Do you know what this week is? According to Gov. Charlie Crist, March 30 through April 6 is Home Education Week, a time to celebrate the fact that home-schooled kids are way smarter than your dumbass public school kids. Tell ’em, Charlie: “`O`ver two decades of studies indicate most children who are home educated exhibit self-confidence, good citizenship, higher than average college attendance and success and many have proven devotion to their country by faithfully serving in the armed forces of the United States.”

The Florida Parent Educators Association and the Christian Home Educators of the Sunshine State took credit for the proclamation, which Crist apparently issued last year as well. We couldn’t find a damn thing about CHESS on the Internet – thus prompting the existential question: If you’re not on Google, do you really exist? – but we did discover that the FPEA, according to its mission statement, supports home schooling “in accordance with Judeo-Christian principles.”

You see where this is going. The FPEA pushes curriculum from the Rainbow Resource Center. That company pimps “science” materials from, among others sources, Bob Jones Science, in which “biblical Creationism is presented as truth” – six days, 6,000 years, the whole deal. Bob Jones Science is, of course, affiliated with Bob Jones University, the freakishly right-wing South Carolina college that forbade interracial dating until 2000 (even after that stand cost the school its tax exemption), bans its students from wearing Abercrombie & Fitch clothing and requires its female students to wear skirts. Because shorts mean you hate Jesus.

Anyway, back to the question at hand: Does home schooling make your kids smarter? We couldn’t find any empirical data, and the pro–home schooling study we saw – it argued that “the achievement test scores of … home school students are exceptionally high” – was admittedly unscientific and relied on the services of the Bob Jones University Press Testing and Evaluation Service, which doesn’t inspire confidence.

However, an informal office survey did reveal that our calendar editor, Avery Beckendorf, was in fact home-schooled – and she’s a smart cookie, even if she thinks the earth is flat.

If we were the gambling kind, and we are, we’d go 2-to-1 that the city’s group-feeding ordinance is going to go down in flames. As well it should.

The issue of whether or not Orlando can require that groups get a permit to feed more than 25 people in a downtown public park is in the hands of U.S. District Court Judge Gregory Presnell. And that must scare the hell out of the city officials who have worked tirelessly to scrub downtown of the homeless, because Presnell is pretty contemptuous of their plans.

At a March 26 hearing, Presnell badgered Orlando city attorney Martha Lee Lombardy, interrupting her repeatedly to ask how moving people from park to park – the ordinance allows a single group to get only two permits to any one downtown park per year – serves any legitimate government interest. “You’re not solving the problem, you’re just moving it around, and perhaps making it worse,”
he said.

When Lombardy noted that the city has provided an unrestricted space for public feedings at Sylvia Lane, Presnell got in a zinger: “Have you ever had lunch at Sylvia Lane?” he asked her.

“No, your honor,” she answered.

“Wouldn’t be your first choice, would it?”


At the hearing, the city was asking for a summary judgment. In other words, they were hoping for a ruling right then and there. Didn’t happen. In fact, Presnell set June 23 as the start of a three-day trial. Stay tuned.

Because this is Orlando – and even during hard financial times Orlando wouldn’t be Orlando if it weren’t destroying its history to climb closer to the sky – it should come as no surprise that a developer wants
to knock down a couple of century-old houses to erect a 20-story office building next to a newly refurbished city playground. And just as predictably, a bunch of neighbors
are pissed.

On March 27, developer Eola Capital held an open house on its proposed project at the Howard Middle School gym. A fair number of disgruntled area residents showed up to warn of the death of history and the end of the world. Meanwhile, developers did their best “with all due respect” dance around the dollar signs shooting from their eyes, and commissioner Patty Sheehan chimed in with one of those “our hands are tied” comments so peculiar to Orlando government.

The project goes to a hearing before the Municipal Planning Bureau April 15, and the residents are threatening mutiny, or at least “organization.”

An e-mail with “Playboy Mobile Says: Orlando Local Wants Your Text!” in the subject line will surely grab our attention, since we already spend way too much time looking at porn and calling it “research,” and any excuse to do more of the same is always welcome. Unfortunately, this press release didn’t direct us to pictures of mostly nude women dusting a fireplace in high heels.

Instead, it alerted us to the fact that Orlando resident Kristen Wilson, 26, is among 10 national finalists competing for the Miss Playboy Mobile 2008 award, which comes with a photo shoot at the Playboy Mansion (no guarantee of a spread in the skin mag, though) and a $5,000 cash award. Wilson was one of nearly 1,000 women who entered the contest, and she had an “overwhelming amount of texted votes,” we’re told. So we’re guessing this is sorta like American Idol, but you don’t have to sleep with a British guy to win.

Unfortunately, it’s too late to vote for Wilson; voting wrapped March 31. By the time this wildly popular column hits the streets, the contest’s winner will already have been announced. So if Wilson won, you heard it here first. If not, same thing.

Hey kids, interested in making sure dirty hippies can feed the homeless and keeping intelligent design out of public schools? How about getting called filthy names by religious fanatics after helping pregnant teens get around parental notification? Have we got a job for you.

Glenn Katon, director of the Florida American Civil Liberties Union’s Central Florida office since it opened in February 2007, is moving to Tampa to head up the Florida Religious Freedom Project. If you act fast, his job could be yours.

Of course, having a law degree might help.

This week’s report by Jeffrey C. Billman, Billy Manes, Deanna Morey, Justin Strout and Bob Whitby.




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