Monday, February 28, 2005

Educational issues

I just met with my State Senator, Bruce Patterson, to discuss educational issues in the state of Michigan. Testing was one of the subjects that came up. Surprisingly, he admitted that the goal is a National Test with control at the Federal level. He didn't like it any more than I did but seemed to be resigned to the fact that this was the way things are going. Ugh!

Just look at the system in Germany and you'll see where we're headed.

Thankfully, there are a few renegades who are opting out. I hope this wave catches on. Here's my thoughts on why homeschoolers should NOT take state mandated tests.

Spunky

Legislative Day in Michigan

If you live in Michigan, March 9th is your chance to meet and talk with state legislators about the issues that matter most to you. Can you guess what mine is? Citizens for Traditional Values is putting this on. It's a great way to get you and your children involved in the political process. I'll be there with my 6 children. Here's the details.

Spunky

Controlling Appetites (Part 2)

If you missed my other post on controlling appetites you can read it here.

The
Boston Globe has a similar take on what video games are turning our children into.

The thing wasn't in the house 10 days before he was pushing the boundaries on his one-hour-a-day limit, begging for teen-rated games ("May contain violent content, mild or strong language, and/ or suggestive themes"), and longing for the latest game - the superslick wireless Nintendo DS, a dual-screen hand-held system that sells for $149 and makes the Game Boy look like, well, a kid's toy. (Snip)

And children, boys in particular, are abandoning traditional toys like action figures, building sets, and puzzles for video games.

He found that though children consciously know they're being entertained, their brains
store those violent images in the area reserved for significant events,

"Kids who are heavily involved [in gaming] have no ability to sit still, no patience. School is not fast enough for them."

"The reason why my mom started letting us watch cartoons on Saturday mornings was so we would be able to have conversations with other kids, and the same went for video games," says Craig Colbeck, a 26-year-old Harvard graduate student who, as a latchkey teenager, spent many hours playing video games after school. "People always talk about how isolating the games are, but really, if you want to isolate your kid, send him outside to climb a tree ..."(snip)
.


Has our society really fallen to the point where we rationalize our behavior by calling tree climbing an isolated behavior? And then here's that self centeredness again.


These things give you a sense of entitlement, the idea that everything can revolve around you." They also foster the expectation that everything is, or should be, interactive. When kids start gaming as young as 4 or 5 years old, even television loses its pull, says Michael Zey, a sociologist and author of the book The Future Factor: The Five Forces Transforming Our Lives and Shaping Human Destiny. "Kids look at the television and say, 'Why am I sitting here and not able to do anything to this screen?'"
Sad so very sad.

Spunky

Another reason to blog

Homeschooler bloggers help get the attention of editors of the AZ newspaper over this cartoon from Feb 13.
Fitzsimmons called the response unprecedented and credited the speed in which news travels over the Internet. "(Nearly) 100 percent were furious; a handful, five, maybe four, understand my perspective,'' he said. Typically, he receives three to five e-mails or phone calls on any given cartoon. Blogs, which are online journals, depicted the cartoon as though it were "a gratuitous jab at home schooling,'' Fitzsimmons said. "Folks were not aware of the context,'' he said.
In our own little corner of the sphere we can make a difference.

Spunky

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Don't Control the Remote...

...cultivate an appetite. Syndicated columnist Froma Harrop wrote an interesting piece for the Detroit News on TV entitled "Blame Parents for kids seeing raunchy shows". Here's a peek,

Television has turned progressively lewd, foul-mouthed and offensive. The trade-off is that it has become more grown-up and in many ways more interesting. Which cop show would you rather watch, the childish "CHiPs" of the 1980s or today's "CSI"? Vulgar and gritty TV is here to stay.
The goal we both agree is to keep children away from this filth. But how? Mrs. Harrop offers some suggestions.

So back to the tools, or what Thompson lists as "the minimal things" parents can do. First there's the V-chip. The V-chip lets adults block certain programming based on one of eight ratings. The V-chip is required on most televisions sold in the last five years, yet few parents bother with it. "Only a tiny percentage is actually learning how to use the V-chip," Thompson reports, "and it's not hard to do." The next thing parents can do, Thompson says, is to take the television out of their children's bedrooms. "It's like a liquor cabinet if you have little children in the house." Parents can keep better track
of TV viewing when it occurs in the family room.
Interesting analogy, does she let her children have liquor as long as she is watching to make sure they don't consume too much? And as a last resort she says,

they can always smash the television set.
That all sounds well and good but it is still the parents exercising control over the children rather than the children learning to control themselves. So what is a parent to do?

I'll be straight forward here, we don't watch any television. Yes, we have a TV but unless it's a major event like the Presidential Inauguration we don't turn it on. We have had this practice in place for about the last 19 years. We have been called extreme by many people and told by well meaning friends that by "depriving" our children they will want it even more when they are older. Hogwash.

My husband and I have purposed to train the appetites of our children so that the TV is rejected as undesireable and a waste of time BY THEM not us. We have provided them with more meaningful alternatives than the one eyed monster. Since the time they were little we have read books out loud as a family, played games, and filled their minds and time with more engaging activities. As a result, they are now young entrepreneaurs with a host of hobbies that will provide enjoyment and income for the rest of their lives. They each play several instruments and participate in concert bands and orchestras in the area.

Sure this was difficult when they were all little. With five small children running around, at the time, it was tempting to turn on the TV just for a break. But the short term break would have created an appetite in the children that we didn't want to feed. We reasoned that once they realized that the TV does most of the imagining and thinking for them their brains and bodies become lazy.

Watching TV is also inherently self-centered. The focus is on keeping the attention of the viewer. Once the TV is turned off it is often difficult to engage in family life again. You'll know your child is really hooked when they demand to watch from the time they wake up till the time they go to bed and any time you refuse they get upset.

The sad reality is that the shows may be innocent or "educational" when they are little but as they grow up so do their tastes. Barney may satisfy Jr. when he's five but when he's fifteen he is going to want to watch something a little more attractive than a purple dinosaur. The problem is that his habits have been established and his appetitie to be entertained has been satisfied for so many years he doesn't know what to do with himself.

