Archive for March, 2007

Widespread ignorance of HE, and its ugly face

Friday, March 30th, 2007

There is an absolutely brilliant post here, where the anti-home school nonsense of an anthropology professor named ‘Greg Laden’ who by his own admission, knows nothing about home schooling, how they do it and the people who do it:

What I have discovered about home schoolers, not just in the conversation related to the post you cite but the totality of several different conversations on my web site is that home schoolers are much more diverse in their interests (why they home school) and approaches than I had previously thought (having not thought about it too much previously, to be frank). […]

but who thinks that he is right to advocate its elimination, because in his mind, “Home schooling is a way of cheating the system.”

Home schooling and private schools both have this characteristic. There is a small subset of families that can afford the money it takes to send their kids to private schools. When this happens, an important part of society withdraws from the public, collective endeavor to educate our children.

The post demolishing this amazing drivel is perfect, and I quoth:

“Our” children? So who do they belong to, precisely? As I’ve said elsewhere, this sort of language is very interesting; it seems to say that children belong to everybody, which tends to mean nobody is responsible for them. (More on this particular wording later.) […]

Indeed! And please do go to this post and read it. It is an example of the sort of thinking and writing that we need to have published to refute the propaganda being maliciously spread by the likes of Madeleine Brettingham.

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Times Educational Suppliment propagandizes against Home Schooling

Friday, March 30th, 2007

As I said before, the war against home schooling has started, and the propaganda machine is lurching into action. Here is a piece from the Time Educational Suppliment, which is a piece of pure, vile propaganda. Lets take it to pieces line by line.

35,000 lost to schooling

Madeleine Brettingham
Published: 30 March 2007

Madeleine Brettingham has been compromised by whoever put together the press release that she has regurgitated. She obviously knows nothing about Home schooling, and has not bothered to look before ‘writing’ this article.

One in four parents who home-educate children provides little or no teaching

This is a lie, and a statistic pulled out of a hat. No one knows how many Home schoolers there are in the UK, and certainly no one knows what they are or are not being taught. This statistic is therefore completely bogus.

As many as 35,000 home-schooled children are not receiving even a basic education from their parents, according to inspectors, prompting calls for a change in the law.

This is once again, bogus. And WHO is calling for changes in the law? Inspectors have no right to examine what is being taught by home schoolers, so they cannot know that 35,000 children are not ‘are not receiving even a basic education from their parents’. What we DO know however, is that the schools that HMG are running regularly fail to properly educate children in basic literacy and numeracy; part of the cause of the increase in home schooling in the UK.

Despite the stereotype of creative middle-class parents educating their children at the kitchen table, a quarter of home-schooled children are doing little or no work, officials claimed.

This is a thinly veiled snipe by someone without any facts, or decency. That she thinks there is a stereotype of parents educating their children at the kitchen table demonstrates her utter ignorance on this subject. As for children doing little or no work, this is simply a claim, nothing more, and in fact it is irrelevant to the subject.

There are some parents out there collectively known as ‘Autonomous Educators‘ who allow their children to learn in the way that they want, following their own interests without any prompting from anyone. These people have the right to use this method and approach, which to a control addict, might look like ‘not doing any work’ but to the autonomous educators is a perfect solution to their needs. No one has the right to say that Autonomous Educators must change their methods. Period.

Tony Mooney, a home education inspector with seven years experience, said: Schools are told in such fine detail what they need to teach and yet parents can get away with doing nothing at all.

No one is ‘getting away’ with anything. Schools have to be controlled carefully because they are providing a service to parents; parents in charge of their own children do not need to be controlled by anyone. This man has a fundamental misunderstanding of the relationship between the citizen and the state, that is clear.

Local authority inspectors fear some families are using home education as an excuse to evade problems with bullying, poor attendance or disruptive behaviour. They are also concerned that child welfare could slip through the net because parents are not obliged to agree to home visits.

Parents can withdraw from the school system for whatever reason they like. HMG should concentrate on eliminating bullying and the disruptive pupils that turn schools into violent hell holes that have more in common with prison than what we would recognize as a school.

Now, here come the big guns:

Eunice Spry, the foster mother convicted last week of abusing her children by forcing them to drink bleach and beating them with a metal bar, had withdrawn her children from formal schooling.

This case has NOTHING to do with home schooling, and has everything to do with fostering and the failure of Gloucester council to properly run its services. Anyone and everyone can see this, and that this is being trotted out like this as a reason to control home schooling is frankly as absurd as it is sickening. Shame on you Madeleine Brettingham for not having any integrity or common sense.

Up to 150,000 children in England are estimated to be home-educated. Figures are inexact because families are under no obligation to notify their council.

and that is the way it will stay. As we have seen in the Australian Home School Rebellion, parents will not cave in to the fear-mongers, brain dead journalists and control addicts.

Although many home-educators are committed individuals who see home-schooling as a way of developing their childs interests, inspectors estimate about a quarter of parents provide nothing.

All home schoolers are committed and individuals. That is why you denigrate them, Madeleine. They do not do it ‘as a way to develop their child’s interests’, they do it to provide a full and rich education of the type that you are against children having. They do it to ensure that their children attend the best universities. They are doing it because their families are stronger through it, their lives are enriched by it, and it’s better than being sent to useless schools. As for the ‘quarter of parents who provide nothing’ this is just a lie that you are repeating unchallenged.

Myra Robinson, an inspector with nine years experience, regularly sees children who have been withdrawn from school for an inadequate alternative. All the rights are in favour of the parent, she said. But who is going to stand up for the rights of the child?

Parents are not separate from their children. The rights of parents are inextricably bound to their children, they are in fact, like a composite entity. All children have rights, but these rights extend from the parents rights until they reach their majority and their rights as individuals come into being. Children who have not reached their majority have rights separate from their parents only when they have been given up by the parents, or the parents die. Relatives or the state then takes over in loco parentis, and only then (if there are no relatives) does the state have the right to ‘stand up for the rights of the child’ because in effect, the state becomes the parent in the absence of the the biological parents.

What this total idiot Myra Robinson said is nonsense. She is an inspector, and should stick to that, and not trying to redefine the relationship between citizen and state by empty headed proclamation.

