Saturday, July 30, 2005

Do You Know?

Do You Know What Law Enables You To Homeschool? by Deborah Stevenson, atty.

Great article.
Everyone should read it.
If you don’t know, you should.How else can you tell whether
the next government official who tells you that you have to do what he says is
lying or misunderstanding the law?Do you really want to “comply” with what the
government official tells you to do if it is not required by law?Maybe it
doesn’t bother you to “comply”. Would it bother your neighbor? More importantly,
would it bother your children when it is their turn to homeschool your
grandchildren? Perhaps it would.


Friday, July 29, 2005

Last Day for Early Bird Special

For Homeschool Day at Six Flags
September 8

Save money by purchasing your Home School Day
ticket now! Enjoy a private event with your familes on September 8, 2005. This Early Bird ticket is on sale through July 29th. After July 29th, prices go up. This ticket valid only on September 8, 2005.


Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Update on Whale Rider Goodies

Got a note about some more Whale Rider goodies. Haven't had a chance to really dig into the site, but I love the picture of Pai (Keisha Castle-Hughes) and am glad to see more about the Maori and I want to read the book. There's also a great resource page on the site. Check it out! Here's the info.

Hi Susan. Saw your note on Whale Rider on the homeschooling site. I am
working on this presentation for PBS and wanted you to know there is a terrific
site that you and other homeschoolers should check
out. It was produced by the presenting organization, Pacific Islanders in
Communications, and includes lesson plans, a free downloadable family viewers
, an interview with Witi Ihimaera and extensive background into the Maori culture. There is also information on a National Outreach Campaign we created with the Girl Scouts of the USA.

It would be great if you could help us spread the word about this to homeschoolers. I wish I could have gotten the word out to you prior to the premiere showing, but note that Whale Rider is also available at libraries, for purchase or rental on CD and video, and that PBS stations can air up to 4 broadcasts of the show through September 24, 2005. Homeschoolers should check with their local stations for additional broadcasts. To find your local station, log on to


The Call to Rally Last Year=Pancake

From the Illinois Leader exactly one year ago
Universal mental health screenings: a call to rally
Tuesday, July 27, 2004
GUEST OPINION from Penny Pullen, former state rep and President of Eagle Forum of IL

As planned for all children in Illinois, during the state's required physical exams an evaluation of a child's mental health will soon be included.

Indeed, when I first learned of this legislation last week -- to my horror -- my first reaction was to wonder where all the "good guys" must have been when this was going on. It should not take 50,000 phone calls from "back home" to block such an obvious invasion of family life ... even in a legislature which is
dominated by the more liberal of the two parties. A vigilant and active citizenry is helpful and even necessary, no doubt about it. But where are the pro-family spokesmen within the legislature? How could the Senate, where noted, veteran conservatives serve, have let this go through without a single opposing vote? Were the new conservatives in the House whom I've heard such good things about sleeping when this abomination attracted only five negative votes there?

My Senator, who is now a gubernatorial hopeful, told me that "Approximately 42% of children and youth in child welfare programs meet DSM-IV criteria for a mental illness" I think that this was the 'conservative' rote response regarding their vote for the IL Childrens Mental Health Act. I'm glad he had a 'conversation' with me about it. Bill Mitchell, my state Representative, doesn't respond at all to anything about anything. He's busy being a Republican leader, I guess. Continuing with Penny Pullen:
Now that our leaders have let us down, the families of Illinois must speak out about this thing and demand that it be repealed before it can actually damage anything more than the reputations of our "good guys" in Springfield. Citizens who live in districts whose representatives and senators prize their pro-family reputations should be contacting them right now to respectfully request that they undo what their apparent inattention has wrought.

So I urge your readers to take this on as a crusade. Do not be disheartened by the lack of stewardship this law's passage has exposed. Instead, look on this episode as a rallying cause for taking back government. The critical thing is to rise up now, when the enormity of this has first come to light and before the psych teams, social workers and bureaucrats have been hired.
[Penny Pullen is the state president of Eagle Forum of Illinois and a former Illinois state representative]
They're being hired, but it's still worth it to fight this.


The Six-Lesson Schoolteacher

by John Taylor Gatto, New York State Teacher of the Year, 1991 Author of The Underground History of American Education

Teaching means many different things, but six lessons are common to schoolteaching from Harlem to Hollywood. You pay for these lessons in more ways than you can imagine, so you might as well know what they are:

The first lesson I teach is: "Stay in the class where you belong."

The second lesson I teach kids is to turn on and off like a light switch.

The third lesson I teach you is to surrender your will to a predestined chain of command.

The fourth lesson I teach is that only I determine what curriculum you will study.

In lesson five I teach that your self-respect should depend on an observer's measure of your worth. My kids are constantly evaluated and judged.

In lesson six I teach children that they are being watched. I keep each student under constant surveillance and so do my colleagues. There are no private spaces for children; there is no private time. Class change lasts 300 seconds to keep promiscuous fraternization at low levels. Students are encouraged to tattle on each other, even to tattle on their parents. Of course I encourage parents to file their own child's waywardness, too.

There's much more at the site. I've debated about putting this on the blog as it's a reflection of Mr. Gatto's experiences in the school (similiar to my views, in reality) and it's a direct hit on the public school system.

Then I decided that what most of our society has attended was in the classroom as described above. And the ingrained mindset of those chairs and desks facing front makes me pretty confident that is how we have in just one example; Learning Standards such as our new batch of Social/Emotional Learning Standards (gag). Standards that have nothing to do with learning, but rather being school ready. Ironically, Learn and Learning is not even a mention in the SELS, except in the title.


Federal Bipartisan Roadmap For Mental Health Reform

Mental Health Leaders Release Roadmap for Reform
Hill Event and Release Mark 2nd Anniversary of Groundbreaking Federal Report

Contact: Charles Konigsberg, 202-587-2984
Mental Health Leaders Release Roadmap for Reform
Hill Event and Release Mark 2nd Anniversary of Groundbreaking Federal Report
Wednesday, July 27, 2005, 8:45 a.m.
LBJ Room, 2nd Floor, U.S. Capitol Building, Washington, D.C.
Press Conference. Breakfast will be served.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA), Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC), Rep. Jim Ramstad (R-MN), Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA), Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Rep. Ted Strickland (D-OH)

Michael F. Hogan, Ph.D., chairman, President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health

Charles G. Curie, MA, ACSW, administrator, SAMHSA, DHHS

Michael Faenza, president and CEO, National Mental Health Association

Suzanne Vogel-Scibilia, M.D, president, NAMI

Daniel Fisher, M.D., Ph.D., exec. dir., National Empowerment Center

Charles S. Konigsberg, director, Campaign for Mental Health Reform

Background--Sixteen national organizations will come together in an unprecedented coalition as The Campaign for Mental Health Reform (CMHR) to release a landmark report: Emergency Response: A Roadmap for Federal Action on America’s Mental Health Crisis.
The CMHR release marks the second anniversary of the groundbreaking report by the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health which concluded in July 2003 that the U.S. mental health system is “fragmented and in disarray, lead[ing] to unnecessary and costly disability, homelessness, school failure and incarceration.”
In releasing the Roadmap report, CMHR proposes specific action items Congress and the Administration should take to address the critical issues identified by the President’s Commission.
The Campaign has been organized as the mental health community’s united voice on federal policy.


