Inspired by a little-known picture book from the pen of Bethany Tudor, this is a diary, of sorts, where I document some of my thoughts, activities, and ideas as I explore the challenges met by the characters in the story: hard work, the care and nurture of others, housekeeping skills, life changes, charity, community, and cooperation, among others. Like Samuel and Samantha, the ducks in the tale, I struggle and succeed, cope and celebrate, work and play, handling the tasks that come my way. I invite you to join me on my journey.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Re-Hearing Granted!

Praise the Lord for small miracles! The California Court of Appeal has granted a motion of rehearing in the case of In re Rachel L. Here is the article from the HSLDA website.
On March 25, the California Court of Appeal granted a motion for rehearing in the In re Rachel L. case --- the controversial decision which purported to ban all homeschooling in that state unless the parents held a teaching license qualifying them to teach in public schools.

The automatic effect of granting this motion is that the prior opinion is vacated and is no longer binding on any one, including the parties in the case.

The Court of Appeal has solicited a number of public school establishment organizations to submit amicus briefs including the California Superintendent of Public Instruction, California Department of Education, the Los Angeles Unified School District, and three other California teacher unions. The court also grated permission to Sunland Christ School to file an amicus brief. The order also indicates that it will consider amicus applications for other groups.

Home School Legal Defense Association will seek to file such an amicus brief and will coordinate efforts with a number of organizations interesting [sic] in filing briefs to support the right of parents to homeschool their children in California.

“This is a great first step,” said Michael Farris, chairman of HSLDA. “We are very glad that this case will be reheard and that this opinion has been vacated, but there is no guarantee as to what the ultimate outcome will be. This case remains our top priority,” he added.
The most important part: the prior opinion is vacated and is no longer binding on anyone!

Friday, March 21, 2008

An Update on SB162

Recently, a piece of legislation was introduced in the Connecticut General Assembly, the goal of which is to allow parents to withdraw their children from public school without a potential referral to the Department of Children and Families. This post is a message that was sent to my homeschool group summarizing action on the bill to date.
----------------------------
By now, many of you may have seen the latest update from NHELD on the status of Senate Bill 162. Unfortunately, the news is challenging. However, if we rally together, pray for favor, rely on God, and remain vigilant, we can prevail. If we do all these things and are still handed increased regulation, we know that the Lord can (and will) use it for our benefit and for the benefit of the homeschooling movement at large. Remember:

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. --- Romans 8:28

That said, in this particular message, I would like to review what has occurred thus far using a timeline from the Connecticut General Assembly Bill Tracking webpage:

2/14/2008 Referred to Joint Committee on Children
2/15/2008 Public Hearing Scheduled 2/19/2008
2/19/2008 Public Hearing on SB162
2/28/2008 Joint Favorable Substitute Change of Reference Education
2/29/2008 Filed with Legislative Commissioners’ Office
3/3/2008 Reported Out of Legislative Commissioners’ Office
3/4/2008 Favorable change of Reference, Senate to Committee on Education
3/4/2008 Favorable change of Reference, House to Committee on Education
3/18/2008 Joint Favorable Substitute
3/19/2008 Filed with Legislative Commissioners’ Office

If you recall, the desired original bill (the O’NEILL VERSION) was supposed to alter only a portion of Statute 10-220 (Duties of Boards of Education) and was supposed to read like this:
Purpose: to allow parents to home school their children and to require the board of education to respect their decision.

…when a parent or guardian of a child provides by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the principal of the school that the child attends, to the superintendent of schools for the school district in which such school is located or the local or regional board of education for such school district, written notice originated by and signed by the parent or guardian of the child stating that the parent or guardian is withdrawing the child from enrollment in a public school and will provide instruction for the child as required pursuant to section 10-184, the principal of the school that the child attends, the superintendent and the local or regional board of education shall accept such notice and shall deem the child withdrawn form enrollment in the public school immediately upon receipt of such notice…
But, somehow, when the legislation reached the Joint Committee on Children, the bill had been rewritten to alter Statute 10-184 (Duties of Parents) by adding an entirely new section to that law. This version read thus:
Purpose: to create a procedure in which a parent or guardian is to follow when withdrawing a child from enrollment in public school.

