Feds Tracking Your Kids

Reason Number 10,541 to homeschool:


Would it bother you to know that the federal Centers for Disease Control had been shown your daughter’s health records to see how she responded to an STD/teen-pregnancy-prevention program? How about if the federal Department of Education and Department of Labor scrutinized your son’s academic performance to see if he should be “encouraged” to leave high school early to learn a trade? Would you think the government was intruding on your territory as a parent?
Under regulations the Obama Department of Education released this month, these scenarios could become reality. The department has taken a giant step toward creating a de facto national student database that will track students by their personal information from preschool through career. Although current federal law prohibits this, the department decided to ignore Congress and, in effect, rewrite the law. Student privacy and parental authority will suffer.

How did it happen? Buried within the enormous 2009 stimulus bill were provisions encouraging states to develop data systems for collecting copious information on public-school kids. To qualify for stimulus money, states had to agree to build such systems according to federally dictated standards. So all 50 states either now maintain or are capable of maintaining extensive databases on public-school students.

It bothers me. And my kids are grown now.

Think about it.

Chemistry Books to Read with M

Dr. Joe Schwarcz has written a number of books that are a lot of fun-
The Genie in the Bottle
That’s the Way the Cookie Crumbles
Science, Sense, and Nonsense,
and many others.

I’ve used all three in my classes with good success. I’ve also used Uncle Tungsten by Oliver Sacks but some students don’t like the way the footnotes are done in the book and state that it makes it difficult to read (I love the book!).

from the Chronicle of Higher Ed forum

Saxon Math

Saxon Math is said to aid learning.

But they don’t use the same vocabulary everyone else does and we had a hard time working with the dual vocabularies.

So, be aware.

Homeschooling and Play

The Common Room’s “Homeschooling the Little Ones” refers to a British study which found:

Far from getting cleverer, our 11-year-olds are, in fact, less “intelligent” than their counterparts of 30 years ago. Or so say a team who are among Britain’s most respected education researchers.

After studying 25,000 children across both state and private schools Philip Adey, a professor of education at King’s College London confidently declares: “The intelligence of 11-year-olds has fallen by three years’ worth in the past two decades.”

I will say that it isn’t true of my boys. But they had a lot of time to play, which is The Common Room’s note.

Dinosaur Colors Found!

Of course, it is out of China and they’ve had some fake stuff, but this looks real.

The BBC says:

Professor Benton explained that differently shaped melanosomes produced different colours, with blacks or greys produced by “sausage-shaped” melanosomes, and reddish or “russet” shades found in spherical ones.
“A ginger-haired person would have more spherical melanosomes, and a black-haired or grey-haired person would have more of the sausage-shaped structures,” said Professor Benton.
The scientists found both types of melanosome in Confuciusornis and decided to turn their attention to Sinosauropteryx, which is the most primitive feathered dinosaur yet found.

Good stuff.

If I ever teach Dinosaurs and Dragons again…

How much of learning disabilities are caused?

I discussed this point with a woman at the last conference I went to. She was a PhD candidate in Computer Science. She said that learning disabilities are NOT caused by people expecting others to do too much. But instead of saying how that was not so, she said that it wasn’t true because the people who said it used it as an argument to downplay LD support.

I asked her if something were false simply because people used it in a bad way. The other person at the table said I must be a rhetorician. It seems to me that I must be a truth seeker.

Anyway, that’s been on my mind since I came home from California.

Then I saw Joanne Jacobs’s post on this question:

How many learning disabilities are school made, caused by teaching methods or curricula? Vicky S asks the question on Kitchen Table Math.

Catherine Johnson comes up with one estimate: 70 percent of significant reading problems, which often lead to a learning disability diagnosis, could be eliminated by early identification and intervention.

In 2008, I visited two charter schools that specialized in integrating special ed and mainstream students, including gifted students. At both schools, the principal said entering kindergarteners were screened for developmental issues — movement, coordination, vision, hearing, etc. — that often lead to school problems and a disability diagnosis. Those who needed help got it immediately. Very few went on to need special education. The principal at one school said he thought few learning disabled students had a genuine, unpreventable disability. I can’t remember the percentage he came up with. Ten percent? Twenty percent? It’s part of the Hopes, Fears & Reality 2008 report by the Center on Reinventing Public Education.

It’s just another reason to homeschool. And, thankfully, it is one of the reasons that I was pushed by God into homeschooling. Because I am sure my youngest son would have had learning disabilities had I not done that.

