The Story of Homeschool Truth: Time We Learned Our Lesson?

30 12 2007

Big Church and Big School are really the same story, did you ever think about that as the thoughtful independent individual you struggle to be through home education, and perhaps fancy you’ve already become?

Governance of all by any One Story, be it sacred or secular, theocracy or educracy, subsumes the individual spirit and power to create its own stories. There is no other meaning or power to this story, however it’s told:

We the diverse and contentious student body of a recently desegregated public high school, couldn’t agree on which band would play what kind of dance music. . . The one thing it turned out our schooling gave us in common then, was learning that lesson the hard way.

And are you enough of a student of story to understand that the conceit of Libertarianism is no less a “One Story Tells All Truth” -ism, as is Ayn Rand’s Objectivism? It’s an oxymoron I know, but any One Story, including her Worship of the Individual, is just another cult “revival” that defines and dismisses the real lives of every individual on the planet, except ourselves and a precious few we may personally esteem as important characters. The rest of humanity is cast, by every story defining itself as the Only Story, as some Big Ol’ Lump of Other, as devoid of any compelling stories of their own and therefore of any individual status, meaningful only as amorphous antagonist force in the context of MY ego-exalting story.

Bible stories never were told that way in my southern childhood — quite the opposite in fact, with every hair and fallen sparrow counting, prayer being humble and private and personal, different for each Methodist in his or her own mind. Not to mention that my mid-century Methodist role models, who hadn’t even split into separate churches yet, were also united in larger common purpose (never mind whether that label was used) with everyone I knew in and out of church, in and out of school, in so many stories that fit together for all as collaborative good works, rather than competing against each other in some high-stakes power struggle only one Story could win to Rule Them All.

Getting a good public education was supported for us all, and meant learning to understand all the stories and meanings as individuals — but oh well, here we are.

I’ve done both, tennis and protestant church stuff.

In my lifetime the rackets for tennis got better and better, through research and science. The rules changed to accommodate the new possibilities.

The rackets for church have gotten much worse. I don’t play anymore.

OR – a different way of framing this for examination is with the “school” network obsolescing itself, by having pushed out so many non-traditional kid nodes and then frustrating all us private school, homeschool, unschool, and even charter experiment hybrid types — so that by such exclusion, we oddball nodes went out and founded new mini-networks all over. The Deviant’s Advantage?

Churches too are in a cycle of doing this — and evermore extremely — narrowing and homogenizing networks by defining more and more of us as deviant from their absolutes, so that: Read the rest of this entry »

Writing Our Own Political Power of Story

29 12 2007

More Power of Story about power of story:

Mr. Mikva says Mr. Obama learned to campaign in different ways without changing the substance of what he was saying. He learned to use rhythms, analogies, “quotes that resonate better.” . . . skating nimbly among factions. . .

Home education (all education) can do that, if only we will. Parent and family advocates can do that. Feminism and progressive politics can do that, too. Even fundamentalist religion could do that.

But so far they don’t, which is why we still call them factions, fit only for individual candidates to skate between, rather than new power of story for all Americans, fit for a future full of powerful stories.

For more, see “Prez Candidates Write Their Own Stories and Ours, in Very Personal Books” and “Can Thinking Parents Save Generation Joshua?”

For even more — maybe your kids like mine are older and they’re out and about being merry this week, leaving you with some time to read and reflect — see some less sanguine thoughts about Obama’s story skating and “school socialization” and maybe this story, about one story defining everyone and everything to the point that all our stories are spoiled, including the One at issue.

Individualism and Institutionalism, Part Two

26 12 2007

Picking up where I left off in part one:

MisEducation’s Mind Field of the Moment
Harry Potter and Hogwarts:
Making Magic in Spite of School

Hogwarts Life Lesson #2 —
Individuals are not interchangeable. People cannot be standardized, though we often pretend otherwise. Teaching, parenting, and public service are neither noble nor shields for abusive individuals — they can be anything in between. It all depends on the individual.

Here’s an unusually raw example of institutional and collective concerns trumping individual needs and concerns in learning — a little boy takes the state fourth grade test but doesn’t understand an essay question well enough to address it.

