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Homeschoolers dominate spelling bees (Some see unfair advantage)
Scripps Howard News Service ^ | March 28, 2002 | JESSICA WEHRMAN

Posted on 03/30/2002 3:56:22 AM PST by Caipirabob

- When Rebecca Sealfon won the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee in 1997, she launched a trend.

Since Sealfon glued thousands to their television sets to watch her nervously spell her way to triumph, two other students who have been home-schooled for all or part of their academic careers have followed her to victory.

In 2000, the final three finishers - winner George Thampy of Maryland Heights, Mo., runner-up Sean Conley of Shakopee, Minn., and third-place finisher Alison Miller of Niskayuna, N.Y., were home-schooled. Conley - who attended a Minnesota school the next year - won the bee in 2001.

This year's National Spelling Bee is set for May 29-30 in Washington, D.C. Some areas have yet to determine who they will send to the bee.

But with the trend of home-schooled champs - Thampy was a runner-up in the National Geographic Bee, sponsored by the National Geographic Society- has come muted criticisms from those who say home-schooled students have the advantage because they can spend more time studying spelling during their school days.

Paul Houston, executive director of the American Association of School Administrators, said that in some instances, home-schooling parents emphasize memorization more than schools do - another reason home-schoolers have found success in the bee.

Houston said that having a few home-schooled bee champs does not necessarily show the superiority of home-schooling. Saying one child's triumph is evidence of the success of home-schooling, he said, is like saying all North Carolina colleges are good because basketball champion Michael Jordan attended one.

"I think home-schoolers have a lot of things they can point to as successes that are far more important than whether they do well in the spelling bee," he said.

According to Scripps Howard bee rules, students must not eschew normal school activity in favor of preparation for spelling bees. Bee director Paige Kimble admits it's a hard rule to enforce, but "we have never had any single thought or occasion to believe home-schoolers or their parents were being irresponsible about their education."

"You're just talking about the nature of the beast," she said. "Of course that rankles those parents who send their kids off to public and private school. But what's the answer - it's gross, blatant discrimination to say no home-schooled kids at all."

Kimble said that home-schooled kids do have an advantage "in that their time and how it is structured is entirely up to them."

Mona Goldstein knows both sides of the debate. She has four children and three have participated in the National Spelling Bee. The youngest, Amanda, is not old enough to compete.

"I think a lot of it has to do with the kid," she said.

Her oldest child, Amy, who attended a private school, used to refer to studying her spelling as "playing." Her third child, JJ, who will compete at the national bee this year, is more interested in practicing diving. She is home-schooled.

"I don't think she has necessarily studied any more because she's home-schooled," Goldstein said, adding that most parents of bee participants are very involved in their children's education, whether the child attends home school, private school or public school.

About 2 million students across the nation are home-schooled today, and the rate is growing by 15 percent to 20 percent a year, according to Rob Ziegler, a spokesman for the Home School Legal Defense Association in Purcellville, Va. Home-schoolers have been involved in spelling bees for 20 years.

"Home-schooling works because of the great teacher-student ratio, the personal attention, the flexible schedule - those things can help in any academic area, including spelling," he said, citing triumphs in the geography bee as another example of academic strengths. "It's pretty clear across the board that academically, it works."

Vonnie Crumpton, of the Big Country Home Educators of Abilene, Texas, said the schedule flexibility is one reason home-schooled kids succeed academically. Her son was interested in classical music, and his home-school education allotted him plenty of time to practice.

"Yes, we get math and English and grammar and everything, every day," she said, "but we had more time to dedicate to the talents that God has given him...that's the beauty of home-schooling. You can spend more time where they have interests."

On the Net:

www.hslda.org

www.spellingbee.com


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: dominate; homeschool; homeschoolers; spellingbees
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You can't argue with success, and it isn't coming from the NEA Public Indoctrination Camps.

I did a search on this topic using the keywords I listed, but I don't know if I screwed up the date sorts or something with the new formats. Either way I didn't find this article. If it's a dup have the moderator pull it.

