Monday, June 29, 2009

Working our children through summer

Today I started a new summer tradition for our family. Before leaving for work I give each girl a short list of outside chores to be done during the day. (Janine is pretty much in charge of what happens inside the house.)

About two out of three Saturdays I'll take the girls out into our yard and we'll work together. We'll pull weeds, trim trees, mow the lawns, garden, rake and so on.

I am happy to work with my daughters for several reasons: It builds our relationships. They develop a strong work ethic. And I don't have to do all the yard work!

I have a goal to do several family outings this summer. I want to go to the zoo, the beach, and do a little camping. But if we continue spending Saturday mornings working on the yard, we won't have time for family events.

This morning, just before work, I took the girls out into the front yard. I have them each about a fifteen minute assignment. I explained the chores verbally, and wrote them down on paper. This evening when I get home I'll have the girls show me what they did. If the three girls will do a little bit each day, it will add up to big amount by the end of the week.

For me homeschooling is largely about shaping and improving the character of our children. Academics is important as it provides them with knowledge and tools to live their lives. Things like sports and music help round out their education. A strong work ethic can help them to succeed with difficult and challenging tasks.

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

Another milestone!

Blogger says this is our 3000th post!

We've been blogging for almost four years now. It has been a fun ride, though it is a bit of work.

Technorati tags: blogging

Long walks and how to start a task

The following two are from Dan Galvin's Thought For The Day mailing list:

I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me.
-Noel Coward

As Mary Poppins says, well begun is half done:

It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which, more than anything else, will affect its successful outcome.
-William James, psychologist and philosopher (1842-1910)

Technorati tags: long, walks, attitude, difficult, task

Interesting thoughts about the importance of writing

I'm working my way through History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon via DailyLit. If you've been meaning to read an old classic, but haven't been able to find time, give DailyLit a chance. I like getting snippets in my email. I will always make time to read another page.

The Wikipedia entry on the book has:

It stands as a major literary achievement of the 18th century because it was adopted as a model for the methodologies of modern historians. This led to Gibbon being called the first modern historian of Ancient Rome.

The 117 installment (of 264) had these thoughts about the important of writing:

The Germans, in the age of Tacitus, were unacquainted with the use of letters; ^16 and the use of letters is the principal circumstance that distinguishes a civilized people from a herd of savages incapable of knowledge or reflection. Without that artificial help, the human memory soon dissipates or corrupts the ideas intrusted to her charge; and the nobler faculties of the mind, no longer supplied with models or with materials, gradually forget their powers; the judgment becomes feeble and lethargic, the imagination languid or irregular. Fully to apprehend this important truth, let us attempt, in an improved society, to calculate the immense distance between the man of learning and the illiterate peasant.
The former, by reading and reflection, multiplies his own experience, and lives in distant ages and remote countries; whilst the latter, rooted to a single spot, and confined to a few years of existence, surpasses but very little his fellow-laborer, the ox, in the exercise of his mental faculties. The same, and even a greater, difference will be found between nations than between individuals; and we may safely pronounce, that without some species of writing, no people has ever preserved the faithful annals of their history, ever made any considerable progress in the abstract sciences, or ever possessed, in any tolerable degree of perfection, the useful and agreeable arts of life.

Most times we take for granted the way life is right now, it is nice to be able to step back and recognize just what a blessing sometime as basic as writing is in our life.

Technorati tags: writing

Why would US seniors be 'smater' than seniors in England?

US seniors 'smarter' than their English peers: study reports:

U.S. seniors performed significantly better than their counterparts in England on standard tests of memory and cognitive function, according to a new study.
The study is the first known international comparison of cognitive function in nationally representative samples of older adults in the United States and England. The report is published in the June 25 peer-reviewed journal BMC Geriatrics.
"The better cognitive performance of U.S. adults was surprising since U.S. adults had a higher prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors, which are generally associated with
and poorer mental function," says University of Michigan researcher Kenneth Langa, lead author of the study.

