Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up - Do you have Spring Fever?

Janice Campbell is celebrating Spring at this week's Carnival of Homeschooling. On her blog Janice Campbell Taking Time For Things That Matter, Janice has a lovely set of Spring flowers with a large set of posts.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education

Check out Blog Carnival on April 1st

I've been notified that the Carnival of Homeschooling will be the Featured Carnival tomorrow on April 1st.

I wonder if there is some hidden message to being the featured carnival on April Fools Day? :-)

If you haven't checked out Blog Carnival recently you might look through their long list of blog carnivals.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education

Saturday, March 28, 2009

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

Janice Campbell will be hosting the next Carnival of Homeschooling at Taking Time For Things That Matter

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

Here are the instructions for sending in a submission.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education,

Good papers on programming

I work as a software engineer. For the most part it is a challenging, fun, and rewarding job. One aspect of the job that I didn't appreciate at first is the great need for continual self education and improvement. The industry changes so fast that it is easy to be out dated and old school in just five years. For the last ten years I've worked to spend time each month improving my skills. For example I've read Code Complete twice.

A good friend recently sent me a link to 10 Papers Every Programmer Should Read (At Least Twice). I've read the article. It looks like a good list. I plan to try to read each of these papers in the next couple months.

Technorati tags: programming, Code Complete

Funny column by Justice William W. Bedsworth

A good friend sent me a link to Justice William W. Bedsworth's column on Bloodlusting Chihuanhuas Kill Thousands. It is pretty funny.

I had not heard of Justice William W. Bedsworth before. He is kind of a law version of Dave Barry. Here are his past columns.

Technorati tags: William Bedsworth

Dog Agression: Training your children

My mother found a good link on what children should know and how they should act around dogs, especially dogs that are young and being trained.

Dog Aggression: Training your children is by Daniel Stevens and Martin Olliver.

Technorati tags: parenting, children, dogs, education

Friday, March 27, 2009

Late breaking news: Better parenting leads to more competent children

A study found Why children do best with strict parents:

Children are more likely to grow into well-adjusted adults if their parents are firm disciplinarians, academics claimed yesterday.
Traditional 'authoritative' parenting, combining high expectations of behaviour with warmth and sensitivity, leads to more 'competent' children.
It is particularly important for girls, who can suffer from a lack of confidence and may turn to drugs if care is merely adequate, said researchers from London's Institute of Education, a body widely viewed as Left-wing.
The findings, from a Governmentfunded study into parenting qualities, raise questions about whether parents leading hectic lifestyles need only be 'good enough'.


I dug around the Institute of Education, but wasn't able to find a copy of the report.

In our overly permissive society today it is nice to hear some support for parents being firm with their children.

(Hat tip: EducationNews.org)

Technorati tags: parenting, children

Another instance of voucher programs suffering

I am of two minds on vouchers.

On one side I think vouchers are a great idea. It would give parents more control over where and what their children are taught. To compete with private schools, public schools would have to treat parents as customers, instead of victims. Faceless bureaucrats often make decisions that are not in the best interest of some children, often not even in the best interests of most children. Yet parents have to fight a huge battle to make even the slightest change.

On the other side I don't think vouchers will really ever happen in the United States. When ever vouchers are tried politicians and teacher unions get involved and craft the laws such that the vouchers are only for poor students, or only get half as much money as the public schools get, or some other limitations. When a few students don't do well they will then trumpet the message that "vouchers don't work."

Jillian Bandes's recent column on Unions Trump Students In Arizona just reinforces my second belief. She reports some sad news:

State laws that prohibit school boards from giving money to private educational institutions are now the reason disabled kids in Arizona can no longer attend specialized classes that meet their needs.
A unanimous Arizona Supreme Court ruling on Wednesday held that vouchers were illegal in their state, and the children who used them to attend private, specialized schools can no longer do so. That’s because the private schools could violate stipulations that are attached to public money, such as regulations on gender discrimination, politicized instruction, or separation of church and state. Students had used the vouchers since 2006, but will have to relinquish them at the end of 2009.


Given the current law in Arizona it appears the judges may have made the "right" decision. It has thrown the voucher movement back, yet again.

