published on or around the 15th of the month

from the author of
October, 2006  volume 1- Issue 2
Welcome to Java House - radical opinions about whatever from, OldSage

Writer's Name: OldSage
Everything in particular, and nothing in general.

There are a few rules I live by:

Good judgment comes from the experiences gained when exercising bad judgment.
The biggest trouble-maker you will ever to deal with watches you brush your hair in the mirror every morning.

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

Here's who I am:

I believe that today's public school system is failing for the most part, though I continue to support it through taxes and buying magazine subscriptions from 8 year olds.

I believe that you can be whatever you want to be.

I firmly believe that you can gain an incredible education by studying at home.

November Voting & School Funding - Let's raise our taxes again to fix the schools

Whenever I tell a fellow taxpayer in Ohio who wants to pass yet another levy to help fund the schools that school funding in Ohio has been declared unconstitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court 4 times, they are shocked.

That story goes back at least to 1991, when in DeRolph vs. State of Ohio a father brought suit against the state after overcrowding left his son without a desk, sitting on a classroom floor to take a test. In 1997, the Ohio Supreme Court decided the case, ruling that school funding in Ohio was inequitable due to the state’s reliance on local property taxes because it favored rich districts over poor.. After subsequent appeals and rulings, the Court issued its fourth and final decision in January 2003, upholding earlier findings that Ohio’s school funding system was unconstitutional.

  • It’s a Tough Lesson, but Ohio Can Master School Funding
    By: Paige Kohn, America Votes Research Coordinator
    Pop Quiz: Despite four rulings by the Ohio Supreme Court and 12 years of legal work, what state process remains unconstitutional, unfixed and unfair?
    Answer: The method that determines how education dollars are raised in Ohio: school funding.

    In a 1997 landmark case called DeRolph vs. State of Ohio, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled the state’s school funding system unconstitutional and ordered the General Assembly to find a solution within a year and amend the process.

    The year is 2006 and the system is still unconstitutional. [read on]
  • Who supports private schools?
    Books, computers, buses, but also rules
    Private and religious schools get tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer support each year from the Ohio Department of Education. [read on]

There are some homeschoolers who feel we are entitled to some of this money too. I pay some pretty serious property taxes in one of those unconstitutionally funded failing school districts in Ohio and I disagree with this sort of sentiment. Actually, this whole notion reminds me of the old folk tale: The Wild and Free Pigs of the Okefenokee Swamp that ends with the moral: "Just say NO to federal corn." The bacon you save may be your own.

No Child Left Behind - Accountability
"Increase Accountability for Student Performance: States, districts and schools that improve achievement will be rewarded." from the man himself:

George W. Bush: No Child Left Behind (NCLB)and the Fact Sheet

Some people say that the accountability in NCLB is unrealistic.

I think it is misplaced.

NCLB is fundamentally asking students be accountable by showing improved performance on a series of standardized tests.

Does this make sense to you?

What if Microsoft measured through a standardized test how well it's customers learned to useWindows XP?

Side Effects of Standardized Testing
by Ann Lahrson Fisher

Some of the Side Effect Lessons listed in this article:

  • Someone else knows what you should know better than you do.
  • Learning is an absolute that can be measured.
  • Your interests are not important.

[read on]

No Child Left Behind - Accountability(cont'd)

One reads that teachers are ill-prepared these days to teach at schools in this country. How can they prepare our students to take the tests required through NCLB?

Educating School Teachers
September 2006
Teacher Education Is Out of Step with Realities of Classrooms, According to Research Study from Former Head of Teachers College

Majority of U.S. Teachers Prepared in Lower Quality Programs; Report Issues Recommendations to Reform What It Calls the "Wild West" of Teacher Education

WASHINGTON – September 18, 2006 – Despite growing evidence of the importance of quality teaching, the vast majority of the nation's teachers are prepared in programs that have low admission and graduation standards and cling to an outdated vision of teacher education...[read on]

What if we made the districts at the administrative level responsible for improving how they deliver education and measured that? Sort of like we do in business. Deliver a good product, keep your customers happy and the company profits grow. The customers here after all are the students. Aren't they?

Read about schools that in my opinion, have it right:

Sudbury Valley School "is a place where people decide for themselves how to spend their days. Here, students of all ages determine what they will do, as well as when, how, and where they will do it. This freedom is at the heart of the school; it belongs to the students as their right, not to be violated.

