Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Five on the Way

That's five babies soon to be born to one blessed momma and papa. The doctors encouraged the parents, Mike and Courtnee Stevenson, to "selectively reduce" the number of babies.
"After much prayer and seeking of God's will, Courtnee and Mike have decided to treasure God's precious gift to them and carry all five babies.
She's due in March and on bed rest until then. There is a website set up if you would like to help "donate a foot" to build a house for their growing family.

Education News

Theres so much news out there here is just a quick take on all of the latest buzz.

Carnival of Homeschooling
Why Homeschooling muses over the many different topics available at the Carnival of Homeschooling. I'm categorized as Polyhymnia, while my husband is in Melpomene muse of tragedy.

Rich Dad Poor Dad
The book has drawn the praises of many in the homeschool community. Amanda Bennet said of Kiyosaki's materials,
They provide an excellent way to learn the very important basics of sound money management and learn key principles of business. His books and games also encourage education for entrepreneurship, which I also strongly encourage!
In Part II Steve examines the roots to Kiyosaki's deceptive philosphy. This leads to the biggest lie of all; There is no rich dad. So much for key business principles. Honesty is one of the most necessary principles. That many are using this book to teach their children is the real tragedy.

Teaching to the Test
Washington Posts's education writer Jay Mathews thinks teaching to the test isn't a bad thing. He believes that those who disagree do so out of fear of the unknown. He misses the point. Government controls testing. Testing drives curriculum. Curriculum drives what is taught. What is taught drives what is thought. It's that simple.

The Value of Punditry
Last week Richard Cohen lit up the blogosphere with his opinion about algebra. Mike Antonucci at Intercepts responds with a hilarious paraody, What is the value of punditry?

I don't know what to tell Richard. The blogosphere now requires newspaper columnists and reporters to think a little more carefully about their previously acclaimed scribbling in the face of more critical readers. All it seems to do, though, is ruin the lives of countless middle-aged former guardians of truth and the conventional wisdom. In D.C., more and more pundits are being upstaged by
guys and gals in their pajamas. It hardly seems right.
Read the whole thing.

A More Perfect Union
The NEA has formed a partnership with the AFL-CIO. The claim is to help working families. Me thinks its to preserve the ailing union. Kudos to Mike Antonucci for seeing this before the others.

Lunch with the Prez
Twelve year old homeschooler Cayla Hulse gets to eat lunch with the President as the guest of her Congressman. Like a typical girl she's trying to figure out what to wear. (HT: Gena)

The World is Flat
I can see more clearly now why the government is crying "crisis". If you haven't read Thomas Friedmans' book The World is Flat you won't completely understand what is driving the current push toward achievement in math and science. I totally disagree with many of Mr. Friedman's progressive conclusions. It seems the solution to everything is more government involvement.

RFID
An elementary school in California is making students wear a Radio Frequencey Identification (RFID) badge. Safety and attendance tracking are said to be the main reasons for the badge worn around the neck. This is the same thing they are using to track livestock and cattle. Need I say more. (HT: Izzy)

Children Meet Your New Teacher
Maybe it's the teachers who need an RFID. How would you explain this to your child? Students at Eagleswood Elementary School knew him as Mr. McBeth last year. But this year he is now a she. After McBeth, the divorced 71 year old father of 3, became a woman. The parents will rage for a while but in the end little Johnny will continue to get on the bus. (Thanks to Jessica for the tip. )

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Monday, February 27, 2006

Get Lost

It's hard enough for parents to go against the rapidly declining culture these days. But it can get down right frustrating when Christian leaders endorse and particpate in the decline. Consider this from Focus on the Family in the teen section of their website (also in Brio Magazine) A teen asked the people at Focus their thoughts on a popular TV show,

I've really enjoyed the ABC drama "Lost." What do you think of it?
In the answer, Bob Smithouser, admitted to being hooked on the show and adds,

Of course, TV is all about ratings. There's no telling what might crop up on "Lost" from week to week. We've already run into disappointing language, violence and a few sexual situations, but they've been the exception, not the rule. Should that change and the Holy Spirit tells us to walk away, we have to be willing to do it no matter how invested in the story we might be.
Where is the line? How much language, violence, and sex is too much for the Holy Spirit to start waving His Holy Warning?

Here's how a friend of mine answered this question to his teenage son. His son wanted to watch an popular movie, it just had a few bad scenes. The son argued the show was good despite a few bad parts. That the good outweighed the bad. The father was not swayed with this argument. Instead, the following day he baked a pan of brownies for his son. Just as the son was about to bite into the delicious morsel the dad informed him that along with all the delicious chocolate and sugar he also mixed in a small portion of the doo doo from their golden retriever. The son quickly lost his appetitie for the brownie. But the dad assured him that there was just a little bit and the rest of the ingredients were very nutritious and outweighed the small portion that the dog contributed. The son quickly got the point.


Psalm 101:3 "I will set no unclean thing before my eyes."

It doesn't say a few unclean things. Sadly, instead of directing their young readers to the scripture, Mr. Smithhouser seeks a divine revelation to tell them when to turn it off. How much is too much? Scripture says NONE. So any "divine revelation" with a different amount isn't very divine at all. Maybe my friend can bake up another batch of those brownies for Mr. Smithouser at Focus on the Family.

Want to read more: Check out Don't Control the Remote...

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Rich Dad Poor Dad


Owning your own business, entrepreneurship, financial independence, real estate investing, and timing the market have become hot topics among homeschoolers. A lot of this has been fueled by the popular book Rich Dad Poor Dad and its author Robert Kiyosaki. My financial planner (aka my husband) has started a series taking a look at this book and the ideas Mr. Kiyosaki presents in light of biblical truths. Steve Braun writes,
It's time to be controversial and stick my neck out.

What you are about to read flies in the face of the glowing reviews and fawning attention given to the book Rich Dad Poor Dad and its author Robert Kiyosaki.

It's time someone in the Christian community declared, "The Emperor Has No Clothes!"
Steve examines whether Christians should be buying into Kiyosaki's worldview and promoting his materials. The series has three parts and will be posted throughout the week.

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Saturday, February 25, 2006

Let Us Pray

I have added two buttons to my sidebar. Each of these girls in in need of prayer. It is my prayer that I can take their buttons down real soon.

Emily is the young daughter of reader, Crystal. She has been diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Her surgery is Tuesday. Please pray for the family and the medical team that will be working on this precious little girl. Dandelion Seeds has started a prayer list for Emily as well.

