Saturday, December 16, 2006

Out With A Bang

The 2006 Weblog Awards

Thank you to all who have been voting for SpunkyHomeschool in the Wizbang Awards for Best Educational Blog. It was an enjoyable challenge to see if a homeschool mom with a defunct blog, could beat a college professor and noted author. The banter was all in good fun. I hold no ill will toward Mr. Berube or his readers. I would like to congratulate Michael Berube for his hard fought victory.

Unfortunately, there was some cheating by zealous but misguided supporters on both sides in this contest. I suspected that was happening on Thursday when Michael Berube had nearly a 200 point lead which collapsed in less than half an hour. This was NOT caused by multiple people voting in the same house on different computers on the same day. This was done by voters from eight IP's casting 967 votes in two days. The moderator of the awards discovered the cheating, adjusted the votes, and banned the IP's. I was docked 967 votes and Mr. Berube 480. The voting continued until midnight without any more problems. Please don't blame my loss on his decision to delete votes. No system is perfect. Ken Aylward at Wizbang ran a fine contest. I accept the outcome and thank Ken and the team at Wizbang for running a first-class contest.

Thank-you to all bloggers who posted announcements about the awards on my behalf. Your contribution kept Spunky Homeschool in the race. I appreciate your encouragement and support.

I would like to extend a special thank-you to The Rebelution. Alex and Brett Harris created the above banner, rallied the teen blogosphere, and took some heat for supporting me and SpunkyHomeschool. Throughout the week, they consistently conducted themselves with respect and dignity. Their attitude and actions stand out as a shining example to all in the blogosphere.

Thanks again to all for your encouragement, comments, and emails.

Update: US News & World Report's blog, Paper Trail picks up on the blog awards.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

See Ya 'Round

I would like to thank all the readers and commenters who have made Spunky Homeschool a true joy for me. You've challenged, encouraged, and inspired me every day. I hope I've done the same for you. But all good things must come to an end sometime. (Assuming you thought Spunky Homeschool as a good thing.) And today is the day for me to leave Spunky Homeschool behind and move on to new opportunities.

Thanks again for making the last two years so much fun!


P.S. No, I'm not dying, getting a divorce, or God forbid putting my children in public school!

UPDATE: Thank you for all the kind and gracious comments. I'm humbled to know that this effort has truly meant so much. For those who felt comfortable enough telling me that the abruptness of the decision was "unfair" and has caused them to lose some respect for me I say thank you as well. I have and always will have great respect for all readers and commenters and appreciate honest feedback good and bad.

Here's a brief explanation as best as I can give one.

I talk very little about my personal life on this blog. That has always been intentional. Unlike other blogs I'm not the subject of the blog that bears my nickname. Education and family life in the world are the subject. I'm just one of God's messengers among many others to spread the Word of Truth. When one writes a book you know when the last page is approaching. Blogs of this sort don't have an ending, the discussion will continue long after me. And it should. Perhaps that's why this may seem more abrupt and sudden. There will never be an end until Jesus returns, thus no time to leave will ever seem appropriate. But ending a blog, just like finishing a good book, often leaves you wanting one more page. But know that the decision was made in obedience to the Lord not from malice or disrespect toward anyone.

Please accept as I have, that at times it's necessary to end one activity and move on in order to continue to walk with the Lord and in His ways.

That's all. There isn't a reason for leaving, but a calling to go forward. What that is will unfold as I obey and take the first step in leaving this behind. Is that being secretive? No. It's telling the truth as I always do. If there were more to tell I would tell it. You deserve that from me.

One final announcement,
Talk about making it tough to leave, I've just been informed that I'm a finalist in the Weblog Awards 2006, for Best Education Blog. I'm humbled to be in the same category with Joanne Jacobs and Education Wonks, two blogs that I read before I began my own and would highly recommend to you. Thank you for your nomination, if you would like to vote here's the place.

The 2006 Weblog Awards

Many thanks again for making this blog what it is. I am truly humbled that my daily writings have impacted so many. More than I could have ever imagined and in so many places.

I will continue to comment on various blogs as time permits. I enjoy reading the posts of various bloggers and their thoughts and opinions inspire and encourage me greatly.

