Monday, March 31, 2008

Federation of CT Taxpayers Organizations Announces


April 1, 2008

10:00 am – 2:00 pm

Legislative Office Building - Room 1B

Hosted by the

Federation of Connecticut Taxpayers Organizations, Inc.

In cooperation with State Representative Arthur O'Neill

The Federation of Connecticut Taxpayer Organizations (FCTO) is pleased to announce its second annual Tax Day at the Capitol to be held on April 1, 2008. Connecticut property owners are burdened with one of the highest property taxes in the nation, second to New Jersey. Our taxes are driven by such State mandates as Binding Arbitration and Prevailing Wage. On average, 75% to 85% of local property taxes are dedicated to personnel related expenses.

On April 1, 2008, The Federation of Connecticut Taxpayer Organizations will host a panel discussion on the impact of taxation in Connecticut as well as proposed solutions to include a Cap on Property Taxes, reforms to Binding Arbitration and Prevailing Wage, State Initiative and Referendum, a Taxpayers Bill of Rights and more.

Panelists will include State Representative Arthur O'Neill, State Senator Anthony Guglielmo, representatives of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, Connecticut Association of Realtors, The Consortium for Fiscal Responsibility, Office of Policy and Management, and taxpayer organizations.

A presentation by Peter Wolfgang will also be made on the Constitutional Convention question which will be on the ballot in November, 2008. The forum is open to all legislators, taxpayers, the public and the press.

Please contact Susan Kniep at 841-8032 or by email at with any questions or comments. Also, visit the Federation’s website at for updates on public policy issues.

The April 1, 2008 Tax Day Agenda Follows…..

10:00 – 10:05 Opening Remarks by Susan Kniep, Facilitator

10:05 – 10:25 Rep. Art O’Neill – The Local Property Tax Cap

10:25 – 10:30 Presentation to Rep. Art O’Neill from FCTO

10:30 – 10:45 Robert Dakers, OPM – Implementing the Property Tax Cap

10:45 - 11:00 Ron Thomas, CCM – Property Tax Relief/Unfunded Mandates

11:00 – 11:15 Senator Anthony Guglielmo – State Initiative and Referendum

11:15 – 11:30 Mike Guarco, Consortium – Binding Arbitration & Prevailing Wage

11:30 – 11:45 Bonnie Stewart, CBIA – Business Tax and The Taxpayers Bill of Rights

11:45 – 12:00 Robert Fiorito, Connecticut Assoc. of Realtors – Conveyance Tax

12:00 – 12:15 Peter Wolfgang, Family Institute – Constitutional Convention

12:15 – 12:30 Armand Fusco – Improving Accountability of Educational Funding

12:30 – 12:40 Mike Telesca – Waterbury Property Owners Association

12:40 – 1:00 Representatives of West Hartford and Avon Taxpayer Groups

1:00 – 1:45 Open to Legislators Available to Participate

1:45 – 2:00 Question and Answer Session/Wrap up

· Please note: All Legislators have been invited to attend this forum to publicly speak on any tax issue they wish to address this legislative session.

· We reserved extra time on our agenda to allow any and all Legislators to join us, who were not initially able to commit to speak on April 1.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Humorous Diversion - The Onion


The Queen leaves A Legacy Of Waving

Many U.S. Parents Outsourcing Child Care Overseas

Are We Giving Robots Too Much Power?

Friday, March 28, 2008

This Week's WebPicks

So here's some worthwhile reading that I found this week. I missed blogging yesterday and this morning so I hope you didn't miss me too much.

Anyway - heres some good stuff:

How Beijing 2008 Olympic Games Got Their Logo

Tis the season to be scammed - by Eduwonks

How is your genetic information being used? - by Junk Food Science

Federal Government Concedes Autistic Child Injured By Vaccines - Vaccine Awakening

Three Top Banks Stop Offering Student Loans
- The World Is Your Campus

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Liar, Liar Pantsuit On Fire

What is it with these Clintons?
They lie and then act like it's no big deal.
Oops... I'm Human... I just misspoke...
"During a speech last week in Washington, she said, ``I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.''

Yeah - so that never happened... and she attributes it to poor memory. Do people really want a President that can't recall things accurately? And now the damage control begins:
Oh she just meant that there was conflict "in the area"...

These people have absolutely no integrity and they expect the public to forgive and forget and give them some sort of free skate?

This is a woman running for the highest office in the country and people are actually voting for her?

But then again consider the alternate choices.
They aren't much better I am afraid.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

So How Are You Spending YOUR Stimulus Check?

Unless you have been living under a rock, you probably already know that the IRS will be doling out tax rebates as part of Bush's $152 billion economic stimulus package signed into law last month, which hopes to stave off recession amid a deepening housing and credit market crisis. (psst... why doesn't his administration just lower taxes and stop printing and spending gobs of money !!)

The stimulus rebate amounts to about $600 for most middle-income individuals and $1,200 for middle-income couples. Taxpayers must file a 2007 IRS tax return to receive a payment. You also must have a Social Security number and at least $3,000 in qualifying income.

The IRS has published a handy dandy online calculator to help taxpayers determine if they are eligible. Here is another version as well.

Payments will be mailed out on May 2 and continue through July - and if your social security number ends in a low number you'll be getting yours first.

But back to my original question - How will YOU be spending your check?
Go to Walmart and essentially send your check to China?
Spend it on gasoline - and send your money to Venezuela or the Middle East?
Buy a car and send your money to Japan or Germany?
How about buying some fruits and vegetables imported from Mexico or Chile?

It appears that the reality is that few American jobs will actually be created by this plan. The money being rebated won't even help those on the brink of foreclosure on their mortgage because it probably won't even cover one mortgage payment. In truth we manufacture many fewer products here in the USA these days. Even many food products in our supermarkets are being imported. Such is the effect of globalization. Globalization, whose merits can argued either as good or bad, has made it so whatever you purchase doesn't necessarily help out the American economy. So the question remains: how is buying foreign goods with your rebate check supposed to help stimulate the U.S. economy? Many argue that our national debt will increase substantially because of this stimulus package and that when we turn around and buy foreign goods with the money we will only be increasing our trade deficit.

Maybe it really is more of a psychological effect - you know that you receive an nice check in the mail, for essentially just filing a tax return,having a social security number and meeting some income requirements. It isn't even really free money because you're basically getting your own money back.

But anyway, for those not planning to spend it on "stuff" here are some other options.
Some people plan to pay off debt - that's a good idea any way you look at it.
Some people plan to save it or invest it - but then again that doesn't necessarily stimulate the economy.
Some people will use it to pay their state tax.
Some people will donate it to charity.

