Wednesday, May 31, 2006

"Stop Judging Me!"

I've been hearing that a lot lately. So, I have to say this, just for the record if nothing else.

I have strong opinions and convictions about education. Surprise! Surprise! And here's another news bulletin: I use my blog to share them. However, I'm not looking to convince anyone else to homeschool because of what I believe. Nor do I judge family for the choices they make. But I have to ask; why is it that someone with strong convictions cannot share them without others feeling judged? When did strong opinions become illegal and banned from public discourse? If you disagree with me, I'm okay with that. I have read over my past posts. I have never said "You must blah blah blah..." or "You're going to hell if you blah blah blah...."

I hope we can have a discussion about one of the most important decisions a family will make without accusing someone of "judging" the other. I don't make anyone read my blog. If you visit here, you know you're going to get strong opinions. And in the event you missed it in my daily briefings, I said it straight up in my bio.
I believe I am totally right about just about everything I believe. Otherwise I wouldn't believe it. And if you think about it...you do too.
I'm confident but not arrogant. I share what I believe and why. I hope it encourages and challenges people to further thought. Could I possibly be wrong about what I believe? Sure. I expose my beliefs to challenge myself as well. Patrick Henry said,
For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst and provide for it.
If someone makes a compelling argument, backed by Truth, then I'm willing to examine my own beliefs in light of what they share. It's humbling to admit when I'm wrong, but in the long run I'm better for it. I want to be on the side of Truth, not being right.

I also read a variety of blogs. I read the blogs of those that believe in public education with their whole heart. I read the blogs of liberals, conservatives, Catholics, Protestants, Mormons, atheists, and even a few morons. (No Daryl, that last one wasn't a reference to you!) They all hold strong opinions. It can be helpful to read well written ideas that present a reasonable argument on a given topic. I don't feel judged by any of them. I read what they have to say to get a different perspective and gain clarity on my thoughts. I don't feel threatened by them. I learn what I can and move on.

Aristotle said,
It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
Blogs seem to be one of the few places that people can candidly share what they believe without being sanitized by "tolerance". But for that to continue, we need to accept that we're not always going to agree on every issue. I hope that we can have mature discusssions and not cry foul or demand retractions simply because someone holds a strong opinion.

By the way, this post isn't directed at anyone in particular. But it's been building in me for quite sometime and I needed to finally get it out.

Thanks for listening.

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Pay Now or Pay Later

That's the governments take on why we need preschool for all children. According to a report by Success at 6,
A high school dropout costs society $243,000 to $388,000 and a career criminal costs $1.3 million to $1.5 million, according to the report. The cost of providing a child with quality early education is $20,000-$30,000, the report claims.
And just what should we pay for?
[r]egular home visits to support parents, coupled with "carefully designed preschool experiences staffed by trained professionals."
How is it that the most technologically advanced nation on the face of the earth needs "trained professionals" to parent their children or else face a society of drop outs and criminals? Parents in centuries past managed to do quite well without trained professionals. And with all the hoopla over illegal government wiretaps it's amazing that living in an urban area and having a child is enough to give the government permission to pay a "visit".

Other than the state, the only other group that stands to gain anything with universal preschool are the teachers unions. If universal preschool becomes an entitltement the teachers union will have a new places to mine for members. This isn't about the children, it's about union preservation.

Motherhood is God's plan for universal preschool. Anything else is just a cheap imitation.

The San Francisco Chronicle has an article on the pros and cons of Prop 82 in California and universal preschool or "standardized pre-kindergarten, as some like to call it.

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Whose mission field?

Continuing the discussion on Christian children and teachers being "salt and light" in the public schools; Brian left this comment at Mainstream Baptist in response to another comment by a teacher who considers the public schools one of the "great mission fields available". He responded,

I am little bit concerned that you consider the public schools to be a mission field and that your calling is to be a Christian public school teacher.In my opinion it is completely immoral and unethical for a public school teacher to attempt to influence the religious beliefs of a minor child without the consent of the minors parents (or possibly the consent of the minor if it is clear that he/she is capable of independent thought.)I am not suggesting that you engage in the behavior I describe above, but I am wondering if you could tell me how that it is you can carry out the Great Commission in the public schools while respecting the rights of minors to a secular education and the rights of their parents to be in control of their childrens religious
training.
I'm not sure about where the rights of a child to a secular education come from. But Brian does bring up an interesting dilemma for those who believe we should be "salt and light" in the schools, but also believe that a Christian family's faith and values should be respected in the same schools.

