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?

Any Price Too High for “Higher” Education?

5 12 2007

Favorite Daughter wrote this about what some young folks are willing to do, to pay their college tuition.

I read something last month about college students at prestigious universities willing to sell their supposedly priceless self-governing franchise, the right to vote — forever! — in return for nothing more than getting their tuition and student loans paid off. What ARE they learning from their higher “education” and what’s the point, if not to exercise their own citizenship in progressive, productive ways that benefit themselves and society?

But was our bemusement premature? Maybe we should’ve saved it for students so committed to higher education they would commit armed robbery to pay for it.

Maybe it’s time we all reminded ourselves that the meaning of priceless “higher education” isn’t exactly this notion that no price is too high for merely seeming to possess it? And that academic freedom ought to be, if nothing else, free?

Homeschooled Into the Heisman? ESPN Calls Tebow the Right Answer

1 12 2007

If you need to qualify his education further (I don’t, but most do) this outstanding individual kid came up through “dual enrolled” high school home education, and a Christian family homeschooling for religious reasons. And he was parented by Gators with a poster of Danny Wuerffel on his bedroom wall!

That all seems to have helped him toward the most clear-cut Heisman Trophy performance ever. He did what no Heisman winner, indeed no player at this level, has ever done before — scored 20 touchdowns passing AND 20 more rushing, in one unbelievable season of leadership.

Here are 15 good reasons, from the Gators’ admittedly partial hometown sports columnist. My favorite is Number Six:

Arkansas and Florida played six common opponents. In those games, Tebow accounted for 25 touchdowns. In those games, Razorback running back Darren McFadden accounted for seven.

But one thing stands in Tebow’s way now, not from his home or religion or K-12 education, but from the public mind’s collective ignorance. (And it is a GUY thing.) That is the stupid, schoolish, cut-from-whole-cloth myth — no, outright LIE — complacently seized upon by oldtimers demanding the right to define Tebow by their old-school prejudices, a grubby and false belief that the achievement and accountability rules require something that clearly isn’t there.

The collective myth is that because Tebow publicly wears Big School’s “sophomore” label, he must sit in the back no matter how far out of the water he blows all their standards and expectations of excellence. Heck, even if he WALKED on water, he’d still be defined as an unworthy “sophomore” by the old-school-label minded:

ESPN’s columnist Gene Wojciechowski about collective myths we carelessly accept. He’s talking about football but I think it applies to home education too, how the public and media carelessly believe collective myth rather than seeking out collective wisdom. There IS a difference, perhaps embodied nowhere in more stark and easily read contrast than in the person of the amazing, outstanding, incredible Mr. Tebow.

. . .There are 925 Heisman voters — 870 media, 54 living Heisman winners, one collective fan vote. The more voters, the more probability of the dreaded Knucklehead Factor.




Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Florida QB Tim Tebow has put up the kind of numbers that should earn him the Heisman Trophy.

These are the voters who don’t stay up late on the East Coast to watch Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan. These are the voters who automatically eliminate Florida quarterback Tim Tebow from consideration because he’s a — gasp! — sophomore. These are the voters who question whether Tebow should even be a finalist, what with the defending national champion Gators only 9-3 and out of the title hunt. These are the voters who confuse NFL potential with college production. These are the voters who sometimes don’t even vote (though the online balloting has helped increase the voting activity to about 97 percent).

And that’s not the worst of it. Twenty years ago, a Heisman voter once told me he never cast a first-place vote for an African-American player.

The instructions on the Heisman ballot are so simple — Read the rest of this entry »