read. I was fascinated to learn more about life in Panama and the world a hundred years ago. David McCullough makes the story of the canal a real page turner.

The Costs of Compulsory Education

Aaron Smith has a thoughtful column where he calls for the abolishment of compulsory education.  The Costs of Compulsory Education starts:

Education elites and their political cronies have implemented countless initiatives aimed at reforming education. From the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, every plan put forth has resulted in nothing but inefficient expenditures, new layers of bureaucracy, and continuing declines in student achievement.

Education will only be reformed once parents and entrepreneurs are free to create real alternatives to the broken systems that exist today. Repealing compulsory-education laws and allowing parents to spend their education dollars freely should be the first steps in this direction.

Curiously, compulsory-education laws, which conscript children into state-regulated programs of study, are rarely discussed in the context of education reform; these laws' ostensibly benevolent nature allows demagogues to marginalize detractors and quell any attempt at serious discourse. This results in far-reaching regulations that control how private actors educate, and thus prohibits students from getting the individualized education they need.

I think practically speaking it would be very hard to get this kind of change, but it probably is worth raising just to get people to think about their basic assumptions.

Hat tip: Miazagora on Facebook.

Ten Lessons From Federal Spending

Randall Hoven looks at historical data for the federal budget over the last 80 years and has Ten Lessons From Federal Spending.  The first is:

We can survive as a country with a lot less federal spending.

He shows a graph of Federal Government spending as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product from 1930 to now.  I wish we could go back to when the Federal Government was spending only 5% of the GDP, instead of the 25% now.

The other nine lessons are also worth reading.

Hat tip: Miazagora on Facebook.

I wonder if this true

From A.Word.A.Day:

The desire of knowledge, like the thirst of riches, increases ever with the acquisition of it.
-Laurence Sterne, novelist and clergyman (1713-1768)

I think this thought is true for some people, but not everyone.  As people learn more, some will be happy with what they have and some will want more.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Politics and Public schools - a bad mix

Dave writes about a problem in California: State Board member conflict of interest:

As a "conservative nut-job" I was extremely disappointed with Governor Schwarzenegger most of the time. One good thing he did was to get rid Joe Nunez, a California Teachers Association (CTA) hack who was on the State Board of Education. I can't imagine a greater conflict of interest than having CTA staff as members of the state board. As soon as Arnold was gone and Governor Brown had control of appointments, we ended up with yet another CTA employee, this time it is Patricia Rucker whose daytime job is as a lobbyist. So during her work day, Patricia is running around the Capitol telling state legislators what their CTA masters want them to do. She's visiting the California Department of Education (CDE) and giving them their marching orders. Then magically, when she sits down at the table as a member of the State Board of Education, she puts aside everything that she works for during a normal day and serves as a representative of the people of the State of California. Somehow, I don't believe that.
Apparently, I'm not the only person who feels that way. Parent Revolution, the organization responsible for the "Parent Trigger" law which allows parents to force schools to convert to a charter school has filed a complaint with the California Fair Political Practices Commission.

It is hard to imagine how someone could get away holding both jobs at the same time.

What are your impressions of Google+?

I've gotten a few invitations to Google+.  I glanced at it and it seems similar to Facebook.  Is anyone using Google+?  Do you like it?  Is it worth checking out?


How much groping does the TSA do in one hour at one station?

This was scary and depressing: "Dinner and a Grope Show:" An Afternoon at JFK Airport is the observations of one person watching New York's JFK Airport Terminal 1 for an hour. 

I am truly surprised that more people don't say enough is enough.

Another reason to homeschool: so you can treat your boys like boys and your girls like girls

I am over half way through Why Gender Matters. This is a fascinating book. Luke has recommended the book several times. I finally got around to reading it and I’m glad I did. It is fascinating.

In our politically correct public schools there is a push to treat boys and girls exactly the same. This book explains why that is doomed to fail. In general the brain of boys and girls are wired differently. For example boys will be attracted to movement while girls will be attracted by faces. This happens long before society has had a chance to imprint anything.

Our son is an example of this. When baby bop showed up at 14 months old we didn’t have any cars in the house. He crawled around the house for a while looking and looking. Finally he took a shoe and moved it around on the ground while making truck noises.

Why Gender Matters reviews dozens of studies. Here are some of the differences between boys and girls the book shares:

Girls hear better than boys.

Music therapy helps premature baby girls but does little for baby boys.

Girls draw nouns. Boys draw verbs.

Women and men use different parts of their brains when navigating.

Boys often know what types of toys they like before they know their gender.

Boys will fight with someone and be best friends the next day. Girls will fight and hate each other for years.

Girls and boys assess risk differently. (Boys are much more likely to do something risky when they are with other boys.)

Boys and girls feel pain differently.