So he writes nothing, which the institution chooses to interpret as his individual “choice” to be “insubordinate” — ever notice that this crime of insubordination literally means failing to subordinate one’s individuality to the satisfaction of some outside authority, to lose oneself and be counted underneath that authority? — and winds up suspended from school for a full week to teach him the *real* lesson of institutional schooling, spelled out in the official letter to his mother:

Thus, he has compromised the representation of what his peers know
and are able to do. Their scores will be reported as a group, not as
individuals. Additionally, this extends to the whole fourth grade, as our school
score, the one that is reported to the state and the media, is an average of all
fourth grade students. Thus, his choice impacts Tyler, his classmates, his
grade mates, and his school. As we have worked so hard this year to improve
our writing skills, this is a particularly egregious wound. . . .

Details of this case are posted in the standardized testing thread.


The ethic of individual effort and even the word “individualism” shows up today in, of all places, the extremely institutional New York Times. JJ

The Republican Party succeeds among the poor because it is
seen as the party of optimistic individualism.


Last week the Pew Research Center came out with a study of the American electorate that crystallized something I’ve been sensing for a long time: rich people are boring, but poor people are interesting.

The Pew data demonstrated that . . . affluent people are pretty well represented by their parties, are not internally conflicted and are pretty much stuck in their ways.

But poorer voters are not like that. They’re much more internally conflicted and not represented well by any party. . . These less-educated voters are more cross-pressured and more independent than educated voters.

If you’re looking for creative tension, for instability, for a new political movement, the lower middle class is probably where it’s going to emerge.

. . . George Bush won the white working class by 23 percentage points in this past election. Many people have wondered why so many lower-middle-class waitresses in Kansas and Hispanic warehouse workers in Texas now call themselves Republicans. The Pew data provide an answer: they agree with Horatio Alger.

These working-class folk like the G.O.P.’s social and foreign policies, but the big difference between poor Republicans and poor Democrats is that the former believe that individuals can make it on their own with hard work and good character.

According to the Pew study, 76 percent of poor Republicans believe most people can get ahead with hard work. Only 14 percent of poor Democrats believe that. Poor Republicans haven’t made it yet, but they embrace what they take to be the Republican economic vision – that it is in their power to do so. Poor Democrats are more likely to believe they are in the grip of forces beyond their control.

The G.O.P. succeeds because it is seen as the party of optimistic individualism.

But when you look at how Republicans behave in office, you notice that they are often clueless when it comes to understanding the lower-class folks who put them there. They are good at responding to business-class types and social conservatives, but bad at responding to poor Republicans. . .

Remember, these Republicans are disproportionately young women with children. Nearly 70 percent have trouble paying their bills every month. They are optimistic about the future, but their fear of their lives falling apart stalks them at night.

Poorer Republicans support government programs that offer security, so long as they don’t undermine the work ethic. . .


I heard filmmaker Jonathan Nossiter interviewed on NPR this
morning about his “Mondovino” (set for DVD release July 12.) He deplored the global marketing and contests/competitions that together have created wine’s disturbingly standardized taste today — a regression to some mean that is childish, simplistic, superficial, undemanding and robotic.

He believes we’re infantalizing and institutionalizing a few thousand years of individuality and complex nuance, apparently for the
sake of control, predictability and winning contest points.

He might as well have been talking about what school has done to education.

A months-old NY Times feature described Nossiter’s film as an obsession to be true to his own “real love of wine” even if it angered other “wine-lovers” which it does seem to have done (watch for more fallout from the 10-part TV serialization to come!)

From the movie’s box:
“Wine has been a symbol of Western civilization for thousands of years. Never has the fight for its soul been as desperate. Never has there been so much money -and pride- at stake.
But the battle lines are not what you’d expect: local versus multinational, simple peasants versus powerful captains of industry. In the world of wine, it is never the usual suspects.”

But on the upside of our “wine is to children” analogy, there was this travel story quote:

“On our trip, we quickly learned that kids and wine have one thing in
: they need to breathe in the open air. . .”

And for another view, film critic John Powers reviews the film “Mondovino” as a way to talk about the tough but realistic trade-offs we face when we value both diversity AND affordable access for the masses, both quality and quantity, both the quirky local and the successfully flattened globe, both the individual and the institution.

