Saturday, August 23, 2008

This Is One To Watch!



One commenter on this YouTube video expressed these similar comments:
Change the British accents to American; Change the Prime Minister to "President" and change the British DES to the US Department of Education (or even any State Department of Education); Voila, this fits like a glove here too! Gotta love "Yes, Prime Minister".

LOL.... and QED!

(H/T NABR)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Connecticut Liberty Forum

Early Bird Special Ends Aug 31!
Register Today!
On-line Registration or Mail-In Registration is available.
Visit the CT Liberty Forum website and find out more about the schedule of events and speakers!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Homeschoolers - The Cultural Threat


Whodathunkit??... Apparently us homeschoolers are a threat to society. We create jealousy and unease because we have chosen a path different from the "norm" and we have been gaining very good results. And to add further threat, our numbers have been growing.

Check out the article that appeared in EdNews entitled, "Homeschoolers Threaten Our Cultural Comfort", by Sonny Scott.

Unfortunately, parts of this article contains the run of the mill stereotypes. It talks about homeschoolers as having perfectly behaved kids (they apparently never were around when my kids misbehaved!) and families dressed in matching homemade clothing (The Von Trapp family we weren't) but somehow misses the point of what really happens beyond the outward stereotypical appearances to make this demographic so very successful and enviable.

Here are some excerpts:
You see them at the grocery, or in a discount store.

It's a big family by today's standards - "just like stair steps," as the old folks say. Freshly scrubbed boys with neatly trimmed hair and girls with braids, in clean but unfashionable clothes follow mom through the store as she fills her no-frills shopping list.

There's no begging for gimcracks, no fretting, and no threats from mom. The older watch the younger, freeing mom to go peacefully about her task.
First off - not all homeschoolers have large families. We had three children and very seldom did my daughter sport braids, and she has never ever been seen in unfashionable clothing! Tasteful yet current is what she aims for. I will admit to the no-frills shopping list - wasting money on useless trash just doesn't make sense - although I will spend some extra money on organic and healthy food items. Homeschoolers do splurge - ask anyone of us who has been to a book sale!

The article goes on to say:
You are looking at some of the estimated 2 million children being home schooled in the U.S., and the number is growing. Their reputation for academic achievement has caused colleges to begin aggressively recruiting them. Savings to the taxpayers in instructional costs are conservatively estimated at $4 billion, and some place the figure as high as $9 billion. When you consider that these families pay taxes to support public schools, but demand nothing from them, it seems quite a deal for the public.
Homeschoolers indeed have done well academically - because they work at it. Kids have real focused instructional time which allows them to also have time away from academics to have fun and pursue other interests, which also expands their minds. They aren't bogged down with busy work or redundant homework assignments. They have time to develop their own interests and incorporate their love for a particular interest into the rest of their studies. They have the opportunities to do so many cool things. They have the advantage of flexibility to choose what, where, how and when to study.

As for savings to the taxpayers... the public school people ought to be ever so thankful that we continue to pay for education resources, in our respective towns, that we do not use, in the same way as our private school counterparts. One would think that public school administrators would be more than happy to push kids out of their school door to be homeschooled, so they could have less kids to worry about, and a bigger pie of funding to distribute to educate less kids. Instead they tend to fight the homeschool model and block kids from leaving. I think it's mainly a "control thing". Heaven forbid parents teach something at home that other people cannot "content control".

The article goes on:
Home schooling parents are usually better educated than the norm, and are more likely to attend worship services. Their motives are many and varied. Some fear contagion from the anti-clericalism, coarse speech, suggestive behavior and hedonistic values that characterize secular schools. Others are concerned for their children's safety. Some want their children to be challenged beyond the minimal competencies of the public schools. Concern for a theistic world view largely permeates the movement.
Oh I think some of this is a bunch of hokum. Religious families are not the only ones who homeschool, and not all families homeschool to escape a school environment some may liken to "Sodom and Gomorrah". People homeschool for all sorts of reasons, and believe me it is impossible nowadays to isolate any kid from the "evils of the world".

Maybe what exists in a homeschool environment is respect and discipline and self-accountability. People are leaving secular schools because the public school model is failing too many kids. Many people believe that government schools aren't providing a decent education and they aren't covering material that should be covered. The proof of that is how we measure up to other countries in areas of the sciences. The lack of depth in the study of many subjects is also a problem. Study about other countries and cultures equates to a romanticized version of their culture and even stereotypes. History is relegated to a watered down study made up of dates and events versus why and how those events actually transpired. The study of History is interjected with politically correct nonsense and moral relativism. There is much lacking in a typical government school curriculum, which is more the reason why people have made other choices, be it private school or homeschool. Homeschoolers pick and choose their curriculum very carefully and it is not based on what texts California schools are using or what nifty presentation a textbook company can sell to a school board. We look for challenging, interesting and factually correct content. More importantly, our kids have input into what they will learn, and they ultimately develop ownership of their education. There is that and so much more.

So the article goes on to examine why people seem to hate homeschoolers or find them a suspicious lot:
Methinks American middle-class people are uncomfortable around the homeschooled for the same reason the alcoholic is uneasy around the teetotaler.

Their very existence represents a rejection of our values, and an indictment of our lifestyles. Those families are willing to render unto Caesar the things that Caesar's be, but they draw the line at their children. Those of us who have put our trust in the secular state (and effectively surrendered our children to it) recognize this act of defiance as a rejection of our values, and we reject them in return.

