Monday, November 23, 2009

We live in a crazy world

Joanne Jacobs reports Test-prepping for ‘gifted” kindergarten:

To get their children into “gifted” kindergarten classes, affluent New Yorkers are hiring tutors to test-prep three- and four-year-olds, reports the New York Times. A “gifted” public education is free, while private school may cost $20,000 a year. So the cost of tutoring seems small by comparison.

I can understand helping high school students get ready for college tests, but trying to help a three-year-old get into a "gifted" public education class???

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

10,000 pennies' first video has past the one million mark

I am fascinated by how the internet allows individuals to have great influence on society.

This was 10000Pennies' first video posted on Youtube:

The video now has over one million views! That is a great impact on society. Pretty good for a couple hours or a couple days of work.

Too often our society teaches that most people don't matter; that only a few can make a difference.

The reality is most of us could have a greater impression, and be more of a force for good.

We try to teach our children to think big. We also try to teach them that to make a difference they will have to work. Hopefully they'll learn both lessons.

Technorati tags: influence, impression, impact

Knowledge v. Wisdom

From A.Word.A.Day:

The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.
-Isaac Asimov, scientist and writer (1920-1992)

I would go even farther. The saddest aspect of life is that we are losing wisdom that previous generations took for granted.

Technorati tags: Knowledge, Wisdom, Isaac Asimov

Turning a shortage into a glut

Joanne Jacobs reports that one interesting affect of the current recession is we now have Too many teachers:

The teacher shortage has turned into a teacher glut, reports AP. Veteran teachers are delaying retirement and new teachers are having trouble finding jobs. Of course, the story features a woman who trained to be an art teacher in Kansas. There are more jobs in math, science and special education and in inner-city schools. Infact, there’s an “extreme shortage” of math teachers, says a job clearinghouse.

And if we see any kind of jump in the number of parents turning to homeschooling, there will be even more of a glut of teachers.

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

How to help your children pass the Marshmellow test

Three years ago I wrote

I first heard of the test from Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman. The marshmallow test was conducted by Walter Mischel. He would test four year-old children to see if they could not eat a marshmallow that was one the table before them. The results of the test came out ten and twenty years later when they found that the children who had self control and resisted eating the marshmallow were successful in almost every facet of their lives. 

 Now and then Janine and I talk about how to help our children pass the marshmallow test. 

 I like Lili Anderson's ideas on Teaching Your Kids to Delay Gratification. She has six basic steps:  

1) Help children articulate and visualize the benefits. 2) Help children keep the focus that as they grow up, they will be the ones to choose whether or not they can enjoy the great benefits and successes available to those who delay gratification. 3) Help children become more tolerant of discomfort. THIS IS HUGE. 4) Teach children that the discomfort of delaying gratification is temporary. 5) Teach children that the temporary discomfort of delaying gratification is a sign that their mind is being retrained and their comfort zone is being expanded. 6) Give lots of encouragement along the way and celebrate the victories.

 If you want to help your children learn to pass the marshmallow test, check out Lili Anderson's post


Anyone read "Government Schools Are Bad for Your Kids: What You Need to Know?"

I came across James Ostrowski's post about his new book Government Schools Are Bad for Your Kids: What You Need to Know.

The press release starts with:

Buffalo, New York. November 16, 2009. James Ostrowski, prominent libertarian and tea party movement leader, has published his second book, Government Schools Are Bad for Your Kids: What You Need to Know. The book urges parents to pull their children out of the schools to escape crime, drugs, promiscuity, political correctness, indoctrination, and academic mediocrity. “This book provides the tea party movement with a strategic roadmap to restore the Jeffersonian vision of individual liberty that is the very essence of America,” he writes.
Ostrowski was led to write the book out of anger that his own kids’ parish school closed in 2006. At the present rate, private schools are doomed as a poor economy and rising tuitions squeeze out working class parents who are already forced to pay large sums for failing government schools.
The fate of the nation is tied to the future of K-12 education, Ostrowski argues: “The grand result of our experiment with government schools is a population ill-prepared to deal with the present crisis in America. . . . they are utterly unequipped to deal with the harsh new reality that the regime is failing and the nation is in the process of economic collapse.”
Another excerpt: “Government schools are truly the foundation of big government today. They supply the funding and the troops [the teachers unions] and they drum the ideology into your children, five days a week for thirteen years. Finally, they render many children less able to survive without constant support and direction from the government. Their message is that people cannot live in freedom and they fulfill that prophecy with each graduating class.”
After reviewing 50 years of failed efforts to reform the schools through the political process, Ostrowski argues that the only feasible option is direct citizen action: a massive simultaneous withdrawal of children from the schools.


