~Why We Homeschool

Thursday, June 27, 2002

This Week in the Courts

Lawmakers Denounce Pledge of Allegiance Ruling
Members of the U.S. Congress have denounced a Federal Appeals Court decision that struck down recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in schools and prepared a resolution that calls the court ruling wrong. In a 2-1 decision headed for further appeal, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday declared the pledge unconstitutional because, it said, the phrase, "one nation under God" -- added by Congress in 1954 -- violates separation of church and state.
Next up: Money is unconstitutional.

Supreme Court Upholds School Voucher Program
A sharply divided U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the use of public money to send disadvantaged students to religious schools. The decision is a victory for President Bush and other advocates of tuition voucher programs. The justices overturned by a 5-4 vote a ruling by a U.S. appeals court that struck down an experimental private school voucher program in Cleveland for violating constitutional church-state separation.
The Court Giveth and the Court Taketh Away...

Support This Web Site

Keep the news coming! Make a Donation
Your small donation helps keep this page operational. Help us help the homeschooling community document our successes!

Monday, June 24, 2002

Homeschooling in the News

Indiana Newspaper Praises Home School Pluses
An Evansville, Indiana, newspaper published a positive article on homeschooling this week. The article lists some of the advantages of home education: "You can tailor the schedule, the curriculum and the teaching methods to your child." The article discusses a recent Christian homeschooling conference, and discusses local homeschooling law and practices.

Paper: Thumbs Down to Homeschooling Foes
A Washington Times editorial excoriates critics of homeschooling, and calls on government officials to stop placing obsticles in the paths of families that want to teach their own children. "homeschooling provides an alternative to a public-school system that has failed. The government has no business putting roadblocks in the way of responsible parents who understandably want their children to be able to opt out of the government schools."

This Week In Public School

Girl Refused Bathroom Pass May Sue
A Miami-area family is suing their daughter's school for refusing her a bathroom pass and forcing her to have a bowel movement in front of her classmates. The 14-year-old student says she had a stomach ache April 24, but her teacher, Edwin Victor-Louis, would not give her a bathroom pass, despite being asked several times and being told it was an emergency. The student says the teacher humiliated her in front of the class by saying: "If you can't hold it, you should be wearing Pampers.'' The girl has apparently never demonstrated any conduct problems, and her mother says the teacher "had no reason not to believe her if she said she needed to use the bathroom for an emergency."
Is there a judge brave enough to sentence the teacher to wear a diaper?

Wash. D.C. Teacher Jailed for Punching Child
A Washington D.C. schoolteacher has been sentenced to 30 days in jail for punching an 8-year-old female student in the nose. Teacher Hannah Leah Guttman was suspended with pay after the January incident but returned to teach the same class. She pleaded guilty to the assault charge in early May. The incident began on the morning of Jan. 14, when Guttman ordered the second-grader into the hallway for talking in class. Once in the hallway, police reports say, Guttman screamed at the girl, then "with a closed fist punched her in the nose." The child's nose began bleeding profusely and a school counselor saw Guttman in the bathroom cleaning the blood away. Such incidents were not unheard of at the school. The Superintendent replaced the principal and many teachers last year after repeated allegations of corporal punishment, which is illegal in D.C. schools.
When non-professionals abuse children, they lose access to those children. Shouldn't schools suffer the same fate?

Georgia Teachers Involved in Sex Crimes
An Atlanta-area teacher has been jailed for allegedly fondling one of his female students. Charles Farmer, who taught eighth-grade social studies, was arrested for touching the girl's breasts and genitals in mid-May inside a car parked on a rural road. The 42-year-old teacher turned himself in to the Sheriff's Department and was charged with child molestation, sexual assault and enticing a child for indecent purposes, all felonies. A spokeswoman for the teacher's school system said that the school board attorney would help administrators determine if Farmer's employment would be affected.
In related stories, Laura Voyles, formerly an English teacher at in Fayette County, was arrested in December and pleaded guilty to having a relationship with a 17-year-old male student. She was fined $1,500 and placed on three years' probation. Charlie Sheets, a 19-year-old substitute teacher at Farmer's school, got six months in jail last year after showing students Internet pictures with sexual content.
During summer break, these people are guests on the Jerry Springer show.

Florida School Board Suspends Teacher in Video
The Broward School Board on Tuesday unanimously voted to suspend without pay a Coconut Creek Elementary School physical education teacher who appeared in an online pornographic video. Teacher Anthony Vanchieri, 26, raised the eyebrows of some students, parents and school district officials last fall when he appeared as a ''tempter'' who lured women away from their boyfriends on Fox television's Temptation Island 2. But his appearance in the porn movie Solo Guys Volume 1 drew the ire of educators and parents who said he had crossed the line.Broward educators and union leaders have dealt with several sex-type scandals in recent months, including the sentencing of former teacher and Broward Teachers Union President Tony Gentile to four years in prison for trying to have sex with a teenage girl and sending pornography over the Internet. In another case, one of the people who sought Gentile's union job, Barry Silver, was suspended for 10 days almost six years ago for inappropriate contact with male students while teaching at Olsen Middle School in Dania Beach. The teacher didn't contest the accusations. He was was suspended and placed on probation by the Florida Department of Education. He now teaches at Coral Springs High School.
At least he's not out of work.

