Saturday, September 30, 2006

The DeVos Blog

I really think Dick DeVos could make an excellent governor for Michigan, but there are certain things I'm seeing that are starting to make me wonder how he will lead if elected. I've emailed my questions and concerns to the DeVos campaign quite a few times over the last few weeks with no response. I did speak to an aide but she couldn't answer my questions. His wife was also unable to provide any substantive answers. With Secretary Spellings voicing her desire to track students in higher education, we are at a pivotal time in education policy. The federal government wants to do this in "partnership" with the states. Is Dick DeVos willing to give up our freedom for federal funds? I don't know.

So I decided to try his blog and ask my questions publically. I left quite a few comments on his blog over the past week. I know they were received. In order to leave them you have to register on the site and respond to an email before posting. I am now receiving constant updates about the campaign. However, the comments don't seem to be making it to onto the site. If you're going to have a blog that allows comments it's because you want to interact with your readers and hear their feedback, right? Otherwise, turn the comments off. But allowing comments and only letting certain ones make it on the blog seems a bit disengenuous to me. (Are the comments that actually do make it even legitimate?) My comments weren't mean spirited. They were also on topic and pertained to the post on education. So why were they not approved? An email asking why has also been unanswered. His wife said in her talk this week that the problem with most individuals involved in government is that they don't view the people as the "customer" and they should. Well, most companies that ignored the customer would quickly go out of business. (The absurdity of her claim that we are a customer of our government duly noted.)

If you're from Michigan, maybe you could offer a little customer feedback. Try leaving them a comment and see if you do any better than me. Let me know how it goes.

Interestingly, the campaign has called numerous times over the last few weeks asking us to volunteer to help get Mr. DeVos elected. I would love to help, but I first want to make sure this is a man I want to vote for. If Republican candidates think they can just assume my vote simply because I am a conservative Christian and the alternative would be worse, they are sadly mistaken. I'm beginning to wonder if there is much a difference between the two parties anymore. Does anyone have the courage to state their convictions and what they will do BEFORE they get elected? I wonder how future candidates with a blog trail will do. It's a cinch with all I've written here, my chances of getting elected are slim to none. Not that I ever planned on running for office anyway.

As a side note, my computer has crashed. I pray it gets fixed soon. I posted three times today but it may be while before I post again. So posts may come in spurts until it is fixed.

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Homeschool Bargain Hunters

There's an old joke that a man boasts about how much he paid for his watch, while a woman boasts about how little she paid for hers.

When it comes to homeschoolers and money, are we more like the man or the woman in the joke? Diane Flynn Keith wants to know and asks, "What is it about homeschoolers and money?"
I know I'm going to irritate some people with this next comment, but there even seems to be an "entitlement" mentality that is alive and well in the
homeschool population. Some parents seem to think that things related to education should just be given to them -gratis. They complain about the cost of
curriculum, textbooks, workbooks, lessons, field trips and everything else related to educating their kids. They bargain, barter, haggle, whine, and demand discounts or freebies. Don't these penny-pinchers realize that discounts and freebies aren't always feasible? Do they understand that decreased revenue (and/or the inability to just recover costs) for suppliers will discourage them from offering future opportunities and products? A desire to gouge the profits of big corporate businesses (you know, greedy textbook publishers) is one thing, but I've seen these cheapskates nickle-and-dime homeschool businesses, support groups, and non-profit organizations that have slim (if any) profit margins. I've actually seen them complain and harass the homeschool mom who offers a field trip or a co-op class for a fee. Don't they know that if she doesn't get reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses she may feel resentful and be discouraged from offering future opportunities? I just don't get it.
We are on a tight budget. And I admit it, I do like getting things for free and even negotiate to get a good deal on materials. Bartering isn't illegal or even unethical. And a salesman is always free to refuse to accept any negotiation on price. But my few years in computer sales have also taught me that knowledge isn't free. If I pick someone's brain at a convention about a product, I'll buy it from them. Even if I could get it cheaper online. The time and effort they put into helping me is worth something. I've never bartered on field trips or other such events. But I have exchanged services with others to help defray costs. Right now, we're bartering piano lessons for spanish lessons. It is working out very well.

However, I have had discussions with friends who believe that making any kind of profit on homeschool materials is just plain wrong. Like Diane, I don't get it. Many of these vendors have large families to support. Foods isn't free. Neither are homeschool materials. Perhaps the "entitlement" mentality comes from our years in public school, where we were given all materials for free. Or at least it seemed that way at the time.

On the flip side, I have seen some attempt to take advantage of the homeschool market, producing materials that are heavily inflated in price. We are also of a aware of a father who began a sports league in our area and he had no intention of ever playing one game but accepted the cash. Even Mr. Kiyosaki in his book Rich Dad, Poor Dad that Diane Flynn Keith references as being relevant, has some questionable ideas and a credibility gap . Many homeschoolers have bought into his philosophy on money and are quick to endorse Kiyosaki without doing their homework. My husband did a three part review that would be worthwhile reading for anyone considering using his methods to teach their children. In part II, he talks about the fact that "Rich Dad" never existed.

So there is a place for caution and making sure that the price accurately reflects the value of the product or service. And at the very least, that the person you're dealing with is credible and trustworthy. Don't assume just because they homeschool that they are.

Overall, I think Diane brings up some excellent points in her article especially how our attitudes toward money affect our children. However, I'm not sure that looking for a bargain is unique to homeschoolers, but more just general human nature.

(HT: Scott at K-Dad Education)

There's a Chill In The Air

And it's not just from the cooler fall temperatures. Secretary of Education, Margaret Spellings wants to throw open the doors on higher education and begin the process of federalizing higher education. Citing a "remarkable absence of accountability mechanisms" in postsecondary institutions, in partnership with the states she would like to,

[D]evelop a voluntary, privacy-protected higher education information system that longitudinally analyzes performance. About 40 states have similar systems in place. We must connect these islands of data and make the information available to everyone. We propose providing matching funds to states and institutions that collect and publicly report information on student performance. And we will use the findings to redesign the Department of Education's college search Web site into a more user-friendly search tool.

The commission wrote that "higher education must change from a system primarily based on reputation to one based on performance." I could not agree more. To succeed, this effort must be led by the colleges and universities themselves. We must be careful not to harm the autonomy and creativity that has made them the envy of the world.

But we must act now. Our goal is nothing less than full access to the American Dream by every American who chooses to pursue it.

What state politician will refuse federal money in return for "voluntary" participation in this new accountability system?

The lie now being told to us now about holding universities accountable is the same lie that was told to get standardized testing implemented at the secondary level. The state convinced parents that the need for state standardized tests was to hold our schools accountable. Stuff and nonsense. It was to track each individual child. If it was truly for school accountability, then the test would be anonymous and a respresentative sample of students would be sufficient. But testing all children in every school has a much different purpose than school accountability. The same is true in higher education. The Spellings Commission on Higher Education is all about continuing the process of tracking students from preschool through college. (P-16) into a seamless educational system.