Just as the jealous Chaldeans schemed to bring the wrath of the king upon the Hebrew eunuchs, we are happy to sic the state's bureaucrats on these "trouble makers." Their implicit rejection of America's most venerated idol, Materialism, (a.k.a. "Individualism") spurs us to heat the furnace and feed the lions.
Yeah, I can see that. People in my town (one which is known for "excellent schools") all ask me the same question..."why would you want to homeschool when we have such a great school system?" My answer is that I didn't think it was so great when my kids attended it, and more importantly neither did my kids. The questioner is stunned because government schooling is good enough for their kids, how come it's not good enough for mine? Then of course in the same breath they proceed to tell me about all of the problems they have had to deal with. I find it amazing actually how much parents are willing to have their kids put up with. Some of it almost borders on child abuse. They then find a reason why homeschooling doesn't or wouldn't work for them - usually including how they would probably strangle their kids if they had to be around them for any length of time. I think that's kind of a shame, although even homeschoolers have kids that really try one's patience.

There's always many good reasons for those parents who say they could "never homeschool their own kids" - usually they also say that of course my kids "are different" then the "usual kids". (Oh you mean because I brought them up to be different?) Then they get all annoyed at revealing that they just might have some sort of family relationship problems, which I seemingly do not share, and they might even show a tinge of jealousy as a result of that revelation. Then there is the defense mechanism of acceptance of their situation that emerges with the declaration that having a non-communicative rebellious teenager is the norm and therefore o.k. (We all know they would much rather have the kid who contributes to the family and respects their parents). But then again, we all know that not all homeschool families are perfect either.

But, homeschooling really is not for everyone. I just ask that people who have submitted to the government school system just leave us homeschoolers alone and let us raise our kids. If you are annoyed that our kids talk to us and excel in academics - well that's not our problem really.

People might like to say that because of homeschooling my kids are more dependent on me - nope - they are the most independent people I can think of. I can trust them and I do. I allow them to make mistakes and learn from them. To them, I am not the enemy. (and for those wondering, I also means my husband and I). Things are not perfect - we argue and disagree - but we are a family and we work together. That is something that families must cultivate from their children's birth. Homeschoolers want to learn and do well because they understand it is in their best interest - it is not merely the grade that matters and it isn't merely the school day or school year that measures the time they are required to learn. I think that is the benefit of homeschooling. You learn that you are not learning for someone else's benefit - to get an "A" to please your parents or your teachers - but instead because you are interested, and you want to learn and explore and do well for yourself. Learning stays interesting and is done on the child's terms. There is so much more beyond the news stories of high SAT scores and other achievements.

Non homeschooling parents find us an odd lot, and they are somewhat suspicious as to why we do not accept what they have accepted...that we do not give up "the bulk of our waking hours with our children, as well as the formation of their minds, philosophies, and attitudes, to strangers."

The article ends by saying:
Deep down, however, we know that our generation has eaten its seed corn. We lack the discipline and the vision to deny ourselves in the hope of something enduring and worthy for our posterity. We are tired from working extra jobs, and the looming depression threatens our 401k's. Credit cards are nearly maxed, and it costs a $100 to fuel the Suburban.

Now the kid is raising h... again, demanding the latest Play Station as his price for doing his school work ... and there goes that modest young woman in the home-made dress with her four bright-eyed, well-behaved home-schooled children in tow. Wouldn't you just love to wipe that serene look right off her smug face?

Is it any wonder we hate her so?
Yes, and that's why there are folks in your town who will vilify you for your homeschool choice, call you militant and anti-education. They want to make it seem like you are hiding something or that you are a candidate for heavy medication. Because you don't want to walk the same path they have implies that their path is bad or substandard. They don't want to hear that. They don't like the proof that your kids have done just fine without jumping through the hoops that they and their kids have had to jump through.

My question is - if homeschooling works well for your family, why should anyone really care about your choice? Afterall, I really don't care much that people put their kids in government school. That's their choice too.

(Hat Tip: Dawn L.)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Just Want To Make Them Feel At Home

You might want to file this under "What'll they think of next?"

The Los Angeles city council has decreed that Home Depot and other big-box stores are required to build shelters for day laborers (illegal aliens and transients) who linger in their parking lots. They just want to give them a place to "chill" while they are urinating in public and drinking beer and waiting for someone to hire them for below standard wages.
"When the ordinance takes effect -- the mayor has to sign it, and most city laws take effect 30 days afterward -- it will apply to stores such as The Home Depot that have 100,000 square feet or more, or any structure where 250,000 square feet or more of warehouse floor area is added.The shelters must be easily accessible and include drinking water, bathrooms, tables, seating and trashcans. The stores may be required to work with Los Angeles police in developing a security plan, according to the unanimous vote by the 15-member lawmaking body."
The big-box stores are fast becoming the employment centers for illegals and transients, and of course this sort of thing just encourages the practice of hiring them and keeping them around the premises. Some big box stores don't seem to mind it either, because this is just real cheap labor for their customers who need someone to help them put up drywall. Oh yeah, those folks are just doing the jobs that Americans "don't want to do". Never mind that we are also encouraging an underclass of slave labor in this country while our unemployment rates rise. Yeah, yeah I know, not every day laborer is illegal, or even an immigrant... but in LA chances are they are, and my point is more to the fact that LA City Council is mandating the establishment of privately funded day labor centers when we have perfectly good temp agencies and state labor offices to help people get work. The encouragement of these day labor centers only encourages the growth of a population working under the table for substandard wages. It is wrong on so many levels.
Francisco Uribe, senior manager of government relations for The Home Depot, said the corporation does not oppose the day laborer centers.

"Although the complex challenges associated with the presence of day laborers are not specific to one industry nor one company, The Home Depot recognizes that some of our stores in the city of Los Angeles are impacted," Uribe said.

"The Home Depot has and will continue to work with the city of Los Angeles and other key stakeholders in the various communities where The Home Depot operates to jointly address these challenges," Uribe said.
But Home Depot et al. better be careful, in fact the illegals and transients are beginning to unionize!
The National Day Laborer Organizing Network, a nonprofit group started in Northridge in 2001, supports the new requirements.