California Teacher Faces Sex Charges
A longtime San Diego-area English teacher has been placed on unpaid administrative leave following charges that he had a sexual relationship with a female student 24 years ago. Jeffery Jones, 54, has been charged with sodomy and oral copulation of a minor. The felony counts are each punishable by up to three years in prison. The victim went to the Sheriff's Department several months ago, and the clock doesn't start ticking on the one-year statute of limitations until after the crime has been reported to law enforcement. Jones has plead not guilty. His wife is an English teacher at the same school.
You can run, but you can't hide...

Fight Looms over Florida Bible Plan
The American Civil Liberties Union is gearing up to fight a proposal to teach Bible history classes in Miami-area secondary schools. At issue is whether the proposed curriculum for the elective course, based on a model developed in North Carolina and used in 32 other states, is a veiled attempt to introduce religious values and teachings into a public school setting. ''This is a curriculum that is taught from a certain Christian point of view,'' said the Florida executive director of the ACLU. ``It is a prescription for divisiveness within this community.'' Late last week the ACLU sent a letter to all School Board members pointing out that a federal court in Tampa limited the use of similar Bible course material another area. ACLU officials said they would be ready to back to court if the Miami-Dade proposal is adopted without revisions. The course studies biblical references in literature and art, uses it to study Middle Eastern history and shows the influence of the Bible on the U.S. Constitution. The district currently offers an elective comparative religion course called World Religion in several high schools.
Has anyone asked the parents what they'd like their children taught?

Michigan School Board Members Accepted Bribes
Click here for more information
Two East Detroit Schools board members have plead guilty to accepting more than $60,000 in money and goods in exchange for steering district business to crooked contractors. And investigators suspect the two convictions are only the tip of the iceberg. "When the indictments come, the community will at first be in shock at how big this is," said the school board president, who helped uncover the bribery. By awarding the contracts to certain vendors, board member Karen DeGrande received an $11,922 check to pay off her personal credit card, $3,821 to pay her husband's overdue income taxes and $8,000 that she used in part to pay for a smear campaign against two school board candidates. Former trustee Bettie Huebner, 73, received a $20,000 check made out to her son and daughter-in-law, a 1995 Dodge Intrepid and one year of insurance coverage.
Nice work, if you can get it.

Disabled Graduate: Penalize Principal
A Georgia school refused to allow a disabled Berkmar High School to a walk across her graduation stage in May, saying she had to use a wheelchair instead. The student, paralyzed from the waist down in a 1999 car wreck, graduated on May 23. After practicing walking for more than a year, she had planned to accept her diploma using leg braces and a walker. Instead, Principal Jim Markham told her she'd have to use her wheelchair after watching the girl struggle across the stage during graduation practice earlier that day. The girl's mother said her daughter's walk across the stage was supposed to be a final act of her courage and a realization of a goal. "We were so hurt," she said.
Hurting a child is one thing, but inconvenience is intolerable...

Boston Educator Charged with Indecent Assault
Click here for more information A discipline counselor at a Boston-area elementary school was arraigned last week on a charge of indecently assaulting a 13-year-old boy. The alleged assault took place in back seat of the aide's car. Police found the boy with his pants down sitting with the man in the back seat of his Jaguar in a convenience store parking lot. The boy told officers the educator had touched his genitals while the boy urinated into a food package, an act the man had committed on up to five prior occasions. When arrested, he told police he was just trying to help the boy go to the bathroom.
Because "helping" a teenager urinate in a food package is superior to other forms of molestation.

Chicago Teachers Angry Over Paid Free Day
Some 26,000 Chicago teachers and staff are being given an unexpected day off with pay this week, but they're not happy. Educators are complaining that getting a free day means they'll just have to do unpaid make-up work to get report cards ready. Chicago public schools are scheduled to close Tuesday, when students pick up report cards. The day before traditionally is when students are off and teachers prepare report cards, finish other paperwork, confer with other teachers about students moving up a grade, return materials for the summer and pack up if they are being moved to another room for the new school year. Teachers at Gladstone School "are doing records early in the morning and late at night" to make up for not working Monday, Principal Gary Moriello said. Said another educator: "Everybody's pretty stressed out not having that day" to work.
Pass the hankies, please. I need to dab my tears.

Support This Web Site

Keep the news coming! Recommend our books to other families!

