Home-Schooler Action Alert: Stop DC Restrictive Legislation Against Home Education

The HSLDA sent this alert.

Calls are needed immediately to stop what would be one of the most restrictive changes to homeschool regulations anywhere. Home education is a necessary piece of the educational puzzle, providing education for those (such as boys who would otherwise be forced into an addictive dependence on Ritalin-based drugs) who are ill-served by prison-like public schools.

* * *

The District of Columbia is poised to enact restrictive homeschool regulations. One particularly onerous provision in Section 5208 gives the Office of the State Superintendent (OSSE) the discretion to terminate a homeschool program. The section then requires that parents re-enroll their children in a public or private school at the discretion of the OSSE. This approach fails to duly respect a parent’s fundamental right to educate their children and gives the government too much authority and discretion.

Even if you do not live in the District of Columbia, we are asking you to call because the federal government has jurisdiction over the city and HSLDA has exhausted all our behind-the-scenes efforts to seek reasonable accommodations for homeschoolers in D.C.

If we do not act collectively as a homeschool community, these regulations will go into effect and severely restrict homeschool freedom for District homeschoolers and potentially set a damaging precedent.
Action Requested

Please call the people listed below and express your opposition in your own words. Be concise and courteous. Here is an example:

“If enacted, the proposed D.C. homeschooling regulations would be among the most onerous in the country. They give too much discretion and authority to education officials to determine whether a family may homeschool. We support the D.C. homeschoolers’ request that the OSSE and other education officials continue to work to improve the regulations, in ways such as removing the high school diploma requirement, increasing assessment options (if indeed any are needed), and providing for real due process in the event of a dispute between homeschoolers and education officials.”

The regulations should not be passed in their current form. Please ask the OSSE to go back and work with homeschoolers to improve the overly restrictive regulations.

Office of the MayorMayor Adrian M. Fenty
Phone: (202) 727-2980
Email webpageVictor Reinoso, Deputy Mayor for Education
Phone: (202) 727-3636
Email: victor.reinoso@dc.gov
Office of the State Superintendent

Deborah A. Gist, State Superintendent of Education
Phone: (202) 727-6436
Email: Deborah.gist@dc.gov

Fonda Sutton, Director of Policy, Research and Analysis
Office of the State Superintendent of Education
Phone: (202) 727-9882
Email: fonda.sutton@dc.gov

D.C. State Board of EducationPhone: (202) 442-4289Robert Bobb
Elected Board Member
Term Expires December 2008
Email: Robert.Bobb@dc.gov

William Lockridge, Elected Board Member
District 4 Member (Wards 7 & 8 )
Term Expires December 2008
Email: William.Lockridge@dc.gov

Lisa Raymond, Elected Board Member
District 3 Member (Wards 5 & 6)
Term Expires December 2008
Email: Lisa.Raymond@dc.gov

Laura Slover, Appointed Board Member
Email: Laura.Slover@dc.gov

Ted Trabue, Appointed Board Member
Term Expires December 2008
Email: Ted.Trabue@dc.gov

Sekou Biddle, Elected Board Member
District 2, Wards 3 & 4
Email: Sekou.biddle@dc.gov

Mary Lord, Elected Board Member
District 1 (Wards 1 & 2)
Email: Mary.lord@dc.gov

Background

1. Responding to the Banita Jacks case, the District of Columbia embarked on a crackdown of homeschoolers. D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty publicly promised to regulate homeschooling. Read “Tragedy Prompts Calls for Heightened Scrutiny of Homeschoolers.”

2. The Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) has authority to propose regulations and did work with HSLDA and other D.C. homeschoolers. They agreed to include certain language and provisions. However, the published regulations fail to deliver on assurances and promises that were given to D.C. homeschoolers.

3. Numerous homeschool families have testified before the State Board of Education (SBOE) and received high praise from Board members. The State Board has authority to approve the proposed regulations. In its hearing, the State Board was interested and seemed receptive to finding a solution that dealt fairly with homeschoolers. We want them to direct the OSSE to go back and work with homeschoolers to improve the regulations further.