The circumstances of a significant proportion of home-schooled children are a real cause for concern, she said. Recent cases include a boy with learning difficulties who was unable to speak coherently by the age of five, or write his name by 10, and received no visible support.

All children develop at different paces. In Scandinavian countries children do not start reading until they are eight years old. The one size fits all mania of this government fails children, and what is so appalling is that creatures like Myra Robinson seek to put all children into this meat grinder that they have created, without a care for what the child actual needs. The real cause for concern are these incompetent and igorant busy bodies who are desperate to get into the private affairs of everyone in the UK. THEY are the problem, not home education. Home education is the cure to the disease that are the Myra Robinsons and the Tony Mooneys of the world, who are anti family anti children and pro…heaven knows what.

What is certain is that if any child with special needs could get help in school a parent would rush to take advantage of it. The fact is that Myra Robinson is not able to provide what that child needed, and she cannot admit that.

Other pupils were unable to produce work samples on demand or demonstrate an understanding of basic skills, despite parents claims about their level of education.

If they were autonomous educators, then that would make sense. The problem these buffoons have is that they are trying to apply their own flawed standards on individuals. They are incapable of understanding that human beings have made achievements and have worth even if you cannot measure their achievement with a test. This is the fundamental disconnect that their limited world view cannot embrace, and which causes them to want to destroy anything that they cannot understand. Our philosophy is superior, because it embraces everyone as individuals, seeks to impose its will on no one, and actually produces the results in terms of better children what perform better academically right on into higher education. Myra Robinson and Tony Mooney cannot say that what they represent works, in fact, it is so hopelessly broken that parents are fleeing from it en-masse. This is not only a disconnect of philosophy, but it is a disconnect from reality because what we do works and what they do does not.

One girl said she worked in the library but didnt seem to know where it was, Ms Robinson said.

Anecdotal and irrelevant garbage. We are not buying this Madeleine!

Laws on home-schooling are relaxed and parents are under no obligation to follow the national curriculum, set a timetable or agree to a local authority inspection. Inspectors would like the Government to tighten the law. But home-schooling organisations are keen to protect parents freedoms.

Home schooling laws are not ‘relaxed’ they are appropriate. Home schoolers should be under no obligation to follow the national curriculum, just as many private schools are not obliged to follow the national curriculum. Home schoolers do not need to set a timetable, and this further demonstrates Madeline’s complete ignorance about home schooling. It would be understandable if Madeline was just another journalist, but she is writing for the TES; you would have thought that she would have SOME idea about home schooling, working for a specialized publication whose focus is education.

Anne Newstead, a spokeswoman for the charity Education Otherwise, admitted some parents were using the home-schooling label as an excuse, but said: We shouldnt all be tarred with the same brush.

We know, for example, that some schools are encouraging parents of persistent truants to register as home educators to get their attendance figures up. This sort of thing isnt good for the majority of parents who do the right thing.

Sadly, these words are nothing to do with the main thrust of the argument. I would imagine that Anne Newstead said alot more than this, but all of it was ignored. Its interesting how these propaganda pieces work.

The Department for Education and Skills said it had been considering proposals to change the regulation of home-schooling but had no plans to publish them in the near future.

[…]

Times Educational Suppliment

Whatever they publish it will mean nothing. No one is going to allow them to regulate home schooling. They are thinking about running a consultation on this subject; it will be like all the other consultations, online petitions and every other bogus opinion gathering exercise that HMG puts on as part of its sham democracy. They will collect the opinions and even if they are all negative, they will go ahead with what they plan to do anyway. this is what happened with the ID cards consultation and more recently the road pricing petition.

This however, is different.

Unless HMG is ready to haul people off to gaol like the Germans are doing, they had better think twice before they try and change the law. They would be far better off putting all their energy into solving the problems of the schools they are already in charge of, rather than interfering in something they know nothing about at every level and which performs better than anything they can create.

The aliases of Joe D’Amato

Thursday, March 29th, 2007

* Sarah Asproon
* Donna Aubert
* Stephen Benson
* Steve Benson
* Anna Bergman
* John Bird
* Alexandre Borski
* Alexandre Borsky
* James Burke
* Lee Castle
* Lynn Clark
* O.J. Clarke
* Hugo Clevers
* Joe De Mato
* Michael Di Caprio
* Dario Donati
* Raf Donato
* Romano Gastaldi
* Robert Hall
* Richard Haller
* David Hills
* Igor Horwess
* George Hudson
* Gerry Lively
* Kevin Mancuso
* A. Massaccesi
* Aristice Massaccesi
* Aristide Massaccesi
* Arizona Massachuset
* Andrea Massai
* J. Metheus
* Peter Newton
* Una Pierre
* Zak Roberts
* Tom Salima
* John Shadow
* Federico Slonisco
* Frederick Slonisco
* Fdrico Slonisco
* Dan Slonisko
* Frederick Slonisko
* Frederico Slonisko
* Frederic Slonisko
* Frederiko Slonisko
* Fred Slonisko
* Chana Lee Sun
* Chang Lee Sun
* Michael Wotruba
* Robert Yip

Homeschooling Without Your Relatives Blessings

Thursday, March 29th, 2007

I’m homeschooling and that’s final. My whole family is against it, my wifes family is against it; except her aunt, she homeschooled all of her kids and told us to get ready for a battle of attrition, you’ll either wear them down or they’ll wear you down (everyone else not the kids).

Members of my family know that once the decision has been made I’m not going to change my mind, unless they can break or rend my arguments and leave nothing for me to fall back on. This is one time I’ve gathered all the ammunition beforehand, because the claws and the fangs come out when we discuss the future of our child. The one reccuring point is “socialization”, and you know what, all of their arguments hinge on the socialization argument. The argument of a better education rarely comes up because they know I can cite statistical and personal information that show that homeschool kids outdo their public school counter parts on a consistant basis.

Here’s an argument, why do you think that homeschool children have been dominating national spelling bees from the mid 90s to the present?; could it be that they have one on one tutoring with their parent/teacher, no distractions, no peer pressure, being taught by a person that has a vested interest in the success of the student, any of these things ring true? Now, is it too much of a stretch to say that since homeschooled children do well and win national spelling bees, that maybe, they do well and excel in other subjects?

