A2Z Homeschool – Ann's Blog

Homeschooling From Ann's Perspective

New A to Z Home’s Cool Site – A2Z Homeschooling.com

August20

We have thrown the switch! The old site now redirects to the new WordPress site, with all sorts of new widgets and redesign.

Your favorite content is still here, I promise you, now on A2ZHomeschooling.com

We will still be fussing with it nearly all the time, but now I encourage you to help. I want to encourage contributors who would like to be able to post an article or two without having to commit to a full blog in this multiuser site.

I have more people working on the new A2ZHomeschooling site, which means from time to time I can blame the boo boos on someone else. David Proctor and Shawn Hall have been real heros. And our son Scott Zeise, has done a whole lot of the “grunt work” to get content moved over, so you’ll maybe see their names on some posts they helped recreate. My dear husband has been called on to do more than his fair share of cooking and housework.

It has been a steep learning curve for all of us, managing a site with over 1400 pages being moved to about the same number of posts. There are so many delightful plugins and widgets. We try some. Some work and some don’t.

But the code has been purged of all the old fashioned code that it has carried along since the days of PageMill. (Can you remember back that far?)

I want to keep this resource up and going, and am planning for its future. While I hope to be at it here for a good many years to come, I also realize that you younger moms and dads want to hear from those “in the thick of homeschooling.”

I encourage those who really want their own blog to start blogging here. Google knows that we’ve had this site going for three years now. It is out of its infancy! The new site and the old site share the site Google search. Meaning if someone searches on a keyword we both use, they see your posts as well as mine. This is HUGE! No other blog site can do this for you.

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Why Homeschooling is Bad?

February25

by Ann Zeise

At first I thought I’d comment on this article in ehow by Brittney Horwitz, but thought I’d respond to her here instead. The link to her article is at the end.

Social Life

Her first concern is that your homeschool student won’t have a social life, and that somehow the social skills learned in a school environment are important. I think many of us homeschool families would say we are homeschooling because the social experience, let alone the academic experience, in our local schools were so bad, that the socialization problems with homeschooling seemed unimportant.

Homeschooled kids are seldom stuck all day with kids their same age. Having friends of all ages better prepares a young person for real adult life, which is almost never confined to ones age peers. Not only do homeschooled kids do things with homeschool groups, but they also are likely to be involved with other groups and organizations in their communities. As for not having friends to relax with, we usually had tons of kids over after school, as their parents were working and our house was a kid-friendly house with an adult, me, supervising. They’d get their homework done, and then swim, play video games, make pizza, or go to the park for a ball game.

Time Commitment

Brittney seems to think that homeschooling parents have to develop a curriculum all on their own. Those who need a lesson plan can find them free on the internet or buy them from a homeschool program. Those who want to be more child-oriented can develop casual plans along with their children to learn the skills a child needs to fulfill their own goals.

There is no state that requires homeschooling to be done at home all day long! You are not stuck at home unless the weather is so bad you can’t get out.

Brittney also claims that their are national requirements, but those the federal department of education puts out are for those programs that get federal funding, which homeschool families do not get.

Yes, being a homeschool parent does mean you have to be involved with your child’s education, but you get to be involved with the fun stuff, and not the one of being the enforcer of doing dumb homework assignments during evening hours when there are better things to be doing with your family.

Financial Commitment

Is homeschooling a full-time, unpaid job? Well, as much as parenting is. As home education is very efficient, most parent supervised education can be done in about 2-3 hours, and during the 2-3 hours of your choice, which might well be evening hours after work. Many a homeschool mom has taken her professional skills and turned those skills into a home business, often with homeschool families as their clients. I’ve known those who were CPAs, lawyers, band managers, professional actors, educators at all levels, you name it, someone has turned their skills into a homeschool business. I took the marketing skills I had learned working at Apple and turned that into a business marketing homeschooling.

What about paying for the “stuff” you use for educating? Well, first do an overview of all the stuff you had to pay for when your child attended school. I remember having to spend a good deal on a list of supplies and then handing them over for the whole class to use, even though my daughter needed special left-handed scissors. In homeschooling you can buy the quality of supplies your child needs and that you can afford. Homeschooling can cost just as much or as little as you can afford. The only curriculum that costs too much is the curriculum that isn’t used. You can borrow lots of books, videos, games, and other items at the public library, or buy used online. There are many great free resources online, too.

Downtime

What about time for yourself? Time to work on your art or skills, or just take a nap? Believe it or not, your kids will also want downtime from you! You could do some co-operative homeschooling, with your kids going to their friends’ house maybe one day a week, and one day a week their kids come to yours. EAch mom teaches the whole group about what she knows best. That way each mom knows she has one day for getting a haircut or going to the dentist or painting all day if that’s what she wants to do. No one is saying you can’t hire a sitter and get out when you need to.