The sample size was fairly large so it doesn't appear to be a statistical fluke. The study had data on 8,299 Americans and 5,2776 Brits.

The findings were dramatic:

The U.S. advantage in "brain health" was greatest for the oldest old---those age 85 and older. On a population level, the overall difference in cognitive performance between the two countries was quite large---approaching the magnitude associated with about 10 years of aging.
In other words, the cognitive performance of 75-year-olds in the U.S. was as good, on average, as that of 65-year-olds in England.


It looks like it is good to be old in America.

Here are some of the factors the study found which seem to help:

1) A higher level of education and net worth in the United States.
2) Lower levels of depression in the US. Only 15% of depressed adults in England received medication to treat depression, compared to 75% of depressed U.S. adults.
3) Lower levels of alchohol consumption. "More than 50 percent of U.S. seniors reported no alcohol use, compared to only 15.5 percent of English seniors."
4) Earlier retirement age in England.
5) American adults are more likely to be "more likely to be taking medications to treat the condition."

Items 2 and 5 make me wonder if the British Health Care system may be bad for old people.

Technorati tags: America, England, aging, smart, Health, Care

I'm up on Twitter

I got set up on Twitter over the weekend. You can follow me on Twitter.

I am curious, do you mostly follow people on Twitter? Or are there other ways you use Twitter?

Technorati tags: Twitter

Saturday, June 27, 2009

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

Sherene will be hosting the Carnival of Homeschooling next week at Norfolk Homeschooling Examiner.

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,

Friday, June 26, 2009

Supreme Court rules a strip search was unconstitutional

Yesterday the Supreme Court announced their decision on the legality of a deplorable situation where thirteen-year-old honors student was strip searched by a school secretary and a school nurse.

By an 8-1 they ruled that the school violated the Constitutional defense against unreasonable searches.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Recognizing the need to maintain control on campus, Justice Souter wrote that school officials need only hold a "reasonable suspicion" of wrongdoing before searching students, a lower threshold than "probable cause," which applies in ordinary circumstances. Mr. Wilson's suspicion was reasonable, the court found, and that was grounds enough to search Ms. Redding's backpack and outer garments.
But the strip-search was another matter, Justice Souter wrote, citing social-science research showing that teenagers' "adolescent vulnerability intensifies the patent intrusiveness of the exposure."
Justice Souter observed that the evidence against Ms. Redding was weak, there was no specific reason to believe she had contraband stashed in her underwear, and the medication involved was relatively harmless—400 mg ibuprofen pills, equivalent to two Advil tablets. In combination, "these deficiencies fatal to finding the search reasonable."

I was surprised that Clarence Thomas was the one dissenting vote:

Justice Clarence Thomas, in a vehement dissent, said courts should stop interfering with school officials and leave them free, under a centuries-old standard, to act with the same authority as a parent to search or discipline students.
Such a constitutional interpretation is needed "to keep the judiciary from essentially seizing control of public schools," Thomas said. He said parents who object to a school's treatment of their children can ask their school board or legislature to change the rules, "send their children to private schools or home-school them, or they can simply move."


I was disappointed that the surpreme court protected the school officials who initiated the searched.

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

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Being a father

My father says one of the best dividends of having children is the grandchildren. I think about that often.

One of the reasons why Janine and I try so hard to be good parents is we want our children to be good parents and give us wonderful grandchildren.

I thought about this while reading Devoted dad key to reducing risky teen sex:

When it comes to preventing risky teen sex, there may be no better deterrent than a doting dad.
Teenagers whose fathers are more involved in their lives are less likely to engage in risky sexual activities such as unprotected intercourse, according to a new study.
The more attentive the dad — and the more he knows about his teenage child's friends — the bigger the impact on the teen's sexual behavior, the researchers found. While an involved mother can also help stave off a teen’s sexual activity, dads have twice the influence.


Now any fathers reading our blog, go back and read the last sentance a second time. You can have a huge influence, but you have to take action. You have to spend time with your children. You have work at building your relationships.