1 posted on 03/30/2002 3:56:22 AM PST by Caipirabob
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To: Yakboy
The logical extentsion to the comments made it the article is not to permit anyone to study for the spelling bee. Then all would have an equal chance.
2 posted on 03/30/2002 4:11:57 AM PST by Citizen Tom Paine
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To: Yakboy
"Kimble said that home-schooled kids do have an advantage "in that their time and how it is structured is entirely up to them."

That home schooling is superior should surprise no one. The only reason public schooling ever got started was the idea that it MIGHT be less expensive for a community to pool their resources. It was never intended that public education become the bureaucratic monster it is today.

Home schooling is the norm. Too bad our society has become so structured that we have to be so busy serving our government that we cannot all do it.

3 posted on 03/30/2002 4:14:46 AM PST by nightdriver
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To: Yakboy
Paul Houston, executive director of the American Association of School Administrators, said that in some instances, home-schooling parents emphasize memorization more than schools do - another reason home-schoolers have found success in the bee.

Duh. Mr. Houston, memorization is how humans learn. Folks, this is a pretty clear indication that the educational establishment is clueless.

4 posted on 03/30/2002 4:21:50 AM PST by don-o
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To: Yakboy
We have two bright home-schooled children staying with us over Easter. What a treat to be with them. They are intelligent, articulate, polite, loving, and interested in everything.

We have a young woman who was home-schooled until college. She was a straight A student in college and got almost a perfect school in the physician assistant's board exam. She is also a wonderful person to be around.

We home-schooled our son for one year. He became fluent in five languages (not in one year, but later, based on initial tutoring). He is now a highly paid computer programmer.

5 posted on 03/30/2002 4:28:34 AM PST by Chemnitz
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To: Yakboy
Actually, most North Carolina colleges ARE good and all NC universities are even BETTER!

(Even UNC, I hate to admit.)

Shot down by his own poor analogy.....the sap. Maybe his parents should have considered home schooling?

6 posted on 03/30/2002 4:34:47 AM PST by Jonah Hex
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To: Chemnitz
We have two bright home-schooled children staying with us over Easter. What a treat to be with them. They are intelligent, articulate, polite, loving, and interested in everything.

That is the norm. I think it has something to do with children being formed from increased contact with the people who love them, their parents. Even the best intentioned professional teachers cannot possibly devote the attention and certainly not the love that children need.

Also, a group of children will descend to the lowest common denominator as far as behavior goes. If they spend most of their time with their peers, this becomes their character.

7 posted on 03/30/2002 4:36:34 AM PST by don-o
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To: don-o
home-schooling parents emphasize memorization more than schools do

Interesting. I recall doing a heck of a lot of rote memorization when I was in public school in the 60's and 70's. In fact a large part of my education involved learning to read, write, and spell through memorization. How do they do that now?

8 posted on 03/30/2002 4:39:07 AM PST by angkor
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To: don-o
Yes, I agree. Almost always the parents are devoted to education and their children. Schools cannot deliver the goods. I am not too keen on private and religious schools. They covet the public school system and its theories far too much.

It's a sacrifice to home-school, but it's an investment that will pay off many times over in educational results, character building, love, happy times, normal marriages, wonderful grandchildren. My best investment was in home-schooling. It has made me a happiness-millionaire.

9 posted on 03/30/2002 4:40:44 AM PST by Chemnitz
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To: Yakboy
More years ago than I care to share...I attended parochial schools. I dominated every spelling bee from the classroom to city-wide. I attribute this to the exhaustive time my father spent during evenings drilling the spelling words. I suppose some would now consider this a form of home schooling versus productive family time together.
10 posted on 03/30/2002 4:41:28 AM PST by NautiNurse
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To: Yakboy
What isn't mentioned in the article is something a teacher friend of mine told me: More time is spent in the classroom meeting government obligations than teaching. She's a devoted liberal and was disgusted with how little time she was allowed to actually teach. Her solution? More teachers with better pay, and smaller classes. Pathetic!
11 posted on 03/30/2002 4:42:03 AM PST by kitkat
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To: Yakboy
Separate spelling bees - one for traditionally schooled children, and one for homeschoolers - is coming.