"It provides for safe and dignified hiring locations where contingent workers can defend their basic rights. It carefully balances the interests of business, residents, day laborers and their employers," said the group's executive director, Pablo Alvarado.
It is interesting that the LA city Council is not only encouraging illegals and transients to be in LA - but now they are condoning trespassing and loitering on private property - and making businesses pay for it to boot!

I think if the big box stores want to build and maintain these structures - more power to them - but no other business ought to be mandated to do so. Businesses should not be mandated to provide tables, chairs, bathrooms or drinking water for random people who are loitering around waiting for a day job. Next they'll be asking for business to provide them with sandwiches and cab rides.

I particularly enjoyed the comment made by SWC, of Texas:
There are plenty of places people can go to hire workers. They're called temp agencies. They have lobbies, coffee, donuts, restrooms. More importantly they pay payroll taxes and provide workers' compensation insurance to protect the workers. Why aren't we focusing on getting labor legal instead of supporting the underground market that doesn't pay their share of taxes, doesn't provide workers' comp protection, and often doesn't pay legal wages...???


(H/T Jennifer A.)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Euphemisms


I'm short - is that a slur against me? I could surely take it that way, maybe even take it as a real insult. I am "vertically challenged" sounds much better, it's a more sophisticated way of referring to my lack of stature. It kind of makes up for the unfortunate set of genes that I inherited. Of course Midgets don't want to be called midgets - they prefer "little people" (I guess the same goes for dwarf)

Fat or Obese can also be taken as a slur or insult. We shouldn't use the word Obese or Fat. It gives off the accompanying notion of sloth and laziness and a propensity for lack of self-control. Such awful traits. You certainly don't want your child called being called Fat or Obese, it's hurtful to them and certainly a reflection on you as their caretaker. Better to be called "full-bodied" or "full-figured". It makes the reality of body size more acceptable. the same goes for skinny or anorexic. Rather better to say "slim" or "calorie deprived".

Now we also have the discussion of the word "Retard" filling the airways of late, because it is used in a new Ben Stiller movie. So tell me how calling someone "intellectually challenged" is really any different then saying that they are "Retarded"? Both phrases mean the very same thing. Both refer to "slow or limited in intellectual or emotional development or academic progress" (Merriam Webster Dictionary) No doubt Ben Stiller's movie used the word in a derogatory manner. Such is his unfortunate type of humor, which also appeals to many. Maybe that is what should be attacked rather than the word "Retard" itself.

Using an Euphemism basically just minimizes a painful impression on the hearer.
A harsh truth is sometimes difficult to hear. Unfortunately words are used to mock or insult. It's not the words themselves, but how they are used which really ought to be addressed.

When I was a kid I recall a huge controversy in my town because garbage men didn't want to be called garbage men.. they wanted to be called "sanitation engineers" because they wanted people to have some respect for the job they did (they also wanted higher wages). I always thought it was funny how a change of words made them feel better about the job that they did collecting the garbage. In the end they were still garbage men.

I hear tell "illegal aliens" want to be called "undocumented immigrants". Amazingly - they are still illegal. You could call them "sunny folk" and they would still be illegal. Perhaps calling them "undocumented immigrants" takes the reality and harshness out of the fact that they are here as a result of breaking US law. The euphemism probably gives them a little more respect for themselves and helps to gain them some sympathy. Criminals need love and want to be accepted too.

At the rate we are going, lots of things will begin to qualify as "hate speech". Wiki says:
Hate speech is a term for speech intended to degrade, intimidate, or incite violence or prejudicial action against a person or group of people based on their race, gender, age, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, language ability, moral or political views, socioeconomic class, occupation or appearance (such as height, weight, and hair color), mental capacity and any other distinction-liability. The term covers written as well as oral communication and some forms of behaviors in a public setting. It is also sometimes called antilocution and is the first point on Allport's scale which measures prejudice in a society.
So now do we start banning words from the English language because they are offensive to some? Well, we worked very hard to erase ethnic slurs for obvious valid reasons, but now I suppose other words might also be taken as "developmental slurs" and should be rooted out of our lexicon. Short, fat, bald, retarded, ugly, deformed, cross-eyed, buck-toothed. (Republican has even become a bad word in some places; but I digress) There is probably a huge list. Anything that has a negative connotation would be included. Just think of how many words we can replace with nicer sounding descriptions. We can limit our speech and make sure that no one's feelings are hurt ever. We could even eliminate criticism all together. And everyone will live happily ever after. And we can also have the Politically Correct Speech Police out in force.

If we clean up our language will negative or hateful feelings still exist? Yes - but we will have much nicer more palatable ways to express them, and we can also censor so many things.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Welcome Mat Put Out For Illegal Aliens In Hartford, CT


Hartford's City Council voted unanimously to make Hartford a sanctuary city for illegal aliens.

While crime is rampant and children are being shot in their strollers, the best that the City Council can come up with is to invite illegal aliens to come to Hartford and have all of their social services paid for by CT taxpayers who continually pour more money into Hartford's treasury. Somehow these elected officials think this action is going to benefit the city, and propel it into being a premier place to live and work.

Heres the Courant's report:
The city council staked its ground Monday in the immigration debate, unanimously approving an ordinance that bars police from inquiring about immigration status.

The ordinance, if signed by Mayor Eddie Perez, would prevent police from arresting or detaining anyone solely because immigration authorities had issued an administrative warrant for them, which is a civil matter.

The ordinance also prohibits other city employees from asking anyone seeking services about their immigration status.
The article goes on to state that Councilman Pedro E. Segarra called the decision "bold and courageous" and that he was impressed by the dozens of people in the city who spoke in favor of the proposal at a public hearing last month, which apparently faced no opposition.