Homeschooling Step-by-Step
Everything you need to know about how to homeschool legally and effectively! How does your state rank? What's your child's learning style? What about college? Find teaching tips, teaching strategies, and more than 100 solutions to homeschooling's toughest problems!

Homeschool Your Child for Free
More than 1200 free resources for teaching your child at home. Includes a complete scope and sequence, and information about teaching every subject from kindergarten to college.

Make a Donation
Your small donation helps keep this page operational. Help us help the homeschooling community document our successes!

Testing, Testing, Testing

Education Down the Drain
Across the country, says a Miami Herald editorial, one poisonous lesson was pumped into the systems of self-esteem-inflated students: There is no such thing as failure. The article cites several examples.
* Christine Pelton, a now-famous former biology teacher at Piper, Kansa, High School resigned last month when her school board -- pressured by angry parents -- refused to support her flunking of nearly 30 students who plagiarized. Two other teachers also refused to play along with the education establishment's dumbing-down games. They tried to give out F's, too. Their reward for showing children that slacking off has consequences? Humiliation, intimidation and litigation.
* Erich Martel, a history teacher at Wilson Senior High School in Washington, D.C., issued an F last year to a girl who took his advanced-placement U.S. history course. It was enough to prevent her from graduating. But when the school held its commencement ceremony, there was the student -- strolling across the stage in her cap and gown. Martel checked the school's computer system. The student's grade had been boosted to a D. Martel later discovered at least 11 cases in which students' grades were raised without the knowledge of his fellow teachers. Administrators responsible for altering the grades were promoted.
* When a Sunrise, Arizona, high school flunked a required English class, which she needed to pass to graduate, Mom and Dad did the natural thing in a no-consequences world: They hired a lawyer. The school backed down and allowed the student to graduate.
The diploma doesn't mean anything, but it's a really cool-looking piece of paper!

Last State Joins U.S. Testing Standard
Pressure from the Bush administration has forced South Dakota to joining the other 49 states in administering a standard test used to compare schools nationwide. The test, called the National Assessment for Educational Progress, attempts to measure progress toward national standards and is based on a random sample of students in grades four and eight. All other states offer the program in some form already. South Dakota had chosen not to participated because of cost and because the state already had several types of tests for students in its schools. But the President's "No Child Left Behind" initiative included provisions that made the NAEP mandatory. Last week, a committee of the state Legislature authorized education officials to spend $45,328 in federal funds to hire a coordinator for key details, such as how many students will be tested for the proper sample and when the tests will be given.
Yippee! Now we're like one great big (institutionalized) family!

NC High School Tests Scores Drop
Durham, North Carolina. public high school students performed worse in six out of 10 subjects on end-of-course tests this year, the school system reported Wednesday. The biggest decline was in physical science -- 50.7 percent of students were "proficient" in that subject, compared with 58.1 percent last year. Still, the school system touted the scores as an improvement over scores from 1998-1999.
You think we're bad now, just look how bad we used to be!

News Briefs

Maryland School Board on Trial
A Maryland school board is under fire for illegally conducting official business using private electronic messages instead of in a public forum. School board critic Allen R. Dyer has provided the court with more than 1,300 pieces of e-mail that he thinks will show that the county Board of Education broke the law. Dyer's lawsuit against the school board alleges that the board violated open-meetings and public records laws by holding regularly scheduled closed meetings, improperly releasing the minutes from open meetings and discussing official business by e-mail.
Legal, schmegal...

Washington Teacher Guilty of Child Rape
A 38-year-old elementary school teacher from Everett, Washington, has been convicted on three counts of third-degree child rape and two counts of third-degree child molestation for her sexual activity with the teenager in the spring of 2001, when he was 14. DNA testing on a sperm stain on the woman's bed comforter showed it contained cellular matter that matched both her and the teenager, who testified they had sex twice on that bed. The jury deadlocked on a sixth charge concerning another teenager, who was 14 when he claimed the teacher fondled him in October 2000. The teenager, now 15, testified he was drunk and stoned when the woman ran into him outside a grocery store and offered him a ride to her house, where he said she later molested him. Eleven of 12 jurors — six men and six women — voted to convict her of that charge, too, jurors said. The 12th juror was concerned about the reliability of the teen's memory that night, given his state of mind, other jurors said. The woman faces a standard prison sentence of five years. She has been on paid leave from her teaching job since last June. A school district spokesman said no formal decision about her employment had been made.
Won't five years in the slammer make the decision a little easier?

Minnesota Court Rejects Complaint over Transgendered Librarian
A Minnesota teacher who complained that allowing a transgendered librarian to use the women's faculty bathroom created a hostile workplace had her claim reject by a federal appeals court. The male librarian lives and dresses as a woman, but has not been surgically altered. The court said the school met its legal obligation when it offered alternate facilities to the teacher. The teacher argued that allowing the transgendered employee to use the women's bathroom is a "trojan horse" that will allow all men to enter women's restrooms, making women more vulnerable, "to say nothing of privacy and modesty issues."
Trojan what?