Candace is fighting a fierce and relentless battle against an infection that is eating away at her body. She has had 13 surgeries in two weeks. If you have already been praying for her make sure you read the bone update. God answers prayer. Update Saturday night: Candace's mom posted this request for prayer:
I need prayer for Candace who has not eaten for some three weeks now and has been on an I.V. drip for her minerals. A stomach tube was inserted a couple of days ago to try to get some foods into her and her stomach isrejecting just about everything going in. This causes quite a bit of pain as she still has the large abdominal open wound. She needs to have nourishment so it is important she gets over this hurdle. Please sendout the prayer warriors on this one. Also remember us in Sunday morning surgery and alert the churches to pray!

Additional prayer request for Israel He is the two year old son of Choosing Home mom, Molly. They believe he has Kawasaki's Syndrome. You can read all the details here. Update Saturday night: He has been released from the hospital. God answers prayer.

The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16

The Unfulfilled Lawyer?

I have a good friend whose husband is an airline pilot. He's a friendly, chatty guy. The kind of guy you hope you stand behind in a long line at an amusement park. (Some find him even more amusing than the rides.) He becomes instant friends with everyone he meets. Many times before a flight he will talk with the waiting passengers. Often they are in the process of moving and ask him if he knows what the people are like in their new town. As a world traveler he's met with people from just about everywhere, and likes just about all of them. He could just offer his experience; people are nice everywhere. But he's a smart guy. He doesn't answer them right away. Instead, he asks them a simple question,
"What are the people like where you are from?"
If they tell him how horribly miserable the people were back in their previous town, and how glad they are to leave then he responds that they're just as horribly miserable in the new place. If they respond with a glowing report of happy neighbors and lots of close friends that they hate to leave, then he encourages them by saying that the people in their new town are just as happy and nice.

In general I think he's right. Happy, vibrant people who enjoy their lives tend to believe others are living happy, content lives too. Miserable people believe just the opposite. They think everyone is miserable BUT them.

I was thinking about that today when I read this quote from feminist law professor Linda Hirshman . Ms. Hirshman doesn't believe the homemaker's claim that taking care of a family is the most fulfilling thing they could imagine;
"I would like to see a description of their daily lives that substantiates that position," Hirshman said. "One of the things I've done working on my book is to read a lot of the diaries online, and their description of their lives does not sound particularly interesting or fulfilling for a complicated person, for a complicated, educated person."
She goes on to counsel women against having more than one child. Why? Because entering the work world with two children is just too difficult! It only get's more ridiculous from there. She tells educated women who have left the workforce that they have "let down the team". And if the trend continues the Supreme Court could become ALL MALE. Gasp!

So in light of my wise friend, who do you think is the real unfulfilled soul here? The simpleton writing an online journal or the complicated lawyer reading them all for a book telling us how miserable we all really are?

(Hat tip to Ann at Palm Tree Pundit. She's another one of those suffering, unfulfilled mom's slaving away at her duties on the beaches of Hawaii. Pity the poor gal.)

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Hillary Clinton Unhinged

Hillary Clinton tells us why the government cannot allow parents to have a choice in how to spend their own money for education.


Download and watch the video (Windows Media file).

Michelle Malkin provides a transcript:

CLINTON: Suppose that you were meeting today to decide who got the vouchers. First parent comes and says 'I want to send my daughter to St. Peter's Roman Catholic School' and you say 'Great, wonderful school, here's your voucher. Next parent who comes says, 'I want to send, you know, my child to the Jewish Day School. Great here's your voucher! Next parent who comes says, "I want to send my child to the private school that I've already dreamed of sending my child to.' Fine. Here's your voucher.

Next parent who comes says, 'I want to send my child to the school of the Church of the White Supremacist.' You say, 'Wait a minute. You can't send...we're not giving a voucher for that.' And the parent says, 'Well, the way that I read Genesis, Cain was marked, therefore I believe in white supremacy. And therefore, you gave it to a Catholic parent, you gave it to a Jewish parent, gave it to a secular private parent. Under the Constitution, you can't discriminate against me.'

Suppose the next parent comes and says 'I want to send my child to the School of...the Jihad.' Wait a minute! We're not going to send a child with taxpayers dollars to the School of Jihad. 'Well, you gave it to the Catholics, gave it to the Jews, gave it to the private secular people. You're gonna tell me I can't? I'm a taxpayer. Under the Constitution.' Now, tell me how we're going to make those choices.

But Mrs. Clinton, we don't have to wait for the parents to make those choices; the schools are already teaching it and a federal judge approved it. We just want our money to escape the "stupid choices" the state is already making. It's not your money. Let us decide how we should spend it.

Question for Mrs. Clinton: Why does "pro-choice" end at birth?

Addendum: La Shawn chimes in today on the dumbing down of standards for black children and concludes,

Another generation of black kids have to settle for an inferior education, which will increase the need for race-based programs so they won't be totally left behind the rest. The cycle will continue until parents decide, en masse, that their children's academic preparation trumps politics.

You go La Shawn! (And thanks for mentioning me and other homeschoolers today!)

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Reverse Accountability

When I entered college, I was surrounded by the top students from most high schools across our state and nation. Yet, many of them didn't make it to graduation. There were a variety of reasons. Some dropped out for financial reasons, some couldn't handle the academic demands and switched to "easier" colleges, and a few decided to get married. So, if a college student does poorly or drops out whose fault is it? A new Texas a proposal would make the high school accountable for its graduates college performance.
The state already tracks student performance from pre-kindergarten through college. The next step would mean students who need remediation in college could hurt their high school's ranking under the state's accountability system.
According to a DeEtta Culbertson, a Texas Education Agency spokewoman "
It's part of the overall package to improve education and increase college-readiness standards,"
Texas is at the forefront in education reform. The U.S. Department of Education is looking at higher education and accountability standards across the nation. They are holding up Texas as the model for their reforms. They are trying to get the most out of their "investments" in education. I wrote about this in my post The New 'C' in NCLB. This will result in exit exams not just after high school but after college as well.

The reforms continue to look more and more like another step in the government's attempt to impose increasing control over higher education. TexasNextStep is working to make K-14 the norm, with the state footing the bill. The next step would be to make atleast two years of college compulsory. Said Texas Comptroller Strayhorn,
[I] would rather spend $2,500 a year educating a young Texan, than $16,000 a year incarcerating that young Texan!
We are steadily moving toward a K-16 education tracking system in this country.

They have already messed up K-12 so why does anyone think that their involvement at the college level will yield any better results? Why are we trusting them to fix a crisis they, in fact, created? I just don't get it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Motivation to Homeschool

HSLDA President Micheal Smith cited a study done by the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES). They studied homeschooling and released a report which included the top three reasons parents choose to homeschool they are:

1. Safety: 31.2% These included negative peer pressure, drugs, crime and violence.

2. Teaching from a religious perspective: 29.8%,

3. Desire for a more academically rigorous education, 16.5% of parents.

My answer would have actually changed depending on when I was asked.