It is often very hard to fight against tradition. For decades millions of children have gone through government schools. Currently the majority both recognizes that public schools are broken, and thinks they can be fixed. Implementing vouchers is trying to work within the system. Recent events make me doubt even more that vouchers will even succeed.

This is yet another reason we homeschool. We don't have to wait until some day when (or if) vouchers are fully funded and parents have control. We now have control. We can decided what is best for our children and not have to ask permission.

If you are struggling with your children suffering in public schools, yank them out now. There is not much of the school year left. You can try it out for a couple months, and then break in the Fall. If after giving it your best shot, you can always put them back in the government schools.

Homeschooling rules!

Technorati tags: government schools, vouchers, public school, public education, homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education

Scary - budget deficits

I don't blog about politics very often. There are others who do a better job than I could do. Also I find that in general very few people change their minds over time. Most people seem to find their political viewpoints in childhood or early twenties, and rarely change.

Janine and I are involved in local politics. I've run for office and been involved in several local issues. But in general I plan to stay away from politics on our blog.

I found this very striking - Bush Deficit vs. Obama Deficit:

Now I won't be able to sleep.

(Hat tip: Instapundit)

Lately I've wondered if at some point will the huge national debts start to drive people out of the United States. Over the years Congress contiues to increase the amount of money I'm obligated to pay, and worse the amount of money my children will have to pay. At some point I think there will be a tipping point and people will just walk away for debt they didn't ask for. The International Property Rights Index might be a good place to start looking.

Technorati tags: government, property rights, debt

Interesting business development

Our society glorifies entertainment. We're told we deserve to be happy. And we can only be happy when we're being entertained. Many people work to earn enough so they can retire and play. Their ultimate goal is a life of leisure, rather than look for ways to contribute and build society.

Gary Cross says this is a big problem with men. He wrote the book Men to Boys: The Making of Modern Immaturity. His main message is many of today's men listen to the popular culture and continue to play with childish things well into their thirties, and beyond. Video games are huge about single men, many of whom are living with their parents. Many men won't settle down, get married and raise a family. And those that do, often continue to check out. Like Peter Pan they refuse to grow up.

With that as the setting I find Qualcomm backs game console for 'next billion' a fascinating article:

A startup called Zeebo Inc. is betting that people in emerging markets want to play good video games just as much as people in the U.S., Western Europe and Japan do.
Zeebo plans to launch its "video game console for the next billion" in Brazil next month for $199 and other countries later in the year for $179. It was developed using the cell phone technology of Qualcomm Inc., the San Diego company best known for its mobile phone chips.
The Zeebo unit is light, and a little larger than the Nintendo Wii. But instead of playing video games on disks, the Zeebo will use digitally downloaded games -- distributed through cell phone networks that players don't even have to subscribe to.
The console is not meant to directly compete with the latest, powerful devices like Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 3, Microsoft's Xbox 360, or the Wii.
Rather, said Zeebo CEO John F. Rizzo, it is targeted at consumers in emerging markets like India, China, Brazil and Eastern Europe who generally can't afford the latest high-end consoles, or the games published for them. In many of these countries, cell phone service is more readily available and cheaper than wired broadband.


On one hand this is a cool idea, turning phones into video came devices. On the other hand I'm concerned we're exporting a destructive trend to other parts of the world.

Technorati tags: , , , Gary Cross,

We're learning this lesson

Janine and I started with three girls. Each girl is different, but they are all girls.

With Baby Bop we're learning that boys are different. Stone Soup's comic today captures some of the difference. I wonder what Baby Bop's first words will be.

Technorati tags: , ,

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Interesting study: International Property Rights Index

Star Parker recently referenced the International Property Rights Index. The IPRI web site explains the study:

The 2009 International Property Rights Index (IPRI) is an international comparative study that measures the significance of both physical and intellectual property rights and their protection for economic well-being. In order to incorporate and grasp the important aspects related to property rights protection, the Index focuses on three areas: Legal and Political Environment (LP), Physical Property Rights (PPR), and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). The current study analyzes data for 115 countries around the globe, representing ninety-six percent of world GDP. Of great importance, the 2009 gauge incorporates data of PR protection from various sources, often directly obtained from expert surveys within the evaluated countries.