You watch and see.

12 posted on 03/30/2002 4:42:26 AM PST by Lizavetta
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To: Citizen Tom Paine
Also no nasty memorizing! Spell holistically! (er wholelistikalley)
13 posted on 03/30/2002 4:42:46 AM PST by RippleFire
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To: Yakboy
From my experience, home schoolers in general do better in every category, not just spelling. When will we wake up the NEA?
14 posted on 03/30/2002 4:45:29 AM PST by rovenstinez
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To: Citizen Tom Paine
The logical extentsion to the comments made it the article is not to permit anyone to study for the spelling bee. Then all would have an equal chance.

That is exactly what the NEA and public schools are doing. Spending less time every year studying those subjects which will help our students achieve success.

15 posted on 03/30/2002 4:53:04 AM PST by wattsmag2
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To: don-o
You are right on target - memorization is the key that seems to be lost in public schools. I have a young woman in my organization that is on full scholarship to Washington University that didn't know what 8X7 was. I absolutely hate math but I remember having to memorize times tables until they stuck. I think the "new" math stinks.
16 posted on 03/30/2002 4:53:14 AM PST by Clintons Are White Trash
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To: Chemnitz
My best investment was in home-schooling. It has made me a happiness-millionaire.

Beautiful!

I'm stealing that line.

17 posted on 03/30/2002 4:56:55 AM PST by don-o
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To: nightdriver
The only reason public schooling ever got started was the idea that it MIGHT be less expensive for a community to pool their resources. It was never intended that public education become the bureaucratic monster it is today.

It's interesting. The left is constantly trying to 'deconstruct' every aspect of American society and culture, but they've never touched (to my knowledge) the myth of the 'little red schoolhouse.' In fact, this century-old model for schooling is used as a reason why public schools must be supported today. You would think that different times would call for different methods of educating students, and home-schooling is a highly effective method. Yet the left prefers the myth, most likely because home-schooling is a model that they can't control.

18 posted on 03/30/2002 5:03:45 AM PST by TimSkalaBim
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To: angkor
I recall doing a heck of a lot of rote memorization when I was in public school in the 60's and 70's. In fact a large part of my education involved learning to read, write, and spell through memorization. How do they do that now?

I believe the current method of teaching reading, writing and spelling focuses mostly on getting the message across to kids that they are really good at reading, writing and spelling and then explaining how to put a condom on a banana.

19 posted on 03/30/2002 5:06:46 AM PST by ClearCase_guy
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To: RippleFire
I think we should emphasize what spelling of a word makes the speller feel the most fulfilled, rather than focussing on an arbitrarily selected (by a dead white guy, more than likely) "correct" spelling. Let's have some tolerance and diversity for alternative spellings!
20 posted on 03/30/2002 5:08:20 AM PST by robert0122
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To: Homeschool mama
*PING*
21 posted on 03/30/2002 5:08:36 AM PST by SpookBrat
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To: GirlNextDoor
((( ping )))
22 posted on 03/30/2002 5:15:10 AM PST by old blue beemer
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To: angkor
My last administration had asked me to tone down the rote memorization and mnemonic device lessons that I have for my math students on three occasions. I saved the notes from the third meeting with the principal, and had the other two faculty who were in the room sign it for verification. The lengths that he went to in an effort to deny the importance of rote memorization was almost hilarious, if it weren't so tragic.