Today's education system works as separate parts with little coordination between academic levels or long-range planning. To meet today's challenges, America must create a radically different system. Such a system must be seamless from kindergarten (preferably preschool) through postsecondary education. The goal should be a P-16 system where students develop at different rates with different competencies and learning styles.
That's the long range goal. Once naive, twice stupid. Shame on us, if we buy this lie a second time.

If the federal government gets away with this then the real American Dream started by our founding fathers will begin to look like our country's worst nightmare.

In a related story, colleges are coveting homeschoolers.

Home-schooled students — whose numbers in this country range from an estimated 1.1 million to as high as 2 million — often come to college equipped with the skills necessary to succeed in higher education, said Regina Morin, admissions director of Columbia College.

Such assets include intellectual curiosity, independent study habits and critical thinking skills, she said.

"It's one of the fastest-growing college pools in the nation," she said. "And they tend to be some of the best prepared."

It remains to be seen how the "performance standards" desired by the federal government and a seamless transition from high school to college will affect this trend.

Another trend in higher education is making courses available online for free. Berkley is now offering over 100 introductory courses available.

I also just recently realized The Great Courses are available at our local library. We are listening to Long Island University Professor Bob Brier lecture on Ancient Egypt. So far it's been pretty good. All this university learning is making me wonder if getting the degree has become more important than getting the knowledge. My children won't get "college credit" for completing the lecture series, but is that the most important thing? I don't think so.

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Thursday, September 28, 2006

The DeVos Homeschool Forum

I attended a forum featuring Betsy DeVos, wife of Michigan gubanatorial candidate Dick DeVos in Grand Rapids last night. Betsy DeVos was personable and seemed "real" considering her prominence in the state. Her willingness to meet with homeschoolers during the campaign demonstrates their desire to understand our issues and concerns. In her remarks, she affirmed Dick DeVos's commitment to retain a parent's right to direct their children's education and specifically the choice to homeschool. In a relaxed conversational style, she also told us a little about her family (she homeschooled two of her four children for a few years) and the campaign. She then took a variety of questions from the audience of about 20 homeschooling parents.

The topics ranged from nucelar power plants to the demise of Detroit. I had three main questions. No surprise to regular readers, they were: credentialing, national standards and testing, and NCLB. From her answers, she seemed unaware of how the ACT and Work Keys had been integrated into the Michgan high school exam or the impact of this change on all Michigan students. She also didn't answer whether Dick DeVos supported NCLB and possible future federal mandates. She deflected by saying there needs to be a "cost/benefit analysis" done first. She also seemed unaware of the push for national standards and testing from other prominent Republicans. These reforms affect all Michigan students, including her son who is currently enrolled in a private Christian high school.

Her lack of knowledge would be understandable and even excusable for most candidates' wives. However, Betsy DeVos said that education was a key area of concern for her. Their family's interest in education is strong and spans nearly two decades. Dick DeVos served briefly on the Michigan State School Board in the early 1990's. The DeVoses also spearheaded a failed state voucher initiative in 2000. She is also the leader of All Children Matter, a political action committee devoted to school choice. Clint Bolick, President of Alliance For School Choice called the DeVoses. "giants in the education-reform movement." Perhaps naively, I hoped for more detailed answers from one so involved in education reform.

But I must also give the DeVoses credit and praise for their philanthropic efforts. Betsy's heart and dedication to helping low income students was obvious. She truly does want every child to get a good education and achieve their full potential. The DeVos's aren't all talk either. They put dollars behind their words and give generously to help many disadvantaged families.

While I was disappointed with the lack of clear answers, Betsy DeVos seemed willing to listen and learn. She was composed and professional, but also very approachable. Despite watching her son play golf in the cool fall rain earlier in the day and a busy campaign schedule, she stayed afterward, chatted, and even took a few photos. Thankfully, they're on my mom's camera so I have an excuse for not publishing them here. I looked much too short and frumpy next to the very tall and photogenic Betsy DeVos.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Blogging, Local Control, and Other News

The People For The American Way (PFAW) have found my blog. Or at least my post on Dick DeVos. For some reaon they found it noteworthy enough to tell their readers about it. It never ceases to amaze me how ordinary people are making their thoughts known and what will get someone's attention. Even those that I have little in common with like the PFAW.

Speaking of Dick DeVos, he came out in support of teaching intelligent design along side evolution in the public schools. That created a bit of a firestorm last week. In response to the kerfuffle Dick Devos said,
I've always believed that our children should be provided with more knowledge, not less. Lots of intelligent people can disagree about the origins of life. In the end, I believe in our system of local control. Local school boards should have the opportunity to offer evolution and intelligent design in their curriculums.
Leaving the ID -vs - evolution debate aside, I'm glad to see that Mr. DeVos supports local control in education. I hope that he continues to do so, and is willing to put his words into action by coming out strongly against a national standard, a national test, and state job profiling and assessments for our children. And once elected, I hope he'll commit to ending our state's involvement in No Child Left Behind. Federal mandates have no place if one is serious about preserving local control. Is Mr. DeVos willing to sacrifice federal funding for local freedom? A bold public declaration would go along way toward convincing this homeschooling mother of 6 that he is serious about maintaing our freedom to homeschool in Michigan.

His remarks indicate he believes in giving our children more knowledge not less in regards to intelligent design and the origin of life. That's great. But what's true in education, is also true in elections. More knowledge is better than less, Mr. DeVos is short on details in his Michigan Turnaround Plan with respect to education. I hope he gives voters more information about where he stands on these issues so we can make an intelligent decision this November.

Otherwise, it's just politics as usual and in the end Mr. DeVos will be just another average governor who'll chatter on about his concern for education and job creation, without really changing a thing. He'll just carry on with the education reforms started by Governor John Engler with Proposal A and continued under Governor Jennifer Granholm.

There's a meeting tonight with Dick DeVos's wife, Betsy in Grand Rapids. I'll be attending and ready to hear Mr. DeVos's plan for education. It's a bit of a drive. But I hope it will be worth the effort. I'll let you know how it goes.

For more information on testing and how it affects homeschoolers please read:
To Test? Or not to Test?,
We're Facing a National Test,
More on Michgan Testing
Portable Credentialing

In other homeschooling news,
More black families are saying "yes" to homeschooling.
"Some educators and families think that because blacks fought so hard to get equal access, we shouldn't abandon it," said Jennifer James, a North Carolina mother who in 2003 started the National African-American Homeschoolers Alliance, a 3,000-member, nonreligious group that provides information for homeschoolers. "But times have changed. It was a great step, but we have to think about our kids."
For those who may want to know more, you can visit Jennifer James blog Joyride Through Insanity,

Homeschooling black families isn't good news for the city of Detroit, they can't afford to lose any more students. They're doing everything they can to get students in school today for the "head count" including giving away free pizza, laptops, and iPods. Even one of the mayors son's who was previous enrolled in private school will be there today. The question is, will he be there tomorrow? His twin brother will remain in private school. My guess is he'll quietly slip back into private school when no one's looking. And I don't blame him one bit.