Here is an argument from my mother in law, I love her, she is a very good person but we don’t see eye to eye on this, “Your child needs to be socialized, he needs the company of other children his age and did you see the news, a ‘homeschooled boy’ shot and killed his girlfriends parents”. Can you see the frustration; an obvious abberation, yet for her, all homeschooled children now share this tendency.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but, I was a lousy student, I had absolutely no interest in school and the teachers that I had didn’t have any interest in making the subject more interesting to me; so long as I didn’t make trouble, I was invisible. When I hear about the astronomical budgets that schools need today to operate, and they do get passed, and the fact that they are also cutting programs (extra-curricular activities, gym and recess???).

I have no doubt that public schools are a business run by bean counters. When comparing the two, public schools huge budget, cut programs, their almost production line mentality (students in, students out) and public schools being used as a giant baby sitting service, compared to homeschools individual attention, no worries about cut programs, the ability and flexibility to change schedules, the freedom to go see the physical manifestation of an abstract subject like mathematics to solidify it in the mind of the student. Most important of all a teacher that cares about you, and only you. There is no question in my mind what is best for my child.

Now, back to socialization, there are networks of homeschooling parents that meet and their children interact (play), there is also church programs, field trips that allow children to “socialize” while imparting religious teachings of that particular faith. Socialization within the family unit (family reunions, weddings, get togethers), interacting with friends that were made in your neighborhood.

All of these things didn’t just appear, they were always there, this is the norm. What isn’t normal, as I see it, is to send your child into what looks like a very stark and steril industrial complex and expect your child to thrive in that environment. Some unsavory things have been happening in public schools of late: shootings, students attacking teachers, drugs, pedophiles; all of these things may have existed before and we are exposed to it more now because of the speed of the information highway, but, it doesn’t inspire confidence in me that these things are almost considered everyday occurrences that the student is expected to deal with.

So, what do you prefer? A nurturing, caring environment for your child to grow physically, emotionally and intellectually in, or a public school system with an addmittedly spotty track record. […]

Education-info Articles Maker

Some interesting demos arrive in the post

Thursday, March 29th, 2007

There have been some great demos in the post recently. A DVD:

and a cassette:

are two examples.

Both of these were intriguing in content and presentation. Neither had begging letters in them with attached ‘band’ photos, shitty lyrics, sob stories, threats or other nonsense that we throw straight into the bin. The DVD came by itself in the Jiffy® bag you see, in a plain black case. The cassette came in a hand cut cardboard box. The case had a hand folded liner on fine paper and the only writing in the whole package was the stamp that you see on the body of one side of the housing.

This is more like what we want!

Stranger Mag 13 is out

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

Stranger Magazine is out, and it has an article about Numbers Stations in it…

What a beautiful magazine, and what a beautiful way to preview it!

And I have just been informed by Der Kopf that ‘Strich’ is back on the air, after a ten year absence. This makes us ask several questions:

  • Who has ordered this station back on to the air?
  • Who is this station transmitting to?
  • Are the messages going to the same people that used to receive Stritch messages?
  • What have these people been doing for ten years?
  • Why are they using Strich instead of some new structure?
  • Has Stritch been taken over by western agencies?
  • What are these Stritch agents up to right now that necessitates the use of Numbers Stations?
  • Is this why we cannot get a first hand account? (i.e. all the staffers are still on duty and not retired after the ‘end of the Cold War).

Stranger and stranger Magazine.

Ending on a triplet!!!

Home Schooling in New Jersey

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

It appears that Home Schooling in New Jersey is almost correct in its approach:

The laws regarding in homeschooling in the state of New Jersey are far more lenient than other states. The main requirement is that you provide an equivalent academic education as the local public school system.

This is a problem because in the future, some busy body could use this part of the legislation as a lever to bring in evaluation.

It is not required to notify the school board. However, it is recommended to avoid dealing with truant officers and the issue of truancy. Save yourself headache; write a letter.

Truancy, as I have said before, is the condition of a child being absent from school without permission. By permission, we mean the permission of the parent OR the school. If a child is away from school with the permission of the parent, then the child is not a truant and you are under no obligation to prove that that you are not a truant especially if you are walking with your children in the street.

Truancy officers should be provided with a list of truanting children each day. This should be made from a list of children who are reported as missing from school, where the parent has also been informed by telephone and reporting that Johnny is out of school without permission. Then you have a list of bona fide truants that can be searched for. This is not rocket science.

If someone is not registered at a school, then they cannot be put on the list of truants. Problem solved. If a truancy officer or police officer encounters someone that they think is a truant, all they have to do is call the parent. In any case, the list of truants should come with descriptions so that the police do not bother people who are not truanting but are instead minding their own business.

What is completely unacceptable are the bogus fishing expeditions and checkpoint charlie tactics being used to catch truants, as we have seen with the recent Liverpool Street Station case.

The state has no right to evaluate your curriculum; if asked, the public school is required by law to provide you with a copy of their curriculum. Be prepared to pay for copying costs.

The state has no right to administer any tests to any homeschooled students.

Good, and good. This part of no right to evaluate could be seen as contradicting the first part of equivalent education, but it seems to be working.

And of course, the big thing in New Jersey, dates back over a year in the case of DYFS (Division of Youth & Family Services) where kids under the DYFS supervision where homeschooled and starved. Unfortunately, homeschooling is being blamed, not the failure of DYFS to keep check on those under the office’s care.

If DYFS shows up on your doorstep demanding to come in and inspect, you have the right under the fourth amendment to refuse. DYFS needs to show probably cause; an anonymous tip does not count.

This is how they do it, get a cause clbre to get everyone whipped up and then change the law. Thankfully, at least for the residents of the USA there is a written constitution protecting parents in their own homes.

This is exactly what the brain dead journalists and busybodies in the DfES are trying to do with the Gloucester case

To help fight any allegations, there is the Home School Legal Defense Association. The HSLDA was formed by two lawyers to defend the rights of homeschoolers.

To be done.

