Thinking About Hitting and Children

30 04 2008

How do we look ourselves in the mirror after putting up with things like this in the headlines day after day?

Legal journey to begin for children removed from Texas polygamist compound

Mea culpa: penitent Pope meets victims of sexual abuse by priests

This week’s —

Police found teenage boy in shackles

How do we continue to hide behind religion and culture and commit these violent crimes against the people we have brought into this world?
Read the rest of this entry »

Happy Birthday Harper Lee, Boss Boost to Barack Obama

28 04 2008

Frisky cock of the snook to Don at the Gookins for the latter, and to Favorite Daughter for the former.

I connect these in my own mind — small towns and big hearts, racial and social and economic justice, words and music and story with real meaning for real people, characters we care enough about to “step into their skin” for a little while and begin to understand, and become better ourselves for it.


Dear Friends and Fans:

LIke most of you, I’ve been following the campaign and I have now seen and heard enough to know where I stand. Senator Obama, in my view, is head and shoulders above the rest.

He has the depth, the reflectiveness, and the resilience to be our next President. He speaks to the America I’ve envisioned in my music for the past 35 years, a generous nation with a citizenry willing to tackle nuanced and complex problems, a country that’s interested in its collective destiny and in the potential of its gathered spirit.
A place where “…nobody crowds you, and nobody goes it alone.”

At the moment, critics have tried to diminish Senator Obama through the exaggeration of certain of his comments and relationships. While these matters are worthy of some discussion, they have been ripped out of the context and fabric of the man’s life and vision, so well described in his excellent book, Dreams From My Father, often in order to distract us from discussing the real issues: war and peace, the fight for economic and racial justice, reaffirming our Constitution, and the protection and enhancement of our environment.

After the terrible damage done over the past eight years, a great American reclamation project needs to be undertaken. I believe that Senator Obama is the best candidate to lead that project and to lead us into the 21st Century with a renewed sense of moral purpose and of ourselves as Americans.

Over here on E Street, we’re proud to support Obama for President.

Bruce Springsteen

And here’s how Harper Lee fits into our story, as homeschoolers and booklovers: Read the rest of this entry »

Hands Off the Hands-On in School Math??

27 04 2008

Okay, I’m not explaining, just reporting this:

Dr. Kaminski and her colleagues Vladimir M. Sloutsky and Andrew F. Heckler did something relatively rare in education research: they performed a randomized, controlled experiment. Their results appear in Friday’s issue of the journal Science.

Though the experiment tested college students, the researchers suggested that their findings might also be true for math education in elementary through high school, the subject of decades of debates about the best teaching methods.

Rapt regular readers will recall that in all those decades of debates or touted teaching tracks, nothing ever made math manipulable for Favorite Daughter.

Probably this kind of “randomized, controlled experiment” in math education won’t help any individual learn math better, since it is geared to the institutional classroom and switching to a new standard rather than switching out of standard mode in the first place. At best this kind of “science” about math education then, will just illuminate better ways to manipulate the subjective minds of the generalizable aggregate to meet the objective standards of the generalizable aggregate. I can’t glean much from it for helping my own two unschooling children compete in schoolish math and science standards step-dancing, but that was never our educational focus anyway.

So it rivets me not as unschooling mom but as former education policy pro and Lifelong Thinking Citizen, to notice this as a way I can learn more about how we the American people obsess over — and subsequently overvalue — school math instruction and test performance, as a scientifically defensible merit ranking mechanism equally applicable between individual children, classrooms, schools, cities, states and countries across the globe. Read the rest of this entry »

Doc Kicks Jack As[s] Representative Homeschool Critic

24 04 2008

“Homeschooling critics, haven’t they learned anything?”:

I’m going to flame Jack’s stupid “essay” to make an analogy between his ignorance, and the ignorance he fears some homeschool children are being taught. . .Jack is what I like to call an “edutard”.

Just Because He’s Cute!

22 04 2008

Angus the Highland Bear from The Scotweb Store:

Doing a Favor for a Friend

21 04 2008

. . .is what has kept me from posting much lately but also why I’m posting right now.

(Nance made a special request for a new post to bump that ugly art off the top!)

The other favor is about education and Nance will think it’s cool, I predict, as soon as I get time to go into it. Meanwhile, on a completely unrelated topic, we’re researching bagpipes for beginners because Young Son is on the cusp on leaving his practice chanter behind and taking the leap, and it’s all very exciting. And so here’s art of — um — another saggy bag??