The fundamental premises of the school are simple: that all people are curious by nature; that the most efficient, long-lasting, and profound learning takes place when started and pursued by the learner"...[read on]

The Living School "is a democratic, learner-centered educational environment that is community-based, experientially centered, and focused on the creativity and intelligence inherent in each student. We foster inquiry in each participant by allowing the school itself to be a living experiment in learning....[read on]

As you are most likely a homeshooler, recognize that at some point homeschooling will come into the limelight as well. As homeschoolers, we've made a political statement. One that goes against NCLB and the Public School system in America. It is important to remember to guard the right to homeschool our kids and to do this by not giving up other personal rights and freedoms, or by allowing them to be taken away either.

Other great articles about testing and accountability and gifted and academic assessment.

Some great reads:


An incredible read, free and on line:

The Underground History of American Education
by John Taylor Gatto

Except from the prologue:

"You aren’t compelled to loan your car to anyone who wants it, but you are compelled to surrender your school-age child to strangers who process children for a livelihood, even though one in every nine schoolchildren is terrified of physical harm happening to them in school, terrified with good cause; about thirty-three are murdered there every year. From 1992 through 1999, 262 children were murdered in school in the United States. Your great-great-grandmother didn’t have to surrender her children. What happened?

Why are you so docile when you give up your child to a government agent called a schoolteacher?

I want to open up concealed aspects of modern schooling such as the deterioration it forces in the morality of parenting. You have no say at all in choosing your teachers. You know nothing about their backgrounds or families. And the state knows little more than you do. This is as radical a piece of social engineering as the human imagination can conceive. What does it mean?

One thing you do know is how unlikely it will be for any teacher to understand the personality of your particular child or anything significant about your family, culture, religion, plans, hopes, dreams. In the confusion of school affairs even teachers so disposed don’t have opportunity to know those things. How did this happen?

Before you hire a company to build a house, you would, I expect, insist on detailed plans showing what the finished structure was going to look like. Building a child’s mind and character is what public schools do, their justification for prematurely breaking family and neighborhood learning. Where is documentary evidence to prove this assumption that trained and certified professionals do it.."
[read the entire book online]
[purchase the book]

“Are you Kidding Me?”38% of Your Students Passing is Good?

One Size Fits Few: The Folly of Educational Standards
by Susan Ohanian

Throughout the book, the author makes numerous cases against the use of educational standards. At the heart of these multifarious denouncements is the recurring theme that standards are dehumanizing.

Interesting items from "State of Education: Who Makes the Grade?"
By Kavan Peterson,, January 26, 2006

  • Measuring the impact of dollars on student achievement is difficult because most states do not account for how education money is spent at the individual school level.
  • Schools spend fewer dollars per student in Utah than in any other state, but more fourth-graders there improved reading and math scores over the past decade than in more than half of the states. Maine, for example, spends nearly twice as much on a comparable student population -- $9,300 a student vs. $4,800 in Utah. But fewer Maine fourth-graders improved their math scores -- and their reading scores actually declined in the past decade.
  • In Utah, only 19 percent of fourth-graders scored proficient or better on math in 1992, but nearly twice as many -- 38 percent -- passed in 2005.
  • Fourth-grade Math Top 10: Leading the nation in fourth-grade math improvement was North Carolina, where the portion of students passing more than tripled from 13 percent scoring proficient in 1992 to 40 percent passing in 2005. Following North Carolina, the states with the biggest gains in percentage of students passing the math tests were: Ohio, Massachusetts, Texas, Idaho, Arkansas, Wyoming, Florida, South Carolina and Indiana.
  • Fourth-grade Math Bottom 10: Even the worst-performing states in fourth-grade math nearly doubled the percentage of students who passed since 1992. Still, the District of Columbia and New Mexico came in last, behind Alabama, Iowa, Maine, Hawaii, Missouri, West Virginia, Mississippi, Kentucky and Georgia.

"After more than a decade, it's fair to be asking whether the standards-based approach to education reform works. We're seeing pretty strong evidence that it does," said Education Week Research Director Christopher Swanson.

Are you kidding me? -OldSage

Are Your Politics Religion?

MoveOn, MoveOff, MoveOver, MoveWhere, Extreme What? A homeschool convention who's purpose is to honor the Lord, Jesus Christ?

I love this time of year, though it is the time of year when you are reminded that us regular folk really aren't represented. You hear of the "extreme Christian right" the "Liberal Left" and many "descriptions" in between.