CPS Alert

I already went to the website and sent an email. I will call on Monday.

From the comments to another post comes this notice from Abiding Joy:
Some terrible anti-parent/ anti-family legislation (SB 1440) that allows a CPS caseworker or any employee of CPS to swear an affidavit to “aid in an investigation” that would allow them to come into your home, look at any records they want, and transport (thus taking!) your child all without your consent passed this weekend and is being sent to the governor! All families are adversely affected by this legislation that takes your 4th amendment rights away.

We need anyone and everyone in TEXAS and elsewhere to make calls to the governor’s office to ask him to VETO this bill. It gives more power than the police have to CPS!! THEY (CPS) NO LONGER NEED A SEARCH WARRANT TO ENTER YOUR HOME WITHOUT YOUR CONSENT!!!!! !!! AND THEY DO NOT HAVE TO HAVE “GOOD CAUSE OR PROBABLE CAUSE” EITHER!!!!!! ! I posted the bill and all the info needed on my website:


So if you can send this LINK out to all your friends/families/ colleagues and anyone else you can think of and have them post the info and make calls I’d appreciate it. We need a massive veto campaign to stop it. Please, feel free to copy/cut/paste anything off my website about it and post it on blogs. too. I’m just sick about this and how it will affect EVERY family in Texas and even set a terrible unconstitutional precedent for the other states.

CPS was out of control before and the Supreme Court said so (in the FLDS-polygamist case and the Gary/Melissa Gates case) and now the Texas Legislature has decided to give them MORE POWER!!! Thank you for any help you can give on this! The veto calls need to start immediately. It will go into effect within 3 weeks! All the info’s on my website. Feel free to forward! ALL FAMILIES ARE AFFECTED and your 4th amendment rights are in question. Everyone in Texas is just an anonymous false report phone call away from a CPS investigation.

Johana Scot
M.A. Psychology
Executive Director
Parent Guidance Center
9600 Escarpment Blvd, Suite 745-255
Austin , TX 78749
Help a parent and you’ve already helped a child.

and http://www.rightintexas.com/

Rep Paul (TX) is encouraging all states to call in for this as it will set a national precedent.

Action Needed:
Call Governor Perry’s office at 800-252-9600, and ask him to veto
Senate Bill 1440 because it violates Texas citizens’ constitutional

You can also register your opinion online at the Governor’s website
at: http://governor.state.tx.us/contact/

Oopsie Daisie! (and double oopsie update)

E needs physics this summer. I had him scheduled to take one class at one college and one class at another. It wasn’t a good match, but it worked.

However, having looked at the book again this afternoon to find out where E was, I discovered that he cannot take this class. It lasts all summer, not just first session. And it interferes with his math.

There is a night class that wouldn’t interfere, but it is also all summer and doesn’t work since he needs two semesters. I guess he’ll study physics at home.

I’m wondering whether to take his books back or to keep them and have him read through them and do the workbook. Then I could give him credit for physics from me for high school, though obviously we wouldn’t be able to do a lot of the experiments.

I’m camped outside his classroom door and whenever he gets let out for break, which will hopefully be soon, we will head out to look at the book and decide what to do.

Dang it! I should have known it was too easy when we actually could get what he needed in the summer.

Update: No, no. It wasn’t an oopsie when I did it, but it was almost an oopsie when I took him out today.

I waited for an hour outside his classroom, told him the class wouldn’t work, and, then, as we were leaving, grabbed the summer schedule and found out that he was, in fact, in the right class and it will work.

The issue was I was looking online and that only had courses that were still open. His class was filled.

Thankfully the break was long enough to take him out, talk about it, check on the class, and put him back in. I am fairly sure he is annoyed with me, but at least we didn’t actually leave before the class was over.

I didn’t know I was going to be here till 4 pm, though I should have. And I should have gotten him to pack a peanut butter sandwich to tide him through the hours.

Homeschooling Graduation

This week we have received three invitations to high school graduations. All are from very close friends, three of my five closest aside from my hubby, and are for their eldest sons who are the same age as my eldest son. All three boys are valedictorians of their classes.

My son isn’t graduating until August. He will graduate with 5.5 years of math, 7 years of English, 7 years of social science, 4 years of science… He’s done a lot.

He won’t be valedictorian and he won’t be graduating in May though.

It’s hard, sometimes, when life doesn’t look like your friends’ lives.