Tuesday, July 26, 2005

More on Rockford's Quality of Life Issues

City's Mayor, Superintendent Uniting To Curb Truancy
Daytime Curfew Plan Excites City, School Leaders

Holy Cow! I bet the supt. is excited. What a money...honey pot.
Despite a decades-long background in school districts across the nation, Rockford superintendent Dr. Dennis Thompson has never seen a city-wide approach against truancy like this.
"It's an example of an outstanding, pro-active decision by the mayor to go after this, and I'm very supportive of it, and I'm also thankful that he's willing to take that kind of aggressive action to help make this a better city and get kids in school," Thompson said.
Hope Rockford residents don't just tell the mayor that this isn't a good plan. Hope they let the school district know they expect them to do their job. Chronic truants aren't hard to chase down. What's Superintendent Thompson going to do with that extra money and staff saved by what the mayor wants to spend some more of the taxpayers' money on, I wonder? Education? That'd be good. On the kids who are naturally inclined to learn with their busy brains, but can't get engaged enough in the schools there that there is a nearly nine percent truancy population this past school year? 9% seems bad enough that they must not be fudging the numbers.
The plan would fine any student under 18 up to $500, along with public service work, if caught ditching school unexcused.
Too bad. Guess they're not really into the education thing, but want those kids good and broke and too busy with community service to worry about school. $5oo brings in some big bucks for the city though. Smart move that they're taking it out of the teenagers' pocket because the voting adults might get a little peeved and do something about it, if they aren't already.
"I think we're on the same page. The city and the school district need to be partners in setting a high community standard and enforcing that standard," Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey said.
Tricks are for Kids, aren't they?
Thompson agrees with the ordinance's immediate consequences for truants caught out of school, proof that the city and its schools will say what they mean, and mean what they say.
By George! How many times my kids have giggled at me when I've tried that one.
"Especially the ones I call those casual truants, you know "I don't feel like going to school today, I'm going to hang out with my friends at XYZ place," they are going to think twice about doing that," Thompson said.
Good luck kids. Be smart. Have any of you ever watched Ferris Bueller's Day Off?
Morrissey also defends the curfew ordinance as a top city priority, arguing stronger students in class and off the streets will equal a stronger workforce for Rockford.
I dunno. The mayor isn't making it a friendly place to live, let alone visit. Maybe they'll just move away.
"They may not be the sexiest of issues, but they are the issues where upon we build a strong foundation, and if we take care of the blocking and tackling - the basics - then we'll get our share of victories," Morrissey said.
I think this guy was definitely a high school football player. Sis boom and BAH


Lift Off


During their mission, the STS-114 astronauts will test out a suite of new tools and methods of on-orbit inspection and repair of their spacecraft. They will also deliver a vital cargo shipment to the ISS, including a spare gyroscope that Noguchi and Robinson will install during their second of three planned spacewalks.

“This flight is important for NASA…it’s the first step in getting back to flying the shuttle and building the International Space Station,” NASA astronaut Nicholas Patrick told “But for me personally, it’s very important because I’m looking.

Patrick is assigned to the crew of Discovery’s STS-116 flight, where he will be in charge with directing the robotic arm and the added 50-foot (15-meter) orbital inspection boom that the STS-114 mission will test out. Today’s spaceflight is also geared at testing potential repair techniques for shuttle tiles and heat-resistant panels, and resupplying the ISS.
Remember kids, playing with Legos and Robotics will get you everywhere so you can play as an adult, too.


Sunday, July 24, 2005

Haven for homeschoolers

Liked the conclusion of this article:
As the children oohed and ahhed and launched a barrage of questions at a hands-on presentation on the making of maple syrup, it was clear that while their parents explored Christian pedagogy and progressive educational theory, what all of the parents valued and desired for their children was right there in the room: a sense of wonder, a boundless curiosity, and a confidence that each of these children could grow to understand their world and find a comfortable place in it.

Our photographer photographing


Christopher Paolini New Book Tour

Heads Up:
In Illinois: Tuesday, September 6th at 7:00 pm Presented by Anderson’s Bookshop at: Naperville Central High School 440 Aurora Avenue Naperville, Illinois

Pretty cool story about Christopher Paolini. An excerpt about his reading/writing journey.

How was I able to accomplish all this? Let me tell you a story:"I hate to read!" cried the little boy obstinately. "I don’t see why I have to learn this, I’m never going to use it." That’s what I said nearly fifteen years ago when Mom was teaching me how to read. Back then I knew that reading wasn’t part of my world and I knew that it was just a waste of time. Mom was patient, though, and carefully guided me until I could read simple words. Then she took me to the library.
It’s easy to write those words now, but they cannot convey how that single event changed my life. In the library, hidden in the children’s section, was a series of short mystery novels. Attracted by their covers, I took one home and read it eagerly. I discovered another world, peopled with interesting characters facing compelling situations. In fact, I still remember what the book was about; it involved tomato sauce being mistaken for blood! From then on, I’ve been in love with the written word. Instead of toys, my room is filled with books. They’re piled under my bed, on the floor, by my pillow, and overflow into the rest of the house. When we go into town, the only places I want to visit are the libraries, bookstores, and occasionally an art museum.


Whaler Rider Tonight

PBS is showing Whale Rider tonight. 8 pm our time.
It is a wonderful movie. Highly recommend it
The award-winning, critically acclaimed WHALE RIDER, a cinematic re-telling of a Maori legend, comes to PBS in summer 2005. The film stars Keisha Castle-Hughes as Pai, with three of New Zealand's most distinguished actors: Rawiri Paratene as Koro, Vicky Haughton as Nanny Flowers and Cliff Curtis as Porourangi, Pai's father.

Adapted by Niki Caro from the much-loved, best-selling 1986 book by Witi Ihimaera, the first Maori novelist to be published in New Zealand, WHALE RIDER was shot entirely in Whangara, a coastal village on the east cost of New Zealand's North Island. In the film, Pai, a 12-year-old girl, dares to challenge the ancient traditions of her people, despite opposition from her grandfather, Koro, chief of their village.


Saturday, July 23, 2005

Homeschool Legislation in Congress

National Home Education Legal Defense
Bulletin #42 Pending Legislation in Congress 07/22/2005

Did you know? Congress may be adopting federal legislation that will affect your right to homeschool? Tell Congress to kill the bills!

NHELD believes in the United States Constitution. When it comes to the rights of parents to educate their own children, NHELD believes the tenth amendment is supreme.

The tenth amendment states: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

The power of education is not one that is delegated to the United States by the Constitution. It is, therefore, reserved to the States or to the people.

Why then does another nationally recognized organization that purportedly supports homeschooling continue to solicit the assistance of United States Congressmen to adopt federal laws that regulate homeschooling? NHELD has no answer to that question.

While some of these bills at first glance appear to benefit homeschool families, ultimately legislation adopted by Congress establishes the unconstitutional precedent that the federal government has the authority to enact legislation regarding education. When homeschool families do not receive any federal funding or benefits, the federal government has no constitutional authority to enact any legislation. By enacting legislation that provides for federal funding and benefits, Congress unconstitutionally is granting to itself the authority to enact further legislation affecting homeschooling. In addition, because in the federal legislation, the word, "homeschool" appears, and is defined, the definition of that word may conflict with the definition in one or more state statutes. Because of the "supremacy clause" of the Constitution, when a federal law conflicts with a state law, the federal law supersedes state law, thus, placing into jeopard

Here is a summary of the bills pending in Congress:

1.) HR130:
Sponsor: Rep Kennedy, Mark R. [MN-6] (introduced 1/4/2005) Cosponsors (1)
Committees: House Education and the Workforce
Latest Major Action: 2/9/2005 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Education Reform.

Amends the General Education Provisions Act (GEPA) to extend to families of home-schooled children certain educational and privacy rights currently available to families of public school students.

Revises the definition of student for purposes of coverage regarding such family educational and privacy rights (under GEPA provisions which are also known as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974).

Includes under such coverage any person educated at a home school (whether or not State law treats a home school as a home school or a private school), if an educational agency or institution maintains education records or personally identifiable information on such person (whether or not the home-schooled person is in attendance at the agency or institution). (Current law excludes all those who are not in attendance at the agency or institution.)

2.) HR403:
Sponsor: Rep Paul, Ron [TX-14] (introduced 1/26/2005) Cosponsors (6)
Committees: House Ways and Means
Latest Major Action: 1/26/2005 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

Hope Plus Scholarship Act of 2005 - Amends the Internal Revenue Code to expand the Hope Education Scholarship credit to cover K-12 expenses and to offset the cost of home schooling. Under this bill, the term "'school' shall include a home school".