The difference could be as dramatic as having grandchildren being taken away to foster care or on the streets doing drugs, vs. having grandchildren who are doing well in life and dote on you. I know which kind of grandchildren I want.

(Hat tip: Joanne Jacobs)

Technorati tags: parenting, children

A crazy school rule from across the pond

The Thinking Mother reports on a Crazy School Rule in the United Kingdom:

A United Kingdom school has banned parents from taking photos of THEIR OWN children at school sports events.
This is said to protect the photos from going into the hands of 'the wrong' people.
I'm against child porn but kids playing sports and parents taking photos of THEIR OWN kids is, in my opinion, outside of the reach of a school policy. This is a violation of parent's rights, which should carry over onto school property when watching a publically viewable sports game. And the kids are clothed too!

One nice thing about homeschooling is I can take pictures of my children playing soccer.

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

Humor - Political T.V. commercials

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

Political T.V. commercials prove one thing: some candidates can tell all their good points and qualifications in just 30 seconds.

I'm afraid there are some candidates who couldn't even use the full thirty seconds.

Technorati tags: television, politics, Dan Galvin

Feeling a bit old

After our oldest two daughters headed off for girls camp Saturday, Janine and I took the younger two children out for dinner. The restaurant was promoting their senior discount. For some reason it really hit me that I was less than a decade away from being able to take advantage of the senior discount.

Some times I feel old, like when my joints ache. Other times I don't feel all that much different than when I was seventeen.

A friend sent me a link to Romancing the Road. An 89-year-old lady has put more than 540,000 miles on her car. It is funny, she got life time warrantees for many parts of the car. Some parts have been replaced seven times.

She has a good attitude towards growing old.

Technorati tags: age, life

It is quiet here

Our older two girls are off at girls camp. We only have our youngest daughter and Baby Bop at home right now.

It sure is quiet.

Technorati tags: parenting, children

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up - Transitioning to summer

Christine is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling at Our Curious Home.

She starts with:

Welcome to the Summer Transition Edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling. Summer may have started two days ago, but my routines have not caught up. I feel pulled in two directions at once!

Carnival of Homeschooling

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

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Suggestions from an Entrepreneur

Most than most fathers an entrepreneur has a huge draw to be at work. Steve Blank shares some good ideas he and his wife developed about balancing work and family life.

(Hat tip: Hacker News)

Technorati tags: parenting, children

I would love to see this data broken down for homeschoolers

Christina Hoff Sommers's recent column Baseless Bias and the New Second Sex reports:

Claims of bias against women in academic science have been greatly exaggerated. Meanwhile, men are becoming the second sex in American higher education.

She shares this graph below from Mark J. Perry, a professor at the University of Michigan. (Mark gave me permission to include the graph.)

As the father of three daughters I am all for girls going off to college. We have encouraged our daughters to plan on a college education. It is good to encourage women to go to college. But as Dr. Summers points out this improvement for women should not be at the detriment to men.

I would love to see this data broken down for homeschoolers. It appears a big part of the problem is few men overall are going off to college, so fewer graduate. My guess is for children who are homeschooled the ratio would be really close to 50-50, both for going off to college, and for graduating. (Shall I do another survey?) There might even be slightly more homeschooled boys going off to college than girls.

(Hat tip: Hacker News)

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

From the archives - Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana

Almost ten years ago I came across a reference to Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana. I found an online version of the book and read it during my lunch hour. It was a great read.

Richard was born in Cambridge, MA, in 1815. Due to a problem with his eyes he decided to take a break in the middle of going to Harvard College. He signed on as a common seaman. He spent two years as seaman. Officers bearth behind the mast; regular sailers slept in front of the mast.

Richard traveled to California, worked on tanning hides, and then brought them back. The book is a fascinating account. In great detail he writes about the every day events.

After gold was discovered in California Richard's book become very popular as a reference for what life was like in California.