If you have read the book, could you tell me what you think of it?

I like his conclusion!

Technorati tags: James Ostrowski, children, education, government schools, children, public school, public education

A key when evaluating proposed changes

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

"... it is not enough to show that a situation is bad; it is also necessary to be reasonably certain that the problem has been properly described, fairly certain that the proposed remedy will improve it, and virtually certain that it will not make it worse."

-Robert Conquest
(As quoted in Basic Economics, A Citizen's Guide to the Economy by Thomas Sowell)

Technorati tags: change, solutions, problems

Kind of like the passing of the covered wagon

In the mid 1800s many people moved west in covered wagons. The trains of wagons being pulled by oxen would travel for hours each day and circle up at night. Once railroads were built, it was cheaper, easier, and safer to move west on a train. The wagon producing industry died. This is a typical response when new technology is developed and becomes cheaper than existing technology.

Another instances of the effect technology has on current business came to my attention over the weekend. J.C. Penney is turning last page on its Big Book:

The J.C. Penney Co. Big Book is dead – a victim of shoppers' growing reliance on the Internet.
Plano-based Penney confirmed that its fall/winter 2009 catalog is its last semiannual, telephone-book-size volume.
The Internet has made the 1,000-page shopping venue obsolete, and printing and transportation costs have been rising annually. The move also improves Penney's environmental footprint, reducing its catalog paper use by 30 percent next year.


It is the passing of another era.

Technorati tags: technology, change

Which is more effective in changing behavior? The Carrot or the Stick?

As parents we are always trying to influence the behavior of our children. We want them to develop new habits and give up old habits. We want them to work harder and be kinder.

Janine and I like Glenn Latham's book The Power of Positive Parenting. He makes a strong case that as parents we will be much more effective if we reward good behavior, than if we try to stop bad behavior.

It is easier to change where a stream goes, than to dam it up. The water wants to go some where.

I was reminded of this when checking out some Youtube videos from a Kim Komando Video of the Day my mother sent me.. I've seen this one a couple times:

But this one was completely new:

Look for ways to encourage your children to keep doing good things. It will be more effective than a constant stream of criticism.

Technorati tags: changing, behavior

Short video on problems with Health Care reform

Peter Schiff explains some of my concerns about the current push for health care reform:

Both of my brothers recommended this video.

Technorati tags: healthcare, reform

Wow! The 2009 Best Halloween Costume Ever!

This is pretty amazing:

I wonder if they'll be generally available for next Halloween?

Technorati tags: transformers

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

You have just ten hours to send in your entry for the next Carnival of Homeschooling.

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling at be hosted the 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,

pet peave #27 Update

In my recent post, pet peeve #27, I complained about the big trophies awarded to the girls in our recreational soccer league.

Our middle daughter played soccer in a different league than her sisters. There's a long, sad story about how we ended up with two kids in one league and one kid in another, but I won't bore you with the details.

Anyway, I'm happy to report that the second league got it right. At the end of the season party, each girl was given a small soccer pin and a soccer ball.


I was planning on posting a picture, but we've already lost the soccer pin.

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

Slow Dance

In contrast to my Not Enough Minutes in the Day, here's a lovely poem called Slow Dance* which was written by a David Weatherford, a child psychologist.

*Note: Some of you might recognize this poem from a chain email making false claims about a child with cancer.


Have you ever watched kids
On a merry-go-round?
Or listened to the rain
Slapping on the ground?
Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight?
Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?
You'd better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

Do you run through each day
On the fly?
When you ask "How are you?"
Do you hear the reply?
When the day is done
Do you lie in your bed
With the next hundred chores
Running through your head?
You'd better slow down
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

Ever told your child,
We'll do it tomorrow?
And in your haste,
Not see his sorrow?
Ever lost touch,
Let a good friendship die
Cause you never had time
To call and say "Hi"?
You'd better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere
You miss half the fun of getting there.
When you worry and hurry through your day,
It is like an unopened gift....
Thrown away.
Life is not a race.
Do take it slower
Hear the music
Before the song is over.

homeschool , life philosphy , soccer , children , music , education , sports , school , family

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Not Enough Minutes in the Day

When we started homeschooling some 11 years ago, it seemed like we had all the time in the world. While our friends were rushing their kids off to school in the morning, we had a nice leisurely start. When our friends were busy all evening with homework and school events, we had stress-free evenings at home.