"Bold and courageous"? He's got to be joking. Illegal and stupid is more like it. He and his Council colleagues are in fact condoning illegal behavior. This is NOT going to benefit the city in any way and in fact is an invitation to more problems .
Segarra said he did not support illegal immigration, but had to respond to the needs of people living in the city. He said that opponents who contacted him since the proposal received media attention lived in the suburbs or as far away as Texas.

"My responsibility as a council person is to the residents of Hartford," he said. "I'm not responsible for securing our borders. I'm not responsible for issuing visas."
If Segarra really wants to respond to the needs of people living in the city he ought to get rid of the people who are breaking the law and draining money out of Hartford's already strained social services system. While he is not directly responsible for securing our borders or issuing visa, he certainly IS responsible to see that the law is upheld and that the city co-operates with federal authorities. That goes for his City Council colleagues, and the Mayor, as well.
Although Perez has said he supports the concept behind the ordinance, it is not clear whether he will sign it.

He has maintained that an order issued by Police Chief Daryl K. Roberts in March that said city police would not make immigration arrests unless there was also a criminal investigation was adequate.

In a letter to the council Monday, Perez expressed concern about "codifying standards for internal police matters in the city code."

Councilman Luis Cotto, who introduced the ordinance, said it was important to pass it so illegal immigrants could be confident they can cooperate with police in criminal investigations without fear of being deported.

Gerry Pleasent, a retired Hartford deputy police chief, opposed the ordinance, saying it was tantamount to usurping the role of the federal government.

"We cannot have each city running around implementing its own immigration ordinance," he said.
A note to Governor Rell and Federal authorities:

I think that if this ordinance goes forward that Hartford should not receive a dime of federal or state funding for aiding and abetting those who choose to break federal law regarding illegal immigration. The State and Federal government should cease funding cities who choose to provide sanctuary to illegal aliens. Period.

Enough of this lunacy

Hartford doesn't need to be like New Haven and they do not need illegal aliens - they need to address the crime and other pressing issues facing the city - they need to clean up their crime and corruption and they need to make it a city that is inviting to law abiding people who will want to live, work, and play in our State's capital.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

NHELD Issues Bulletin On The California Appeals Court Ruling - 2nd Time Around

National Home Education Legal Defense (NHELD) issued a bulletin about the California ruling.
NHELD's bulletin #63 is here.

So everyone seems to be real pleased with the outcome of this recent Appeals Court ruling regarding homeschooling in California. I am not so sure I'd crack out the champagne yet because all the court really said was that they acknowledge that teaching kids without a credential (as their law specifies) is deemed acceptable despite the existence of the law that says a credential is required. Ok, so 166,000 families won't be hauled off to jail anytime soon. Homeschooling in CA was not illegal and it remains legal now.

Below are excerpts of the NHELD bulletin (not intended to be legal advice) :

In that appeal of Jonathan L.et al., v. The Superior Court of Los Angeles County in the
State of California’s Court of Appeals, the court referred to home schooling as ”full time education in the home by a parent or guardian who does not necessarily possess a teaching credential.

More importantly, the court issued two main conclusions:
“We will conclude that: (1) California statutes permit home schooling as a species of private school education; and (2) the statutory permission to home school may constitutionally be overridden in order to protect the safety of a child who has been declared dependent.”

As the Appeals Court explained, the case arose after two children were declared dependent due to the abuse and neglect of their siblings, and their attorney sought an order that they be sent to private or public school, rather than be educated at home by their mother.

The Appeals Court further explained that the dependency court declined to issue such an order, “primarily based on its view that parents have an absolute constitutional right to home school their children.” The children’s counsel sought relief in the Appeals court by a petition for an extraordinary writ. The children’s counsel disagreed with the dependency court and continued the effort to have the children attend private or public school.

In February, the Appeals Court granted the petition, agreeing with the children’s attorney, on the bases that: “(1) California statutory law does not permit home schooling; and (2) this prohibition does not violate the U.S. Constitution.”

Everyone was all upset, saying that the California court deemed homeschooling illegal. It in fact was not illegal. (NHELD put out a bulletin about that then too)

The Appeals Court later granted the father’s petition for a hearing, which was held in March 2008, in order to provide for further argument on the issues, including the consideration of “(1) additional California statutes that might bear upon the issue, and (2) potentially applicable provisions of the California Constitution.” The Appeals Court took under consideration the arguments made at the rehearing and issued its new decision in August 2008.

A careful reading of the Appeals Court decision shows that, in fact, the Court did not “declare homeschooling to be legal in California”. The Appeals Court, in point of fact, correctly pointed out that it does not have the authority to make such a decision. The Appeals Court, as it did initially, explained what the existing law actually says about homeschooling and also what it doesn’t say, as well as what the legislature in California has “accepted” despite what the statutory law says.

Here are some particularly relevant quotes from the Appeals Court decision:
“It is important to recognize that it is not for us to consider, as a matter of policy, whether home schooling should be permitted in California. That job is for the Legislature. It is not the duty of the courts to make the law, we endeavor to interpret it.” (and that in and of itself is a refreshing statement!)

This is a particularly important statement. One that is in direct opposition to the headlines purporting to claim that the Court “declared homeschooling illegal” in February, and now in August has “declared homeschooling to be legal”. The Court could not be clearer about this issue. It is not the “job” of the Court to “declare” that homeschooling is “legal”. Again, the Court actually stated, “That job is for the Legislature.”

The Court went on to say, what the Legislature actually did, and did not do, in adopting laws regarding home schooling.