I'm not sure what I'll do with it - I guess I'll buy something that will increase in value as we head into an inflationary period; like gold or silver.

Monday, March 24, 2008

SB162 - Rep. O'Neill Did Not Support The Language Changes Made By The Education Committee Chairs

Rep. Arthur O'Neill published a statement today about the changes to the parental rights bill that came out of the Education Committee last week.

Despite the claims made from Education Committee Chair Senator Gaffey and Rep. Debra Lee Hovey, that Rep. O'Neill "was o.k." with the changes, Rep. O'Neill clearly states that he did not support the changes that they made.

So let's recap:

1. O'Neill proposes a bill which upholds parents rights. It merely says that when a parent sends a letter of withdrawal to a school administrator by certified mail, that the school must accept it and remove the child from enrollment. That correctly should be placed in the statute addressing Duties of Boards of Education (CGS 10-220). It is simple and uncomplicated and fixes the problem that parents have had, which was that when they sent a letter of withdrawal to the school - it was summarily ignored and the child was kept on the enrollment lists so that the child could be reported as truant. It is necessary to add here that parents who have attempted to withdraw their children to put them in private school as well as those who choose to homeschool have been affected by this abuse of authority by public school administrators.

2. Senator Meyer from the Children's committee sends the bill to LCO to be formally drafted and given a number.

This is what the LCO is supposed to do:
The Legislative Commissioners' Office ("LCO") serves legislators and other officials by (1) drafting legislation that expresses legislative intent in clear, concise and constitutionally sound language, (2) providing legal counsel, (3) publishing legislative documents, and (4) carrying out all other duties assigned by law to the Legislative Commissioners' Office.

3. LCO sends it back with totally different language and changes the bill entirely (where did THAT language come from? Gee, it looked a lot like the language proposed to O'Neill by Education Commissioner McQuillan which we rejected). The bill did not at all in any way reflect the legislative intent of Rep. O'Neill or Senator Meyer. In fact it changed the whole meaning of the bill entirely and affected a totally different statute, which was CGS 10-184 (Duties of Parents).

4. The Children's Committee holds a public hearing. Parents and legislators come out and testify with enormous support of the original language and no one comes to testify any opposition to the original language.

5. The Children's Committee unanimously votes the bill out of committee in the original form (O'Neill's language) that was sent to LCO. The bill is then referred to the Education Committee. The bill continues to gain strong bi-partisan support, and many legislators sign on as co-sponsors to O'Neill's language. Senator Meyer hand writes a firm request to the Education Committee Chair NOT to change the bill's language.

6. The Education Committee Chairs refuse to raise the bill in it's original form proposed by Rep. O'Neill and approved by the Children's Committee, and threaten not to raise the bill in committee at all if anyone proposes an amendment to it to put back the original language. There is no chance for a public hearing on the new language and the new language was not even known to the public until the committee began its proceedings. So the Education Committee Chairs raise the bill with the bad language that was rejected by everyone else before, and they tell the members that Rep. O'Neill "was o.k." with the changes. Parents in the room sit in disbelief as many members who supported Rep. O'Neill's language reluctantly pass the bad language just to keep the bill moving along. Some legislators meet with parents afterward and offer to help "make things right".

7. We find out that people working for the Department of Education helped draft those bill changes. The language was essentially forced through the committee despite objections from parents and legislators alike.

8. Rep. O'Neill makes a statement saying that he did not support the changes made by the Education Committee.

This action by the Education Committee Chairs is appalling. This is not how we are supposed to be "represented" in the halls of the Capitol. It is disconcerting to see how a State agency who has been the perpetrator behind harassment of parents and encouraging school administrators to make false claims of abuse and neglect to DCF can have the power to manipulate a committee of people and affect legislation in this manner. This is a travesty and should be investigated fully. It tramples the notion of "Consent of the Governed" that our republic is built upon.

The form of the bill that was passed out of the Education Committee essentially does nothing to fix the problems parents have encountered when withdrawing their children from public school, nor does it change the statute 10-220 (Duties of Boards of Education) to make schools obligated to accept a withdrawal letter and then immediately take their child off of the enrollment list. Instead it creates many changes to 10-184 (Duties of Parents) and dictates new reporting requirements to parents who choose to withdraw in order to home educate. It discriminates against parents who desire to homeschool and singles them out among parents who wish to withdraw their children from public school and subjects them to unnecessary regulation filled with the ability for schools to exercise subjective judgments and arbitrary decisions regarding whether a parent can withdraw their child or not. It gives schools the power and whim to approve or disapprove of a parents choice to homeschool, thereby removing a right that parents have already had since the 1650's. A parent should be able to withdraw their child from a system that does not serve their children without answering to that system. It is the equivalent of being forced to ask your spouse for approval and permission of a divorce after you have been beaten repeatedly by that spouse.

We will be working to put the original language back into the bill as it heads to the Senate floor and ultimately to the House.

We think there should be an ethics investigation.

We think the legislative process has been compromised and negates the voice of the people and of the legislators who proposed to move this bill along to begin with, and we do not believe that it is proper for members of the Department of Education to manipulate the Education Committee in the manner which has been so extremely evident here. To us that is a clear violation of the separation of the legislative and executive branch of government.

This breach should not and will not be taken lightly.

If you are a concerned parent in the state of CT it is advised that you write or otherwise communicate your concerns to your legislator and even the Governor if need be.

SB162 - with the original language as proposed by Rep. O'Neill and passed by the Children's Committee should be passed in the Senate, and to do that the bill must now be amended again.

Zipcars - Smart Transportation

My son drove up to visit us on Sunday evening and he doesn't even own a car. He drove up from the New Haven area to Hartford in a Zipcar. It's convenient and hassle-free. He has the ability to have a car when he needs one without the expense of owning one.

Zipcars are parked around the city for members to drive by the hour instead of owning their own vehicles. Cars are equipped with a wireless technology, creating a hassle-free reservation system. The cars are strategically placed around key places in cities and neighborhoods.
The savings potential is obvious not only for the driver but for the community - especially in urban settings.
With each Zipcar replacing over 15 privately-owned vehicles, we're changing the urban landscape.

Older cars are replaced with new ones that have more stringent pollution controls.

Green space is preserved as fewer parking spaces are required to meet the driving needs of the same number of people.

Less strain on urban parking infrastructure — saving businesses, governments, and universities money.

Lower fuel consumption means less air pollution.

And yes, less congestion on the roads.

Zipcar is a critical element of the transportation network of many cities and universities, enabling residents, students and businesses to get rid of their cars and still meet their transportation needs.
It's really a terrific idea - especially if you live in the city.

