Thursday, January 31, 2008

10-Year-Old Homeschooler Courtney Oliver Becomes a Certified Veterinary Assistant

The following story appeared on the Associated Content The People's Media Company. When I first saw the story about Courtney Oliver on another website there was no mention of whether or not she was homeschooled, I just knew for sure she had to be homeschooled. I finally found an article stating that she was indeed homeschooled.

10-Year-Old Courtney Oliver Becomes a Certified Veterinary Assistant

By Steven Bryan, published Jan 31, 2008

Though her parents still see her as a normal kid, many people consider Courtney Oliver to be a child prodigy, much like composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and actress Ally Sheedy, who wrote her first novel, "She Was Nice to Mice," at age 12.

Oliver, 10, completed an online course and now is certified as a veterinary assistant. "In the beginning, she was really itching to get started, to be learning and active, so this is the first step in the veterinary world," said Candy Oliver, Courtney's mother, via telephone from Olympia, Washington.

"You sign up online; they mail you all your books. You do your course studies; for one called 'Field Practices,' she had to go into our Vet when she was working on sterile gloving and gowning and practice those at the Vet. Once those (the course studies) were done, she had to take tests online and those were graded."

"She's Very Forward in What She Wants"

Oliver said that Courtney, who is homeschooled, tests at a post-high school level in most areas. "She had been bothering the Vet since she was about 7 about when she could come in and start volunteering there and they told her when she was 12 because in Washington State, that's the age you have to be to volunteer without a parent present," Oliver said.

The Oliver family breeds Boston Terriers and whenever the family would bring in one of their animals, Courtney would keep asking if she could come in and volunteer. Eventually, after a few years, Candy Oliver said that Courtney wore them down. "It was time for one of our girls, Ivy, to have a C-section, so they invited her to come watch that and they were looking back to gauge to see if Courtney could handle the blood," Oliver said.

"That only fueled the fire for her to work there and be active with her animals. So they said she could come, but I have to be there with her because she's not even old enough to volunteer on her own."

Don't Call Her "Doogie"

Comparisons between Courtney Oliver and Doogie Howser, Neil Patrick Harris's teenage doctor character, are inevitable, but when this was mentioned to Courtney, she didn't know who Doogie Howser was. "My husband and I giggled at that. At first, she thought it was an insult," Oliver said.

Courtney Oliver has the desire, talent and the knowledge, so it's only her age that holds her back. "She's learned how to run and operate an X-ray machine in her course studies, but she can't touch an X-ray machine until she's 18. A regular vet assistant doesn't do clamping or anything in a surgery, but on our animals, because we give permission, she's allowed to help when we have a C-section." Oliver said.

"She got to scrub in on two C-sections last weekend. She got to clamp cords and cut cords and put the babies in a towel and hand them to other people."

Waiting Until her Age catches up with her Desire.

Courtney has to wait until she's about 15 or 16 to begin her undergraduate work, but Dr. Michelle Shoemaker, her mentor at the South Bay Veterinary Hospital, said she'd keep her busy until then.

"It's really neat to see Dr. Shoemaker helping Courtney so much. Courtney wants to do everything and touch everything and help with everything. I try to gauge it and make sure we are keeping her as active as she can be. She's still too young to join the Veterinary Sciences 4-H group. It's just keeping her busy until she's old enough to move on to the next step," Candy Oliver said.

In February, Courtney will start canine massage therapy. "She's going to become a certified canine massage therapist, which will help her learn more about muscle and bone structure," Oliver said. "After that, she wants to do Vet-Tech training, which is the next level. The only snag in that is we are having trouble finding a college that will accept her at her age."

Go to Associated Content The People's Media Company for more information and a picture of Courtney Oliver.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


New Hampshire is currently looking to define education. This need was bought on by a few lawsuits funded primarily by those who would benefit from increased educational spending. The increased in spending that is a result of these lawsuits is primarily an increase in salaries and an increase in bureaucratic positions. Increased spending for education as a result of these lawsuits never results in increased achievement by students. It will result in an increase in the amount of taxdollars coming out of your pockets.


Discussions about education in Kansas typically involve two assertions. The first is that schools are performing well. The second is that Kansas taxpayers are excessively frugal. John R. LaPlante, in his new research paper, "K-12 Spending and Achievement in Kansas: 2007 Edition," challenges both assumptions by laying out some basic facts about the history of school spending and achievement for Kansas schools.

According to LaPlante, since 1993, changes in student enrollment have been modest:

In the 2006-07 school year, Kansas government-run public schools had a full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment that was just 1.8 higher than the same number in 1993.
The infusion of an additional $2.5 billion to the yearly budget has meant that per-pupil funding has increased from $5,987 to $11,558, or 93 percent.
While Kansas schools have achieved modest gains, their performance on mathematics in the fourth grade, progress has stalled, he says. Currently, half of all students are not proficient on math. If possible, performance on reading has been worse.