But he has a 3.6 average and he’ll have a total of 31 credits when he finishes. Texas requires 24 credits. He will also be a college junior because he will have taken 23 college classes.

But he’s not valedictorian and he didn’t graduate this week.

College news.

E was not accepted to UPenn. I am sad in one way; he wanted to go. In another way I am relieved; Pennsylvania is far away ad $54000 is a lot of money.

We have no idea why. Was it because he was homeschooled? Or was it because he didn’t have a lot of outside activities?

He’s been accepted to A&M, hasn’t heard from UT(Tx) or UNC, and hasn’t yet applied to UI.

I hope the best place for him accepts him and all the others (except A&M) turn him down.

Homeschooling is now mainstream?

Homeschooling Goes Mainstream says:

Though parents and tutors have been teaching children in the home for centuries, in the late 1960s and 1970s there emerged for the first time in the United States a political movement that adopted this practice as a radical, countercultural critique of the public education system. Conservatives who felt the public schools had sold out to secularism and progressivism joined with progressives who felt the public schools were bastions of conservative conformity to challenge the notion that all children should attend them. By the early 1990s they had won the right to home school in every state.

Journalist Peter Beinart found that Wichita’s 1,500 home-schooling families had created “three bands, a choir, a bowling group, a math club, a 4-H Club, boy- and girl-scout troops, a debate team, a yearly musical, two libraries and a cap-and-gown graduation.” “Home-schooled” children were meeting in warehouses or business centers for classes “in algebra, English, science, swimming, accounting, sewing, public speaking, and Tae Kwan Do.”

Maybe soon colleges will quit requiring GEDs for homeschoolers.

“Demented” homeschoolers

As a homeschooling mom, I was appalled to hear that an on air journalist referred to homeschoolers as demented. Joy Behar was on The View

Start at 5:50… That’s where they begin the discussion.

7:10 “A lot of them are demented when they’re homeschooled.”

A definition of a teacher

A teacher is somone who can…

–Give a hug without getting arrested.
–Bandage a knee without calling the school nurse.
–Change a lightbulb without calling the custodian.
–Make the children wash the bathrooms.
–Have a relationship with the principal without getting fired.
–Teach a child’s mind while capturing their heart.
–Teach what they believe in and believe in what they teach.
–Meet the child’s need and not worry about meeting the state guidelines.
–Commit to a lifetime of work without pay.
–Pray! in class, out loud, with the children and the ACLU can’t say a word.

There is is only one that can fill that job description

A teacher is a mom.

from Spunky HomeSchool

Yeah, what she said.

Why are boys doing poorly in school?

Peg Tyre of Newsweek thinks she may have part of the answer.

Instead of unstructured free play, parents now schedule their kids’ time from dawn till dusk (and sometimes beyond.) By age 4, an ever-increasing number of children are enrolled in preschool. There, instead of learning to get along with other kids, hold a crayon and play Duck, Duck, Goose, children barely out of diapers are asked to fill out work sheets, learn computation or study Mandarin. The drumbeat for early academics gets even louder when they enter “real” school. Veteran teachers will tell you that first graders are now routinely expected to master a curriculum that, only 15 years ago, would have been considered appropriate for second, even third graders. The way we teach children has changed, too. In many communities, elementary schools have become test-prep factories—where standardized testing begins in kindergarten and “teaching to the test” is considered a virtue. At the same time, recess is being pushed aside in order to provide extra time for reading and math drills. So is history and opportunities for hands-on activities—like science labs and art. Active play is increasingly frowned on—some schools have even banned recess and tag. In the wake of school shootings like the tragedy at Virginia Tech, kids who stretch out a pointer finger, bend their thumb and shout “pow!” are regarded with suspicion and not a little fear.

Homeschooling is a blessing in this area. You can do all the activities and still not have their day scheduled from dawn till dusk. Or you can opt out of lots of activities and only pick one or two.

Articles to read on Belief and Homeschooling

Look Who’s Irrational Now:

“What Americans Really Believe,” a comprehensive new study released by Baylor University yesterday, shows that traditional Christian religion greatly decreases belief in everything from the efficacy of palm readers to the usefulness of astrology. It also shows that the irreligious and the members of more liberal Protestant denominations, far from being resistant to superstition, tend to be much more likely to believe in the paranormal and in pseudoscience than evangelical Christians.