If you are interested in what it was like to work at sea in the late 1840s, this is the book to read.

Technorati tags: autobiography, ocean

Interesting - conservatives donate way more to charity

WILLisms has some interesting statistics on Charitable Giving. As a percentage of income, conservatives give between 3.7% to 4.5% of their income, while liberals give from 1.2% to 1.5%.

I followed his source of these statistics to Rich Gov, Poor Gov: Why Obama can't Fix the Economy which had an interesting analysis of our current administration. Scott Martin starts with:

Last night, as I reread Robert Kiyosaki's 1997 Bestseller Rich Dad Poor Dad, I realized why Barack Obama will be unable to do what is necessary to fix America's economy. It's not just that he believes in government intervention in business, although that's a big part of it. But what makes it even worse is that President Obama is Poor Dad.
For those who haven't read the book, let me give you the gist so you can follow along. The author uses a fable, loosely-based on his life growing up. The purpose is to compare and contrast the differences between his highly-educated and professional father (who he refers to as Poor Dad) and his best friend's father, an informally educated, business savvy mentor (who he calls Rich Dad). I don't wish to debate the merits of the book, which I believe are plenteous if you can distinguish the good advice from the bad. It's irrelevant here, because I am only going to focus on the advice that is, in fact, generally good and true.


Janine and I both read "Rich Dad, Poor Dad." There were some good points in there, but you have to be careful in trusting everything in the book.

Scott's main points are:

1. Poor Dad accumulates liabilities, while Rich Dad accumulates assets.
2. Poor Dad believes the rich owe the poor.
3. Poor Dad doesn't give charitably, Rich Dad gave liberally (by which I mean "not at all like a liberal.")
4. Poor Dad thinks management (capital) exploits labor.
5. Most importantly... Poor Dad, while highly educated, doesn't understand economics.

Scott concludes with:

President Obama cannot and will not come up with policies that will improve the economy over the long haul. Sure, our economy should improve eventually, if only because America's greatest asset is its productive citizenry and the fact that things can hardly get worse. But Poor Dad's policies will never restore America to what it could, and should, be.
For that, we need someone who thinks like Rich Dad.


Technorati tags: charity

Dana has some good thoughts about how homeschoolers should communicate in the public school

I like Dana's thoughts on How should homeschoolers communicate in the public square?

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

Mark Twain online

Much of Mark Twain's works are available via the Gutenberg project.

I've never read "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court." I'll have to get it a try.

(Hat tip: The Informed Parent)

Technorati tags: Mark Twain, education

This is a great line: An Experience is Worth 1,000 Textbook Pages

I like the Crimson Wife's line: An Experience is Worth 1,000 Textbook Pages.

Homeschooling is all about having better experiences.

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

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Blow a kiss to your mom, and don't get your diploma

Spunky reports in Shameful, Absolutely Shameful:

For taking a bow and blowing a kiss to his mother, Justin Denny, a high school graduate is denied his diploma, and his parents and grandparents are denied the the joy of seeing to him graduate from high school.
Video of Justin telling his story here. And another video here. Both video clips show no misconduct just a little sentimental emotion. But apparently, that was too much for the superintendent. She told Denny to go sit down without his diploma.

I watched both videos. Justin Denny seemed like a decent young man. He was showing respect to his mother. The school superintendent's reaction seems very arbitrary. She's upset because other students are being goofy, and like an upset child the superintendent took it out on Denny.

Justin was the more mature individual.

If you want to contact the high school, here is the Bonny Eagle High School web site.

One of the nice things about homeschooling is you can blow your mother a kiss any time.

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

We need more entrepreneurs

I like this list of the 10 Big Differences Between MBAs and Entrepreneurs.

Though I would argue that the risk taking character trait so essential for entrepreneurs can be taught, just not at school. I believe most children have some risk taking, just think of how many times a toddle keeps on trying when learning to walk. Parents can nurture this trait, or squash it.
(Hat tip: reddit)

Technorati tags: entrepreneurs, MBAs

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

Christine will be hosting the Carnival of Homeschooling next week at Our Curious Home.

