Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Pascagoula city leaders and school district officials have spent the last 48 hours trying to convince state lawmakers to vote down legislation that will prevent the Pascagoula School District from receiving all of the ad valorem taxes from Chevron's Pascagoula Refinery and liquified natural gas terminals.
Sen. Tommy Robertson of Moss Point introduced the legislation that calls for the equitable distribution among all school districts in the county of ad valorem taxes generated after July 1 from liquified natural gas terminals (LNG) and improvements or expansions at crude oil refineries, in this case Chevron's Pascagoula Refinery.
Mayor Matthew Avara said the city had to learn second-hand of the plans to strip the Pascagoula School District of the funding its relied on for years to operate.Read more in The Sun Herald.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
The Mississippi Legislative Awareness Watchgroup (MS LAW) blog
aims to inform independent home educators of legal and legislative events pertaining to homeschooling in our state. With the impending launch of the Mississippi Virtual School, several political races in progress and recent inflammatory statements made by Superintendent Hank Bounds, it is more important than ever for us to get involved.
It is up to us, not a national Christian lobbying organization, to understand our state's politics, our rights, and our options in the event we are called upon to defend those rights. MS LAW site feed
Labels: activism, grassroots, MS LAW
Monday, March 26, 2007
Recently, I’ve had some interesting online and in-person conversations with other parents regarding what constitutes an education. The discussion began with what makes homeschooling distinct
compared to other forms of learning/education, then evolved into why homeschooling is effective and what role, if any, government entities should have in ensuring the proper education of the masses…which brought us full circle as we pondered, once again, “What IS a proper education?” Who decides? Do we want that for our children? And should we homeschoolers be held accountable to someone else's standards?
Most of us would say, "As an independent home educator, I decide how to educate my child, and I am not subject to anyone else's standards or expectations but my own." I couldn't agree more. But, I think we must be willing to take the debate further by understanding why our standards, as varied as they may be, differ fundamentally from those imposed by government entities.
The government utilizes standards and procedures and benchmarks to measure the progress of children as they advance through the system toward graduation. School districts depend upon the presence (enrollment and attendance) and performance (test scores) of these students for funding. The result, which one Café commenter referred to as the "default
", is a system that is far more dependent upon our children for its future than our children are on it for theirs. So, educrats employed by state and federal governments have decided that a proper education is one that is easily measured/tracked and results in funding. Ensuring quality is peripheral.
One could say the same about private schools that measure performance to assure continued enrollment. However, this differs from public schooling in that private schools are subject to a market mechanism. Their revenue comes from private sources voluntarily paid to the school for the quality of the education provided (its product), its proven effectiveness via performance of its students (its consumers) and subsequent satisfaction of parents (its benefactors) who decide whether to continue supporting the institution with its private-sector money. If test scores or enrollment figures plummet, private school administrators can reshape its curriculum and reorganize its priorities at any time to reflect the demands of its target market. Public schools cannot.
Because government-supported schools are funded based on test scores and enrollment, one would think that public schools would seek to increase public confidence by providing a quality product. But, it doesn’t have to. There is no free-market mechanism allowing families to leave one public school for another within the same district. Public education is a government-controlled monopoly. Shopping around within the system isn’t allowed. The only options the average two-income, middle-class family has are to stick it out in substandard public schools, make child care arrangements to accommodate enrollment in virtual public school, enroll their children in expensive private schools, or (of course) homeschool.
Without the consequences imposed by a market-oriented (and, hence, quality-oriented) system, government-sponsored schools are more interested
in "netting" more enrollees
for funding purposes than providing a quality education for our children. So resigned are the educrats that the term “adequate” has become a part of the names of the very programs responsible for setting standards and tracking performance (i.e. Mississippi Adequate Education Program). In other words, they don’t aspire to much. “This’ll do,” they say, and they’re referring to the road map for a child’s education. From Dictionary.com
1. as much or as good as necessary for some requirement or purpose; fully sufficient, suitable, or fit (often fol. by to or for): This car is adequate to our needs. adequate food for fifty people.
2. barely sufficient or suitable: Being adequate is not good enough.
Indeed, most homeschoolers would agree with that last sample sentence: Being adequate isn’t good enough. And if this is an “adequate” descriptor for the quality of public education our children can expect, we don’t want any part of it.