The assignment that I gave that got the most parental complaints (the only reason that my principal ever took any stands) was memorizing pi to as many places as the students could. I was told it was unreasonable to expect them to memorize a number that went on forever. When I reminded him that they only memorized what they could within a week's time, not the entire infinite sequence, he said that there was no reason to memorize pi since it is well-documented in books. When I told him that the point of the lesson was learning mnemonic devices, as well as measuring and improving memory capacity, he said that it was not part of my curriculum. When I reminded him that the ISTEP state standardized tests (our apparent Holy Grail from the state's viewpoint) included a memorization section, and it allowed them only 20 minutes to memorize a list of 25 nonsense words and definitions ("a grelb is a hammer"), he got tired of discussing it, and simply reminded me that I was not allowed to give that lesson. I then surprised myself and asked the consequences if I didn't. He said I would be written up and the record put it my file. I said (as politely as I could, to lessen the confrontational nature that was becoming apparent to the others in attendance) that if that were the case, then the lesson would be worth it to me. He, of course, upped the ante to a possible suspension for insubordination.

*sigh*

I had given that lesson for 3 years before it came up, and every year had at least one child going over 200 decimal places, and only 4 kids (total, out of 400-ish) ever attained less than 100.

The great part was when, a few weeks later, some man won $100,000 on a TV program for memorizing pi to 100 decimal places. All of a sudden, my kids felt cheated for not being allowed to do the lesson. Others thought I was being unfair since I had to substitute much more menial worksheets for a week, rather than the fun lessons I had prepared.

As for my current school (you're surprised I left?!?), there has obviously been some wretched breakdown in communication between the 3rd-5th grade math teachers, because I would be willing to bet that 75% of my kids do not know the 12x12 multiplication tables by heart. I have been including it in as many lessons and quizzes as possible, but they simply use fast addition to fill in the chart (add 4 to every subsequent number in the 4x column, etc), rather than actually memorizing the products. The parents and the administrations simply aren't interested in hearing the kids whine about heavy intellectual labor anymore. It's really sad.

Good luck, homeschoolers. You truly are doing the right thing for your children. Never let the talking heads guilt you into doubting it. As your ranks grow, I will get more hopeful for the public school system. The ONLY way the NEA and the educrats will start making meaninful changes will be after they start realizing that they are losing numbers, money, and power. Trust me, I've been to board meetings, faculty meetings, and national conventions where dissenters like myself are given a fair chance to be heard... just before they forge ahead with their own incredibly stupid plans anyway. You home-schoolers are the only hope, not only for your own kids, but for those who would actually like to see the public systems wake up and start focusing on fixing what they've broken in education.

23 posted on 03/30/2002 5:27:17 AM PST by Teacher317
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To: Yakboy
In the NEA controlled government schools, students learn creative spelling. This is not conducive to winning spelling bees.

On the other hand, when it comes to winning "condom bees", government school students do very well.

24 posted on 03/30/2002 5:27:27 AM PST by reg45
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To: Teacher317
(I teach 8th-10th grade, BTW)
25 posted on 03/30/2002 5:33:42 AM PST by Teacher317
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To: Chemnitz
I'd be curious if your children have chosen to homeschool as well? We too are planning to homeschool so I'm on your side. I've always been curious as to whether the children of homeschooling parents decide to do the same.
26 posted on 03/30/2002 5:34:33 AM PST by glory
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To: kitkat; Chemnitz; Clintons Are White Trash; don-o; homeschool mama
A report from the front-lines for you!
27 posted on 03/30/2002 5:36:09 AM PST by Teacher317
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To: kitkat; Chemnitz; Clintons Are White Trash; don-o; homeschool mama
A report from the front-lines for you in post #23

It's my first morning of Spring Break. Please forgive my grogginess. =^)

28 posted on 03/30/2002 5:37:40 AM PST by Teacher317
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To: Yakboy
Homeschoolers dominate spelling bees (Some see unfair advantage)

Does anybody see the liberal bias in the title?

How about:

Homeschoolers dominate spelling bees (Some see fair disadvantage)

Those who have children in the public system get what they pay for.