My introduction into homeschooling began when I was 19 years old. I was a freshman at the U of Michigan at the time and I was disillusioned with the education I had received. I graduated in the top ten percent of my class (800 students) from an "excellent" school and yet I felt I was poorly educated. I had never read a "great book" and my understanding of both US and World History was pathetic. I did excell at math and to my schools credit I did have calculus. But I knew I wanted something better for my children.

I had just become a Christian and began attending a church in the area. There were a lot of young families and many were homeschooling. As I became acquainted with the families I was more and more convinced that homeschooling was an option that I would strongly consider when I had a family. So initially, my decision was based alot on academics. But as I began to grow in my faith and study the bible I learned that I did not want my children to have only knowledge but to have wisdom.

Slowly, my initial preference to homeschool turned into a conviction. I am to the point now where I would not consider giving up homeschooling any more than I would consider divorcing my husband.

So if I were asked this question when I first thought about homeschooling I would have answered with academics. But now it would be religious conviction.

This study brings up an interesting questions; If safety or the standards in education improved, would families return to the public schools? I bet many would. But some may also be like me, they start out for academic reasons and then it becomes something more.

What is your motivation for homeschooling? Is it a conviction or preference?

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I got it and so did she!

When I first began teaching my daughter, she caught on to most things fairly quickly. The one area where she struggled was math. I on the other hand, excelled in math. Our difference was the cause of some very frustrating moments. After one lesson she finally said in exasperation, "Mom, I don't get it and you gotta get that I don't get it."

I got it.

Math was not going to be her passion in life. In fact, it wasn't even going to be a passing interest. She viewed her assignments as something to be endured like a root canal. Necessary but painful. I tried to encourage her. I told her that if she continued on she would learn to think in a whole new way and that it was good to struggle sometimes. She just rolled her eyes in an expression of "whatever".

Clearly, she didn't get it.

So imagine my surprise yesterday when I came home from running a few errands. This same daughter was sitting at the computer putting the finishing touches on a blog post. The subject was based on an article by Richard Cohen titled What Is the Value of Algebra. He was giving advice to a struggling high school senior, Gabriela, about math. Specifically about algebra. He said,
Gabriela, sooner or later someone's going to tell you that algebra teaches reasoning. This is a lie propagated by, among others, algebra teachers. Writing is the highest form of reasoning. This is a fact. Algebra is not. The proof of this, Gabriela, is all the people in my high school who were whizzes at math but did not know a thing about history and could not write a readable English sentence.
I had read the article earlier in the day. I swallowed hard. Great now my daughter has a famous columnist encouraging or rather discouraging her in her study of math. I began to read her post Life Without Algebra? I think not. To my amazement here is what she said,

I think Mr. Cohen misses the point of algebra and all learning for that matter. It's not just about numbers, theories, or simultaneous equation that matter. The usefulness of studying algebra isn't determined by who actually uses it.

You know, this may come as a surprise, but I have already used algebra.

Life involves taking the complex and unknown and simplfying it. Algebra has taught me how to look at a problem logically and solve it. Perhaps even more valuable, it's proved that I can actually struggle for a little while before I arrive at an answer. A painful but benefical truth that is better learned in algebra that at some point later in life when the consequences of giving up are higher.

Admittedly, I am not destined to be an engineer, scientist, or involved in any other analytical field. I am more likely to find myself balancing a family meal than an algebraic equation. However, my future is still an "unknown". Algebra has taught me how to persevere and solve for that unknown now matter the absolute value of a x, y or z.

After ten years she got it!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Homeschool Carnival at Daryl Cobranchi's
The Education Carnival at The Education Wonks
The Christian Carnival at Jordan's View (should be up soon)

Lost camera finds a lost soul

This is just the the most amazing display of bad parenting that I have read in a long time. And judging by the 369 comments I'm not the only one who thinks so.

Assuming the story is true; would you reveal the identity of the parents?

(HT: Number 2 Pencil)

Preaching the good news of evolution


No longer satisfied with just using the schools to indoctrinate our children in the THEORY of evolution, scientists are now turning to the religious community for help. From the BBC,
US scientists have called on mainstream religious communities to help them fight policies that undermine the teaching of evolution. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) hit out at the "intelligent design" movement at its annual meeting in Missouri. Teaching the idea threatens scientific literacy among schoolchildren, it said.
So a competing idea to evolution threatens scientific literacy in school children? I thought diversity was a good thing. What it really threatens is the scientific community's monopoly and disdain for God in the science classroom. Said the AAAS Chariman Gilbert Omenn,
It's time to recognise that science and religion should never be pitted against each other. "They can and do co-exist in the context of most people's lives. Just not in science classrooms, lest we confuse our children."
Let's not confuse the poor dear children. God is the creator on Sunday but on Monday through Friday He's not. Yeah, that clears up the confusion real well.

Patricia at Pollywog Creek and Steve Walden at Dad's Corner chime in.

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"I've given up"

Middle schoolers are increasingly wearing provocative attire to school. Says, a school administrator in New Hampshire

Middle school students, who are generally between 12 and 15 years old, often wear revealing or inappropriate clothing as they enter adolescence to follow new fashion trends, said John Moody, superintendent of schools for the Derry School District."They are testing the limits," he said. "It's part of being a teenager."

Inappropriate clothing is as common in New Hampshire as it is in any other state and is turning into a rite of passage for many younger students looking to fit in. Short skirts and saggy jeans are often the norm for middle-schoolers.

Sari Wilbur is a mother of four, the youngest of which is an eighth-grader in Windham, and said she wishes schools would provide more clear guidelines on what students should and should not wear. She said if it were up to her, all the boys would wear collared shirts, and skimpy or ragged clothing would be banned.My daughter has the biggest holes in her jeans you've ever seen, but it's fashion," she said. "By the fourth child I've given up."

This mother wants the school set the guidelines? Short skirts and saggy jeans may be the norm but they are NOT normal. It doesn't have to be part of being a teenager. The problem is not the children but the parents. They have given up and given in to the "village" to raise their children. And when the village conflicts with their standard, do they hold fast? No, they give up and actually buy the stuff! What's amazing is that this mother doesn't even realize it's not just the battle for dress that she's lost with her daughter. She's lost her authority as a parent and maybe even her heart as well.

In contrast, this mother of a middle schooler hasn't given up on her daughter. Instead, she's giving up on the public schools. She's taking back the reins of her daughter's education and spirit. Here's why,
Middle school has been tough. I've watched a funny, smart, brave, vibrant young girl become unsure, worried, frustrated and sad. Public school teaching is not working for her. Bullies run rampant and stay on their target victims year after year. In 3 years, 6th, 7th and 8th, with no help from the administration. "Just ignore it" is no longer a solution. Particularly when it is effecting your childs education and their spirit.
Welcome home.

Via Edwonk.