Labels: MEAP, NEAP, Standards of Learning
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
From HSLDA's latest weekly update (issued Tuesday, March 20):
The Mississippi Legislature has declined to approve a measure to require testing of students in home instruction programs. Senate Bill 2380, introduced by Senator Sampson Jackson (32nd Senate District ), would have authorized the state board of education to establish "student testing proficiency standards for promotion to grade levels for students in home instruction programs which are equivalent to requirements applicable to public school students." If this legislation had been enacted, parents would have no longer been able to determine grade placement of their children being homeschooled. Due to the effective lobbying efforts of the Mississippi Home Educators Association, this bill died in committee.
died a natural death in committee on January 30, nearly two months ago. If MHEA
had anything to do with it, that's news to a lot of folks around here. Besides throwing an annual homeschool conference, most of us have no idea what, exactly, MHEA does.
From MHEA's website:
Mississippi Home Educators Association (MHEA) is a Christian home school organization established for the following purposes:
Providing information to those interested in home education in Mississippi and providing encouragement for excellence in this endeavor through conferences with speakers, workshops, and curriculum fairs annually.
Assistance to home educators in Mississippi in keeping the legal atmosphere for home educating positive by relating any legislation which would change the present freedom to area support groups. (emphasis added-nc)
In other words, MHEA--which is an HSLDA affiliate--doesn't lobby. This is, in my opinion, yet another attempt by HSLDA to justify its existence via spin.
Save your money, folks. Buy books instead.
Labels: HSLDA drive time
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
I am amazed at the gall of some so-called liberals
(mind you “liberal” was the way they described themselves not the label I would have chosen for them). They have decided that parents couldn't possibly be trusted to educate their own children without some sort of government oversight. You know that wonderful government oversight that has made such an astounding success
of the public school system?
First there is the whining that homeschoolers (& private schoolers) are selfish:
Home schooling and private schools both have this characteristic. There is a small subset of families that can afford the money it takes to send their kids to private schools. When this happens, an important part of society withdraws from the public, collective endeavor to educate our children. This can have many implications. Even something as simple as the funding of a class field trip serves as a microcosm of a broad array of effects, many less obvious but probably very important. My daughter attends a school that has a very ambitious yearly field trip for one of the grades, in which the children go away for three days and two nights. It is a little expensive (cost per child) but there is a guarantee that every child can go. Fund raising activities are carried out, and the surplus funds are set aside to subsidize any child whose family can’t afford the fee. Chaperons (parents) pay their own way as necessary so as to not increase the cost of the trip.
Apparently, he is terribly worried that some child might not be able to go on a field trip if enough parents choose to homeschool or send their children to private school. First off, it benefits no one if my children receive a substandard education just so someone else's child can go on a field trip. Secondly, who does he think buys all the JUNK that those school children are selling? I have a carton of cookie dough in my freezer that we purchased from some public school child's fundraiser. We also pay property taxes that benefit the public school system even though we do not benefit from it, and we don't receive any tax cuts because we homeschool (although some people claim homeschoolers do).
At least he admits his child attends an outstanding public school. I wonder IF he would leave his child in a low performing public school for the "greater good". After all, we don't all live in wonderful school districts. Why should I be forced to send my child to a horrible public school system for the "greater good" just because we don't happen to live in a wonderful school district? He goes on to say:
There is a correlation between wealth and ability to invest time and energy into a school via the PTA, as a school volunteer, and even in terms of helping the children at home with their homework, etc. There is a correlation between wealth and educational level, and in turn, there is a correlation between educational level of parents and the educational success of the children.
Hmmmm, these same parents that he doesn't trust to educate their own children are now a valuable commodity to the public school system and are capable of helping their children with their homework. There is something a tad illogical about his argument.
To the extent that home schoolers are also paying taxes but not using the schools, they are actually benefiting the system. But in some cases, they are getting vouchers, but then showing up to use resources set aside for specific schools but not augmented (fiscally) by the presence of that student in that school..
This is why it is so maddening when VIRTUAL PUBLIC SCHOOLERS
call themselves homeschoolers. REAL HOMESCHOOLERS do not receive vouchers, but you can hardly blame Greg for not knowing this when virtual public schoolers insist on referring to themselves as "homeschoolers".