In the 1997-98 school year, per-pupil spending was $6,828; two out of three students were not proficient in reading.
During the 2006-07 school year, per-pupil spending was 69 percent higher, at $11,558; two out of three students were not proficient in reading.
Local school districts have had a privileged position as recipients of tax dollars spent on education. This is in contrast with both pre-school and higher education, in which families have a much larger say in where their children use those dollars. It is time to give those families a larger say in K-12 education by promoting truly independent charter schools and letting the funds follow the child to any school, private or public, says LaPlante.

Source: John R. LaPlante, "K-12 Spending and Achievement in Kansas: 2007 Edition," Flint Hills Center, Vol. 4, Issue 10, December 31, 2007.

Monday, January 28, 2008

States get tough on classroom sexual misconduct

The following article appeared on CNN and was produced by the AP. To view all the pictures and highlights go to To view more on the subject we suggest the series Hidden Violations by Scott Reeder.

(AP) -- Heeding a steady drumbeat of sexual misconduct cases involving teachers, at least 15 states are now considering stronger oversight and tougher punishment for educators who take advantage of their students.

Lawmakers say they are concerned about an increasingly well-documented phenomenon: While the vast majority of America's teachers are committed professionals, there also is a persistent problem with sexual misconduct in U.S. schools.

When abuse happens, administrators too often fail to let others know about it, and too many legal loopholes let offenders stay in the classroom.

Advocates include governors, education superintendents and legislative leaders.

"We've got to be on a bully pulpit with our school districts," said Missouri state Rep. Jane Cunningham.

Cunningham's legislation would eliminate statutes of limitation for sexual misconduct, allowing victims to come forward and bring charges against abusers no matter how many years had passed since the crime.

The ideas emerging in state capitals come at a time when U.S. media have been reporting steadily on individual cases, along with more in-depth examinations of the problem.

A nationwide Associated Press investigation published in October found 2,570 educators whose teaching credentials were revoked, denied, surrendered or sanctioned from 2001 through 2005 following allegations of sexual misconduct. Experts who track sexual abuse say those cases are representative of a much deeper problem because of underreporting.

There are roughly 3 million public school teachers nationwide.

In New York, Gov. Eliot Spitzer supports automatic suspension of teachers convicted of sex crimes, which now requires lengthy hearings. In Maine, Gov. John Baldacci hopes to share the names of abusive teachers with other states, which a 1913 confidentiality law there prohibits.

In Florida, Gov. Charlie Crist endorsed federal legislation proposed by U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam, a Florida Republican, to create a national databank of abusive teachers, a hot line for complaints and federal funds for state investigators.

Some states are looking to increase penalties, expand background checks or broaden their ability to police charter schools for abuse, like Indiana, Massachusetts and Utah. Kentucky and South Carolina are considering making it illegal for teachers to have sex with older students.

Several states are tackling a major problem -- the loopholes that allow problem teachers to move from one school district to another, or from one state to another.

The AP investigation found that what education officials commonly call "passing the trash" happens when districts allow a teacher to quietly leave a school, or fail to report problems to state authorities, or fail to check with state authorities before hiring a teacher, among other glitches.

In eight states, legislators are pursuing changes to close those gaps, including California, Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, Missouri, Virginia, Washington state and West Virginia.

"Despite acts of misconduct that were threatening and dangerous in schools, there is a track record of people going on to another school district and finding employment," said Missouri state Senate President Pro Tem Michael Gibbons. "The new school district may get the truth, but they don't get the whole truth about this person's background.

They may find out the dates of service, they may find out this person was dismissed, but there really is no other information forthcoming."

His legislation aims to get school employees and districts to share all information about job-hunting teachers, including whether those educators sexually abused their students, by granting administrators civil immunity from lawsuits.

Other states approach the same problem differently. A Colorado measure being drafted would penalize school districts and state officials that fail to report problem teachers, while a West Virginia proposal would open school officials themselves to punishment. Florida would bar any confidentiality agreement between districts and teachers, and require districts to report every firing to the state.

In California, one proposal would close a loophole that bars the teacher credentialing commission from revealing the reason teachers lose their licenses if they plead no contest to an offense.

Under no contest pleas, defendants are punished as if they pleaded guilty, but retain the right to challenge the charges against them in lawsuits and other proceedings. Such deals have meant public records were unclear about why educator licenses were sanctioned in dozens of cases, the AP found.

"You should not be able to plead no contest to a sex offense just so you can continue teaching," said state Sen. Bob Margett. The measure means teachers who plead no contest would immediately lose their license, and the reason for the revocation would be public record.