3.) HR406:
Sponsor: Rep Paul, Ron [TX-14] (introduced 1/26/2005) Cosponsors (13)
Committees: House Ways and Means
Latest Major Action: 1/26/2005 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

Family Education Freedom Act of 2005 - Amends the Internal Revenue Code to allow a tax credit of up to $3,000 per student per year for the cost of attendance at any educational institution (including any private, parochial, religious, or home school) organized to provide elementary or secondary education, or both. The bill amends the IRS code to define "qualified educational expenses" that will be considered tax deductible. In other words, the IRS will be able to adopt regulations to determine whether your "home school" expenses qualify for the tax credit. In order to do this, the IRS will have oversight authority over your homeschool. The exact language in the bill is as follows:

Definitions- For purposes of this section--

`(1) QUALIFIED EDUCATIONAL EXPENSES- The term `qualified educational expenses' means cost of attendance in connection with the elementary or secondary education of the student at a qualified educational institution. Under regulations prescribed by the Secretary, rules similar to the rules relating to cost of attendance (within the meaning of section 472 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1087ll) (as in effect on the date of the enactment of this paragraph) shall apply for purposes of the preceding sentence.

`(2) QUALIFIED EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTION- The term `qualified educational institution' means any educational institution (including any private, parochial, religious, or home school) organized for the purpose of providing elementary or secondary education, or both.

Regulations- The Secretary shall prescribe regulations to carry out this section, including regulations providing for claiming the credit under this section on Form 1040EZ.'.

4.) HR 508:
Sponsor: Rep McKeon, Howard P. (Buck) [CA-25] (introduced 2/2/2005) Cosponsors (1)
Committees: House Education and the Workforce
Latest Major Action: 3/24/2005 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on 21st Century Competitiveness.

Fed Up Higher Education Technical Amendments of 2005 - Amends the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA) to make various technical revisions regarding access to student aid programs.

Revises the HEA general definition of institution of higher education (IHE) to include one that admits as regular students those who have been home-schooled (as well as high school graduates or those with equivalency certificates), thus conforming it with provisions that make such home-schooled students eligible for student aid under HEA title IV.

5.) HR371:
Sponsor: Sen Kennedy, Edward M. [MA] (introduced 2/14/2005) Cosponsors (7)
Committees: Senate Finance
Latest Major Action: 2/14/2005 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance.

College Quality, Affordability, and Diversity Improvement Act of 2005 - Amends the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA) and Internal Revenue Code (IRC) to set forth provisions relating to: (1) access to college for all; (2) teacher quality enhancement; (3) diversity, retention, and enriched academics for matriculating students; (4) opportunities at Hispanic-serving institutions; (5) historically Black colleges and universities; and (6) recruitment of teachers to teach at tribal colleges or universities.

Makes appropriations in a specified amount to carry out the HEA Pell Grant program. Increases the maximum amount of an individual Pell Grant.

Revises the IRC Hope Scholarship program.

6.) HR1021:
Sponsor: Sen Enzi, Michael B. [WY] (introduced 5/12/2005) Cosponsors (1)
Committees: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
Latest Major Action: 5/18/2005 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. Ordered to be reported with an amendment, in the nature of a "substitute favorably".

Workforce Investment Act Amendments of 2005 - Amends title I of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA) to revise requirements and reauthorize appropriations for workforce investment systems for job training and employment services, including the Job Corps.

Adult Education and Family Literacy Act Amendments of 2005 - Amends title II of WIA, also known as the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act, to revise requirements and reauthorize appropriations for adult basic skills education, including adult education and family literacy programs.

When a specific group is exempt from one law, a reviewing court may determine that because Congress specifically exempted that group from one law and not from other laws, that Congress must have meant to include that group in the applicability of the other laws. Thus, other laws that until now did not apply to homeschoolers, may be deemed to apply to homeschoolers in the future.

Section 204 of the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (20 U.S.C. 9203) is amended to read as follows:

`Nothing in this title shall be construed to affect home schools, whether a home school is treated as a home school or a private school under State law, or to compel a parent engaged in home schooling to participate in an English language acquisition program, family literacy services, or adult education.'.

7.) S9:
Sponsor: Sen Enzi, Michael B. [WY] (introduced 1/24/2005) Cosponsors (2)
Related Bills: S.1021
Latest Major Action: 1/24/2005 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance. This is an omnibus bill that incorporates many of the components of bills that first were proposed in the house.

Lifetime of Education Opportunities Act of 2005 - Expresses the sense of the Senate regarding: Head Start; elementary and secondary education; career and technical education; mathematics and science education; loan forgiveness for teachers; teacher preparation; teacher incentives; teacher tax credits; higher education and lifelong learning opportunities; minority serving institutions; making education more affordable; and a refundable tax credit for public or private school tuition and transportation costs.

Amends the Higher Education Act of 1965 to revise requirements and reauthorize appropriations for teacher quality enhancement grants for States and partnerships.

Makes permanent specified affordable education requirements under the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001.

Workforce Investment Act Amendments of 2005 - Amends title I of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA) to revise requirements and reauthorize appropriations for workforce investment systems for job training and employment services, including the Job Corps.

Adult Education and Family Literacy Act Amendments of 2005 - Amends title II of WIA, also known as the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act, to revise requirements and reauthorize appropriations for adult basic skills education, including adult education and family literacy programs.

Amends the Wagner-Peyser Act to: (1) require employment services offices in each State to be co-located with comprehensive one-stop centers under WIA-I; and (2) revise requirements and reauthorize appropriations for the workforce and labor market information system to be carried out through grants or cooperative agreements with the States.

Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 2005 - Amends the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to revise requirements and reauthorize appropriations for vocational rehabilitation services.

Amends the Helen Keller National Center Act to reauthorize appropriations for such Act in general and for the Helen Keller National Center Federal Endowment Fund.

Give Back to Parents Act of 2005 - Amends the Internal Revenue Code to provide a refundable tax credit for education, tuition, and transportation expenses of students assigned to schools identified for school improvement.

Section 204 of the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (20 U.S.C. 9203) is amended to read as follows:

`Nothing in this title shall be construed to affect home schools, whether a home school is treated as a home school or a private school under State law, or to compel a parent engaged in home schooling to participate in an English literacy program, family literacy services, or adult education.'.

Full details of all of these bills can be found at:

Attorney Deborah Stevenson - Executive Director of National Home Education Legal Defense. - or email :

Judy Aron - Director of Research, NHELD -


Friday, July 22, 2005

Long Time Minnesota Homeschoolers

Global learning

Great article! Got the heads up about this article from HEM Editor's Blog ; Helen Hegener's weblog. My favorite parts:
But, though there were difficulties and she was once brought to court, Jean held fast to the concept of homeschooling.
The concept or the spirit or the life (freedom) of homeschooling is a treasure.
"I always thought their character development was way more important than anything else," she said.
What happened to that simple and basic revelation that families are the integral part (not partner) of children's developing characters?
There was limited information and curriculum in the 80s, so Jean worked with what the local library could provide.
The library solves many an educational resource problem
"Every moment is a teaching moment. You let your children do everything with you," Jean said, including work such as cooking and mowing the lawn. "Everything can be a learning experience."
The children also had real world experiences, such as a thrift store Sarah and her sister Katie Troe operated when they were teenagers.
And community service work at shelters or food pantries or museums or libraries or zoos.....
make a point to allow their children to explore the world.
If a child made a discovery of, say, an earthworm and is curious about its purpose, their parent will tell them everything they know and then do additional reserach if they can't fill in all the blanks.
Hands On Science. You can literally fall right into it if you wade around with your kids in the pond or lake or ocean.
Usually if we have a problem at home it's because we've been socializing too much," Sarah said.
Exactly. We have progressed into CarSchooling of sorts and listened to many, many books keeping up with our social calendar. Killing 2 birds with one stone, but sometimes I just want to stay home and curl up with a good book and hot tea and bon bons.

"The best part is I get to snuggle with my kids any time of the day," Sarah said.

That's the best!


Discovery to Launch July 26

Credits: Robert Pearlman/

Tuesday at 9:39 am central time

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – NASA will restart the countdown for the space shuttle Discovery Saturday, with plans to launch the orbiter spaceward on July 26 after more than week of work to pin down a fuel sensor glitch, mission managers said late Wednesday.

“Right now we think we have eliminated all the common causes,” shuttle program manager Bill Parsons said of the glitch during a press briefing here at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC). “We believe we’ve done everything we possible could on the vehicle.”