4. Current D.C. regulations call for parents to simply notify the District that they are homeschooling. We support this approach as an excellent way to solve the current impasse.

Thank you for standing with us for homeschooling freedom!

Sincerely,

Michael P. Donnelly, Esq.
HSLDA Staff Attorney

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An Online Thesaurus that doesn’t suck

Since thesaurus.com went and ruined their superb online version of Roget’s Thesaurus I have had difficulty finding a replacement that is as good as the original when it comes to returning a wide assortment of synonyms for use in writing poetry (where the rhythm and secondary meanings of the word are all-important) or for finding the perfectly appropriate word that is hiding out on the tip of my tongue. Let’s say I want to fix up this little rhyme.

Thanks to all the warriors over there
Who tread where even angels fear to stare

This is acceptable but I think that “thanks” is too simple and boring a word. And “stare” is the wrong word. “Watch” is better but doesn’t rhyme.

Bartleby has an interesting solution. “A blessing on the warriors over there” is what comes out of this search. Other searches are at the free dictionary, U Chicago old and new. I do not like the visual thesaurus.

The wayback machine has been blocked from answering queries against thesaurus.com.

Kevin Drum had a discussion about this not too long ago.

And the Winner of Best surviving online Thesaurus, is U Chicago. Better too many words than not enough.

At the end of this little exercise a few mental blocks got cleared and the result is a rhyme for Memorial Day.

A blessing on the warriors far from here,
Who tread where even angels dread to peer.

Good luck word searching, everybody out there. And God bless our troops!

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House passes bill to flush taxpayer money down a toilet

The US House of Representatives has passed one of the most pointless exercises in idiocy to come down the pike in a long while.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved legislation on Tuesday allowing the Justice Department to sue OPEC members for limiting oil supplies and working together to set crude prices, but the White House threatened to veto the measure.

The bill would subject OPEC oil producers, including Saudi Arabia, Iran and Venezuela, to the same antitrust laws that U.S. companies must follow.

The measure passed in a 324-84 vote, a big enough margin to override a presidential veto.

The legislation also creates a Justice Department task force to aggressively investigate gasoline price gouging and energy market manipulation.

OPEC is a cartel of countries, none of which is subject to US law because none are part of the US. They can act in whatever monopolistic way they like because all governments have the right to create monopolies. See US public school systems and utilities for an example. Monopolies and cartels are characterized not by abusive corporate behavior, though that is a likely result of monopolies, but by the government’s intervention in the market to support approved monopolies.

The only result of this bill (if it is signed into law) will be expenditures by consumers in oil-importing countries (mainly the US).

  • Costs of the new “anti-gouging” task force will be borne directly by US taxpayers.
  • Paperwork costs imposed by the new “anti-gouging” task force on mom-and-pop gas stations will add to the retail price of gas.
  • Legal costs of suing OPEC states will be paid by US taxpayers.
  • Legal costs of OPEC states’ legal defense will be added to the wholesale price of the petroleum they sell, which will increase the price of gas at the pump.

The wisdom of crowds and the stupidity of Congress should not amaze me, but sometimes I cannot help myself. I stand amazed.

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Reading List: Locke, Montaigne, and Rabelais on Education

John Locke, Some Thoughts Concerning Education, 1692.

To Edward Clarke, of Chipley, Esq.

Sir:

These thoughts concerning education, which now come abroad into the world, do of right belong to you, being written several years since for your sake, and are no other than what you have already by you in my letters. I have so little vary’d any thing, but only the order of what was sent you at different times, and on several occasions, that the reader will easily find, in the familiarity and fashion of the stile, that they were rather the private conversation of two friends, than a discourse design’d for publick view.

Michel de Montaigne, Of the Education of Children

The charge of the tutor you shall provide for your son, upon the choice of whom depends the whole success of his education, has several other great and considerable parts and duties required in so important a trust, besides that of which I am about to speak: these, however, I shall not mention, as being unable to add anything of moment to the common rules: and in this, wherein I take upon me to advise, he may follow it so far only as it shall appear advisable.