It’s a short audio column, maybe three minutes.

How many individuals did it take to make a New World?

A new population-genetic method for assessing human demographic history
reveals that the effective size of the founding population of the New World comprised less than 80 individuals.



Lobbying to institutionalize standards for individual home cooking tools in law?! Another
sign of the coming Apocalypse . . .

British Medical Experts Call for
Long, Pointy Knife Control

The authors of an editorial in the British Medical Journal
have called for laws requiring knife manufacturers to
redesign their wares with rounded, blunt tips.

. . .The authors of the editorial argued that the pointed tip is a
vestigial feature from less mannered ages, when people used it to spear
meat. They said that they interviewed 10 chefs in England, and that
“none gave a reason why the long, pointed knife was essential,” though
short, pointed knives were useful.

An American chef, however, disagreed with the proposal. “This is yet
another sign of the coming apocalypse,” said Anthony Bourdain, the
executive chef at Les Halles and the author of “Kitchen Confidential.”

(JJ’s note – I’ve read it and also his “Bone in the Throat.” He’s a real individualist’s individual.)

A knife, he said, is a beloved tool of the trade, and not a thing to be
shaped by bureaucrats. A chef’s relationship with his knives develops
over decades of training and work, he said, adding, “Its weight, its
shape – these are all extensions of our arms, and in many ways, our

He compared the editorial to efforts to ban unpasteurized cheese. “Where
there is no risk,” he said, “there is no pleasure.” Read the rest of this entry »

Individualism AND — not VERSUS — Institutionalism

26 12 2007

Unity-N-Diversity is tackling this topic just as I did at NHEN beginning five years ago. I had progressed from the old legislative email list to the forums. I started a thread titled, “Individualism versus institutionalism” but as you’ll see reading through these notes, a homeschool dad persuaded me to change the “versus” to be less exclusionist in my language, and change my thinking to match. Legal & Legislative Forum

(choose “printer-friendly” icon if needed, to read whole file)

Topic author: JJ Ross
Subject: Individualism and Institutionalism
Posted on: May 02 2005

This thread is to consider individualism and institutionalism — understanding how the tension between them has affected public perceptions of home education, the resulting political/legislative environment, and what it suggests for the future.

This topic arose on Kay’s HS legislative watch list and is being expanded here to be as broad and/or detailed as the participants care to make it. JJ

From 2002 on NHEN’s original legislative list:

“Public schooling in practice today is a socialist collective. Home
education is an individual repudiation of that collective. Every debate among us homeschooling individuals seems to rest on this tension between the claims of the collective and the yearning for self-determination — for ourselves AND our own children.

No wonder home education is viewed as such a threat by collectives
like unions and government bureaucracies, who perversely claim they can strengthen and support individuals by subsuming them.

. . . Maybe the real issue is not homeschooling versus
e-schooling, but community versus collective. . .”

It just occurred to me this topic’s elephant in the living room may turn out to be “church” —
personal faith is individual while organized religion is institutional.

So, is anyone balancing personal faith and organized religion within their homeschooling already coping with this tension between individualism and institutionalism?
What could we learn from that?

In news coverage of the Schiavo case, one story detailed its individual versus institutional tensions, and even showed them reversing position over time. I wonder if the personal and institutional tensions in education are having a similar reversal, from similar influences:

* involvement with a “cult of experts” who may not agree between
themselves or with family members, and whose professional interests can
conflict with individual or family interests,

* mistrust of strangers and large, impersonal institutions;

* subjective personal standards of morality, pragmatism and respect for
human life and dignity, coupled with a sense that one’s personal views
are too important for “compromise” of any sort;

* lay people latching onto complex (or misleading, even purposely false)
ideas and information spread across the Internet, ideas and information
fiercely held beyond all reason;

* the pendulum-swing nature of institutional change and public opinion;

* the rule-making, objectifying, standardizing thrust of government in
even the most personal, private human decisions;

* and as always — love and money, of course.

by Pam Belluck

BOSTON, March 26 – For years, when families and hospitals fought over
how to treat critically ill patients, families often pressed to let
their loved ones die, while hospitals tried to keep them alive.