Discovery’s STS-114 mission, NASA’s first shuttle flight since the 2003 Columbia disaster, is now set to launch at
10:39 a.m. EDT (1439 GMT) on July 26


Thursday, July 21, 2005

Bipartisanship at its Worst

From a Stockholm article last year
The Carter/Bush Collaboration

New Freedom's pharma-oriented programmes have garnered considerable and broad support, including from the Carter Centre, the organisation founded by former President Jimmy Carter and best known for its human rights programmes and election monitoring. The "Carter Centre Mental Health Programme supports the spirit and findings of the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health report," says Thomas H Bornemann, director of the Georgia-based centre's mental health programme. He added the centre is, "engaged with a variety of partners to use the report as a platform to transform the current mental health system. Two of the programme's annual Rosalynn Carter Symposia on Mental Health Policy (2003 and 2004) are dedicated to meet the challenges of funding and achieving these goals." According to the Carter Centre, 77 percent of its budget is devoted to health programmes, with 6.6 percent of the budget going to peace activities. Drug firms such as GlaxoSmithKline, Merck & Co, Pfizer, and Wyeth are listed as having provided one million dollars or more to the centre, as is the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, associated with Johnson and Johnson and TMAP [The original TMAP model was funded through a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, an outgrowth of the Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical giant, along with money from ten other drug companies]. Queries to the Carter Centre regarding the total amounts of pharmaceutical industry funding, the programmes that that money was applied to and the industry's influence on the centre's policy, were not answered.

So what do you get when you cross an elephant and a donkey? $17,464,028 contributed to the 2004 campaigns from pharmaceutical companies.


Marathon Homeschool Conference

This was sent out by Pat Farenga of Growing Without Schooling magazine fame. I'm not familiar with this site and just gave a glance to the faqs about homeschooling. Looks ok except the addition of charter schools in the schematics of homeschooling is certainly controversial. (That's why I signed the WSfH resolution along with a few others from IL.)

This marathon conference looks interesting.

Dear Friend,

LIVE Conference-call Interviews with your favorite homeschooling authors and
speakers!Special guests: Robert Kiyosaki, Pat Farenga and 30 of the most trusted
names in homeschooling. Here's the information you've been looking for on time
management, organization, homeschooling through High School,
ChristianHomeschooling and much, much more!!Four hours of back-to-back
interviews each day from July 25 - August 4th hosts this FREE event and you'll kick yourself if you miss
it!To receive the conference-call number, passcode and speaker schedule

Click here to register

We'll send you the final schedule as soon as it is available.It's a
Homeschooling How-To Marathon!

Thank you,

Pat Farenga

The Learning In Our Own Way Conference

August 12 - 14, 2005 Crowne Plaza Hotel, Woburn, MA

Voice: 781 - 395-8508 Fax: 781-874-1053


Home Education Magazine Blogs

HEM Weblogs A listing of all the HEM weblogs.Home Education Magazine announces the release of several topical weblogs at the HEM site, covering news, resources, opinion, commentary, conferences, support group information and much more. HEM's blogs have many handy features - check them all out and subscribe to updates from your favorites!

HEM Support Groups Ongoing encouragement and resources for support group volunteers, including a monthly newsletter [Valerie Bonham Moon this month] with outstanding interviews, coordinated by HEM Support Groups Liaison Mary Nix

HEM Homeschool Conferences Calendar A listing of conferences, conventions and other events, with contact information and links. Is your group's conference or convention listed?

HEM Guide to Homeschooling Resources Learning resources reviewed and described, with space for comments by homeschoolers who use the resources, and links to the company web sites.

HEM Editor's Blog The weblog of Helen Hegener, co-publisher and managing editor of Home Education Magazine.

Subscribe to one or all of them - all completely free!


Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Let Them Be Little

Ran into this lovely song Let Them Be Little via the Universal Preschool Website/List run by Diane Flynn Keith.

She also has a great daily educational site list.

The songwriter, Billy Dean, has a very fulfilling life apparently
Dean says that when he made the decision to leave his career to devote full time to his children, they actually ended up parenting him and have taught him a lot. Their influence also helped him tap into a "different creative space" that had a positive impact on his writing which this album easily illustrates.
Great song and I'm not a country western fan. But it ranks up there with another all time favorite of mine Flowers Are Red by Harry Chapin


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

School Readiness for Babies

And one thing they always stress as important is
How to Stand In Line

This picture was on a family visit to NY. The goal was to bounce on the water ski tube after a day of boating. Had the 2 in front ever stood in line before? Absolutely not and there was a soon to be scuffle with all of the cousins over who went first. They got a quick lesson from grandparents, aunts and uncles and the mom about 'waiting your turn'. Worked like magic, took all of 33 1/3 seconds, didn't require any standardization.(As you can see, they stood in line in different ways, but in perfect form.) We were certainly doing some evaluating of their bouncing style off the tube (flying bodies and all), but it was very constructive. If they bounced on their bottoms, they usually landed on their heads, for instance.

Ran into an article where it was noted by the Children Inc. [children incorporated...Creepy] Executive Director Rick Hulefeld that
"There are going to be a lot of funders who are going to say, 'We want to be a part of this, because we feel it's a national model,"
Probably right and moving along nicely in IL.

This one is in Newport...(CA? I think)
His remarks came after the school board gave final approval to a five-year strategic plan. Its centerpiece is an expansion of free preschool, a partnership with local day-care providers and a program to visit the homes of babies and toddlers
Just for the record AGAIN, this preschool is NOT free, but taxpayer funded. And the visits to homes of babies and toddlers is right in there with the federal New Freedom Commission Plan as well as in Illinois' framing. NFC
They range from school-based mental health care in Dallas; to home visits by trained nurses for high-risk women during pregnancy and the first year of the child's life; to suicide prevention by Air Force generals; and treatment for late-life depression in primary care.
and the Illinois Plan
Provide at least two voluntary home visits by a registered nurse to all Illinois families following the birth of a child to assess the physical, social and emotional health of the new family, and link them to appropriate follow-up services as needed to prevent the emergence of developmental, behavioral and pychosocial problems.


Monday, July 18, 2005

Fight 'em Pennsylvania

The Philly editor says
6, rather than 8, is a smart choice

Nope, 6, rather than 8, is much less of a choice
Pennsylvania has very unfortunate homeschooling regs. But at least their compulsory attendance age is 8 and no lower. Apparently they're once again trying to change that to 6. (What is it with the 2 year drops these legislators go for?)

The world won't come tumbling down if Harrisburg lawmakers make 6 years old the mandatory age to begin school for the commonwealth. They can start with State Senate passage of a House-approved bill sponsored by State Rep. JamesR. Roebuck (D., Phila.) that would lower Philadelphia's mandatory school age from 8 years old to 6. Every state sets both a minimum and maximum age when children are required to attend school. In most, the minimum mandatory age is 6 or 7. OnlyWashington state and Pennsylvania set the floor of mandatory attendance at 8. So with all of the known benefits, what stops Pennsylvania from catching up to the rest of the nation?Home schoolers mainly, who contact legislators at the whisper of changing compulsory attendance laws. No doubt, home-school parents care more than many about their children getting a good education. But as history shows, public education is a cherished principle of the nation. It is not a subversive intrusion into family decision-making.Still, Roebuck's bill exempts home-schoolers because of their concern. That should be enough for state senators to lower the mandatory age - beginning with Philadelphia.


Medicaid Scandal

Does anyone assume IL would be much different than NY? Here's some snips from the NY Times article. Then put mental health screening/greedy, unscrupulous people with the state agencies/greedy, unscrupulous individuals out to make a buck and you have many precious children being victimized again and again with our buck. Illinois children in the Medicaid program are already being screened. Proponents "are excited" about it.

some snips:
School officials around the state have enrolled tens of thousands of low-income students in speech therapy without the required evaluation, garnering more than $1 billion in questionable Medicaid payments for their districts. One Buffalo school official sent 4,434 students into speech therapy in a single day without talking to them or reviewing their records, according to federal investigators.
Medicaid has even drawn several criminal rings that duped the program into paying for an expensive muscle-building drug intended for AIDS patients that was then diverted to bodybuilders, at a cost of tens of millions. A single doctor in Brooklyn prescribed $11.5 million worth of the drug, the vast majority of it after the state said it had tightened rules for covering the drug
It's like a honey pot," said John M. Meekins, a former senior Medicaid fraud prosecutor in Albany who said he grew increasingly disillusioned before he retired in 2003. "It truly is. That is what they use it for."
State health officials denied in interviews that Medicaid was easily cheated, saying that they were doing an excellent job of overseeing the program.
"This continues to be an area where we think that we have made substantial progress," said Dennis P. Whalen, executive deputy commissioner of the State Health Department. "But by no means are we sitting back and resting on the accomplishments that we have made."