Somewhere along the line, that all changed. Now with 2 teenage girls, and almost double digit girl, and a yet to be potty trained boy, we are constantly on the go. I don't know how our friends with children in school do it. Since our children don't have the time wasted at school (carpool, standing in line, waiting to have your question answered, study time disrupted by misbehaving students, busy work, dumb projects), you would think that we would have some more free time.

For example, my oldest daughter gets up at 5:45 am and is on the go pretty much until 8 pm at night. Music, church, sports, babysitting jobs, laundry, yard work, housecleaning, doctor's appointment and occupational therapy take up most of their, as well as my, time. I'm not saying that we don't get a break to play and visit friends, but it always seems so rushed, squeezed in between things that should be done.

Today wasn't too bad since soccer season and philharmonic season ended last Saturday. I know that our life would be easier if we didn't do so much stuff, but it is hard to choose what to drop. Last year, none of our kids played soccer. I enjoyed the break but I felt kind of guilty about.

But, I'm so glad that they all played this year even if it was stressful.

And, I'm glad that my oldest daughter and I can play together in a philharmonic orchestra and a separate band ensemble group even if we have to move the timpani drums because we are the only one in the orchestra with a vehicle big enough (12 seater van) to move them.

And, I'm glad that my younger children play violin even if practice and rehearsals take up so much of our time. (And, I'm planning on starting baby bop on cello as soon as I can find one his size.)

And, I'm glad that my kids are involved with the youth activities at church even if they are sometimes frivolous.

And, I'm glad that we participate in a homeschool co-op and choir even if we have to rush out the door on Friday mornings because I'm the one with the key to the church.

And, I'm glad that my older girls are earning their own money to save for college by babysitting and doing other jobs even if sometimes I have to drive them there.

And, I'm glad that my children are spending time on occupation therapy even if we don't do as much as I would like.

And, I'm glad we do foster care even if the last foster child gave us lice.

And, I'm glad that Baby Bop has the opportunity to go to speech therapy 2-3 times per week, and that we all can see medical specialists (neurologist, pediatrician, ophthalmologist, endocrinologist, dentist and so forth) even if the appointments take up a lot of time.

And, I'm grateful that my children have the opportunity to have pets even if I'm not a pet person.

And I'm grateful for computers and the Internet even if the Internet can be such a time waster and my computer crashed in the middle of this post.

And, I'm grateful to have 4 children and hope to have more even if I'm tired much of the time.

This best sums up my life/homeschool philosophy:

Life is hard and then you you might as well cram as much stuff in there as you can before you go.

Life is hard and then you you might as well cram as much stuff (and as many children)in there as you can before you go.

Life is hard and then you die...... so you might as well cram in as many activities with as many children as you can before you go.

Technorati Tags : homeschool , life philosphy , soccer , children , music , education , sports , school , family

Interesting way to view history

Pretty cool: Visualizing empires decline from Pedro M Cruz on Vimeo.

I've asked my oldest two daughters to watch this.

Technorati tags: education

Monday, November 16, 2009

pet peeve #27

My children play recreational soccer. The league doesn't even keep score or have play off. Yet, every year each player gets a huge trophy. For the first few years, we kept the trophies. Now we just take a picture of it and throw it away.

I keep wondering why they insist upon such ridiculous trophies. I image someone in the league is a parent with an only child and thinks that children need excessive praise to develop self esteem. I'm annoyed that we have to pay for those meaningless trophies. I'm not against some sort of recognition for the players' efforts and improvement, but why the pretense to some great award.

This problem of excessive praise is not limited to my soccer league. Parents are the primary culprit, but this practice has been institutionalized at many schools and youth organizations.

Unfortunately, I know a few home educators who fall into this trap. These parents become overly eager to protect their children from any sort of negative feedback and use homeschooling as a way to insulate the child from anyone who could burst his little bubble. You can spot them easily at park day: the children are whiny and the parents are perpetually upset because their little Suzy didn't get the attention she deserves.

A recent book, Kids are worth it!: giving your child the gift of inner discipline, documents how excessive praise actually lowers self-esteem. "Congratulating children on all accomplishments has created a generation of praise junkies: undermotivated kids who are addicted to acknowledgment."

I couldn't agree more. Now, how do I get the soccer league to embrace the idea?

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

Sunday, November 15, 2009

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

You have just thirty four hours to send in your entry for the next Carnival of Homeschooling.

The Carnival of Homeschooling at be hosted by Jocelyn at A Pondering Heart.

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.

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

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Go vote at the 2009 Homeschool Blog Awards

You have till November 21 to vote for the Homeschool Blog Awards.