…If the parent or other person having control of a child elects to provide the instruction required pursuant to this section to such child, such parent or other person may withdraw such child from school upon providing the notice described in this subsection to the principal of the school the child is attending or the superintendent of schools for the local or regional school district in which such school is located. Such notice shall (1) state that the parent or other person is withdrawing the child from school and that such required instruction will be provided by the parent or such other person, (2) be in writing, (3) be signed by such parent or other person, and (4) be delivered by certified mail, return receipt requested. Such principal and superintendent of schools and the local or regional board of education for such school district shall accept such notice and shall deem the child withdrawn from school immediately upon receipt of such notice.
Thankfully, the Joint Committee on Children passed an amendment changing the bill back to the original intended wording (the O’NEILL VERSION) and causing the legislation to, once again, alter only Statute 10-220.

This favorable version of the bill then proceeded to the Joint Committee on Education. A hearing was held on February 19, 2008. Encouragingly, no one spoke in opposition to the legislation and no representative from the Department of Education bothered to show up, leading the homeschool community to believe that the bill would be voted out of committee with the original desired wording (the O’NEILL VERSION).

Well, homeschooling advocates should never become too complacent when life is humming along, seemingly in their favor, for some unexpected event is sure to ambush them. And, boy, were we ambushed. On March 6, 2008, National Home Education Legal Defense reported on their website that the Commissioner of Education contacted the sponsor of Senate Bill 162, Representative Arthur O’Neill, and proposed his own changes, the clear text of which I do not have. It is also my understanding that many of the Commissioner’s ideas were incorporated into yet a third permutation of the bill, a permutation that was eventually offered up at the last meeting of the Education Committee. I refer to it as the GAFFEY VERSION because Senator Gaffey is a Co-Chairman of the aforementioned hearing body. This version reads thus and is the version that was approved by the Education Committee and that will be voted on in the Senate (unless another amendment is offered changing it back to the original desired form). I have highlighted the new portions in orange:

(b) The parent or person having control of a child sixteen or seventeen years of age who does not intend to provide equivalent instruction to such child pursuant to subsection (a) of this section may consent, as provided in this subsection, to such child’s withdrawal from school. Such parent or person shall personally appear at the school district office and sign a withdrawal from. The school district shall provide such parent of person with information on the educational options available in the school system and in the community.

(c) The parent or person having control of a child five years of age shall have the option of not sending the child to school until the child is six years of age and the parent or person having control of a child six years of age shall have the option of not sending the child to school until the child is seven years of age. Unless the parent or person having control of such child elects to provide equivalent instruction pursuant to the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, the parent or person shall exercise such option by personally appearing at the school district office and signing an option form. The school district shall provide the parent or person with information on the educational opportunities available in the school system.

(d) (1) If the parent or person having control of a child elects to provide the equivalent instruction pursuant to subsection (a) of this section to such child, other than through enrollment in a nonpublic school, such parent or other person shall provide written notice pursuant to this subsection to (A) (i) the principal of the school the child is attending, or (ii) if such child is not enrolled in school, to the principal of the school such child would otherwise attend due to the child's residency, or (B) the superintendent of schools for the local or regional school district in which such school is located. The parent or other person having control of such child shall provide notice in accordance with the provisions of this subsection each time such child resides in a school district other than the district for which such notice was initially provided.

(2) Notice provided pursuant to this subsection shall (A) state that the parent or other person having control of such child intends to provide the child with equivalent instruction pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, (B) be signed by the parent or other person having control of such child, and (c) be delivered by certified mail, return receipt requested. The principal or superintendent and the local or regional board of education employing the principal or superintendent shall immediately accept such notice as evidence that the child is receiving such equivalent instruction.

It is this latter section, section (d),that appears to carry the most danger. At least that is how I see it. I will explain further in my next posting.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Drug Testing Run Amok

You will have to forgive my rude reaction to this news article, but can someone please tell me when the UCI changed its name from the Union Cycliste Internationale to the United Confederation of Imbeciles! Listen to this from Velonews, quoted in its entirety:
Belgian cyclist Kevin Van Impe was taken for a routine drugs test just as he was at the crematorium filling in papers following the death of his baby son, media reported Saturday.