David Naill Bagpipes

Legislative “Nutz” Scraping “Bottom” of Issues Barrel

18 04 2008

Tallahassee Democrat editor Bob Gabordi today:

For the record, wearing baggy shorts or hanging Truck Nutz is probably
bad form, and the wearers of either should get sent to their rooms by
their mamas. But who really thinks we need or want the government
deciding what we wear and/or hang from our trucks

Meanwhile, the absolute s**t about Ben Stein’s documented propaganda as “evolution academic freedom” continues to be excreted in my state capital’s chambers, as the education funding crisis and all sorts of kid-harming school policy issues are sat upon or just “pooh-poohed” (thus keeping this juvenile lower body parts obsession going) . . .

Btw, will they be banning this Dr. Phil Favorite in Florida next??

To Beef, or Not to Beef? What Was the Question?

16 04 2008

Do political protests over “doing science” — animal research studies in this case — affect public opinion and therefore legislation, regulation, funding or the lack thereof, and ultimately define science, knowledge and society in the process?

And what is the best response to such orchestrated opposition in the streets and media, to your life’s work and academic study — clamming up, hunkering down, fighting back?

See The Chronicle of Higher Education or if you don’t subscribe and can’t read the story itself, check out the new student organization the story is based on, Speaking of Research.

Thinking About Taxes

15 04 2008

Relative to the services that you receive from government, do you think you pay too much in taxes? Explain.

That was our opening question for the new venture at Thinking Homeschoolers.

I don’t feel we pay too much income tax — we don’t make that much! 🙂 — and sometimes we even get a tax refund. I can’t complain about what we pay for taxes other than federal either. We bought our home before the ridiculous boom in housing prices and pay relatively low property taxes. My state, FL, does not have a state income tax. We do have sales tax but at 6-7% it doesn’t seem unreasonable to me.

My complaint with taxes is the irrational, short-sighted, ineffective ways we use our pool of tax money. We apparently have no grasp of the long-term or any plan to deal with issues beyond the next headline.
Read the rest of this entry »

Ben Stein’s Expelled — EXPOSED!

15 04 2008

Cool content on the new site, go now! Then link to it too, help keep “Expelled Exposed” coming up on the first page of “Expelled” search results at Google.

Here’s the exact code and link, as requested:

Cock of the snook to PZ for this:

One of the more effective parts is the truth behind Expelled, which goes one by one through the cases of “expelled” creationists, and shows that they weren’t — the quality of a good persecution has gone down considerably since the days of Romans with lions, I guess.

News my state could use right now, with that twisted sophist “academic freedom” protection bill (specifically to protect creationist teaching in public school science class) moving through the Florida Legislature . . .

I feel the need to use the code again, in case it helps the cause of actual academic freedom and intelligent debate:

Yes, you are paying a lot in taxes . . .

14 04 2008

My capital city newspaper editor’s opinion here:

According to the Tax Foundation’s analysis, Floridians’ overall tax burden is the 12th-highest among all the states, with 33.7 percent of our annual average income going to taxes last year.

No wonder Floridians are willing to cut education for our children, health care for poor pregnant women, basic health care to others, the arts, raises for hard-working state employees and just about anything else. . .We can cut all the mosquito-control programs we want from the local budget and it won’t really put a dent in our tax burden. You want to keep more of your money? Do something about federal spending.

But what about spreading the burden more fairly, so that those with all the money who haven’t been paying taxes at all, start ponying up with the rest of us?

I’m all for that, but I’m not talking about taxing “rich” individuals or Big Business. At least they arguably are required to pay something here in the same boat with me! No, as a Thinking Parent, I was thinking that between tax-favored schools and churches, there’s a helluva lot of untaxed income left free to effectively commandeer what’s left of MY income, and to control my life and community politically and economically. . .

Kitchen Counters, Body Counts, School Accountability

14 04 2008

My radio woke me today with NPR describing body count as performance measure being the worst problem in some civil war or other (Venezuela maybe?)

Success was measured in dead bodies, so naturally non-combatants were being slaughtered, dressed in the right uniforms and left to be counted for the “right” side. For better performance what mainly needed to change, was the performance MEASURE.

Later I was cleaning a coffee stain (left by the early riser go-to-work shift at my house) from my white kitchen counter, which once I looked at it with a cleaning cloth in my hand, had several other spots too. I was idly wishing for a burgundy or burnt umber surface instead, one that wouldn’t show dirt, grime and spills. But then I thought, would I even know to clean it then and would looking cleaner mean we actually had a cleaner counter, or perversely, just more undetectable dirt?? Read the rest of this entry »