As a 25-year-old unschooling "graduate" with three younger unschooled siblings, I found Anthony Lane's article on homeschooling ("One of these things ..." cover story, Jan. 31) extremely biased and misleading.
As Cheryl Lindsey Seelhoff wrote in her essay "Who Stole Homeschooling?" conservative Christians have done a lovely job of taking homeschooling to heart and shouting loudly about it all the time, making it seem to the general public they are the only group interested in homeschooling.
My parents homeschooled us because they felt children should be taken care of and taught by their parents, not by an exterior system of people. There was no religious slant. We do exist! We simply don't feel the need to constantly separate ourselves from the world by hiding from it and talking about it all the time.
Those are hallmarks of conservative Christians in general, not just of homeschooled conservative Christians. Christians are welcome to homeschool, but I wish they'd tone down the separatist rhetoric.
The "lack of socialization" myth is just that a myth. My homeschool group in southern Indiana had over 50 families, and we had many activities. While I had plenty of friends and social interaction, my social network included many age groups and backgrounds.
I volunteered at the local hospital, played in various bands, played county league soccer and raced mountain bikes in a state series. I believe my childhood socialization surpassed that of most school kids.
Perhaps the article was so biased because the majority of homeschoolers in El Paso County are religious. However, I think Lane should have done a better job of either representing homeschooling in its more balanced nationwide variety, or of making the article definitively local in scope.
I like the Indy, and read it every week, but I am disappointed in this article.
It's ironic that I received a brochure (prepared, published and mailed at taxpayer expense) from Rep. Doug Lamborn, titled "2008 Priorities and Update," listing one of his goals as "constituent outreach." Lamborn has built himself a track record of neither listening to his constituency nor taking action.
This is especially evident in the matter of the Browns Canyon Wilderness initiative. At a meeting last April, attended by veterans, NRA members, Republicans and Independents among others, Lamborn stated he would meet with Friends of Browns Canyon representatives to rebut the comments made by a small, special-interest group in opposition to the initiative.
Lamborn was asked by Buffalo Peaks Backcountry Horsemen (BBH) to ride Browns to see the area first-hand. Lamborn stated that he would love to. BBH sent a follow-up letter asking Lamborn to ride Browns. Lamborn never responded.
The Arkansas River Outfitters Association sent Lamborn an invitation to raft the Arkansas via Browns. Again, no response.
He has received nearly 3,000 postcards and well over 100 handwritten letters supporting Browns. As far as I know, Lamborn hasn't responded to any, including my own.
Lamborn's office has been contacted numerous times to schedule a meeting and presentation on Browns, and these requests have never been acknowledged. A delegation traveled to Washington, D.C. this past summer, and Lamborn did not meet with them, though he had ample advance notice.
Not only is Lamborn ignoring concerned, tax-paying, voting sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts, his inattention spreads to issues such as illegal immigration and others. Lamborn has proven he'll say and do just about anything to get elected, and then do whatever he pleases once in office.
Lamborn's brochure says, "I am always looking for better ways to hear from you." How about getting a hearing aid and reading glasses, Doug?
I received a report from Manitou Springs School District 14 and noticed the shiny, glossy paper. Didn't seem too Earth-friendly, so I called about it.
The eight-page, two-sided report was on paper that was not recycled, because it was "cheaper" to be anti-environment and use dioxin-bleached, fresh-from-living-trees paper. The school made a conscious choice not to go with recycled paper.
The money spent for 5,500 copies was $3,213, I was told by D-14, but that was only the initial apparent costs.
Ecological costs would include fossil fuels used to chop down the trees (there goes the forest), grind them up, bleach them (there goes air quality) and package and ship the paper (more fossil fuel). There's the hidden cost to people living where the trees are downed, for their loss of forest environment. Forests are the lungs of the planet.
I am shocked the school chose not to use recycled, post-consumer paper. The trees are more valuable as trees than as this shiny booklet destined for the landfill. Doesn't the school teach ecology and environmental responsibility?
I would rather not be forced to participate in this by receiving such mailings, nor do I approve of my tax dollars going to non-green, unsustainable projects. I thought about all the folks I know who will not even read this report (though they will get one!) and the report will go right into the trash, or hopefully the recycle bin.