One of the things I found interesting is the United States is ranked 15 out of the 115 nations.

Another interesting thing is on page 31 of the report which shows a strong correlation between strong property rights and increased Gross National Product per Capita.

Technorati tags: government, property rights

Update on: Can Public Schools strip search your children?

Over the last year and a half we've blogged about a deplorable situation where thirteen-year-old honors student was strip searched by a school secretary and a school nurse.

Various courts have ruled for and against the school. Now it is going to the United States Supreme Court, which will hear the case on April 21.

About six years ago an assistant principal suspected Savana Redding of having brought ibuprofen pills to school. Rather than let her off with a warning, or asking Savana's mother to deal with it, the Gestapo assistant principal ordered Savana strip searched. And it was done.

This is so outrageous. This alone is enough reason for me to homeschool my children. Many public school officials seem to think this is totally OK. Government schools shouldn't have any limits on what they can do or inflict on the children.

If you are interested in details you might read the New York Times's article: Strip-Search of Girl Tests Limit of School Policy. One judge clearer had her head on straight:

Writing for the majority, Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw said, “It does not require a constitutional scholar to conclude that a nude search of a 13-year-old child is an invasion of constitutional rights.”
“More than that,” Judge Wardlaw added, “it is a violation of any known principle of human dignity.”


I have trouble understanding where one of the dissenting judges is coming from:

Judge Michael Daly Hawkins, dissenting, said the case was in some ways “a close call,” given the “humiliation and degradation” involved. But, Judge Hawkins concluded, “I do not think it was unreasonable for school officials, acting in good faith, to conduct the search in an effort to obviate a potential threat to the health and safety of their students.”

I wonder if Judge Hawkins has children?

Poor Savana Redding did not return to school for months after she was strip searched, and eventually trasnferred to another school.

I wonder if the assistant principal, or secretary, or school nurse still have job? If it were up to me all three would be fired. They were way out of line.

(Hat tip: EducationNews)

Technorati tags: government schools, children, public school, public education, homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, education

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up - the Spring Edition

Gary is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling at HomeSchoolBuzz.com.

He's excited that we've officially entered Spring and shares some beautiful pictures of nature at springtime.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education

Saturday, March 21, 2009

My life is a musical

Music has taken over my life.

* I play the baritone in a homeschool ensemble group.

* My oldest daughter plays the clarinet in the same group.

* I play trumpet in a community orchestra.

* My oldest daughter plays the clarinet in the same group.

* I play the piano and substitute as a pianist or chorister occasionally during the children's singing time at church.

* My oldest daughter plays the piano.

* My younger two daughters play the violin in a homeschool strings group.

* My younger two daughters also play the piano.

* I sing in the choir at church.

* All my girls sing in a homeschool children's choir which performs once month at a local senior living center.

* Baby Bop loves music. He sat through a two hour singing and dancing performance in which his two big sisters participated. He watched a PBS special on Luciano Pavarotti and was entranced.

* My oldest daughter will agree to cheerfully complete any household chore as long as she can listen to her favorite songs on U-tube.

Add to this impressive list Baby Bop's speech therapists latest recommendation.

Drum roll please.......

We are to sing to Baby Bop. Not, just songs, like Twinkle Little Star, but communication which would normally by spoken.

Since Baby Bop is speech delayed and has auditory processing issues, this should help him with language development.

I feel a bit like Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music.

[By the way, I upload this picture from the United States Government Photo and Images search page that Henry mentioned in this post.]

Technorati tags: classical, music, life

A homeschooler doing well

I've not gotten into Twitter. It seems that blogging keeps me more than enough busy. I feel guilty when I don't put up a couple posts each day. Twitter seems like it would be just more work. For those of you who use Twitter, about how much time do you spend on it each day?