He also asserts that homeschooling parents couldn't possibly provide their children with the same resources public schools do. Apparently, he has never heard of museums, science labs and a host of other sources that provide homeschoolers with the same resources that public schools also utilize.
Then of course he hops on the "abuse" soap box. Obviously, it doesn't occur to him that child abuse laws apply to everyone and that those laws will protect home-schooled children as well as public schooled children.
He then questions the validity of any testing done because "parents" often administer the test. Luckily, I live in a state that didn't require me to spend my money on worthless tests. My son took the ACT at 15, the same way the public school kids do. We registered online, paid our money and he showed up at the testing center. He scored a 28 and gained early admission to college. Greg's demand for oversight is flawed. Who would provide the oversight? The Department of Education that can't even oversee the public schools successfully—not to mention the problems inherent in having the Department of Education oversee the competition. He also doesn't seem to know that private schools DO NOT receive government oversight as they are not mention in his rant against homeschoolers, and his plea that Colleges not accept homeschoolers.
What could work is for people who are concerned about the children in homeschooling situations to work for making home schooling without oversight invalid as a means of obtaining a certified education. Colleges should not accept homeschooling high school certificates or diplomas, for instance, until some of these problems are addressed.
I hope Greg realizes the disservice he would be doing to a LARGE number of children that he claims to be concerned for. According to Greg, Shining Celebi should have been denied a college education because he was homeschooled. This is the kid that scored a 28 on the ACT, is in his second year of a computer science degree and was asked to join Phi Theta Kappa. But according to Greg he shouldn't be allowed to go to college just because he didn't attend a public school?
I am also troubled by the hostile comments concerning Christians and the posters belief that Fundamentalist Christians shouldn't be allowed to teach their children their religious beliefs.
But every time my daughter tells me about some fundie yahoo who happens to be a fellow student, a teacher, whatever, tries to talk her into taking Jesus into her heart: Every time I have to watch colleagues spend time testifying at a school board hearing instead of giving a lecture in a classroom: Every time my wife the teacher comes home with a story about how biology class was totally disrupted for the entire period by students with a list of questions provided by their pastor .. the same list they had the previous week … in an obvious attempt to disrupt and disturb … every time [fill in the blank] I get inspired to do something.
Freedom of Religion as guaranteed in the Constitution of the United States of America seems to mean nothing to them. This guy is beginning to make me wonder if the shrill fundies who maintain their religious beliefs are under attack might be right (and here I have been dismissing them as paranoid).Obviously those of us who cherish our homeschooling freedoms must ban together whether we are Fundamentalist Christians, Free-Thinking Christians, Atheist, Pagans, Jews, Black, White, Married, Single or any of the other diverse families homeschoolers come in to make sure the Greg's of this world do not take away our right to educate our children as we see fit.
Labels: independent homeschooling, Virtual Public School
How many times have we heard someone say this? In jest or frustration, it is usually said by a well-meaning citizen in reference to some perceived ill of society that one theoretically wishes to ban. And it is usually amusing and harmless…but not when applied to homeschooling.
Forget about legislators who aim to curb educational freedom; I’m talking about fellow homeschoolers who think mandated standards are a useful tool for keeping home educators honest, one that guarantees that we are all adhering to "proper homeschooling form"…a form regarded as "the right way" to homeschool. Do you know those people?
Worse yet…are you one of t.h.e.m. (tireless home educating martyrs)?
Often, these homeschooling critics of homeschooling cite personal experience with “sub-par” homeschooling families as their reason for advocating accountability and oversight. In response to recently published articles regarding homeschool oversight
, one such local mother said:
I'm not saying that all homeschoolers need policing. Just that there are some that complete the required card and don't do anything education wise. It's these few that give the rest of the hard working homeschoolers a bad name. If finding these few, even that's too many, come at the expense of my inconvenience, it's worth it in the long run.
Well, speak for yourself, honey.
The problem with this argument (one of the many, but I’m trying to maintain focus here) is that laws are not written and enacted in a perfect world thus eliminating broad--or bad--interpretation. In other words, the same laws these uber-schoolers are advocating can be used against those same uber-schoolers as soon as their own efforts fall outside of the determined norm: Got a sick parent that needs extra care? So sorry. Husband lost his job? Good luck. Had a new baby? Congratulations, but you’d better not deviate from the norms that you helped establish…or else.