Ohio Day-Care Operator Arrested for Videotaping Children
An Akron, Ohio, grand jury yesterday indicted the co-owner and operator of a day care center and preschool on felony charges, including voyeurism, endangering children and illegal use of a minor. The 54-year-old owner is accused of invading the privacy of a person who was nude, and illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material or performance, photographing a minor or showing pictures of a nude child. He is accused of allowing a boy to videotape a girl in a bathroom and showing the tape to boys. Last month the man was arrested on suspicion of peeping at partially dressed children, showing pornography to children and keeping a loaded gun within reach of children. When sheriff's detectives raided the day-care center they found pornography, a loaded gun, a knife and a bull whip. The investigation began when someone reported that children were being filmed.
It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood...

Students' Ambiguous Gesture May Lead to Hate-Crime Investigation
Law enforcement officials are reportedly looking into whether two New York students--who were photographed in a group picture with outstretched right arms and palms down--were guilty of a hate crime. The two students insist they were merely waving during a pep rally in the school gymnasium, and deny making a "Nazi salute." Apparently, many students in the picture have their arms raised, some making the peace sign and others holding an index finger raised as if signaling, "We're No. 1." The group picture turned up on the cover of the school yearbook, and the school has already said it will reissue the yearbooks with a redesigned cover for those who are offended by the gesture.
Would the school reissue the yearbook if the boys had raised four fewer fingers?

No Charges for Thieving Ex-Principal
Prosecutors in Broward County, Florida, will not file charges against a former principal accused of stealing cash and computer equipment from her school -- despite her "questionable" conduct and "clearly fabricated" attempts to create proof exonerating herself -- because they lack evidence proving criminal intent. The principal apparently returned many of the items she was accused of stealing once she knew a school district investigation was ongoing. Among the items were two computers, two Palm Pilots, a digital camera, TV, calculator and three ceiling fans. School personnel never kept any records on thousands of dollars of fund-raising money from Mother's and Father's Day events that was reported missing. Such records would be needed to prove profits ever existed.
Well, if she didn't intend to rip off the school, no problem.

AMA: Bullying Equals Child Abuse
Bullying by schoolmates is as bad as child abuse, says the American Medical Association. The organization is asking doctors to be vigilant for signs that their young patients might be victims. Half of all children in the United States are bullied at some point, and one in 10 is victimized on a regular basis, said an AMA report. The AMA's research shows bullying can leave lasting scars on victims and their tormentors. School bullying often progresses to more violent behavior, the report found, and when bullies grow up, they are more likely to suffer from depression, suicidal behavior and alcoholism. Victims of frequent bullying tend to have low self-esteem and difficulty making friends. They're also more likely to feel lonely, have trouble sleeping, wet their beds, have unexplained stomach pains and headaches and are at higher risk for depression and poor self-esteem later on.
Have a great day at school!

Virginia Student Arrested for Threat
A Norfolk, Virginia, seventh-grader has been arrested after threatening to kill a teacher and a dean. The student was taken into custody without incident as he got off a school bus. He cooperated with police, and no weapons were found. Police spokesman Chris Amos said students overheard the 15-year-old making threats. The school was placed on ``lock-down'' status early Tuesday and dogs searched the building for guns. The school day returned to normal following the search.
Whatever "normal" is.

Illinois Teen Stabbed to Death in Fight
A 16-year-old Chicago boy stabbed a classmate to death in a knife fight on Wednesday. There was "bad blood" between the teens prior to the fight, said McHenry Deputy Police Chief William Brogan, who declined to say what triggered the incident.
Ho-hum...just another school killing.

Parents Struggle for Special-Ed Aid
One in six parents of disabled children has considered suing or has threatened to sue the child's school district to get services, a new poll shows. Most of the parents surveyed believe schools often hold back help, and don't offer special help to children unless families insist. In the telephone poll of 510 parents of special-education students, 55 percent said parents must work to find out what help is available, and 16 percent said they have considered suing or threatened to sue a school district over an issue related to a child's education. Another 35 percent found it frustrating to get their children the education services they need.
Your tax dollars at work...

Plea Reached in School Shootings
Click here for more information
The San Diego teenager who killed two classmates and wounded 13 others is pleading guilty. Charles "Andy" Williams, now 16, faces sentencing as an adult. Defense attorneys have said Williams was the object of vicious bullying and taunting by others at the high school.The boy's father claimed his son was repeatedly burned with the hot metal of cigarette lighters, suffered welts when he was beaten with a towel, and was slammed against a tree twice.
And between beatings and shootings, he probably learned something useful about prophylactics.