It doesn't have to be this way. Take the time now to teach your young children how to control their appetities and allow them to feast on that which is good. "Taste and see that the Lord is good," Psalms 34:8. A family snuggled together reading a book will keep even the youngest children engaged even without pictures if they are given the time to imagine. (I used to keep a stack of paper nearby while I was reading so they could color and draw as they listened.) This is very labor intensive for the parents initially but once they have their appetite whetted for that which is truly good they will be less likely to desire the rancid food Hollywood dishes out.

Furthermore, we also didn't try to fill every minute of their day. We allowed them "white space" if you will. This allowed them time to engage in activities of their own choosing and since they knew the TV (and the computer) were not options they made other choices. Scripture tells us to "Be still and know that I am God". The down times are necessary so that they can process what they are experiencing and learn to make sense of it all.

Now that my children have become young adults their time is so filled up with other things of greater interest and importance the TV is not even desired by them. They don't rush to see the latest episode of some show. I don't have to tell them NO you can't watch that or no more TV today you've got to do your homework. The goals and desires that they have set for themselves have made TV a distraction not an attraction. The idea of wasting hours in front of the TV is ludicrous to them. They have higher standards to meet and higher goals to achieve.


Spunky

Friday, February 25, 2005

Spunky's Civil War Days


Spunky's Civil War Days
Originally uploaded by
SpunkyPundit.
This is what we look like during a Civil War Presentation. We do reenactments and living history presentations. If you are interested visit LibertyFamilyResources for more pictures and info.

Spunky

Spunky's Family


Spunky's Family
Originally uploaded by
SpunkyPundit.
My wonderful daughter has finally figured out how to post photos so here we are! To see a larger image click on link below the photo. The names starting at the back row left to right are Kristin, Joshua, Steve, Jason, (front row) Elizabeth, Spunky holding Elaina, and Katie. Elizabeth and Katie are not twins.

Spunky

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Charges dropped, Officer fired

All charges have been dropped on the homeschoolers and the officer has been fired. WorldNetDaily has the story.

Spunky

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Gasp! She has to help with homework!

Read about one mother's terrible fate in life,

Some say the arrival of their children after school can be overwhelming. The euphoria, the excitement, the sheer volume, why, it’s enough to make some mothers jump right out of their ankle socks. It’s like standing in a tub of water and having someone drop in an electrical appliance.

It can certainly give one a heck of a jolt.

Just yesterday, despite the fact that I was 3 feet in front of one of the little dears, he repeatedly shouted at the top of his lungs, “I’m home!” Some say the arrival of their children after school can be overwhelming.


Good grief! Her children aren't even in the door and she's complaining of torture. But wait it get's worse,
Yet I’m actually more overwhelmed by the homework. The late nights, the last-minute projects. In fact I’m still trying to recover from the bad grade I got on my son’s English paper in 1999. I’ve completed my education and obtained all the wisdom I need to get through the average day. Although I’m no guru, I know most of my states and capitals, can readily explain the difference between a noun and a verb, and can calculate the exact amount of cream it takes to soften my corns. Still I have to be the tutor for history, the flash-card queen of reading, and the mentor for photosynthesis. Why, I’ve even been known to do a math problem or two.
So what did the teacher do all day? Seriously, I'll bet if she lobbied her legislature hard enough she could probably find funding for a night teacher. After all why should she be responsible for her son's homework?!?


Spunky

We have a new state in the Union!

The Nanny State! Atleast if one Senator gets his way. This new bill titled Education Begins at Home Act and promoted by U.S. Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo is nothing more than the state trying to take more of what doesn't belong to them under the guise of "helping" the children. Here's what Mr. Bond says,

"Being a parent is hard work, and babies do not come with directions,” Bond told state representatives and senators at the Capitol. “We must help parents and give them the education and support they need to promote their young children’s healthy development and prepare them for success in school and life.” (snip)

The act was inspired by a program called Parents as Teachers, which Bond created in 1981 while Missouri governor. Parents as Teachers is an early-childhood program designed to help families from the time of pregnancy through the time their children enter kindergarten. It aims to enhance child development and school, and it is available to all families regardless of socio-economic level or location.

The problem is that the state's track record with the students that they are already allowed to educate is lousy and now they want to "help" with the younger years as well? Sorry Mr. Bond, if I needed a nanny I'd hire one (and it wouldn't be a state employee).

Just out of curiosity I checked out the Parents as Teachers site and here are some "helpful" tips


Play is so important for your child’s development. You already know your child gains intellectual skills as he figures out solutions to problems when he plays, but playing can also help your child learn skills such as focusing his attention on a task or sitting still while he plays. This is called self-regulation and it is an important skill for your child to have by the time he enters school.


Self-regulation is important in school readiness Self-regulation is a term that refers to the child’s ability to focus his attention and control his behavior. He must understand what is asked of him in a given situation, monitor his own behavior to see if it matches, and maintain or change what he is doing based on his evaluation. Teachers know the importance of self-regulation. A child who is self-regulated can stay in his seat and focus on the task at hand. He can pay attention to the teacher when she is talking or reading out loud without being unduly distracted. And the self-regulated child can make productive use of time when the teacher is busy with other students; he does not require the teacher’s constant attention to learn.

Many educational studies show that when parents read to their children from the time they are babies, children learn toread earlier and are better readers later in school.

From these suggestions it seems as though the goal of parenting is to get the child ready for school and the teachers. Mr. Bond seems to be saying that education begins at home but ends with the state. Sorry that's not why I am raising my children.

Spunky

Lot's going on today

I hope to write some tonight while my hubby and the children go to the Fridge.

Spunky

Carnival of Education #3

For some more interesting articles on education check out Edwonk's Carnival of Education #3

Spunky

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Update on arrested homeschoolers

Here is the original story. Fox News South Carolina local affiliate has an update.

The Chief’s response to the parents’ concerns was this, "I can't say how I would've reacted, I'm a parent also and I've got children too and I understand she was trying to protect the child, I understand that.” Chief Reece also says they responded to the call as they would any other call and that they had no idea this was a group of homeschooled children and their parents. He says the group is welcome at the park and should not be afraid. But the parents say they will not be returning because they are scared of what could happen.