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,

Why Teacher Unions want to fire teachers

Friends of Dave has a funny report on why Detroit Teacher's Union Wants to Fire 70 Teachers:

I was initially surprised when I saw a report on EIA Online that the Detroit Federation of Teachers is working to terminate 70 teachers in their district. What did these teachers do? Were they just poor teachers? Did they commit a criminal act? Was it an administrator just being arbitrary in their evaluations?
Nope, none of those. These teachers are guilty of an even worse crime. They're late on their union dues.


As Dave points out teacher unions are notorious for protecting teachers. Teachers who have commited crimes will be protected by their unions, aggressive protected. Normally it is almost impossible to fire bad teachers.

Yet if the teachers won't pay their dues, the unions go after them.

Technorati tags: teacher unions, government school, public school, public education, education

Cool web site: CrimeReports

My mother sent the family a link to CrimeReports. You enter an address or zip code, and they'll display a map with recent crime reports.

They don't have full coverage. For example they don't report any crime in New York City.

Technorati tags: Crime, Reports

Interesting study on freedom in the 50 state

Freedom in the 50 States: Index of Personal and Economic Freedom is an interesting study. Here's the abstract:

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 other individuals’ 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; 3) we adopt 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, and we invite others to adopt their own weights to see how the overall state freedom rankings change.


Here's the report.

And this is cool, this web site allows you to change the weighting. So for example if you want to give a higher weight to Spending and Taxation, you move the sliders, and see how the states rank with your personal weighting. No matter what weighting I did, New York was always last.

(Hat tip:

Technorati tags: freedom

The power of technology - part two

Last month I was impressed by Matt who had a couple hundred thousand views of his video using pennies to put Obama's proposed budget cuts in perspective. The video now has almost a million hits.

My brother Derek told me Matt had another cool video.

Matt uses a road trip to put the national debt into perspective:

This video has been up for a month and it already has 244,000 views.

Technology gives all of us the power to influence society. We can have great influence, especially if we'll think outside the box.

Technorati tags: technology, influence

Another beautiful picture from APOD - A Dusty Iris Nebula

Alvin Jeng ( gave me permission to post his picture of A Dusty Iris Nebula:

Here is part of the APOD explanation:

"These clouds of interstellar dust and gas have blossomed 1,300 light-years away in the fertile star fields of the constellation Cepheus. Sometimes called the Iris Nebula and dutifully cataloged as NGC 7023, this is not the only nebula in the sky to evoke the imagery of flowers."

Technorati tags: , , Alvin Jeng

Father's Day - reminder to fathers

I love Harry Chapin's reminder that being a father is more than just providing in his classic song: "Cat's in the Cradle."

Technorati tags: father, Harry Chapin

I figured out why Charlie Chan numbers his children!

I am the oldest of five children. While I was growing up my mother would sometimes call me using the name of one of my brothers. Once she even addressed me using the name of one sister. At fifteen I was indignant, and stayed indignant for years!

Now with children of my own, I find myself sometimes using the wrong name when addressing one of my children. I have apologized to my mother.

I had a flash of insight this week. I figured out why Charlie Chan referred to his sons by birth order. For example he would say "number one son" or "number two son." It was because while parents may get confused on the name that goes with a particular child, we always know the order each child came to earth.

Maybe I'll start calling my children by their order, and not worry about their names any more.

Technorati tags: children, names, Charlie Chan

From the archives - old scary school news

The following are news stories from 2004. I saved these links. This was before Janine and I started our blog.

Teen Suspended for Fighting in Self-Defense is about a boy having lunch at a school cafeteria. A gang comes onto the school grounds and attack Alejandro Johnson. He defends himself. The school has zero tolerance for violence and suspends him for ten days.