Financial Review Turns Up $3.3 Million Surprise
Through years of sloppy bookkeeping, administrators in a St. Petersburg, Florida-area school district lost track of the existence of a $3.3 million account. The financial administrator, hired 18 months ago, said she found the money in a "sinking" fund used to repay school construction loans that date back to 1984. The district intends to use the windfall to cover $2-million in debts that remain from the district's disastrous self-funded health insurance plan, and to fatten up its "rainy day fund."
Or -- just an idea -- since the school apparently didn't need it, why not give it back to the families it was extracted from? We'd actually use it for educational materials!

Despite Stereotypes, Asian Students Fare Poorly
Educators: What's the lesson to learn from Asia? Stop it! Rote learning and endless testing destroys creativity. Bullying leads to violence. Dropping out is a sign of frustration. And suicide is a common side effect of high-pressure compulsory education. Is this the road Western educators want to travel?
Clue: No.

Thursday, June 20, 2002

Homeschoolers in the News

Smarter, Better & Home Schooled!
CNSNews.com this week publishes an outstanding commentary on homeschooling. There was a boy, says the writer, whom teachers complained about. They said he "could not learn, seemed confused, and asked too many questions. Today, that boy would have been required to take Ritalin or some other drug. In his case, however, his parents decided to home school him. He was Thomas Edison." Homeschooling is more effective than "the deliberate stupefying of the children passing through what is surely the most expensive and ineffective educational system the world has ever known." According to CNSNews, today's American public education system is less about educating students and more about indoctrinating them. The result: "docile, ignorant people who know little about their nation's history."

Mallard Fillmore on Homeschooling
After homeschoolers won yet another national academic bee, cartoonist Bruce Tinsley poked fun at those who question the efficacy of home education.

This Week In Public School

Mom Sues Over Girl's Sex Ordeal At School
A Brooklyn mom is filing a $1.25 million negligence suit against the Board of Education after her 13-year old daughter said she was sexually assaulted in March in her junior high school. The alleged sex abuse happened in early March 6 at about 11:45 a.m. in the schoolyard. According to the victim, the attacker, a 13-year-old special-education student with a violent history, knocked her down, pulled her arm behind her and fondled her buttocks and breasts while an assistant principal and other employees stood nearby. The attack continued in a stairwell inside the school. She said another boy held her down as the abuser grabbed her and attempted to squeeze her between the legs while uttering rape threats and obscenities. The mother said the school failed to notify her, and that she only heard about the attack from her distraught daughter. She also claimed school officials failed to immediately notify police, as required by state law.
"So, dear, how was school today?"...

Wielding Broom, Teacher Attacks Class, Police Say
A New York schoolteacher attacked his first-grade class with a broom handle, sending 20 of the 27 children in the classroom to the hospital. The children were treated for injuries, including welts and bruises. The teacher, Danilo Nunez, 57, was arrested and charged with assault in the attack, which occurred midday at Public School 4, the police said. The children were taken to a local hospital, where 11 had marks on them, said a spokeswoman for the Board of Education. Some had marks on their backs and shoulders, and one had a mark on the face. Some children reported their hair had been pulled, their ears had been twisted, or they had been slapped. Although it was unclear what might have prompted the attack, one student in the class said that the teacher became upset at students' unruly behavior.
"Learn anything new?"...

Mother Says Child Was Beaten In School
See also, additional information.

Police said they are investigating the alleged beating of a 12-year-old Connecticut boy by three schoolmates that apparently started on school grounds Wednesday afternoon. According to an e-mail message sent by the mother to authorities, her son, a sixth-grader, was “beat up, choked, punched, dragged into the street by his foot while trying to defend himself, then hit in the head with a rock by three seventh/eighth-graders from Putnam Middle School. In talking with the witnesses, one told me that the three students plan to seriously injure or kill my son on the last day of school.” The boy's mother told reporters the doctor at who treated her son in the emergency room Wednesday afternoon said if the rock had hit one inch lower, hitting her son's temple, he would have been killed. She said her son has been victimized verbally and physically in school almost daily for four years. At one point, she took him out to homeschool him, but returned the boy to school in 2000 after an administrator assured her the learning environment would be safe.
"Make any new friends?"...

Seattle-Area Teacher Ties Up Three Students for Teasing
A Kent, Washington, school teacher tied the hands of three elementary-school students and confined them to a wheelchair as punishment for teasing a fellow student who is physically disabled. The parents of the students are threatening lawsuits.
"Get along with your teachers?"...

Public Sex Play: No Big Deal
American public-school students are engaging in public sex acts on the playground, on the bus, at the movies and even in class, says a Detroit FreePress report. Sexuality is so pervasive, and so casual, that even the "abstinent geeks" are witnessing and telling jokes about it. A CDC survey found that half of the nation's teens have had sexual intercourse, nearly 10 percent by age 13, but the evidence suggests teens are calling themselves abstinent even when they have oral sex. The CDC survey doesn't inquire about oral sex or other sexual behaviors that many teens see not as sexual, but rather as routine as "washing their hands or changing their socks."
"Play nice with the other kids?"...