The Quick Step rider was at Lochristi crematorium when a drugs tester turned up and demanded he provide a sample, warning that otherwise he could face a two-year suspension.

“He wouldn’t even come back later in the day. It was either do it right on the spot or it would be taken as if I had refused,” Van Impe told web site www.sport.be.

Van Impe was arranging the funeral of son Jayden, born prematurely on Monday and who died just six hours later.

Asked to comment on the incident Flemish minister for sport Bert Anciaux said authorities were to determine how better to organize random tests to avoid a repeat in such delicate circumstances.

“The law is the law but you must take a human perspective,” the Belgian news agency quoted Anciaux as saying.

“I can well understand the rider had other things on his mind at the time of the test.”
For those readers who are unfamiliar with the sport of cycling, the UCI monitors professional road cyclists in order to detect doping and to deter riders from participating in doping. While their program is rigorous and is considered one of the most comprehensive in the world, and while the riders agree to both in-competition and out-of-competition testing that is so random a drug tester can, literally, show up at any time (as evidenced by the above story), the regulatory body certainly shouldn’t have the ability to interfere so completely in the life of an athlete as to show up during a time of mourning. What’s next? Are drug enforcement officials going to interrupt an actual funeral?

I think the UCI has finally overstepped the bounds of reason and gone beyond zealous in their pursuit of a clean sport. I, for one, hope their “more human perspective” involves some extensive training in socially appropriate behavior for their drug testers. Maybe they can take some direction from the English and use one of those Anti-Social Behavior Orders to stop their employees from being so incredibly insensitive.

Needed: Organists!

With a shortage of organists looming on the horizon, several organizations are attempting to get young people interested in the instrument. For example, local/regional chapters of the American Guild of Organists (AGO) are sponsoring Pipe Organ Encounters around the country. Here is video from one in San Francisco, California.



Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana has also joined the effort. This summer, they are sponsoring two five-day workshops for organists. Here are the class descriptions. If you need more information on how to participate, call the seminary at (260) 452-2224, or visit this page on their website.
Organist Primer
June 16-20, 2008

Organ instructor: Kevin Hildebrand
Theology instructor: Richard Resch

This beginning workshop is designed for organists who donot use pedals, who us only one foot, or who wish to learn more of the basics of service playing. It will include instruction about fundamental music understanding and organ vocabulary. Kantor Hildebrand will demonstrate appropriate and easy service music for the Lutheran organist. A daily study of Lutheran theology will be taught by Kantor Resch.

Level I
July 14-18, 2008

Organ instructor: Richard Resch
Theology instructor: John Pless

Each day participants will have a one-hour session with Professor Pless teaching the Theology of Worship. Kantor Resch will teach service playing, hymnody, church year, music for weddings, funerals, and talk about the pastor/musician relationship. He will work with the individual organists who have taken the Primer Level or are using both feet in their playing.
Tuition for each workshop is $206; on-campus room and board is an additional $175.

DYK? ASBO

I must admit I did not know that ASBO stands for Anti-Social Behavior Order. It is a civil legal order that operates in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. The following groups can apply for one:

- police
- local authorities (councils)
- transport police
- registered social landlords
- housing action trusts

Evidence, beyond a reasonable doubt, must be presented in court to support the request for an ASBO. A magistrate makes the final determination for issuance. If issued, the ASBO lasts for a minimum of two years.

Behaviors considered anti-social and, therefore, within the purview of an ASBO: anything that causes harassment, alarm, or distress to one or more people who do not live with the person being considered for an order, or a pattern of behavior that affects so many people that it needs to be addressed by the community. Here is a sample of suspect behaviors from an extensive list on AntiSocialBehaviour.org.uk:

- abusive verbal behavior
- arson
- assault
- begging
- boom-box cars/vehicles (noisy car stereos)
- bullies and bullying
- criminal behavior
- criminal damage
- damage to property
- domestic violence
- drug and alcohol misuse/abuse
- harassment/harassing passers-by or local residents
- homophobic behavior
- prostitution
- neighbor intimidation
- nuisance animals
- overgrown, unkempt gardens
- racist behavior/racial harassment
- running a business from home
- stalking
- use of inappropriate places for sport/activities
- vandalism, graffiti

Well, I would probably be in trouble because of the slow progress on my exterior home remodeling projects and, possibly, because of my non-immaculate yard in the summer. Then again, I could be in trouble because I homeschool!