Homeschool Intern Opportunity

I followed Fran around in Springfield one day last spring lobbying against Kwame Raoul's lowering of compulsory attendance age bill. She has a lot of energy and she has a lot of contacts. I hope teens take advantage of this hands on and invaluable opportunity because my experience was very informational. (She offered an open invitation to anyone to lobby with her that day which was very generous. Trying to catch a legislator's ear while very politely answering questions from fascinated me was something she did very well.)

Knowing the home schooling movement in Illinois as I have known for years, there are tremendously talented and bright home schooled high school level
students in the midst. The pool of talent and potential leadership has
simply not been tapped into yet.

As you know, I am a big proponent of apprenticeships-- our two home-schooled sons apprenticed during their late high school years with a man who provided basic tools in computer training, and now each of our sons are providing well for their own growing families. Apprenticeship is a viable route for young people to take.

This year, I was pleased to have a high school age home schooler accompany me each week to the Capitol in my lobbying efforts, and she learned a lot while working side-by-side with me. I know that internships work.

There are several profamily/prolife statewide groups with which I work who are in need of help, and a simple apprenticeship/internship partnership between home-taught high schoolers (or college agers, as well) would make perfect sense -- both to the benefit of these groups' work and to the students, as well.

If you could assist me in getting out the word to the homeschooling circles in Illinois about the possibility of connecting home schoolers who may be interested in public policy for a vocation, we all would be very grateful.
This will take some coordinating, but in a day and age of internet and computers, much of the work could be done from the students' homes, on their own schedules.

The best way to reach me is via email. Please publish my email address of and encourage parents who may be interested in such a program to contact me at their convenience. I'm excited about this possibility -- for our profamily work in Illinois and for the students themselves.

Thanks so much,

Fran Eaton

Below, I've listed my affiliations for the reference of those considering this offer:

Current lobbyist for Concerned Women for America, Illinois Family Institute, Eagle Forum of Illinois and Family Taxpayers Foundation Current Advisory Board member for United Republican Fund Managing Editor for, 2002-2004 Immediate Past State President of Eagle Forum of Illinois, 1999-2002 Communications Director for Christian Home Educators Coalition, 1991-1998 Home schooling mom from 1985-1999, when our youngest graduated from high school


Sunday, July 17, 2005

Satellite Watching And Satellite Views Need Water?

Hmm... experimenting here. Uh, since I can't seem to get the credit on the image, I'll just say that the MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC needs to get all the credit for these pictures of IL, KY and IN. Now take a look and guess which flooded river is what. We'll turn this into a guessing game since I can't get the blasted print up either. I will become a competent blogger, I will become..You get extra points if you're not from IL. (Except I guess I forgot that this one particular river WAS in IL. )
This flooding might be hard to remember now since January when this picture was taken? We got more rain here in central IL thanks to Hurricane Dennis. Needed it badly and it was in bits and pieces across the area. We love watching the rainfall line start and stop across the soybean fields. You always know when it's time to run.

And did you know that you can spot satellites, including the Space Station? Just plug in your town, and enter the coordinates here. Very cool! We're off to look for Virgo this time. No luck last night, but maybe it'll make sense tonight since the bright star Spica is an arm (or a leg? I dunno) of the constellation.

High sign for Nanette tonight


Mental Health-Rhonda Robinson is ON it

In the Link, her column Across the Fence/Against the Tide She leads with
Who owns the children? Okay, I realize "owns" sounds a little on the harsh side because we are not speaking of property here. But ultimately, the question remains . . . who do they belong to? Are they our children? Or are they the state’s most vital resource?
Although homeschooling families come in all shades and sizes, and we run the gamut in teaching styles, economics and ethnicity; we all have one common denominator: The fundamental belief in the autonomy of parents. We believe it is our right, coupled with our high duty, to direct the education of our own children.
And yet, ever so quietly, state intervention on "behalf of the child" has become commonplace. Without realizing it, parents are losing small pieces of autonomy, which threaten our homeschooling freedom.
She notes Representative Paul addressing the picking away at our freedoms here
Anyone who understands bureaucracies knows they assume more and more power incrementally… A few scattered state programs over time will be replaced by a federal program implemented in a few select cities. Once the limited federal program is accepted, it will be expanded nationwide. Once in place throughout the country, the screening program will become mandatory.
Just pull out that one adjective: voluntary in any legislative language and you suddenly have mandatory through default. It's in place and if not already set in motion; the intention is mandatory. She goes on to talk about the governmental partnering with parents.
A. Partner with parents. Priority recommendations: Develop a mental health system for all children ages 0-18 years that respects, supports and treats families and caregivers as partners."

That is their goal. To be on equal footing with parents. What government agency do you want as partner in parenting?
None. That's one reason we homeschool. I refuse to partner with a bureaucracy in parenting precious, complex and wonderful children. It's a sad mentality our society seems to embrace. And it's been so destructive to so many children and families.What she states below is so true and I wish homeschoolers would pay attention to this.
No state agency, no matter how "comprehensive" it is, can cure society’s ills. Nor can homeschoolers afford to turn a blind eye to the perils of the nation’s children. If we do, we will surrender our parental autonomy by default.
Rally up, homeschoolers. For our society's sake and no kidding, for homeschoolers' sake.


Saturday, July 16, 2005

Well-Meaning Amateurs:NEA's non-pat on the head

Home Schools Run By Well-Meaning Amateurs
Schools With Good Teachers Are Best-Suited to Shape Young Minds
By Dave Arnold-(a member of the Illinois Education Association, is head custodian at Brownstown Elementary School in Southern Illinois.) He says
There's nothing like having the right person with the right experience, skills and tools to accomplish a specific task. Certain jobs are best left to the pros, such as, formal education.
I dunno. Following that logic, why are the bus drivers, custodians, secretaries, teacher's aides and cooks in the National Education Association or the American Federation of Teachers Unions now??
Several organizations have popped up on the Web to serve these wannabe teachers.
Where's he been? Homeschoolers and homeschool organizations have been on the 'net for a long time. I don't mind. Too bad he does. It's better than some in his union (the pros) who still won't approach a computer because it's too intimidating.
Don’t most parents have a tough enough job teaching their children social, disciplinary and behavioral skills? They would be wise to help their children and themselves by leaving the responsibility of teaching math, science, art, writing, history, geography and other subjects to those who are knowledgeable, trained and motivated to do the best job possible.
Ouch and no kiddin'! It's admittedly more and more difficult teaching our kids in IL social, disciplinary and behavioral skills with our Learning Standards. But what were you saying about math, science, art, geography and other learning matters, Mr. Arnold? Oh, yeah, that's what we do at home, ya know.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NEA or its affiliates.
Oh piffle. His views are exactly what NEA is about.


Library Offers Books for Home School Families

The title of this Peoria article got my attention in a perverse kind of way. Guess I'm just being persnickety. And I can/should only assume that the Peoria library has the best of intentions. And maybe I'm already spoiled by our library.
Home schooled families and families interested in home schooling came together at the Peoria Public Library on Friday.

The mission is to discuss resources available to them.

Due to the cost of private schools and the size of public schools, a lot of families are becoming more interested in home schooling, and the library is providing help.
That sounds good, I guess. But what help does a library need to provide for homeschoolers when a library is filled with Da Dum....BOOKS?