Peaceniks Oppose Veterans as Teachers
An anti-war activist is protesting efforts by the U.S. Departments of Defense and Education to try to get more retired military personnel to serve as teachers in the nation's public schools. Titus Peachey, a director of peace education for Mennonite Central Committee U.S., claims the Troops-to-Teachers program is a covert recruiting effort by the U.S. military. Peachey suggested the program is "a way for the military to make itself look attractive to impressionable youth in very subtle ways." He also objects to the presence of "the military mind-set" in the classroom, and suggested that teachers who had served in the armed forces might not "be open to presenting a variety of perspectives on America's wars."
Unlike anti-war activists, who are certain to present a variety of perspectives!

Support This Web Site

Keep the news coming! Recommend our books to other families!

Homeschooling Step-by-Step
Everything you need to know about how to homeschool legally and effectively! How does your state rank? What's your child's learning style? What about college? Find teaching tips, teaching strategies, and more than 100 solutions to homeschooling's toughest problems!

Homeschool Your Child for Free
More than 1200 free resources for teaching your child at home. Includes a complete scope and sequence, and information about teaching every subject from kindergarten to college.

Make a Donation
Your small donation helps keep this page operational. Help us help the homeschooling community document our successes!

Testing, Testing, Testing

Teachers criticize the MCAS math test
A group of Boston teachers are questioning the validity of this spring's math MCAS test, which took many high school students more than double the recommended time to complete. An association of teachers told the state's Education Commissioner ''There was clearly something wrong with this test…Despite directions to the contrary, few, if any of our students, were able to complete both sections of the mathematics MCAS in the recommended two hours. In fact, almost all of our schools reported that they had many students working on the test in excess of five hours.'' Teachers report that some students tore up the test, while others left crying or walked out of school after the April testing session. The State said it will consider adjusting the cut-off score needed to pass the math portion if it is determined that the exam was more difficult than intended.
If the test is bad, just adjust the results to fit...

Georgia Teacher Suspended for Cheating
An Atlanta-area educator who posted test questions from the controversial Gateway test on the Internet will have his teaching license suspended for six months. The teacher vowed to appeal the decision, saying "This is the price I'm paying for bucking the system. I'm not backing up. I'll continue to speak the truth." The fourth-grade teacher was named Teacher of the Year in 2000-01. He posted six Gateway test questions on an anti-Gateway Web site after his fourth-grade students finished the exam. He said his intent was to show flaws in the county-developed standardized test, including the fact that some test questions dealt with topics that students had not studied.
Guess he showed them!

School's Test Scores Helped By Cheating, Investigation Finds
Click here for more details.
An investigation found that the high test scores that earned a California school national recognition for its success in serving disadvantaged children were helped by teacher cheating. Former students at the East Palo Alto school told the Mercury News that they received inappropriate help on the state tests. A former teacher says a school administrator encouraged him to cheat. Moreover, tests given last year in two grades show an abnormally high number of erasures -- changing the answers from wrong to right. Former teachers say the principal ordered them to inflate grades, leaving children with a false impression of their abilities that they say is devastating when they get to high school.
At least California teachers (who receive cash bonuses for high test scores) are getting paid for going the extra mile!

News Briefs

Summer School Notices Tardy
Letters summoning some 21,000 St. Paul, Minnesota, kids to summer school are late getting out this year, and junior high and high school students are just now being notified with only about a week before the summer program begins….

Students Walk Out Over Odor
The smell from a roof-tarring project at Renton, Washington, High School led to a brief walkout by about 30 students and a change in schedule for the project. An adminstrator said no students reported to the nurse's office that day, but earlier in the week several had gone there with headaches from the odor.

Georgia Teacher Faces Prison For Sex With Teens
A former Atlanta-area high school teacher implicated in a sex scandal with students was sentenced last week to two years in prison. After hearing testimony from 19 friends, employers, co-workers and family members, social studies teacher and football coach Gene Groves was ordered to serve two years in prison and 13 years of probation on four counts of sexual assault and two counts of cruelty to children. The charges stem from allegations that he fondled one student and had sex with another on two occasions. Groves' former colleagues Bradley L. Chapman and Richard Paul Adams II also resigned in spring 2001 after allegedly having inappropriate relationships with students. Adams and Chapman pleaded guilty and are now on probation.

More Schools Earn Failing Grade
Click here for additional information
Ten Florida schools received a failing grade for the second year in a row, and their nearly 9000 students are now eligible to attend private schools at taxpayer expense. The big increase in voucher-eligible schools statewide is controversial in large measure because students who wish to attend private schools with a religious mission are eligible for financial aid.

Third Graders Still Lagging In Reading Skills
Only two-thirds of Massachusetts third graders scored in the ambiguous ''proficient'' category on the 2002 MCAS exam. That's an increase of five percentage points from last year, but still means that more than 24,000 Massachusetts third graders can't read.