Here's a few final notes,

The Carnival of Education is up at EdWonks.

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up at PalmTree Pundits.

And don't forget about the contest at Sprittibee's for camera. She also shares the story of a young boy in need of our support and prayers. And there's a new contest over at Kim's for $700 worth of books from Vision Forum.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Homeschool Co-ops and Carnivals

I'm taking a break from politics and testing to answer an email. Daisy asked,

I've been reading your blog for quite some time now and I don't think I've ever seen you give an opinion on homeschool co-ops. Have you ever been part of one? Do you think they're useful? The closer I get to homeschooling my own child (soon to be children!), the more nervous and downright confused I am about the options available, and what's right for my family. Any advice/opinions you have would be helpful.
I laughed when I first read your comment about being nervous with all the options available. There was a time when homeschoolers had only a handful of curriculum options and nothing else. That made everyone nervous and confused. Now that we have all these options, we're still nervous and confused. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Anyway back to your question.

Let's first define co-op and support groups so we're all talking about the same thing. For homeschoolers around here, they are different. A co-op is a set of classes offered on the same day either for enrichment or advanced academics. They offer everything from Shakespeare to fencing. The co-ops usually meet weekly. A support group is a monthly mothers/parents meeting for information and networking. I have both co-ops and support groups within a half-hour drive of my house.

I don't belong to a co-op and I never have. Mostly because of time and budget constraints that made participation difficult for our family. With young children, I have found that structure and routine make homeschooling and home life the easiest on everyone. For me, that meant limiting my involvment in outside activites. I had 5 children, 7 and under at one point. Any outing was a three hour ordeal and seemed to be a major disruption to the routine. So I chose to limit them. Especially, the ones that required me to be there and actually participate every week. That was diffcult to do and still nurse a newborn and take care of my toddlers.

As the children have grown, some of the classes have looked inviting, but we've limited our involvment to a homeschool concert band in our area. I've heard mixed reviews from those who have been a part of the enrichment or academic co-ops. Some really love them others have had nothing but problems with them. Differing philosphical views and parenting styles have caused conflicts. But since I don't have any first hand experience, I hope other readers will chime in with their experience.

The second type of group in my area is a support group. That's more of a mother/parents meeting once a month. When I was a new homeschooler I went all the time. (That was before the internet and all the information now available online.) I found them helpful for networking with other families and a good source of information. But after a few years my attendance dwindled to the point where I don't go very often at all. My church, for many years, was made up of mostly homeschool families so that became another source of support and information. Now that we are not attending there, I have thought about going to a support group but so far haven't taken much action toward actually doing it. I do enjoy them when I do go but I haven't made them a priority.

The answers to these questions depends on your educational and family goals. Like all things, co-ops and support groups can be wonderful addition to their education or training depending on how well they meet your goals. Don't feel pressured to join something because everyone else is doing it. Otherwise, your life can become more confusing than it already is. As your purpose and goals become more defined, questions about what to join will become easier to answer.

If others have thoughts on either co-ops or support groups, please share your thoughts and experience.

One "co-op" I have enjoyed being a part of is the Homeschool Carnival. It's all online and just a click away. Palm Tree Pundit is the hostess this week. The carnival has been a great way for homeschoolers to network together online. It's always worth a read.

And don't forget about Sprittibee's Contest for a new camera. Get on over and share your lesson plans and enter her contest.

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Monday, September 25, 2006

DeVos Speaks to Homeschoolers

Dick DeVos, son of Amway founder Richard DeVos, a former homeschooling dad, and Michigan's Republican nominee for Governor is actively seeking the support of homeschoolers. His wife, Betsy, is scheduled to speak this Wednesday evening at the homeschool building in Grand Rapids. He sent out an email recently letting homeschoolers know he's on our side in education. Here's part of what he said,

Governor Granholm has announced her support for expanding government control of education, threatening the independence of home school families. While I strongly favor increased accountability in education, I do not support government regulation that hinders the freedom of home school parents.
So how do you increase accountability in education without expanding government control and threatening the independence of homeschool families? If it's anything close to what Republican Governor Jeb Bush is doing in Florida, it isn't good news for Michigan homeschoolers. And does this mean Mr. DeVos is okay with hindering the freedom of public school parents? After all the state and national standardized testing is just as big a problem for their children as homeschoolers. Socialism hurts all American citizens equally.

I hope to get a chance to ask a few questions of Betsy DeVos this Wednesday night. Is anyone else from around Michigan planning on going?

And for those not in Michigan, I encourage you to find out what the candidates running for office in your state think about national testing and standards for all students.

Update: I just had a brief chat with a policy advisor to the DeVos campaign this morning. She was cordial and listened to my little speech, but she didn't seem very aware of how our state exam really affected homeschoolers. She also said that she personally thought using the ACT exam as the state exam was a a good move. Not a lot of reassurance there. When she asked me to write an email suggesting what I would do as far as education policy in Michigan, I told her the first step would be for Mr. DeVos to boldy lead by being the first governor to pull his state out of No Child Left Behind. Talk about free advertising for the campaign, that would make headlines across the country. I thought about adding in ending compulsory education across the state, but I didn't want to appear too radical. I'll make sure that's in the email.

And if all this talk of testing and such has you bored out of your mind, read the Ballad of Big Mike. It's an inspirational story of how one family reached out to a homeless black teen and made at difference when just about everyone else had given up on him. It's long but worth the read. (Heads up: the New York Times story has some profanity.) (HT: COD)

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And the winner is...

She has won the "Capture the Educational Moment" and a new digital camera courtesy of Academic Superstores. Congratulations. The winner was chosen at random. Here is her entry. Please email me to claim your prize.

The good news for rest is that you have a second chance to win.

Sprittibee is giving away a camera this week as well. Get the all the details here.