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

New approach for getting Baby Bop to sleep

Currently our church meets in the afternoon, during Baby Bop's nap time. Normally we take him to church and then put him down for a late nap afterwards.

Recently Janine took him to church, I was going a little later. I was surprised to see Janine driving up the driveway. Baby Bop had fallen asleep. We moved him to his bed, and he started to wake up. I sat in the rocking chair next to him, and he settled down a bit. I waited. He just laid there, but wasn't falling back asleep. After a few minutes I went and got my scriptures. I came back to his room and read a few chapters. Baby Bop was still half awake. I decided to read a chapter out loud. He was asleep before I finished the chapter.

I have done this once since and it also worked like magic.

Hopefully we aren't training him to fall asleep when he hears the word of God.

Technorati tags: Baby Bop

Izzy Lyman is blogging again!

About five years ago I started reading various blogs on homeschooling. The Homeschooling Revolution by Isabel (Izzy) Lyman was one of the first I ever read. She did a great job covering homeschooling news. Isabel also wrote a book of the same name, published nine years ago.

Two years ago she stopped blogging.

Just recently I found out she has started blogging again!

She has a new topic to blog about. The Castillo Chronicles "advocates for immigration reform, as well as the preservation and promotion of a shared American language and culture and heritage."

It is good to see her blogging again.

Technorati tags: Castillo Chronicles, ,

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Four percent - do you think this is high or low?

Rasmussen Reports that Just 4% Say Most Politicians Keep Their Campaign Promises:

Some folks may be surprised that the number is this high, but only four percent (4%) of U.S. voters say most politicians keep their campaign promises.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 76% say the majority of politicians do not keep the promises they make on the campaign trail. Nearly one-out-of five voters (19%) aren’t sure.


A question I have is given that most voters don't believe politicians will keep their promises, why do so many politicians keep getting reelected? Do voters think "Well I know he is lying to me, but I like the things he says." Or do voters think "Maybe this time he'll keep his promises." Or is there something else going on?

We need to remember campaign promises, remind the politicians and then vote them out when they don't keep their promises. If we keep their feet to the fire, then they'll stop lying to us, at least stop lying so much to us.

Technorati tags: politicians, campaign, promises

What is the justification again for Teachers Unions?

Study finds that Teachers' unions don't provide more pay:

Teachers' unions have little impact on a school district's allocation of money, including teacher pay and spending per student, according to a study published this month in the Journal of Labor Economics.
Using data from school districts in Iowa, Indiana and Minnesota, Cornell economist Michael Lovenheim compared district spending trends before and after each district became unionized. He also compared trends between union and non-union districts. Specifically, his analysis looked at teacher pay, spending per student, number of teachers employed and student-teacher ratio.
"My results indicate unions have no impact on teacher pay, either in the short or long run," Lovenheim writes. "I also estimate little effect on per-student expenditures, particularly in the long-run."


The only valid justifications I'm aware of for Teachers' Unions is they protect the teacher from abuse, improve working conditions and increase the salary of teachers.

I wonder how many teachers would want to stay in their unions if they knew the unions only took their dues, but didn't help with the salary?

(Hat tip: Friends of Dave)

Technorati tags: children, education, government schools, children, public school, public education, Teachers Unions

Paul Jacobs on Not Robbed Until Proven Guilty

Paul Jacobs writes about an abuse where the police will take property, but sometimes never file charges. Not Robbed Until Proven Guilty starts with:

You are “innocent until proven guilty” in America, with one big exception: Under civil forfeiture laws, police don’t have to prove that a crime has actually been committed in order to seize your property. And once your boat or car is stolen by your government, the burden falls to you to prove your stuff is innocent.
Police departments are getting rich from the loot they seize from folks never convicted of a crime. As the Institute for Justice argues, civil forfeiture laws provide an ugly incentive for police “to enforce the laws in ways designed to maximize forfeiture income rather than to minimize crime.”
Now a challenge has reached the U.S. Supreme Court. Alvarez v. Smith concerns six people whose property was seized by Chicago police, though three of them were never charged with a crime.
The Institute for Justice, the Cato Institute, the ACLU and the Reason Foundation have filed amicus briefs arguing that due process was denied.


You know this is a serious problem when the Cato Institute and the ACLU are on the same side.

I hope the Surpreme Court rules agains the Chicago police.

Technorati tags: forfeiture, laws

People moving from NYC

I have heard that people are leaving states with heavy tax burdens. I had not realized how big a migration was occuring.