For a boy of quality then, who pretends to letters not upon the account of profit (for so mean an object as that is unworthy of the grace and favor of the Muses, and moreover, in it a man directs his service to and depends upon others), nor so much for outward ornament, as for his own proper and peculiar use, and to furnish and enrich himself within, having rather a desire to come out an accomplished cavalier than a mere scholar or learned man; for such a one, I say, I would, also, have his friends solicitous to find him out a tutor, who has rather a well-made than a well-filled head; seeking, indeed, both the one and the other, but rather of the two to prefer manners and judgment to mere learning, and that this man should exercise his charge after a new method.

Rabelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel

Presently they appointed him a great sophister-doctor, called Master Tubal Holofernes, who taught him his ABC so well, that he could say it by heart backwards; and about this he was five years and three months. Then read he to him Donat, Le Facet, Theodolet, and Alanus in parabolis. About this he was thirteen years, six months, and two weeks. But you must remark that in the mean time he did learn to write in Gothic characters, and that he wrote all his books—for the art of printing was not then in use—and did ordinarily carry a great pen and inkhorn, weighing about seven thousand quintals (that is, 700,000 pound weight), the penner whereof was as big and as long as the great pillars of Enay, and the horn was hanging to it in great iron chains, it being of the wideness of a tun of merchant ware. After that he read unto him the book de modis significandi, with the commentaries of Hurtbise, of Fasquin, of Tropdieux, of Gualhaut, of John Calf, of Billonio, of Berlinguandus, and a rabble of others; and herein he spent more than eighteen years and eleven months, and was so well versed in it that, to try masteries in school disputes with his condisciples, he would recite it by heart backwards, and did sometimes prove on his finger-ends to his mother, quod de modis significandi non erat scientia. Then did he read to him the compost for knowing the age of the moon, the seasons of the year, and tides of the sea, on which he spent sixteen years and two months, and that justly at the time that his said preceptor died of the French pox, which was in the year one thousand four hundred and twenty. Afterwards he got an old coughing fellow to teach him, named Master Jobelin Bride, or muzzled dolt, who read unto him Hugutio, Hebrard(‘s) Grecism, the Doctrinal, the Parts, the Quid est, the Supplementum, Marmotretus, De moribus in mensa servandis, Seneca de quatuor virtutibus cardinalibus, Passavantus cum commento, and Dormi secure for the holidays, and some other of such like mealy stuff, by reading whereof he became as wise as any we ever since baked in an oven.

Chapter 1.XV.—How Gargantua was put under other schoolmasters.

At the last his father perceived that indeed he studied hard, and that, although he spent all his time in it, he did nevertheless profit nothing, but which is worse, grew thereby foolish, simple, doted, and blockish, whereof making a heavy regret to Don Philip of Marays, Viceroy or Depute King of Papeligosse, he found that it were better for him to learn nothing at all, than to be taught such-like books, under such schoolmasters; because their knowledge was nothing but brutishness, and their wisdom but blunt foppish toys, serving only to bastardize good and noble spirits, and to corrupt all the flower of youth. That it is so, take, said he, any young boy of this time who hath only studied two years,—if he have not a better judgment, a better discourse, and that expressed in better terms than your son, with a completer carriage and civility to all manner of persons, account me for ever hereafter a very clounch and bacon-slicer of Brene.

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How well can a child be educated by the age of 10?

Given opportunity and enough drive, how much can one child learn, how quickly, how well?

Lots, it turns out. John Rogers writes for the AP about a remarkable 10 year old boy named Moshe Kai Cavalin.

One of his primary interests is “wormholes,” a hypothetical scientific phenomenon connected to Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity. It has been theorized that if such holes do exist in space, they could – in tandem with black holes – allow for the kind of space-age time travel seen in science fiction.