Mary Clayton, a mother considering home-schooling said, “There’s a lot of resources we’re going to need. You know books especially, cause we’re going to start when he’s about two. And there’s a lot of books and we don’t want to buy all of those books, again you know, financially. So they’ll have the resources I think for us.”
My 2 year olds were still in diapers. And since we had ours in batches of 2, there were 2 sets of diapers. I don't know what Ms. Clayton is starting when he turns two, but she might get burned out before he turns 3. I don't miss diapers one little bit, but I do miss the little snuggles reading Goodnight Moon thousands of times...In the great green room, there was a telephone....or the Woods books like Piggies where you could tickle as you "skip down my tummy".
What do you do with resources for two year olds other than the great books just about any library has to read along with? Our library doesn't have so many textbooks available as fun, read-able books like Holling C Hollings natural science books or the Time Warp Trio books out on display or the Nat'l Geographic's fantastic books like The New Everyday Science Explained or full sets of Joy Hakim's History Of US or those Garfield books or the Reader's Digest non-fiction books like How Math Works. Lots of stuff like that along with a full set of the textbooks the local ps kids use that are out on display for folks who use those at any or all points in time. And great and helpful librarians who've done some neat workshops with the homeschoolers. So maybe that's what they were talking about. And microscopes and stuff like that to check out. A library like the Johnsburg Library Homeschool Resource Center. That'd be cool.


Friday, July 15, 2005

TeenScreen and IL House Resolution

Forgot about this. Kinda pertinent. From a 2004 IL House Resolution
Here's the heads up to anyone believing mental health screening proponents and their vehement denials that they not pushing for mandatory mental health screening. Btw, I just don't see 20% of children as mentally ill, but rather growing and maturing in their own way. Might not be standardized, but it's human and one might say, natural and wonderful.
ICMHP Director Barbara Shaw said. "We have no intention of setting up a mandatory system of screening. We just want the 20 percent of children who need mental health care to get what they need."
The Resolution:
That we recommend that every young person should be screened once during childhood or adolescence to identify mental illness and prevent suicide;

Evelyn Pringle wrote another great piece and a kick in the pants reminder about this:
In May 2004, Illinois lawmakers passed a resolution approving the implementation of TeenScreen in public schools, which said in part: (1) 'Columbia TeenScreen Program', has been proven successful, offers technical assistance for implementation of a screening program, and provides all the components for such a program at no charge at this time; (2) that we recognize that mental illness and suicide among young people are public health crisis in this State and that all residents of Illinois should make the identification of mental disorders and the prevention of suicide among the young people a public health priority; (3) that every young person should be screened ... to identify mental illness and prevent suicide; and (4) That such a screening and identification process should employ sound, evidence-based tools.


Thursday, July 14, 2005

Homeschool Family Day-6 Flags Great America

Homeschool Family Day
Thursday, September 8

You can order online. Plug homeschool into any promotional codes that show up.

Tickets and Meal(overcooked hot dogs and chicken, other stuff I probably shouldn't comment on anymore with unlimited soft drinks) is $34/person and $25 for Park Admission only if postmarked by 7/29.
Tickets and Meal (see review above) postmarked between 7/30 and 9/1/05 are $38/person and $29 for Park Admission Only.

So hurry up and decide you're going and get your discounted tickets. It's fun!


Even babies getting treated as mentally ill

Wish I hadn't run into this tonight. It's an April article. I've become very skeptical but this makes me ill. As I read this I wondered how they would have the numbers with some suspicion.
Doctors prescribed sedatives and powerful, mood-altering medications for nearly 700 Ohio babies and toddlers on Medicaid last summer, according to a Dispatch review of records.
I was at least glad to see several mental health folks who said Enough!
‘‘It’s shocking," said Dr. Ellen Bassuk, associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. ‘‘Who’s really being helped by these children being drugged? The babies? Or their caregivers?
‘‘These medications are not benign; they can have dangerous side effects and have to be closely monitored."
So not only are kids in the Medicaid program drugged, the families also have no privacy.
Private insurance plans don’t report how psychiatric drugs are used by their clients, but because Medicaid is government-run, more information is available.
Nearly 40,000 Ohio children on Medicaid were taking drugs for anxiety, depression, delusions, hyperactivity and violent behavior as of July. For the entire year, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services paid out about $65.5 million for kids’ mentalhealth drugs.
Btw, according to a '97 Wall Street Journal article, these now come in
easy-to-swallow forms that will be more palatable to even the youngest tykes: Lilly 's Prozac is already available as a minty liquid; Pfizer is working on a liquid version of Zoloft and an orange-flavored liquid Paxil is nearing approval from the FDA.


Are Your Legislators Paying Attention to You? Continued

Touching on my representatives and their responses again, I'll move on to Representative Tim Johnson. I've been pretty happy with his votes on my issues of concern. He's been going against the apparent Republican party norm, as far as the mental health issue is concerned. He voted for Representative Paul's amendment 366 That amendment failed due to 124 Republican votes and 179 Democratic votes against with 32 abstaining (chicken livers). It only stated
None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to create or implement any universal mental health screening program.
and as Representative Paul stated
Matter of fact, when the State gets control of children, they tend to overuse medications like this. Take, for instance, in Texas, 60 percent of the foster children are on medication. In Massachusetts, it is close to 65 percent. In Florida, 55 percent of the children in foster home care are receiving these kinds of medication.
See here for the excitement in IL regarding Medicaid recipient families.Below is the outcry against the amendment. Some said there is no call for universal mental health screening. Who does their research anyway? Did any of them say We don't want mandatory (universal) mental health screening during this discussion? I don't think so as I scan comments. Instead,here's some pithy quotes:
they made it very clear that in all programming involving kids there is a requirement that parents participate and give their informed consent

Having said that, let me simply say I do not think our problem in this country is that we do too much screening for mental health problems with young people
The problem here is not overtreatment, it is undertreatment. That is why I think the Paul amendment, unfortunately, continues to ascribe to the stereotypes of the past that mental illnesses are not real illnesses and therefore they should not be treated and taken care of. That is why I would ask my colleagues to please vote against the discrimination, the intolerance, the stigma of the Paul amendment.
Paul's comments disputed that but I guess Rep. Kennedy couldn't help himself.
Once again, I want to make the point that this does not deny funding for individual children who show signs that they may need or they have a problem and need to be tested. It is just to make sure that this is not universal and not be mandatory and that parental rights are guarded against and that the parent is very much involved.
It would affect current funds used by States for mental health services and future planning to address this issue. It is a major medical concern, and this amendment does not provide for a solution.
There's the kicker. Illinois mental health agency providers (screeners) are already in a tizzy with Public Aid about non-reimbursement. Federal grants are what they are framing their Plan around as it "affects mental health" screening as well as the "future planning to address this issue" [mandatory mental health screening]. Otherwise why would a simple amendment to not use federal monies for "universal mental health screening" be addressed in such a manner. She showed the mental health screening proponents' cards despite their aggressive denials. If what TeenScreen said on that link was true, there wouldn't be fact after fact regarding families such as the Rhodes or Gleason family. Continuing on with Rep Murphy, the psychologist
Just as pediatricians routinely screen newborns for heart and liver diseases and sickle cell anemia, appropriate mental health screening done by qualified professionals is vital to identifying mental health and the potential substance abuse problems of our youth. Screening does not cause diabetes, screening does not cause metabolic disorders, screening does not cause cancer, and screening does not cause hyperactivity. With over 75 percent of all prescriptions for antidepressants prescribed by non-psychiatrists, including pediatricians, OB-GYNs, and primary care practitioners, with little or no training in psychiatry, the answer is to do screening the right way with parental consent and by qualified mental health professionals, not to take away the ability to do it at all.
Huh? Pediatricians, OB-GYNs, and primary care practitioners, qualified and not are exactly who will be doing this along with 'trained' mental health screeners in the school. Do your homework, unfortunate representative from Pennsylvania. Our friends in PA have enough problems besides not being able to homeschool in freedom.
By jeepers, methinks they (federal representatives voting against Rep. Paul's amendment) want universal (mandatory) mental health screening because they know what's best.


Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The Fifth Amendment

This press release below has been out for a while. Very soon after the freedom frosting decision came out of the Supreme Court regarding the right to own your own property. Hope this is successful. How did this ever get all the way to the Supreme Court in the first place?

Ya know, if the United States is supposed to be the shining example of freedom, we've got some serious work to do. The smell of money is just about overwhelming with too many in positions of power. The Zordani family in Jefferson Park is not receiving just compensation. It's criminal and you can easily say unconstitutional, ay?

