Check Out This Cool School Project

Dan over at Backroads Newsroom is hosting a cool project for some high school seniors going to the Inauguration.  They’re updating details of their trip on Twitter, Flickr, Twitpic,etc. and he’s aggregating the updates.

Very cool use of technology and journalism going on as these students document their trip to DC for their community.  I’m also following the students who have sent updates so far on Twitter…@morganesmith, @SColgrove, @tkelliott, @jwrundle, or their hastag– #wcindc.  And here’s their Flickr pool.

School Kids Make Me Jealous

So I’ve had a fun couple of days down here in Florida playing with my sister-in-law’s kids. We’ve been staying up until like 2 am drinking coffee (don’t tell their mom), eating pizza, playing Wii, and talking trash about our skills.  It doesn’t hurt that the weather is perfect, so during the day we can go outside and hang out.

But all that ends tomorrow.  For me anyway.  Tomorrow it’s going to get really cold (in the 60s), and they are all going to the zoo.  That sucks.  For me anyway.  I have to work.  And it’s worse when you work remotely, because at least when you have an office to go to you can forget about the fun everybody else is having on your drive to work and see a bunch of other people who are at work while all the kids are having fun.

Those kids better be ready for some Rock Band tomorrow night…it’s on!

Recycled Post For Parents With Elementary Aged Kids

I promise I didn’t plan on doing this–I just happened upon this post form last year with tips on evaluating your kids’ teachers, and I thought it was a good time to bring it up again since school has just started back.  This is one of the few posts I’ve written that I think may add some value to society.  If you have young kids in school it is worth a glance.

And while I have your attention on education, the missus is giving away a $20 Abunga gift card over at Reading Coach Online this month.  The drawing is open to anyone who subscribes by email.  If you haven’t been to her site, it is loaded with information and fun activities to help your kids with their reading.  It’s a great resource for both homeschooling parents and parents with kids in school as well.

First They Came For The Chemists…

A retired Massachusetts chemist had his home raided (without a warrant of course) and his property stolen by authorities. Why?

Experiments. That’s right. He was doing experiments.

Deeb is not accused of making methamphetamine or other illegal drugs. He’s not accused of aiding terrorists, synthesizing explosives, nor even of making illegal fireworks.

Pamela Wilderman, the code enforcement officer for Marlboro, stated, “I think Mr. Deeb has crossed a line somewhere. This is not what we would consider to be a customary home occupation.”

Wilderman thinks he has crossed a line…somewhere. Sounds like reason enough to me. I’m really scared by precedents like this when they go unchecked. It’s a threat not only to people who like to tinker with science as a hobby, but also to people who homeschool and people who may be developing new products or processes in their spare time.

One day it may be illegal to develop WordPress themes, and there won’t be any chemists to stand up for us.

via Slashdot

**UPDATE**

Reader Greg Compton sent this via Twitter–“inspector is a former theatre major“.

At least Massachusetts residents don’t have to worry about getting their doors kicked in during charades night.

School Choice in Nashville

There’s a cool event going on at the Nashville Zoo next Thursday for those in the midstate area.  The 2008 Friedman Legacy Event is a free event presented by the Tennessee Center for Policy Research in support of homeschool, charter school, and private school rights.  They’re even providing chaperones so that your kids can have fun at the zoo instead of sitting through all that boring talking!

The event is named in honor of Milton Friedman–more details are available on their site.

Forget Education, Someone Has a Better Idea for Schools

From the NYT

“Imagine schools that are open all day and offer after-school and evening recreational activities, child care and preschool, tutoring and homework assistance,” the speech reads. “Schools that include dental, medical and counseling clinics.”

I’ll get around to imagining that just as soon as I’m finished imagining schools that do what they’re supposed to actually do–educate.  Right now, I’m not able to do much beyond imagining.

Going to the Mat has similar thoughts.

Since the mid-60s we have asked more and more of our schools to help close some socially worrisome gap, that the schools have forgotten how to do their basic mission–educating kids. Adding more “social missions” to the schools is not going to improve schools.


How Much Schooling is Enough?

I was listening to Dave Ramsey this afternoon and he fielded a call I’ve heard him take several times in the past–“Should I quite my job (or sell my house, or cash in my savings, or sell my kid, etc.) to go back to school and get a master’s degree?”  I think this is a pretty tough question to deal with.  On one hand, there’s a ton of knowledge to be gained by going back to school, and the fact that you’re paying to learn in an intense environment means that at least some of it will soak in.  On the other hand, is there any information they are giving you in school that you can’t get in a book or online?

I’ve considered an MBA several times.  It’s easy to talk myself out of it since my brother-in-law is storing his entire Duke MBA experience in our garage right now–all I have to do is open up boxes and start reading books.  But the advantage I see of going back to school, especially for business, is the connections you can make; the people you meet.  Those connections are a little tougher to make out in the real world, but it can be done.

I guess I tend to believe that the value is in the information you have and the people you know, not in the piece of paper you earned.  A degree doesn’t always imply an education, and an education doesn’t always imply a degree.  There’s no denying the fact that the degree can open some doors that the knowledge itself can’t.  Then again, the people you know can probably open more doors than both.  However, in the long term, it seems like knowledge and talent are ultimately going to trump everything.  As Dave Ramsey says, “Your raise will be effective when you are.”

And if your abilities are going to be discounted based solely on the fact that you don’t have the right degree, you probably aren’t keeping the right company to begin with.

At this point, more school almost seems like a luxury purchase to me.

Parenting for Adults

When (if) my kid(s) decide to go to college as adults, I expect they’ll do some pretty stupid things during the first couple of years and beyond.  To me, making mistakes and dealing with the consequences are important aspects of the learning process; part of acquiring an education.  Luckily, the State of Tennessee now has taken it upon themselves to get involved in my chosen method of nonparenting, if my kid adult decides to drink a couple of cold beers on campus.

Let’s take this to its logical end.  Why not also notify the parents when they skip class, jaywalk, or get thrown out of an intramural floor hockey game for beating down an opposing player while protected with full goalie gear?  Not that I ever participated in any such activity as a student.  I did, however, have a friend who talked filthy talk at a football game once.  Luckily for him, his parents weren’t notified.

It’s nice to see that while State universities don’t have the ability to support actual academic programs, they still have the ability to parent effectively.

Are They Going To Sell Them At Wal-Mart?

File under Utterly ridiculous.

A public school in California is now requiring students to wear RFID so they can track them. No, seriously.

The system was imposed, without parental input, by the school as a way to simplify attendance-taking and potentially reduce vandalism and improve student safety. Principal Earnie Graham hopes to eventually add bar codes to the existing ID’s so that students can use them to pay for cafeteria meals and check out library books.

I’ve got a better idea…why don’t you just worry about teaching them? There are all kinds of things you can teach kids in the 7th and 8th grade, like, I don’t know…the Fourth Amendment.

I guess one could make the argument that the rules and regulations of the school override the individual right to privacy. That makes sense if attendance at the school is a choice, but California is moving away from that notion already. And besides, doesn’t the fact that the schools are tax payer funded pretty much guarantee that the Constitution is applicable?

I guess this will help them get prepared for life in the Bush real world.