Study Details Teens' Drug Use
One out of every six teenagers in the Boston area abuses drugs or alcohol or is so dependent on these substances that in-patient treatment may be required, says anew study. The Boston Children's Hospital study is consistent with similar studies around the nation. The study found that 43 percent of teens reported they have been in a car when the driver had been using drugs or alcohol.

Kidnapper Schoolbus Driver May Go Free
A Philadelphia bus driver who kidnapped 13 schoolchildren may be released from prison. Otto Nuss carried a loaded rifle and 93 rounds of ammunition on the bus as he took children on a six-hour trip to suburban Washington. He left a will written two days before the incident.

Poor Schools Hire Uncertified Teachers
For more information, click here, here, or here.
Low-income students are much more likely to be taught by a public school teacher who isn't fully certified, according to a new Education Department report. The report, based on figures provided by states, found that students in "high-poverty" school districts were nearly twice as likely as students in "low-poverty" districts to get a teacher who isn't fully certified. In some states, such as New York, poor students are more than four times as likely to have a teacher working with a waiver.

Heat Wave Shortens School Days
Schools throughout the East Coast have been suffering under a withering heat wave, with some closing early each day. In a few cases, the heat has disrupted final exams and other end-of-year activities as school officials sent children home or simply let them rest in class. Most severely hit have been aging urban schools without working air conditioning.

Shop Classes Lose Out to Computer Labs
An increasing number of schools are replacing hands-on shop classes with computers that teach the same subjects -- architectural drawing or electronics or even radio broadcasting -- on line.

Monday, June 10, 2002

Homeschoolers in the News

Homeschooled Teens Have it All
Minnesota homeschoolers are overwhelmed with opportunities. "The lack of social opportunities — one of the myths of homeschooling — is not a worry for many metro-area families who have made the choice to teach their own children," says the writer.

Homeschooling's Popularity Rising
Inquiries from parents interested in taking their children out of the public school system have surged 30 percent since the September 11 terrorist attacks, said Utah Home Education Association Chairman Jon Yarrington.

Homeschoolers Pass the Torch
Meet three homeschooled Generation X couples who have learned how to succeed and who intend to pass on this legacy by teaching their own children at home....

Graduation Ceremonies for Homeschoolers Catch On
...An increasing number of home-schoolers are opting for caps, gowns, and all the pomp and circumstance of a public-school ceremony....

Graduate Thrives in Homeschool Environment
Near-perfect scores on both the ACT and SAT college entrance exams and full-ride tuition offers from a number of universities from across the country are just a few of the things that make up the 18-year-old's impressive résumé. But she didn't achieve so much inside the halls of a typical high school. From third grade on, Curtin was taught by her parents in the basement of her Oconomowoc home....

Homeschooling, A Feminist Challenge
A peaceful revolution is transforming North America at its roots, and women are in the forefront...

Father says Media Ignore Christian Beliefs of Homeschoolers
What gave National Geography Bee winner Calvin McCarter, 10, the edge in the competition last week in Washington? Proud papa Joseph Parnell McCarter says it was his son's "reformed Christian" home-school curriculum and Christian beliefs.

Homeschooled Students Make Most of Schedules
Homeschooling has been a controversial subject for years now, and for the most part, it's still a hard decision to make. But homeschooling is an option parents can consider when educational choices become a reality.

This Week In the Public School

Teachers, Sex, Kids -- Ho-Hum
A California high school teacher runs off to Las Vegas with her 15-year-old student. A Louisiana teacher is accused of having an affair with her 14-year-old student. In the Bronx, a teacher is charged with statutory rape involving a 16-year-old former student. [Editor: And in Washington State, another female teacher is currently on trial for having sexual relations with two 14-year-old boys.]
No single national agency tracks sex-related cases against teachers, but one researcher estimates there are several hundred such incidents each year across the country. A 1998 search of Education Week's databases found 244 cases in a six-month period involving allegations ranging from unwanted touching to sexual relationships and serial rape.
Hello, little boy. My name is Candy...

Schools Cut Schoolweek to Save Money
Proposals for a shorter school week are drawing ire from working parents and others, despite the fact that experts have documented higher morale, and fewer disciplinary problems in four-day schools.
Watch morale soar with a zero-day school week!

Graduated from Kindergarten? Here's Your Limo!
San Diego-area parents are now hiring limosines to pick up their children following graduation ceremonies for kids as young as kindergarten. Said one principal, who thinks the rented limo rides are a fine idea: "It's not my place to judge what a parent does for motivation or reward. It's a parent's choice where they put their money."
Oh look! A brand-new way to fail your children!

