Category Archives: Sometimes a Great Notion

This is where we will find success stories – with students, teachers, families – and yes – once in awhile – a particular school, or district that has overcome adversity to provide a winning agenda. HEY – if nothing else – look at the work of people such as Kim Allsup. Yeah – Kim is here too.

Homeschoolers: Guilty Until Proven Innocent?

My eight-year-old daughter and I recently read about the Salem witch trials. She had heard about Salem from a friend who visited the nearby town during its popular Halloween festivities, and she was curious about the witches. We went to the library to get some books on the topic of how 20 innocent people were put to death for “witchcraft” in 1692, with scores more accused and jailed.

What struck me most about revisiting the Salem Witch Trials with my children was the fact that these English Puritans who had recently settled in Massachusetts Bay Colony had no presumption of innocence. Those accused of a crime at the time, both in the New World and elsewhere, were guilty until proven innocent. The presumption of innocence in trials, with court defenders and impartial juries, would take centuries to catch on. The phrase “innocent until proven guilty” was coined by an English lawyer in 1791, but even then it took a long while to become the legal precedent we all now take for granted. Continue reading

What I’ve Learned As A Life-Long Homeschooler

Many people still consider “homeschooling” to be a religious farmstead cult instead of a legitimate form of education. Yet on average, homeschoolers are far out-performing their publicly-educated peers in almost every subject.

According to the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA),

In 1990, the National Home Education Research Institute issued a report entitled “A Nationwide Study of Home Education: Family Characteristics, Legal Matters, and Student Achievement.” This was a study of over 2,163 homeschooling families. Continue reading

The Humanity of Huck Finn

Huckleberry Finn and Jim

Huckleberry Finn is no hero, though he does symbolize the American conscience at the time Mark Twain wrote, or at least the conscience Twain hoped for. Yes, Huckleberry Finn is a coming-of-age tale and a social criticism and satire, but it also asks crucial questions: Who actually changes? What type of American will change?
Continue reading

Four Pros of Homeschooling

…and 4 Challenges

When deciding whether or not to homeschool your child, it’s important to keep in mind both the positives and negatives of homeschooling.

All parents want what’s best for their children. But when it comes to schooling, the field of choices can be murky and the decisions difficult. Parents don’t always get a close look at what goes on in their kids’ schools, nor can they fully understand the demands of homeschooling until they’ve made the leap. Continue reading

Police seized my clients’ children because they were Homeschooled

In a decision last week, the European Court of Human Rights has undermined its claim to being the “conscience of Europe” and pitted parents against children.

The Wunderlich family wanted to do what thousands of families in America do with no questions asked: educate their children at home.

But homeschooling is not allowed in Germany, and the state has relentlessly pursued the Wunderlichs and even seized their children. Continue reading

This is how to help children find their moral compass

Photo by Tobias Aeppli

Writing in The Atlantic, Paul Barnwell says that students today have a “broken moral compass” because “The pressures of national academic standards have pushed character education out of the classroom.”

One of the reasons I wrote A Gift of Wonder was to share a picture in which character education is integrated with academics. I discovered that this approach made my lessons engaging and thus made it easier for students to grasp the academic content because they were never bored. Continue reading

Why School Has Nothing to Do With Students

Teachers (have gone) on strike in the Los Angeles school district …

They have plenty of complaints. But what they don’t have is accomplishments.

Only 22% of fourth graders in the district scored proficient in math. Even a typical terrible inner-city school district has a 30% proficient rate.

Since 2003, 245,000 students have left the district in favor of better districts, or charter schools. Continue reading

South Carolina bill would require high school students to take personal finance class

A new bill has reportedly been pre-filed in South Carolina that would require high school students in the state to take a personal finance class.

Under the legislation from Republican state Sen. Luke Rankin, high school students would be required to take at least one half-credit personal finance course and pass a test at the end of the school year in order to graduate, a local ABC station recently reported. Continue reading

Allsup: The Core of Good Parenting is the Fun Stuff…

A Teacher’s Advice to Parents in One Short List

According to studies and parents themselves, parenting can make you tired, overwhelmed and anxious. And no wonder. The parent zone includes marinara drizzled onto your new beige carpet, more hours in the car than in your bed and entire mountain ranges of laundry. Plus you are responsible for the health and well being of someone who means more to you than joy itself. My sense is that researchers who study parenting are finding nothing new; exhaustion, occasional (or perpetual) feelings of being overwhelmed and chronic anxiety have plagued parents since basically forever. Continue reading

4 Ways to Teach Kids Finance

Just 24 percent of millennials demonstrated a basic understanding of financial concepts, according to a recent PwC study.

Flickr-MIKI Yoshihito | CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

Finance is hard to see. And as a result, finance can be hard to understand – especially for kids! Let me explain. My sister goes to the grocery store with her debit card. She swipes the card and leaves the grocery store with the card and a bag of groceries.

From her son’s perspective, it seems like a sweet deal! It doesn’t look like my sister gave anything up to get the groceries. Her son doesn’t see the exchange; he doesn’t see that money left my sister’s bank account and went into the shopkeeper’s bank account. He doesn’t see that my sister first earned the money after she provided services to hospital patients. If my sister used a credit card instead of a debit card, the exchange would have been even more confusing! Now a credit card company is lending money to my sister? Continue reading

Handcuffed for Homeschooling? Paperwork Dispute Gets Ugly

A school system in Massachusetts is proving to be malicious, incompetent, or maybe both.

Of course, we suspected that already. But the latest example comes from a lawsuit from a woman who pulled her 8-year-old son from Worcester Public Schools to homeschool him last January.

Josilyn Goodall is suing the Worcester School Committee, Superintendent Maureen Binienda, and the state Department of Children and Families after police entered her home, handcuffed her, and arrested her over what amounted to a paperwork dispute. Continue reading

Allsup: Real Kids Need Real Teachers

They sit in front of a screen for five hours a day, hundreds of people at desks moving through the programs, step by step. Once a week they meet with a person for fifteen minutes. Occasionally they join a group listening briefly to a speaker. But mostly they interact with a screen, reading and giving answers. They try to keep on task, but sometimes they can’t resist the lure of a computer game. When the wi-fi is down they just sit, waiting. One day, fed up with the eerie quiet, with eye strain, with boredom, they walk out in protest.

Who are these people?  Continue reading

Reading lessons…

…and do NOT let them use the cell phones, computers or pads as an excuse that they are “reading.” But on the other hand – if you are watching the news… those who do the caption work for television can’t spell – so just be careful.

Hey – read a book with the kids. Hmmmmmmmm….

K-12: Six Steps to Reform Education Right Now

Whenever people gather to discuss problems in education, we hear the same list of issues and solutions.

We hear about poverty and the need for bigger budgets at all levels, more self-esteem, professional teacher corps, charter schools, vouchers, tutoring and remediation, new literacies, better assessment, year-round schools, pre-K, schools that are more permissive or more strict, the effects of drugs, the impact of violent sports, and the perpetual need for more and more money. Continue reading

His Father’s Hands

A different way of looking at life – the way it used to be. Although the following was written several years ago, I just came across it on Facebook tonight. Learn the lessons of life. pass this along to your children and grandchildren – have them READ it out loud to you, and then talk WITH them about it. ~ Ed.

A young man went to seek an important position at a large printing company. He passed the initial interview and was going to meet the director for the final interview. The director saw his resume, it was excellent. And asked, “Have you received a scholarship for school?”

The boy replied, “No”. Continue reading