Chief Reece says, “We're looking at all aspects of the case and we're going to let internal affairs division run their investigation and we'll make the appropriate call when it happens. I'm going to do what's right and the city's going to do what's right."
Chief Reece says he expects the investigation to be completed by the end of this week. It’ll be up to the Solicitor whether or not the charges are prosecuted.

Who wouldn't have reacted the way the mother did, when a man is chasing your child and that man is being chased by the police? I hope that the charges are dropped and the officer is put on a desk job for a few years. The mother's eyewitness account is here.

(Update 2/23: WorldNetDaily has picked up the story)

Spunky


Monday, February 21, 2005

Interruptions

I have had a series of interruptions lately. Some of them simple to solve others more long term. This is the inevitable life of a homeschooler. We don't live in a vacumn where life is santized and we are free to concentrate one one thing or subject for extended periods of time. Unlike a classroom in a government run school, when a homeschooling parent is called away there is no substitute. When a child is ill, there is no keeping them home so the others can continue without them. These are small interruptions that may create havoc for a day or two but there are other interruptions like a birth or death that create long term changes in the routine. Adjustments need to be made otherwise the household will suffer and so will the learning.

I used to resent these interruptions and get frustrated because they ruined my agenda. But then a few years ago I happened upon this
quote and my whole perspective was turned around.

I think I find most help in trying to look on all the interruptions and hindrances to work that one has planned out for oneself as discipline, trials sent by God to help one against getting selfish over one's work. Then one can feel that perhaps one's true work - one's work for God - consists in doing some trifling haphazard thing that has been thrown into one's day. It is not a waste of time, as one is tempted to think, it is the most imortant part of the work of the day - the part one can best offer to God. After such a hindrance, do not rush after the planned work, trust that the time to finish it will be given sometime, and keep a quiet heart about it.
Annie Keary 1825-1879

It is my desire that I never get to the point where I think that homeschooling is about me or about the children. Interruptions are one of the tools God uses to humble me and make me realize who is really in charge and who this is all for.

Spunky

Carnival of Education #3

If you would like a chance to tell others your thoughts on education consider submitting to the EdWonk's Carnival of Education.

If you haven't started a blog yet, now's your chance. The world is waiting for your wisdom. (Yes, John that's a hint!) The deadline is Tuesday night at 10PM PST.

If you do start a blog and you're a homeschooler let me know so I can let others know.

Spunky

The Myth of an Equal Education

I am finding alot of the reading over at News, the Universe, and Everything interesting. I am always intrigued by differing theories because it challenges and sharpens my own thinking. His recent post on Equal Education was very thought provoking. He writes:


What is an equal education? It comes down to whether all students should get the same presentation or should learn the same material and skills. The traditional view holds that schools should place students into similar-ability groups to allow teachers to teach to a specific level. The progressive view holds that every class should have students with diverse abilities so that the very able can help the least able.

"From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs." -Karl Marx

While I find Marx on the whole misguided, I think the second half of this motto is rather wise when applied to education. To achieve an equal education, each person must receive instruction tailored to his needs to arrive at the same educational goal. Aside from private tutoring, which would be impossible for any school to provide every student, grouping students with similar abilities in classes is the best way to instruct each according to his needs.

It is the statement, "to achieve and equal education, each person must receive instruction tailored to his needs to arrive at the same educational goal," that I would like to focus. If I understand this correctly, it is okay to tailor instruction but only if they arrive at the same educational goal.

Who defines the "educational goal"? Before we can ever begin to think about how we are to teach a child, we must decide why we are to teach a child. What is a "well educated child"?

I had a mother call me sometime ago. She had received my name from a mutual friend and she wanted to home educate her son. He was currently enrolled in the local public school. Her first question was what she needed to buy to home educate. Before answering, I asked her a few questions. My first question was "Why do you want to educate your son?

She responded with a series of reasons on why she no longer wanted him enrolled in the local school. "Okay, so you are dissatisfied with the public schools", I replied, "But that doesn't answer my question. Why do you want to educate your son?"

She then replied with the some of the benefits of home education and how they do so much better that the public school. I responded again, "I am glad you want to home educate but you still haven't told me why you want to educate your son?" She was getting a little frustrated so I rephrased the question this way "Move past the method of education and ask yourself Why do you care that your son knows anything about anything?"

She paused mementarily and then said, "Well, I guess I would like for him to make a good living for himself so that he can afford to do the things that he wants to do and to be happy. And a good education will do that won't it?"

"Sure it will, but let's take that and move forward about 30 years. Your son is now a famous millionaire who can afford to travel the world. You are back here in Michigan sitting in a nursing home. He pays all your bills but only visits sporadically. He is happy but you are ignored and miserable. Would you consider yourself a success at the education you have provided?"

"No", she admitted. She began to realize that academics was only a part of a well educated adult.

She then turned the tables on me and asked me why I educate my children.

I responded, "My children's success is not determined by a degree or a dollar. That a well educated child is one who knows and loves the Lord their God with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength, and loves their neighbor as themselves."

She acknowledged that these were not her goals but that she didn't really know what an well educated child would be for her. This is sad.

The point of this story is not to convince you that my educational goal should be this mother's educational goal but to illustrate that the goal must be defined before the methodology can be determined. I could have given her a list curriculum to buy but she probably would have found it unworkable for her (maybe even offensive!).

An equal education is a fallacy because we will never all have the same educational goal. Thus, what one may call a success another would call a complete failure. This is the great dilemma of the public schools. "Equal education" only works with a uniform goal. A goal which works well for the state but usually leaves the individual out in the cold.

Spunky

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Moms tell about their day in the park

This is an email from someone who knows the people in the original story. Here is their account.

This homeschool group had been meeting there for years. This year the playground has been used as a recess area for a nearby elementary school because their playground is covered with portable classrooms, and it's been hard on everyone. The teachers now walk the classes to the park for recess. The teachers know who the homeschooled kids are. And the police department is next door, and presumably they know who the homeschooled kids are too. A teacher called the police rather than talking to parents.