“Our first task, interpreting the law of California, is made more difficult in this case by legislative inaction. As we will discuss at length below, home schooling was initially expressly permitted in California, when the compulsory education law was enacted in 1903. In 1929, however, home schooling was amended out of the law, and children who were not educated in pubic or private schools could be taught privately only by a credentialed tutor. Case law in 1953 and 1961 confirmed this interpretation, and specifically concluded that a home school could not be considered a private school. While the Legislature could have amended the statutes in response to these cases, to expressly provide that a home school could be a private school, it did not do so. Thus, as of that time, given the history of the statutes and the Legislature’s implied concurrence in the case law interpreting them, the conclusion that home schooling was not permitted in California would seem to follow.”
In other words, the Legislature, by statutory law, specifically allowed home schooling. Then, the Legislature, by statutory law, amended the law to not allow home schooling, but to specifically allow children to be taught privately only by a credentialed tutor. That’s what the law was, and that’s what the Appeals Court stated in its February decision. That’s what the Appeals Court said, again, in its August decision. However, the Appeals Court in this August decision looked beyond what the statutory law actually says to acknowledge what the people of California have actually been doing, despite what the law actually says. The Appeals Court looked at other statutes that have the effect of acknowledging the fact that home schooling exists in California, despite the legislative requirement for credentialed tutors. As the Court explained,
“Although the Legislature did not amend the statutory scheme so as to expressly permit home schooling, more recent enactments demonstrate an apparent acceptance by the Legislature of the proposition that home schooling is taking place in California, with home schools allowed as private schools. Recent statutes indicate that the Legislature is aware that some parents in California home school their children by declaring their homes to be private schools. Moreover, several statutory enactments indicate a legislative approval of home schooling, by exempting home schools from requirements otherwise applicable to private schools We are therefore confronted with: (1) compulsory education statutes which were apparently intended to eliminate the permission previously granted to home school; and (2) later enactments which reflect the Legislature’s understanding that the compulsory education statutes permit home schooling, as a species of private school education. Under these circumstances, it is our view that the proper course of action is to interpret the earlier statutes in light of the later ones, and to recognize, as controlling, the Legislature’s apparent acceptance of the proposition that home schools are permissible in California when conducted as private schools.”
The court also noted,
“….it is clear that some form of home schooling may be permissible under these statutes, when the independent study is under the general supervision of a credentialed employee of the school district or county office of education…

”It cannot reasonably be argued that home schooling conducted by a parent who is not a certified teacher satisfies the private tutor exemption from the compulsory education law. The language of the statute is clear and unequivocal; it permits private education by a tutor, but only when the tutor holds “a valid state credential for the grade taught”. Thus, we turn to principal question in this case: whether a home school can be considered a private school.”
The court concluded that the “statutory language is ambiguous on the question of a home school as a private school”

However, the court, nonetheless, recognized how parents have been home schooling and how the state has been accepting of that practice.

The legislature “has acted as though home schooling is, in fact, permitted in California.”
“…we find it significant that education and enforcement officials at both the state and local levels agree that home schools may constitute private schools.”

“It is estimated that there are 166,000 children being home schooled in California. It is a growing practice across the nation. The Legislature is aware that home schooling parents file affidavits as private schools, and has passed laws based on that awareness. The Department of Education has not challenged the practice, and the LAUSD has not asserted that the children of such parents are truant.”
The Appeals Court also did one more very important thing. The Court interpreted the law to mean that even though the United States Supreme Court has held that parents possess a constitutional right to direct the upbringing and education of their children, the Court can override that Constitutional right.
“We conclude that an order requiring a dependent child to attend school outside the home in order to protect that child’s safety is not an unconstitutional violation of the parents’ right to direct the education of their children.”
“Specifically, it is undisputed that a dependency court has the statutory authority to order that a dependent child attend school if within the best interests of the child’s safety. It is argued that this restriction is an unconstitutional violation of parents’ right to direct the education of their children. We conclude that the restriction is constitutional.”

“In this case, the dependency court declined to consider whether sending Jonathan and Mary Grace to public or traditional private school was necessary y to preserve their safety because it believed that parents posses an absolute constitutional right to home school. This is incorrect; no such absolute right to home school exists.”

The Court indicated that while the constitutionality of any other restriction on home schooling, including a prohibition on home schooling in its entirety, was not an issue in this case,
“the statutory permission to homeschool may constitutionally be overridden in order to protect the safety of a child who has been declared dependent.”
The Appeals Court remanded the case to the trial court to reconsider its decision in light of the decision of the Appeals Court.

The bottom line is this: The requirement existed that credentialed tutors were required, the practice existed that parents homeschooled without having credentials as tutors, the Legislature and state agencies accepted the practice despite the law, the Court recognized this occurred and concluded that because it occurred, the practice was accepted despite the existence of the law. More importantly, the Court held that despite the Constitutional rights of parents to the upbringing and education of their children, the state can override that right.

A word to parents and everyone in general: Know the law, and if you do not like it then work to get it changed. Homeschooling IS and HAS BEEN legal in California but there are statutes that apply. It'll be interesting to see if anyone cares to clear up any ambiguities or clarify CA statutes as a result of this ruling.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Full Time CT Legislature? How Can More Of A Bad Thing Be Better For CT?


The Courant ran an editorial regarding the question of a full time legislature and how we have had a need to keep coming back for special sessions.

You know I might entertain the idea of a full time legislature if the CT Legislature were actually doing good things for CT. So far, they have:

1. Made us one of the highest taxed states in the nation,
2. Produced a totally unfriendly business environment,
3. Chased our kids out of the state,
4. Chased doctors out of the state,
5. Chased rich people out of the state,
6. Worsened our ability to produce energy,
7. Continue to create dependency on government,
8. Expanded government programs,
9. Failed to police themselves and create REAL ethics reforms,
10. Pandered to their special interests.
and much, much more.

And we need these people for what? full time now? Why? Because these people can't seem to get their work done in the 3 or 5 months they have in each session because they are spending time foolishly on exonerating witches and what the state cookie should be, instead of addressing gas taxes and other issues of priority? Give me a break!