Yearbook Features Pregnant Students
A four-page spread in a Florida high school yearbook features five pregnant teenaged students. One large full-color photo of a teenaged mother is surrounded by headline-sized text saying "I am a momma and I am happy...I love chimpanzees and puppies. I love playing with my baby."
The homeschooled child's yearbook: "I am educated and I am happy... and I love playing with my baby sister.

DC High School Changes Grades to Allow Graduation
A top Washington D.C. high school altered the grades of failing students to allow them to graduate. Administrators have admitted changing grades and engaging in other irregularities.
And the students will have such a terrific story to tell their grandkids!

Deal Gives Mayor Authority over Schools
Control of New York City schools will soon revert from local supervisors to the centralized office of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.
Try getting the mayor to sign off on your state-mandated homeschooling education plan!

It's Tough Filling Teaching Vacancies
A national teacher shortage has made this year's hiring season more challenging for school districts in search of talented teachers.
Hey, here's a solution: How 'bout families teach their own kids!

Support This Web Site

Keep the news coming! Recommend our books to other families!

Homeschooling Step-by-Step
Everything you need to know about how to homeschool legally and effectively! How does your state rank? What's your child's learning style? What about college? Find teaching tips, teaching strategies, and more than 100 solutions to homeschooling's toughest problems!

Homeschool Your Child for Free
More than 1200 free resources for teaching your child at home. Includes a complete scope and sequence, and information about teaching every subject from kindergarten to college.

Make a Donation
Your small donation helps keep this page operational. Help us help the homeschooling community document our successes!

Testing, Testing, Testing

With a No. 2 Pencil, Delete
Writer Anna Quindlen excoriates New York test makers for pablum-izing literature.
Question 1: The genderless person went to the nameless place for an unspecified purpose. Why?

Writing Scores Tumble
North Carolina's education leaders grew so alarmed last month by early results of the annual writing test given to fourth-graders that they halted the scoring to make sure the tests were being graded correctly. Now that the scores are all in, it's clear why they had reason to worry. Fewer than 47 percent of the state's 101,500 fourth-grade students passed the single-question test, on which students are given 50 minutes to write a narrative-style essay. This year's assignment: "Write a story about a time you had a great day at school."
Ummm...I'd be hard-pressed!

Special Ed Students Concerned Over Graduation Rules
Starting in 2004, California's special education students will no longer earn a high school diploma unless they can pass algebra, a foreign language and an exit exam, written about the 10th-grade level.
Administrators: Can you spell "special"?

SAT Likely to Include Handwritten Essay
An expected overhaul of the SAT college entrance exam looks likely to include a handwritten essay, creating a new challenge for college-bound students, a big logistic chore for test administrators and more emphasis on writing in high school.
Hoop of the day. Ready? Jump.

Exam Limits Learning Disabled
California's learning disabled students could face more problems with the state's high school exit exam under new rules quietly adopted by the state Department of Education. Anyone who passes the test with the help of a spell-checker or dictating equipment will not have the score counted the same as other passing grades, and will have to take other steps to graduate.
Every child is unique -- just like every other child.

On School Choice

It's the American Way
...If parents judge that a particular school best suits their children's needs, that should be sufficient. It's the parents' job to do what they think best for their children....
It sounds so simple!

Home Schoolers Make Case for School Choice
Michigan is celebrating the victory of 10-year-old Calvin McCarter, the youngest competitor in a field of 55, who won the National Geographic Bee on Wednesday, May 22. Only last month, McCarter, who hails from Jenison, Mich., had become the youngest state winner ever when he bested 100 Michigan fourth- through eighth-graders at geography....
Pack up the van, Mom. We're off to nationals!

Learn how to Homeschool Your Child For Free!
More than 1,200 free educational resources for homeschooling families. Includes scope and sequence, college entrance, and more!

Our newest book: Homeschooling Step by Step
Everything you need to know about how to homeschool legally and effectively! How does your state rank? What's your child's learning style? What about college? Find teaching tips, teaching strategies, and more than 100 solutions to homeschooling's toughest problems!

HAVE HOMESCHOOLING STORIES? We'd like to share them with the world. We invite anecdotes about cute homeschooling moments, and brief explanations of why your family homeschools. Your stories may be published in this column, or included in one of the author's books. Please limit your submissions to about 50 words, and include your geographic location. Please send your stories to mykids@whywehomeschool.com

NEWS NOTE: We need your watchful eyes! Read a homeschooling news story on line? Let us know! We spend a lot of time searching, but we don't catch everything! You're invited to e-mail us about HS'ing news at editor@whywehomeschool.com.

Copyright LauraMaery Gold, 2002, 2003, 2004
Your small donation keeps this site operating. Thank you!

Want to receive every issue of this column? Subscribe to the Homeschool Your Child For Free! mailing list at 0-homeschoolreviews-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

Or subscribe to the weekly Why We Homeschool column alone at 0-WhyWeHomeschool-subscribe@yahoogroups.com