What follows are eyewitness accounts from two moms. This particular kid wears his knife on his belt, as do many guys. One of the public school teachers that uses the park with us now, saw his knife on his belt and called the police saying that he had it out flashing it around their children, . . .A plain clothes investigator charged the shelter shouting at (another parent's) son to take his hands out of his pocket and then shouting at my son that he was talking to him, he never announced that he was an officer, where his badge and gun were at on his hip no one could see at the time, when he reached out for my son, a mother stepped in and tried to keep him from grabbing him. He shoved her backwards while she held another mother's baby. She shouted for someone to call the cops and he shouted he was the cops. He shoved my son to the ground and shouted for a uniformed officer who was catching up to him at this time to cuff her and arrest her. They walked **** to the police car and cuffed him and put him the car. She was already driven up to the police station and placed in a cell, all because she protected my son from a strange man that was being chased at a distance by uniformed officers. My son was arrested for carrying a deadly weapon/concealed weapon. She was charged with felony assault on an officer. One officer said he was about to draw his weapon, he had already unsnapped it and was pulling it out to draw and aim at my son, because he thought he was about to pull the knife on the plain clothes investigator. This same officer said no telling how many people could have gotten killed, in other words he was prepared to shoot towards the shelter with all the small children around. . .

And from the other mom: The plainclothes officer was incredibly belligerent and angry right from the moment he rushed under the shelter. He could so easily have stopped as soon as he came up to us, announced that he was a police officer and needed to talk to the boy with the knife, but he didn't do any of that. Instead he shouted, shoved, verbally abused, intimidated. He acted so horrible it never occurred to me, or to any of us, that he was a police officer. He just seemed like a crazy man. He never announced who he was until he had shoved the woman holding the baby and then she asked the mother of the baby to call the police. Only then did he say he was an officer. I asked him how we were supposed to know that and he said he was wearing a gun and a badge and so it was obvious. The gun and the badge were on the side of him that was turned away from all of us, I think, so I don't know how we were supposed to see them. Also he was yelling so much we didn't think to look at his belt. Anyway, I asked to see his badge and he thrust it at me. About this time a uniformed officer had come up and he confirmed that the plainclothes guy was a policeman. The plainclothes guy told the woman holding the baby to put him down, that she was going to be arrested. I asked him what he was arresting her for since she hadn't done anything wrong. He told me for assaulting a police officer. I protested that she hadn't known he was a police officer. He told me to shut up or I would be arrested too. So not only can he arrest a boy for carrying a knife that was not concealed, and charge him with carrying a concealed weapon, not only can he assault a woman holding a baby, then arrest her for assaulting him, but apparently he can arrest people just for arguing with him. After the policemen took away the boy who'd had the knife and the woman who'd tried to protect the boy, the other kids started to show how upset they were. Some were crying. None of these children want to go back to that park ever, and we've been going there since xxx and I first started xxx nearly five years ago. We've felt very safe there before, and having the police station just beside the park seemed to be an advantage. We felt like nobody too bad would bother our kids with policemen so close by. We never thought it would be the police themselves that would be the frightening ones, the ones who would make our kids feel unsafe, who would make them have nightmares or keep them from even being able to sleep. . .


Does zero tolerance apply to public parks? Or maybe they were worried the baby's diaper was loaded!

Spunky

Friday, February 18, 2005

What is a teacher?

Quincy at News, the Universe, and Everything is asking the question.

A teacher is someone who can...

--Give a hug without getting arrested.
--Bandage a knee without calling the school nurse.
--Change a lightbulb without calling the custodian.
--Make the children wash the bathrooms.
--Have a relationship with the principal without getting fired.
--Teach a child's mind while capturing their heart.
--Teach what they believe in and believe in what they teach.
--Meet the child's need and not worry about meeting the state guidelines.
--Commit to a lifetime of work without pay.
--Pray! in class, out loud, with the children and the ACLU can't say a word.

There is is only one that can fill that job description

A teacher is a mom

"Hear, my son, your father's instruction, and do not forsake your mother's teaching." Proverbs 1:8

Spunky

(Note: My apologies to anyone who posted a comment. I installed trackback and it deleted all previous comments from my blog. Feel free to comment again.)

Someone Get's It!

The article is a review of SB291 in Montana. Here's a few nuggets of wisdom that are so refreshing to hear! (Hat tip: Thanks to Quincy at News, Universe and Everything)

The state exists to serve the people, not the other way around. The people created the state, and they created the public school system. The responsibility for raising children, which includes their education, begins and ends with parents. Most parents see definite advantages to delegating some of their schooling responsibilities to professional educators. And many people understand there are definite advantages to contributing to the general education of other people's kids. But parents are the ones who are directly responsible for their own children.(snip)

The boss has the right to dictate qualifications for his employees; the employees don't get to set the qualifications for the boss. The public school system is the employee in this case. Understand that and you'll see the whole idea of regulating home schools is preposterous.(snip)

The notion of imposing standardized testing requirements is misguided for the same reasons. Requiring standardized testing in public schools makes it possible for parents (the bosses) to assess the performance of the schools (their employees).Home-schooling parents may well look to tests to gauge their effectiveness and their children's progress. But while public schools must be accountable to the public, parents aren't accountable to the public schools. Imposing testing requirements is wrong.


Can someone please inform the government of this so we can finally move on!?

Happy Birthday Kristin

Today is the birthday of my dear daughter Kristin. While other teen girls are worried about their social life at age 16, my daughter is thinking about social security at age 54! She doesn't need to worry about her social life anyway, they'll be a gaggle of girls here to celebrate soon enough.

Spunky

Mommy Madness

Palm Tree Pundit spotlighted an interesting set of articles by Newsweek titled Mommy Madness and the Slacker Mom. I have finally gotten around to reading the articles (too long and tedious for my taste) but there are some parallels to homeschooling moms.
The problem, as Mead-Ferro sees it, is that too many well-heeled, well-educated and otherwise sensible women are driving themselves and each other crazy. After years of competing in the work force, they’re mistakenly bringing the same zeal to child rearing and housekeeping as they did to their jobs. Domestic standards popularized by women’s magazines and Madison Avenue, she argues, have gotten too high.”
I was one of those well-heeled, well-educated and otherwise sensible women that the article was talking about but for me it was not domestic standards (just ask my husband) but academic standards that propelled me forward. My career ambitions were replaced with academic ambitions for my children. The standard was set long before I had children and I just absorbed it as what a homeschooler should do. It's not that the standard is too high it just wasn't the standard that I am supposed to meet. I am all for academic excellence and my children are doing well but the standard is not whether or not they master Calculus at age 10 or get into Harvard at 16.