It's as simple as this:
You become a member of Zipcar and you receive a special card. When you need a vehicle you reserve it by the hour or the day, online or over the telephone. When you make the reservation a wireless signal is sent to the car. When you go to your reserved car your zipcard identifies you and allows you to unlock the vehicle. Then it's yours to drive. The gasoline, insurance and reserved parking is all included. You just drive it away and return it when you are done.

They've got some great vehicles too - very clean and well maintained.

My son loves it.
We'd love to see Zipcars come to the Hartford area.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Moving In With The Folks - At Age 52?

Well, we all know times are getting more challenging financially - but this is astounding!
After being laid off from her job as an events planner at an upscale resort, Jo Ann Bauer struggled financially. She worked at several lower-paying jobs, relocated to a new city and even declared bankruptcy.

After being laid off, Jo Ann Bauer struggled for four years on her own before moving in with her parents.

Then in December, she finally accepted her parents' invitation to move into their home -- at age 52. "I'm back living in the bedroom that I grew up in," she said.
Bauer was caught by surprise when her job at a resort in Kohler, Wisconsin, was cut four years ago, one year after she got divorced. The single mother bounced around to several lesser-paying jobs, declared bankruptcy and even moved 60 miles south to Milwaukee.

Her daughter, now 12, moved in with Bauer's ex-husband near her hometown.
What is even more amazing is this statistic:
A new survey by the retiree-advocacy group AARP found that one-fourth of Generation Xers, those 28 to 39 years old, receive financial help from family and friends.

The online survey of nearly 1,800 people ages 19 to 39 also found 57 percent believed they were "financially independent." But in a separate question, 33 percent said they received financial support from family and friends.
While it's nice to know parents aren't turning away their kids, it is disturbing to know that a growing number of adults seem to be unable to be self-sufficient. What does that say about us as a society? or about our inflationary economy? about personal responsibility? I don't think it bodes very well for us in general. When a mother opts to go back to live at home with her parents and sends her 12 year old packing and off to live with the ex-spouse I think that is a real shame in many ways. Of course I am not walking in this particular woman's shoes, but for myself after graduating college, the notion of going back to live with my parents has never been an option, and not because they didn't want me to come home.

This type of thing could be a growing problem for our retirees, who are already facing enormous financial strains due to rising costs.

Perhaps life would be easier if we didn't have to shell out so much money in taxes, and insurance and medical expenses. The effects of a disastrous monetary policy and the cost of government has certainly got to be a part of this phenomenon. On the other hand, we have become used to living beyond our means, and not having the patience to acquire the things we want.

The reality of independent living for many is simply becoming more and more challenging. Our ideas about personal responsibility are also becoming less urgent as we overspend and live beyond our means, while racking up debt, and failing to make proper financial adjustments, because we know that either the government or family members will ultimately come to our rescue.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Doing College Visits

Well, I do have to spend some time with my family - I can't be blogging ALL the time you know.

Wednesday and Thursday we spent the time in Boston area visiting prospective colleges. It was great fun.

So I'll share with you a piece I wrote about college visits:

Shopping for College

Aside from exploring scholarship opportunities, if you are considering attending college in the fall then you should start visiting colleges that you are interested in spring and summer prior to the fall semester. The guideline is to start visiting colleges as early as April of your "junior year". This is because most college applications have to be into the colleges you are applying to by December of your Senior year. Visiting college in the summer may not give you the opportunity to experience the college atmosphere, as when all students are on campus, but sometimes it is the only time when one can visit. Return to colleges that you are most interested in, during the fall semester of your "senior year". Go for the day and plan to visit classes, talk to students, and do some interviews, portfolio reviews or auditions. Make an appointment to talk to the College financial aid people as well. College visits are very important. Get your hands on "The Complete Guide to College Visits", by Spencer and Maleson. Use your campus visits as an opportunity to "get the feel" of a school and to get a sense of the place. Campus tours are available through the admissions departments, and it is a great time for you to ask questions about the campus and college life in general.

A student, who is most often a paid member of the admissions staff, usually conducts the campus tours. These students are trained to show you the important parts of the campus, to answer your questions, and to give you information about the school. The tours usually last about an hour and will include visits to the library, student center, athletic facility, dorms, and classrooms and if appropriate, school laboratories. Sometimes the school may provide meal vouchers for you to try out the food in the cafeteria. This is a good time to ask questions that would give you a student's perspective.

Some things to do in preparation for a visit are:
1. Schedule an appointment in advance by phone, or by letter. Some schools require notice several months in advance.
2. See your first choice last. Practice your interviewing techniques at colleges that are low on your list first.
3. Read their college catalog to become familiar with the college offerings and other information. They will like to see that you have a real interest in their school.
4. Bring along copies of your standardized test scores and homeschool transcripts if possible. The Admissions office may give some insight into specific materials that they may wish you to include with your college application.
5. Create a resume and bring it along with you. Be prepared to answer questions about yourself and your interests.
6. Dress properly - being neat, clean, and dressing conservatively will never hurt you.
7. Be prompt. Allow sufficient time to arrive at the campus before your visit. Call ahead if you know you will be late for your appointment. Be careful to find out where parking is acceptable so you don’t get ticketed on campus.
8. Go over a list of questions that you want to ask as well as some that you think will be asked of you - and practice interviewing with friends or members of your family.

Some questions to ask:
Where do students study? Are there quiet floors? Are there single sex dorms? Are there co-ed dorms? Are there substance free dorms (no smoking)? What percentage of students remains on campus during the weekends? What are the library hours? Fitness center hours? Are there fraternities and sororities on campus? What percentage of students participate? What is social life like for students that do not participate? What inter-collegiate or inter-mural sports are available? What services are available to students? Counseling? Career counseling? Free health care? Tutoring? Help with finding employment? Are there learning abroad programs? Internships? Mentoring? Can you cook in your dorm room? What happens if you get a roommate that you don't like? Have there been problems with availability of campus housing? How is campus security? Where is wireless Internet available?

I think you get the idea. Use this as an opportunity to find out about the place where you may be spending the next four years of your life.

As for the interview, come prepared with a list of questions and be ready to answer questions on such topics as: subjects you are interested in, how you spent the last four years, books that are important to you, reasons why you want to attend college, career plans, your strengths and weaknesses. Above all, relax and be yourself.

Shopping for school can be fun, and you can even make it a family road-trip!

I can say that the college admissions counselors that we spoke to were very enthusiastic about homeschooled applicants. We were welcomed with open arms.

Seeing all of the wonderful choices that my daughter has narrowed her search to is so exciting. We've seen some fantastic schools with amazing facilities. The world truly is her oyster!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

SB162 - CT Withdrawal Bill - Sen. Gaffey and Rep. Fleischmann Spit In The Faces Of CT Parents

Sen. Gaffey and Rep. Fleischmann

It was just utterly disgusting.