Tax refugees staging escape from New York reports:

New Yorkers are fleeing the state and city in alarming numbers -- and costing a fortune in lost tax dollars, a new study shows.
More than 1.5 million state residents left for other parts of the United States from 2000 to 2008, according to the report from the Empire Center for New York State Policy. It was the biggest out-of-state migration in the country.
The vast majority of the migrants, 1.1 million, were former residents of New York City -- meaning one out of seven city taxpayers moved out.


That is a huge migration.

The internet allows people to do their job remotely. Currently the R&D group I work in has 200 people scattered across the world. We have two main groups in the US, a group in India, and a group in China. We have individuals in a dozen states and even some living in Europe.

Over time I think it will become even easier to move away from oppressive states.

Technorati tags: migration, taxes

Print media may be dying

Establishment Media Dying Slowly But Surely lists top twenty five newspapers in the US. They have averaged around 10% decline in circulation over the last year.

This graph shows the average weekly circulation for six newspapers over the last 19 years. The LA Times was hit the hardest, dropping from over 1.2 million in 1990 to less than 650,000 in 2009.

Technorati tags: newspaper, circulation

The World's Smallests Working Model Train Layout

Just amazing:

Tiny Train Model May be World's Smallest explains:

David Smith, who has been building model railroads since 1965, has always had a preference for the smaller scale train models. His most recent project is a five-car train that runs through a scene of mountains, a tunnel, trees, buildings, and a cloud-studded sky - the whole thing measuring just 0.125 x 0.2 inches (0.3 x 0.5 cm). The train's modeling scale is 1:35,200.

The scale is 1 to thirty two thousand!!!

Baby Bop loves trains. We have a Brio train set. I expect we will upgrade at some point.

Technorati tags: Model, Trains

Why you want your teenagers to keep their room clean

Fascinating study finds that Cleanliness is next to godliness: New research shows clean smells promote moral behavior:

People are unconsciously fairer and more generous when they are in clean-smelling environments, according to a soon-to-be published study led by a Brigham Young University professor.
The research found a dramatic improvement in ethical behavior with just a few spritzes of citrus-scented Windex.


Our house tends to be a bit of a mess. Our children are not real good about putting things away when they are done. Our solution is that we have friends and family over for dinner about once a week, which forces us to clean the house.

Technorati tags: clean, moral

Interesting: How we come across information affects us

This is fascinating. A study found that the Internet search process affects cognition, emotion of the searcher. There was a difference between if someone was searching for specific information, or just happened across it while surfing the internet:

Nearly 73 percent of all American adults use the Internet on a daily basis, according to a 2009 Pew Internet and American Life Project survey. Half of these adults use the Web to find information via search engines, while 38 percent use it to pass the time. In a recent study, University of Missouri researchers found that readers were better able to understand, remember and emotionally respond to material found through "searching" compared to content found while "surfing."

The article concludes with:

The researchers also found that information was better understood and remembered when individuals conducted specific searches for information. In a previous study, Wise tested the effects of searching and surfing on readers' responses to images and found similar results.

Technorati tags: internet, education

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What some teachers see parents as good for

Ruben Navarette worked as a teacher for five years before he become a columnist. He likes President Obama's school reform ideas. (We're back to the talk vs. action problem. It is easy to say cool sounding things, but much harder to do them.)

This is the fascinating part of Navarette's column:

It was there that he went to bat for low-income black parents who, like scores of parents who send their kids to underperforming schools throughout America, are caught in a frustrating and almost comical paradox. They're turned away, shunned, treated with condescension and even insulted by self-serving public school "edu-crats" who treat these institutions like their own private offices where they don't want to be bothered by anyone who doesn't have a teaching or administrative credential.
Then, incredibly, the parents are blamed for not participating and involving themselves more in that hostile environment and when many of them thought that teaching their kids was the job of, well, teachers.
It's been my experience that many teachers don't really care whether parents go to the PTA or help their kids with homework. They just want a constant foil, someone to blame when students flounder and the schools underperform. And, when that happens, in any public school in America, suddenly there's not a mirror to be found. It's always someone else's fault.


I wonder how many teachers in government schools see parents as the scape goats?

(Hat tip: Joanne Jacobs)

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

Scary Statistics

I've known that the American family has been hit hard over the last couple decades. I hadn't realized just how bad it has gotten.

Rebecca Hagelin in Maria Shriver Misses the Point reports:

Look at just how far the American family has disintegrated: In 1950 for every 100 babies that were born, 12 were born to a broken family; they were either born out of wedlock or to a family that would soon suffer divorce. Fast forward to the 21st century and we find a gross tragedy: For every 100 babies that are born in America, 60 are born to a broken family.