Homeschooling usually causes less tension in a normally healthy family. Bad days at school used to bring our children home angry and disheartened. Homeschooling we could adjust to our own comfort levels. For example, our son had taught himself to keyboard at a young age, but he was not allowed to type his homework in 2nd grade at school. At home he could type to his heart’s content, and probably got far more done, and done neatly, than he would have writing it all out longhand. Also, when homeschooling, the little things that cause tension at school, such as needing to go to the bathroom, or needing a drink of water or a snack, did not turn into huge disruptions. Like normal human beings, we took care of what we needed, and got back on task.

Social Stigma

As I get older I have come to the conclusion I don’t much like the way anyone else raises their children, and would probably have done things differently myself — started homeschooling from the get-go. But I strongly feel that parenting is an amateur sport and should stay that way. Learning how to gracefully confront busy-bodies is something we all have to learn at some point in our lives. A friend of mine had a list that went like this: “Oh, really!” “You do say!” “Everybody does it?” “Everybody has one?” “They do it how often?” “What happens next?” and so on in that vein.

So we homeschoolers tend to get our own list going for answering such busy bodies as Brittney Horwitz.

“Oh, really? No social life? I’d love to talk more but I’ve got soccer practice now.”

“No, my mom and dad don’t develop curriculum. I pretty much spend my time writing my novel, preparing for my next concert, practicing for the Nationals, saving the wolves, etc.”

“What? You don’t budget and save for the things that you find important? That’s how we manage.”

“Actually, my parents are pretty cool. We have such a good time together!”

Can my mom homeschool you, too? Well, I don’t know. Can’t your mom homeschool you, then we could do it together some of the time!”

Written as a reaction to Why Homeschooling is Bad by Brittney Horwitz, eHow Contributor.

By Ann Zeise

Google+ Profile

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Aaron Swartz, Unschooler, is Vindicated

February14
Aaron Swartz

Aaron Swartz

Journal Storage, JSTOR, the data base that Unschooler and Internet Activist had hacked into and “liberated” their whole library of scholarly journal articles, on Wednesday, January 13, 2013, announced that it would open its archives of 1,200 journals for the public to read for free.

But Aaron Swartz did not live to see this happen. He had committed suicide, depressed over his pending prosecution for taking the scholarly journal articles, and liberating them for the public to read. He was just 26 years old when he hung himself on January 11th this year.

While Aaron’s name may not be familiar to you, the products he worked on are very familiar. He is the creator of “RSS,” the news feed that brings you data as it is created from the sources that set it up so you can do this. You can, for example, use RSS to always receive articles in this blog as they are posted.

Aaron also co-founded Reddit, a discussion board where topics and best answers are voted on by its members, the best winding up at the top.

As an unschooler, Aaron was self-taught. He imagined a world where people could teach themselves from the very best information to be had. But that was the problem: while the internet is jam packed with opinions, most are not backed with research, including this one, scholarly papers were walled behind memberships and fees so high that only the richest could afford to get access. 10 cents a page may not sound like much, but we’re not talking indefinitely long website pages, more like typed, double-spaced paper pages, research that might be called small books. Much of this research is paid for by public grants.

Now, I’ve been asked many times to help out some student researching homeschooling, and early on I was glad to do so. I would ask to have a copy when the paper was done, but most never sent me a copy. I now ask students to first do their homework and read my site and its links first to get their answers. If I haven’t already answered their questions, then I would be glad to clarify. My reaction is not unique among homeschoolers. We’d like to see the research results, and not have them hidden buried deep in some exclusive database. Oh, and while you are at it, let’s free all research so that others who need to learn can read up, too… on any topic!

Our family, too, had a young, depressed young man kill himself back in 2010, when he was threatened with jail time. His parents pleaded to try to get help for his mental problems, but the law didn’t give a damn for the mentally depressed 21 year old. Instead the police bullied and tormented him, and not seeing any way out, he chose suicide. For both these young men, the crimes they committed were not death penalty crimes, not even life sentences, but the result was as if they were.

Here are some of the resources that provide background on this article. I may extend it later on. All I have time for today.

Internet Activist, a Creator of RSS, Is Dead at 26, Apparently a Suicide – By John Schwartz, January 12, 2013  – At 14, Mr. Swartz helped create RSS, the nearly ubiquitous tool that allows users to subscribe to online information.

Petition to remove prosecutor in Aaron Swartz case up for White House response – Published: 14 February, 2013 – A petition to the White House requesting the removal of Aaron Swartz’s prosecutor before his death has surpassed 25,000 signatures – which means the Obama administration must reply. It comes one month after the internet activist committed suicide.