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Monday, February 20, 2006

The Ten Commandments for Homeschooling Moms

I am the Lord your God, Thou shall have no other curriculum before Me. Every homeschooler wants to find the perfect curriculum. God's word is the best one around. Best of all most of us already own it.

Thou shall not make a graven image of the perfect homeschool family. There is no perfect homeschool family. We all have sinned a fall short of the glory of God.

Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy. Don't be a slave to your duties. Take time to rest and enjoy your children and husband.

Honor your father and mother. Even if your parents are not believers or supportive of homeschooling honor them. It isn't easy, but the example you set now will pay dividends down the road. If they are deceased talk often of your parents and build bridges from the past to the future.

Thou shall not destroy thy children's spirits. Keep a tender eye toward their heart to make sure that their relationships with the Lord, you, and each other remain strong.

Thou shall not compare yourself one to another. Trust me, you'll always come up short and discontent.

Thou shall not commit "adultery". Stop cheating your husband of the respect he desires by comparing him to other homeschooling dads, speakers, or authors; and then wishing your husband would be different. Love the man you married not the perfect image in your mind.

Thou shall not boast about your accomplishments. Scripture says, "Let another praise you and not your own lips." The fruit of your work will be raising a generation of servants for the Lord. And the best reward will be when you stand before His throne and He boasts, "Well done my good and faithful servant. Enter now into the joy of my rest."

Thou shall encourage other families to good deeds, not judge one another harshly. We all make mistakes and have things we wished we had done differently. Seek to find ways to build one another up not tear each other down.

Thou shall not steal the joy of your family. The joy of the Lord shall be your strength. As you delight in the Lord your household will become delightful as well.

I don't pretend to do any one of these things on a consistent basis. God is still working on me but I press on to the high calling that Christ has set before me.

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Saturday, February 18, 2006

A birthday wish, so what's next?

Happy Birthday to Spunky Jr.
My first blessing, Kristin, is 17 today. I am thankful for a daughter who loves the Lord and loves me. (Despite the fact that as a first born, she has been the guinea pig for everything.) If you have a minute stop on over and wish her a blessed day.

The question often asked of Kristin is, "What are your plans for the future?" And "Where are you going to college?" Thankfully we don't have a lot of pressure in our immediate family for Kristin to move out and move on.

I wrote a post a while back about whether or not Kristin is college bound.

Spunky Jr. also linked to an article written by a sixteen year old homeschooled girl who's skeptical of college.
Being home-schooled has its advantages, and the ability to graduate early with a GED is one of them. I recently took and passed this test, graduating early at 16. However, instead of alleviating stress, my graduation has generated a whole new question that is more irritating than the others I have always received about home-schooling. "What college are you going to?" It appears that everyone has the irreplaceable idea that I must go to college.
Laurie Bluedorn also added a few thoughts a while back that suggested that just because someone doesn't go to college; it doesn't mean they stop their education.
I think we have equated going to college with getting an education. I firmly believe that girls need to get an education (beyond learning the basics of housekeeping). Girls need to be educated just as much as do boys, though the education of girls can often take different directions than the education of boys. After all, it is our girls who will be educating the next generation of homeschoolers.
Laurie's daughter is already educating the next generation even though she's not even a mom.

Carmen at Buried Treasure stirred the pot a little with her thoughts on women and college too.

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Friday, February 17, 2006

I'd have paid.

I hated gym class. I was always the last to be picked and the first to be out. During dodge ball I hid in the corner hoping to avoid all direct confrontation with the ball or my gym teacher. Having a gym teacher like Terrence Braxton would have made my life so much easier. He let children skip his gym class if he paid them a $1 a day. I wonder how much a teacher takes in to opt of a state test?

Put Your Hope In God

In my sixth grade autograph book, a boy by the name of Mark S. signed his name and added the comment, "to the girl who always wants to know what is going to happen next." He couldn't have characterized me any better. I hated not knowing what was coming next. I believed that as long as I knew, I wouldn't be caught off guard and left unprepared. I am not a planner for every contingency just the contingency that I know is going to occur.

Clearly, my confidence was in myself and my ability to overcome any circumstance. Knowing in advance what was to happen enabled me to better prepare. However, homeschooling (and the Christian life for that matter) isn't programmed like sixth grade. We can't and won't always know what is to come. But that doesn't mean the outcome is any less certain.

I often find my sixth grade mindset creeping into my 43 year old brain. I fight the urge to want to know what is going to happen next. If I just knew that everything would work out then I could just relax and trust the Lord. Sounds simple doesn't it. But when I read the scripture that just isn't how God set things up.

Paul wrote in Romans 8:24
For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?
When A birthday is approaching around our house, I will often hear the honored child say, "I hope I get a ...." They are expressing a confident expectation for something that hasn't happened yet. Their hope is an expectation of something good to yet to come. They never hope for what they already have. It is always something new. The expectation gives them energy. Their enthusiasm and energy is contagious.

Most begin homeschooling with a similar expectation. We start with a burst of enthusiasm and energy that is built around the hope of something good to come. But just like a birthday, we don't always get exactly what we want. We start to see things that don’t seem to quite fit the expectation we had in mind. Our hope begins to falter and our confidence wanes. Before we know it we begin to question the very calling that we were once so enthusiastic about. (Or atleast the curriculum we are using.)

While I cannot speak for others, when this happened to me I wondered whether homeschooling was going to work out for me the same way it had for others. Did I really have what it takes to do the job?

The answer is no. I don't have all that it takes to do this job. That's where hope comes in.
We are often reminded to put our faith in God. But we must also put our HOPE in Him as well. I don't know "what is going to happen next." That is the Lord's to reveal as I put my hope in him. HE began this work in me and our family. He will see it to completion. My hope is in HIM.

"but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." (Isaiah 40:31)

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Who is a homeschooler?

There is a growing trend in education; the formulation of partnerships between the public school and the parent.
Parent partnerships are alternative programs that identify the parent as the child's primary teacher. Students are considered public school students, however, and use the school's materials and teachers.
There are some attractive advantages,

Parents who choose these programs say they like the return on their tax money, as well as accessing expertise in subjects they find difficult to teach on their own.

Home-schooled students registered with the state also can access public school services part time.

Many of these partnerships use online courses and virtual academies. This is an attractive option for the state as well. Many of these parents would opt out of the system completely if this were not offered. They retain their funding as long as the child is enrolled. The question is, should they be considered homeschoolers? Or should there be a distinction between "homeschooling" and "school at home".

Personally, I think HOW someone educates in their home is their business. However, WHAT we call what takes place in the home matters to society and legally.

Terminology is important.