That aside, what drew my attention to this in the first place was the use of an ASBO against an eight-year-old boy, Michael Brachter, who was ordered not to go outside his home with a hammer, saw, screwdriver, nails, chisels, knives, scissors, or secateurs (pruning shears). Apparently, young Michael likes to use these tools to play Bob the Builder games in his neighborhood, an activity that residents of his housing trust felt was out of hand. To read a more complete article about that, click here.

Personally, I think there is more to this situation than meets the eye because children younger than ten are not supposed to be subject to an ASBO, and because the mother in this situation is also banned from several activities, among them allowing cannabis in her home, playing loud music, and having more than three visitors a day at her residence.

One final piece of information: if you break an ASBO, you could get up to five years in prison.

I am so glad I live in the United States.

Note: Please know that I do not condone anti-social behavior. I just don’t think the ASBO is the best way to deal with it.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Maybe I Should Get That Flu Shot

In late February, twelve-year-old Jasmine Levy of Minneapolis, MN complained to her mother that she wasn’t feeling well. That was Sunday night. By Monday morning, Jasmine was dead, the first child to succumb to influenza this season in the state of Minnesota. Jasmine’s younger sister, Danielle, also contracted the illness, the same evening as her sister. Rushed to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance, Danielle was admitted to intensive care and placed in a drug-induced coma for several days. She survived. Neither girl had a flu shot because their mother lacked health insurance. Jasmine, an asthma patient, was definitely a candidate for the vaccine. Sadly, she also developed a staph infection as a complication of the flu. Death came quickly as her lungs filled with fluid.

Late this week, a second child also perished from influenza. This time the victim was five years old (also from Minneapolis), had no underlying health condition, and had received a flu shot after she had become ill. Unlike Jasmine Levy, who contracted an A strain of influenza, this child was infected with influenza B.

What is the difference, you ask? Quoting from the Influenza: A to B page on the University of Florida College of Medicine website:
The influenza viruses are a group of RNA viruses designated as types A, B, and C. Type C may not be a true influenza virus and usually causes only mild or asymptomatic disease. Influenza B virus usually causes a minor illness, but it does have the potential to cause more severe disease in older persons. Influenza A virus, however, causes pandemics. The reason for the recurrent outbreaks is that the virus undergoes periodic antigenic shifts in its two outer membrane glycoproteins --- hemagglutinin (H) and neuraminidase (N) --- for example, from H1N1 to H2N2 in 1957 and from H2N2 to H3N2 in 1968, thus introducing a new virus into a population that has no protective serum antibody. No different subtypes of H and N have been identified for influenza B and C.
So, I can contract the flu and it will manifest symptomatically as a mild upper respiratory infection, bacterial pneumonia or, as in the case of the older child referenced above, rapidly fatal viral pneumonia. Given those choices, it makes me wonder why I didn’t get that flu shot. Maybe next year I will.

Another Minnesota Hero

Back in August 2007, when the I-35W Bridge collapsed, Matthew Miller of Fridley, Minnesota was part of a construction crew that had been on the span. At the moment the structure buckled, he was on the shore taking a break. Only twenty-one years of age at the time, he leapt into action, helping to save eight people, including the Coulter family. Recently, Matthew described the situation in an interview with the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper:
It was just before 6 p.m. on a blistering hot day on the job, and some of the crew had some downtime before heading back out on the bridge.

- snip –

“I looked at the traffic stop, and then I noticed that a female in a car was kind of freaking out. She was waving her hands. I thought she was crazy. Then she rolled down her window and said the cars were ‘bouncing.’ I said, “Bouncing, what are you talking about?”

Miller turned --- and saw nothing, except dust and smoke.

“After about a minute, I realized there was no more bridge. So then I went from chaos mode to panic.”

Miller worked his way down into the river gorge, across train tracks and woods, to where a huge canopy of highway was resting at a sharp angle.

He jumped down an 8-foot embankment, grabbing a tree branch to break his fall.

- snip –

Then he got to the place he calls Ground Zero. “There [were] eight lanes of concrete hanging 15 feet above me.”