As a side note, posting may be light this week. My computer is having major problems. It will be going in for repairs. We've spent most of the weekend backing up files in the event of a major crash.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Portable Credentialing

I hope to explain in this post more clearly why Work Keys assessments and job profiling are a problem for all homeschoolers across the nation and not just Michgan homeschoolers. This post follows the posts, To Test? Or not to Test?, We're Facing a National Test, and More on Michgan Testing

In my previous post More on Michigan Testing I said that it will be up to colleges to decide whether they will continue to accept the ACT and not the Michgan Merit Exam (MME). At this point they do, but that could change. Daryl said,

I would put the chances of this happening at roughly zero, since out-of-staters will not have access to the MME.
That's an excellent point. I should be more clear. It isn't the MME that the universities will look for, but the certification or credential that the MME provides. Work Keys (owned and administered by ACT) provides the certification. A candidate with the certification will be more desirable than one without certification. As more states adopt Work Keys, this make the job profiling and credentialing "portable" across state lines. This is also known as a "Certificate of Initial Master" or CIM. A university or employer would look more favorably on a candidate with a CIM than an unknown without the state endorsed CIM. The only way to obtain the credential or CIM is by taking the the state exam. Oregon and Indiana provide an examples of how the certificate is used.

Just last week South Carolina announced it is moving toward a Work Keys testing requirement for its high school students.

Graduates of high schools and technical colleges - as well as those looking for work - will be tested for academic and social abilities and given a certificate of their scoring under a plan adopted by the S.C. Department of Commerce.

WorkKeys is an assessment system offered by Iowa-based nonprofit ACT, which also trains people to consult at businesses and develop profiles for different jobs - detailing what scores are needed for certain positions.

It also advocated including WorkKeys assessment tests as part of, or administered alongside, the state exit exam given to 10th-graders.

This is not about a Michigan exit exam, but a portable credential across state lines. So an out-of-state South Carolina student would be profiled and credentialed in the same way as an in-state Michgian student thanks to Work Keys. And those without the credential (private and homeschoolers) will be considered the least desirable candidate of all, especially if state funding is tied to accepting a certain number of credentialed candidates. ACT and Work Keys provide the national standard that many are clamoring for and the perfect link between education and the national workforce needed to compete in the global economy.

So what's happening in Michigan will affect homeschoolers across the nation. We just happen to be further along in this portion of education reform. But as South Carolina proves, Work Keys assessments are most likely coming to a state near you.

Update: Illinois is already using the ACT with Work Keys. So add them to the list.

The Career Readiness Certificate website is another source of information. This is the website of a consoritum of states that have joined together to develop a regional strategy using Work Keys and adopting a portable credential for their region. The director of the consortium, Barbara Bolin wrote an article for Economic Development Magazine. Here's part of what she said,

In 2003, six states (Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Maryland, Tennessee and West Virginia) plus the District of Columbia agreed that a portable credential that indicated attainment of criterion-referenced workplace literacy skills would be beneficial to the regional economy that spans these states. They then formed a voluntary group, the Career Readiness Certificate Consortium, in order to support and assist each other with the deployment of the certificate.

A common language was needed for such a credential, so it was decided to base the Career Readiness Certificate on WorkKeys assessments (a product of ACT, formerly American College Testing), which over the last 10 years has become a widely accepted common language for skills definition among employers, educators, trainers and potential and incumbent employees.
In a slide show presentation at the Work Keys 2006 Conference Dr. Bolin said this,

Credentials are the new currency of employment. (Slide #14)
And from another slide (#20) she said that 20 states have agreed with the idea that Work Keys should be the common language for the portable credential. A list of states is given in slide #23.

So with 20 states agreeing that Work Keys should be a common standard among educators and employers, that puts the odds a little bit higher than zero. It's just a matter of when the Work Keys portion is joined to each state's high school exam.

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Friday, September 22, 2006

More On Testing in Michigan

(My apologies to regular readers for concentrating on Michigan, but these issues are important for homeschoolers in our state to understand. )

In my post on state testing in Michigan, reader Meredith asked if a homeschooler can take the ACT separate from the Michigan Merit Exam (MME).
Are you sure that kids still won't be able to take the ACT separately? I didn't see that called out in any of your links, and I would be surprised to see ACT being willing to give up the extra revenue coming from kids wanting to re-take the exam to get better scores on the traditional sections.
I called the ACT national office this morning and the answer to that is yes. You can go directly to the website and register with the ACT online. You would then only be taking the ACT portion of the exam and NOT the Work Keys component, bypassing the job profiling and any other assessment required of public school students.

The key to doing this is in the DATE you take the exam and going through the ACT directly NOT the state.

The article put out by told homeschoolers they can obtain ACT test scores used for college admission by taking the exam on March 13-16, 2007. But that's not the only way to get test scores. If you want to avoid the Work Keys job profiling and assessments, ignore that date. The ACT student website gives many dates and suggests taking the exam on April 14, 2007. According to an ACT representative, the test given on that date would not include the Work Keys portion of the exam. It is the basic ACT and NOT the Michigan Merit Exam.

You would then have the test scores necessary for college admission. Keep in mind, that Michigan requires the Michigan Merit Exam (formerly MEAP) for all high school graduates, but homeschoolers are NOT under that requirement. It will be up to individual state colleges and universities to decide if they will continue to accept only the ACT and not the MME. At this point in time, they do. That could change. It may also affect dual enrollment which many homeschoolers are taking advantage of. You will be required to pay for the test yourself ($29) instead of the state picking up the tab. You will also forfeit the merit award ($2500). The monetary award is actually what is tempting many homeschoolers into taking the MME. That's unfortunate. I know college is expensive, but I believe the value of our autonomy as homeschoolers is worth more than $2500.

The state of Michigan would love nothing more than to change the law and require homeschoolers to take the state exam. They've tried and failed. However, when homeschoolers willingly volunteer to take the state exam, it makes it more difficult to fight against requiring it for all homeschoolers in our state.

It is also unclear how long ACT will continue to offer the test without Work Keys to high schoolers. ACT controls that portion of the test as well. So this could get more confusing as time goes on, especially if the state of Michigan puts pressure on them to include that portion. This would most likely happen if public school parents catch on to the job profiling aspects and opt out of the MME and only take the ACT. (I can dream can't I?) But for now that's where it stands.

Please let homeschoolers across the state know about this option. Being aware and informed about our options is the best way to keep homeschool free from instrusive state regulations. And if you live in another state, find out if your state is moving toward the ACT as their state exam. Call your representatives and find out what is being discussed in the education committee. That's where it all begins.

(Thanks Meredith, your question was a good one.)

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The Last Day to Enter

Tonight at midnight (EST) is the last day to enter the "Capture the Educational Moment" contest and a chance to win a new digital camera courtesy of Academic Superstore. You can get the details on how to enter here. The winner will be announced on Monday. The stories and photos have been inspiring and definitely moments to remember. Thanks for sharing your stories.

Here are a some more entries

A Long Road by Lorrie Flem
A Love of Reading by Kelli
It's Ancient History by Megan
Teaching through a grain of rice by Dana
Mappin' It by Jaime
Homeschooling & Memory Making by Loni
Magazine Moments by At a Hen's Place
From a Moment to a Lifetime by Ann
"Humming bird" or not a "Hummingbird" by Karen
She likes to play the gee-tar! by Amanda
Visual Skills by Phyllis
A Hard Lesson by Colleen
Why I Homeschool by Margie

Thursday, September 21, 2006

"Capture The Educational Moment" Contest

Would you like to win a new digital camera?