But in the last decade or so, things have changed.

Now, doctors and ethicists say that when hospitals and families clash,
conflicts often pit families who want to continue life support and
aggressive medical care against doctors who believe it is time to stop. . .


“You can’t be a sweet cucumber in a vinegar barrel.”

Too much to summarize or excerpt – Stanford psychologist details how “place” can win over “person” through concepts like institutionalization, escalating dehumanization, stress and stereotyping, the seduction of boredom, the evil of inaction and much more.

Hard to read. Important ideas that do seem to apply.

Jeanne wrote:

We are deviant. We tend to deviate as individuals by not participating in this enormous social institution. However, there is also a concept of positive social deviance, and that’s how I see homeschooling.

A third-millennium book this brings to mind is “The Deviant’s Advantage” by Mathews and Wacker.

I’ve written about it before at NHEN (I’ll look around) and included it in our Thinking Parent Resources at the PDE website. The authors use this definition of positive deviance:

“Deviance is nothing more than marked separation from the norm, and it is the source of innovation, the kind of breakthrough thinking that creates new markets and tumbles traditional ones . . .”

That book came out in 2002, but the new Daniel Pink book says the same thing and in more poetic, developmental language imo — “A Whole New Mind” says in the flyleaf that it’s all about “what it takes for individuals AND organizations to excel.” Then just this week, there’s a national surge of emphasis on the same point, that the future belongs to those who think for themselves, who look ahead to innovate individual answers and create new meanings, rather than those well-trained by hidebound, standardized institutions (be they schools, employers, or governments) in regurgitating a codified piece of any past.

Newsweek’s current special report says our children’s future will be “China’s Century”, and how American schools can’t adjust but some enlightened families and individually motivated students are rushing to prepare. Even China itself is innovating rather than following traditions and old ways — its most powerful cultural export right now isn’t Confucianism or communism. It’s the movies, and it’s not the old chop-sockey stuff either.

Chinese and Asian cinema hybrids now are deviant, multiculturally diverse and open in some very influential ways. Hollywood has been cross-pollinated and neither the studio system or the governments involved matter much in determining how it will all turn out, nor could they prevent it.

Then Tom Friedman’s column in the New York Times this morning refers to how individual students can “positively deviate” from schools and universities while enrolled, without trying to change the institutions in any way. (He got to thinking about all this on his latest book tour for “The World is Flat: The Wealth of Yet More Nations”):

. . .there’s a huge undertow of worry out in the country about how our kids are being educated and whether they’ll be able to find jobs in an increasingly flat world, where more Chinese, Indians and Russians than ever can connect, collaborate and compete with us. In three different cities I had parents ask me some version of: “My daughter [or son] is studying Chinese in high school. That’s the right thing to do, isn’t it?”

Not being an educator, I can’t give any such advice. But my own research has taught me that the most important thing you can learn in this era of heightened global competition is how to learn. Being really good at “learning how to learn,” as President Bill Brody of Johns Hopkins put it, will be an enormous asset in an era of rapid change and innovation, when new jobs will be phased in and old ones phased out faster than ever.

One ninth grader in St. Paul asked me, then “what courses should I take?” How do you learn how to learn? Hmm. Maybe, I said, the best way to learn how to learn is to go ask your friends: “Who are the best teachers?” Then – no matter the subject – take their courses. When I think back on my favorite teachers, I don’t remember anymore much of what they taught me, but I sure remember being excited about learning it.

What has stayed with me are not the facts they imparted, but the excitement about learning they inspired. To learn how to learn, you have to love learning – while some people are born with that gene, many others can develop it with the right teacher (or parent).

Don’t you LOVE that?! Learning is an individual spark, not an institutional requirement, and it passes person-to-person through authentic human relationships, not government mandates. What could say it better: “To learn how to learn, you have to love learning — many . . . can develop it with the right teacher or parent.”

. . .In short, our own institutionalism in the West may be a bigger threat to our children’s education and future than the rise of rival nations. The mantle of power we perhaps should worry most about losing may be neither money, oil, or military force. It could be instead the one thing we always assumed was uniquely American by divine right – the Power of the Individual.