In an instant, he found himself praying. “I said, ‘God, help me not to focus on that piece of concrete, that piece of highway hanging above my head.’ From there, I didn’t look up.”

- snip –

Among the first people Miller found was a woman trapped in a car upside down. He crawled into the car and ripped out the head rests so she could be pulled out through the back seat.

Strangely, she was calm. “She was very uncomfortable, I could tell,” Miller said. “But she was more calm than I was.”

More haunting was the crushed minivan carrying the Coulter family --- mom, dad, and two teenage daughters from Savage.

“I couldn’t tell it was a minivan because it was crushed. I thought it was a sedan,” Miller said.

He found one of the girls standing by the wreck, in shock, under the sloping concrete. “I told her we’ve got to get moving. It’s either I pick you up or I’ll help you walk. She wouldn’t move. She was scared. I ended up picking her up.”

A co-worker helped the other injured girl.

They were able to help the father walk through the rubble and concrete, supporting him with his arms over their shoulders, like an injured football player.

“He wasn’t responding to anybody,” Miller recalled. “He wasn’t making any noise. And for him not to respond to his daughters screaming, I knew something was wrong.”

By the time they got to the mother, who appeared to be the most badly injured, they had found plywood to use as a makeshift stretcher to carry her and others to waiting ambulances. Some were loaded into the back of a company truck that was pressed into service.

Miller would later splash into the water to help land boats that were coming in from the river, carrying victims, rescuers and other construction workers.
Since Mr. Miller was accompanied and assisted in these rescue efforts by other members of his road crew, he never imagined that people would single him out for recognition; yet that is exactly what has happened. The Congressional Medal of Honor Society has nominated him as a finalist for the Above and Beyond Citizen Honor. Quoting from their website:
These awards will celebrate the best of America by profiling spectacular stories of individuals who demonstrate service over self. The heroic examples of the Medal of Honor recipients, along with the Above & Beyond Citizen Honorees, will continue to inspire long after the presentation ceremony. These remarkable citizens stand to remind each and every one of us that for Americans, anything is possible.
Retired General Colin Powell will present the awards on March 25, 2008. Check your local cable provider for a list of stations carrying the event.

Happenings in My Hometown

I thought it was about time to catch up on the news from Minnesota.

FAIRMONT, MN --- New director for Opera House
Tom Dodge will be starting as managing director for the Fairmont Opera House, replacing Michael Burgraff, who took a position as executive director of the Black Hills Playhouse. According to the Fairmont Sentinel:
His ties to the Opera House date back to when the historical arts center was renovated in the 1980’s.

“I was shoveling dirt and working closely with Doc Arneson,” Dodge said, referring to Dr. Robert Arneson, who organized efforts to save the Opera House.

The work Dodge will put into the Opera House as director is “kind of a tribute to the Arnesons, for what they did for the community.”

“This is going to be more a labor of love than anything, taking care of the Opera House,” he said. “This is going to be a way of putting back into the community a lot of what the community has give to me.”
A native of Truman (the same town where young Nick Graham, a high school student, rescued a grocery store from extinction), Mr. Dodge wants to build on the mission of the Opera House as an educational facility, and work toward more coordination with other local cultural venues, such as the Red Rock Center, the Fairmont Film Society, and the Martin County Historical Society.

ST. PAUL, MN --- Minnesota college costs twice the national average
A recent report says that the “net cost of a public college education in Minnesota is nearly twice the national average.” Apparently, the cost is also higher than other Big Ten schools. Of course, I have trouble digesting this because the one Minnesota school that my daughter is even marginally considering, Bethany Lutheran College (a private institution), averages $24, 640 annual tuition. The local Connecticut school that is tops on her list is the fourth most expensive college in the country --- Connecticut College --- with an annual tuition fee of $48,000. Even given differences in income and geography, from where I sit, Minnesota still looks like a bargain.

ST. PAUL, MN --- State Senate limits payments to I-35W Bridge victims
The Minnesota State Senate recently voted to limit compensation for the victims of the I-35W Bridge collapse to $400,000 each, an amount many feel is woefully inadequate. Rather than pay survivors according to their individual losses, the state would like to create a $25 million compensation fund, out of which awards would be paid. The Minnesota House of Representatives voted NOT to cap individual awards. The plans will now go to a conference committee that will be tasked with reaching a compromise.