Who wouldn't? Well, here's your chance...

Academic Superstore has asked me to host a contest to get people thinking about education in the home and school. How could I refuse?

This contest is open to ALL public and private teachers, parents, home schoolers and students (18 and older). Entries outside the United States are also welcome.

One winner, chosen at random will receive the Canon PowerShot SD600 and a Timbuk2 Messenger Bag. (Combined value over $350)

No kidding! I'm as excited as you are and I can't even win.

Entering is as easy as 1, 2, 3...

1. Inform and inspire us with a simple post that captures an educational moment. You can use words, photos, or a combination of both to tell your story. The entry doesn't have to be long, but it must be related to education. You could tell us about the day your child learned to read, or the day your lesson actually went according to the plan. Did you do something special for the start of the school year to make it memorable? Or maybe it was a fun class project, field trip, or new curriclum idea? Pass it along. It could even be an educational moment from your own childhood. Don't worry, the entries will not be judged. This is just Academic Superstore's way of promoting education in the home and at school. The winner will be chosen at random by my children.

2. Your entry must also inlcude the sentence,

This is my entry to win a camera in the "Capture the Educational Moment" Contest sponsored by Spunky and Academic Superstore.

Note: Please make sure that Spunky and Academic Superstore are hyperlinked or "clickable". You can also use any previously written post, just repost it so it is dated between today's date and the end of the contest.

3. Leave me a comment or trackback with the link to your post so you can share your moment with the rest of us.

That's it. You're entered.
UPDATE: Double your chance of winning by sharing two stories. Just make sure that you leave a second comment with the second link.

If you don't have a blog you can still enter. Just send an email to 10 friends sharing your educational moment. Make sure you include the same sentence above (#2), along with a link to this blog post and "cc" me in the email (spunkyhomeschool [at] yahoo [dot] com)! That's all you have to do.

Forums and Yahoo groups count too! The same rules apply. Just send me an email linking to the post.

My children will select one winner at random from all valid entries.

Deadline for entry is Friday, September 22, 2006 at Midnight (EST). No late entries will be accepted.

The winner will be announced Monday, September 25, 2006.

So get busy and maybe your next memorable moment will be captured with a new Canon Digital Camera courtesy of Academic Superstore!

We're Facing A National Test

A few weeks ago I blogged about a new Fordham study outlining four ways to achieve a national test. Yesterday, I wrote about how our state is using the ACT with a Work Keys component as their state exam and how this will affect homeschoolers. A handful of other states are also using the ACT. I predict that it's just a matter of time before the two meet, a national test and the ACT. If enough states adopt the ACT we will have a defacto national exam. The current dilemma homeschoolers face in Michigan will be faced by ALL homeschoolers around the nation. Sadly, some conservatives who fight government control in other areas, welcome the move toward a national exam and federal control with open arms.

In the Washington Post today, former education secretaries William Bennett and Rod Paige added their voices to the growing chorus for national standards and a national test.

Washington should set sound national academic standards and administer a high-quality national test. Publicize everybody's results, right down to the school level. Then Washington should butt out.

Greater federal interference is not the answer -- but neither is a naive commitment to "states' rights." A new model -- standards set nationally, daily decisions made locally -- strikes the best balance.

That's like me telling my children what's for dinner, but letting them decide which fork to use to eat it. That's what these politicians consider striking a "balance". And make no mistake about it, Washington has no intention of "butting out" once the standards are in place. Bennett and Paige readily admit that the Consitution says nothing about education, leaving it to the states to decide such matters. I'm sure they have read the tenth ammendment which says,

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
But who needs Constitutional authority when there's a national "crisis". The sad thing is, government meddling is what got us into this mess, and now they think more meddling at a higher level will get us out? But to them, anyone who can't see the wisdom in a federal/state partnership in education is just "naive".

Public school parents in my neighborhoood despise the emphasis placed on state testing. Teachers in the classroom don't want to test, they want to teach. It's time to do more than just vent to a neighbor or on a blog. Parents with children in the public schools don't have to pull their children out of school completely to make their voices heard. They just have to say "no" to government mandated testing. Call your children in sick during testing week. It's not a lie. You're sick of the government testing and tracking your children. Tell them your child has "Number 2 Flu". A national boycott of state standardized tests will grind this "reform" to a halt. It's time we collectively tell Washington, WE set the standard NOT the beauracrats in Washington.

The question is, do parents have the courage to tell government beauracrats to "butt out" now, not after a national test is a reality and we see the unintended consequences?

If Christian parents, whose children are still in the schools, are serious about reforming the public schools, this is where the rubber meets the road. Are you willing to let Washington "assess" what your children think? Are you willing to let Washington test and track your child from kindergarten through college and "profile" them for a job that meets the demands of the state and not their personal dreams? Are you willing to tell Washington who is really the one "naive" in their thinking?

This isn't just a homeschool issue. This is about where our country is headed. Will we remain the United States of America or become the United Socialists of America? The choice is up to us.

Others blogs worth reading on this issue,
The Cato Institute thinks this is a bad idea too. "What they're saying to states is this: why don't we replace those NCLB handcuffs - that you might slip out of anyway - with a nice new straightjacket."

Kay Brooks echos the call for local not federal control. "I would prefer a Tennessee legislature and local school boards that have backbone enough to tell the professional educators that what they're doing isn't good enough and we're going to try some real freedom and competition instead. chimes in here."

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Hurry! Only Two Days Left!

You have until tomorrow (Friday) at midnight to get your entry in the "Capture the Educational Moment" contest and a chance to win a new digital camera courtesy of Academic Superstore. You can get the details on how to enter here.

Here are some more recent entries.

Schooling my Daughter by Wooden Porch
Flash Cards: Bad, Bingo: Good by Charity
My Fourth Grade Moment by Everyday Mommy
First Day of School by Amy
No Ordinary School by Barbara
My Son's First Report Card by Elena

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

To test? Or not to test?

That is a question Michigan high school homeschoolers are going to have to decide by the spring of next year. (And if you're not in Michigan, read on because this probably happening in your state as well.)

Currently, Michigan has very relaxed homeschool laws. No testing, no reporting, no anything. However, the state is desperate to get homeschoolers back into the system. No Child Left Behind means exactly that. ALL children must be in the system so the state can track the children from preschool to college. But we homeschoolers are just a tad too independent to just willingly jump back in. Educrats have also failed in the legislature to change the requirements for homeschooling, so the state is looking for creative ways to make sure we're not "left behind" in the global economy. They are using online charters as one means to lure homeschoolers back into the fold, another is through testing.

