Thursday, May 15, 2008

Weirdest Objections to Homeschooling Ever

This is a little dated, and unless you've been hiding under a rock you know that a panel for a district court in California made a strange ruling that's since been vacated, so the underlying tempest is all gone now. But the nasty little opinion column is noteworthy both because it showed up in the generally sane LA Times, and because it features some of the oddest accusations I've ever seen leveled against homeschooling.

Weird primum:

For-profit charter schools specializing in "home schooling" -- and collecting your tax dollars while doing it -- have not only cast a cloud over the concept of home schooling but have rankled teachers who see the state's limited education dollars being diverted from traditional schools.
Charter schools collect your tax dollars because they're public schools. The teachers in them are public school teachers. Charters don't specialize in homeschooling, though they may specialize in "home schooling," if the scare quotes have the meaning "not." This seems to be saying "one reason homeschooling is bad is that we don't like public charter schools."

Weird secundum:
If home schooling forums on the Web are indicative of the views held by parents of learn-at-home kids ... [etc.]
"We read some things while surfing that seemed extreme, and it made us wonder if the internet is a reliable source of information and a reasonable basis for making generalizations."

Weird tertium:
It's evident that the vast majority who teach their offspring in front of the television do so because they don't want their children to be subjected to such dangerous doctrines as evolution, abortion, global warming, equal rights and other ideas abhorrent to the evangelical mantra.
Whaaaat? Where did this "in front of the television" thing come from? Homeschoolers are notorious for their puritanism with regard to television. The whole "homeschoolers are mostly fundies" myth is familiar, as is the litany of slanders, but I've never in the last decade heard the accusation that we make our kids watch too much tv.

Weird quartum:
There has always been something decidedly elitist and anti-democratic in home schooling.
I don't even know what to make of this one, straight out of the McCarthy era. "There's always been something sinister about those pinko homeschoolers, I tell ya." It's a great slapdown, though. I look forward to using it myself in the future. You know, there's always seemed something decidedly elitist and anti-democratic about newspaper reading.
Recent Viewings

Thank heavens for Netflix. Especially since they tell us in a few months our tv screen will turn to static and we can throw away our rabbit ears antenna.

Spoilers ahoy.

No Country for Old Men. I preface this by saying how depressing it's been that not a single person I've talked to has recognized the title as an allusion to Yeats' "Sailing to Byzantium." Why We Homeschool.

Anyway I'd read McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses and Blood Meridian, and felt like I'd finished. The movie features his familiar Mystery of Evil character, a walking refutation of Hannah Arendt's thesis of the banality of evil, and at this point a kind of highbrow Elm Street Freddy. Yeah, he has his own sort of ethical code, gotcha. Next concept, please.

Cloverfield. Exactly like watching Eudoxus play Half-Life for two hours. All about the special effects, which frankly isn't a terrible reason for watching a movie, with standard horror flick plot, characters, dialogue, episodes. Look! The ginormous beast ravaging Manhattan has finally gone down under the military's bombs! Sure we can't actually see it through all the smoke, but surely it's dead at last! Let's all breathe a sigh of relief as the soundtrack swells! What could be bad?

Atonement. Pretty good. I haven't read the book--I remember DarwinCatholic didn't care for it--but the film version was effective. You get fair warning about the surprise ending when certain events play quickly backwards, particularly the un-typing of a crucial note, and when there's a sudden series of poor artistic choices: the incredible coincidences of the newsreel showing Chocolate Magnate and Lola to be married, in a chapel that happens to be near enough for Briony to attend; Robbie acting and speaking completely out of character in Cecilia's flat; the spurious, tacked-on happy ending for Robbie and Cecilia, filmed in a deliberately conventional style that doesn't fit the rest of the movie.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Stormy Weather

Tornados to the north, thunderstorms and big hail fed by the hot hot and humid weather. If the rotation area turns south, the computer goes off and we rouse the Offspringen out of bed and cower in the downstairs hallway. Hope the Darwins are keeping away from the windows.

Last week I listened as the tapping of rain on the skylight turned into the rapping of hailstones, and then a puzzling thumping all over the roof. A look out the window showed our road dappled with white. Big old hailstones, the biggest I've ever seen live and up close. Offspring #2 and I sat out on the porch swing and watched the ice fall out of the sky. And watched our new-to-Texas neighbors watching in dismay as their expensive cars got battered. We grabbed a couple of stones--O#2 got one a good three inches across--and I thought briefly about going for one of the really big ones, but sanity prevailed.

Everyone stay out of the low water crossings. Remember a dozen people died in the 2001 flood because they thought sure their SUVs could cross the water.

Update: The first cell missed the city, but the second front hit us square on. Massive hail, high winds, and continuous lightning right after midnight, and this morning parts of trees scattered thickly across the neighborhood. 20,000 homes without power from falling tree limbs. Regular reader A. in comment box reports two broken windows. No word yet from the Darwins or from Eudoxus' parents (who got whacked by the first front, the one with the rotation). What fun!

I hear in some parts of the country, they have robins to tell them spring is here.