Girls’ friendships are face-to-face. Boys’ friendships are shoulder-to-shoulder.

Stress improves learning for boys but impairs learning with girls.

I hope to have a review up in a week or two. I am so impressed with the book that I bought a second copy and have asked my oldest two daughters to read the book

This book re-enforces how glad we are that we can homeschool. We are able to treat our daughters like girls and our son like a boy.

Reivew TED talk by Mark Bezos: A life lesson from a volunteer firefighter

My second daughter provides this review of Mark Bezos' TED Talk: A life lesson from a volunteer firefighter:

Recently I watched the TED talk by Mark Bezos: A life lesson from a volunteer firefighter.

He told a story about how he went in a burning building to get the owner a pair of… shoes. It was raining and the woman whose house was on fire needed shoes. A few weeks later the Fire station received a letter of thanks from the home owner, and the kindness she noted the most? That someone had even gotten her a pair of shoes.

This really made me think about how little things we do can change someone’s day. Is it that hard for me to wait from someone or hold a door open? Is it that hard to send someone a thank you card? Don’t wait to do something big, do little things that help people.

This Ted talk was less than five minutes long but its’ message has probably been most influential to me than any of the others I’ve watched so far.

I will echo my daughter's thoughts.  It is a good talk with a great message, well worth five minutes:

The Declaration of Independence

Our gratitude for and reverence of the Declaration of Independence should be all year long.  To prolong the feelings of the 4th of July I'm going to post a few patriotic thoughts over the next couple weeks.

As part of the kickoff here is the Declaration of Independence:

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris
New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton
North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

Just whose castle is it?

It used to be that a man's home was his castle.  He could do with it as he saw fit.  Over time the government passed more and more laws limiting what was allowed.

It has gotten to the government officials think they can decide if and where you have a garden.  Julie Bass may face jail time for planting vegetables is the latest example of a government that needs to be limited.

I love Spunky's observation:

"Michelle Obama grows veggies on the White House lawn and receives praises but a Michigan mom does the same thing and receives a possible prison sentence. It all hinges on how you define "suitable." Bravo to this mom for not giving in."

Hat tip: Spunky Homeschool

I think the answer is NO!

Bill Turner reviews many of the recent abuses by the TSA and then asks Does the U.S. Need the TSA Now?

I think the answer is NO!  We don't need patting down of six-year-old girls or elderly grandmothers in wheelchairs.  We don't need TSA agents being hostile to passengers when the passengers express frustration at how long the proces takes.  We don't need American Citizens being treated like they are all criminals. 

For all of the abuse we've suffered from the TSA they haven't caught a single terrorist.

There are better ways.  Get rid of the TSA and create an agency like the one Isreal has which allows profiling.

Hat tip: Boycott Flying

A good lesson to teach children

I think my children have learned, in part, this important lesson:

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.
Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
-Calvin Coolidge

Another reason to homeschool - so your children can learn to think for themselves

John Taylor Gatto explains in "The Public School Nightmare" how Public Schools were designed to destroy individual thought. 

Best news I've heard in awhile

72% Favor Free Market Economy Over One Managed by the Government:

Voters remain strongly supportive of a free market economy over one controlled by the government and still think small businesses are hurt more than big businesses when the government does get involved.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 72% of Likely U.S. Voters believe a free market economy is better than an economy managed by the government. Just 14% think a government-managed economy is better. Another 14% are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here).

News like this gives me hope that our country may have a chance.

Hat tip: My mom

Homeschool Showcase #76 is up

Homeschool Showcase #76 is up at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Humor (In a sad sort of way) - History of how math has been taught

I came across this in some old email:


Teaching Math in 1950: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price.  What is his profit?

Teaching Math in 1960: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80.  What is his profit?

Teaching Math in 1970: A logger exchanges a set "L" of lumber for a set "M" of money. The cardinality of set "M" is 100.  Each element is worth one dollar.  Make 100 dots representing the elements of the set "M".  The set "C", the cost of production, contains 20 fewer points than set "M."  Represent the set "C" as a subset of set "M" and answer the following question: What is the cardinality of the set "P" for profits?

Teaching Math in 1980: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. Her cost of production is $80 and her profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.

Teaching Math in 1990: By cutting down beautiful forest trees, the logger makes $20.  What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the forest birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down the trees? There are no wrong answers.

Teaching Math in 1996: By laying off 40% of its loggers, a company improves its stock price from $80 to $100.  How much capital gain per share does the CEO make by exercising his stock options at $80? Assume capital gains are no longer taxed, because this encourages investment.

Teaching Math in 1997: A company out-sources all of its loggers.  The firm saves on benefits, and when demand for its product is down, the logging work force can easily be cut back.  The average logger employed by the company earned $50,000, had three weeks vacation, a nice retirement plan and medical insurance.  The contracted logger charges $50 an hour.  Was outsourcing a good move?