I am pleased to learn that a young homeschooler is doing well. HomeSchoolBuzz.com found that a Homeschooled grad creates internet sensation. Creator Of Popular Social Media Site Calls Tulsa Home starts with:

A young Tulsan is making a booming business out of a popular social networking site.
Twitter has been getting a lot of attention lately. The site has really increased in popularity over the past few months and was initially designed to be just words. But, we discovered a young Tulsa entrepreneur who has now made it possible for folks all over the world to share their photos, too.
Noah Everett's site is called TwitPic. Pretty much anyone who uses Twitter uses TwitPic to post pictures on the social networking site. Everett is 24 years old. He was homeschooled and graduated at the age of fifteen

This is what happens when people find a passion. Doing something you love unleashes a ton of energy.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education

Another active homeschooling carnival!

Sally of Diamonds in the Rough pointed me to another homeschooling carnival!

Dana of school for us is hosting this week's Hands On Homeschool Blog Carnival.

While you are waiting for the next edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling, you can check out a few other homeschooling carnivals:

This week's edition of the Canadian Home Educators Blog Carnival is up.

Here is the latest Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival.

I've learned that the "8 Ways to a More Organized Homeschool Carnival" will only be for eight weeks. Here is week 2 and week 3.

The Homeschool Showcase is bi-weekly, so there were no editions this week.

Again, if you know of any other active homeschooling carnivals, please tell me.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education

Friday, March 20, 2009

Another beautiful picture from APOD - The Cocoon Nebula

David Plesko gave me permission to post this picture he and Neil Fleming took of the Cocoon Nebula:

Technorati tags: , , David Plesko, Neil Fleming, Cocoon Neubla

The Great Potato Mystery

About 7 months ago, we completed a remodel of the room above the garage so that Baby Bop could have his own room (to comply with the state's foster care regulations). Unfortunately, during the remodel, the contractor left the garage literally wide open and left an opening in a screen to the crawl space under our house. As a result, rats took up residence in our garage, under our house and in our house.

I won't go into the long, and sad, sad story. It got so bad that the little critters were even eating through plastic containers to get to food. While were were working on this problem, I moved all food storage in plastic contains to our bedroom.

Over the last few months, we tried various things to correct the problem. We cleaned out the garage and repaired potential entry points and hired an exterminator who put out bait stations.

Just as we were about to finishing up our efforts last week, I noticed nibble bits on a potato in a bag on our kitchen floor. This was particularly disturbing since we haven't had an indication that rats could get into the house for months. We thought our rat problems were only in the garage.

A few days later, our contractor closed up a problem area under our kitchen sink and sealed up opening around the garage door. We hoped that took care of the problem once and for all.

To test this, I left a potato on the kitchen floor and a potato on the garage floor. The next day I was happy to see that the potato on the kitchen floor was untouched. However, I had another problem in the garage.

I couldn't check for nibble marks on the potato in the garage because the potato in the garage was missing!! There were no leftover piece or rat droppings. It was just gone. We searched the garage was a flash light to see if the potato had been moved. No such luck. We couldn't find a potential opening or hiding spot big enough for a potato.

I spent the next day questioning anyone who had been in our garage the previous day in case some one and picked it up. The investigation went something like this: "Did you by any chance touch a potato in our garage?" This is a great conversation starter and a wonderful way to build relationships with one's neighbors.

We do have two year old in the house. If Baby Bop had picked up the potato, unless he dropped it into the garbage, we would have expected to find a potato laying around the house.

To complicate the matter, I found that the garage door was not completely shut. The opening was very small, but I think a rat could have gotten in. However, I have a hard time picturing a rat pushing a potato out that small opening or rats eating the whole potato without leaving any remnants or droppings.

The next night we put potato pieced all over the garage. It has been 4 days and not one potato piece has been touched. The more time that goes by without any indication of rodent activity, the more I start to relax. Yet, I wonder if they get hungry, will they come back?

Tags : rodents , rats , mystery , potato

Baby Bop may have a new favorite subject for videos

Our two-year-old foster care (soon to be adopted) son often wakes up around 7:00 AM. If Janine has a rough night, our oldest daughter will take care of him. She's found that she can read fan fiction while he watches Veggie Tales. This can keep him entertained for an hour.