Should Christian teachers respect the rights of an atheist or Muslim parent to direct the religious upbringing of their student? Or are they bound to a higher authority to be "salt and light" and disregard the rights and authority of those parents?

Also, can the parents of Christian children in the public schools have it both ways? Rejoicing when their child has a teacher who supports their faith and values but cries foul when a teacher tromps on their family's beliefs?

It's something to think about.

Notice: The Carnival of Homeschooling is up at the Common Room. Make sure you check it out.

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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

What's the Harm?

After my post last week "How Should Christians Educate Their Children?" several people expressed the thought that homeschooling isn't the only way to grow in wisdom. They said children who are in the public schools can still grow in wisdom - it just won't happen during school hours. They believe that I may be underestimating the Lord or a parent's influence in the lives of their children. It's difficult in one post to express every aspect of what I believe. I appreciate the questions and the opporutunity to clarify what I've said.

Let me be clear, I don't believe that a Christian child won't grow in wisdom while attending the public schools. That's not what I'm saying at all. It does, however, become more difficult. According to the scripture, " He who walks with the wise becomes wiser still but the companion of fools suffers harm." It is the accompanying harm that makes it difficult for me as a Christian parent to place my children in the schools. But before you click away thinking that this is just another "right wing" rant on the evils of the public schools, it's not. Yes, I acknowledge the obvious conflicts with Christianity that exists in education today. And they are definitely one of the harmful things to consider and enough of a reason to avoid public education. But I submit they are not the only ones. In fact, I believe that strong Christian parenting can most likely overcome some of the obvious ones. So that begs the question....

What's the harm?

A greater potential for harm is to the heart of the child as they grow up in a system where "experts" determine what is best for the child and not the Truths of God's Word. These harms are much more subtle but no less damaging to the child and the family. Let me just share two areas from my experience where the experts' wisdom goes against the Word of God. After all, I did grow up in the public schools so I have at least some first hand knowledge.

Comparing Ourselves to One Another
From the moment we enter the school we are taught to compare ourselves to others. We're sized up by the teacher and the other children. In my school, kids learned very quickly who NOT to pick for kickball! The "pecking order" begins early and never stops. It's survival of the fittest. Yet, that's not a theory I want to build my child's education upon. Scripture tells us in 2 Corinthians 10:12 "Do not compare yourselves one to another." Why? First and foremost, it diminishes a child's love for learning. A child begins to believe they hate a subject just because they don't do as well as others in their class. (How many bloggers today thought they hated writing?) Secondly, we usually come up short. Discouragement and giving up are often the result.

Granted, some comparisons are probably natural and unavoidable. But the school system actually encourages it. When we begin to grade children like a farmer does eggs, there's a problem. Those that are the dumbest are put in the lowest percentile and labeled "special ed". Those that are the smartest or are put in another and lauded as "talented and gifted". Everyone else languishes in the mediocre middle. Secretly, wishing we were at the top and trying to avoid sinking to the bottom. All according to how we compare to other students. And then, in turn, we base life decisions upon those arbitrary comparisons! The education experts, in their "wisdom" are telling us to do exactly what God's Word tells us NOT to do. And parents let them. So who's the fool?

Life Revolves Around Me
This lie is arguably the greatest harm to the child. In the schools, everything is done for "their best interest." They begin to believe that life revolves around them and their needs and wants. It doesn't. But in the schools, much of the work is done by others so they are free to "learn" what they're supposed to do. Well, what they've learned is this; it's some else's job to clean the bathrooms, make lunch, wash the floors, etc. I'm much too important to be bothered with those tasks. Is it any wonder that by the time the tots become teens they won't do anything around the house? Or that they develop an attitude and although they live under the same roof, live totally separate lives? Scripture teaches us that the "greatest among us shall become a servant". But that bit of wisdom is certainly not what's taught to the children in school.

There are many others we could talk about But these are two that have impacted me the most. Some may say, "Well Spunky, you survived it. How bad could it have been?" Survival isn't the measure I want to use to judge whether something is the best thing for me or my children. After all, Saturday's earthquake had many survivors. But I doubt many of us would say they came out unharmed. Nor do I believe many of us on Friday would have chosen to fly to Indonesia knowing the potential harm that waited.