I am called to make disciples of my children. That is the standard by which my school is measured. If my children are not faithfully walking with God when they leave our care then I will have failed in my duties as a parent. All other academic achievements will be for naught. Harvard would be nice but heaven is where I am aiming.

Spunky

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Truth, The Great Motivator

Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man comes to the father except through me.

When I am feeling a lack of motivation or discouraged there are many things that I can do to try and get out of the rut. (My children have learned that when I am in "one of those moods" a trip to Starbucks is needed!) But like coffee, most appeal to my immediate need without addressing the long term need for changes. So what does motivate us to change our habits.

The truth is the only way to get people to move from their comfort zone to demand a better way. But that supposes that we are a people who want to hear the truth.

Apathy comes when we aren't confronted with the truth.

Anger comes when we are confronted with the truth and are challenged to make a choice that will cost us more than we are willing to pay.

Action comes when we are confronted with truth and are willing to change course despite the cost.

When I am discouraged the truth is usually what I am most resistant to but have the greatest need for. Unlike coffee, the truths can be painful at first but it is the only thing that will bring about lasting refreshment.

Spunky

The "heart" parts of homeschooling

One of the joys for me as a homeschooling mom is to watch a new mom experience the joy of teaching her children.

A few months ago I met a woman who expressed dissatisfaction with the her young son's reading progress. I encouraged her to think about homeschooling. She said she had thought about it but her demeanor communicated that she didn't feel all that confident in her abilities. She thought it was too hard for her. It was nearing the Christmas break so I told her I'd bring over a phonics book for her to work with her son over the holiday season. I gave her a brief tutorial on how the program worked. She said she'd give it a try.

Yesterday, I checked back in with her and the joy in her voice was contagious. She told me how she has been working with her son and that he had begun to read. She was surprised that it wasn't as hard as she thought and how natural it felt. She was thankful that the memory of teaching her son to read, is one she will cherish the rest of her life.

There are so many seemingly difficult parts of homeschooling that could shake our confidence. But like this mother found out the "hard" parts if we are patient usually turn into the "heart" parts.

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap a harvest if we do not grow weary. Galatians 6:9

Spunky

Carnival of Education #2

If you are looking for some interesting perspectives on education from a variety of viewpoints click on over to Education Wonk. They are hosting the Second Carnival of Education and have included my submission on Homeschoolers and Tax Credits.

Spunky

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Homeschoolers and tax credits

Homeschoolers in South Carolina are divided (not necessarily equally) on whether to allow tax credits for school choice. The bill is dubbed "Put Parents in Charge" by supporters. The relevant part to homeschoolers is articulated this way'

One constituency that will be heavily represented on both sides is home schoolers, who also would qualify for tax credits under the plan, dubbed Put Parents in Charge by its supporters.

The families of some 14,000 home-schooled children in South Carolina are split on the bill because some fear it would invite increased state regulation. Ann Ashley, director of New Beginnings Home School Association in Summerville, and other home-school families fought to gain autonomy from state regulations in the mid-1990s. Any erosion of that freedom is unacceptable, she said. “By accepting money, it allows the state to come into our homes to determine what we can and can’t teach,” Ashley said.

Kathleen Carper, president of the South Carolina Association of Independent Home Schools, said Ashley and other opponents of the bill are “misinformed.” Carper, whose group represents 1,200 families from around the state, said the bill is crafted so it wouldn’t intrude on what parents teach.


This is an interesting case to watch. I can see both sides. The money would be nice but what is the guarantee there would be no intrusive gestures in the future. In the final analysis, I proabably side with Ann Ashley. That is, when the government extends one hand in generosity the other hand is ready with a noose for my neck.

But philosphically I have a different thought. Why do we tolerate the government taking our money in the form of taxes and then giving it back to us in the form of a tax credit for the education of our children? We don't tolerate this in any other vital area of our lives.

For example, we all must eat. But how long would any of us tolerate the government taking a sum of money from us (based on property value) and then returning to us a smaller portion (ie. tax credit) to pay for food? My guess is not very long. Especially, if they also told us which stores we must buy our food and no "home fooding" allowed. The argument can be made that this is done for the "common good" but isn't eating more important than education? The idea of a Cabinet post for the Department of Food is ludicrous.

We tolerate it because when it comes to education we are inherently a people of convenience. It is easier to pay someone else to educate our children. The tax credit gives the false notion that we really have a say in what they are learning.

"Putting Parents in Charge" is an interesting title for a bill that really does just the opposite. It keeps the state in charge and the parents pacified with the false reality that they are in control.

Spunky

Homeschoolers and school sports

Daryl at Home Education has an interesting discussion going about whether homeschoolers should be included in public school sports. Read his argument and then read the comments from others.

We don't participate in team sports of any kind. For us this was a family decision based on what would be in the best interest of the whole family. With six children, team sports require more time and attention given to one child at the expense of what is best for the family. For example, if there is a practice/game on a night that is not best for the family we would be compelled to allow the child to participate "for the good of the team". But this would be at the expense of the "good of the family". That's a sacrifice we aren't willing to make on a consistent basis. This is a personal decision for us based on the goals and priorities we have set out for our family and I realize that for other homeschool families the goals and priorities are different.

Getting back to the original article. Mainly, this is about money. If the school district allows children to participate in sports who are homeschooled they will lose students not gain them. Many parents tolerate the education for the extra curricular opportunities. Sad but true. If they can have them both many will take advantage. Thus, the schools lose enrollment which is a loss of dollars. Remember, individual educators care about the children but the system is geared to perpetuate the system. As my dear dad always says, "Follow the money."

Spunky

Monday, February 14, 2005

Teacher training?