Apparently, the $400,000 cap in the Senate version of this legislation already exceeds the state liability limit of $300,000, a point that is not lost on some legislators. Senator Ron Latz, for example, believes that it isn’t fair for bridge victims to receive more when their injuries are no different than those suffered by others in other incidents, but who are bound by the liability limits.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN --- City ranks one of top ten for childbirth
A survey by Fit Pregnancy found that Minneapolis is the second best place in the United States to have a baby. Beaten only by Portland, Oregon, this North Star city received the following grades in various categories on a “birthing report card:”

Affordability: B
Maternal & Infant Health Risk: A
Breastfeeding: A-
Birthing Options: C
Stroller Friendliness: C
Fertility Laws/Resources: B-
Access to Hospitals/Doctors: A
Child Care: C
Safety: C-

What was good about Minneapolis? Low infant mortality rates, low cesarean section rates, and progressive laws that guarantee a nursing mother the right to breastfeed in public. What needed improvement? High hospital costs, the availability of licensed day care centers, and state laws that do not require health insurance companies to offer fertility-related services. The weather was also a big detractor (shocking!). It isn’t always conducive to getting out and working off those extra pregnancy pounds. Oh, well. No place is perfect.

Other impressive statistics:
- Minneapolis has one doula for every 37 live births; the national average is one per 649.
- 16% of Minneapolis mothers breastfeed exclusively (meaning no solids, formula, or other liquids) for six months or longer.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN --- Radio and TV legend Bill Carlson dies
Bill Carlson, a legend in the broadcasting community, passed away in late February after a protracted struggle with prostate/liver cancer. I can remember Mr. Carlson from my childhood in Minnesota. For me, he was the face and voice of WCCO; he and Dave Moore. I remember Mr. Carlson’s wife as well, Nancy Nelson. She is best known for her role in numerous infomercials, as well as various talk shows in the Twin Cities area over the past decades. A memorial service honoring Mr. Carlson was held in early March and was attended by more than 800 people, common folk and celebrities alike. He will be sorely missed.

DYK? Green Tea Booster

The antioxidants in green tea, known as catechins, lose their punch once they enter your intestine. In fact, according to my weekly Real Age tip, close to 80% of the catechins in green tea are left by the wayside. To boost the absorption of these helpful substances, researchers suggest flavoring your tea with freshly squeezed lemon, orange, lime, or grapefruit juice (lemon is best). Apparently, the vitamin C from the citrus increases the acidity of your small intestine, thereby increasing the absorption of catechins. Good thing my homeschooling friend gave me a bag of lemons last night!

Also from my weekly message:
More green tea news:

- it may help you lose weight
- it may help keep your knees young and strong
- it can help your skin look great
- it can help you stay sharp
For more Real Age tips, click here.

This Week in CT Education

As a homeschooler, I like to keep track of the happenings in public schools across my state. Some weeks the news from “the other side” is pretty quiet. Not so, this week:

DANBURY, CT --- Teen sues over hearing loss
The parents of a fifteen-year-old student from Danbury High School are planning to sue the Danbury school district on his behalf for damages related to the hearing loss he suffered when his math teacher slammed the palm of her hand on his desk during class. Apparently, she was attempting to wake the child; he had dozed off during her lecture.

From Fox News:
[The boy’s] father, Soel Robacher, claims that his sleepy son’s left ear was resting on his desk on Dec. 4 when math teacher Melissa Nadeau slammed her hand down so hard that his eardrum burst. Robacher says his son experienced an almost complete loss of hearing.

Since then, though some of his hearing has been restored, the boy has been through extensive medical treatments with ear, nose and throat specialists and could require surgery to fully rectify the damage...
NEW HAVEN, CT --- Students suspended for purchasing Skittles
A fourteen-year-old boy from the Sheridan Communications and Technology Middle School was suspended for buying a bag of Skittles from a classmate. The price: $1.00. Not a bad deal, you say, but definitely a bad decision. You see, the district has a “no candy selling” policy that students were repeatedly warned existed. So, the young man with the sweet tooth had knowledge that he was breaking school rules, as did the “candy pusher” when he offered the sinful snack to his classmate. Result: suspension for both offenders. The boy who purchased the Skittles also lost his position in student government (student council vice president) and was kept from attending an honors dinner, a pretty harsh sentence for a misspent buck. Both boys eventually saw their suspensions expunged from their records and the student council vice president was allowed to return to his post.