My heart goes out to all those children.

Technorati tags: parenting, children

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up!

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is being hosted at at Janice Campbell - Taking Times For Things That Matter.

Janice starts off with:

Welcome to this hundred-and-umpteenth Carnival of Homeschooling! Because November is National Novel Writing Month (also known as NaNoWriMo or nano), and I’m over 10,000 words into the writing process (and can’t think of anything but writing, writing, and more writing), I thought it would be appropriate to format this Carnival as sections of a book. I even consulted the Chicago Manual of Style for an authoritative list of book parts!
For me, homeschooling is first and foremost a heart matter. In
Mangled Schedules and Grateful Hearts, an article I wrote for Home School Enrichment magazine, you can read how a father’s presence and influence can shape a family school. Enjoy!

She continues with several more chapters.

Carnival of Homeschooling

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

Vouchers in Washington DC

Vouchers without lots of strings would lead to a huge improvement in public education. Yet every where I turn it seems like politicians are against them. I think one main reason is then politicians lose some control. Another reason is most because teachers feel threatened and their unions are opposed to vouchers.

Joanne Jacobs has another episode of the voucher saga in AG Holder vs. school choice ad. She stars with:

D.C. voucher advocates have been pressuring Democrats to revive funding for the program, which low-income students $7,400 scholarships to attend private schools. Democratic opponents are wobbling, but the administration apparently would like to silence the criticism, reports The Weekly Standard and Black America Web.

Here the politicians are trying to shut down the discussion over the value of vouchers! Sad.

Parents with enough means can put their children in private schools, but children who need a good education the most too often have the fewest options.

It is easy for President Obama to say he is for change and wants to improve government schools. But actions speak louder then words when he tries to shut down the debate.

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

Interesting article on the importance of trust

Tim Harford writes about The Economics Of Trust:

Imagine going to the corner store to buy a carton of milk, only to find that the refrigerator is locked. When you've persuaded the shopkeeper to retrieve the milk, you then end up arguing over whether you're going to hand the money over first, or whether he is going to hand over the milk. Finally you manage to arrange an elaborate simultaneous exchange. A little taste of life in a world without trust--now imagine trying to arrange a mortgage.
Being able to trust people might seem like a pleasant luxury, but economists are starting to believe that it's rather more important than that. Trust is about more than whether you can leave your house unlocked; it is responsible for the difference between the richest countries and the poorest.
"If you take a broad enough definition of trust, then it would explain basically all the difference between the per capita income of the United States and Somalia," ventures Steve Knack, a senior economist at the World Bank who has been studying the economics of trust for over a decade. That suggests that trust is worth $12.4 trillion dollars a year to the U.S., which, in case you are wondering, is 99.5% of this country's income. If you make $40,000 a year, then $200 is down to hard work and $39,800 is down to trust.


I remember hearing that one of the reasons England's economy did so well about two hundred years ago was that the Quakers or Methodists developed a network of trust, and were able to create larger businesses and take riskier ventures.

Trust shouldn't be blind. I like the line of "Trust, but verify."

Technorati tags: trust, economy

Kind of interesting what passes for news - parents best to use tough love

Our society today is very permissive. We are taught to be tolerance to the point of extreme. A ripple effect of this is many parents think they are suppose to only love their children, never to be judgemental or discipline their children.

Why tough love is best: Parental warmth AND discipline produces best adults, admits Left-wing think-tank reports that both love and discipline help children:

Taking a 'tough love' approach to parenting increases the chances a child will grow into a well-rounded, successful adult, a think-tank said yesterday.
Combining warmth and discipline means youngsters are more likely to develop skills such as application, self-discipline and empathy, according to a study.
The Demos report found these traits were shaped during the preschool years - more often as the result of 'tough love' parenting - and regardless of whether parents were rich or poor.


Part of me wonders why is this even news, but given today's culture, maybe parents need to be reminded that their children will benefit from some discipline, as well as lots of love.

(Hat tip:

Technorati tags: parenting, children

Moments in History - The Fall of the Berlin Wall

One of my brothers posted this on Facebook:

It is very powerful. I think too often most of us take our freedom for granted.

My brother also found this video.

Technorati tags: Fall, Berlin, Wall

Monday, November 09, 2009

John Stossel asks "Is college worth it?"

John Stossel asks is the cost of going to college worth the hope for return?

Too many students graduate from college with tens of thousands of dollars in debt.

I've blogged in the past about the problem of rising cost of a college education.

If a tuition was a thousand dollars a year then a Bachelors degree could be worth it. If tuition was a million dollars a year, then there is no economic justification for going to college.