Education Wonk asks what should be done about the abuse. Here's part of their suggestion,
To the best of my knowledge, teacher training courses currently include little or no material regarding the avoidance of inappropriate relationships with pupils and the need for educators to maintain "professional distance" between themselves and their students while continuing to foster a nurturing learning environment.Part of the solution may be the incorporation of such training in credentialing programs,
More teacher training? Give me a break. If an adult doesn't know that it is irresponsible to have a relationship with a 13 year old student what more can they teach them. This is just common sense which unfortunately is absent in most teacher training anyway.

Spunky

AZ Cartoon Not Very Funny

Click here. Looks like it's time to pick on the homeschooler again rather than the real issues. Abuse is real and it can happen anywhere not just in homeschoolers. Stricter laws will never change the heart of someone bent on abuse.

Spunky

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Liberal Parenting

I don't usually think of myself as a liberal but using the definition found here I may just have to change my vocabulary a bit. The whole essay is worth reading but here are some interesting quotes.

A lesser known, but crucial “ism” is “liberal parentalism.” It’s a phrase coined by Professor Stephen Gilles of Quinnipiac University School of Law in Hamden, Connecticut. The phrase embraces the tradition of parents’ freedom to choose how their children will be educated. When parents are not permitted (or are too apathetic) to make decisions regarding the training of their children, government takes the reins. The result can be inimical to the desires of most parents, such as the current situation in which God is utterly banned from public schools. The concept of liberal parentalism holds that parents are best able to make decisions concerning how their kids will be raised—particularly how they will be educated. No government entity, no matter how intellectually endowed, has the motivation or concern in choosing a school for a child as has the child’s own parents. That’s the essence of liberal parentalism.

****************************************************

No matter what you call it—“liberal parentalism” or educational freedom—the critical role of parents in education is rooted deeply in our history and religious tradition. “Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching,” reads Proverbs 1:8 (NIV). And a later proverb advises, “Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul.” (Proverbs 29:17 NIV)

*****************************************************
Parents have a moral duty to use freedom responsibly by making good decisions for their children. For its part, government has a duty to provide the space necessary for exercising that freedom. Allowing a diverse variety of educational institutions to flourish accommodates the deepest beliefs and desires of a diverse population. It is the “liberal” thing to do.

Amen! What amazes me is that we have the freedom in this country to choose to abort our children but once born, the right to educate them is a matter for the state! The most liberal states have some of the most restrictive home education laws. Go figure!

Spunky

Think you're having a bad day

People often ask me how I can homeschool 6. After reading what this teacher in New York has to put up with my job is a cakewalk!

Thanks to Education Wonk for the tip.

Spunky

Abuse in the schoolroom

Whether the schoolroom is in the home of a family in Arizona or a classroom in Tennessee it is sad when there is abuse.

Stricter laws whether towards homeschoolers or public schoolers will never change the heart of someone bent on hurting others. This is the work of God alone. Let us pray.

Spunky

Friday, February 11, 2005

Homeschool Father answers the question

A homeschool father is running for the position of local school superintendant in Oregon. Some have questioned whether he is qualified to lead because he homeschools. Here is his full answer.

I especially liked this part,
I firmly believe that parents are ultimately responsible for raising their children to adulthood. This includes responsibility for the training and preparation of their children for adult responsibilities.

Maybe if this father fails in his bid for superintendant we can convince him to move to Michigan and run for Governor.

Spunky

Gov. Granholm addresses education

I didn't hear her state of the state speech but I read the whole thing. You can also here.

My ears always perk up when she begins to talk about education. Here is what she said.

First, we must focus on educating new parents – before their baby is born, in the maternity ward, at check-ups and later at home. No one wants to be a bad parent, but not everyone understands what it takes to be a good one, particularly when it comes to stimulating and nurturing the supple minds of young children.
Wait a minute, Ms. Granholm, if we are to focus on educating new parents before their baby is born then how can you support abortion. You can't support a parent if there is no baby. Furthermore, what is Ms. Granholm's definition of a good parent anyway? In a recent personal interview with the Granholm's their answer to quality time is this
For example, when their children were in child care, the couple built in together-time by having one parent drop off children and the other pick them up at the end of the day.
I am not accusing the Governor of bad parenting but I don't call picking a child up from day care as together time either. To be fair she did also say that she and her husband are home between 6 - 9PM in the evening. I'm glad to hear it, so who was it then that gave the speech that evening?

Getting back to the address Gov. Granholm continues,

As I submit my budget, I will ask all 57 of these county-wide and multi-county districts to re-define their mission: to recognize that education begins at age zero; to find ways to educate parents; and to make sure our young children are read to for a half-hour each day.

Just when is age zero? I have asked the Governor's aides this question and they have yet to give an answer. Also, where is the Governor getting the authority to make sure that young children are read to. I am all for reading but is it the state's place to make sure that I am? How will they know? What is the penalty if I don't?

When I asked the Governors former policy advisor on education this question he stated that intermediate school districts will begin to use hospital birth registries to identify new parents and make sure they know what they are to do with their children.

Clearly, Ms. Granholm would like to extend the boundaries of state government further and further in our lives. Thankfully, she is probably not likely to get much of what she is proposing. My worry is that the legislature will give her atleast some of it in an effort to seem bipartisan. Hopefully not.

Spunky

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Homeschool Friendly Websites

While I am in inroduction mode I thought I'd introduce you to to two other websites that have been the most helpful in my homeschool years. They both have been a source of inspiration and motivation for me. I encourage you to check them out.

Managers of their Homes, is a website dedicated to helping families get it all done. They ought to know they have 8 children. They have also written a couple of books that are worth checking out.

No Greater Joy, is a source of pure wisdom and inspiration in an age of confusion and chaos. There newsletters are read and reread at my house by my husband and I, as well as, our children. Their book To Train Up a Child is a must read. If you check out their site please read their latest article Living Parallel Lives in the Same Space. Long and very thought provoking stuff. Print it out and read it when you can really focus on what is being said.

Spunky

A Father's View of Homeschooling

Yesterday, I posted an opposing view of homeschooling. Today it's time for a father's view. This new blogger is a homeschooling father of 8. Welcome to the blogsphere. We look forward to your perspective.

I've also become acquainted with Daryl another homeschool dad at Home Education his blog is worth checking out.