You read about people getting all lathered up over comments made under the right to freedom of speech in this country. I get lathered up on a regular basis when I read the email I receive from one of the "homeschool legal protection" groups I stay current with wants to fight the German government from an American perspective on Religious rights, or that a local a privately-held corporation is throwing a homeschool convention who's purpose is: for the Convention is to honor the Lord, Jesus Christ while facilitating an event that is well-attended and professionally-produced, that serves the Cincinnati (and Tri-State) Homeschool community...yeah right...

I guess God is really big business these days, especially Jesus.

I always thought Christian meant acceptance, and if not that, tolerance of other folks ways, whether they think like you or not. I personally think Jesus would be very disappointed at how his words are being interpreted and profited from these days.

Who you are and how you behave are two very different things. Extreme in any situation, especially in religion, is scary to me. It's scary to me because it appears to be very irrational and very, very controlling. Look at what goes on in the Middle East with extremism. What is even scarier to me is the apathy many seem to have towards the extremism that exists right here in our own country.

1. absence or suppression of passion, emotion, or excitement.
2. lack of interest in or concern for things that others find moving or exciting. Unabridged (v 1.0.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.

Some people seem to think that there is a freedom of a particular Religion to run rampant in this country because that right is protected by the US Constitution, when in fact it states:

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

To me, this Amendment translates to Separation of Church and State which means that all people are free to practice their religion without the government having a say in it. Period.

To me, it seems that there is a particular brand of extremism in our country. I wanted to find out why it seemed people were so upset about a comparison a well known talk show host made to extremist religious groups in in the Middle East and the extremist religious groups in the United States. Once you "turn on" to the extremism that exists in our country, you can't help but to continue to recognize it, because it is just plain scary in the places it has come to exist. Some of it in places that will eventually rule your personal freedoms.

There was so much "out there" when I searched for facts for this commentary. Most were too extreme for me to associate this newsletter with, but I did find some interesting items that might just be food for thought for "regular" folk:

Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why

Jesus Camp - The Movie
From the website: A growing number of Evangelical Christians believe there is a revival underway in America that requires Christian youth to assume leadership roles in advocating the causes of their religious movement.

Over the years, Evangelical Christians have become increasingly active in politics. Although the born-again population constituted 38% of Americans, it represented 53% of the votes cast in the election.

George Bush, a born-again Christian, has benefited from Evangelical support. In the last election over 40% of all votes for Bush came from evangelical Christians. Christian fundamentalists now hold a majority of seats in 36 percent of all Republican Party state committees, or 18 of 50 states, along with large minorities in 81 percent of the rest of the states.

A new documentary directed by Dorothy Fadiman. From the website: "Our goal is to make this film provocative, but not confrontational. We want to engage viewers who may be uncomfortable looking at what is actually happening to our election system. We do not want them to become defensive when learning the facts. Our goal is to open people's minds to the irregularities in the technology and open their hearts to the devastating impact of disenfranchising voters." [read on]

America's Real War

A Review: Orthodox Rabbi Daniel Lapin links arms with Christian conservatives and argues that Christian values are better for American society. He also explores the Jewish faith and answers the question: Why are Jews so liberal? This hard-hitting book gives a new perspective to American religious ideals. [read on]

Conversations with God : An Uncommon Dialogue (Book 1)

A Review: Blasphemy! Heresy! Who does this man think he is, claiming to speak directly to God?! Jesus did it, Muhammad did it, the Jewish prophets did it, but none of their Gods had the sardonic wit or raw verve of Prophet Walsch's God. Neale Donald Walsch isn't claiming to be the Messiah of a new religion, just a frustrated man who sat down one day with pen in his hand and some tough questions in his heart. As he wrote his questions to God, he realized that God was answering them... directly... through Walsch's pen. The result, far from the apocalyptic predictions or cultic eccentricities you might expect, turns out to be matter-fact, in-your-face wisdom on how to get by in life while remaining true to yourself and your spirituality. [read on]

Educating the "Right" Way: Markets, Standards, God, and Inequality, Second Edition

A Review: Prolific author Michael W. Apple has recently been awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Educational Research Association as well as a UCLA Medal for outstanding achievement in education. Here he explains how and why right-wing groups have become so powerful in recent years, warning that U.S. public education is endangered by rightist thinking. Apple argues passionately against vouchers, national curricula, standardized testing, and other misguided notions of reform and contends that "authoritarian populist" proposals will exacerbate inequality in and among our schools. He urges readers to affirm a more democratic education system. [read on]

Open Letter To Kansas School Board
I am writing you with much concern after having read of your hearing to decide whether the alternative theory of Intelligent Design should be taught along with the theory of Evolution. I think we can all agree that it is important for students to hear multiple viewpoints so they can choose for themselves the theory that makes the most sense to them. I am concerned, however, that students will only hear one theory of Intelligent Design.