Wouldn't it make more sense to have interested people request the information and send it to them, rather than sending one to everyone and their dog? I hope school leaders will re-think the policies.
Anyone who doesn't understand the reasons for "being green," or why "cheap" isn't cheap, can go to storyofstuff.com/index.html. "Cheap" isn't really cheap, unless it is green from start to finish.
Utilities' fuzzy math
Today, I received my Colorado Springs Utilities bill. The newsletter (that customers receive and pay for whether we want it or not) dated January 2007, though CSU meant 2008, had a front-page story about price changes approved by City Council in October 2007. The article states: "The changes result in a 2.3 percent increase to the typical overall residential bill."
Whenever CSU talks about the "typical residential customer," it's wise to check to see if you are a typical customer. A subtle way to place more burden on customers who conserve the most or use very little because they live in small homes is to increase the daily service or daily access charges rather than commodity charges. Daily fees are the charges customers pay even if they use absolutely nothing during the month.
Based on my December and January bills, the natural gas daily access charge rose 4.45 percent, the gas commodity charge rose 3.31 percent, the wastewater service charge rose 15.35 percent and the wastewater commodity charge rose 3.45 percent.
That is much different than the advertised "typical residential customers rate increase of 2.3 percent." Just to belong to Club CSU, all residential customers pay $33.32 every 30 days. That, by the way, is a 6.3 percent increase from 2007.
If you are an above-average customer using more than the average amount of commodities, please thank those of us who are helping you to pay your bill. If you own a gas-guzzler, this type of pricing structure would be beneficial at the gas pumps, too. Just think, those global warming-conscious, econo-car owners would get to pay more per gallon so you could pay less.
Last August, Congress passed the Protect America Act, amending wiretap statutes to allow our government to continue warrantless wiretapping with no oversight of all domestic calls made by every American within our borders. The act was pushed with the same hyperbole and fear-mongering about "ticking time bombs" and "elevated terrorist chatter" that has defined post-9/11 America.
The act was set to expire Feb. 1 but was extended for 15 days. President Bush has called for renewal, adding retroactive immunity from prosecution for telecom companies involved (AT&T and Verizon, chiefly). The government and these telecoms have been recording whom you call, how long the calls are and perhaps much more since February 2001, well before Sept. 11 and in direct contravention of the law.
The Bush administration, unwilling to educate Congress about the nature and scope of wiretapping, fears recent lawsuits by groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation will finally break the veil of secrecy and expose yet another unconstitutional, illegal program.
Democrat Sens. Harry Reid and Jay Rockefeller pushed in recent weeks for a permanent extension of the PAA, including retroactive immunity for telecoms, exactly as Bush has asked.
The courageous efforts of Sens. Chris Dodd and Russ Feingold to filibuster the rubberstamping of this unlawful program have prevented it from being rammed through the Senate, and now it and proposed amendments (most focused on immunity) are up for discussion.
Contact your senators and House representatives and express your feelings about the renewal and especially the retroactive immunity. They will vote on these issues over the next few weeks.
Far too long, illegal and unconstitutional activities of the Bush administration have gone unchecked and unseen. Let's give courts and the people an opportunity to review this program and turn our back on fear-mongering and law-breaking.
D-49 board: absent
I attended a community meeting on Jan. 31 to give input on the Falcon School District 49 superintendent search. This was an opportunity to give the D-49 school board our opinion on what we felt was important in a superintendent.
Imagine my surprise when an attorney and a consultant ran the meeting and no board member attended.
The 60 teachers, staff and parents were told the meeting was being tape-recorded and the board would listen to it "later." The legal reason given was that potential candidates could be in the audience, and this would adversely affect the process. Also, we were told, the board had many meetings recently, so the members didn't have time to attend.
The message sent was that their time was more valuable than ours, and the opinions of the community were not important.
How much taxpayers' money was wasted on paying a high-priced lawyer and consultant that should have gone to students and improved achievement?
If the board doesn't have time to hear our opinion, maybe we need a new board that does have time for the community and kids' education.