Teaching Math in 1998: A laid-off logger with four kids at home and a ridiculous alimony from his first failed marriage comes into the logging-company corporate offices and goes postal, mowing down 16 executives and a couple of secretaries, and gets lucky when he nails a politician on the premises collecting his kickback. Was outsourcing the loggers a good move for the company?

Teaching Math in 1999: A laid-off logger serving time in Folsom for blowing away several people is being trained as a COBOL programmer in order to work on Y2K projects.  What is the probability that the automatic cell doors will open on their own as of 00:01, 01/01/00?

A new Homeschool Blog Carnival!

Homeschooling on the Cheap was posted at 3 Boys and a Dog.

Good reminder to stop and remember what is important

"It's good to have money and the things that money can buy, but it's good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure you haven't lost the things  money can't buy."                               - George Lorimer

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Unions don't want any teacher fired, ever

Union Sues State to Stop Teacher Evaluations reports on another instance where teacher unions are fighting attempts to hold teachers accountable and fire bad teachers:

New York's largest teachers union is suing the state Board of Regents over the state's new system for evaluating public-school teachers, a move that could derail plans by the city and hundreds of other school districts to start basing reviews on how well students perform on standardized tests.

In court papers filed in state Supreme Court late Monday, New York State United Teachers claimed that education officials violated the law when they gave school districts the option of assigning significantly more weight to state assessments in their annual reviews of teachers.

Under the law, teachers could lose their jobs if their students continually fail to improve their scores on state standardized tests.

The union, a labor federation representing hundreds of thousands of teachers, claims that the regulations handed down by the Board of Regents run afoul of the evaluation law, which lawmakers approved last year and is set to take effect in July.

I understand that there may be some situations in which some students will fail due to circumstances beyond the teacher's control, but if a class of students spend a full year with a teacher and they do worse on a set of standardize tests, then I think it is reasonable to fire the teacher and give another teacher a chance.

Hat tip: Waiting for Superman on Facebook

Great explanation of the Broken Window Falacy

The Broken Window Falacy is a classic economic story.  This three minute video does a great job of explaining the principle.  If your children watch it and understand the principle then it will be much harder for tthe government to mislead them.

Hat tip: Miazagora on Facebook.

Last week's Charlotte Mason Blog Carnvial

Last week's Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival is up at Fisher Academy from Peru!

Fun: flash mob at Cape Cod Stop and Shop

This was posted on the 2nd of July and already has 600,000 hits:

I wonder if some stores reach out and invite flash mobs to perform at their stores. It could be a lot of free publicity.

It has been awhile since I posted this thought

As a parent of readers I greatly appreciate this thought:

Mike suggests that school is trying to innoculate our children against "Reading for Pleasure", since that has been known to stimulate thinking *gasp*Kate Collins

(Does blogger have a feature for repeating a post every so often, like every six months?)  I'd put this thought into such a feature.)

The "a homeschooling carnival" is up

The recent a homeschooling carnival is up at Garden of Life.

A benefit to learning

I hadn't thought about this before:

"The best thing for being sad," replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, "is to learn something.  That's the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then -- to learn.  Learn why the world wags and what wags it.  That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting.  Learning is the only thing for you.  Look what a lot of things there are to learn."-- T.H. White, "The Once and Future King"

Friday, July 08, 2011

I'm back, again

Blogging has been light the last couple weeks.  I limit myself to about an hour a day.  With all the other demands in my life I don't want to spend hours each day blogging.  (As much fun as that would be.)

Lately I've been involved in starting up a Toastmasters club.  We got it off the ground a couple weeks ago.  Currently we have about ten strong members.  A good club normally has over twenty.  Recently I've been contacting many businesses close by to invite our neighbors to join us.  So I've been spending an hour a day.  I can hand out five to ten flyers each time. 

One interesting thing, so far I've handed out more than fifty flyers.  Yet no one has showed up as a result of the flyers.  All the people who have come to the club came because I or the President of the club knew them personally and invited them. 

The lesson learned is that when you are trying to recruit people for some activity it is fine to cast the news out into the wild.  You will probably get some response, but it is much, much better to think who you know personally and invite them.

Good explanation of the problems with the Federal government in education

I like this:

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Reminder - send in a post for the next Carnival of Homeschooling

Please remember to send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling.  Laura will be holding it at A Life Supreme.

Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission.

As always, entries to the Carnival of Homeschooling are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

Extra note: Blog Carnival has not been forwarding the submissions.  We can dig out some of the information via the Insta Carnival, but for now it would be easier for the host if you send your submission directly to:  Please send the following information:

Title of Post
URL of Post
Name of Blog
URL of Blog
Brief summary of the post
(With "carnival" or "submission" in the subject field of the email.)