While I'm on the topic of fathers let me take a moment to introduce you to Civil War Dad. (Also, known as Spunky's husband.) He leaves the blogging to me but he loves to encourage families and fathers in a variety of other ways.

Spunky

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Homeschooling (an opposing view)

Here is an interesting article written by a journalist in the Holland Sentinal. Ms. Boyce is obviously no fan of homeschooling and thinks homeschoolers need a history lesson. She writes,

After the Revolution, many Americans realized that separate private and religious schools could not provide the equality, unity, and freedom necessary for a democracy. Statewide requirements for attendance, study and taxation to support public schools were set up. To preserve religious freedom for all, states did not allow specific religious instruction in the public, tax-supported schools.

Apparently Ms. Boyce has never heard of Fisher Aimes who stated in Pladium Magazine in 1801,

"We have trouble in the classrooms, we are putting in new text books. Nothing wrong with new books but we are spending more time on them than the Bible; it is drifting to the back of the classroom. We cannot tolerate this in American education. The Bible's morals are pure, its examples are captivating and noble."

Who was Fisher Aimes? None other than the author of the First Ammendment.

Ms. Boyce cites examples where homeschooled children have been abused and a columnist or teacher was the only option available to assist as verification that children need to be in school. But there are numerous examples where the teacher is not the savior but the perpetrator.
Here is one example. Using specific situations to support an argument is not the best method when one is selective in the choices.

Ms. Boyce then concludes,

All children deserve an opportunity to prepare for a bright future in this ever-changing world, in a safe environment with their own peers. Yes, parents must remain involved, but children belong in school.

She offers no supporting argument for why she believes that all children belong in school. Nor does she examine the natural right of the parent which the Michigan Supreme Court found to justify its decisions in May, 1993, in a series of cases [Clonlara, DeJonge and Bennett]. Afterward the legislature codified that right in MCL 380.10.

It is the natural, fundamental right of parents and legal guardians to determine and direct the care, teaching, and education of their children.
A complete briefing on Michigan law can be found here and here.

Apparently, Ms. Boyce needs a refresher on modern history and early American history. As a homeschooling mother I would be glad to provide a remedial course.

Just out of curiosity where was Ms. Boyce educated anyway?

Spunky


Monday, February 07, 2005

Homeschooling Thoughts for the day

Homeschooling is rigorous and exhausting. I had to laugh one time when my son, Jason, was younger he said to me,

"Mom, it's a good thing you homeschool...who else would you get to help clean up all these messes." The joy of innocence.

That was a few years and many messes ago. As my children have gotten older the messes around the house have become somewhat less frequent but what was once physical exhaustion has been replaced with a fair amount of emotional exhaustion.

I am watching my boys make the awkward transition from boys to men and my daughter mature to a beautiful young lady. Just yesterday Jason said, "Mom, I think I know why teen boys rebel...they are desperately trying to become men while their mom's still want to have their little boys." I smiled and got a tear at the same time.

This was very insightful and very accurate. I have fond memories of a young boy cuddling up for a story or song. A part of me does not want to let go of that time. He now has the stature of a young man and is frequently reminding me how short I am. He has already let go and moved on. I must do the same.

Every parent loves the excitement of a child's first step. Our Elaina was cheered on as she recently learned how to walk. But Scripture says "I have no greater joy than my children walk in truth." As my older children are taking strides into adulthood I can truly say that a child who is walking in truth is alot more exciting.

Spunky



Saturday, February 05, 2005

The Sunday blog

I don't plan on blogging on Sundays. This is alot of fun but it can become consuming. In an effort to control that inclination I will not be blogging on Sundays.

Spunky

Friday, February 04, 2005

Listen, do you want to know a secret?

Psst! Here's a sample question from the SAT test courtesy of the Boston Globe.

It makes you wonder what the question is supposed to test? Oh, that must be kept a secret. Shhh! Don't tell anybody!

Spunky

Getting past homeschool burnout

Okay, it's February and the skies are gray and so is your mood (unless you live where PalmTreePundit lives!). The children are a little restless and that burst of enthusiasm that you had when the school year began has evaporated. You see all the danger signs ahead of a coming nuclear meltdown. What do you do?

Nothing.

I mean actually do nothing. Just stop for a little while. Take a homeschool vacation without getting on a plane. This is not an easy thing to do but will make all the difference in your household.

A vacation can mean no TV, no computer, no phone, and no getting in the car even. You just sit around and play games, read a book together, or take an afternoon nap. Just like you would on a regular vacation only this is in your house. Order out for dinner and use paper plates to make it less stressful. Use this time to spend extra time with the Lord and with each other. If you husband still has to work bring him in on the fun when he gets home. The vacation doesn't have to last a whole week but if you can stretch it out that far go ahead.

You may begin to realize that your home has become paradise once again and there isn't any other place you'd rather be.

Spunky



Thursday, February 03, 2005

Making it easier to homeschool in Salt Lake

This is a positive step in respecting the rights of parents to homeschool their children in Utah.

School districts would be prohibited from monitoring the attendance, teacher credentials or facilities of home-schooled students under a bill sent to the Senate floor Wednesday.

SB59 requires districts to grant an exemption as long as home-school parents sign an affidavit confirming their child will be educated at home and get instruction in core subjects as defined by the state.

The question I want answered is, "Who gave the right to the state to monitor to begin with?"

Spunky

Mom makes a difference in Tennessee

Congratulations to Kay Brooks, founder of TnHomeEd.com for her life Home Schooling’s Best Advocate award.
She mobilized 50,000 home schoolers who convinced the Tennessee State legislature to modify its Hope Scholarship requirements to ensure that home-schooled students compete on equal footing with their public school peers.
The award was given by Calvert School in Baltimore, Maryland.

Spunky

Good Stuff on the President

Great comments from my daughter, Kristin on the State of the Union. She is one big reason I can smile when I think about the future.

Spunky

HOMESCHOOL? PUBLIC SCHOOL? WHERE'S GOD?