29 posted on 03/30/2002 5:39:26 AM PST by X-USAF
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To: Yakboy
I fully expect to see a full assualt coming from the Gummit upon homeschoolers because that is the only way the Gummit responds to being exposed. What I don't expect is the Gummit to straighten up - they always attack, lie and coverup instead of fixing their own mess.
30 posted on 03/30/2002 5:40:48 AM PST by GussiedUp
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To: Yakboy
You're right, this is TERRIBLY unfair. The public schools should be banned from spelling bees, for lack of decent competition !!!! (g)
31 posted on 03/30/2002 5:42:31 AM PST by Salgak
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To: Teacher317
thanks for this post. You don't know how much encouragment this is for those of us on the fence about moving forward with homeschooling. Always nice to hear from someone on the front lines.
32 posted on 03/30/2002 5:43:16 AM PST by glory
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To: reg45
when it comes to winning "condom bees", government school students do very well.

Guvmint skool kids may not be aybul to spel to gud, but they no all abowt condoms, self esteem, erth day and other importent stuf.

33 posted on 03/30/2002 5:44:01 AM PST by mountaineer
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Comment #34 Removed by Moderator

To: Teacher317
#23 - fascinating report from you teach - thanks!

One day I would like to wake up and read a news account of the largest association of homeschoolers offering to help educate the teachers of America.

35 posted on 03/30/2002 5:44:46 AM PST by anniegetyourgun
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To: mountaineer
ROFL!
36 posted on 03/30/2002 5:45:23 AM PST by anniegetyourgun
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To: anniegetyourgun
LOL! I welcome it. Any teacher who is afraid of being educated shouldn't be in the job in the first place!
37 posted on 03/30/2002 5:46:44 AM PST by Teacher317
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To: Yakboy
Each setting has its advantages. There should be no discrimination based on those advantages.

You can bet that public school kids will be much better at team athletics. It's pretty hard for one Mom to churn out a basketball team, much less a football team where all are eligible for the same level of play at the same time. Basketball, I think, would require 3 sets of twins in 3 years. Triplets or quads would help. (Three pointer with a foul = 4.....lol.)

Homeschoolers are smokin' on the spelling and geography sections. I'll bet also that they're better in basic subjects for those parents who actually home school as opposed to those using "homeschooling" as a dodge.

I'll also guess that "institutional" high schools (large facilities whether public, religious, or private) will churn out better prospects in higher math, higher science, and higher arts. Why do I say this?

I don't think most home school parents have the background in calculus, advanced science and art, nor do they have the facilities (labs) to make these things readily available to home schooled kids. Maybe computers will change that, but every "long distance" or "computer" class I've seen doesn't compare to a knowledgeable teacher who is PRESENT for questions and guidance.

38 posted on 03/30/2002 5:47:07 AM PST by xzins
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To: Teacher317
Your post should be sent to every school superintendent in the United States (with a copy to every parent of school-aged children).
39 posted on 03/30/2002 5:48:19 AM PST by mountaineer
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To: glory
Thank you, that's very heart-warming. YES, fence-sitters, get off that thing! It's pointy and it hurts. =^)

Doing the best thing for your children has never been tough, and has always involved time, sacrifice, hard work, and some great rewards at the end. If you are considering home-schooling, do the research, learn the rules for your state, rearrange your financial situation (it may even include a different state or home to school in), and do it ASAP. The most common drawback I hear is the 'socializing' factor. Trust me, a moderate percentage of the students I have would not be in your top 1000 choices for people to be socializing with your child. Take them out into public pretty often, and make sure that they appropriately engage others in conversation from time to time. Socialization mission accomplished.

40 posted on 03/30/2002 5:52:30 AM PST by Teacher317
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To: mountaineer
Thank you, I agree. Oh, and PLEASE let me include the notes from that meeting! =^)
41 posted on 03/30/2002 5:53:04 AM PST by Teacher317
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To: Clintons Are White Trash
I have a note I keep on my bulletin board as a reminder of what "great" education we have in our country. A teacher with a masters degree gave the following note to a friend of mine when giving instructions on a woodworking project.

Be shure to pre dril befor nailing.

That is so sad I can't even qualify it as funny.