Despite the fact that parents protested ANY change to the language of the bill that was passed out of the Select Committee On Children;

Despite the hand written message Gaffey received from Senator Meyer, Chair of the Children's Committee, asking that the bill NOT be altered;

Despite the legislators that specifically testified at the public hearing on this bill that they wanted the O'Neill language and have it placed in CGS 10-220;

Despite the urgings of members of his own party during the caucuses;

Despite the numerous emails and phone calls from constituents and parents across the state asking them NOT to change the bill;

Despite the number of legislators who signed on as co-sponsors of the original language of this bill as passed out of the Children's Committee;

Despite the fact that NO ONE - NOT ONE PERSON testified in opposition to this bill in the public hearing of 02/19/08 (Read the Joint Favorable report);

Despite the fact that there would have been enough votes to pass it out of the Education Committee AS IS without changes and as passed by the Children's Committee;

These two "men", Gaffey and Fleischmann, Co-Chairs of the Education Committee threatened to kill this bill if it wasn't passed out of the committee in the way they wanted it - and no doubt with the language given to them by the Department of Education Commissioner Mark McQuillan.

The unwillingness of the State Department of Education to come out in public to voice any opinion on the bill, yet, their willingness to maneuver behind the scenes to convince individual legislators to make changes to the bill, is indicative of the manner in which the State Department of Education has been encouraging the abuses by school districts all along! Their actions indicate their continued unwillingness to inform school districts to respect the already existing rights of parents.

This language is damaging to the rights of all parents in this state, and it doesn't even solve the problem that we originally sought to stop. The revised substitute bill contains a provision for parents to notify the public school superintendent of their intent to withdraw the child from enrollment in the public school and requires the school superintendent to accept the notice, but does not require the school superintendent to consider the child withdrawn from enrollment.

In other words, under the revised substitute bill as proposed by Gaffey and Fleischmann, for the first time in our state’s history, public school districts would have the authority to determine whether a parent could withdraw a child from enrollment in a public school, based on their opinion of whether or not the parents are providing “equivalent instruction” to the child, presumably after reviewing the child’s curriculum. Essentially, the public school district would have the authority to “approve” the child’s curriculum before the child would be allowed to withdraw from public school. And what if they don't approve? Does your child remain a hostage in the public school? This really works well when the school is antagonistic to the parents to begin with.

Not only does this represent an extreme departure from centuries of existing law, but it also represents the first step toward more “regulation” of homeschooling in Connecticut in the future. This is precisely what the Department of Education wants. Control. Total Control.

Just prior to beginning the Education Committee’s March 18, 2008 meeting, Democrat members of the Committee, led by Senator Gaffey and Rep. Fleischmann, caucused behind closed doors considering what to do about the bill. Gaffey and Fleischmann apparently were insistent that the Committee vote on the revised bill changing Conn. Gen. Stat. §10-184. This language is remarkably similar to the proposed language Education Commissioner McQuillan handed to Rep. O’Neill two weeks ago who then forwarded it to us for comment. We, of course told O’Neill that we disapproved of that language. During the caucus, some of the supportive Democrat members of the Committee apparently argued against the change and, along with some of the Republican members, wanted to offer an amendment to change the language back to the original language as adopted by the Select Committee on Children, as originally proposed by Rep. O’Neill. Gaffey and Fleischmann told them, however, that if they offered the amendment, Gaffey and Fleischmann would not allow the bill to be voted on by the committee, effectively killing it.

I'd call that bullying - wouldn't you?

Gaffey even went as far as to say that Rep. O’Neill said, “That he was fine with the language”. Rep. O’Neill later informed us that he did not say he was fine with the language in Gaffey’s bill and that he still does support the original language as approved by the Select Committee On Children and as he originally proposed it. So it even looks like Gaffey wasn't telling the truth either!

Not being truthful and bullying - Nice behavior for a Committee Chair.

Rep. Debra Lee Hovey also said that O'Neill "was fine with the substitute language". He is not; and he has told us so. He also told us on Tuesday evening that he was also very disappointed with Rep. Hovey's statement. Furthermore, his comments at the public hearing also prove that he is not fine with the language. Interestingly enough, the substitute language is almost identical to the "mysterious language" that showed up after the bill was sent by the Children's Committee to LCO for drafting.

Read the testimony for yourself
He said this and he was talking about how the bill had changed when it had come back to the Children's Committee from LCO with some different language than what he and Senator Meyer sent them:
REP. ARTHUR J. O'NEILL: Good morning, Chairman Meyer, Chairman McMahon, other Members of the Committee. I want to thank you first off for sponsoring this hearing for raising Senate Bill 162, which while it does not contain the precise language, nor does it amend the precise sections that I think are the correct ones to amend and the correct language to use, it does put us in the right direction.

It does head us down the road, I think, towards the right language and I believe that the language from last year's bill as Chairman Meyer as indicated would be better than the language that's in the bill that's being heard today.

For the benefit of everyone because I think there are some concerns of some of the folks that have been working on behalf of this legislation for a number of years that somehow things have gone awry.
Well, they certainly have gone more awry.

So, in the end, the folks in the Education Committee did vote for this bill - but they did not agree with the language or the statute that it was in - but in order to keep the bill alive they passed it along. One should note that Senator Herlihy voted "NO". This way the vote was not unanimous, and we thank him for that. Afterwards, there were many legislators that met us outside the committee room and asked us what they could do to help fix this bill.

The bill should be changed back to the original language approved by the Children's Committee in the next step of it's journey.

Gaffey and Fleischmann should be ashamed of themselves for sabotaging this legislation and then standing before that committee and telling them how much they respect homeschoolers and want to protect them and help them, when in fact the bill they put through will absolutely NOT fix the problem and will indeed be detrimental to parental rights in the state of CT.

In my opinion, these two "men" have absolutely no integrity - especially as they truly spit in the faces of the parents that stood before them yesterday.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

CT - SB162 Withdrawal Bill Update, Gaffey Language Changes, And Agenda Posted Late

Senator Gaffey confirmed yesterday (March 17, 2008) that he plans to put before the Education Committee at its 1:00 p.m. meeting today, March 18, 2008, Senate Bill 162 containing what he is calling “compromise language”. Senator Gaffey did not make available to parents the content of the “compromise language”. We cannot know what that language will look like, but from certain of his comments to parents and to other legislators today, we have some idea.

So much for transparency in government.