Have you ever watched these sessions on CT-N/TV to see how much time is wasted on congratulating this one and that one - and making introductions and points of personal privilege? Have you ever watched them address some of the moronic bills that are brought up through committee to satisfy special interests, while other more important legislation is left to languish and die in committee mostly because they are afraid to take a vote on it and actually take a position on an issue?

They have only been pulling themselves into special sessions because
A. They didn't do their work when they were supposed to.
B. This is their way of trying to make us think that they are needed full time.

Special sessions are for emergencies - and shouldn't be used because these people failed to take care of business and priorities in the first place. The fact of the matter is that because they did not take care of priority issues they have created the emergencies that they have to go back to special session to address!

Honestly, these people could be in session all year long and still waste the time given to them. Let them prove that they can use their session time wisely and produce some really good results for this state and then we'll think about allowing them to legislate full time. Until then, why would we want more of a very poor performing enterprise?

We don't need a full time legislature - what we need to do is to replace the people who have been up there wasting the publics time and money.

November is coming baby - and that will be your chance to do that. In addition, we can vote for a Constitutional Convention that can bring us Initiative and Referendum so that we the people can do the job that our legislators are failing to do for us.

One last thought: Just remember this - we have a full time Congress in Washington and just look at the wonderful things they have produced for us.......

Saturday, August 9, 2008

No Parody Today - Just Music And A Question

This One Is For John Edwards



And this is apparently for Elizabeth Edwards



Good piece in the UK telegraph here.

I also liked Don Pesci's Commentary on his blog today.

So much for a politician's narcissism and ego....the result is the feeling that you can do anything and say anything and get away with it. The sad part is that it is the people around them, that are loyal and support them, that suffer the most.

The American public believed Edwards' lie - what lies are they believing from our politicians now? When we find out the truth will it be too late?

Friday, August 8, 2008

Rebecca Ward - Homeschooled Olympian


The Olympics have begun and so I find it fitting to present to you a homeschooled Olympian today. Rebecca Ward is the second-ranked women’s sabre fencer in the world and is a member of the USA Fencing team. She will be competing in the Individual sabre and Team sabre events. She is 18 and hails from Portland, Oregon. She will be attending Duke University in the fall.

NBC did a piece about Rebecca and her biographic information is here. Here is an excerpt:
Triple crown
At the age of 16, Becca Ward became the 2006 World Champion in women's sabre, as she defeated 2004 Olympic gold medalist and club mate, Mariel Zagunis, 15 -11, in the final. Having captured the Cadet and Junior World Championships earlier in the year, she became the first fencer to win the triple crown. The win also earned her the USOC Female Athlete of the Month for October.

Impressive record
Ward has proven that the world championship was no fluke, producing victories at six World Cup events, three Grand Prix events and two Pan American Championships in two-plus seasons. Included are back-to-back wins at the prestigious Trophee BNP-Paribas in Orleans, France. Her record at the senior level is stunning: among the 73 fencers she has faced through the end of the 2007-08 season, she is unbeaten against 64 of them. She holds a career losing bout record against only Italy's Gioia Marzocca (0-1), Poland's Aleksandra Socha (1-2) and Russia's Efrosinya Nekrasova (0-1). She is 5-1 against world #3 and U.S. teammate, Sada Jacobson and 2-1 against top-ranked Tan Xue of China and #4 Mariel Zagunis.
USA Today ran a piece about Rebecca as well and it highlights her fierce competitive nature. It also talks briefly about why she began homeschooling:
Aside from one semester in first grade, Ward has been home-schooled by her mother. Her parents say that because she was excelling in several academic areas, particularly math, they worried her progress would be stymied by being in Denver public school classrooms that averaged 35 students.
But that's not all - she has a very interesting background and she certainly has spunk.

I have met other homeschoolers with olympic designs. One family contacted me and wanted to get information about homeschooling in CT because and they were training for the luge and another family was involved in equestrian competition. Others I know were skaters training in Simsbury CT with other past Olympians. So homeschoolers are not just all about spelling and geography bees.

I wish Rebecca the best, as I am sure everyone else in America does. Her accomplishments have already been quite impressive.

UPDATE: Americans sweep womens sabre fencing event: Mariel Zagunis wins Gold, Sada Jacobson Silver and Becca Ward bronze! Nice work Ladies!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Third Party Candidates


Third Party Candidates
by Michael Aron

As we are only too well aware, we are in the middle of a presidential campaign season. It is the top story in the news every day. If you follow the mainstream media, however, you would never know that there are 14 candidates running for president. Who are the other 12 candidates? They are independent candidates or members of various third parties. (wiki has a list)

"Third party" is a term commonly used to refer to political parties other than the Democratic and Republican parties such as the Constitution Party, the Libertarian Party, and the Green Party, just to name a few. Among the many challenges that third parties face in the United States, is the frequent exclusion from major debates and media coverage, denial of ballot access and consequently the difficulty in raising campaign contributions large enough to compete with the two major parties.

Third parties perform a very important function by expressing unique view points, which may seem quite radical at times. However, if one of these view points gains enough popularity, it is many times adopted by one or both of the major parties, thus causing a shift in party philosophies.

At a time when people seem to be dissatisfied with the two major parties, it is more important than ever that those third parties not be ignored or sidelined.

Many voters, even if they agree with a third party candidate’s views, won’t vote for that candidate because they think that he or she can’t win, leading to a self-fulfilling prophesy. With more media coverage and inclusion in debates, well informed voters might be more willing to vote for a third party candidate.
With enough support, one of these third parties could grow large enough to replace the Democratic or Republican party as one of the two major parties. After all, the Republican Party was a third party at the time President Lincoln was elected as the first Republican President.

To provide a fair political process, third parties need to be included in political debates and be given equal coverage in the media. The American voters deserve to hear the “whole story.”