"A resolution that will be considered by the Southern Baptist Convention next month calls on the millions of members of the denomination to pull their kids out of government schools and either homeschool them or send them to Christian schools.
I am not a member of the Southern Baptist Convention but I am glad to see that someone is making a statement in a bold way. Of course, there are a variety of opinions on how a parent should educate their children but the Word of God is the standard by which all of the Christians should submit their opinion. It is encumbant upon every parent to search the scriptures and see what it says about the education of our children.
The authors use Scripture in the resolution to argue those Baptists who trust the public-school system with their children are being disobedient to God. "Government schools are by their own confession humanistic and secular in their instruction, [and] the education offered by the government schools is officially Godless," the measure states.

Bravo to the Baptists for being forthright about their interpretation. I look forward to see how others will respond.

Spunky

Fathers rights -vs- state authority

It has long been my contention that children who have meaningful work to do are less likely to get into trouble. I have found this true with my own children especially in adolescence. It is more more profitable when a child has meaningful work along side his father. This used to be the norm in our country. Apprenticeship was a means of training children to become responsible adults. The son would learn his father's trade with the eventual hope of taking it over when his father is no longer able.

I have experienced some of the benefits first hand as my husband works at his
financial planning business here in our home. Children, and especially boys, need the input of their fathers. A son who has the ability to work alongside dad is taught about life as they go about their day. When the dad is absent they look for someone to make sense of the confusing things they see around them. Sadly, for too many foolish friends take the place of dad's wise counsel and the end result is more chaos and turmoil. It is even more disappointing when the state helps in that effort.

"He who walks with the wise becomes wiser still but the companion of fools suffers harm." Proverbs 13:20

Spunky

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

The President's State of the Union

I don't plan on commenting much on politics here. So I will leave it to greater minds to comment on the content of President Bush's speech but the embrace between the Iraqi woman and the mother of the fallen Marine brought me to tears.

It is every mother's hope that they raise children who will live to make a difference in the world. It is even more striking for this mother who has the lasting memory of a son who made a difference in the world because he was willing to die.

Greater love hath no man than this that he is willing to lay down his life for his friend. John 15:13

Spunky

Answer to the Monte Hall dilemma

Yes, it would be in your best interest to switch. You have a 2 out of 3 chance of winning.

Spunky

Thought of the day

The rise and fall of civilizations rests in the education of the youth. -Aristotle

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Should Homeschoolers take the MEAP?

(Note: MEAP is the Michigan Assessment Test but this article could apply to any state with a substitution made for their exam. )

Another school district is now making MEAP (Soon to be Michigan Merit Exam) a requirement for graduation. The legislature has been trying to make it a requirement for homeschoolers as well. They have tried various approaches with the most succesful being money to entice parents to voluntarily have their children take the MEAP. While the money may seem enticing I would urge caution before you send your children off to be tested.

When the MEAP was first introduced it was sold to unsuspecting parents as a way to measure school performance. Everbody wants better schools. This was merely a way to make sure that this could happen. I


But think about it. If it is merely to measure for school performance then why not make the test anonymous? And why do 95% of the students have to take the test in order to get picture of whether the school is performing well? Certainly, that would be helpful but statistically you could have a much smaller sample to determine whether a school was doing well. The short answer is because the test has little to do with school performance and everything to do with student performance.

And why the push to have homeschoolers take the test?

When I debated former Representative now State Senator Switalkski (former Education Committee member) on the radio, he admitted that testing drives curriculum decisions. The end result is educators will teach to the test. As a homeschooler, I will inevitably end up teaching what is on the test so that my children will perform well. This meets the true goal which is a standard on what is being taught throughout the state. I do not want the state to dictate what my children learn and when they learn it. Michigan has determined that a parent has the right to home educate their children with
no testing requirement.

By requiring MEAP for graduation, the colleges will begin to look to this test as a part of college admission. That's why the test has now been combined with the ACT and become the
Michigan Merit Exam. Included with this test will be a Social Studies component and a Job Readiness component. This will quickly change into a National Exam as more and more states adopt the ACT as it's test of choice.

Homeschoolers will be out of the loop. Colleges will demand the scores for a comparison with other students. The only way the homeschoolers will get them is to take the test. The only way to do well on the exam is to teach what is on the test. Thus the state has effectively taken away my authority to decide the curriculum for my child. (This of course assumes that my children are college bound which is a subject for another day).

The Job Readiness component is a whole different issue. Why would a test that is supposedly measuring school performance be interested in whether my child is "job ready". The simple answer is that my child is a commodity. A body to be shuffled around as the state decides based on a test. This may sound far fetched but consider what the school system is like in
Germany and you get an idea of what is going to happen here.

The track that they enter determines which type of school they can next enter, and finally, weather they will go to a university or enter a technical field or trade.

The track they enter is based on a test they must take. This begins in the
fourth grade.

This is also the time where children are evaluated for the next level of schooling. In the 5th and 6th grades (the "orientation grades:) it is decided which track the student will go to next. The decision is based on the students ability, speed of learning, intelligence and/or preference.

Notice how little empahsis is given to what they would like to do but what the test determines they are suitable for. Interesting, the MEAP is given in the schools here in Michigan in the elementary years. Could this be a foreshadowing what is to come for our great state and country?

I hope to write more on this subject but a great book to get is
Real Choice, Real Freedom by Kerry Morgan. Mr. Morgan is an attorney and homeschool father in the state of Michigan. His book details the true rights of parents as laid out by the founding fathers of our nation and how they are being eroded by the state.

Spunky





Mommyblogging

PalmTree Pundit has a great piece on mommy bloggers. She states,

"Hearing other moms in similar situations dealing with similar parenting issues also gives us a sense of community. We're not in this alone, and we're not the first to experience these issues! I think, if anything, that keeps us from focusing inward so much, and to realize that others have gone before us and will go behind us. And whenever I read a blog written by a godly woman, I can gain wisdom from her and her experiences with bringing up her children."

This is the reason I started the blog for homeschool moms. We need the wisdom and encouragement of one another. While I am not as experienced as Ann, I hope that my own experiences will help other moms continue to press on and raise their children in the Lord. Especially in a world where being a stay at home mom is not always popular and homeschooling even less so.

If there are any other Christian homeschoolers who want to start a blog, let me know I'd gladly link to it.

Spunky