God Bless You All

Monday, December 04, 2006

In the News

News from the Internet,
Florida dad, John Daynard, has decided to give up his job teaching art in the public schools to teach his own children at home,
He left his job as a Pinellas County teacher and pulled his sons out of public school because he found the environment chaotic, even threatening, he says. In his short stint as a Pinellas County elementary teacher, Daynard says he saw a student take off her clothes and streak, another slam a student against a wall. If he intervened, he was chastised for not following policy, he says. But he also failed to follow the credo of teachers everywhere: Don't whine. Deal.
His wife now works the night shift so he can homeschool their two children. (HT: Izzy)

Thankfully, they live in the United States where they are allowed to homeschool. Germany just said "no" to a homeschooling family. It is so very sad and it makes my previous post Schools for the 21st Century even more important to read and think about. (HT: Dewey's Treehouse)

And while you ponder schools of the 21st century what do you think about gender-neutral schools? How are schools supposed to handle children who are not sure if they are boys or girls? The New York Times is looking at Supporting Boys or Girls When the Line Isn't Clear.

At the Park Day School in Oakland, teachers are taught a gender-neutral vocabulary and are urged to line up students by sneaker color rather than by gender. "We are careful not to create a situation where students are being boxed in," said Tom Little, the school's director. "We allow them to move back and forth until something feels right."
A society segregated by color, that's so much more appropriate. "I have a dream, that one day children will not be judged by the color of their sneakers, but the content of their character." If these were my kids, the whole school wouldn't feel right to me. (My humble apologies to Martin Luther King.)

News from my e-mail,
Judy Aron, a frequent commenter here a Spunky Homeschool has informed me that she has started her own blog, Consent of the Governed. She's a wonderful homeschool advocate and a great addition to the blogosphere. Welcome Judy!

Blogger Shannon Entin emailed letting me know that she will be on BlogTalkRadio Tuesday evening at 10 pm ET discussing homeschooling. It's a call in show, so if you're available she'd love to hear from you. (My children are at orchestra until 10 so I'm not sure if I'll get to listen or not.)

News from my mailbox,
Blogger and homeschool dad Steve Sensenig's new CD, Christmas Solitude, arrived this weekend. It is absolutely beautiful. Our whole family enjoyed listening to the familiar songs of Christmas played in Steve's warm and inspiring style.

Ann Voskamp sent me a copy of her book, The Glorious Coming. It is a great Advent devotional leading up to Christmas Day. We're a few days late, but we plan to start our Jesse Tree today.

A heartfelt thanks to Steve and Ann for their unsolicited generosity.

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Schools For the 21st Century

(Dear readers: The next time you hear a politician say, "prepare children for life in the 21st century," I hope you read and remember this post and what that phrase actually means.)

Education! Education! Education! That's been Tony Blair's mantra for nearly a decade and he continues to push for more ways to involve the government in the life of the common man. In a new initiative unveiled today he also believes the government should teach "life skills, " how to cook, enjoy the theater, and surf the internet."

I've said it before, why don' t they just keep kids in school full-time and parents can check them out like library books when they want to play with them.

However, even more grievious than just the blatant outsourcing of parenthood, Tony Blair wants some students to be allowed to take an International Exam rather than the British national exam. (Please stick with me and let me explain what that means.)

The International Baccalaureate is administered by an organization in Geneva. (How convenient the UN Education Bureau is right there!) The goal of the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) is to create IB World Schools. The Director General, Jeff Beard, explains the demand for IBO,
Our programmes are shaped around creating "a better and more peaceful world" with a core determination to develop students who can create this better world through intercultural understanding and respect. In essence, IB programmes are "fit for purpose" for the 21st century!
Started in the late 1960's IBO program is relatively small but the endorsement by the British government is a huge step toward international curriculum and standards.

Defenders of compulsory education might want to rethink their position before US education officials decide to do the same. As a parent, you may find yourself going before an international tribunal to appeal your child's bad grade because he still thinks God governs the affairs of men not the United Nations. But you better hurry, George Bush looks like he has already signed up.