42 posted on 03/30/2002 5:53:48 AM PST by Pappy Smear
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To: anniegetyourgun; all
Just an FYI, especially for anyone in Pa. considering homeschooling. My sister is doing so with her 6-year-old (the 2-year-old just listens in, for now), and she's working with Pa. Virtual Charter School, which provides the curriculum, supplies, etc. It seems to be going very well.
43 posted on 03/30/2002 5:56:14 AM PST by mountaineer
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To: anniegetyourgun
I hate to see teacher-bashing. By and large, I think teachers do a good job. They face VERY DIFFICULT situations that would send most of us running with our tails between our legs. I don't think the fault lies with teachers.
44 posted on 03/30/2002 6:01:39 AM PST by whipitgood
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To: Teacher317
You are absolutely correct, especially on the socialization issue. My sister's little girl has plenty of "socialization" opportunities while she's being homeschooled. As it turns out, several other families in their church homeschool, so they have regular get-togethers of children of the same approximate age, where they do something educational. For example, my sister might have them over to her 200-year-old log house and the girls will don colonial-style hats, have a history lesson and do some craft related to the period, e.g., make the kind of toy children their age played with in 18th-century Pennsylvania. Succeeding at homeschooling takes effort, creativity and commitment, but it's worth it.
45 posted on 03/30/2002 6:02:33 AM PST by mountaineer
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To: Yakboy
Yes! This is unfair!! We should conduct spelling bees fairly. Since Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have ignored this problem, I guess it's up to me to propose just rules:

1. For homeschooled children all words must be 10 letters or more. Example: chrysanthemum.

2. For privately schooled children, words of 8 letters or more.

3. For public school children, words of 6 letters or less.

4. For public school children from an economically disadvanted area, words of 3 letters or less. Example: cat.

46 posted on 03/30/2002 6:21:11 AM PST by Ross Amann
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To: whipitgood
I don't think the fault lies with teachers.

They have unwaveringly supported their union, the National Education Association, and liberal democrat politicians which have wrought much of the problems facing schools today. They've made their bed - now they can lie in it.

47 posted on 03/30/2002 6:26:06 AM PST by Lizavetta
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To: Yakboy
Houston said that having a few home-schooled bee champs does not necessarily show the superiority of home-schooling.

Hmmm. If public school kids were winning spelling bees over the home schooled kids, do you think the NEA would be saying, "Having public school bee champs does not show the superiority of public schooling."

48 posted on 03/30/2002 6:31:32 AM PST by dawn53
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To: xzins
Couple things you miss though xzins. Some areas actually do allow homeschoolers to be a part of athletic competition and even if they don't, some homeschoolers opt to ps just for that if they are talented at it. Besides that it's not hard to find classes and private organizations with which children can have athletic activity. In fact, we were just eyeing a class that gears towards K-4 for BASKETBALL!! And then a group from 5-8 that actually competes, this is not a part of the ps!!! Oppurtunities like this are out there if you look and if you live in a larger community! I absolutely believe that there is not a disadvantage in the subjects you mentioned in a larger metropolis area. And the disadvantage in rural areas, is usually a similar disadvantage in the ps in those same areas because of number of students, funds, etc.

As for higher science and math, it's important to point out that parents who aren't proficient can supplement such subjects with tutors or co-ops, entrance into the ps high schools, or community college classes.

You just haven't been creative enough or done enough research if you think homeschoolers are limited by being home even in athletics or higher math and science. This just isn't the case and the beauty of homeschooling is once high school years hit and a child shows an obvious talent or proficiency for something, they can devote more time and attention to it, actually making them the superior candidates in the long run. Just a few random thoughts;-)

49 posted on 03/30/2002 6:35:43 AM PST by glory
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To: Teacher317
Almost all your students memorized pi to 100 digits? You amaze me. Not only have I never memorized it beyond 3.1415927, but I don't know where to go to find it listed beyond just a couple more digits than that.

I suppose if I remembered my calculus, I could remember how to construct an infinite series that would allow me to calculate pi to any desired degree of exactitude. But I don't remember enough to do that.

50 posted on 03/30/2002 6:40:59 AM PST by aristeides
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