It would appear that Senator Gaffey will propose making changes to Conn. Gen. Stat. §10-184, the Duties of Parents. The change to Conn. Gen. Stat. §10-184 may contain a provision requiring parents to send a letter of withdrawal to the public school superintendent. The change in Conn. Gen. Stat. §10-184 may be similar to the “mysteriously changed” language we saw earlier in this session, that the Select Committee on Children rejected in favor of the language as it originally was proposed by Rep. O’Neill. Rep. O’Neill’s bill, as unanimously adopted by the Select Committee on Children makes changes to Conn. Gen. Stat. §10-220, the Duties of Boards of Education. That's where this language rightfully belongs.

Rep. O’Neill’s bill basically says that WHEN a parent sends a certified letter of withdrawal to a superintendent, the superintendent MUST ACCEPT the withdrawal and immediately consider the child withdrawn. The “mysteriously changed” language we saw earlier, and possibly the “compromise language” Senator Gaffey intends to introduce, says IF a parent provides equivalent instruction and sends a certified letter of withdrawal, then the superintendent MAY consider the child withdrawn. Rep. O’Neill’s language respects the already existing right of parents to withdraw their children and compels the superintendent to accept the withdrawal. The “mysteriously changed” language, for the first time in our state’s history, would statutorily authorize public school superintendents to determine if and when a parent may withdraw a child from school.

Parents and legislators have made it known that they OPPOSE ANY CHANGE TO SB162 AND TO ADOPT IT AS IS.

1. Conn. Gen. Stat. §10-184 should not be changed at all.

2. SB 162 must change Conn. Gen. Stat. §10-220.

3. Parents always have had the right to withdraw their children from public school.

4. Parents have been withdrawing them by sending the school a certified letter. School districts have refused to acknowledge the withdrawal and kept the children on the “enrollment” list.

5. The school districts must be directed to respect the parents’ right to withdraw their children. That’s why it is Conn. Gen. Stat. §10-220 that must be changed, not §10-184.

6. The State Department of Education is behind the effort to change in the language in SB 162. Yet, no one from the State Department of Education attended the public hearing held by the Select Committee on Children to publicly state their opposition to the existing language.

7. The unwillingness of the State Department of Education to come out in public to voice any opinion on the bill, yet, their willingness to maneuver behind the scenes to convince individual legislators to make changes to the bill, is indicative of the manner in which the State Department of Education has been encouraging the abuses by school districts all along. Their actions indicate their continued unwillingness to inform school districts to respect the already existing rights of parents.

8. A change in Conn. Gen. Stat. 10-184 will do nothing to end the current abusive practices by public school districts. It will send the opposite message. It will say to public school officials that the local boards of education have NO DUTY to accept the right of parents to withdraw their children. Because it is not written into the statute describing the duties of the local board of education, a court of law easily could interpret it not to be one of their duties.

9. Legislators must ask themselves why the State Department of Education, the Department that is encouraging school districts to report parents to DCF when they withdraw their children from enrollment, did not speak out at the public hearing, and does not want any change in the duty of board of education (10-220).

10. Not one person, not one legislator, not one member of the public, spoke out against the language as it was proposed by Rep. O’Neill and as it currently exists, at the Select Committee on Children’s public hearing. Why does Senator Gaffey propose making any changes now?

11. The language in SB 162 is the exact language that was approved by the Legislative Commissioner’s Office during the last legislative session when Rep. O’Neill proposed it on the floor of the House. It does not need to be changed now.

12. Legislators are our elected officials, the lawyers in the Legislative Commissioner’s office are not. Legislators may make any law they see fit. It is right and just to change Conn. Gen. Stat. 10-220. It must be done to end the abuse.

Today’s Education Committee meeting is scheduled for 1 PM, Legislative Office Building, Room 2E.

Here is the Agenda (which by the way, was NOT posted in accordance with Joint Committee Rules - 1 day in advance of the meeting!) This is on their webpage: " Committee Meeting Agendas are lists of proposed actions to be taken at an upcoming committee meeting. They are published at least one day before the scheduled meeting. The documents are listed here in reverse chronological order by meeting date and start time and will open in a new window when you access them. "

One day is 24 hours - is it not?

The clerk in the Education Office told me that 5PM prior day is the deadline for agendas to be posted for meetings the next day- that is not "at least one day" before the scheduled meeting when the scheduled meeting is at 1 PM the next day.

I am absolutely disgusted with the liberties that are taken in the legislative process here in CT. Information is withheld from the public, and the public is not given the opportunity to fully engage in the process, especially with meetings not being fully and properly noticed and information about the wording of bills not being made available at all!

Update: The Children's Committee Joint Favorable Report from the 02/19/08 public hearing is here. It says:
None expressed.
None expressed.

REASONS FOR BILL: This bill was originally created to allow parents to have an easier time removing their children from the public school system in order to home school them. This bill would require the Board of Education to accept a students removal into a home-schooling setting. The bill that was heard at the pubic hearing was not the bill that the Committee sent out. The verbiage of the 2008 draft of the bill had drastically changed the meaning of the one that was proposed by Representative Art O'Neill in the 2007 legislative session. The testimony was unanimous during the hearing to urge the committee not to vote for the bill in its present form, but to amend it to reflect the language of the 2007 bill. Before the hearing, Senator Meyer assured those at the hearing that: “…the bill that is in front of us is not the bill that was raised by the Committee. We're going to ultimately, if there are no amendments, be hearing the bill that was raised by Representative O'Neill.

Update: More Legislators sign on to sponsor this bill:
Sen. Edith G. Prague, 19th Dist.
Rep. Vincent J. Candelora, 86th Dist.
Rep. Arthur J. O'Neill, 69th Dist.
Rep. Pamela Z. Sawyer, 55th Dist.
Rep. Richard F. Ferrari, 62nd Dist.
Rep. Ruth C. Fahrbach, 61st Dist.
Rep. Al Adinolfi, 103rd Dist.
Sen. Robert J. Kane, 32nd Dist.
Rep. Patricia M. Widlitz, 98th Dist.
Sen. Dan Debicella, 21st Dist.
Rep. Anne L. Ruwet, 65th Dist.
Rep. Richard Roy, 119th Dist.
Rep. Lawrence G. Miller, 122nd Dist.
Rep. Elizabeth B. Ritter, 38th Dist.
Rep. Shawn T. Johnston, 51st Dist.
Rep. Deborah W. Heinrich, 101st Dist.
Rep. Anthony J. D'Amelio, 71st Dist.
Rep. Jason W. Bartlett, 2nd Dist.
Rep. Ron Burns, 77th Dist.
Rep. Ed Jutila, 37th Dist.
Sen. Joan V. Hartley, 15th Dist.
Rep. Mike Alberts, 50th Dist.
Rep. David Aldarondo, 75th Dist.
Sen. Andrea L. Stillman, 20th Dist.
Rep. Karen Jarmoc, 59th Dist.
Sen. Anthony Guglielmo, 35th Dist.
Rep. Kathleen M. Tallarita, 58th Dist.
Sen. Edward Meyer, 12th Dist.
Sen. Sam S.F. Caligiuri, 16th Dist.
Rep. Jack F. Hennessy, 127th Dist.