In our state, testing isn't required but that doesn't mean we're not affected by state and federal testing requirements. Michigan's state exam, the Michigan Merit Exam (MME) is now facilitated by the ACT. The ACT and the state exam are now ONE exam. This legislative slight of hand will impact homeschoolers ability to enter college and gain employment. Previously, the ACT was an independent test paid for by the parents. Now it is a state funded exam run by the state through the public schools. Due to the change in the law, the only way homeschoolers can take the ACT is by going through the government. Pending approval of the test by the Department of Education, this change affects homeschoolers planning on taking the ACT in the Spring of 2007 and thereafter.

Michigan government officials want you to know you're still welcome to take their state exam and that it is definitely tied to college admission.

Students who are home-schooled also have the opportunity to participate in the MME - and in this way, obtain ACT scores that can be used for college admissions.
It's not that the ACT can be used for college admission. It will be. The MME is now required in our state to graduate. Taking the exam provides the "credentials" colleges and employers will look for in a candidate. Homeschoolers who don't take the state exam will not be as "desirable" a candidate for college admission or employment as those who have taken the state exam and acquired the credential. They will be at a competitive disadvantage. I already had one friend tell me her fifth grade public schooled son was recently declared "unemployable". How much more a high schooler who doesn't meet state "employability" standards whatever the state decides those are?

So why not just take the test?

In short this is not the same ACT test we may have taken to enter college. It has some of the same components but they've added an additional component, WorkKeys. In order to take the exam, homeschooled students MUST identify themselves to the local high school and they MUST participate in all assessments required of public school students. WorkKeys is included in those assessments. This is the state's way of bringing us back into the system. They even offer monetary incentives (commonly known as a bribe) to convince us it's in our best interest to submit to their test and credentialing process.

What is WorkKeys?

Quoting from the ACT document on Work Keys preparation,

The WorkKeys system consists of job profiling (finding out which skills are needed on the job), assessments (the tests you'll be taking plus several others), reporting (telling you how your skills match job requirements), and instructional support (guidance to educators related to improving students' skill levels).
How are these results used?

You can use your WorkKeys results to get a better picture of jobs you are ready for and to improve areas where your skills are weak. Employers can use the results to determine how qualified you are for positions in their organizations. And schools can use the information- along with input from employers - to ensure that their curriculum provides adequate work skills training to meet the needs of businesses.
This is career tracking and the primary goal of state testing all along. Colleges and employers will use these scores to select candidates for admission and job placement.

The whole purpose of education from the state's perspective is to do well on a test, to get a good job, to compete in the global economy. A uniform standard and test taken by ALL students will move us toward the goal of a state managed workforce. That's why Florida will require middle and high school students to declare a career major. I expect to see a similar measure introduced here in Michigan soon.

What is tested is what is taught, what is taught is what is thought. And that's why we homeschool. We don't want the state controlling what our child think. Nor is it the state's business what my child want's to be when they grow up. This is what John Taylor Gatto referred to as Fourth Purpose Schooling. Those that submit to the state and its "assessments" are at a competitive advantage to those that don't. Link government testing to college admissions is the state's back door way of regulating homeschooling without actually passing a law specifically requiring homeschoolers to take the state exam.

So homeschoolers the question is, do you take the test or not? What would you do if you lived in Michigan and your child's college entrance or employment depended on submitting to the state's "assessments"?

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Contest and Carnivals

If you're looking for a little variety in your blog reading, the carnivals are a great place to go.

The Median Sib hosts the Carnival of Education
Life in a Shoe hosts the Carnival of Kid Comedy
The Thinking Mother also hosts the Carnival of Homeschooling
Communication FunDamentals host the Carnival of FunSchooling

The HSLDA Court Reporter has a few articles that may be of interest: Homeschoolers Take The Field talks about homeschoolers and sports and New Tools for Homeschools explores the way technology and the internet are changing homeschooling.

Here are more contest entries in the "Capture the Educational Moment" Contest:

Homeschooling is Life by Nancy Baetz
Not Quite by Ann V.
Educational Moment...Or Two by the Ding family
Rascal a photo entry by Laurie Bluedorn
Homeschool Daze by DeeDee
Photo of the Week by Ruth Smith

If you haven't already done so, make sure you get your entry in by Friday, September 22 at midnight. Get all the details here.

We found out this week that Rosetta Stone is available at online through our library! So my computer time is being reduced even more these days. We are all learning Spanish and my son is also learning Hebrew. Hasta la vista!

Update: I'm glad I didn't buy Rosetta Stone. Daryl informs us that Rosetta Stone has gone the way of eBay. Fairfield Language Technologies has a policy that prevents individual users from reselling their software after they are done using it.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

What about Preschool?

Jules at Everyday Mommy emailed and asked,

I've begun preschooling our 4 year-old at home with a simple curriculum I've put together. However, it is very basic and we speed through it in no time. I know that every parent thinks their child is bright, but I'm afraid that I truly do have a very bright child on my hands. I don't say this boastfully, but fearfully. Am I capable of teaching a gifted child? I was a B+ student. Nothing to write home about. However, I am passionate about learning to this day, I'm passionate about our child and I'm passionate about homeschooling. Could you take a moment and share some thoughts on homeschool preschool curriculum? Any recommendations?
I've heard it said, "God doesn't call the equipped. He equips the called." By God's grace and His wisdom, you and your husband can teach your gifted son. You may not understand Calculus yet. But don't worry most preschoolers, even the gifted aren't ready for that just yet!

One of the joys of homeschooling is that you get to learn all the things you may not have learned the first time around. All education leaves some gaps. It's just a matter of which gaps they are. So I encourage you to determine to homeschool not just based on what you know, but what you and your son can learn together. With your passion and his energy and aptitude, you'll be a dynamic team. I wrote a more detailed post on choosing curriculum that you may find helpful.

At the preschool stage, curiosity is the best curriculum and exploration the best teacher.

You are teaching him how to learn. Provide lots of opportunities for him to ask questions and then discover the answers together. Build a habit of attentiveness by asking him about what he sees around him. Ask him to describe the objects and why he thinks the Lord gave them to us. What is their purpose? How does the object relate to other things around it? Attentiveness is just one of many habits our younger children need to mature and learn about the world around them.

Charlotte Mason, an English writer from the 1800's talks about many of the early habits we are to help cultivate in our children. I would strongly recommend her writing as a source of inspiration and information. Even if you don't use the "Charlotte Mason method" her words of advice and wisdom will help you gain a greater understanding of education. Karen Andreola has taken the lengthy of works of Charlotte Mason and condensed them. Her website, Charlotte Mason, is a goldmine of information. For a daily burst of Charlotte Mason, visit the blog Charlotte Mason.

Other resources I have found helpful for preschoolers are,

Five In A Row by the Lamberts
Alpha Phonics by Blumenfeld
Math U See (A gifted child son would probably enjoy this method.)