In the state of New Hampshire (Live Free or Die)
Press Release
For Release Monday, June 27 to New Hampshire media
For Release Tuesday, June 28 to all other media

Weare, New Hampshire (PRWEB) Could a hotel be built on the land owned by Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter? A new ruling by the Supreme Court which was supported by Justice Souter himself itself might allow it. A private developer is seeking to use this very law to build a hotel on Souter's land.

Justice Souter's vote in the "Kelo vs. City of New London" decision allows city governments to take land from one private owner and give it to another if the government will generate greater tax revenue or other economic benefits when the land is developed by the new owner.


Rockford Daytime Curfew

This actually brings back memories from a way too busy spring legislative session. One Busy Bill was when Representative David Winters introduced HB 1130. Seemed harmless enough as it didn't mandate specific municipalities for daytime curfew, but rather that it
Amends the Illinois Municipal Code. Provides that a municipality may establish by ordinance a daytime curfew to help combat truancy in public schools.
This unfortunate idea, daytime curfew, is where our legislators could be communicated with about how this takes from the law abiding citizens. Here's what I would say. Whoops... already said it. Here's last spring's letter to Representative Winters regarding this bill
Dear Representative Winters,

My name is Susan Ryan and I live in central Illinois. (From a farming family, as I see you are, as well.) I am not one of your constituents, but am disturbed by the bill HB 1130 introduced by you. I’d like to understand your good intentions in seeing a need for this bill regarding truant students, but yet affecting all young Illinois citizens.
I know that the media paints a picture of youth crime, but statistics say that youth crime has been steadily decreasing as shown in the link below:
By 1997, the rate of serious violent crime involving juvenile offenders had dropped significantly from its peak in 1993.
Is Illinois against the norm of these statistics?
But even more importantly in my ‘less government is better’ mind is the question of what is the necessity of this bill when the Regional Offices of Education and local school districts are overseeing the truants? Why double up with this bill when it is already covered within the ISBE statutes?
As you are noted as a Republican leader, I would have expected a requirement for more accountability within the existing laws. But instead, a daytime curfew will infringe on the citizens who are law abiding. I find that unacceptable and hope that you withdraw this bill.
Thank you very much for your time.

Susan Ryan
Weeellll, it turns out the Rockford representative was under a great deal of pressure to pass this bill from this 'go-getter' Mayor Morrissey. Mayor Morrissey's key issues are
Daytime curfew: Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey wants to hire a truancy hearing officer at City Hall who would handle, among other issues, daytime curfew violations. The city's legal department is expected to make recommendations Monday.

Littering: The legal department should issue a recommendation Monday for a citywide ordinance prohibiting littering and instituting fines.

Millennium Fountain: Discussions are ongoing about how to ensure proper decorum at the city's downtown water fountain.

Garbage pickup: Ald. Bill Timm wants to impose fines on citizens who leave trash bags and containers on the curb all week while waiting for city pickup. Timm plans to work with the legal department to change the garbage ordinance.

Illegal fireworks: After house fires blamed on illegal fireworks, Morrissey wants to crack down on local advertising by out-of-state fireworks companies.
Larry Morrissey sits behind his mayor's desk every week at the head of City Council chambers and ticks off the status of his priority projects above -- all with a common theme of quality of life. He discusses these issues in detail before turning the floor over to aldermen, who often recount other struggles in their wards.
Here's some of the aldermans'issues
At the same time, the city is coping with a number of homicides, and law enforcement has been preoccupied with everything from drug deals in convenience store parking lots to drag racing deaths.
"We have limited resources. If the priority is going to be quality-of-life issues, that's fine when time allows," Pugh said. "But at some point in time, the choice has to be made whether we're handling a quality-of-life issue or handling something more serious."
Maybe Police Chief Pugh means if you're dead, then you have no quality-of-life?
Morrissey doesn't expect police officers to shoo people out of Millennium Fountain while an armed robbery is in place, but he maintains that continually hammering basic standards into the collective community conscience will make enforcement easier.
Oh, MY! Save some money, Rockford. Make your school district and Regional Office of Education do their job regarding truancy. [And while you're at it, tell them to fix their homeschooling page blazing with "information on Parent-Taught Home Instruction is available from the Regional Office of Education". One of my pet peeves. Information is available here and here. ROE's generally don't know squat about homeschooling or the statutes, obviously, or they wouldn't have "Home Schooling Registration Forms" like that's something you have to do. End of pet peeve rant and back to curfew] So if the ROE does its real job, then Rockford won't need to pay for the mayor's planned in-house hearing officer.
Mary McCarthy wrote up an excellent recount of fighting a night time curfew. It's still appropriate regarding Rockford's curfew because it's really all about civil rights.
Aldermen will begin reviewing the recommendations Monday and will likely vote on final ordinances by Aug. 1.
Mary ended her piece with this quote from Martin Luther King's "Letter from the Birmingham Jail"
An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself.


Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Dream Homeschool Resource Center

Good Stuff. I wanna see that resource center some time.
Johnsburg Library Homeschool Resource Center
Open House and Used Curriculum Sale

August 6, 2005

This is the perfect opportunity for current homeschoolers to get
reenergized and for those thinking about homeschooling to ask questions
and get REAL answers!

10:00 - 12:00 Used Curriculum Sale
Sell some stuff, buy some stuff, ask lots of questions. (A limited
number of tables and half tables are available by advanced reservation
only. Each seller is responsible for pricing and selling his/her own
materials. )

12:00 - 1:00 Eat, Meet and Greet
For those wishing to join us for a buffet lunch the cost will be $10 per
person. This buffet includes a wide variety, which should meet the
needs of most special diets! (Lunch must be paid prior to Aug. 1 so we
can tell the caterer how many are interested.)

1:30 - 4:00 Open Forum Panel Discussion
Ask questions and hear real answers from our panel of experienced
homeschoolers about their very different styles, curriculum choices,
surviving high school and college, what has worked (and what hasn't!),
legal information, where to find resources, and much more!

For more information about this event or to reserve a table (free!) for
the used curriculum sale please contact Kathy Wentz at at the library
(information below).

If you are having lunch with us, please make checks out to:
Kathy Wentz and mail (prior to Aug. 1) to:
Homeschool Resource Center Open House
c/o Johnsburg Public Library
3000 N Johnsburg Rd, Johnsburg, IL 60050

We are located on Johnsburg/Wilmot Rd. (2 blocks north of Chapel Hill)


Shakespeare Festival

Forgot all about this. Hope we can free up an evening this summer. We've tried to make a tradition of having a picnic On the Green before the play. If the tickets are too steep to take the whole fam; then the green show, the strolling madrigal singers and the picnic still make it delightful. Wonderful performances. If you get a chance, go and appreciate Wm Shakespeare's clever use of the English language.


More on Legislators: Senator Obama

This one was received in response to the Real ID bill. Electronic data tracking...all that apparently irresistible stuff for the legislators who passed it. (Cutting edge and all whether it's for the good or not). Put together partnering between governmental agencies, tracking, mental health screening via primary care providers, et al and this and we're looking at one invasive Big Brother. I don't agree with all of his views, but I'll still remain somewhat..sigh... hopeful just because of his fresh face, his openness about his imperfections in life and his powerful messages. Here's his letter responding to my concerns about data tracking via rfid devices. I don't believe I received any response regarding the mental health screening issue
Dear Susan:

Thank you for contacting me about the REAL ID Act. I share your concern about this piece of legislation and apologize for the delay in my response. I'm afraid that it has taken me longer than I had anticipated to get caught up on the nearly three month backlog of correspondence the Senate post office delivered to me in late January.

On May 11, 2005, the Senate voted on a supplemental appropriations measure. That legislation included emergency funding for American troops in Iraq, the prevention of the avian flu, a growing health concern in Southeast Asia, and meals for injured service members, among other things.

Unfortunately, without a direct vote in the Senate, the House Republican majority attached the REAL ID Act to the House of Representatives' version of the emergency supplemental bill. And the Republican majority in the Senate refused to object to the inclusion of that provision in the final compromise legislation written by a special conference committee that was appointed to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate-passed versions of the emergency supplemental bill.