Can these harmful effects be overcome? Sure, we serve a mighty God. He is bigger than the public school system. But why would a Christian parent knowingly put a child in harm's path? The habits rooted in our early education impact the rest of our lives.

Is the Christian home perfect? No, not at all. But the family is the foundation God established for the discipleship of our children, not the state or its schools that say there is no God.

We, in the homeschool community, don't have the corner on excellence in parenting, but God does. His Word has warned us of the potential harm when we refuse to walk with the wise or sit in the counsel of the ungodly. The question is...

Are we as parents, going to let the experts or God's Word determine how we educate and disciple our children?

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Monday, May 29, 2006

He Died For a Flag

Memorial Day officially began on May 5, 1868 as a day of remembrance for those that died in the Civil War. This commentary was written by my husband, Steve Braun a few years ago. He wrote it to remind us all why they died.

He Died For a Flag
When I first began studying the Civil War, I was intrigued by the use of flags in battle and the fervent love and affection afforded to the respective flags on both sides of the conflict. A regiment usually received a national flag (national colors) and a state flag (regimental colors). The flags were typically made by local women: the mothers, wives, and sweethearts of the men who were headed off to war. The colors were normally presented to each regiment with great ceremony as it mustered into service.

The flag was the standard around which the unit would rally to fight. Consequently, it was also an inviting target for the enemy. Loss of the regiment's colors in battle was considered a disgrace, but to capture the enemy's colors brought great glory and honor. Carrying the colors in battle was considered quite an honor. Though such duty meant certain death there was never a shortage of volunteers.

Civil War history includes heroic feats of bravery as men sought to preserve their unit colors and honor. One such event took place in the Wheatfield at Gettysburg. There, in the heat of battle on July 2nd, 1863, the 4th Michigan was cut to pieces and their colors were lost in hand-to-hand combat. In the ensuing melee, the 4th's commander, twenty-six year old Colonel Harrison Jeffords, lunged to retrieve the colors and was pierced with a mortal bayonet wound. He died the next day.

When I first read that story, I thought, "For a flag? He died to save a piece of cloth that could easily be replaced?" It was not a disrespectful thought but more of a practical one. A flag can be replaced but not a man, especially a high-caliber officer. As I pondered such sacrifice, I came to understand what that flag represented to those men. It represented all the ideals and principles that our country was founded upon, all that it had ever achieved, and the hopes and dreams of generations to come. I came to have a new appreciation of our flag and the sacrifice of those who defended her.

Still, such love for the flag appeared to be old-fashioned sentimentality that I thought had died with the last Civil War veterans. In the backwash of the 1960's our culture grew to disdain the flag and paid little attention or respect to it. We lost our focus as a nation. We turned our backs on the God whose blessings had enriched us. We scorned our forefathers who had died to secure our liberties.

But then came September 11, 2001. And what lasting images are burned in our minds from that horrific day? Who can forget the New York firemen hoisting the flag at the World Trade Center and another group of firemen unfurling another flag over the side of the Pentagon in Washington? If you watched the opening ceremony to the Olympic games on February 8th, you couldn't help but be moved by the reverent respect paid to the tattered flag salvaged from the World Trade Center. There, for a moment in time, the modern world watched and paid tribute to that flag and all that it has come to represent.

That says it all. I guess such sentiments aren't old-fashioned anymore and are alive and well within this great land. Too bad it took the World Trade Center and Pentagon terrorist disasters to make us appreciate our flag all the more and to cry out to God. So here's to you, Colonel Jeffords, and the other men who died for the flag and our freedoms. May you rest in the comfort that your efforts were not in vain or lost on this generation. Thank you for your brave example.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Other Voices in the Debate

As we continue to discuss / debate the role of Christian children in public education, here are some thoughts from those who have gone before us.

Martin Luther wrote in Appeal to the Ruling Classes (1520).
"Though our children live in the midst of a Christian world, they faint and perish in misery because they lack the Gospel in which we should be training and exercising them all the time. I advise no one to place his child where the Scriptures do not reign paramount. Schools will become wide-open gates of hell if they do not diligently engrave the Holy Scriptures on young hearts. Every institution where men are not increasingly occupied with the word of God must become corrupt."
Thanks to Dana for sharing the quote in a comment. And thanks to D. R. Randle for helping me find the original source.

