Thursday, January 15, 2009

Is Big Brother Watching?

Today while I was making lunch, Kellen was on the computer. He was supposed to be researching and writing about King Tut and the archaeologist who discovered his tomb. He says, "That is strange." I, thinking he is going to tell me something about ancient Egypt, walk into the office to see what he found. He had gotten distracted checking his blog stats. 

He loves to go into statcounter and see the map where visitors come from. The one he thought was strange was from Charleston WV. The strange part is the IP address is the West Virginia Department of Education. The visitor had been to his blog repeatedly. 

After Kellen got his report done, I checked my stats a little closer than normal. Yep, the WV Department of Education has been watching my blog too. Eighty-one visits and a visit length of four and a half hours today. Crazy. 

I'd like to think that perhaps this is someone who is curious about homeschooling. Who, with no agendas, wants to learn about how we spend our days. Maybe they are trying to understand the growing popularity of homeschooling. Perhaps it is a parent who is considering homeschooling their own child. Or maybe it is even a homeschool advocate in the department looking for some real life homeschooling stories. These were not my first reactions. 

It may reveal my own insecurities, but my first reaction was that I felt we were being graded, judged, and tested. Are they trying to figure out how many days we actually open our books? Do they want to prove that homeschooling just doesn't cut it? Why are they watching me? I haven't been able to get this song out of my mind all day. 

My reactions may be a bit silly. We have nothing to hide. Our kids are well rounded, educated and interact well with others. Kellen's test scores are excellent. Lydia will be testing for the first time this year, and I am sure will also do well. We meet the requirements of the law. Why the paranoid reaction?

Perhaps because I once was part of the public education system, and from that experience learned that most public educators are against homeschooling.  I expect with the growing popularity of homeschooling will come the increased desire by the state to exert more control over it. I take for granted the relative freedom homeschoolers have in this state, and do not want to see it changed. 

To my fellow WV homeschoolers, check your statcounter. I'll bet you will also find the WV Department of Education is checking out your blog. To the visitor from the department, I hope my paranoid reactions are incorrect. I hope you are just curious, or even better, an advocate of homeschooling. Either way, I think you will see that our ways are quite different than traditional school, but that they also are quite effective. Enjoy your visits to our blogs. 


  1. I think that would have been my first reaction too. It isn't an unfounded one, I don't have any children so we don't home school, but I remember reading on a NO NAIS blog once where comments had been left that were traced back to a USDA building or something like that. Our tax dollars at work I guess.

  2. Strange. I would have had the same reaction as you, freaky!

    This song brings me back!


  3. 4 1/2 hours, do they not have work to do?

  4. the 4.5 hours may be deciving. it might be up on a browser or minimized while they worked else where. or maybe just maybe this person REALLY likes reading you..

  5. That gives me the creeps. Makes you want to pull your curtain closed. But hey, let them peep. Sounds like they have nothing better to do!

  6. I love how you've outed them and welcomed them, Stephanie.

    I'd love to know if you can tell who specifically was visiting, or if they only show a WVDE location.

    Really nice blog. Thanks to you and your family for representing the WV homeschooling community so well! What a lovely family!


  7. First, my reaction was, is someone interested in Kellen?, with pedophiles getting into trouble with computers, a jot to his blog may seem innocent, but somehow found some comfort they are visiting your blog as well. Never the less it still makes me uncomfortable. I know that you guys monitor Kellen's writing closely, please be careful that he never leaves an indication to where you live or dates & places of somewhere you are going to be. A teacher here in Ohio just recently got sent to jail because he met with a 13 year old girl on the computer and then met with her personally. There are some real crazies out there. By the Way loved the song, and please tell miss Lydia Aunt Teri sends her love and tell her Happy Birthday for me. Sorry I didn't get to see you & the kids @ xmas. When your family becomes so big, there's never enough time, that's why I love your blog so much, to keep up with you, not to be spying on you. That's what blogs are for, not to satisfy one's curiosity.

  8. Hmm. Maybe I should get one of those tracker things, just because I'm nosy! And paranoid too!

    I have always been impressed with Kellen's blog. I think blogging is a great way to get kids to practice writing. I need to get my son to do one! If someone is checking it out, I can only imagine they would be impressed too. One look at MySpace can quickly show you how illiterate some public school grads are.

    Looking at the site might give you some comfort.

  9. I'm glad I'm not the only on who finds the whole thing a little creepy.

    Adding to it...

    I looked at my husband's stats. They have been there too. Not surprising, but I did happen upon something tha was. The KY Dept of Ed had been there too. Of course they have no authority over us. But we live cloe enough to KY and Tim used to travel there for work and may have mentoned KY. So a google search for KY homeschool may have brought up his blog. All this to say I wonder if this is a regular thing in Departments of Education. I don't want to make this bigger than it is, but it all seems strange....

  10. I need to go visit and give him a hit from Alaska :) I finally vowed to stop looking at my stat counter for that very reason.

  11. It makes me nervous, too. MySpace blog has a view counter but doesn't tell the location of the visitors, nor the times (other than how many total visits today, this week, and total). If I knew how lame MySpace blog features are compared to other blogs, I probably wouldn't have started there, but I don't want to switch now. Plus, I only blog periodically, so it makes sense to link it to MySpace/Facebook rather than freestanding, I guess.

    Keep us posted if you learn anything else.

    Oh, and that song has been in my head recently, too, but from the Geico ads. :-)

  12. I was intrigued by your post tonite, as i moved to KY Appalachia in 2000, to our remote homestead life. My nest just emptied this summer's end, after homeschooling my daughters by mutual choice, after attending public Waldorf methods schooling in Northern Ca. I, too, went thru paranoid times, and followed the letter of the law here ( next to no law, actually). I felt there might be a knock on the door some year, but it never came. My younger girl, chose to go to HS in town - an hour bus ride each way, after her 9th grade at home. We were met with much enthusiasm and kindness, as they recognized that these kids were either fantastically ahead of the local school system, or couldn't count to 100 and were actually farming or nothing. I heartily encourage you to keep on with this labor of love! Both of my daughters received full scholarship to the college of their choice, love it, and are pulling A's there - and nurtured well by their profs - who recognize them as self-starters of good conscience. If my children had been learning challenged in any way - home school would have been my only choice here! Your kids are blessed to be under your wing, as long as possible or as long as they want to do it at home. What fantastic memories we 3 have, that we wish for you, too! I hope there is no consequence for you and that fear doesn't prevail too long at the forefront of your school days. We are raising kids of great promise, in a world that sorely needs them!
    Thanks for sharing, and enjoy this time that goes by all too quickly :)

  13. I find that creepy as well. Hopefully this person will read your blog entry about them and reveal their intentions.

  14. It may not be someone from that specific location - before we moved from our old town, I would turn up on people's sitemeter things as being in an *entirely different province* (nevermind just a diff town) than I was! Seriously. It may be someone with the same thing going on...

    Or it may not be. But I figured I'd mention it because I remember thinking how strange it was that I showed up like that on sitemeters...

  15. Just for a little update on all this. It has been brought to my attention that any school in WV will show up as a WVDE IP address. So, that opens up a lot of possibilities. Also a woman on a homeschoolers yahoo group checked with a contact at the state board office who assured her that it is not policy (official or unofficial) to follow homeschoolers on their blogs, and that no on has time to anyway.

    I guess I'm just a little paranoid! :)

  16. Well, that would have made me paranoid too. I have statcounter but I haven't looked at it in ages, mainly because if it's an IP address I have no idea how to figure out where they're from. It's nice that you were able to check it out!
    That was one of my favorite songs when it came out.