Moreover, it is important that the definition be determined by who the student is ultimately accountable. If the parent holds the authority they are homeschooling...if another entity holds the authority they are not. Keep in mind; I am not saying the parent has lost their complete authority in the home. They have just decided to allow another entity to hold the authority for the education of their children. In parent partnerships the school determines curriculum, grading, etc. The parent is a facilitator who follows the state guidelines, curriculum, and tests. This is attractive to many for a lot of reasons but it isn't homeschooling.

A distinction is necessary to ensure that the freedom to homeschool is not lost through increased regulation. If we combine the two groups then when the state seeks to increase regulation or make changes to the "schooling at home" crowd the "homeschooling" crowd could be affected by the changes and potentially lose some of the authority to direct the education of their children.

Here's an article that sums it up pretty well.
The foundation of the original fight for homeschooling was freedom. Many virtual academies and cyber charter schools begin with leniency, but over the years,rules creep in, subtle new policies begin to crop up, and gradual restrictions choke out your choices at home like crab grass run amok. This sets a precedent to increase regulations on other students who are educated at home, whether they're enrolled in a virtual academy or not.
A distinction is important, not to cast judgement, but for clarity in who is affected by increased regulation. That's a distinction all should welcome. If the parent ever decides to dissolve the partnership, or abandon the cyber charter school for another way, they will have the freedom to do so without having to prove anything to the state.

Tim Haas had a post a last year that explains the long term effects of this trend.

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News in Education

Scott sees the light or ateast the "rigor"
Scott Somerville said yesterday
I publicly disagreed with Spunky about the "rigourous secondary education standards" language in the Omnibus Deficit Reduction Act, and she took it very graciously. So it's only fair that I publicly report that she's right about the big issue that surfaced in our little spat. There is good reason to be concerned about the new federal push for "rigor" in education.
I appreciate the vote of confidence. To give added credibility to my claims about education reform, Scott linked to Virtual Dave, an associate professor at Syracuse University's School of Information Studies. His post sounds like something I could have written myself. (Maybe I need to go back and get a PhD. to boost my credibility.)

If you give the government a crisis....
We are at a crossroads in higher ed. similiar to where we were over ten years ago in secondary education. Some are crying that there is a "crisis of confidence" in higher education. And of course any "crisis" will need a government fix. Any fix is going to include “objective and demonstrable learning outcomes.” And of course to do that you need a test. (HT: Joanne Jacobs)

He's not giving them a break.
John Stossel continues his assualt on the public schools. This guy isn't messing around. (I wonder if he has a PhD?) (HT: Boltbabe)

Education News at Spunky's
Some have asked me to post every so often on what we do around our house. We are using Tapestry of Grace. (Author Marcia Somerville now has a blog.) We are studying World War II. Here's what we're reading,

Steve: another Civil War book.
Spunky: The World is Flat by Friedman (thanks Julana) and The Case for Democracy by Natan Sharansky.
Kristin: The Gathering Storm by Churchill.
Jason: To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
Josh: The Double Helix by James Watson about the discovery of DNA.
Katie: Waitng for Anya about a Jewish girl during WWII.
Elizabeth: American Girl Molly Series.
Elaina: is in an Amelia Badelia rut. I have to say I love them too!

As a family I was going to read the Story of the Von Trapp Family. But I think I'm going to suspend that and read Stephen Soldier of the Cross. It is the sequel to Titus: Comrade of the Cross.

We are all into bacteria as well. We have two microscopes and my son is actively culturing anything in a dish of agar. He called me on my cell phone while I was enjoying a Starbuck's with Steve to tell me they saw their own blood cells under a microscope. Since this is a family blog, I will spare you the details of how they acquired the blood. But don't worry no one died.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The thought police and testing

If there weren't already reason enough to be cautious of state standardized exams, this should give every parent pause,

When test graders around the nation pore over student essays this spring, they'll be looking for more than just writing clarity or good grammar. They'll be keeping an eye out for signs of child abuse, depression and threats of violence. States contract with testing companies whose evaluators, often ex-teachers, read and score the tests, usually administered to students around spring. As part of procedure, scorers are instructed to flag an exam that contains disturbing images or language. That information is usually forwarded to the state or the local school district, which decides whether to notify parents and recommend counseling. (Emphasis added.)
The article also said that some states flag for other reasons. "a student's response to a seemingly benign question can trigger alarm."

An acquaintance whose daughter took our state exam a few years back did poorly on the English portion. She was a senior in our local public school, with nearly a 4.0 grade point average. When her parents inquired about why she tested so poorly in that area they were not given an answer. They were also forbidden to see the actual exam. But according to the young lady, she believed it was because she disagreed with the premise of the question. A homeschooled student who tested poorly had a similar experience. Both are doing quite well in their college years.

I am sure that there are disturbing images on some essays. However, what the state considers disturbing is what I am more disturbed about.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Professing to be wise.....

So what do some of those in the ivory towers of academia think about homeschooling, Quoting from an article in BusinessWeek, here's what Stanford education Professor Robert Reich had to say,

Homeschooling isn't universally applauded as a solution, however. Some parents and educators worry that it retards children's socialization. Others say it siphons much-needed resources like per-pupil funding and the activism of the most savvy parents. Schooling in isolation could threaten civic cohesion and diversity of thought, says Stanford University education professor Rob Reich.

Reich favors stricter homeschooling regulations to supplant the current patchwork of state laws so that children can be assured of exposure to more than just what their parents sanction. He also worries about parents pushing homeschooling on their kids

Mr. Reich let me put your mind at ease. I do not like nor do I sanction the chicken pox. However, all my children were exposed and got them. Amazingly without government regulation and testing. So just what can regulation expose my children to that they aren't already exposed to on their own?

And from the Columbus Dispatch, Professor Bainbridge writes,
If education really is a state function, as provided by law, then carefor a more rigorous evaluation of home schooling. Many educators are offended by an attitude among some parents of home schoolers that untrained, and sometimes uneducated, parents can do as well or better teaching as professionally trained educators. While home schooling appears to meet the needs of some familes, society must consider whether it erodes support for public schools.
You give homeschoolers way to much credit Mr. Bainbridge. The public schools do a great job of eroding support all on their own. (HT: Daryl)

With thinking like this it makes you want to keep them home for college too!

Reminder: Don't miss the carnivals this week.
Carnival of Children's Literature at the Bonny Glen
Carnival of Education at the Edwahoo
Carnival of Unschooling at ATypical Homeschool
Carnival of Homeschooling at About Homeschooling
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The New "C" in NCLB???

The 'C' in No Child Left Behind may take on an additional meaning come August. It may become No College Left Behind. The Secretary of Education's Commission on the Future of Higher Education has begun a national dialogue on the need for accountability and standards in higher education. In a press release before the first meeting of the commission last October Secretary of Education Spellings said,

As taxpayers, we all have a stake in our higher education system. Many people don't realize that federal dollars, including funds for research, make up about one-third of our nation's total annual investment in higher education. By comparison, the federal government's investment in K-12 education represents less than 10 percent of total spending. (snip)

I've convened this commission to ensure that America remains the world's leader in higher education and innovation. We are at a crossroads. The world is catching up. For example, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, among young adults, Canada, Japan, Korea, Finland, Norway, and Sweden all have higher college graduation rates than we do.