Also, to facilitate ease of teaching, many curriculums are available on the market. Abeka is one such company, along with Alpha Omega Publications. Options include workbook programs, CDRom programs, online courses, and more. The students progress at their own pace.

It is recommended that you track your children’s hours.

We now have a great tool to do this with.

You will probably find, with most children, that not as many hours are required. For one thing, you don’t need to change classes, no locker time, no bussing time, no time for attendance, morning announcements, group potty breaks, etc. And the class doesn’t stop for the slowest student. You have limited students and can proceed at the pace they need, concentrating on aspects that are difficult for them and picking up the pace for those that acquire easily. Not to mention, you don’t need to spend time concentrating on teaching what will be on the state assessment tests or reviewing after a long break or the summer.

[…]

Associated Content

More reasons why Home schooling is best.

This is what we should have in the UK; freedom to educate without interference. In return, the parents of this island will supply the UK with best citizens imaginable.

Australian Homeschooling revolt

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

The Australian State of Queensland seems to have laws about homeschooling that are similar to Germany’s. The approach to enforcement is however very different

An attempt by the State Government to overhaul home-schooling registration requirements appears to have failed. A new system was introduced in January to make it easier for parents teaching their children at home to legally report to the state without fear of being forced to send them to school. But Eleanor Sparks of Education Choices Magazine for home-schoolers said thousands of parents were reluctant to register with the Government “There is still a lot of distrust there. A lot of parents don’t want to sign up and then have the department try to change the way they choose to educate their children,” she said.

At last, someone somewhere acting like they have some brains!

An Education Queensland report estimates up to 10,500 children are being home-schooled, but just 260 of them are officially registered with the State Government.

Excellent!

Education Minister Rod Welford does not accept the figure though it comes from his own department’s Home Schooling Review.

Isn’t it interesting that these bureaucrats have the same attitude all over the world? They do not know the first thing not only about their jobs or their proper position as servants of the public, but they don’t even have a grasp on their own research. Can we really trust these people with all the details of our children? These people who are pathologically defensive, idiotically single minded and just plain stupid?

I think not.

We all know the huge support Home Schooling has, and its inexorable momentum. People like Rod Welford are on the wrong side of history, and are against families, against education and are for…heavens knows what.

He said he believed parents who have registered under the department’s distance education scheme (4800 students) and the 260 students under the new system represented the “overwhelming majority”. “There may be one or two hundred who we still haven’t captured because we don’t know precisely the number of children who are not in school,” he said.

And a liar to boot. What I detest most of all is the lack of humility, the posture that is the polar opposite of what it should be; that of a servant.

He said he believed the “home-school industry” had an interest in exaggerating its numbers. “I want to spread the message that it is against the law not to be registered, and secondly that it is in their interests to do that,” he said. “It is not a question of bludgeoning parents into some sort of Big Brother control system. “By registering those students we can give them support such as advice on teaching text and give them some assistance through nearby schools if they want to access that.”

It is abundantly clear that this is precisely about bludgeoning and Big Brother control systems. We already know that home schooled children outperform state schooled children in every metric; the home schoolers of Australia don’t need your support you simpleton, and if and when they do want something from you, they will pull the bell and you should come running in your butlers uniform.

And by the way, just WHAT ON EARTH is ‘teaching text’?!?!? Do you, Australian parents, REALLY want this mans advice on teaching anything?

Parents who reject the school system say they do so for many reasons. There are financial benefits to home schooling as parents do not have to worry about fees. uniforms, text books or trips. But parents say the decision to home-school also means financial sacrifices, as at least one parent must spend all their time with their children.

Home schooling costs parents more than sending them to state schools, firstly because the person who does the teaching cannot go to work full time. I’ll leave it to you to imagine just how expensive home schooling is!

Amanda from Ipswich told The Sunday Mail she opted out of schools because she feared exposing her children to peer groups there. “I know that a lot of people out there think that people like us are weirdos who want to live outside society but we’re not. We just don’t believe that schools are the best place to put your children.” Amanda, who asked that her full name not be revealed, has not registered any of her children with Education Queensland and has never followed a structured learning system.

Amanda is doing the right thing. So are the people who send their children to the school that she rejects. This is not about who is a better parent, this is about your right to educate your child in the way that you see fit, without interference from anyone. I support anyone who sends their child to school, and I also support people who Home Educate. This is where the education ministers both in the UK and Australia have it totally wrong; they are against families, against high quality education, and are for Orwellian control, forced curricula and the dismantling of society.

Her eldest child, Gabby, 15, did not start reading until she was nine but is studying for a bachelor of arts at the Open University (an online higher education service that does not require any entry grades). “I enjoyed it. It was a fun way to learn and now that I am at university I don’t find the work too hard. I am able to handle it,” Gabby said. […]

Yet another example of how Home Schoolers perform brilliantly.

Parents must send their children to school unless they receive special dispensation from Education Queensland. But Ms Sparks says governments have turned a blind eye to thousands of parents who choose to school their children ast home.

I think that in the UK, all the Home Educating families will simply ignore any new legislation that is introduced, should the government be foolish enough to try and do that. If the Australians can do it, so can the British. Just as the hunters are now ignoring bad law, so will the Home Educators should it come to that. Obviously it would be better if it didn’t.

The trend is toward home schooling not away from it. It is totally beneficial to all parties. Being against it is irrational, immoral, inappropriate and irresponsible.

The article above by Edmund Burke appeared in the Brisbane “Sunday Mail” on March 25, 2007

Snarfed from this blog.

More child database stupidity

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

Checks will be made on all children to identify potential criminals under a further extension of the “surveillance state” announced by Tony Blair today.

‘potential criminals’ actually means people who haven’t committed a crime, in a law court this would mean presumption of innocence, so why not on the street?

A Downing Street review of law and order policy also called for greater use of sophisticated CCTV, an expanded DNA database and “instant justice” powers for police.

‘Instant justice’ is an invitation to lowest common denominator policing and is easily abused and a hassle for those charged to resolve. We know about the inefficiencies of CCTV and the evils of (the police) DNA databases.

The review is intended to chart a course ahead for the next 10 years by focusing more “on the offender, not the offence.”