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

12 Year Old Boy Fighting College For Admission


This is not the first time a 12 year old could or would be admitted to a college in CT - but the Courant is reporting on this story about a Coventry boy who has the brains, but not the age to be allowed to attend one particular college, simply because of dormitory rules.
He earned his diploma from Stanford University Online High School. His Advanced Placement test scores count as a year's worth of college credits, not counting his course work at the University of Connecticut in the last three years. And his SAT score is 1350 — 150 points higher than UConn's freshman average.

Colin Carlson, who turned 12 Thursday, was set to enter Connecticut College this fall with almost full financial aid for an almost complete college experience — everything but sleeping overnight in a dorm.

That was the deal, until the administrator who promised that arrangement was overruled by other deans who would not commit to giving Colin an affiliation to an academic house, a distinct disadvantage at a liberal arts school, in what Colin calls a "bait and switch."

His age, although not a hurdle to faculty eager to work with him, has challenged administrators required to watch over campus life and control legal risks. Deans at Connecticut College and other private colleges were wary even though his mother offered to waive liability, rent an apartment nearby and even serve as a house parent in a dorm so Colin could live on campus.

"Institutionally we do not have the infrastructure that will guarantee the well-being of a young boy in the residence halls," wrote Connecticut College Dean of Studies Theresa Ammirati in late June, after Colin's deposit had been paid.

Now UConn, where Colin has unofficially completed 11 courses in subjects ranging from organic chemistry to major literary works with a near perfect GPA, will admit him on scholarship this fall in its honors program. The 23,000-student Storrs campus doesn't afford the small liberal arts experience Colin was hoping for, but it was his first college and it will be his next one.

"They've made an incredible difference for me and helped me find who I am academically," he said. "Conn has been very uncertain, and UConn has given me a great deal more certainty. So, I think things will work out." In four years, Colin expects to earn science and arts degrees in environment-related areas.

An environmental advocate from an early age, he wants to be a conservation biologist. The profoundly gifted adolescent has founded a pro-planet nonprofit called the Cool Coventry Club, produced testimony on environmental bills in the state legislature and spent hundreds of hours getting his Coventry community to go green. His efforts recently netted him first place in the International Young Eco-Hero competition run by Action for Nature.
That's Connecticut College's loss. Colin should just go to a college that won't give him a hassle and instead will give him the opportunities that he seeks. UCONN seems to be such a college. Connecticut College's dormitory residency policies are dumb and if they are more interested in covering their butts then giving a kid the opportunities that he seeks then more is the pity. It just goes to show how colleges can be too wrapped up in policy. If the parents and the boy himself think that dorm living would be fine then who's to say it isn't.

Clearly he has the support of professors and mentors who also believe in this incredibly talented and gifted 12 year old.

We ought to be encouraging more young kids to excel in this manner, and we ought to be nurturing this type of intelligence. Instead institutions throw roadblocks in their path. What a shame. But Colin is smart enough to know that if one place doesn't want you there will be others that will. Vote with your feet Colin. Their loss is your not attending their institution.

These college administrators, even as they say they are impressed with Colin's potential, should be less focused on his age. They need to realize that for him it isn't about "rushing through his life" it is about his desire to pursue his own goals. What's the point in spending time wasting away at a Prep school like Exeter or other schools until he is "an appropriate age", especially when Colin's SAT IIs when he was 10 were already 100 points above the average Exeter senior's? Why on earth should a person such as Colin postpone degree work? So he can hang out with other 12 year olds who he has nothing in common with? What's he supposed to do, waste his time watching the Simpson's or Naruto until he can be old enough to live in a dorm? Good grief.

Heaven forbid this 12 year old should be exposed to an adult world in a dormitory ! - as if he hasn't seen most of adult activity on TV or in the media. Those school administrators at Connecticut College are just naive. I would also submit that if they themselves feel that their own dorms are not safe and house some sort of illicit "adult activity" then perhaps they ought to take a better look at how they manage their own dormitories. Big deal - they have co-ed bathrooms. Perhaps the problem is not with age but with sex. As for mental maturity - I will wager Colin has more maturity than lots of people living in those dormitories.

This statistic says a lot as to why kids in this country are not achieving:
About 1.5 million U.S. students, or half of all gifted students, are underachieving because they are not appropriately challenged in school, according to the "Handbook of Gifted Education" by leaders in the field.

Jill Adrian is director of family services at the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, a Reno, Nev., nonprofit that provides counseling and locates resources for highly gifted youth across the country. She has known Colin since 2003 and says he is ready for full-time college. Interrupting a gifted student's progress could have a negative effect, she said.

"If they have a break or delay in academic challenge, underachievement or depression can come into play," Adrian said. "They have a need for constant mental stimulation and Colin is no exception to that."

Although many bright children are allowed to skip elementary and secondary grades, a practice called radical acceleration, they often hit a wall after high school, Carlson, who has a doctorate in psychology, says. "They're all ready for college, all dressed up and no place to go, because the colleges aren't prepared to accept them," she said.
I know many homeschoolers who attend college early - my own kids included. I will also say that younger kids attending college do not want any special consideration given to them because of "their age". Kids can achieve much if you give them the opportunities and don't keep them stunted.

This country has a penchant for keeping it's population in an infantile stage mentally (physically they like to dress up their young to look much older, and in fact the trashier the better) Adolescence is extended and kids are kept dependent well into their mid 20's.

Consider how kids achieved much more much younger in the earlier days of our country. John Taylor Gatto wrote about this in his book "The Underground History of American Education" - and it is worthwhile to read the stories of accomplished youth such as Admiral David Farragut:
Farragut got his first command when he was picked to head a prize crew. I was in fifth grade when I read about that. Had Farragut gone to my school he would have been in seventh. You might remember that as a rough index how far our maturity had been retarded even fifty years ago. Once at sea, the deposed British captain rebelled at being ordered about by a boy and announced he was going below for his pistols (which as a token of respect he had been allowed to keep). Farragut sent word down that if the captain appeared on deck armed he would be summarily shot and dumped overboard. He stayed below.