“Just like black holes, they suck in particulate objects, and also like black holes, they also travel at escape velocity, which is, the speed to get out of there is faster than the speed of light,” Cavalin says. “I’d like to prove that wormholes are really there and prove all the theories are correct.”

First, he has statistics homework to finish. Later, he’ll work with his mother, Shu Chen Chien, to brush up on his Mandarin for his Chinese class. Then it’s over to the piano to prepare for his recital in music class.

His father, Yosef Cavalin, frets about the piano-playing, noting that his only child recently broke his arm pursuing another passion, martial arts. He has won several trophies for his age group.

His parents tried to enroll him in a private elementary school when he was six, but he knew more than the teacher about subjects and looked bored in class, so was rejected. His parents home-schooled him for two years, then decided college was the next step. Now he’s within a year of finishing junior college and transferring to a four-year school to study physics. His secret to learning is hard work and focus, combined with an ability to make sense of complex patterns (one of the more useful definitions of intelligence).

It’s common to see smart and hard working kids like Cavalin portrayed as freaks of nature. However, accomplishments similar to his are well within the capacity of moderately intelligent children. Back in the days before universal education in the US, the purpose of education was to cram children full of as much knowledge as possible. Since education was paid for directly and supervised by parents, efficiency and value were necessary. The average age of matriculation at Princeton in the 1700s was 13! Graduation at 18 with a law or medical degree was not at all uncommon. “Doogie Howser” is not a freakish modern character, but the return of an old-fashioned archetype of what was once expected of young people. John Taylor Gatto writes of George Washington.

Washington had no schooling until he was eleven, no classroom confinement, no blackboards. He arrived at school already knowing how to read, write, and calculate about as well as the average college student today. If that sounds outlandish, turn back to Franklin’s curriculum and compare it with the intellectual diet of a modern gifted and talented class. Full literacy wasn’t unusual in the colonies or early republic; many schools wouldn’t admit students who didn’t know reading and counting because few schoolmasters were willing to waste time teaching what was so easy to learn. It was deemed a mark of depraved character if literacy hadn’t been attained by the matriculating student. Even the many charity schools operated by churches, towns, and philanthropic associations for the poor would have been flabbergasted at the great hue and cry raised today about difficulties teaching literacy. American experience proved the contrary.

Let’s see where Moshe Cavalin fits into the program. Cavalin started his college studies at age 8. He is now 10, and almost halfway through his undergraduate program. He could graduate from college at age 12 or 13 and enter a professional program that fall, meaning he could complete a graduate degree by the time he is 15 to 17. That is one to three years early by the standards of an efficient educational structure such as the was found in the American colonies of the mid-1700s. Early yes. Unusually so, no.

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Chaos: The Empire Strikes Barack

It’s a regular laugh-riot to watch the infighting going on within the Democrat party. Check out this dumb little video that casts Barack Obama as Luke Skywalker, savior of the Universe, against the Sith lord Hillary Clinton, source of all that is dark and foul.

Check out the video response below the fold if you want to see the Obama youth in action, demonstrating why you should be afraid. Be very afraid.
Continue reading

Clone Wars Trailer

The cgi makes the trailer look like an exceptionally good video game and that is the aspect of the story the trailer emphasizes. Those with kids who have caught the Star Wars bug will see it this summer. I’m one of those who will be dragged there, and I think I won’t mind a bit. Look below the fold to see the video. Continue reading

What’s Shaking in Shanghai?

The Bad
A magnitude 7.8-7.9 earthquake hit Sichuan (formerly Szechuan) province near Shanghai, the site of the 2008 Summer Olympics. Schools, factories, and hospitals collapsed. The current guess is 10,000 dead. 80% of the buildings in Beichuan county collapsed. 2,300 cell phone towers were disabled. Wenchuan county, the epicenter of the quake, has not been heard from as all the roads were destroyed. Death counts are expected to go higher.