And we're not keeping pace with the demand for skilled labor in the new high-tech economy.

Note the term "investment" in the first paragraph. So now the government is beginning to ask what they are getting for their money and demanding better results from our colleges to better compete in the global economy. They seek a way to to determine the "value added" in going to college. Since the federal government "invests" more money in higher education than other areas of education they want to make sure they get a high rate of return on their "investments". (This is also part of the reason they are switching from general student loans to more targeted loans in higher education for "rigorous" high school curricula. )

Corporations Want an Educated Workforce too.
Also involved in the commission are leaders from many large corporations. Nicholas Donofrio, executive vice president for innovation and technology at IBM was at the October meeting. In reference to his company's employment options he subtly suggested that if American colleges don't start to do better they will begin to look at alternative nations for skilled workers. (Source:Inside Higher Ed)

And with "suggestions" like that our nation's leaders think the federal government should take a more active role in assessing outcomes and holding our colleges and universities accountable.

A Look At Texas and the CLA Project
Charles Miller, the Chairman of the Commission on Higher Education, is from Texas. Many of the reform ideas discussed now at the federal level are currently being tested in a pilot project in Texas and a few other universities around the country. They have begun implementing an assessment project known as the Collegiate Learning Assessment Project. According to its website the CLA Project is not a test of individual students but of the institution itself. Its goal is to measure the "value added" by a college or university. By comparing tests scores at entry and exit they believe they will be able to assess what the student learned while attending school. The claim is that it will not measure individual students but the institutions themselves.

Charles Miller said in an interview for the NY Times,

"There is no way you can mandate a single set of tests, to have a federalist higher education system," he said. But he said public reporting of collegiate learning as measured through testing "would be greatly beneficial to the students, parents, taxpayers and employers" and that he would like to create a national database that includes measures of learning. "It would be a shame for the academy to say, 'We can't tell you what it is; you have to trust us,' " Mr. Miller said.

He said he would like the commission to agree on the skills college students ought to be learning — like writing, critical thinking and problem solving — and to express that view forcefully.

Once the commission agrees on a skills set, will it end there? How are they going to ensure that the graduates have those skills? And what happens when the students don't graduate with these federally "suggested" skills? Is it the university's failure or the college student's fault?

Conclusion
The Commission on Higher Education was given specific areas to consider in higher education; Accountability, Affordability, Access, and Quality. The full report of the commission will not be completed until August 1. We'll have to wait and see what they think every college student should know so they won't be left behind

For more information: The Dept. of Education website and National Academies.

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Monday, February 13, 2006

Fathers

I attended my first homeschool convention when my oldest child was nearing school age in 1992. One of the first things I noticed was how few fathers attended such events. Mine included. (My husband had an "excused absence" he was working full time and attending night school for an MBA. I went with a friend.) There were a few brave souls who did venture out into the maze of books and workshops but not many.

Over the years, I have seen this changing for the better. The last few conventions I've attended were much better attended by fathers. One even had special workshops encouraging dads. A fun title at one convention was "Help! My wife wants to homeschool now what am I supposed to do?"

Truly, fathers are an indispensable part of homeschooling. Let's face it we wouldn't even have the children to homeschool without them!

Fathers differ in so many ways. Some are very "hands on" and involved others are more reserved and offer guidance only when asked. The problem is, many times mothers think the fathers should be something different than what they are. The wife with an involved husband wishes he were less so. The father who is more reserved frustrates the woman who desires her husband to "just take the lead" for a change.The challenge for most of us is to honor the man we married not the one we wished we married. (He doesn't exist anyway!)

So begin the week with a bang. Give your children a lesson they'll never forget and you'll never regret....a mommy who truly honors their daddy.

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The Cycle of Education

Courtesy of the Miami Herald, we have a complete look at the statist view of education provided by a representative on the Miami Dade School Board...

Here's the circle: If education is underfunded, the school district cannot pay teacher salaries that attract quality professionals. If we cannot attract quality teachers, we cannot get a higher quality education. If education is underfunded, we cannot buy computers to teach our children how to function in the 21st century; we cannot provide small classrooms and enhanced materials. Result: a poorly educated workforce that cannot attract the high skill businesses of the future.
J. Paul Getty who was considered one of the richest men in the world was reportedly asked, "How much money is enough?" He replied, "Just one dollar more."

I think if we were to ask the public school system how much money is enough to educate a child?" They would probably reply just as Mr. Getty did, "Just one dollar more."

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Saturday, February 11, 2006

Homeschooling works

Where are they now?
This week I spotlighted what happens when homeschoolers grow up . A few moms, whose children particpated in the Dr. Ray's study, left a comment about what their graduates are doing. I would love to hear more stories. My oldest is almost 17. I want to finish our journey strong. We both receive a boost of encouragement when we read these stories. So if you have children that have moved on to the next season in their lives please share your experiences. If you blog about it please let me know. If you don't have a blog but would like to tell your story, email me. I'll consider posting it here at Spunky Homeschool. Please don't hold back from sharing because your child did not get into Harvard at 16. (College entrance is not the only definition of successful education.) God leads each child and the goal is not to compare and cast judgement but to learn from all who have walked this journey.

Homeschooling Support Group Round-up
Thanks for all the input on homeschool support groups. (Feel free to continue commenting.) The comments on my HSB blog were quite good too. I was surprised by how many have had a similar experience to me. Thankfully, I have never been a part of the major conficts that I observed in many of the groups in our area. However, the stress of these conflicts left many who were not directly involved in the awkward middle. If you associated with one side the other viewed you with suspicion. It became a no win situation all the way around.

Homeschooling Works
I'll be speaking at the Homeschooling Works conference in our area. My topic is education reform and teaching to the test. I'm looking forward to presenting many of the new developments in education reform. (A blog is fun but I much prefer public speaking. ) If you are in the Detroit area on March 18 I'd love to meet you.

Road Trip
We will also be traveleing to South Carolina the weekend of May 21. Miles Road Baptist Church in Summerville (near Charleston) has invited my husband to deliver the keynote address at their 10th Annual "Flag & Cross" Patriotic Service. There was a time when a "union soldier" in Charleston, SC would be shot. I sure hope we experience more of the southern hospitatlity than Rebel hostitlity.