Is YOUR legislator on the list?

and of course the legislators who passed it unanimously out of the Children's Committee were:

Sen. Meyer
Rep. McMahon
Sen. Harp
Rep. Mioli
Sen. Freedman
Rep. Ruwet
Rep. Giuliano
Rep. Mushinsky
Rep. Thompson, J.
(Rep Truglia was absent).

We, and our members, have also heard from other legislators who plan to support this bill as it is currently written, and these are just a few:

Sen. Sam Caligiuri
Rep. Witkos
Rep. Nafis
Rep. Kalinowski
Rep. Hamm
Rep. Shoenfield

Here is the bill language that we support.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Wall Street - Who's Next? Who Pays?

The financial mess with the sub-prime mortgage crisis has produced another fatality.
Bear Stearns.
It is reported that "Bear Stearns was the most exposed to risky bets on the loans; it is now the first major bank to be undone by that market's collapse."
"This is going to go down in very historic terms," said Peter Dunay, chief investment strategist for New York-based Meridian Equity Partners. "This is about credit being overextended, and how bad it is for major financial institutions and for individuals. This is why we're probably heading into a recession."
Financial Times says this:
With Bear now in the hands of JPMorgan, following emergency funding from the Federal Reserve and JPMorgan on Friday, the hunt is on for the next piece to fall in Wall Street’s shaky domino line.

“The most pressing question on investors’ minds: who’s next?” said Jeffrey Rosenberg, head of credit strategy at Banc of America Securities. Analysts expect US banks to report some $50bn in additional losses in the first half of this year – in addition to the $100bn-plus in writedowns announced so far – as key markets such as leveraged loans, home equity and real estate continued to deteriorate.
This all does not bode well at all in a investment sector that has already been beaten up badly by huge losses.

All I can say is that these banks did it to themselves. They offered and gave loans to people who clearly could not afford them. What did they expect? And now who is going to pay for this incredible mess?

We are.

We will as taxpayers have to bail out companies and our economy will suffer the consequences in its wake.

Of course Congressman, and presidential candidate, Ron Paul predicted this would happen. He has repeatedly warned people about this and also warned about how the taxpayer will be the ones to pay for this mess:
In 2005, Mr. Paul introduced an amendment in Congress to end the implicit taxpayer guarantee backing Fannie's and Freddie's debt. He said at the time: "I hope my colleagues join me in protecting taxpayers from having to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac when the housing bubble bursts."
Source: Option ARMageddon

But why would anyone listen to Ron Paul - he's just an old lunatic who talks about having sound money and eliminating the Federal Reserve.... - and he just happens to be right.

ARMageddon also reports on the impending problem that lurks within Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.
Freddie Mac has a few hundred billion dollars of high-risk loans in its $2.1 trillion book of mortgages. And Freddie's capital cushion is a meager $40 billion.

Each has reported billions in losses, and they will report billions more as foreclosures accelerate across the country. What happens if their problem loans fall so far in value that their capital is wiped out? There's only one bank large enough to take over Fannie's and Freddie's debts: the U.S. Treasury. Taxpayers.
So while this is an opportunity for JP Morgan to snap up a company like Bear for $2 a share, the real story may be how you and I will ultimately pay a much bigger price.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Barack Obama And The Reverend Jeremiah Wright Jr.

Trinity United Church of Christ/Religion New Service
Senator Barack Obama with the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. in a 2005 photograph.

On Friday, Obama called the seemingly racist and anti-American statements by the minister of his church, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright Jr, "inflammatory and appalling". Is his denouncement believable? Methinks the Senator now doth protesteth too much - and only because he is in very close reach of becoming Commander In Chief.

Earlier in the week, several TV and radio stations played a variety of audio and video clips in which the Reverend Wright, of Trinity United Church of Christ on Chicago, referred to the US as the "U.S. of K.K.K.A." as well as saying "God Damn America" and a host of other disturbing and incindiary comments.

These video clips did not just catch the Reverend "on a bad day". They absolutely and totally embody this man's true thoughts and feelings about many issues - which he is certainly entitled to - but which Obama must have known about and had not renounced until now.

Obama said, "I reject outright the statements by Reverend Wright that are at issue," as he attempted to diffuse the media frenzy over statements made by the pastor that in the past married him and his wife, and baptized his children. Obama's statement was intended to be a public disavowal of his pastor's views.

Obama also said, "The statements that Reverend Wright made that are the cause of this controversy were not statements I personally heard him preach while I sat in the pews of Trinity or heard him utter in private conversation".

Obama has been a member of this church for the past 20 years. Unless Obama had been habitually sleeping during sermons over the past 20 years, I cannot imagine how this rhetoric or even his pastor's opinion on these volatile issues had not been otherwise communicated or noted. I just cannot believe this statement that Obama has made to be truthful. If he doesn't agree or believe in what this pastor has been saying over the years then why does he continue to be a member of that church? Personally, if my pastor, or any religious leader, had made any of those statements in a House of Worship, I probably would have found the nearest exit and never returned, and not even because I agree or disagree with him, but mostly because it is just purely inciteful rhetoric and not in the least spiritually satisfying. In fact, based on clips of his sermons, I can see someone coming away from his sermons and wanting to do harm to someone.

Instead, Obama had given him an honorary post on the senator's Spiritual Advisor Committee. Now, that alone is unsettling especially in light of the fact that The Reverend Wright has in the past been a key supporter of Louis Farrakhan and last month went so far as to honor the Nation of Islam leader for lifetime achievement. Farrakhan endorsed Obama's campaign, and did not outright reject that support.

Now we are all aware that Farrakhan has repeatedly made hate-filled statements targeting Jews, whites, America, and homosexuals. His race-baiting rhetoric is documented. He has described Jews as “bloodsuckers” who control the government and the media, as well as some black organizations. He has called whites “blue-eyed devils” and the “anti-Christ.”

Reverend Wright and Mr. Farrakan certainly have the right to say what they think - although sometimes it does border on hate speech - but this Obama connection should be a red flag on many levels.

To say the Reverend Wright is a liability to Obama's campaign is a gross understatement - but I honestly cannot see how anyone can support Obama in light of the respect he gives this pastor and the initial inclusion of this pastor into the Obama campaign in the first place. No one can convince me that Senator Obama was totally oblivious to the rhetoric that Reverend Wright has espoused over the years. That Senator Obama is a member of that church at all is something to be very concerned about. Obama has removed Wright from the campaign - but he has yet to leave his church.