Last evening I may have found a replacement. Baby Bop and I were running around the house. We had sorted some laundry and were talking about tomorrow. Trains came up and he got super excited again. I wondered if Youtube had any videos of trains. I found a couple. This one kept his attention for the full ten minutes:

The next time my oldest gets up in the morning to watch him I'll be curious to see if he goes back to Veggie Tales, or if he wants trains.

Technology is amazing.

Technorati tags: trains

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Interesting - study finds depressed people don't appreciate positive experiences

I have a fairly positive attitude. I had an epiphany about ten years ago. I was whinny about something, and then the thought occurred to me that I had never been shot at in my life. I got to thinking about how blessed I was to live in the United States at this time. Most of us live better than kings did five hundred years ago. We have access to food, shelter, medical help, entertainment, and safety far greater than kings could even imagine back in the 1500s.

Sometimes when friends ask how I'm doing I'll reply that "I haven't been shot out today."

I was intrigued by this study - Depressed people have trouble learning 'good things in life':

While depression is often linked to negative thoughts and emotions, a new study suggests the real problem may be a failure to appreciate positive experiences.
Researchers at Ohio State University found that depressed and non-depressed people were about equal in their ability to learn negative information that was presented to them.
weren't nearly as successful at learning as were their non-depressed counterparts.
"Since depression is characterized by
, it is easy to assume that depressed people learn the negative lessons of life better than non-depressed people - but that's not true," said Laren Conklin, co-author of the study and a graduate student in psychology at Ohio State.


Technorati tags: depression

Product review of SSDs

This post is mostly to capture a link for my extended-brain so I can find it easily in a few months.

My brother and I have talked recently about the changes Solid-state drives (SSD) will have on the computer industry. He argues persuasively that the dramatic improvement in access to data will have ripple affects.

For years data has been stored on hard drives, which are basically spinning plates. SSD's are basically memory chips, which can be accessed much, much faster.

I came across a long article about SSDs. It looks pretty good and I want to be able to find it in six month or so when we'll probably be getting another PC. If you are getting a new PC any time soon, you might want to skim the review. It is long, but there is a lot of information there.

Technorati tags: SSD

I want one of these

This is just amazing:

These flying cars won't be available for a couple years. It appears Terrafugia will initially sell them for about $200,000. Hopefully the price will fall dramatically over the following years.

(Hat tip: Technology Review)

Technorati tags: flying cars, Terrafugia

A key reason for success

Joanne Jacobs writes about the "immigrant paradox."

The first generation comes to America and struggles, but their children do better and the third generation does even better. That’s how it’s supposed to work. But scholars are trying to understand the “immigrant paradox,” reports Education Week. The Americanized children of immigrants often do worse in school than the foreign-born generation, despite fewer English problems. American-born children have more health problems and are more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs and act violently.

I love Joanne's conclusion:

Foreign-born students, some of them here illegally, finished college in four years at a higher rate than American-born students. Those who got no state or federal aid worked harder to get through quickly. The “immigrant paradox” is the result of immigrant hustle.

The cool thing is hustle is something anyone can develop. To be successful, and stay successful, requires hustle. This is something you can teach your children. My guess is homeschooled children have more hustle than the average student in public schools.

Most government schools encourage, or demand, children to be passive. It is easier for a teacher to have students which march to her drum.

Technorati tags: government schools, children, public school, public education, homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, education

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

Gary will be hosting the next Carnival of Homeschooling at HomeSchoolBuzz.com.

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

Here are the instructions for sending in a submission.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education,


Kind of an interesting idea - These Lectures Are Gone in 60 Seconds:

Take a 60-minute lecture. Cut the excess verbiage, do away with most of the details, and pare it down to key concepts and themes.
What's left? A "microlecture" over in as few as 60 seconds. A course designer for San Juan College, a community college in Farmington, N.M., says that in online education, such tiny bursts can teach just as well as traditional lectures when paired with assignments and discussions.
Skeptics, however, argue that lectures involving sustained arguments, such as literary analyses or explanations of complex equations, cannot be boiled down in this way.
At San Juan, microlectures were introduced in a new online degree program in occupational safety in the fall and are now expanding to subjects like reading, tribal governance, and veterinary studies.