We hope to take a swing through Tennessee on our way down to meet with The Old Schoolhouse publishers Gena and Paul. We'd love to meet up with others or speak in other locations along the way. Feel free to contact us for more information.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Prayer for Candace


I received a email from a friend who requested prayer for a little girl of a homeschool family in Florida. You can read the details on their website. Please pray for her and her family. They have also asked that you sign up at their Care Calendar and let them know that you prayed. If you feel led to please pass this message along to others.

UC -vs- Christian Curricula

A judge is expected to rule soon on a controversial case between Christian students at Calvary Chapel Christian School and the University of California. I posted about this last August and wrote an article about it in the fall issue of The Old Schoolhouse.

If you're not familiar with the case, The First Amendment Center has an excellent summary of what is at stake for both sides. UC wants the freedom to determine academic standards but the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) views this a "religious discrimination" based on curriculum content that is religious in nature. The texts in question are mostly Bob Jones and Abeka . Quoting from the First Amendment Center website,

Concerned about this slippery slope, ACSI hopes to stop what it characterizes as 'religious discrimination' against Calvary before the problem spreads to other schools and states. It's true that Calvary remains free to teach these courses and students are free to take them. But the fact that the courses don't count as a college-preparatory requirement for admission to UC puts Calvary students at a distinct disadvantage.

At lot is at stake for both sides. If the university's decision to reject these courses is upheld, ACSI fears that religious schools throughout the nation will be pressured to make sure that course offerings aren't "too religious" to qualify for consideration at public universities. But if ACSI prevails, UC worries about interference with the university's right to establish academic standards for admission.

The case could send a chilling message to private religious schools and homeschoolers nationwide. Keep an eye on this one.

(HT: Al Mohler)

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Homeschool Support Groups

Not Quite Supermom's thoughts about homeschool support groups hit home with me. I haven't been a part of a support group for a long time. I pop in and out of a few occassionally, but not nearly as often as when I first began homeschooling. Every so often my husband or I will speak at a homeschool support group and inevitably someone will say, "You should come more often. We need more veteran homeschoolers in our group." And they are right. I remember how much I gained from just being around those that had been at this a while. I start to feel a little guilty for not committing to come to every meeting. I don't feel as though I neglect new homeschoolers. I'm very willing to make myself available to help out in any way I can. It's just the commitment of time and energy that goes into a support group isn't something I can do. Many of the events planned don't fit in our schedule or with what we're currently doing.

There is also a potential downside to being in a support group. Cliques develop between the families; or politics and religion can often escalate tensions. Eventually, what started out as a support group often becomes stressful and a stumbling block. I have seen this happen way too often. So for better or worse that has kept me away from participating as well.

For a while, our former churches provided a framework of support and encouragement. We have hosted "family groups" where the majority of those who came were homeschoolers. I think I liked this type of homeschool support group the best. However, since we are no longer involved there, we have lost quite a bit of support. I can tell a difference in my attitude some days. I do miss the conversations and encouragement. Reading homeschool blogs fills some of the information side, but it can't (and shouldn't) replace real conversations.

I am blessed to glean support from my family. My parents are my biggest cheerleaders in so many ways. My mom is always spurring me on to keep going. I also enjoy the support of a sister close by who homeschools. We are able to share and challenge each other over many issues related to homeshooling. Yet we can still walk together in a close relationship.

So I'm not sure what to think about support groups anymore. I know I enjoy them when I do go. Yet, I don't have the same commitment to them that I used to. Is this common as homeschoolers move from "rookie" to "veteran" status? Do you particpate in a support group? Is it more of a mom's night out or do you look to it for activies for the children too?

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Thursday, February 09, 2006

The First R - Reading


I posted yesterday about AlphaPhonics. Karen and Lindsey asked in a comment how I used it to teach my children. For those that may not be familiar, AlphaPhonics is a simple book designed by Samual Blumenfeld to teach reading. You start with a short 'a' sound and build from there. The pages are simple black and white letters on a page without any pictures.

My daughter was fairly easy to teach. As a typical first born with a hyperactive overachieving mother, she was reading shortly after she was born. (Amazing but also untrue.) But she was an eager learner and I a determined mother so we did begin fairly early. We would sit down for about 15 minutes everyday and go over a lesson. Once she mastered the lesson we moved to the next lesson. As we read the lesson, she would also copy the letters or words onto a piece of paper. After a few lessons, I would then dictate words to her and she would write them out. In the beginning the words were simple like am, as, at, ax, an. It never took very long and she was very compliant. Some lessons went a little slower than others but overall she moved quickly and was reading in a short amount of time.

My next two were boys and a whole different matter. I tried a similar strategy with them, but I had to be a lot more creative. Along with the daily phonics lesson, I also made little posters that I placed on the wall in the kitchen directly opposite their seats. The posters contained the words from the lesson. I never made them "read" them but I found that by just placing new words in front of them from the lessons the would attempt them on their own. I also was a little more creative with dictation. Simple pencil and paper dictation wasn't quite their style. So I tried to come up with more creative "paper and pencil" ideas. I used a thin layer of cornmeal on a dark pan. They could draw the letters or words out with their fingers. That was a favorite because if they made a mistake all they had to o was shake the pan a little and start over. We also made letters out of legos and k'nex and used those to build simple words. I also didn't try and teach them letter names as well as their sounds. I went strictly for the sounds. Using refridgerator magnets I would pretend that letters were "animals" in the zoo or a farm. I hold up a letter and say its sound. Then I'd put two together in a cage and say their sound. We would build a 'zoo' of words. They loved that game. We would also use the magnets to play the memory game. We started by putting a few letters in a row and taking one out. We took turns trying to guess which letter to put in by the sound of words we could make up.

The boys were a little slower at their reading pace. I tried not to be frustrated but it's hard. I worried that somehow a different approach or something new might be the trick. But nothing replaces just simple repititon and consistency.

The next two girls picked up a lot from being around while I was teaching the boys. They were reading on their own fairly easily. I'm not even sure I completed the book with my fifth child.

One of the things that I did while I was teaching them phonics was make sure that I read to them a lot. We don't watch TV so it wasn't too difficult to get them to sit for a reading time. I would often have the child learning to read sit right next to me. They could then follow along in the book. As they became more proficient readers they would begin to read small sections. This was a real boost for them. But even as they became proficient readers I still read aloud to them. The joy of reading comes as books are shared with each other.

I remember what my son Joshua said after he was reading fluently on his own. I told him how excited I was that he was reading so well. He replied flatly, "Learning to read is great, but God wants to know what I'm going to do with it." Learning to read isn't the end of the process it's the first step in a bigger process. Once a child can read a whole new opportunity to learn about God and His creation is open to them.

I'm not a reading expert. My only credential is that I have taught my five to read. If others would like to share their tips for reading. I'd love to hear them. I still have atleast one more to teach.