BRIDGEPORT, CT --- Another student brings gun to school
Another student? Brought a second gun to school? In a week? I didn’t even hear about the first student with the first gun! The school district response: crack down on security. Well, I would hope so. From WTNH News Channel 8:
Metal detectors were installed in all high schools in the city Thursday --- including Bassick High. That’s [where] a ninth grader was found with a gun in the school’s second floor crosswalk Wednesday. Another student reported seeing him with it. Tuesday, a seventh grader was found with a loaded gun at Roosevelt Elementary.

- snip –

Until now, wand metal detectors have been used in all of the schools. More resource officers have been assigned to Roosevelt Elementary and Bassick High after this week’s incidents.
And people wonder why I homeschool.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A First Poem

My daughter is taking a poetry class this term that consists of reading through and completing the exercises in The Grammar of Poetry: Imitation in Writing by Matt Whitling, as well as participating in a class where she reads through “The Taming of the Shrew” and “Much Ado About Nothing” by William Shakespeare. I also plan to add some poetry memorization later in the year.

In Lesson 11 of the curriculum, Katherine the Great was asked to write a poem using iambic tetrameter. This is her result:
The Cave

There is a cave upon a bay,
Upon an ocean wild and gray;
And many a traveler long has sought
This pirates trove long since forgot.

For in that cave there lieth gold
And silver, diamonds, treasures old,
All mold’ring in the dank and gloom,
Their seekers sailing to their doom.

Now to that shore remote I came,
The pirates treasure for to claim;
But lo! the love of Christ I found
More precious than the fortune ‘round.
Call me a proud parent, but I think her initial foray into poetry turned out quite well.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

DYK? Anti-Inflammatory Diet Suggestions

According to the American Dietetic Association, March is Nutrition Month.  Who would have guessed? As part of this recognition, Dr. Weil has been doing an e-mail series of “kitchen makeover” tips that focus on improving the quality of food in America’s pantries. Part 1 dealt with cleaning all the unhealthy food out of my cabinets. I was supposed to ditch anything that was refined, presweetened, or made with white flour and replace it with an organic, high-fiber, whole-grain alternative. He also suggested I remove all instant soups, rice/noodle mixes, and instant drink mixes. The soups were to be replaced with natural, whole-grain soup ingredients like brown rice, dried beans, lentils, and peas; the drink mixes with green, white, or oolong tea. So far, so good. I followed most of those recommendations fifteen years ago when my husband was a cancer patient. The good doctor also suggested including some anti-inflammatory spices in my pantry like sage, basil, thyme, and rosemary. No problem there, either.

Part 2 of the “kitchen makeover” series came today. It recommended that I pay close attention to nutrition labels the next time I go to the supermarket so that I steer clear of these ingredients (listed below), which promote inflammation and, consequently, work against healthy aging. Are you ready for this list? Be prepared to look at a bare cupboard if you are new to the health food scene. Also, say goodbye to most of that Easter candy you bought for the kids. It is usually laced with palm kernel oil.

Animal fat (such as lard)
Artificial sweeteners or non-nutritive sweeteners
Coconut oil
Corn oil
Cottonseed oil
Fractionated oil
High fructose corn syrup
Hydrogenated oil or vegetable shortening
Margarine
Palm or palm kernel oil
Partially hydrogenated oil (source of trans-fat)
Blended vegetable oils
Safflower oil
Soybean oil
Sunflower oil

I don’t have much of this stuff in my pantry. I will occasionally purchase margarine when baking cookies from my “vintage” cookbooks but, for the most part, I have avoided most of these ingredients for a while now.

So, what is a mother to do in the face of such recommendations? Mostly, do as the doctor ordered: pay attention to nutrition labels and begin switching to healthier choices. If your local supermarket looks pretty dismal after this exercise, hunt up a health food grocery store, or find a natural foods cooperative to order from. That’s what I did. In fact, I have to pick up my order this afternoon. Bon app├ętit!