Churches that arose out of the new testament era were eventually institutionalized by the help of the Emperor Constantine. As a result, a hierarchy was established and the rule and the governing power went out of the hands of the ordinary people and into the hierarchy. I think a similar comparison can be made in early American education as schools have become an institution, individualism has in many ways gone out the door.

Yes, good example of what I was thinking about personal beliefs versus organized church hierarchies. (Emperor Constantine also was an example of church and state combining to rule? Imagine trying to fight THAT off to keep your own individual identity!)

Another book I read recently is called “A Sideways Look at Time” in which the author suggests the Christian patriarchal church literally standardized and prescribed the structure of time — hours of prayer every day, days of worship every week, months of the calendar every year– to control not the clock but the people. The idea was that the much more humanly satisfying “wild time” of children and women made pagans ungovernable.
Lots to think about!

Paul D. wrote:

“This thread is to consider individualism versus institutionalism”

I should like to make a very strong plea at this point to drop the opposition of these terms. Most characteristics of human organisations and individuals involve a spectrum, and introducing that little word “versus” forces us to come up with a definition by exclusion, a partition into the groups of “individualists” and “institutionalists” (or “institutionalised”?).

We’ve already seen the harm this can do in the case of the definition of “home schoolers”. Thinking and arguing in this way not only distorts our perception of reality, it also tempts us to attribute benefits illegitimately to the group we favour, unnecessarily raising the temperature of the dispute.

Very helpful point, thanks Paul — changing topic heading now.

The spectrum (or spiral?) image is helpful too, as a much better way to understand complicated connections and contrasts.

I did choose the -ism suffix for a reason, to mean something that’s become a sort of dogma in itself. Like scientism is sometimes used to mean elevating science to a sort of worship or all-purpose imperative, beyond what’s rational or directly supported by science itself. Too much of one good thing to the exclusion of all others, perhaps?

In this sense, individual-ism and institutional-ism would indeed be opposing mindsets set against each other. Jeanne’s earlier point was that home education can get squeezed by that tug-of-war between -isms and (thus I inferred) that it helps to learn more about how this has happened with these particular two -isms.

So I’m thinking that while WE ourselves don’t want to set them against each other in destructive or limiting ways, we need to realize that it’s often done by others, and to examine how both individual-ism and institutional-ism have negative effects on our freedom (one word I’ve never heard morph into an -ism!) And maybe figure out more about where home education catches the most light on that spectrum of the individual and the institution?

If this just seems confusing or anyone has a better way to capture this meaning, please do! Read the rest of this entry »

If You’re Here Fresh From “Unity-N-Diversity”. . .

22 12 2007

. . .then you need to read this first, from last spring right here in my capital city hometown where we’ve unschooled for almost 20 years. THIS is why homeschooling has problems, the kind of escalating problems that Unity-N-Diversity is broaching. If you can’t quite grasp what I’m saying here, do your homework, then maybe rejoin the conversation in a few years when you’ve earned your spot and some battle scars online. OTOH if you grasp it all too well but resent the hell out of it, hey! We’re finally communicating.

Not sure when it happened, that the Trinity of God, Government and Guns took over again. I have been slow to notice, with all this gentle, loving, respectful and mannerly pretense that religious education is a private non-governmental realm of the spirit, not the State.



National Day of Prayer State Capitol Rally Thursday, May 3, 2007

Homeschoolers are invited to take part in this important day of prayer for our state and nation and participate in the children’s prayer walk. If older youth would like to help stamp prayer passports, please email — Volunteer time is from 10:30 am – Noon, report to the tent in the courtyard


Children’s Prayer Walk
Location: Capitol Courtyard
Time: 11:00 am-Noon
Emergency Response & Military Vehicles will be on display in the Courtyard as part of the Prayer Walk.
Each child will be issued a prayer passport to take to each stations and pray for the personnel. They can tour the vehicles as well.


National Day of Prayer Rally
Location: Capitol Courtyard
Praise & Worship: 11:30 am
Prayer Rally: Noon-1:15 pm
Governor Crist, Lt. Governor Kottkamp and other leaders will be taking part in the service.