Aaron Swartz’ Weblog – Aaron Swartz is the founder of Demand Progress, which launched the campaign against the Internet censorship bills (SOPA/PIPA) and now has over a million members. He is also a Contributing Editor to The Baffler and on the Council of Advisors to The Rules.

Why Aaron Mattered – By Lauren Wales, 02/01/2013  – As I listen to the news reports about Aaron’s life, so many of them seem to miss something key to his work: the unschooler understanding that knowledge is free, yes, but it means nothing if it is not implemented and shared.

Unschooler Aaron Swartz Dies at Age 26 – By Peter Kowalke, 01/12/2013 – Aaron and I briefly collaborated in 1999 on a learning exchange that we intended to turn into a college for unschoolers. But Aaron was too young, still with a squeaky voice, and I ended up making the Grown Without Schooling documentary instead.

Anonymous Hijacks Federal Website Over Aaron Swartz Suicide – By Matthew Larotonda | ABC News Blogs – Sat, Jan 26, 2013 – The lengthy essay largely mirrors previous demands from Anonymous, but this time the group also cited the recent suicide of Reddit co-founder and activist Aaron Swartz as has having “crossed a line” for their organization. Swartz was facing up to 35 years in prison on computer fraud charges.

Aaron Swartz’s Girlfriend Explains ‘Why Aaron Died’ – By Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, Feb 05, 2013 – “I believe that Aaron’s death was caused by a criminal justice system that prioritizes power over mercy, vengeance over justice; a system that punishes innocent people for trying to prove their innocence instead of accepting plea deals that mark them as criminals in perpetuity; a system where incentives and power structures align for prosecutors to destroy the life of an innovator like Aaron in the pursuit of their own ambitions.”

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Hegeners and Heather Win Lawsuit

October16

From Helen Hegener, encouraging others to pass along the following:

Many friends are wondering about the lawsuit now that it’s coming to an end, and asking questions on discussion groups, Internet forums, blogs, and privately. Long story short, the good news is we won in every important aspect. The bad news is it was a philosophical and moral win, not a material or financial one. It literally cost me everything I own and more; it cost my attorneys almost a year they could have been putting toward more important and constructive efforts; it cost my family dearly… But we won.”

I’ll share information about what happened during the hearings when I can, but I am not going to write anything substantial about the lawsuit without my attorney’s approval, and we’re still working on the resolution details. I deeply appreciate your patience and understanding; it’s taken us almost a year to reach this point of resolution, a few more days won’t make much difference.”

Here’s what I can share from PACER, the Public Access to Court Electronic Records:”

Order of October 14: “ORDERED that the above action is DISMISSED with prejudice, pursuant to agreement of counsel without costs.”

My attorneys and I are still working on the agreement referenced above, so I can’t say anything about it.”

Order of October 13:”

AND NOW, this 12th day of October, 2011, following oral argument, it is ORDERED the Motion for Leave to Withdraw as Counsel for Plaintiffs filed by Richard Hans Maurer (Document 45) is GRANTED.”

It is further ORDERED Defendant Heather Idoni’s Bill of Costs (Document 71) will be GRANTED. Plaintiff shall pay the bill of costs in the amount of $3,725.30 within ten days of this Order.”

It is further ORDERED Defendant Helen Hegener’s Bill of Costs (Document 72) will be GRANTED. Plaintiff shall pay the bill of costs in the amount of $2,988.00 within ten days of this Order.”

People have been asking if they could share this news. Yes, please feel free to share it anywhere, via discussion groups, forums, blogs, newsletters, anyplace where people who’ve been wondering about this lawsuit will find that it’s over and we’re moving on now. But there’s a little more I’d also like to have widely shared:”

A friend wrote to ask about the costs involved; they’d heard that Mimi had to pay our attorney fees, but that is not so. The costs are enormous, almost a quarter of a million dollars now, and Mimi and her lawyer do NOT have to pay all our expenses. She will pay only my attorney’s costs and travel expenses from the Oct. 7th hearing Mimi didn’t attend, and they’re pretty minimal, under $3,000. Still, it’s an important victory in the sense that she’s paying us, and we are not paying her a dime.”

We did not receive any compensation for the loss of business from losing our web site and our ordering systems at the height of what is normally the best time of year for us. We not only lost the HEM site because of Mimi’s harassment, but ALL our other web sites, even those not related to homeschooling. But perhaps the biggest and potentially most significant loss was my ability to communicate in my normal manner and volume. I’ve had a long-running problem with carpal tunnel syndrome, but I’ve kept the situation under control for many years by moderating the use of my hands. The extreme volume of typing with all the filing and emailing and communications which this lawsuit has necessitated has my hand almost crippled. I shouldn’t be typing this, but hopefully it will help get the word out that this is over, and we’re ready to set about the difficult task of rebuilding almost 30 years of work.”