The Gallup Organization, under contract to Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion, asked American adults a series of questions to gauge credulity. Do dreams foretell the future? Did ancient advanced civilizations such as Atlantis exist? Can places be haunted? Is it possible to communicate with the dead? Will creatures like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster someday be discovered by science?

The answers were added up to create an index of belief in occult and the paranormal. While 31% of people who never worship expressed strong belief in these things, only 8% of people who attend a house of worship more than once a week did.

Unschooling, also titled by bloggers as “Giving Homeschooling a Bad Name”:

Benny’s never heard of un-kindergarten though. That’s because I made up the term last night.

We were out with friends having drinks. Benny was with us, as usual. We’d hit that lull time around nine o’clock, post happy hour and pre-late night revelers when New York City bartenders don’t seem to mind five-year-olds playing with cars and sipping cranberry juice near the bar.

Homeschooling is no longer (and probably never was) just a bunch of Bible-thumping Seventh Day Adventists
Our friends have no kids, but were curious about our decision not to send Benny to school. They’re aware enough to know that homeschooling is no longer (and probably never was) just a bunch of Bible-thumping Seventh Day Adventists who teach their kids at home in order to avoid the heathens at public school. Our friends also understand that parents homeschool their kids in different ways and for different reasons.

Hard Applications: How does he pick where to go?

E is going to college and has been for the last two years. But he is a dual credit student. He started when he was 14. Clearly he is brilliant 😉 but now it is time to apply for colleges.

E doesn’t have a clear idea of what colleges he wants to go to. He does, however, know what he wants to do. He wants to be an actuary.

What we did
So, we went online and found colleges with Actuarial Science programs. Then we went to USNews and got the list of the best actuarial science programs. Then we compared the two. We started, of course, looking for Texas schools. There are four: UT Austin, UT San Antonio, Baylor, and TCU. Only UT Austin is in the best list. E doesn’t want to go to Baylor or TCU of course. (He’s an atheist.) That leaves UTSA as his second choice school. The minimum SAT from a Texas school they want is 920. It’s 1020 if you are homeschooled. So he has almost double the homeschool requirement. I would expect that he will not have any trouble at all getting into UTSA.

We’d like him to go to a good school for actuaries. Then we were looking for family or friends near enough to visit him.

I found a list of supposed good schools, but it is by a prof from ISU, so who knows if ISU really belongs on the system. But the other choices were interesting.

Boston University
University of Central Florida
Florida State University
Georgia State University
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Illinois State University
University of Iowa
Middle Tennessee State University
Pennsylvania State University
Temple University
Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Actuary.com has a list of schools based on whether they have the degree and whether classes support the first “four” exams… It is organized by region, which is nice.

Ball State (Indiana) looks good.
ISU looks good too, based on this website. Maybe it is just really good in Actuarial Science and not so good in others.
Maryville University in St. Louis also looks good. It’s a couple of hours from our friends, which is farther away than I wanted E, but it looks like a possibility. (Their website says it is one of 35 great ones, but it doesn’t say where I can find this list.) Cost, FYI, is $25,000 a year tuition and housing.

R says I’ve been too wimpy, rather than too tough, on the possible places to apply. So Wharton Business School might be added to the places he applies. I honestly can’t imagine him getting in, but I guess it is possible.

NAU, my dad’s alma mater, has a degree too. And according to their website E is guaranteed admission. That, of course, tells us that it is way too easy. I called my dad and he said don’t go. He said he’s glad he got the degree, but it doesn’t have a strong reputation.

Why am I still looking at colleges?

I am still looking because we only had a list of five and some of those are pretty hard to get into. So I am looking for others.

Parental expectations = student performance

“the most consistent predictors of children’s academic achievement and social adjustment are parent expectations of the child’s academic attainment and satisfaction with their child’s education at school. Parents of high-achieving students set higher standards for their children’s educational activities.”

The Core Knowledge Blog has much more.

This is being spoken of in terms of public school, but it is just as true- or even more so- in terms of homeschooling.

Homeschooling discussions

In the Wall Street Journal and in Pajamas Media.

Both electronic and print media are talking about homeschooling. I guess it has become mainstream.

A great quote from the PM article:

The secret of home-schooling, however, is that you don’t have to be a master teacher to do it well. Energy, dedication, and good materials are what you need. Your competition, meanwhile, is a system that by design and necessity seeks the median. Public (and many private) school students have to move along in all subjects at a similar pace, and in the same order.