In Have Zero Tolerance Policies Gone Too Far? Jacob Finklea gets expelled for bringing a pair of scissors to his sewing class. The school provided scissors were hurting his hands, so he took his pair from home.

I wonder what the teacher was thinking here: Teacher accused of ordering student thrown from window. The teacher started taking pictures of students in the class. A student asked why? Teacher gave her a bad time. The student hit the office assist button. The teacher tells two boys to throw the student out the window, and they do!

School District Fails to Protect Bullying Victim at MLK is about an on going case of a student being beaten up. The school does not protect her. When she protects herself, the school suspends her. The schools answer is to confine Dominique Reed during recess "for her own safety." The school leaves the bully alone.

I wonder if any of the parents of these children ended up homeschooling.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, government school, public school, public education, education, Zero Intelligence, Zero Tolerance

Which are wolf are you feeding?

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

An Old Cherokee describes an experience going on inside himself....

"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

"The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. This same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

Technorati tags: Cherokee, wolf, Dan Galvin

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Looks like a good book to read - Readicide

Janine and I have often written on how public schools destroy children's love of reading. We find it amazing that so few of our daughter's friends see a trip to the library as a treat. All three of our daughters use spare minutes to read books. All will stay up as late as we'll let them, to read. "Please dad, just one more chapter!"

Yet none of their friends read for fun. Reading has come to be a chore. I think this is mainly due to how reading is taught in government schools. Reading is something they have to do. It is required. It soon ceases to be fun.

Well Kelly Gallagher has expanded on this thought and written Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It. It was published February, 2009. It is currently ranked 1,725 on Amazon. I've asked my library to get it.

Here's an interview with Kelly Gallagher.

(Hat tip: Why Boys

Technorati tags: Readicide, reading, Kelly Gallagher

True, true - I frequently find this hard

This thought came in today from Dan Galvin's Thought For The Day mailing list:

"Honest criticism is hard to take - especially when it comes from a relative, a friend, an acquaintance, or a stranger."
-Franklin P. Jones

As a parent I try to reassure my children that I love them when I correct them.

Technorati tags: Honest, criticism

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up - time for a summer party

Amanda is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling at her blog The Daily Planet.

She's decided that it is time for a summer party!

Carnival of Homeschooling

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

Monday, June 15, 2009

Walter Williams on education

One of my brothers brought this good quote by Walter Williams:

The teaching establishment and politicians have hoodwinked taxpayers into believing that more money is needed to improve education. The Washington, D.C., school budget is about the nation's costliest, spending about $15,000 per pupil. Its student/teacher ratio, at 15.2 to 1, is lower than the nation's average. Yet student achievement is just about the lowest in the nation. What's so callous about the Washington situation is about 1,700 children in kindergarten through 12th grade receive the $7,500 annual scholarships in order to escape rotten D.C. public schools, and four times as many apply for the scholarships, yet Congress, beholden to the education establishment, will end funding the school voucher program.
Any long-term solution to our education problems requires the decentralization that can come from competition. Centralization has been massive. In 1930, there were 119,000 school districts across the U.S; today, there are less than 15,000. Control has moved from local communities to the school district, to the state, and to the federal government. Public education has become a highly centralized government-backed monopoly and we shouldn't be surprised by the results.


This is from his column the Dumbest Generation Getting Dumber.

Thanks Derek!

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

Update on teacher who had students vote a boy out of class

Last year a teacher in Florida had her class vote a boy out of kindergarten:

Five-year-old Alex Barton was voted out of kindergarten class by his fellow students in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Before the vote, his teacher told classmates to say what they didn’t like about Alex: He was labeled “disgusting” and “annoying.” They voted 14 to 2 to kick him out of class.
The boy apparently has Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of high-functioning autism that’s linked to poor social skills. Children can learn how to function in a group but they need to be taught explicitly and they may always be awkward, withdrawn or odd.

Often when atrocious events like this happen in public schools I wonder what will happen?