Although, some may disagree I would discourage the use of electronic teaching at this stage, both TV and computer. I would also encourage the use of plenty of read alouds that are a little longer than a story book. Something that would take a few days or a week to finish. I wrote more about this in my post, Don't Control the Remote...Control the Appetite.

And don't discount "playtime" as just a waste of time. When someone asked homeschooler Micki Colfax what she did with her preschoolers she replied, "They played with a lot of legos." It must have worked. Her boys made it into Harvard. Their book, Homeschooling for Excellence will give you some insights as well.

I'm just getting back into the preschool phase after being out of it for a few years. So if others have tips and ideas please share them. I also didn't speak too much about training that is so important during the preschool years. I hope to get to that soon.

I've also been asked what to do with preschoolers while your trying to teach the older ones. I'll try and get to that question soon. In the meantime, two resources that I have found helpful are Preschoolers and Peace and Terri Maxwell's Managers of their Home. If others would like to share their thoughts on that question feel free to chime in.

Heather has also blogged about preschool and kindergarten. She's always full insights and this post is worth a read.

The Carnival of Homeschooling is also up at the Thinking Mother. There is always lots if ideas and inspiration there as well.

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My Educational Moment

I can't enter the "Capture the Educational Moment" contest, but here would be my entry if I could. It's a conversation between me and my two year old daughter, Elaina.

Elaina would peek in the bathroom and ask, "Mom, what's that on the mirror?"

I'd reply, "Condensation. That's what happens when the warm air from the shower meets the cold mirror."

"Oh. And what are you putting in your hair?"

I would answer, "Gel. It keeps my hair in place."

This same conversation was repeated just about every day for a month.

Then last week she once again peeked into the bathroom but instead of asking her usual question she shouted, "Look mom! Condensation. That's when the warm air meets the cold mirror." She narrated it back to me perfectly.

"You're right! You remembered what I taught you."

"Yep. And you put Jello in your hair every morning too, just like Jason."

Here are some other entries,

The Evolution of School by Brandy
A Magical Moment by Meredith
An Educational Moment by Annette
Charlotte by Regina
History: Big and Small by Hinds Feet
The Lessons of History by Scott Elliott
Homeschool Mom Moment by Owlhaven
School With #3 Today by Momtobrownheads
A Reluctant Reader Becomes a Bookworm by Karen W.

You have until Friday to enter the contest for a chance to win a digital camera courtesy of Academic Superstore.

Update: I will also give people double the chance of winning by sharing two stories. Just make sure that you leave a second comment here.

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Monday, September 18, 2006

A Radical Response to Rosie

I know I'm a little late on this. The blogosphere has been all in a buzz about Rosie O'Donnell's comment on "The View" for a week. (And in blog time that makes it ancient history.) For the few who still may not know, last week Rosie said,

"Radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam in a country like America where we have separation of church and state."
I have been so busy I didn't give it too much thought. That is until I read the the response by Think Christian. James really made me, well, think. Responding to those who are calling for Rosie to apologize he said,

I'm not sure that's the right attitude. Didn't Jesus say, "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matthew 5:11).

So like Baalam's curse of the Israelites turning into a blessing, isn't O'Donnell blessing followers of Jesus and providing a great reward in heaven? The truly "radical Christian" thing to do, might just be to email O'Donnell a thank you note.

Now that would be radical. That's assuming you're a radical Christian and not just a regular Christian, whatever that is? Just who is a radical Christian anyway?

All I know is, that nearly 15 years ago I made the decision to turn off my TV for good. Hearing things like this makes me so glad I did. Does that make me a "radical" Christian?

I still listen to some radio though, and now I can listen to some of my homeschool favorites on the internet at a new site called JoJo Tabares is the guest today. She's also hosting the Carnival of FunSchooling tomorrow.

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Capture the Educational Moment

We've had some wonderful entries in the "Capture the Educational Moment" Contest for a new digital camera. Here are a few of them,

Capturing an educational moment a photo from Deuteronomy 6
My Folly by Cindy
Environmental Education the Messy Way by Betsy
The Lie Bee by Ann
Student of the Year by Darlene

I'll feature more entries during the week. You have until this Friday to get your entry in. The contest is open to any public, private, and homeschool teacher and parent. The drawing is completely random but the entries have been fun and inspiring. So get busy and get your entry in today. Complete details are here.

Update: I will also give people double the chance of winning by sharing two stories. Just make sure that you leave a second comment here

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Friday, September 15, 2006

The Working Homeschooler

Most of us who homeschool consider it a full time job. Others who work full time rarely consider homeschooling because of the demands of the job. There are some however who are blendng full time work with homeschooling.

From 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day, Shari Smith, who works about 60 hours a week as an online-community moderator for the Web site, also home-schools her 11-year-old daughter Rebekah. Working side by side with Rebekah at adjacent desks in their Yorktown, Va., home, Ms. Smith takes 15- to 30-minute breaks from her job to explain concepts and answer questions. Each evening, she sets aside time to prepare her daughter's assignments for the next day.
The article also featured Art Robinson founder of the Robinson Curriculum. He continued to successfully homeschool his six children after his wife died of cancer. Currently, they have an estimated 60,000 students enrolled in their program. Many of them working homeschoolers.

Working homeschool mom Lisa Wood had this to say,

"Some people say, 'Wow, you've taken on a lot,'" says Ms. Wood, who lives in Esmont, Va. "But then I watch people whose kids go to school, and that's a lot too -- hustling to get them out early to the bus, dealing with issues with the school." She adds, "Either way, educating a child is demanding."
It truly is. My hats off to these families who make homeschooling work while working.

(Thanks to my hubby for the article.)

Don't miss your chance to win a new camera in the "Capturing the Educational Moment" Contest? Click here for all the details.

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

German Homeschool Mom Arrested

Thanks to reader JoAnna for sending me the link to the story of a German homeschooling mom who was arrested,

Last Thursday the German police arrested Katharina Plett, a homeschooling mother of twelve. Yesterday her husband fled to Austria with the children. Homeschooling is illegal in Germany since Hitler banned it in 1938. The Plett family belongs to a homeschooling group of seven Baptist families in Paderborn. We wrote about their case last year.

Stefan Sedlaczek of the Catholic website heard about her arrest on Saturday. He reports today that a female plain-clothes police officer rang at Katharina Plett's house on Thursday around 11:00 am. When she opened the door other police officers, who had hidden themselves, forced their way in. Mrs Plett was allowed to change, but a police officer followed her into her bedroom in case "she would arm herself and shoot us all." The woman was able to inform her husband by mobile phone before the police brought her to Bielefeld.

Hitler was defeated. His laws must be defeated as well. The owners of website that posted this story are also facing their own struggles to homeschool in Belgium. We need to pray for these families. We also need to pray that the European community would come into the 21st Century and realize that children belong to their parents and not the state.