So ended David Farragut’s first great test of sound judgment. At fifteen, this unschooled young man went hunting pirates in the Mediterranean. Anchored off Naples, he witnessed an eruption of Vesuvius and studied the mechanics of volcanic action. On a long layover in Tunis, the American consul, troubled by Farragut’s ignorance, tutored him in French, Italian, mathematics, and literature. Consider our admiral in embryo. I’d be surprised if you thought his education was deficient in anything a man needs to be reckoned with.
Colin - follow your dreams and don't let the roadblocks of grownups who say you can't do something get in your way. Go around them and do what you must. Praise goes to his parents who support him and know precisely what he needs, as well as what he can handle. You Go boy!

As for him "not having a childhood" - he's had one and is still having one - it's just not like yours.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Homeland Security May Seize Your Electronics At The Border


United States Constitution, Bill of Rights, Fourth Amendment:
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Huey Long apparently was correct when he said: "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in an American flag."

Here are Department of Homeland Security policies regarding the seizure of electronic equipment, etc.:
Policy 1
Policy 2

The Department of Homeland Security has set up policies to "keep us safe" - this trampling of our 4th Amendment Constitutional Right is because they say that the border search and seizure of electronic equipment containing information may be useful to detect terrorists, drug smugglers, and people violating "copyright or trademark laws."

These warrantless searches of laptops and other electronic devices at U.S. borders highlights an issue that all travelers, U.S. citizens and others, need to be aware of when entering or leaving the United States.

It has been written about in PC World Magazine and other places like Yahoo news and Dailytech.com .
Recently released information reveals that the Department of Homeland Security has been granted the power to without any suspicion of wrongdoing seize travelers’ "device(s) capable of storing information in digital or analog form," including “hard drives, flash drives, cell phones, iPods, pagers, beepers, and video and audio tapes" as well as "all papers and other written documentation." After seizure, the materials may be taken off site. The contents of the laptops can then be shared with other agencies and/or private entities for language translation, data decryption or other reasons.

The policies were apparently put in place July 16 by two DHS agencies: U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. They have existed in a similar, but undocumented form previously. Interestingly, while the policy contains provisions to protect business information and attorney-client privileged material, they have no provisions to protect personal medical records or other personal data like financial records.

Privacy advocacy groups are outraged and considering legal action. "They're saying they can rifle through all the information in a traveler's laptop without having a smidgen of evidence that the traveler is breaking the law," said Greg Nojeim, senior counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology.
So while they are looking for terrorists, they are also searching for kiddie porn and pirated music and drugs, and who knows what else. Anyone can be under suspicion. They say this doesn't infringe on American's privacy and helps to catch the bad guys.
On the other side of the fence is the Department of Homeland Security which argues that the measures are necessary to protect against terrorism. Customs Deputy Commissioner Jayson P. Ahern stated that the policies "do not infringe on Americans' privacy." He argues that the policy predates the war on terror, stating that the government has long had "plenary authority to conduct routine searches and seizures at the border without probable cause or a warrant" to prevent drug traffic and transportation of other contraband.
and thanks to judges who have not yet read and understood our 4th Amendment Rights...
Those looking to challenge the policies in court will have a tough road ahead. The seizures without suspicion were upheld in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco, setting a legal precedent.
Looks like that ruling will have to be overturned.
Electronic Frontier Foundation has more on this.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

US Energy Policy

Here is an interesting email that has been making the rounds....

The American energy policy:

ANWR Exploration
House Republicans:91%Supported
House Democrats: 86% Opposed

Coal-to-Liquid
House Republicans: 97% Supported
House Democrats: 78% Opposed

Oil Shale Exploration
House Republicans: 90% Supported
House Democrats: 86% Opposed

Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Exploration
House Republicans: 81% Supported
House Democrats: 83% Opposed

Refinery Increased Capacity
House Republicans: 97% Supported
House Democrats: 96% Opposed

SUMMARY

91% of House Republicans have historically voted to increase the
production of American-made oil and gas.

86% of House Democrats have historically voted against increasing the
production
of American-made oil and gas.

How much did you pay for gas TODAY??
Why are you blaming President Bush and the Republicans??

The problem we have in this country is supply - we obviously need to produce more oil and also create a more diverse portfolio of energy that includes air, wind, hydro, fuel cell, solar and nuclear power.

Enough talk - let's do it already.

(H/T Jerry N.)

Friday, August 1, 2008

Smile! The Girl Got Her Braces Off Today!


Before...........and After

Today was the big day.
And as my mother, God rest her soul, would have said, "Now you can marry her off".

Well I must admit though, I was quite happy to hear that she and her brother both went to the number one best orthodontist in CT - Dr. Barry Rosenberg. So says Connecticut Magazine. (Yeah - that's him on the cover)

In our first comprehensive survey of dentists in Connecticut, we asked nearly 2,000 of them to whom they would send a loved one in need of care (other than themselves). We have their recommendations in seven categories: orthodontics, oral surgery, endodontics, prosthodontics, periodontics, pediatric dentistry and general dentistry.
Glad to see Dr. Rosenberg was recommended by his peers. He does amazing work! He is deserving of this honor. My son had bottom canine teeth that were growing in his gum parallel to his gumline. Dr. Rosenberg (and oral surgeon Dr. Jonathan Goldman in West Hartford) both worked wonders to bring those teeth up into the right position. His smile is beautiful now.

Ah, it's always a blessing to find the right doctor; someone who is amazingly capable as well as caring and easy to deal with.

Now the girl can eat gummy bears again...don't worry she's got the brushing and flossing thing down pat.