We did have Easter at the Governor’s Mansion this spring– a very important holiday, said Governor Crist — but at least in the newspaper, his Easter Bunny gig played as a secular hospitality for a few Florida kids who might or might not have been Christian, a ceremonial family occasion and photo op, not associated with the state sausage-making of the Legislature down the street nor with public prayer walks on the Capitol Plaza.
And nothing to do with home education at all.

But now comes a special day for masses of children where the Governor himself will stamp prayer indelibly onto home education “passports”, and not on a weekend at his home but on a legislative workday at the Capitol, in front of all the lawmakers, not in a bunny suit but in his official governing suit and tie. Prayer flanked with tanks and guns for real action, followed by ambulances to mop up all the blood and waste, the way elephants are followed in parades. Talk about Power of Story!

God, government and guns. No wait, that’s not the sponsors’ exact slogan, let me get it just right, oh here it is: Governing Florida with Prayer and Action” which isn’t tricky to translate — “governing Florida” is plainly the dominion that their version of god’s will (prayer) commands them to exercise over the secular State and all our laws. And how will this be accomplished? ACTION. The spiritual realm translated into physical reality, warfare on every front in this world and time.

Resistance is futile?
I personally prefer this version but I digress . . .

The point is I get the meaning of the purpose and method. Dominion through warfare. But when it comes to the education this all represents, I have knotty translation problems.

Does mixing home education with military might — bringing the kiddos along to get their draft cards stamped, whoops I mean “prayer passports”, the better to learn how God wants them to govern Florida — just chill me to the bone? You betcha, particularly the same week as the much more directly child-protective lessons of National Spank Out Day! (which needs prayer and action too, but these folks had no Capitol rally for THAT, didn’t even acknowledge its existence. I doubt the Governor noticed either, or prayed for the kids against whom god is being invoked as commanding their punishment.)

Does this mean child beating has become both corporal and capital punishment?

Whatever happened to peace vigils and humble candlelight, praying for strength to endure, for guiding hands to heal, not hurt? This sounds like state-sponsored prayer for the strength to fight and win and take over! Read the rest of this entry »

A Christmas Story with Poetic Power from Unity08

21 12 2007

‘Twas the Night before Christmas

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the land
No candidate was stirring, or shaking a hand.
The presents were wrapped-up under the tree,
In hopes that this Christmas could be campaign-free.

The voters were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions from TV ads danced in their heads.
My sister in Dubuque and I here in Keene,
Tried hard to forget all the debates we had seen.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
If they’d found our lawn boy out by the shack,
Tancredo and Hunter would never come back.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave luster to yard signs posted below.
When what should appear to my wondering eye?
A van with the bumper strip, “Live free or die.”

With a little old driver, so lively and plain
I knew in a moment it could be McCain.
But when I saw the sign saying “Peace to you all”
I imagined Kucinich, Gravel or even Saint Paul.

Like eagles, the reporters following him came.
He whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!
“Now Russert! Now Matthews! Olbermann, Schieffer,
On Broder, on Stephanopoulous, on Lehrer, on Blitzer.”

It may be Christmas but we all have our jobs.
So, “On Stewart, Colbert, O’Reilly and Dobbs,
To the top of the world, to the top of it all.
Come push me on up; or at least break my fall.”

As some candidates do when caught in a lie,
Climb up on their pedestal, high in the sky.
So up to the house-top the entourage flew,
With a sack full of earmarks and promises too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pandering of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney the next President came with a bound. Read the rest of this entry »

Been Feeling Like Two Dwarves: Drugged and Dopey

21 12 2007

Last Friday I got my Christmas present early — sinus surgery.

I dearly hope it will be a gift that keeps on giving, that it will fulfill my New Year’s Resolution of better breathing while sleeping, forever. (My new CPAP machine never quite delivered what I’d been wishing for.)

But for now, getting a post-surgery week before Christmas has made for a sort of backward holiday calendar. All my usual post-Christmas stupor in the big club chair with books and the tv remote came early, bumping my traditional pre-holiday socializing and activities. True, I’m doped up with drugs instead of rich foods and high-octane eggnog but still it feels practically the same, that delicious immobility while dreamy nothing-to-do-lists dance in your head.