I wouldn't expect these to be very effective for most topics. One of the reasons for longer lectures it it takes time to develop complex ideas. Another reason is repetition helps to drill the basic concept down into the student's brain. Neither of these works with a sixty second lecture.

(Hat tip: AssortedStuff)

Technorati tags: college, education

How do you justify this? "mealtime Gestapos"

From the UK:

"A PRIMARY school has been accused of running a "mealtime Gestapo" after insisting on inspecting children's lunchboxes for unhealthy food.
If pupils are found to have lollies, sweets, chocolate, carbonated drinks or full-fat potato chips, teachers confiscate them and hold them in the staffroom. The snacks are returned at the end of the day but only if parents ask.

Maybe your daughter is having a hard time because of a recent death in the family. You slip in a couple chocolate kisses as a way of saying I love you. BUT the mealtime Gestapos know better, they KNOW that children should never, never, ever have sweets, so they riffle through little Susie's lunch and take the kisses. (I wonder if they are hypocrites who help themselves to the treats at the end of the day?)

I find this mind boggling. Schools continue to assert they are in charge and parents have no rights. I am glad some parents are making a fuss about this.

I understand the concern, that many children are heavily overweight. But schools should not go against the parents in deciding what children eat.

We need to push back so hard on attempts like this that schools never, never, ever consider even asking if they can look through lunches.

One of the nice things about homeschooling is we can serve our children dessert. Even better that often my second daughter will make the desserts!

(Hat tip: ParentDish)

Technorati tags: government schools, children, public school, public education, homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, education

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up - The Blarney Edition

Natalie Criss is hosting this week's edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling. She's hosting it at The Homeschool Cafe. In observance of St. Patrick's Day, Natalie has a number of fun Irish poems.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education,

Nice article about Blue Whales

My mother sent me a link to a National Geographic article on Blue Whales. Check out the pictures.

Technorati tags: blue whales

Do you live in a free state?

This is an interesting study. William P. Ruger and Jason Sorens collected date on the fifty states in the United States and ranked them in terms of freedom. Their 64 page report is online.

Here is the executive summary:

This paper presents the first-ever comprehensive ranking of the American states on their public policies affecting individual freedoms in the economic, social, and personal spheres. We develop and justify our ratings and aggregation procedure on explicitly normative criteria, defining individual freedom as the ability to dispose of one’s own life, liberty, and justly acquired property however one sees fit, so long as one does not coercively infringe on another individual’s ability to do the same.

This study improves on prior attempts to score economic freedom for American states in three primary ways: (1) it includes measures of social and personal freedoms such as peaceable citizens’ rights to educate their own children, own and carry firearms, and be free from unreasonable search and seizure; (2) it includes far more variables, even on economic policies alone, than prior studies, and there are no missing data on any variable; and (3) it uses new, more accurate measurements of key variables, particularly state fiscal policies.

We find that the freest states in the country are New Hampshire, Colorado, and South Dakota, which together achieve a virtual tie for first place. All three states feature low taxes and government spending and middling levels of regulation and paternalism. New York is the least free by a considerable margin, followed by New Jersey, Rhode Island, California, and Maryland. On personal freedom alone, Alaska is the clear winner, while Maryland brings up the rear. As for freedom in the different regions of the country, the Mountain and West North Central regions are the freest overall while the Middle Atlantic lags far behind on both economic and personal freedom. Regression analysis demonstrates that states enjoying more economic and personal freedom tend to attract substantially higher rates of internal net migration.

The data used to create the rankings are publicly available online at www.statepolicyindex.com, and we invite others to adopt their own weights to see how the overall state freedom rankings change.

(Hat tip: The Goldwater Institute)

Technorati tags: freedom

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Update on NC Judge ruling that homeschool kids should attend public schools

Friday I wrote about a divorce case with homeschooling issues. The judge has made a ruling. He has decided the children will attend public school, in the fall. The full ruling is available online.