Most crime is committed by a small number of prolific offenders who could be identified almost from birth, ministers believe. After 10 years concentrating on tougher sentences, the review paper said it wanted to tackle the “underlying causes..through better targetting.”

Ministers can believe what they want but to impose their spurious beliefs on innocent people and their families is unjust and should not be tolerated. Surprisingly for a ‘social-democratic’ government this notion implies that education of these ‘future offenders’ is in effect worthless in terms of sociability and ‘morality’. 10 years of failure is also implied, why should anyone consider these fools to come up with the right answer now?

Vulnerable children and those at risk will be identified by “trigger” factors such as parents in jail or on drugs. They will be subject to personalised measures, including home visits from specialist practitioners. But the Government says the net should be cast as widely as possible “to prevent criminality developing.”

This means if any of your relatives are in jail or live in certain areas your children will probably be ‘loosely monitored’ in case they pick up any nasty habits which they may have missed picking up through their genes [HA!]

It proposes to “establish universal checks throughout a childs development to help service providers to identify those most at risk of offending.” The document added: “These checks should piggyback on existing contact points such as the transition to secondary schools.”

This means constant monitoring at school, probably without informing or asking consent of parents. FWIW Home-schooled children probably will have a big fat black mark on their file anyway.

The plan will be beacked up by a new database for all children due to be up and running by 2008. It will contain basic information identifying the child and its parents and will have a “facility for practitioners to indicate to others that they have information to share, are taking action, or have undertaken an assessment, in relation to a child.

Hmm 2008 sounds sounds suspiciously close to the NIR implementation.
‘child AND parents’ so everyone with a child will be databased too, I imagine this will be via the school asking children to fill in forms about their parents.
‘facility to share’ means minimal Data Protection regulations

New child checks to identify future criminals

By Philip Johnston, Home Affairs Editor
Last Updated: 1:38am BST 28/03/2007

# The main proposals

Checks will be made on all children to identify potential criminals under a further extension of the “surveillance state” announced by Tony Blair today.

A Prison Officer, Tony Blair will today stage a dramatic U-turn on Labour’s crime policy by conceding that too many offenders have been sent to jail since he took office 10 years ago
Mr Blair began his premiership promising to be tough on crime

A Downing Street review of law and order policy also called for greater use of sophisticated CCTV, an expanded DNA database and “instant justice” powers for police.

The review is intended to chart a course ahead for the next 10 years by focusing more “on the offender, not the offence.”

Most crime is committed by a small number of prolific offenders who could be identified almost from birth, ministers believe. After 10 years concentrating on tougher sentences, the review paper said it wanted to tackle the “underlying causes..through better targetting.”

Vulnerable children and those at risk will be identified by “trigger” factors such as parents in jail or on drugs. They will be subject to personalised measures, including home visits from specialist practitioners. But the Government says the net should be cast as widely as possible “to prevent criminality developing.”
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It proposes to “establish universal checks throughout a childs development to help service providers to identify those most at risk of offending.” The document added: “These checks should piggyback on existing contact points such as the transition to secondary schools.”

The plan will be beacked up by a new database for all children due to be up and running by 2008. It will contain basic information identifying the child and its parents and will have a “facility for practitioners to indicate to others that they have information to share, are taking action, or have undertaken an assessment, in relation to a child.

The database was ostensibly proposed to prevent another tragic death such as that of Victoria Climbie but now appears to be the basis for cradle-to-adult monitoring. It is not clear when data will be erased from the database.

Good old function creep/salamitactik, unless there is a serious effort by the peple who topple Neu Labour to dismantle these databases the data is unlikely to be erased for the simple reason it takes more effort to do so than to leave the audit trail ‘intact’.

The Government believes children can be prevented from becoming offenders if early intervention is targeted at those who displayed certain behaviours. These include having a short attention span or behaving aggressively or living in a difficult or deprived environment.

It does not believe this or educational or other measures which assist rather than stigmatise would have been put in place to rescue these children from their ‘original sin’.

Some children who show signs of becoming criminals are logged and monitored by dozens of early interventions schemes. Those aged 8-13 may be referred to a Youth Inclusion and Support Panel if they are thought to be potential offenders and data about them is held on an information system.

This will simply devalue the role of parental responsibility in the eyes of the children. It will foster a mentality that in the end the State rather than ‘people’ will intervene. It will devalue respect for other people and short circuit community responsibilities.

[…]

Telegraph

Yet another catch all scheme that will be ineffective, expensive and impose on everybody innocent or not at the same time as destroying liberty, respect and imposing conformity.

New 20 pound note

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

Interested in the facts behind the new twenty pound note? You need to listen to these two clips:

[…]

http://mises.org/money/2s5.asp

Some Photographs

Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

Some Graffiti

Where I found it


Someone’s lost keys with a strange keyring

The Superiority of Homeschooling

Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

Many people who are unfamiliar with homeschooling picture it as a bunch of religious fanatics socially isolating their kids from culture and diversity in order to brainwash their kids. However, the facts bear witness to the fact that the opposite is true. Here are some facts culled from the excellent Homeschooling entry at wikipedia.

In general, people who are against home schooling are ignorant of it’s history in America, it’s proven benefits, it’s proven superiority over public schooling, and that the classic criticisms leveled against it, primarily those of social and religious extremism, omissions of critical subjects (like evolution), and poor socialization, have been shown by many studies to be nearly entirely false. In fact, as it turns out, homeschoolers are better educated, more emotionally stable and mature, more socially adjusted, and more academically balanced than students who emerge from our faithless, Darwinist, underperforming public schools.

The Downsides of Public Schooling

  • Damaging emotional development: “where possible, children should be withheld from formal schooling until at least ages eight ten.”. Their reason was that children, “are not mature enough for formal school programs until their senses, coordination, neurological development and cognition are ready.”
  • Other negative emotional pressures of formal schooling: the outcome of forcing children into formal schooling is a sequence of “1) uncertainty as the child leaves the family nest early for a less secure environment, 2) puzzlement at the new pressures and restrictions of the classroom, 3) frustration because unready learning tools senses, cognition, brain hemispheres, coordination cannot handle the regimentation of formal lessons and the pressures they bring, 4) hyperactivity growing out of nerves and jitter, from frustration, 5) failure which quite naturally flows from the four experiences above, and 6) delinquency which is failures twin and apparently for the same reason.”
  • Damaging social development: Aside from academic performance, early formal schooling also destroys “positive sociability”, encourages peer dependence, and discourages self worth, optimism, respect for parents, and trust in peers. This situation is particularly acute for boys because of their delay in maturity.