I found out what happened with this event, and I wish I hadn't. The teacher got her job back:

Wendy Portillo, the Kindergarten teacher infamous for permitting neurotypical students to vote a boy with a form of Autism out of her class, will keep both her contract with the St. Lucie County school district and her tenured status after a unanimous vote by the School Board. Portillo is "overjoyed" by the ruling and hopes to return to teaching.
In May of 2008, Ms. Portillo led her students in a reality TV-like exercise in which Alex Barton, then 5 years old,
was made to stand in front of the class while classmates listed reasons they didn't like him. Classmates called Alex "disgusting" and "annoying," among other things. Then, the class took a vote and by a margin of 14 to 2 chose to exclude Alex from class. He was made to leave the Kindergarten classroom and spent the rest of the day in the school nurse's office.

(Hat tip:

In my opinion this woman shouldn't ever be allowed to teach in any school, ever again. What she did showed complete lack of common sense. There was no sensitivity. I expect that she's inflicted other long lasting scars on more children, but probably not as public.

As I've mentioned before when you have six million teachers in government schools I recognize you'll some times get a few flakes, or even evil teachers. I understand this. It is hard to sift through large numbers of individuals and always pick the good teachers.

What I don't understand is how school officials will keep and defend obviously bad teachers. There are some people who shouldn't be allowed in front of children. Some adults are clueless, and some adults are evil. Neither of these should be permitted a second chance. Yet too often they'll get a slap on the wrist, and maybe moved to another school.

The result is we have thousands to maybe millions of children who are suffering.

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

One of the most scary graphics I've seen in a long time

Images like this help put things into perspective: Largest Bankrupticies in history.

But be warned, you may not sleep well tonight.

(Hat tip: Instapundit)

Technorati tags: Bankrupticies

From the archives - Reasons to homeschool

Several years ago John Whitehead of The Rutherford Institute wrote about some classic problems with government schools:

In Zero Common Sense School Discipline Rules Cheapen Students' Humanity John wrote about instances of horrible acts by school officials in the name of "zero tolerance." I thought the worse was:

... a high schooler commended for his valor in taking a knife away from a suicidal friend—although he was then suspended for violating the school’s zero tolerance policy against weapons possession.

In The Lockdown in America’s Public Schools John write about how typical boy behavior of games like Good Cop / Bad Cop is now treated:

But in a new twist on an old game, it’s not the good cop who gets the bad guys. Now, the game ends when the school officials call in the "good" cops, who arrest the "bad" kindergartners for engaging in juvenile crime

But the most egregious act by public school officals John documented was in his column Forced Genital Exams of Children--Nothing Strange or Unusual Here?

Strangers entered two different elementary schools in Tulsa, Oklahoma on two separate occasions. They forcibly removed the clothes from numerous children between the ages of three and five—over their cries of fear and desperate attempts to resist—and proceeded to probe the genitals of the now-nude children.
Most schools now have elaborate procedures to screen and account for visitors. However, this sounds like a situation where school safety precautions failed horribly. What happened to these children is much worse than mere negligence because authorities at both schools actually arranged for and supported these outrageous events.
The strangers who entered the elementary schools were LPN nurses assigned to the schools to take blood samples and perform genital exams on behalf of the Head Start program that is associated with the schools. The great majority of the children were of African-American or Hispanic descent. Ostensibly, the nurses were looking for signs of child abuse or other health problems among the youngsters.

Words fail me.

I did a little digging and found several references to this, but I wasn't able to find any more recent news to this 1998 event. Does anyone know if there was a successful lawsuit? Did some of the officials get fired?

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

Humor - funny way to win a game

This is titled Dirtiest Football Trick Play Ever?

Technorati tags: Football

Another beautiful picture from APOD - The One-Armed Spiral Galaxy NGC 4725

Mike Siniscalchi gave me permission to post his picture of One-Armed Spiral Galaxy NGC 4725:

The explanation on APOD starts off with:

"While most spiral galaxies, including our own Milky Way, have two or more spiral arms, NGC 4725 seems to have only one."