It is a sad state of affairs. There are claims the mother has been brainwashed by a small church. According to the ruling even her own parents are concerned about her. Since I'm three thousand miles away I don't know exactly what to think.

Since Janine and I have started doing foster care we've become much more aware that there are many situations which don't have a good solution. Some times you just have to pick the least worse option.

I am glad the judge won't force the children into public school immediately. My hope is that with six months there will be plenty of time for all parties to thoughtfully work out a good solution for the children.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education

More royalty free pictures

Last week I posted about Royalty free pictures at the USDA. Melanie of Notebook Learning left a comment pointing to:

Flickr's Library of Congress' Photostream


The United States Government Photo and Images search page

These are both very amazing. I've just spent over a half hour looking around these two sites.

Technorati tags: pictures, photos

I like this line about public schools

Irate Over FBISD Truancy Policy, Family Removes Their 5 Children And Opts For Home-schooling is a news article about a family that took a cheap three day cruise trying to satisfy an immigrantion requirement. The family gets back from the cruise and the school hassles them claiming the children were truant. The parents, Dawna and Stephen Loose, tried to work things out, but the school just stonewalls them. Finally the parents say fine, we'll go back to homeschooling our children.

The mother has a great line. The article quotes her:

“I withdrew my elementary kids yesterday and my high school kids today,” she said, “because I have no patience for a system like this.”
“That’s a little too much power to have over my kids,” Dawna said of the school system. “You put them in and withdraw your rights, or you take them out and get your rights back.”


Technorati tags: government schools, children, public school, public education, homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, education

Your children and Paul Graham's essays

A good friend recently sent me a link to Paul Graham's essay on Why TV Lost. Paul's main point is that the internet allows anyone, anywhere, to watch what they want to watch at anytime. Television can't compete. Television has a fixed schedule. If a viewer doesn't like the current selection he is out of luck. The internet has several orders of magnitude more options. Paul says getting involved with providing entertainment via the internet is a great place for startups.

I've greatly enjoyed Paul's essays in the past. About once a month I'll encourage a friend or colleague to read his essay on Good and Bad Procrastination. I'll try to remember to check out his essays more often.

His most recent essay is Be Relentlessly Resourceful. As an angel investor Paul is always trying to figure out which startups are going to be successful. He has decided that one of the most important characteristics is that the founders are "relentlessly resourceful." They need to be flexible, but focused on their goals, and work to make things happen.

This morning I left a comment at The Living Homeschool. In Spring Fever! a parent asked how to balance the demands of a clean up and school work. I think part of the answer is to remember your long range goals. For me the important thing is the character my children have when they are adults. Knowing some piece of history or how to make a bed isn't near as important as:

Are they honest?
Do they have charity?
Can they work hard?

After reading Paul's essay I'd like them also to be relentlessly resourceful. I want them to be aggressive in getting things done.

If you would like some food for thought about your long range goals for your children, check out his essay on Be Relentlessly Resourceful.

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Another beautiful picture from APOD - The Heart Nebula

Daniel Marquardt gave me permission to post his picture of The Heart Nebula:

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Do your children stand while they study?

A good friend sent me a link to a New York Times article on Students Stand When Called Upon, and When Not. A sixth-grade class near Minneapolis is experimenting with desks that allow children to stand while they work. This allows children greater chances for movement. A typical government school class has all the children sitting for hours each day.

Our daughters move a lot during the day. They'll study some topic for a half hour to an hour, then they'll wander around the house, sometimes doing chores, sometimes looking for a good book, sometimes chasing Baby bop, or sometimes trying to get away from Baby bop.

Technorati tags: government schools, children, public school, public education, homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, education

My new nick name: Big Bad Dad

Jimmy Dean had a country western hit in 1961. Big Bad John was the story of a miner who had not fit in with the rest of the miners.

Recently I've become Big Bad Dad. Baby Bop has started doing normal two-year-old stuff. Since he often scratches our daughters, I'm quick to put him in time out. Sometimes he'll cry, but normally he realizes he was wrong and he'll just wait until I take him off his chair.