Dana explains more about how Germany operates in her post, Germany, Homeschooling and the Separation of Church and State.

If you think that this can't happen here, think again. Read here to find out how.

UPDATE: Kate suggests writing a polite letter to the German Embassy expressing your opinion. Here's the address,

Ambassador Klaus Scharioth
German Embassy
4645 Reservoir Road NW
Washington DC, 20007-1998

In other news,

I'm hosting a contest "Capture the Educational Moment". It's open to all parents and teachers. The prize is a new Canon Digital Camera courtesy of Academic Superstore. Get all the details here.

Susan at Corn and Oil has a heads up for homeschoolers in Illinois.

Judy Aron of NHELD asks, Have you signed the Teen Screen petition yet?

Please pray for the Godfrey family. Their faith and courage is truly inspirational.

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up.

The Carnival of Education is up.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Homeschool Snobbery (Part Two)

There is another aspect of homeschooling that is easy to misunderstand, the real and perceived judgement that non-homeschooling parents feel by homeschoolers.

I remember having a conversation with my neighbor shortly after we moved into our current home. It was nearing September and the first question many of my new neighbors wondered was what grade my children were in. We exchanged ages and I told them we were planning on homeschooling that year. My oldest was 5 at the time. Not much more was said. After a few months I was talking with my neighbor about her son's school. She shared some of her triumphs and struggles adjusting to the new routine. I listened but said very little. Toward the end of the conversation she said, "Well I don't know why I told you about this, I know how you feel about the public schools."

Surprised by her last remark I said, "I don't recall having a conversation with you about the public schools, so what do you believe I think about them?"

She stammered and said, "Well, you homeschool don't you? You must think the schools are pretty awful otherwise you wouldn't homeschool."

"Well," I responded. "Using that logic, should I to assume you don't like homeschooling because you have your children in public school?"

The moral of the story is that it is always better to ask questions rather than make erroneous assumptions. Especially with those that make different choices than we do.

I thought back to that conversation when I read Elaine's comment today under my Homeschool Snobbery post. She wrote,
As a public school mom who has considered homeschooling over the past few months, let me say in all candor that the blogging homeschool community has completely turned me against the idea. Never have I encountered such doctrinaire, uncharitable and sanctimonious opinions! Certainly not in our public school community, which as far as I can tell is made up of a lot of smart, caring mothers who help each other out more than they judge each other. By the way, lest you think the worst of me, too, for sending my kids to public school, let me add that I also consider myself a HOMESCHOOLING mom because I do not take lightly my God-given responsibility to be my children's first and lifelong teacher!!! We do a lot of or even MOST of the things you homeschoolers do--read the Bible, pray together, discuss literature and current events. But I am not raising them with a view that all government is bad or that all public schools are the same. The way I read the Bible, it is our responsibility as Christians to care for our neighbors, including those less well-off and to make the world BETTER if we can. Anyhow, thanks for helping me make up my mind.
Thanks for your comments Elaine. I appreciate the time you took to write them. If there are specific examples on my blog where I have been uncharitable towards you or other public school parents I would ask that you show me. I'm not perfect. If you could show me specific examples to help me improve as a blogger and homeschool mother I would be most grateful.

Sporadically reading different blogs for a short time, I can definitely see how you could reach your conclusions. Often my posts, as well as others, are full of passion and conviction for homeschooling and parenting in general. It's easy to feel "judged" where no judgment is intended. That is a natural reaction anytime we are uncertain of our own convictions but encounter the strong convictions of another. I've felt it myself in many areas. And like my neighbor it is easy to make erroneous assumptions instead of asking questions to find out more about what we believe.

You and I actually have a lot in common. We read the Bible, pray, and neither of us think all government is bad. We're both raising children to do the same. Further, we both believe that it is our responsibility as Christians to care for our neighbors, including those less well-off and to make the world BETTER if we can. We just differ in HOW we implement the last part of our belief. I don't believe the best way for that to happen is by forced benevolence through taxation and compulsory education. Forced benevolence is never charitable. It is we, not the state, who are told to love and serve our neighbor. I accept that others don't see things my way. But as a Christian we are called to study the Scriptures and no where in the Scripture do I see our Lord giving Christian parents the liberty to put their children under the counsel of the ungodly in order to grow in wisdom or help our neighbor's children. Even the early life of Jesus demonstrates that fact. (See the posts, How Then Shall We Educate and How Should Christian Parents Educate Their Children.) I welcome your thoughts on what I've written.

Elaine, I encourage you not to base the difficult decision of how to educate your children on the opinons of homeschool bloggers, but the Truths of God's Word. If you can confidently stand before God knowing that you have searched the Scriptures for His instructions in this matter and are walking in obedience to them, it doesn't matter what I or anyone else think about you, real or perceived.

Lastly, speaking about parents who don't homeschool, I can assure you that there are plenty of opinionated Christian public school parents who think what I'm doing is near child abuse. Perhaps you have not encountered them in your community, but they are out there -- in my government, in my neighborhood, and here on my blog. And if I were less confident in what I believed, they'd probably ruffle my feathers a bit too.

However, it is my hope and earnest prayer that I live my life faithfully for Him, not the approval of anyone else.

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Monday, September 11, 2006

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

NHELD has issued an informational bulletin concerning United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. This treaty has already affected a homeschooling family in Belgium. It's up to homeschoolers here to be informed to ensure the same thing doesn't happen here.

NHELD does not believe in fear mongering. NHELD believes in the distribution of facts so that individuals can formulate their own opinion. Through this bulletin and the two which will follow, NHELD hopes to distribute facts about the United Nations' Convention on the Rights of the Child. NHELD also offers its opinion in this bulletin about the possible effects of United States' ratification of that Convention. We hope that readers will further investigate this issue and enlighten others, in turn. We broke this up into three parts because this would otherwise be a rather lengthy bulletin. This first part dealt with definitions, the second part dealt with Supreme Court cases which addressed conflicts between treaties and federal and state laws, and the last part will present some analysis and concerns regarding the Convention of the Rights of the Child, as well as other treaties. The issue is complicated, has some historical background, and requires some time to read through and understand. We hope that you will take the time because this is a very important issue, affecting our children, and our sovereignty.

Did You Know? The United States signed the Convention of the Rights of the Child, but has not yet ratified it. If this Convention is ratified it may present some problems...

If not for your sake, for your children's sake and for their children's sake, we encourage everyone to take the time to become informed and to ask questions of your Senators, to make your opinion known, and to make your voice count.

In other UN / Education related news, Allen Quist takes a look at the Globe Program.

Just as its name suggests, the GLOBE Program is part of an effort to establish a global system of education. Also as its name suggests, the GLOBE program looks at the world from a global perspective, not from the perspective of the United States.

Parents do you want the UN teaching your children "global values"?

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