As you have stated, REAL ID is the wrong way to address our nation's immigration problems. I believe that many aspects of the proposal including the driver's license provisions and the treatment of asylum seekers are very troubling, and I spoke out against the addition of REAL ID to the supplemental during debate on the Senate floor. A copy of those remarks are enclosed for your review. However, in the final analysis, I voted for this "all-or-nothing" emergency supplemental measure because it provides critical funds for our troops in Iraq and for veterans' health care. The final Senate vote on the measure was 99 to 0.

I am committed to working with my colleagues in the future on more thoughtful solutions to pressing immigration problems. I will do what I can to reform the immigration system in manner that emphasizes both security for our borders and a path to legalization for hard working immigrants who would be contributing members of American society.

Again, thank you for contacting me about the REAL ID Act. Please stay in touch in the days ahead.


Barack Obama
United States Senator


Monday, July 11, 2005

Shuttle Watch and Hurricanes

Potential Hurricane Should Not Affect Discovery Launch
[scheduled for 3:51 p.m. EDT (1951 GMT)July 13]
11 July 2005, 11:09 a.m. EDT

CAPE CANAVERAL – A potential hurricane gathering strength over the Atlantic Ocean should not affect NASA’s plans to launch the space shuttle Discovery on July 13, NASA officials said Monday.

Shuttle weather officer Kathy Winters said that Tropical Depression 5, which will be named Emily if it reaches hurricane strength, could hinder Discovery’s flight only if the shuttle is unable to launch this week from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
I thought this update was an old one still talking about Dennis, but I was wrong. Another hurricane is potentially brewing.
We have overcast skies already from Dennis's overhead debris here in central Illinois. I don't wish hurricanes for Gulf Coast folks or flooding in Atlanta, but we sure do need the rain here for the farmers. My dad has only been able to nurse our sweet corn with his water tank, but the tassels are out and his field corn is in some dire need of rain to help along that pollination.
Good thoughts for Hurricane Dennis victims.


Are Your Legislators Paying Attention to You?

I don't think some of mine do. And they either don't do their research with their staff or it doesn't suit their whims.
I'll start at the top. Know the prez is busy with this and that so I don't expect a personal reply to little ole me, but acknowledgement by the oodles of tax payer supported staff would be nice. Maybe I got one form letter back. Can't remember, but I've written a time or two about various issues.

Then there's the Senators. Senator Durbin sent me this response. Note the date because as far as I can tell looking in my ridiculously huge archives, his letter was in response to a letter I wrote on October 22, 2004:
Sent: Tuesday, May 03, 2005 10:30 AM

Subject: Message From Senator Durbin
May 3, 2005

Ms. Susan Ryan

Dear Ms. Ryan:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the recommendations of the
President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health.

I understand your concerns about mandatory screening. In its July 2003
final report, the Commission recommended a transformation of our nation's
approach to mental health care. Early detection of mental illness is one
of the goals of a transformed mental health system. Emotional and
behavioral problems in children and teens that go undetected or untreated
frequently persist, often leading to school failure, poor employment
opportunities, and poverty in adulthood. Early detection could help
families address these problems before they become critical.

However, the Commission did not recommend mandatory screening of all
children to identify those at risk of mental health problems because the
research on screening for children is inadequate. Also, no legislation
has been introduced to mandate screening.

Thank you again for taking the time to share your views.


Richard J. Durbin
United States Senator


P.S. If you are ever visiting Washington, please feel free to join Senator
Obama and me at our weekly constituent coffee. When the Senate is in
session, we provide coffee and donuts every Thursday at 8:30 a.m. as we
hear what is on the minds of Illinoisans and respond to your questions.
We would welcome your participation. Please call my D.C. office for more

I think I threw up my hands at that delayed response and I shouldn't have. I'll try again. And here's the gist of my response:
Unversal mental health screening seems to be the direction we're headed from all appearances.
Here's Representative Paul's (TX) comments to his colleagues below and I'm also including the New Freedom Commission Report's Recommendation directly below:
Recommendation 4.4 Screen for mental disorders in primary health care, across the life span, and connect to treatment and supports.

Representative Paul
"Let me tell Members, people in this country have been well informed about this, and they do not like this program. I also would like to quote from the New Freedom Commission ...They never say 'mandatory,' but they never say 'voluntary' What they say is 'universal.' How can you have something universal if you are not going to be testing everybody? Also from the Freedom Commission, it should be for consumers of all ages, screen for mental disorders in primary health care across the life span. These are the guidelines of the New Freedom Commission, as well as saying the schools must be partners in the mental health care of our children.

"as a physician, having practiced medicine for well over 30 years, let me tell Members, there is a crisis in this country. There is a crisis with illegal drugs, but there is a crisis in this country with an overuse of all drugs, especially in the area of psychiatry. Psychiatrists, if they are honest with you, will tell you that diagnoses are very subjective. It is not like diagnosing appendicitis. It is very, very subjective. If you push on this type of testing, the more testing you have, let me guarantee it, the more drugs you will have. Sure, there are mental diseases. I am not excluding any of this when a person has true mental illness, but I am talking about the overuse of Ritalin and Prozac and many of these drugs that are pushed on these kids.
"Let me tell Members, there have been some real problems with families who will not let their kids go on drugs because the schools pressure them to. They have been charged with child abuse, and threatened with taking their children away because they will not be put on these drugs. That is the kind of abuse I am calling to Members' attention, and that is why you need to vote for this amendment. It does not change anything. It does not deny anybody testing and treatment. All it does is say universal testing of everybody of all ages in this country is not the direction that we want to go. Please vote for my amendment. "

They voted against his amendment which stated simply that "None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to create or implement any new universal mental health screening program."


Sunday, July 10, 2005

Fair Happenin's

Fairs are in full swing now around IL. Our little county 4-H fair is finishing up tomorrow. (Why, apparently it is so little, that they didn't post it on this schedule. Hmm..County 4-H Fair/Dept of Agriculture/Cooperative Extension Service...dingbats)

At any rate, after the projects are finally perfect (at midnight the night before) and checked in unscathed, these fairs become really fun. Plus they're (4-H) great educational opportunities for the kids (and me). I am always stunned and delighted at the talents of the kids. Our county has a Do Your Own Thing county project and that was my absolute favorite when I was the superintendant of that department. There was a wonderfully made trebuchet one year. My daughter made her ointment concoctions for an exhibit. The exhibits were whatever the kids had a passion for at the time. Ultimate unschooling.

Our kids did 6 projects each. Half of them were Visual Arts projects which would be art of any shape, form or size. Those about killed us, but were still a learnin' experience, in more ways than one. Metal involved making a copper pinwheel that actually works. A wire butterfly was made at Jr. Master Gardner Class that did the job.

The boys used air dried clay for the first time as opposed to the kiln fired and glazed pieces they'd made before with their beloved teacher Connie at the Michael's Store class. And G freehanded an American flag on the bottom of a salad bowl for his glass painting project. (We did find that stencils aren't as easy as they would seem.) K made a very cool Van Gogh Starry Night leather piece that he bordered with yarn. (Yes, Kara and Naomi, unfortunately that is the closest he's been to yarn these past few months.)

Electricity 1 involved the Scholastic Sale book I found called Electric Mischief which was right down their alley. K made a Noisemaker. (I thought 11 year old boys vibrated noise all by themselves, but this one did need to be connected to a battery.) G made an Illimunated Fork. (Now when the lights go out, we'll look for the fork.. go figure.)

Woodworking was good ole cedar and it was good ole dad's thing...yippee. They made a dried flower vase and a outside plant pot holder.

K's Let's Start Cooking didn't involve a project, but rather judged assessment stations at the fair. (They just started this assessment stuff. I'm not sure I like it.) He did well on the important parts like kitchen safety but did NOT know that when setting the table, the plate should be one inch from the edge of the table. Ahh well... G made his version of Rough Rider Trail Mix for Tricks for Treats 1 along with a meal menu.

Now if I was to go down the categories of what they got out of this, I would list the following: writing, researching, science, life skills (is that what they call cooking in ps or am I getting that mixed up with socialization in the schools?), fine arts study and application, well...lots of other stuff that I don't have the edu-speak for.
So homeschoolers, if you're not already in it, check out 4-H. It's a great activity for homeschooling kids to be involved in. I haven't even covered the non-fair part like meetings following Robert's Rules and giving a talk or demonstration to your fellow club members. It's easy to find a club. Check it out.

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