Concurrently, Michelle Obama has even made similar but veiled Anti-American comments, and while that may not have been taken as a major issue, it probably should have been another red flag. We cannot have a First Lady who runs at the mouth like Michelle Obama obviously has. She said, “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country … not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change,” she said. It is disturbing to think that this woman has never been proud of this country in her whole life, and yet she is on the verge of becoming First Lady. Was she not proud of this country when her husband became a senator? Was she not proud of this country when she and her husband were able to get a decent education here? Apparently she will only be proud of this country if it puts her and her husband in the White House.

Even more troubling is this pseudo-messianic nature of this Obama candidacy, and I really hope that people will wake from their Obama trance and really look at what the man and his wife really stand for in their politics and their social and economic views of what change really means - total and utter radical leftism.

Yes we want change - but what brand of change?

(My apologies to William Shakespeare)

Friday, March 14, 2008

This Weeks Webpicks

Headless Horseman asks the question....What if the Beatles were Irish

More on the Doninger Free Speech case - at Cool Justice

The Burqua a as fashion statement over at Blogmeister

An Eye Opener about Headstart - from Corn and Oil

Goodberry Hills talks about Hydrogen fuel.

Dana gives us elitist and undemocratic homeschooling

and of course the always provocative Ned Vare

Happy Pi Day!

Yup it's 3.14 !

So go visit the post over at the Capitalist League blog and celebrate !(It's an old post - but still a good one!) Grab a cup of coffee or tea because the Pi is on me today!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

CT - SB162 - Education Committee To Place Withdrawal Bill On Their Agenda

We’ve received word today from the clerk of the CT Legislature's Education Committee that “it is likely that Senate Bill #162 will be placed on the agenda of the Education Committee for a vote at its meeting either on Monday, March 17, 2008 or Tuesday, March 18, 2008.”

Both meetings will be held at 1 p.m. at the Legislative Office Building in Room 2E, in Hartford.

We are hopeful that the bill actually will be placed on the agenda for either of those two meetings. The Education Committee’s deadline for voting a joint favorable recommendation for bills is March 19, 2008.

If the bill is not placed on the agenda before March 19, 2008, it “dies” in committee and there will be no vote on it on the floor of the House or Senate.

Therefore, we are asking anyone who can attend the Education Committee meetings, to please do so. You will not have an opportunity to speak - but your presence will speak for you.

SB162 - More CT Legislators Join In To Support Parental Rights

CT Legislative Office Building, Hartford

The Bi-partisan support for this legislation, the original language put forth by Rep. Arthur O'Neill, is growing. Legislators now signed on as co-sponsors to this bill are:

Sen. Edith G. Prague, 19th Dist.
Rep. Vincent J. Candelora, 86th Dist.
Rep. Arthur J. O'Neill, 69th Dist.
Rep. Pamela Z. Sawyer, 55th Dist.
Rep. Richard F. Ferrari, 62nd Dist.
Rep. Ruth C. Fahrbach, 61st Dist.
Rep. Al Adinolfi, 103rd Dist.
Sen. Robert J. Kane, 32nd Dist.
Rep. Patricia M. Widlitz, 98th Dist.
Sen. Dan Debicella, 21st Dist.
Rep. Anne L. Ruwet, 65th Dist.
Rep. Richard Roy, 119th Dist.
Rep. Lawrence G. Miller, 122nd Dist.
Rep. Elizabeth B. Ritter, 38th Dist.
Rep. Shawn T. Johnston, 51st Dist.
Rep. Deborah W. Heinrich, 101st Dist.
Rep. Anthony J. D'Amelio, 71st Dist.
Rep. Jason W. Bartlett, 2nd Dist.
Rep. Ron Burns, 77th Dist.
Rep. Ed Jutila, 37th Dist.
Sen. Joan V. Hartley, 15th Dist.
Rep. Mike Alberts, 50th Dist.
Rep. David Aldarondo, 75th Dist.
Sen. Andrea L. Stillman, 20th Dist.

Is YOUR legislator on the list?

and of course the legislators who passed it unanimously out of the Children's Committee were:

Sen. Meyer
Rep. McMahon
Sen. Harp
Rep. Mioli
Sen. Freedman
Rep. Ruwet
Rep. Giuliano
Rep. Mushinsky
Rep. Thompson, J.
(Rep Truglia was absent).

We, and our members, have also heard from other legislators who plan to support this bill as it is currently written, and these are just a few:

Sen. Sam Caligiuri
Rep. Witkos
Rep. Nafis
Rep. Jarmoc
Rep. Kalinowski
Rep. Hamm
Rep. Shoenfield

We are still waiting to see if the Chairs of the Education Committee will put this bill on their agenda and vote it out of their committee as is and with no changes.

I spoke to Speaker of the House, Jim Amann, the other day, face to face, and he asked me what the hold-up was on this bill. Maybe Senator Gaffey and Rep. Fleischmann have some answers for him.

The deadline is March 19th to get this bill out of committee. Additionally, many parents and legislators have already voiced their objection regarding any changes to this language as originally put forth by Rep. Arthur O'Neill. The bill's language is simple and clear - school districts MUST ACCEPT the withdrawal when parents give the school notice to do so.

Previous post

To all the legislators supporting this bill - Parents across CT THANK YOU!

In The Democrat Party Freedom Of Speech Is Dead

The latest case in point: Geraldine Ferraro.

Obviously the woman cannot speak freely and give her opinion without having to tender her resignation.

After she gave a paid speech last week to the Torrance Cultural Center in Torrance, California The Daily Breeze, a newspaper in Torrance, reported that she said:
"If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman of any color, he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept."

Furthermore, she said, "In 1984 if my name had been Gerald Ferraro, not Geraldine, I would never have gotten nominated," she said. "Was I qualified? Absolutely."

The same, she said, is true of the Obama candidacy. "Why is his candidacy historic? Can you give me another reason why it is an historic campaign? Why are we afraid to say this? I am absolutely stunned by this whole thing. I'm not saying he isn't qualified, never did I say that. He is very smart. He has experience issues, but if George Bush can learn to run the country, so can this guy."
She says what's on her mind and then has to resign? So now what? Are we only supposed to whisper what we think in the back rooms for fear someone might be offended with what we say?

Even Samantha Power, an unpaid foreign policy adviser and Harvard professor, resigned from the Obama campaign just for saying Hillary "was a monster".

So is this the kind of repression of speech that progressive Democrats want to see in this country? Should everyone be so afraid to speak their mind for fear of being called racist or some other lame allegation? Can no one make critical comments without it being made into a federal case because someone is "offended"?