Elizabeth B. - recommends the Phonics Page

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Teaching the teacher

I am teaching a co-op biology class with my children and three others. We are working through Apologia Biology by Jay Wile. As we were going over some of the concepts, one of the kids asked an excellent question that I couldn't answer. After we attempted for a while to try and figure it out, I decided to call the help number listed in the front of the book. While I dialed, the children were discussing the unlikely possibility that I would actually reach a human being who could answer our question. To my amazement and pleasure we not only reached a human but the very human who wrote the book! Jay Wile, answered the phone and our question. One of the exciting things about homeschooling is that I don't have to have all the answers. In the process of helping my children learn and figure things out, I am being taught as well. I'm glad there are experts out there like Jay who are willing to take the time to help me along in that effort.

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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

When Homeschoolers Grow Up

WorldNetDaily had an exclusive commentary by Samuel Blumenfeld that presented some idea of where homeschoolers have gone once they move out on their own.

Parents interested in homeschooling often want to know what will happen to their children when they grow up and have to work for a living. Will employers
recognize their homespun high-school diplomas signed by Mom and Dad and the local homeschool association? Will corporate America welcome them as competent "human resources"? Will the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force accept them? All legitimate questions which deserve to be answered.
To find out click here.

By the way, Dr. Blumenfeld's book, How to Tutor, was the first book I read on homeschooling. I'm not even sure how I acquired it. I also used his book AlphaPhonics (still only $29.95) to teach my children to read. I have a great deal of respect for Mr. Blumenfeld and his work. Unfortunately, my favorite book of his NEA, The Trojan Horse in American Education is out of print.

It has been over twenty years since I read that. Now my own daughter is nearly graduating. Where did all the years go? Thankfully, I still have one who can't even read yet. So my well worn AlphaPhonics will be pulled out once again. This time, I'm going to have my younger girls use it to teach their little sister. The circle of life and homeschooling continues.

If God allows, I will homeschool for nearly 40 years. Wasn't that how long Moses was in the desert before he saw the promised land? Thankfully, my experience has not been a journey in the wilderness.

What was the first book you read on homeschooling?

(HT: Homeschool Buzz)

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German Schools

While we head down a path with increasing federal control in education, it is worth taking a look at a few places where our theory has met with reality. Germany might provide one such example. The state controls all areas of schooling and parents are seen as incapable of teaching their children. So how are the schools in Germany? According to one mother, Gerlinde Unverzagt's whose book The Teacher Hate - A Mother's Reckoning Up has topped the German Amazon best sellers list, the results are not impressive. Her controversial book has sparked a debate over how well the German schools are actually doing. Mrs Unverzagt told the Sunday Telegraph:

"My four children have a spent a total of 26 years in Berlin schools and my anger has steadily increased over this time. Teachers' work is never subject to controls - if they perform badly it has no consequences. They don't enforce discipline, most just do what they want - and that is grossly unprofessional."

She describes a primary teacher who takes pride in her pupils' unlimited spelling mistakes. "In my class children can write how they like," she says. "If we were to insist that they spell correctly, we would only frighten them."

Teachers were outraged and demanded the book be banned. Frustrated parents are now forced to teach what they schools have failed to do. They are forced into teaching their children because the schools are not doing their job. Which may be a good thing. However, homeschooling is not permitted in Germany. So the students must sit in the governement schools and then the parents make up the difference after hours.

Sheila Lange recently posted about a public school teacher in Germany who was fired because her husband was homeschooling 4 of their 7 children. The Lange's are trying to homeschool in Germany without much success. Several other fathers were arrested last summer for homeschooling their children.
The targeted parents are all Christians, whose faith encourages them to act upon their principles, but the fierceness of the authorities’ reaction is telling. The dispute is not about religion (though that alone would be bad enough) but about the hearts and minds of the children. In Germany schools have become vehicles of indoctrination where children are brought up to unquestioningly accept the authority of the state in all areas of life. It is no coincidence that those who have escaped from indoctrination under the Soviets discern what the government is doing in the schools and are sufficiently concerned to want to protect their children from it. What is worrying is that 'free-born' Western parents accept this assault on their freedom as normal and regard the Christian parents who want to opt out of the state system with suspicion.
I don't think homeschooling will become illegal in the United States. However, the "free-born" Western parents accepting the state system and the accompanying loss of freedom as normal could very well become a reality. Especially as the state continues to become the parent to our nation's children.

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For more articles on education visit Edwonk's Carnival of Education. The Carnival is celebrating its one year anniversary.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

American Competitiveness Initiative

One of high points lauded by some in a recent appropriations bill passed by Congress was that it slashed the Department of Education budget. Many of those cuts were in student loans and vocational type training. This is obviously a win for fiscal responsibility. I'm sure the cuts were necessary and I'm glad the programs are going. However, what was included in this reduction has the potential for becoming a bigger problem down the road. According to an article in the The New York Times,


Education Secretary Margaret Spellings said the president's commitment to education remained strong. She said most of the programs slated to end were small, with half costing under $25 million a year. Some would be replaced by larger initiatives that would serve the same purposes, but bear his stamp and reflect his priorities, she said. (emphasis added)
One of those larger initiatives include the American Competitiveness Initiative which includes provisions for education.


To prepare our citizens to compete more effectively in the global marketplace, the American Competitiveness Initiative proposes $380 million in new Federal support to improve the quality of math, science, and technological education in our K-12 schools and engage every child in rigorous courses that teach important analytical, technical, and problem-solving skills. Building on the successes of the No Child Left Behind Act, the American Competitiveness Initiative will raise student achievement in math and science through testing and accountability, providing grants for targeted interventions, and developing curricula based on proven methods of instruction.
Note the term "rigorous". That word seems to be appearing in a lot of political discourse these days. The new three R's of learning appear to be rigor, relevance, and relationships. (Oregon is just one of many states adopting this standard. I also posted about MI and FL as well.)

Along with this new intitiative, money is given for "targeted interventions and to develop curricula based on proven methods of instruction". So while some look at this as a way to decrease the size of the department of education it also looks as though the long term plan is to more heavily involve the federal government in the development of curricula and standards. The new appropriations seem to be one step in that direction involving at-risk students. Many states seem to be falling perfectly in line. The reason? Quoting from the Department of Education website ,

Linking federal education funding to meaningful results and outcomes is essential to the creation of a culture of achievement in America's education system.
President Bush said in a letter announcing the American Competitive Initiative,


The bedrock of America's competitiveness is a well-educated and skilled workforce.
Ugh! The whole purpose of education from the President on down seems to be to do well on a test, to get a good job, to compete in the global economy. That's not my goal and my children are not a "workforce". The further we get from parents determining the goal and deciding what our children are taught the further we depart from a society where "we the people" are forming a more perfect union.

Read more on the American Competitiveness Initiative
and the Academic Competitiveness Intiative portion of the overall initiative.

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