The Good
Shanghai has been in the midst of a building boom for the past five years, with many buildings intended for the Olympics and others being showy skyscrapers and typical examples of modern/post-modern architecture. Imagine a glass skyscraper with a jester’s hat on the top. Imagine a skyline of skyscrapers none of which seem to be quite parallel with the others, as if they were all slightly tilted from the vertical. Imagine a building shaped like a tinkertoy, or a pin with a mother-of-pearl head. You don’t have to visit Shanghai to see them. Visit Jincheng company for an assortment of pictures. Or take a look at this “green” luxury hotel that looks like a stack of pancakes built on the walls of a 100 meter deep rock quarry. Use this Google search.

The Ugly
Or look at a few pictures of these nonsensical shapes, like mutant blocks from a child’s playset.

The skyline over the waterfront looks like an oversized amusement park.

Jinmao tower wreathed in clouds.

Pearl tower, an impossible building.

Jester\'s Cap

The Jester’s hat

The Shanghai Stock Exchange. Another impossible building this time in the shape of an “H”

Crooked

Do they look crooked to you? Taken before the quake.

The new buildings of Shanghai partake of that cheap, tarted up air of all modern and post-modern architecture. There is no human scale to them. They could have been built by humans, or bees, or flown to Earth by freakishly intelligent, octopoid creatures from a distant sun.

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Code Pink Bewitches the Marine Corps Recruiting Station

Since Code Pink and Berkeley’s City Council have already become a laughingstock, why not become even more of one? The witches of Code Pink have taken to wearing pointed witch hats and casting spells at the USMC Recruiting Station in Berkeley. They claim this is their Mother’s Day celebration. As in Happy Mother’s Day Baba Yaga.

Groan…

The women’s anti-war group has told ralliers to come equipped with spells and pointy hats Friday for “witches, crones and sirens” day, the last of the group’s weeklong homage to Mother’s Day.

“Women are coming to cast spells and do rituals and to impart wisdom to figure out how we’re going to end war,” Zanne Sam Joi of Bay Area Code Pink told FOXNews.com.

I remember a day I spent in Berkeley about 15 years ago, after spending more than my budget at the terrific Dark Carnival bookstore, walking around and being surprised by all the new age bookstores, tarot readers, and magic shops. By magic shops I do not mean stage magic but sorcery, thaumaturgy, and ceremonial magick. Llewellyn Books was located on the main street in Berkeley. There were plenty more places like it. In short, it was apparent that the residents of Berkeley had a tenuous grasp on reality and preferred to live in their fantasy world of magic spells and good intentions wedded to ineffective or destructive means of carrying them out.

h/t: Drudge

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Honest Boy Scout knows what it’s like to lose his wallet

This is why scouting is a good thing.

DORR, Mich. – When an 11-year-old Boy Scout found someone’s wallet with $800 inside, he understood what the person who lost it was going through.

Only a few weeks before, he had lost his own wallet and the $45 it contained.

J.R. Bouterse immediately told an adult about his discovery, which was turned over to a law-enforcement official and returned to its grateful owner.

“We’re just so proud of him,” said the boy’s mother, Michelle Bouterse, 41. “We can’t say enough.”

To reward the boy, the Michigan State Police threw a pizza party Monday night, not only for the law-abiding child but for all 30 Scouts in Troop 90.

Another guest at the party, to J.R.’s surprise, was 20-year-old Jessica Cutler, the wallet’s owner, who wanted to personally thank him for his act of honesty.

“I can’t believe someone would find a wallet with that much money in it and not take some,” she said. “A lot of people maybe wouldn’t have done that same thing. I’m just glad he found it and not someone else.”

J.R. found the wallet a little more than a week ago while leaving a Scout meeting at the church.

“I knew exactly how she felt,” he said.

Not exactly: His own wallet has not been returned to him.

And this is why cities should encourage the Boy Scouts, despite the Scout’s well justified concern about NAMBLA infiltration and consequent rules against openly homosexual leaders. Rules like those obeyed by the Scouts would have done much good for the Catholic Church before the priestly sex abuse scandals became news.

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