We need help. If you’ve ever considered becoming involved with this publication, please contact me at helenhegener@homeedmag.com and explain what you’d be interested in doing. If you have no idea but just like the idea of helping, I’ll be putting together a list of what we need and will post it at our HEM Networking discussion group on YahooGroups sometime in the next few days: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HEM-Networking/”

And if you can help financially, even a tiny little bit, you can send it via PayPal to orders@homeedmag.com or via check to Helen Hegener, PO Box 759, Palmer, Alaska 99645 (yes, that’s my personal address). I’m working on a ‘Friends of HEM’ web site, and I’ll share more on that soon.
Thank you, everyone, for your support,
Helen
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Helen Hegener, Publisher
Home Education Magazine
http://homeedmag.com

You can also help by subscribing to Home Education Magazine:
If you are not a current subscriber, please consider subscribing to Home Education Magazine.
http://homeedmag.com/ord/order.html
If you are a current subscriber, consider renewing at this time.
http://homeedmag.com/ord/renewal.html
If you live outside the US you can still subscribe:
http://homeedmag.com/ord/orderfrgn.html

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Government Shutdown Affects Homeschool Families

April8

Update: Government Shutdown Averted – What Now?

Republicans will still fight to give entitlements to the rich, and the Democrats to the poor, children, elderly and women. The crisis has only been adverted for a week.

Here’s how the government shutdown, threatened for shortly after midnight tonight, just as Saturday begins, might affect homeschool and other families.

  • Military Families will get IOUs instead of paychecks. Hope your mortgage provider or landlord accept IOUs!
  • If you haven’t sent in your Federal Tax return yet, file electronically. It is the only way you’ll get a quick refund. No one will be there to open mailed returns or send out checks.
  • Mail is self-funded through stamps. You’ll still get mail.
  • Social security will be sent out to current beneficiaries. It is unlikely new applications would be processed.
  • Medicare should make payments for awhile yet. If grandma has postponed any medical work, get it done now!
  • FBI, Border Patrol and other Federal law enforcement agencies would stay on the job.
  • National Parks will close, so forget that field trip for awhile. This includes National Monuments, too. National Forests may have no rangers, and so be closed. This means that Bureau of Land Management won’t have funds to keep their recreation areas open either.
  • Forget international travel. Passports and Visas will not be issued.
  • But if you are flying within the country, Air Traffic controllers will continue to be paid.
  • The Smithsonian and National Zoo in Washington DC will be closed. Will a government shutdown affect your spring break plans?
  • You will not be able to tour the White House or any other public government building. The White House Spring Garden Tour will be cancelled.
  • A minimum of 800,000 government workers will be furloughed. Businesses that depend on spending by these families may suffer. Unlike the military, they will not be given IOUs.
  • Federal Courts have enough to work for 10 days, and then may be reduced to essential staffing. Jurors would not get paid.
  • Meat, poultry, eggs, grains will continue to be inspected. Child nutrition programs, including Food Stamps, National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs, and WIC, are funded through May and June, but most USDA employees will be furloughed. This page has long list of USDA programs that will go on hiatus during a federal shutdown. These will affect rural homeschoolers.
  • Gee.. Offshore Drilling Permits will continue to be issued!
  • Mines and Health facilities will NOT be inspected.
  • Like to go fishing or duck hunting? Well, the Fish & Wildlife Service won’t be preserving habitat. Here is what the FWS was going to be spending their budget on.
  • Financial Regulation is put on hold. No inspections of stock brokers. No enforcement of financial transactions. Should be field day for White Collar criminals, so be wary!
  • The Department of Energy won’t be publishing its reports about gas and oil inventories. If this goes on for weeks, prices are expected to soar.
  • Affecting farming and ranching families, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission will be minimally staffed.
  • Hoping for a home loan or an small business loan? Consider those services halted.
  • Got savings in the stock market? The Securities and Exchange Commission would be unable to process or review filings, provide interpretive advice or issue no-action letters.
  • Government contractor employees may face furloughs. This might include the U.S. Army’s Rock Island Arsenal. In other words, the military will still have to fight, without pay and without military items they have might need. Great.
  • Elected officials will all still get their standard paychecks unless Congress changes the law.
  • Oh, and government websites won’t be updated to let you know what is going on.
  • My major Resources for this article:

    Long Government Shutdown Would Harm U.S. Economy, Hit Washington Hardest
    Bloomberg, By Catherine Dodge and Julianna Goldman

    Government shutdown: The mail will come, but your tax refund might not be in it
    Mercury News, By Steven Thomma

    Government Shutdown: What to Expect
    Wall Street Journal – Washington Wire, by Patrick O’Connor

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