Our society is moving more and more to a point where the cost of college is too much for too many adults.

John Stossel reviews some of the other options.Our society is too quick to encourage everyone go off to college.

Janine and I do plan for our children to go to college, but we'll try to do it on the cheap. Our goal is for them to do a number of classes in the local Junior colleges.

(Hat tip: via the HSC mailing list)

Technorati tags: college, cost, education

Good thought about worrying

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

"Worry is the darkroom where negatives are developed."

Technorati tags: Worry

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

You have just eight hours to send in your entry for the next Carnival of Homeschooling.

The Carnival of Homeschooling at be hosted at Janice Campbell - Taking Times 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,

A bit mind boggling - parents need background checks to watch children on playgrounds

Joanne Jacobs reports Brits ban parents from playgrounds :

In Watford, England, parents can’t watch their own kids in playgrounds, unless they’ve submitted to a criminal records check. It’s all in the name of protecting children from pedophiles. Parents are guilty till proven innocent.
Mums and dads must stay outside the fence at two adventure playgrounds while “play rangers,” public employees cleared by the police, supervise the children.


Technorati tags: parents, children, playground

People want to move!

I find this fascinating: 700 Million Worldwide Desire to Migrate Permanently:

Every day, migrants leave their homelands behind for new lives in other countries. Reflecting this desire, rather than the reality of the numbers that actually migrate, Gallup finds about 16% of the world's adults would like to move to another country permanently if they had the chance. This translates to roughly 700 million worldwide -- more than the entire adult population of North and South America combined.

Large number of people in Sub-Saharan Africa want to move, an average of 38% would like to move permanently. I was surprised that Asia had the lowest percentage, only about 10%.

Go check out the map.

Technorati tags: People move

Are you looking for a novel location for a weekend get away?

I think this would be totally cool: Space hotel taking bookings for 2012 opening:

The first orbiting space hotel is on track to open for its first customers in 2012, but hurry, as bookings are filling fast.
The cost of three nights on the Galactic Suite Space Resort (plus a two-month training course on a Caribbean island beforehand) will be $4.4 million US. At least 43 people have already reserved their place, with over 200 expressing an interest.
Guests would circumnavigate the globe every 80 minutes and see the sun rise 15 times a day. They would get around their "pod" rooms by wearing Velcro suits that stick them to the walls to enable them to crawl.
CEO of the Barcelona-based company Galactic Suite Ltd, Xavier Claramunt, said the hotel would make his company a leader in the fledgling industry, which he believes has a great future, with space tourism becoming commonplace. Claramunt, formerly an aerospace engineer, said that within perhaps only 15 years, it could be quite normal to spend a weekend in space.


I'll wait until the $4 million dollar price tag drops by a couple orders of magnitude.


Technorati tags: space hotel

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Another study showing that the problem with public schools is not a lack of money

The Phony Funding Crisis has some good data showing that the problem with government schools is not a lack of money. The article is a bit long, but worth reading. This gives a sense of the tone of the article:

For a variety of reasons, from one year to the next, schools almost always have more real revenue for each of their enrolled students. For the past hundred years, with rare and short exceptions and after controlling for inflation, public schools have had both more money and more employees per student in each succeeding year. Teacher salaries have increased more than 42 percent in constant dollars over the past half century, while educators’ working conditions, health plans, and retirement arrangements have become ever more commodious. Moreover, school-related revenues and employment levels have increased even when the economy (as measured by Gross Domestic Product or GDP) turned down, unlike what typically happens in sectors such as manufacturing and retail sales, where recessions trigger cutbacks in personnel and profits.

One graph in the article showed that over the last 35 years the number of students in public elementary and secondary schools has slowly climbed from fifty million students to around fifty eight million students. The fascinating thing was the number of employees sky rocketed from about 220,000 to 850,000.

To put this in context the number of students climbed by about 15% while the number of employees went up by almost 300%.

Public schools have enough money, they just need to be wiser about how it is spent. And many government programs demanding money be spent in certain ways should be cut back or eliminated.

(Hat tip: Joanne Jacobs)

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

Facebook helps track down a criminal

I thought this was funny: Fraud fugitive in Facebook trap:

A man on the run, wanted for fraud by US authorities, inadvertently revealed where he was hiding through a series of extravagant Facebook updates.
Cameroon-born Maxi Sopo's messages made it clear he was living the high life in the Mexican resort of Cancun.
He also added a former US justice department official to his friend list who ended up helping to track him down.


More details in Fugitive caught after updating his status on Facebook.