Some say the latest legislation is just the beginning.

South Carolina has created a new committee of parents, teachers, social workers and prosecutors to study the problem and come back with new ideas.

Though small statistically, the number of abusive teachers is too high, South Carolina Education Superintendent Jim Rex wrote after reading the AP report.

"I am nonetheless outraged by any incident in which an adult entrusted with the care of one of South Carolina's students violates that student. The ramifications for that student, his or her family, and the community as a whole are painful and long lasting," he wrote.

In Utah, the numbers of abuses flat-out shocked state Rep. Carl Wimmer. "These things happen a lot more often than parents would think," he said. "It seems we do have an unacceptable high amount of children who get violated in the classroom. One is too many."

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Superintendents grow scarce

Superintendent shortage?!? Hardly! Maybe if we didn't use three times the number we need, this "shortage" wouldn't exist. Sounds like the Stuporintendents have taken a recipe from the NEA Taxpayer Fleecing Cookbook: Create ridiculous overdemand through state mandate, add a dash of empty credentials to weed out qualified candidates, then bake taxpayers by demanding higher compensation.

There are more than enough qualified individuals, but not to meet the combination of inflated demand plus bureaucratic paper requirements. Many Superintendents couldn't run a lemonade stand in the private sector, which is why they often remain government employees/pensioners for life.

Don't buy for a minute that there's a danger of the private sector funneling these candidates off. The private sector doesn't want them.

The above was in response to the article below that was published in the Union Leader

Superintendents grow scarce
New Hampshire Union Leader Staff

School districts are shopping long and hard for superintendents, as the pool of qualified candidates has dwindled in recent years.

"It's an extremely difficult job," said Ted Comstock, executive director of the New Hampshire School Boards Association.

"Many people who have the skills to manage a large district and a large budget also would have the skill set required for a job in the corporate world with greater remuneration," he said.

There are eight districts throughout the state searching for a superintendent. Most started the process in the fall and a few are expected to make offers soon.

"It's kind of a long process," said Hollis/Brookline Cooperative School Board member Webb Scales, whose district is narrowing its search. "It's a tough market."

Mark Joyce, executive director of the New Hampshire School Administrators Association, said the average tenure nationally of a superintendent is less than three years.

"One of the reasons for that is the tremendous complexity of that role and the many different bosses -- that legitimately are bosses -- of that job," said Joyce.

A former superintendent himself, Joyce said it used to be common for someone to remain in a school district 20 years, but he can't imagine that now.

Hollis/Brookline's search committee for SAU 41 plans to interview four finalists Thursday and Friday, bringing closure to a process that began in October.

"A number of years ago, we would have expected 40 applicants," said Scales. "I think we got 19, but the good news is from that we got nine or so candidates that we felt were qualified.

"We hope to have our choice by the end of next week," he said yesterday.

Manchester is late to the search party due to former Superintendent Michael Ludwell's unexpected resignation in mid-November.

One search committee disbanded this week and a replacement panel was named.

Paul DeMinico, the NHSBA consultant working with Manchester, told the school board he hopes to have 20 applicants before next Thursday's deadline.

City board members, however, are still trying to define qualities they hope to find in the next superintendent as other districts are poised to make job offers.

Three finalists for the SAU 16 job in Exeter will interview Monday, and board members say they could make an offer that night.

Raymond School District got a two-month jump on Manchester and will begin interviewing semifinalists next month.

Board chairman John Harman wouldn't disclose how many people applied for the SAU 33 job, but said he's happy with their qualifications.

He said a winnowing process to get to three finalists starts next week.

"The intent is we will complete the process and name a superintendent by our March elections," said Harmon.

Every job search NHSBA conducts is at least national in scope. "We have found candidates internationally sometimes," said Comstock.

A wide net is needed, he said, because baby boomer superintendents are retiring and a strong corps of replacements doesn't exist.

"The pool of candidates is much slimmer than it was even four or five years ago," he said. "There are fewer people who are looking to superintendency as a career."

SAUs also often find themselves competing with sister districts throughout New England, because candidates interested in moving here will shop several of the geographically small states.

"It does make it more difficult," said Comstock. "We tend to draw from the same pool."

Litchfield recently started its superintendent search, and school board members were told it could take five months to complete.

Mascenic, Sunapee and Wilton-Lyndeborough are also in the midst of school superintendent searches.

Quote of the Day - "The economic miracle that has been the United States was not produced by socialized enterprises, by government-union-industry cartels or by centralized economic planning. It was produced by private enterprises in a profit-and-loss system. And losses were at least as important in weeding out failures as profits in fostering successes. Let government succor failures, and we shall be headed for stagnation and decline."
Milton Friedman