Homeschool Benefits

  • How to develop genius: A Smithsonian Report on the development of genius, indicating a requirement for “1) much time spent with warm, responsive parents and other adults, 2) very little time spent with peers, and 3) a great deal of free exploration under parental guidance.
  • Academic performance: the average homeschooled student outperforms their public school peers by 30 to 37 percentile points across all subjects. The study also indicates that public school performance gaps between minorities and genders are virtually non-existent among homeschooled students.
  • What children need for learning and healthy mental/emotional development: Their analysis suggested that children need “more of home and less of formal school” “more free exploration with…parents, and fewer limits of classroom and books,” and “more old fashioned chores children working with parents and less attention to rivalry sports and amusements.”
  • Healthier self concept: Dr. John Taylor later found, using the Piers-Harris Children’s Self-Concept Scale, “while half of the conventionally schooled children scored at or below the 50th percentile (in self-concept), only 10.3% of the home-schooling children did so.”
  • Better socialization: Regarding socialization, it appears that very few home-schooling children are socially deprived. Critics who speak out against home schooling on the basis of social deprivation are actually addressing an area which favors home schoolers. Apparently, the research data indicates that it is the conventionally schooled child who is actually deprived.”
  • Graduates are more socially involved than public school children: Homeschool graduates are active and involved in their communities. 71% participate in an ongoing community service activity, like coaching a sports team, volunteering at a school, or working with a church or neighborhood association, compared with 37% of U.S. adults of similar ages from a traditional education background.
  • Graduates are more active in civics: Homeschool graduates are more involved in civic affairs and vote in much higher percentages than their peers. 76% of those surveyed between the ages of 18 and 24 voted within the last five years, compared with only 29% of the corresponding U.S. populace. The numbers are even greater in older age groups, with voting levels not falling below 95%, compared with a high of 53% for the corresponding U.S. populace.

Graduates report being happier and more excited about life: 58.9% report that they are “very happy” with life, compared with 27.6% for the general U.S. population. 73.2% find life “exciting”, compared with 47.3%

Now, imagine if I went out to the homeschooling sites and mined even more information. However, I understand that it takes time to change people’s minds, esp. when mired in years of brainwashing regarding the superiority of public education. But education is changing public opinion:

Gallup polls of American voters have shown a significant change in attitude in the last twenty years, from 73% opposed to home education in 1985 to 54% opposed in 2001. […]

http://www.twoorthree.net/2007/03/the_superiority.html

Police officer fiddled 75,000 cautions through ID cards

Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

A police officer who discovered a loophole in The National Identity Register, which enabled him to accrue 75,000 cautions in just two months and convert them to ASBOs, became so obsessed with convictions that he would arrive at his local police station “morning, noon and night”. Shaun Pennicott, a 42-year-old married father of two, was convicted of the fraud and may lose his job with Hertfordshire constabulary.

Pennicott, who regularly frequented the local housing estates in Watford town centre, discovered that online forms for ‘low level’ cautions could be sub,itted repeatedly because there was no human reader in the procedure for the cautions on the self-assessed ‘COP-out’ machines.

In the two months he made 154 submissions, each time obtaining a 150 performance related bonus and repeatedly submitted bogus cautions that could be converted into ASBOs. He collected enough bonuses to pay for six return flights between London and New York by the time the Home Office’s computer flagged up the need for a security check.

Pennicott was last week convicted at Luton crown court of “going equipped to cheat” and given a community service order. He was fined 800 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of 2,500.

The Home Office yesterday admitted the loophole existed, but said it was not economically viable to make the changes to stop it.

Samantha Leigh, prosecuting, told the court Pennicott would sometimes use a caution three or four times when copping. Each bogus caution is eligible for a bonus and every 2.50 can be converted to 600 air miles. During one drive against excessive obesity, Pennicott caught 75 of the fattest boys and got almost 38 bogus cautions converted to air miles.

Pennicott said he had been amazed by what he had discovered and claimed he had planned to highlight the loophole to SOCA and the cautions were to be examples to show them.

Judge Michael Kay described his defence as “preposterous.”

“This became an obsession in my judgment,” he said. “You were so greedy you would do virtually anything to obtain cautions and turn them into air miles. You regularly travelled abroad and that is what attracted you.”

Guardian

We can have ‘win-win’ on security vs. privacy, says Academy

Monday, March 26th, 2007

People think there has to be a choice between privacy and security; that increased security means more collection and processing of personal private information. However, in a challenging report to be published on Monday 26 March 2007, The Royal Academy of Engineering says that, with the right engineering solutions, we can have both increased privacy and more security. Engineers have a key role in achieving the right balance.

One of the issues that Dilemmas of Privacy and Surveillance – challenges of technological change looks at is how we can buy ordinary goods and services without having to prove who we are. For many electronic transactions, a name or identity is not needed; just assurance that we are old enough or that we have the money to pay. In short, authorisation, not identification should be all that is required. Services for travel and shopping can be designed to maintain privacy by allowing people to buy goods and use public transport anonymously. “It should be possible to sign up for a loyalty card without having to register it to a particular individual – consumers should be able to decide what information is collected about them,” says Professor Nigel Gilbert, Chairman of the Academy working group that produced the report. “We have supermarkets collecting data on our shopping habits and also offering life insurance services. What will they be able to do in 20 years’ time, knowing how many donuts we have bought?”

Another issue is that, in the future, there will be more databases holding sensitive personal information. As government moves to providing more electronic services and constructs the National Identity Register, databases will be created that hold information crucial for accessing essential services such as health care and social security. But complex databases and IT networks can suffer from mechanical failure or software bugs. Human error can lead to personal data being lost or stolen. If the system breaks down, as a result of accident or sabotage, millions could be inconvenienced or even have their lives put in danger.