(Hat tip: Risks)

Technorati tags: Facebook, friend

Friday, November 06, 2009

Yesterday was one of those days

My day started around 6 am with the patter of little feet. (Unfortunately, Baby Bop has not yet adjusted to the time change.) Baby Bop climbed in bed with me and I successful stalled him for 15 minutes before I had to get up. First I got Baby Bop dressed and then got dressed myself. Normally, I'm not so quick to get either of us dressed, but yesterday was Baby Bop's turn to go out for breakfast with Dad and Mom. By 7 am we were out the door on our way to IHOP.

We got back to the house around 8:15 am. I quickly did our "smells and sounds" therapy routine with Baby Bop and the girls before family scripture study. After we read 20 verses and I repeated the "smells and sounds " routine before going out the door at 8:50 am for Baby Bop's preschool. Thursday's are my work day at preschool, so my father-in-law or mother-in-law spend the morning with my girls.

While I was at preschool, my older ones worked on their school work while grandpa played chess and Lego Robotics stuff with my youngest daughter.

At 12 noon on the way home from preschool with a cranky kid, I realized that I didn't have enough room in the car to drive the Lego League carpool. I called Henry at work and arranged to switch vehicles. Half way there, I realized that my father-in-law could take the kids to Lego League. I continued on my way home and arrived around 12:30 pm. Grandpa drove off with the older two girls and went to pick up another Lego team member who needed a ride.

After they left, I realized that I still had a problem. I needed to pick up 3 kids from Lego's which doesn't leave enough room in the car if I have my two younger ones with me. I call a friend to arrange a play date so that I could drop off my youngest daughter on my way to pick up at Lego's. I fed Baby Bop his lunch which greatly improved his temperament. I can't remember what I ate for lunch.

By this time, it is about 1:15 pm and time to go to Baby Bop's speech therapy at the school near my house. Baby Bop and I walked to the school. I allowed my 9 year old to stay home alone (for the first time). While Baby Bop played with the speech therapist, I waited outside and made a few phone calls. Speech therapy ended promptly at 2 pm and we walked home.

After I got home, the play date called and offered to pick my youngest daughter up on their way home from the grocery store. At 2:40 pm, my youngest daughter went out the door with her soccer equipment and was on her way to the play date. I left with Baby Bop for the Lego pick up.

I arrived at Lego's around 3 pm and we loaded up and headed for home. I dropped off my girls at home around 3:30 pm and then drove the Lego teammate home. I received about three phone calls from my middle daughter who was having a difficult time finding her soccer cleats. I called my youngest daughter at her play date and asked her to check to make sure that she didn't have her sister's soccer cleats.

Lucky for us, I remembered that my daughter had helped me catch our bunny in the back yard after the last soccer practice. I called my middle daughter back and suggested that she look in the back yard where she quickly found her cleats.

I arrived home at the same time as my middle daughter's ride to soccer. I took poor Baby Bop out of the car to change his diaper and to feed him a snack. At 4:15 pm, we were back in the car on our way to drop off my oldest daughter at her soccer practice.

After dropping of my oldest daughter, I drove to my youngest daughter's soccer practice (which Henry coaches). My youngest daughter was already there. Her play date lives near the soccer field and they had graciously offered to walk her over to practice.

I had intended to drive to the grocery store and pick up something from the deli for dinner. Baby Bop wanted to play at the soccer field and since the poor kid has spent so much time in the car, we stayed and kicked a soccer ball while the team practiced.

A little after 5 pm, I threw Baby Bop in the car and drove to Jack In The Box. From Jack In The Box, I drove to my oldest daughter's soccer practice, picked her up and headed home. We arrived home around 5:40 pm. Henry got there about 5 minutes later.

Henry quickly changed clothes and Henry and I were back in the car on the way to a foster parent class. Unfortunately, I forgot to grab something out of the Jack In The Box bag for Henry, so he didn't get his dinner till later.

After we left, my middle daughter arrived home for soccer. The girls took turns taking care of Baby Bop and they put him to bed while we were gone. Henry and I arrived at the foster parent class only a few minutes late.

The class ended at 8 pm and (I'm embarrassed to admit) we headed back to Jack In The Box. On our way home, we stopped to pick up something from Henry's soccer coordinator and arrived home around 8:30 pm. Baby Bop was in bed and two of the girls were watching Star Gate on the computer. When the show ended, we had the girls do a 10 minute tidy and sent them off to bed.

Henry and I headed towards bed around 10 pm. I think I was asleep by 11 pm. This morning started with the patter of little feet at 5:58 am.

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