Monday, March 10, 2008

At Least Florida Makes An Effort

In the same week that California attacked homeschooling with an unfavorable appellate court ruling (see article at Bending the Twigs), Florida Governor Charlie Crist issued this proclamation:

HOME EDUCATION WEEK

WHEREAS, the State of Florida is committed to excellence in education and to public policy that strengthens the family and recognizes parental choice in pursuit of that excellence and the importance of parental involvement in education; and

WHEREAS, from the earliest days of our nation, there have been some prominent Americans who were home educated including George Washington, John Quincy Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison, Booker T. Washington, Helen Keller and Sandra Day O’Connor; and

WHEREAS, home education has existed as a statutorily protected educational option in the State of Florida since 1985, providing parents the ultimate authority and responsibility, under God, for the care, character development, and educational opportunities for their children; and

WHEREAS, in support of home education, the State of Florida extends and embraces the opportunity for home educated students to participate in and benefit from scholarship programs, college courses, Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) and Florida State Music Association (FSMA) extra-curricular activities; and

WHEREAS, over two decades of studies indicate most children who are home educated exhibit self-confidence, good citizenship, exceptional academic test scores, higher than average college attendance and success and many have proven devotion to their country by faithfully serving in the armed forces of the United States; and

WHEREAS, the State of Florida and its citizens benefit from reduced educational expenditures and classroom crowding each year given the daily sacrifices and commitment of thousands of home schooling parents;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Charlie Crist, Governor of the State of Florida, do hereby extend greetings and best wishes to all observing March 30 thru April 5, 2008 as Home Education Week.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of Florida to be affixed at Tallahassee, the Capital, this 29th day of February, in the year two thousand eight.

Friday, March 07, 2008

The Governor Speaks

Today, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued this statement regarding the appellate decision in In re Rachel L. I am not always a fan of the “Governator,” but in this particular instance, I am happy for his support:
Every California child deserves a quality education and parents should have the right to decide what’s best for their children. Parents should not be penalized for acting in the best interests of their children’s education. This outrageous ruling must be overturned by the courts and if the courts don’t protect parents’ rights then, as elected officials, we will.
Well, thank the Lord someone in the Golden State is thinking clearly.

Sign the Petition!

The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) is asking homeschoolers everywhere to support homeschool freedom in California by signing a petition to “depublish” the recent appellate decision in In re Rachel L. So far, 87,983 people have committed their names to the effort. For more information, read on (from the HSLDA website):
A California Court of Appeal recently decided that homeschooling is illegal in California unless a parent is a certified teacher.

The case arose in a confidential juvenile court proceeding. The family was represented by court-appointed attorneys and HSLDA did not become aware of the case until the Court of Appeal case was published on February 28, 2008.

The Court could have restricted its decision to the facts before it, but instead it issued a broad ruling that effectively outlaws home education in California. The Court also certified its decision for publication, which means that the decision can now be cited as legal by all other courts in California.

The family and their California counsel are planning to appeal to the Supreme court of California, which could result in reversal.

Another option to keep homeschooling free in California is to petition the Supreme Court of California to “depublish” the opinion. If the opinion is “depublished” then it cannot be used by the other California courts and this threat to homeschool freedom will be neutralized for other California homeschoolers.

HSLDA will be formally petitioning the California Supreme Court to depublish the opinion. We would like to show that many other people, both in California and across the country, care deeply about homeschool freedom in California.

Please show your support for this effort by signing the petition today.

We, the undersigned, request that the Supreme Court of California depublish the Court of Appeal opinion in In re Rachel L., handed down on February 28, 2008.
To reach the petition, click here.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Bach & the Organ

Last week sometime, my Google reader returned a posting on the CyberBrethren blog entitled, “Bach and the Organ: Why the King of Instruments is Still King.” At the time, I thought it would be an interesting read for Katherine the Great, my budding organist. Well, yesterday, I finally checked the posting for myself and this is what I found: a wonderful video of the inner workings of an organ and more. Watch it. Homeschoolers, get your kids to watch it. I was inspired by it. May you be inspired as well.