I wonder if I’ll feel all bustly next week then, or if I’ll just have a double dose of drugged and dopey this year, and no bustle?

Hallelujah! Yecke Out as Florida’s K-12 Chancellor

20 12 2007

Breaking education news today:
“Jeb Bush ally Yecke out as state K-12 chancellor”

Is there anything left about public schooling that is truly educational rather than merely political?

Yecke, a Republican who was briefly employed by a conservative think tank, dropped a [Republican of course] campaign for Congress in Minnesota to take the Florida job in 2005. . .

Some Minnesota lawmakers disliked her hard-charging style and complained her conservative agenda was turning education into a political battleground. . .

She was fired in MN after only 16 months. That’s about how long she lasted here, less than two years.

How you see this news will depend on how you see the world, I guess. Education is politics and too often it is religious politics, but this isn’t one school board somewhere — we’re talking about whole states now, and she might set her sight on YOUR state next. Today the news media seem to be playing down her authoritarian, anti-science reputation but maybe that’s because she hires attack dogs to go after anyone who dares suggest her education professionalism is compromised by her personal world view. (Ever hear of a service called “reputation defender”?)

“When you’re a public figure, you have to try to manage fact from fiction,” she said.

From my secular and professional pov, Florida in all our cosmopolitan diversity and major investments in education, never should have hired her if there was even a whiff of concern, especially with our science standards on the line.

At least today’s news makes it a mistake of months rather than years, and with a more moderate governor in office, probably minor effect.

OTOH replacing her with yet another standardized testing maven isn’t much of a policy improvement, but just for today let’s drink a holiday toast to one small victory. . .

About why the biblical literalist mindset a la Yecke poisons pretty much everything including home educator conversations about choice, tolerance and individualism, see this and then check out a provocative pseudononymous new blog Daryl recommends, Unity-N-Diversity.

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. ”


Yes Virginia, There IS a Flying Spaghetti Monster!

13 12 2007

Florida’s new science standards are much more enlightened than the old set, and must be approved to save the world from destruction by ignorance —

His Noodliness tells us so.


Flying Spaghetti Monster honors Christmas wearing a Santa Claus hat. . .

Favorite Daughter Officially Finishes Home Education

10 12 2007

and it was anticlimactic, as external milestones should be, I guess.

Back in school administrator life I once graduated a public school kid posthumously, against or at least outside of the legislative and executive rules — obviously he couldn’t satisfy the attendance requirements for his senior credits after perishing in a spring motorcycle accident — but this is a first for me in interpreting the rules of “home education.”

I feel like it should feel more significant than it does. Maybe that’s why School does so much of what it does, so that it can feel like something is happening that matters? 🙂

The Golden Compass Opens Today

7 12 2007

JJ’s note – We will try to see it this afternoon, not sure but we’ll
try. (Favorite Daughter is holding out for Sweeney Todd, which hasn’t opened yet. These certainly are not your father’s Christmas movies!)
NPR featured comments and mini-interviews on The Golden Compass this morning as I was
waking up. From these I gleaned :

Catholic League is calling for a boycott – afraid kids will read the
books and become anti-Catholic

True, it’s a great adventure story, but it may promote atheism and
denigrate great religions of the world

“The Magisterium” is a real institution, literally is ‘The Teaching Authority” of the Catholic Church. Pullman makes it his fictional evil empire in the books; the movie secularizes it somewhat but it’s really sinister, secular or not

one woman (sorry, missed her ID) sees it as a “compelling new idea of the
nature of divinity”, a layered concept adults can understand but kids
won’t – a Kansas adolescent lit prof says “to be a child is to be on the receiving end of power” and this book counters that, in the person of Lyra

Angels are major characters in the second and third books, if sequels
are made — it will be unavoidable to deal with them

The New York Times review is here. Apparently Lyra’s guardians are known as “The Scholars” and seem to be from Oxford University? Hmmm. . .this may take a whole blog-posse to dissect, feel free to jump on this horse and ride with me.

Suffer Rings and Push Presents

6 12 2007


And I thought so-called purity rings were tacky — am I just old or is this downright disgusting?