The Academy’s report calls for the government to take action to prepare for such failures, making full use of engineering expertise in managing the risks posed by surveillance and data management technologies. It also calls for stricter guidelines for companies who hold personal data, requiring companies to store data securely, to notify customers if their data are lost or stolen, and to tell us what the data are being used for.

“Technologies for collecting, storing, transmitting and processing data are developing rapidly with many potential benefits, from making paying bills more convenient to providing better healthcare,” says Professor Gilbert. “However, these techniques could make a significant impact on our privacy. Their development must be monitored and managed so that the effects are properly understood and controlled.” Engineering solutions should also be devised which protect the privacy and security of data. For example: electronic personal information could be protected by methods similar to the digital rights management software used to safeguard copyrighted electronic material like music releases, limiting the threat of snooping and leaks of personal data.

The report also investigates the changes in camera surveillance – CCTV cameras can now record digital images that could be stored forever. Predicted improvements in automatic number-plate recognition, recognition of individual’s faces and faster methods of searching images mean that it may become possible to search back in time through vast amounts of digital data to find out where people were and what they were doing. The Royal Academy of Engineering’s report calls for greater control over the proliferation of camera surveillance and for more research into how public spaces can be monitored while minimising the impact on privacy.

The public will be able to find out more about this report and have their say at a free evening event at the Science Museum’s Dana Centre in London on Tuesday 27 March.

“Engineers’ knowledge and experience can help to ‘design in privacy’ into new IT developments,” says Professor Gilbert. “But first, the government and corporations must recognise that they put at risk the trust of citizens and customers if they do not treat privacy issues seriously.” […]

http://www.raeng.org.uk/news/releases/shownews.htm?NewsID=378

And by engineers, this report had better be talking about software engineers, because it is precisely these people who are teh (yes, ‘teh’) architects of the solutions that can either enhance our lives or completely enslave us.

I am talking about Phil Zimmerman, Dr. David Chaum, Whitfield Diffie and all the other cryptographers and developers who have been working on this since the early 90’s. The software already exists to create an information ecosystem based on anonymity and authorization; the problem is that the legislators and to a certain extent the vendors are computer illiterates who have never even heard of Public Key Cryptography, let alone understand what it really means and what it can do to secure documents while keeping our information private.

Chaumian Ecash is a perfect example of this. Had it come about at the right time, we might all be using a version of PayPal that was actually cash like, i.e., anonymous, secure and instant on a peer to peer basis. Instead and for the moment, we are stuck with the reviled PayPal which is the complete opposite of a cash like system, that is very large, but also reviled, where there is no privacy at all.

Like I demonstrated with my system for a better passport, there are better ways to improve document security. This thinking can spread to all other areas of authentication and transacting so that we can keep our privacy and also have all the benefits of remote transacting and databases.

Mother and her children stopped in the street for ‘Truancy’

Monday, March 26th, 2007

From a Home Schooling mailing list comes this astonishing story:

We have just returned from a weekend away. At Liverpool Street station on Thursday (when we left) we were approached by a truancy officer together with a helmeted uniformed officer. There were also two other uniformed officers stood behind at close-ish range.

They asked us if we were on holiday and if we had permission for Reuben to be out of school. I explained that we were home educating and that we were on holiday. They had no problem with this but asked us to fill out a rather lengthy form which they would then send to check us out with the local authority. I explained that we were not known to our local authority as this was not a legal requirement. They said this wouldn’t be a problem. The LA would just check that we were not ‘out’ of one of their schools.

The details of the form were as follows:

Child’s name
Address
Local authority
Date of birth
Telephone number
Date child last attended school
If child was excluded – date of exclusion
Whether child was with parent
Reason for being out of school
Name and address of parent
Ethnicity

There may have been a few other things that I can’t remember.

I was unsure about filling in these details. I had hoped to remain unknown to the LA for at least a while longer.

In the event, our train left in 10 minutes, so we filled it in to avoid hold-ups.

Has anyone else been approached like this? Is there a formal response that I should have been aware of? Do you think that the LA will put us on their register now? Or perhaps, as Ian thinks, it will be lost in a mountain of paperwork and never touched again.

I will let you all know if we are contacted for an inspection, as this would be the only route to it as far as I know.

There is no way that people in this country know that this is going on, because if they did, they would surely be outraged. Parents are responsible for their children. If a child is with its parents, by definition the child is not a truant, because truancy means absent without leave from school:

n. pl. truancies
The act or condition of being absent without permission.
Dictionary.com

Not only were these children not truant because they were accompanied by their parents, but there were a total of four salaried people there to intercept them. Four people who were wasting their time questioning parents about on their own business in their own country.

Great Britain has gone totally MAD.

The most worrying thing about this is that this person stated that there was no legal requirement to fill this form, but filled it anyway instead of saying point blank that she would not comply.

This is the greatest problem that we face; any government can enact legislation; the thing that gives it force is obedience. If the home schooling community of the UK will not stand up for its rights, then it will have no rights.

And that is a fact.

An idiot writes

Monday, March 26th, 2007

If you have 2 decades experience that a product is rubbish, should anyone care that you get frustrated after buying a new version and it turns out to be rubbish? Yet Again.

Dear Bill Gates

First, the apology. Having complained here on 6 February that your new Vista operating system was driving me bonkers, it would have been polite to give you an update before now.

gates203_afp.jpgAnd had I been a little less self-obsessed, I would have commiserated with you for the wobble in your share price a few weeks ago when your chief executive warned that Wall Streets estimates of revenues from Vista in the coming year were over the top (though analysts still expect Vista to generate comfortably over $15bn of sales in the year from June 2007).

15 billion dollars for a broken, pointless product that doesn’t meet any user expectations. There’s one born every minute, and Bill Gates has persuaded them all to buy Windoze.

But in delaying my progress report, I gave you the benefit of the doubt. I assumed that Vista would soon become compatible with the assorted tools of my trade, so I could write you a belated note of congratulation.