If a mother feels that children in her community are suffering due to the perceived educational inadequacies of their parents, yet finds that she cannot contain her busy-body, finger-pointing, teachier-than-thou tendencies, she can get involved by providing opportunities on the local level. For example, since minor inconvenience is of no consequence, invite the poor urchins to co-op classes and offer to pick them up (…just be prepared for a quick exit, you know, in case that “neglectful” mother happens to be a kick-ass unschooler whose children could reason circles around your own.).
Honestly, I don’t care how these people use their maternal motivation to achieve the (obviously coveted yet meaningless) distinction as one of T.H.E.M. Just keep my family and the authorities out of it. The damage a small number of T.H.E.M. could do to homeschool freedom could equally impact their own home schools.
And that would certainly be inconvenient for all of us.
Labels: homeschool regulation
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Take TIME to read Why Homeschool: Carnival of Homeschooling - 63
. The Cates used the theme of time for their carnival and with the wonderful quotes and the interesting post it's well worth your time to read.
Labels: Carnival of Homeschooling
Thursday, March 08, 2007
According to WMCTV
, a Shelby County mother has been sentenced to ten days in jail for keeping her teen daughter out of school for three years. Although the mother, Myra Zavodney, claims that she was teaching her daughter at home, she freely admits guilt and shows remorse during the television interview (video
"Personally, I'm sorry. I can't say how sorry I am that she missed school. If I could serve 20 days, 100 days to make up for it I would," says Zavodney.
She doesn't seem to know that homeschooling is a legal option in Tennessee. Neither does Assistant District Attorney Bryan Davis:
"I want all parents, everyone living in Shelby County to know they must obey the law and keep their kids in school everyday," says Davis.
Based on the information provided in the article, there are several oddities in this case. First of all, the mother doesn't have legal custody of the 16-year-old daughter. The mother says the father, who has legal custody, is partially to blame for her daughter's absence in school. The article indicates that the teen is staying "with relatives", wording that leaves the impression that she is not staying with her father. Where is he?
And what about the teen? Now that the girl is back in school, how is she doing? After being absent from school since sixth grade, are her academic and intellectual abilities up to par? If so, what exactly is the mother guilty of? Either way, is the mother being punished for not teaching her daughter or not registering with the proper authorities (note: she did ignore a court order.)?
That raises another question, one I've been pondering for over two weeks now: Should parents have the right to NOT educate their children?
HT: E.D in MS via Homefires
Labels: educational neglect, Tennessee, truancy
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
's dream was to be a teacher. However, the teacher at the rural, one-room schoolhouse she attended was qualified to teach only up to 9th grade, so when she was 14 years old, she was told she could not return. Her family's poverty prevented them from sending her to high school in the city, so she did the only thing she could. She married a sharecropper and raised six children of her own and two of her sister's.
Her knowledge was practical, learned through experience and "The Farmer's Almanac."
"No matter how nice the weather is at Mardi Gras, never put a plant in the ground before Easter. There'll likely be one more freeze."
How did she know? She would smile and chuckle at neighbors covering their young tomato plants with coffee cans and plastic tarps when that late cold snap hit.
"It's too soon," she'd say.
Now that she's gone and time has passed, I think about the wisdom she carried with her and how it applies to my suburban, two-income life, so different than hers.
Daniel has been struggling with reading, and I've been stressing about it. Most first-graders are reading well by now. Is something wrong with him? Is something wrong with me?
I've been feeling like we are running out of time before the end of my self-imposed school year. We are behind. We need to rush, get it done soon... get it done now.
But then I breathe. And my mind takes me back to the neat garden in my grandmother
's yard with its rows of tomatoes and bell peppers and trailing vines of cucumbers.
"Just wait," I think she'd tell me. "Watch your children. Plant your garden when the time is right."
Posted by Lisa W.
at 5:10 PM
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
This weeks COH
is up. Alasandra will be hosting the COH March 27th, please consider submitting a post.
Labels: Carnival of Homeschooling
Monday, March 05, 2007
If you are planning for college click here
for some links to financial aid.
Labels: homeschooling resources, resources