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The Carnival of Space is up

This week's Carnival of Space is up at Out of the Cradle. Ken Murphy has a great selection. There are a lot more entries than I use to have back when I started up the carnival. Fraser Cain of Universe Today has done a great job in keeping it going.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Details on the claim that spending money on preschool education saves money

President Obama recently made the claim that:

$1 of early education leads to $10 in saved social services.”

This is a nice sounding claim. It justifies spending more money on preschool. Adam Schaeffer says unfortunately it is wrong. In The Early-Ed Big Lie he references an analysis he did of some of the studies which "prove" this claim. Pre-K Pushers Peddling Patent Prevarications looks into detail on a couple research projects and points out some serious errors. He starts with:

We left off in our last episode with a teaser on why the blessed Perry Preschool Project, Carolina Abecedarian Project, and Chicago Child-Parent Centers Program don’t prove what many people like to pretend they prove; the long-term effectiveness, let alone cost-effectiveness, of current large-scale preschool programs.
Let’s begin with the fact that these programs were all small-scale, intensive, and targeted at the most disadvantaged children.


Here are a couple of the errors Adam found:

1) The control group was not picked at random.
2) Not all the costs were added in. (For example the poor familes were also given medical help.)
3) The children they were trying to help was a very targeted group.

There may be a small group of children from heavily disadvantaged families who could benefit from some focused help, but most young children do better when they are with their families.

(Hat tip: Joanne Jacobs)

Technorati tags: government schools, children, public school, public education, education, parenting

Another reason I am thankful for homeschooling

Each year our city has a spring cleanup. We can put out pretty much anything at the curb and the city will take it away.

One of the best summaries of the problems with bureaucracies is Parkinson’s Law:

"Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion."

We have a similar problem, stuff expands to fill our garage. Every year or so we'll wade in, sort, organize, prune, and try to bring order to the jungle in our garage. This year the garage seemed more chaotic than normal.

I stayed home from work yesterday to get ready for the string cleanup. Janine had called one homeschooling family to ask if their boys might be available to help clean up. I asked with a seventeen year old homeschooler from church if he would be willing to help out. (I tried to pay him, but he came as an act of service.)

We had five come to help. It made a huge difference. I put in eleven hours. Janine put in almost as many. Our daughters help. But without the help of the five additional people we never could have accomplished all that we did. We have a nice pile for the street, another pile to take to a charity, and our garage looks great.

I am very grateful that other people homeschool so their sons can come help out.

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A judge feels homeschool children belong in public school

My heart goes out to Venessa Mills. Her husband cheated on her, and then in court pushes to have his children placed back in public school. It appears at least part of the reason he wants them in public school is he doesn't want to pay the expenses of homeschooling.

My heart also goes out to the children. They probably love their father, but he's abandoned them, partially or completely. They have been doing great with homeschooling. They have tested two years above their grade levels, yet their father wants them in public school.

The judge has indicated he will rule that the children go off to the government schools. From Mom will fight order against homeschooling:

As part of a continuing divorce case, Wake District Court Judge Ned Mangum said last Friday that it would be in the "best interests" of Venessa Mills' three children to go to public school this fall.
Mangum said at the hearing that while the children are "thriving," they need to be exposed to the "real world."
"It will do them a great benefit to be in the public schools, and they will challenge some of the ideas that you've taught them, and they could learn from that and make them stronger," Mangum told Mills at last week's court hearing.

One of the problems with having courts involved in family disputes is the judges often have great power. I'm not a lawyer, but it seems that this judge has the power to make his decision based on what he "feels" is in the best interest of the children.

It also appears the judge is anti-Christian. WorldNetDaily reports in Judge orders homeschoolers into public district classrooms:

... the judge also ordered a mental health evaluation for the mother – but not the father – as part of the divorce proceedings, in what Williams described as an attack on the "mother's conservative Christian beliefs."

Robyn Williams, a friend of Venessa Mills, set up a blog to provide more information on the case, and ask for help in support of Venessa. At Homeschool Injustice Robyn has some suggestions on what you can do to help. I'm going to make a few phone calls to express my concern over the judges ruling.

Update I - 17 March 2009:
The judge rules the children will have to go to public schools in the fall.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education