In fact my Vista experience has gone from bad to worse. One of your engineers has informed me that my HP iPAQ PocketPC will never be compatible with Vista, even though the software it runs is Microsoft software. Hey ho. Thats an expensive and serviceable bit of kit written off prematurely.

Hey Ho?!! Bleet bleet.

Your engineer has however held out the tantalising prospect that Olympus may produce new drivers such that I would eventually be able to transfer sound files from my digital voice recorder to my new Vista laptop. But so far, those drivers are proving a bit elusive and my digital recorder may also become redundant.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me repeatedly over decades, expose me as a lobotomised sheep with blinkers and an addiction to being fooled.

But as economists say, theres no point in obsessing over spilt milk. However, heres what almost sent me over the edge this weekend.

I installed Office XP on my new laptop, and have been puzzled and irked that Outlook will not save sign-on passwords. It means I have to type in my passwords every time I check my e-mail accounts for new mail.

For weeks Ive been investigating possible fixes to this annoying glitch. But yesterday I came across an explanation from someone called the Microsoft AppCompat Guy, on Microsofts discussion forum for General Windows Vista Development Issues.

This is what AppCompat Guy says: This was a difficult deliberate choice. During the development of Vista, it was discovered that the password storage algorithm used by Outlook was too weak to protect your data from future, potential attacks. Both the security and application compatibility teams decided that protecting your data outweighed the inconvenience of having to retype your passwords. As the appcompat representative, I can assure you this was not a decision we took lightly

vista203_pa.jpgSo just to be clear, Microsoft has created a new operating system that isnt properly compatible with a best-selling, still perfectly useable version of its own software. Which of course provides quite a powerful incentive for me to spend up to 99.99 on upgrading to Microsoft Outlook 2007 except that in my current mood, Id rather stick pins in my eyes.

“quite a powerful incentive for me to spend up to 99.99 on upgrading to Microsoft Outlook 2007”

WHAT!??!?! After paying for a broken product (for no good reason) which mothballs your perfectly good hardware, you are willing to pay MORE money in the vain hope that it will be OK in the end. Baa!

Ladies and gentlemen, this is “Robert Peston, the BBC’s business editor. This blog is my regular take on the business stories and issues that matter.” Would you trust this man to make a single good busines edition, when he repeatedly proves himself to be an imbecile, incapable of rational business thought in his personal spending habits, cannot evaluate product cost vs benefit, and does not appear to have looked at alternatives. And then wants to apologise for having slightly bad thoughts about the product.

Here he goes again:

In a way youre to be congratulated. Vista should provide a significant boost to Microsofts cash flow, from sales of the basic operating system and sales of new versions of other Microsoft software, like Outlook, that are presumably designed to work brilliantly with it. Also therell be incremental revenue for the whole computer industry, as customers like me are forced to replace accessories like my HP PDA, which has been Vistad into obsolescence.

NOBODY has ‘forced’ him to replace his version of XP with Vista. Nobody has forced him to use windows at all. It is only the fault of him (and millions like him) who are M$addicts, too stupified to see the alternatives.

To put it in personal terms, the 650 I spent to replace a dead laptop may lead me to spend a further 400 or so, just so that I can continue to do with my laptop what I expect to be able to do with it.

All of which sounds like good news for you and the IT industry in general.

Except that Im left with the uneasy feeling that Ive been ever-so-elegantly mugged. Presumably theres no connection between your recent sales downgrade and what you might call the negative goodwill generated for customers like me.

Hasta la vista, as they say

That ‘negative goodwill’ has got him spending over 1000 quid on stuff he doesn’t need, and probably won’t work as he requires.

What a business! Never underestimate the stupidity of the general public. Or of BBQ editors, by the look of it.

A pipeline of great students

Monday, March 26th, 2007

If I told you that intelligent, mature, socially involved, well-educated teens, just 15 years ago, were being denied entry to college you would not believe me.

Unfortunately, it was true. Many of the nation’s burgeoning number of home-school graduates had, and on many occasions still have today, a very difficult time navigating the college admission process. Fortunately, in 2007, the situation has dramatically improved, but just 15 years ago home-schoolers faced huge obstacles accessing college.

Although a legitimate criticism of colleges is that they were relatively slow to react to the growing numbers of home-school graduates, it is fairly easy to sympathize with their situation.

Home-schooling began its resurgence in the 1980s. Consequently, the first wave of home-school graduates was ready to enter college in the early 1990s.

For decades, colleges had been focused on traditional high school applicants from both public and private school. Procedures, experience and expectations were firmly entrenched. When a home-schooler knocked on the door, with a diploma signed by his parents, colleges did not know what to do.

Home School Legal Defense Association, founded in 1983, intervened on behalf of home-schoolers and showed that a parent-signed diploma was valid. HSLDA, however, recognized that any college would need more information about whether an individual home-schooler was ready for college level work before it could make an informed decision. We suggested that a policy which focused on the SAT or ACT scores plus references and portfolios of work would satisfy any reasonable entry requirements.

Over the past 15 years, many colleges have developed either a home-school admissions policy or hired a home-school admissions officer. In fact, today, 85 percent of colleges have one, or both, of these in place. But some colleges have gone further and chosen to actively seek home-school graduates. The most recent example is the University of California at Riverside, which last year changed its policy to allow home-schoolers to submit a portfolio of work.

“We are excited about the positive response from home-schooled and nontraditionally educated students and their parents,” said Interim Director of Admissions Merlyn Campos.

Frank Vahid, professor in the Department of Computer Science, said: “It looks like we’ve tapped into a pipeline of great students.”

It is no surprise to home-schooling families that their children succeed in college. The genius of a home education is an individualized learning plan. The education is tailored to the child. In addition, most home-schooled children are encouraged to work on their own. To get the most out of college, a student needs to be self-directed, which is the methodology that home-schoolers have been using for years.

Every year, the total number of home-school high school graduates increases. The best estimate for the numbers of home-schoolers is 2 million children spread relatively evenly across the grades. Therefore, we can expect to see around 100,000 home-schooled graduates per year. A significant percentage of these students will seek college admission.

College entrance, and subsequent success in a college program, helps complete the education picture for home-schoolers. For many, it is the final step on a long educational journey. […]

Washington Times