Let us remember that there are multiple theories of Intelligent Design. I and many others around the world are of the strong belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster...[read on]
With God On Our Side: The Rise of the Religious Right in America by William Martin
From Publishers Weekly
"From JFK's Catholicism to Billy Graham's flirtation and subsequent disillusionment with politicians; from Jimmy Carter's born-again candidacy to the rise of evangelical political action groups; from Ronald Reagan's courtship of the Moral Majority to the current configuration of the surprisingly diverse religious right, Martin deftly guides the grand tour, putting the fiery social issues of our times?abortion, homosexuality, public education, AIDS and gun control?in the context of the conservative Christian agenda. Martin concludes with a masterful essay on the subtle interpretation of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison regarding separation of church and state: Be it enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities."

State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III
From the Book Description:

"State of Denial examines how the Bush administration avoided telling the truth about Iraq to the public, to Congress, and often to themselves. Two days after the May report, the Pentagon told Congress, in a report required by law, that the "appeal and motivation for continued violent action will begin to wane in early 2007."
In this detailed inside story of a war-torn White House, Bob Woodward reveals how White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, with the indirect support of other high officials, tried for 18 months to get Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld replaced. The president and Vice President Cheney refused. At the beginning of Bush's second term, Stephen Hadley, who replaced Condoleezza Rice as national security adviser, gave the administration a "D minus" on implementing its policies. A SECRET report to the new Secretary of State Rice from her counselor stated that, nearly two years after the invasion, Iraq was a "failed state."

State of Denial reveals that at the urging of Vice President Cheney and Rumsfeld, the most frequent outside visitor and Iraq adviser to President Bush is former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who, haunted still by the loss in Vietnam, emerges as a hidden and potent voice. Woodward reveals that the secretary of defense himself believes that the system of coordination among departments and agencies is broken, and in a SECRET May 1, 2006, memo, Rumsfeld stated, "the current system of government makes competence next to impossible."

God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It (Plus)
From the editorial review at amazon:
What Wallis sees as the true mission of Christianity--righting social ills, working for peace--is in tune with the values of liberals who so often run screaming from the idea of religion. Meanwhile, in his estimation, religious vocabulary is co-opted by conservatives who use it to polarize. Wallis proposes a new sort of politics, the name of which serves as the title of the book, wherein these disparities are reconciled and progressive causes are paired with spiritual guidance for the betterment of society. Wallis is at his most compelling when he puts this theory into action himself, letting his own beliefs guide him through stinging criticisms of the war in Iraq. In his view, George W. Bush's flaw lies in the assumption that the United States was an unprecedented force of goodness in a fight against enemies characterized as "evil." Indeed, although both the right and left are criticized here, the idea is that the liberals, if they would get religion, are the more redeemable lot. Wallis's line between religion and public policy may be drawn a little differently than most liberals might feel comfortable with, and while he pays some lip service to other faiths most of his prescription for America seems to come from the Bible. Still, for a party having just lost a presidential election where "moral issues" are said to have factored heavily, God's Politics is a sermon worth listening to. --John Moe

Offensive Search Results: A High Five to Google

We're disturbed about these results
as well. Please read our note here.

Offensive Search Words: "Rabbi" + Christian America

Looking for: America's Real War by Rabbi Daniel Lapin (I couldn't recall the name of the book), I contacted Google through their online contact form:

Dear Google,
I just wanted to tell you that I thought your:

Offensive Search Results

Was pretty impressive, though off. I searched for

"Rabbi" + Christian America

looking for the book America's Real War by Rabbi Daniel Lapin for an article I was writing. I found the book and many other sources to review and noticed this off to the right replacing the usual ad-stuff. I think this is good. A big high five to ya!

Here's the best part to this story:

Thank you for writing to Google. We'd like to assist you, but we only respond to messages submitted through our online contact form. Please visit to submit your message, and we'll get back to you soon. We apologize for any inconvenience, and we look forward to hearing from you.
The Google Team

Guess they didn't get my high-five after all.


See you next Month -- OldSage

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