Gosh - even Hillary apologized on behalf of something Bill said about Obama and Jesse Jackson.

In Jefferson's time there was rabid campaign rhetoric between the Federalists and the Anti-federalists - I don't believe anyone was forced to resign as a result. (You can read the book Adams Vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800 (Pivotal Moments in American History))

It is unbelievable to me that people aren't seeing the danger of what is going on here. It isn't so much what people are saying... it is that they are being severely punished for saying it at all! I honestly don't care what jobs or positions these people hold in these campaigns either. It all amounts to censorship. That in and of itself is very anti-American and is the signal that freedom of speech is clearly in danger in this country.

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." - attributed to Voltaire ( but this is disputed )

Get Your Very Own Client #9 Tee Shirt

Yup, Busted Tee's is offering these babies for $14.99 in honor of disgraced NY Governor Spitzer.

That is So New York.

Capitalism at work.

CafePress has others...(yeah they are tasteless)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Al Franken Running In Minnesota?

Al Franken is running for senate?

Egads... you have to be kidding me....
Stuart Smalley For US Senate

D.C. Homeschoolers Also Threatened

What is it with Departments of Education these days?
Don't they have enough to deal with in their own schools?

The Washington DC Homeschoolers had a jolt this past month with a proposal that was put out by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education

Dana over at Principled Discovery had a great blog post about it as did Home Education Magazine

In DC these knee-jerk regulations came on the heels of a tragic family incident. The thing to remember about abuse and neglect is that it isn't a homeschool issue - it's a social and sometimes even a mental health issue. These things can and do happen in families who choose other forms of education. Can we please all remember that? (repeat it a few times if you have to)

Sadly child abuse and neglect is a problem which occurs in all segments of society. It is not a homeschool issue; it is a societal issue. There are mechanisms already in place in most state statutes to deal with parents that do not take care of their children, no matter how those children are educated. If there is a reasonable articulable suspicion that neglect exists, the proper authorities may seek a warrant based on a probable cause using already established constitutional and statutory procedures. Thankfully, there are also laws which make it illegal to file a false complaint, and people who file purposeful false complaints should be prosecuted by the full extent of the law - even if they are school administrators! (are you listening CT?)

In some of the more prominent sensationalized news stories that we have seen regarding abuse and neglect in a homeschool family, the state's child protective agencies had already been involved with the family. In many cases, there is also psychotropic medication involved, so there are doctors prescribing medication involved as well. There are no doubt silent family members involved too. So let's not make homeschooling the thing to blame in those circumstances.

Legislating innocent and law abiding homeschooling families will not solve the problems of abuse and neglect, and truly if there are any families who are neglectful they may certainly still go undetected as they do in cases where children go to public and private school. Regulation based on the assumption that homeschooling "hides" a problem such as abuse is discriminatory.

It is ludicrous to suggest that laws requiring a certain number of days of school, or dictates certain materials be used, or mandates that certain curriculum be taught, or that requires testing, or that parents must have some diploma credential, or whatever else the educrats want to mandate, will prevent abuse in families. To suggest that meeting in a portfolio review once a year is going to give the school oversight in making sure a kid isn't abused is also ridiculous. Those laws not only won't prevent abuse, but they will make it burdensome for families who already follow the law.

The concern for "child safety" is just smoke and mirrors for "control". Tell me how they have all kinds of rules and regulations and oversight in public schools and kids still come to school who are routinely abused at home ... and some are even routinely abused at school! And yet when an incident happens in a homeschool family - everyone is so quick to point to the issue of home education as the culprit.

How about we talk about the unchecked abuse that goes on in public schools and make them accountable for that? The teacher to student humiliation, harassment, and yes bullying. Yeah - maybe it's not the norm - but it happens and largely goes on without consequence to the perpetrators, even when the parents and students complain about it.

In the words of Ann Lahrson-Fisher writing at the Home Education Magazine 01/26/04 issue, concerning child abuse,
"One message does not appear to penetrate official thinking in these cases. Child abusers are criminals. Criminals do not comply with laws that expose their crimes. Revising homeschooling laws to catch child abuse will result in child abusing criminals hiding elsewhere. Refocusing homeschooling laws on child abuse prevention will result in one thing only: a bureaucratic nightmare and the invasion of the privacy of the 99.9+% of homeschooling citizens who are not criminals."
In summary: The more we can distinguish neglect from academic freedom of choice, the better off we are.

Read more about the issue of abuse and neglect and homeschooling from NHELD

Thankfully what I am hearing is that what happened at the DC public hearing was that the turnout was so overwhelming that the proposal was essentially dropped.

(H/T Dana)

Fragrance Free Schools? Axe Might Get The Axe In Minnesota

Legislating personal hygiene?
A Minnesota legislator is suggesting just that.
A Minnesota lawmaker proposed a bill Monday urging a fragrance-free educational campaign to discourage students from dousing themselves in scents that aggravate classmates with asthma and other health problems.

Odors that fill hallways come mostly from boys who douse themselves in body sprays like Axe, said Mikolai Altenberg, a senior at Minneapolis South High School. He said the smell is "indescribable" and unavoidable.

"You can smell it from 10 feet away," Altenberg said. "Mostly it's just guys who just think that putting Axe all over them is a substitute for showering."

Rep. Karen Clark, a Democrat, first proposed banning fragrances in Minneapolis schools, one of the state's largest school districts. The bill she introduced Monday scales that back to an awareness campaign in Minneapolis and in other districts that volunteer. The campaign could include letters to parents, fact sheets, signs in schools, e-mail and Web sites.

Do these high schools really want teens to ban the "Axe" and go "au natural"?
(Just don't go near them after gym class.)
To show you how old I am, the guys choice "back in the day" was "Old Spice" or "Canoe".
and the girls wore musk oil or patchouli.... But I digress....

Apparently it's a problem for some kids who have allergies to fragrances... seems I recall a similar problem in the workplace...

but really now...
I can't imagine high school teens all awash in their "peer group thing" allowing themselves to be told what to smell like, especially by the state legislature.
Apparently this legislator has no greater priorities from her constituents.
And yeah, yeah, yeah... I know the allergy thing can be a problem... but should we legislate this type of thing? and why is it a whole population has to change their ways to accommodate one or two people? I mean, maybe the kids can be asked to "tone it down" with the after shave and stuff, but to outright ban it?

I smell a teen revolution coming on over this one.
Personally, I think most school buildings need a good "airing out" anyway.

Yet another reason to homeschool.

Read more here - and perhaps a different opinion from a blogger at Advanceweb for managers of respiratory care.