The Bush administration has begun issuing grants to help spread a United Nations-sponsored school program that aims to become a "universal curriculum" for teaching global citizenship, peace studies and equality of world cultures. The U.S. Education Department has issued its first $1.2 million grant to implement the European-based International Baccalaureate (IB) program in middle schools...

Mr. Hill, a former school administrator from Tasmania, Australia, said the role of international education and culture, is to fulfill the vision of UNESCO's constitution in its opening words: "Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed."

The international leaders in cooperation with our "compassionate conservative" President want to construct the minds of our children to conform to global standards of "peace." I like the way Brave New Schools explains it,

The goal of education is no longer to teach the kind of literacy, wisdom and knowledge we once considered essentials of responsible citizenship. It is to train world citizens--a compliant international workforce, willing to flow with the storms of change and uncertainty. These citizens must be ready to believe and do whatever will serve a pre-determined "common good" or "greater whole". Educators may promise to "teach students to think for themselves," but if they finish what they have started, tomorrow's students will have neither the facts nor the freedom needed for independent thinking.
When they say prepare children to become workers to compete in the global economy, they don't mean jet-setting to Paris for a business meeting in the spring time. They want to put the "world" into a world-class education and take God out for the sake of "peace."

Parents are you going to let the United Nations teach your children? Homeschoolers do you want Germany running the future "International Bureau of Homeschooling?"

To see if your local school is an IBO school click here. (Use the Advanced Search to find your state.)

For more information on the IBO click here.

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Saturday, December 02, 2006

Professing To Be Wise...

...they look like fools.

Students at the Columbia University School of Journalism were caught cheating on an ETHICS exam.

The course, which includes such issues as "Why be Ethical?" and "Tribal Loyalty vs. Journalistic Obligation," is taught by New York Times columnist Samuel G.
Freedman, who could not be reached yesterday.
Did they expect anything less from a New York Times columnist as their professor?

You can't teach a class on ethics without right and wrong being defined at some point. What did this professor base his ethics course on? Christians have chosen the Bible as our standard, believers of other religions have their book as well, but I never could grasp where unbelievers of any sort get their standard of right and wrong. Without an independent standard, it all becomes arbitrary and relative to the situation.

For example, if I asked you to tell me how long a line was, you would tell me your answer, then I would tell you mine. Then we would get a ruler and measure to see who was correct. That's an independent standard. We recognize and accept that a ruler is the standard to measure length. Without a ruler we would have no way of determining the length of a line.

So in a morally relative world, can somone please explain to me why students cheating on a test is wrong? (I'm assuming the professor did not use a religous book to teach his class on ethics.)

Update: The students were given a new exam question. Here it is courtesy of the Washington Post.
..."You are the executive editor of a newspaper," begins Exam Essay Question III, forwarded to a reporter by a student. "You receive a tip from a credible source that one or more unspecified articles in recent editions of the newspaper contain fabricated material. No more details are given." No one admits responsibility. What do you do?
Interesting question. I'd love to read the answers. I hope someone leaks those too.

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Friday, December 01, 2006

The Nativity - ACLU Style

You gotta love the creativity of the Young Conservatives at the University of Texas. An ACLU Nativity Scene is to be displayed next week on campus to raise awareness about the progressive elimination of Christmas in the public square.
"We've got Gary and Joseph instead of Mary and Joseph in order to symbolize ACLU support for homosexual marriage, and of course there isn't a Jesus in the manger," said Chairman Tony McDonald. "The three Wise Men are Lenin, Marx, and Stalin because the founders of the ACLU were strident supporters of Soviet style communism. The whole scene is a tongue-in-cheek way of showing the many ways that the ACLU and the far left are out of touch with the values of mainstream America."

The scene will also display a terrorist shepherd and an angel in the form of Nancy Pelosi.
Speaking of the nativity, are you planning on seeing The Nativity Story? It opened today around the country.

Al Mohler said it was "in season and on message." but it received mixed reviews here. The Daley Plaza, a Chicago marketplace won't show film clips on the grounds that it is too "commercial," but a public high school in Fairfax showed the movie in the school's theatre in the evening with the blessing of the ACLU. This stuff can get so confusing.

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