Technorati tags: , , Mike Siniscalchi, NGC 4725

Thoughts about summer and what will our children do with more free time?

Our homeschooling year tracks a classical year of academics from Fall to Spring. We've just finished! At the end of each year Janine has the girls take a set of tests so we know how they are doing. Mostly we do this to see if there are any weak spots we don't know about. We mailed in the tests on Thursday and celebrated by having a family dinner at Marie Calendars.

Now summer is here! We plan to take it easier. The girls still need to do math. I'll have them memorize some poems. Janine and I were thinking about having a family book club where each week or two we all read the same book and then talk about it.

There will also be a little traveling. Our older two girls will leave for a church girls camp in a week. Then in August our younger two daughters will travel with their grandparents to visit cousins.

With less directed time our children will have more free time. We're going to try and create an environment where they will be attracted to doing good things, like reading good books and spending time with their friends.

Bob Durtschi sent me a link to a recent column by Rebecca Hagelin. She starts Avoiding the "No Zone" with:

Let's face it -- if you want to raise moral, healthy kids, you have to learn to say "no" to a lot that the modern culture has to offer.
It's becoming more important than ever for parents to set boundaries on television viewing, gaming and Internet usage. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average teen spends 6 1/2 hours a day consuming media. Add in multi-tasking (i.e., playing a video game while listening to their I-pod), and that figure rises to as much as 8 hours a day.
Now that summer is upon us, it's likely that our youth will gravitate to yet more media out of laziness on their part -- and maybe even mom's or dad's. It's just so much easier to let them fill their time with mind-numbing technology than to set limits on both raunchy content and wasted hours. Energy and fortitude are required to say "no" -- but failing to do so does our kids a grave disservice.


She goes on to say that it is better to create situations where your children are in positive, healthy environments so they have less chance, and interest, in wasting away their summer. One suggestion she has is making your home a fun place for children. This way the friends of your children will want to come to your house, where you get to set the rules. And a big part of having a fun place, especially for teenagers, is having lots of food. It doesn't have to be just junk food. Rebecca suggests pizza, lasagna and taco bars.

Now that summer is here, maybe we'll have to make another big trip to Costco.

Technorati tags: parenting, children

Saturday, June 13, 2009

He likes cashews!

One of the struggles we've had with Baby Bop is getting enough calories into him. It is no fun when he awakes at three in the morning screaming because he is hungry, yet when we offer food to him through the day he will often turn up his nose. He is a picky eater and often gets distracted. Once he thinks of something other than food, he is reluctant to return back to eating.

He seems to be a natural vegetarian. The only way Janine has been able to get meat into him is by pureeing it and adding it to applesauce. He does have a few favorites foods, like a couple different cereals, and milk, lots of milk.

So we're very excited that he tried a new food today. Janine came home from shopping and opened a bag of cashews. I ate a couple before dinner. Baby Bop asked for one. I gave it to him. Then he asked for another! He kept asking for more and more. Janine is so excited. "Hey they are high in calories!"

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Other homeschooling carnivals

The recent Charlotte Mason Carnival was hosted by Richele at Barefoot Voyage. Go here to submit an entry.

The recent Hands-on Homeschool Carnival was hosted by Kris at Science of Relations. Go here to submit an entry.

The recent Homeschooled Kids Blog Carnival was hosted by Sandra at Go here to submit an entry.

The recent Homeschool Showcase was hosted by Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. Go here to submit an entry.

I noticed that there is a new homeschooling blog getting kicked off. Homeschooling humor blog carnival is being organized by Rebecca of Leaving Footprints. She writes:

Did your child ask you where hot dogs come from? Does he stand in line at the grocery store and alphabetize magazines? What about just plain funny things your kids say? Please, share your humorous homeschooling stories! We all have them, let's laugh together:)

Go here to send in an entry to the Homeschooling humor blog carnival.

And as always, if you know of another active homeschooling carnival, please leave a comment or send me an email.

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