And here's one of my favorite quotes by Fisher Aimes,
We have trouble in the classrooms, we are putting in new text books. Nothing wrong with new books but we are spending more time on them than the Bible; it is drifting to the back of the classroom. We cannot tolerate this in American education. The Bible's morals are pure, its examples are captivating and noble.
In case you are not familiar with Fisher Aimes, he was the author of the First Ammendment to the Consitution. So much for Christians who believe in the Separation of Church and State.

And moving to the present day, Izzy asks an excellent question, Why do the Baptists boycott Disney but not the public schools?

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Friday, May 26, 2006

How Should Christians Educate Their Children?

This is another post in an on going discussion about whether Christians should have their children in the public schools. This is lengthy but it establishes my belief that the bibilical mandate for the Christian parent is to educate our children so they will grow in wisdom.

In Dr. Beam's email he said,
As far as what Jesus did before He was 12, the Bible is silent. You are assuming that He was not taught by anyone but his parents but that is an assumption made from silence. And what about Jesus appearance before the teachers in the Temple...would you suggest that he shouldn't have engaged them in discussion because they might influence Him in a negative way since He was only 12?
I am not assuming that he was only taught by his parents. But I am assuming he was not taught by the the the ungodly and pagan. Further, I submit that the Bible is not completely silent on what Jesus did before the age of twelve. In Luke 2:40 it states,

And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.
He grew in strength and was filled with wisdom. How is wisdom gained, Dr. Beam? According to the scripture, wisdom is gained by walking with the wise. Proverbs 13:20 states,

He who walks with the wise becomes wiser still but the companion of fools suffers harm.
For Jesus to have gained in wisdom he would have to walk with the "wise" not the "fool". Who is the fool? Scripture identifies two groups as fools or foolish. From Psalm 14:1, "He who has set in his heart that there is no God" and Proverbs 22:15, "foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child". We cannot expect that Jesus would have been filled with wisdom while sitting with those whom the Bible calls fools. That would be contrary to the Truth of God's Word. Psalm 1 states,

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.
So the Bible is not as silent as some would like to believe, on how Jesus would have grown in wisdom. This early teaching in wisdom enabled him to sit amongst the teachers at age 12 and engage them. But clearly, even that small glimpse into Jesus' life isn't justification for putting our children into a pagan system for 8 hours a day for 12 years. Even His parents saw that this would not be beneficial for Him. As parents they understood that to continue His growth in wisdom, He must be walk among the wise. It worked. Scripture records in Luke 2:52 that "Jesus grew in wisdom, and stature, in favor with God and man."

In the same way, we cannot expect that our own children will grow in wisdom while sitting with the "scoffers" in the public schools. As an institution, they have declared that there is no God. The curriculum and structure is built on that assumption. To use your own words they are "in disarray and pagan to the core." They are the "fools" teaching "foolish children". With that as its core there is no foundation for wisdom to be established.

Moving on to your next point,
I think for everyone to be called to step away from the public school is giving up the ground to the devil. What if every born again believer removed their children from the public school system? Some say the system would collapse and yet do you really believe our country is going to allow the total collapse of free public education? I think rather than the system collapsing you would simply create a completely godless enterprise that would turn out a generation of children with no hope because they have nothing but darkness as an example.
As you previously stated, the schools are "in disarray and pagan to the core." There is no foundation for wisdom. It is a system built on "sinking sand". They are already turning out a generation of children with no hope. From a Christian perspective the schools have already collapsed. The question is do I want my children to sink with them?

The issue does not rest on whether my children will be a salt and light or whether the public schools will fall apart if all the "good" children leave. The question for me, and every Christian parent, is; what does the scripture say about how to become wise? That is my goal for my children's education. I believe that God's Word is clear; my children become wise by walking with those that know and fear the Lord. Until the public schools are willing to acknowledge and fear the Lord, my children should not be taught by them. We will not allow them to become part of the collateral damage in the battle to save the public schools. As a Christian parent, homeschooling provides the best means to enage the culture (and the school children within it) without compromising my own children's growth in wisdom.

Lastly Dr. Beam said,

I certainly hope your comments about my preaching in a Christian church, teaching in a Christian college and having a talk show on a Christian radio station were not intended to insult me. Saying that I sit back in my "cloistered office of Christendom giving marching orders" is unfair...

I am constantly looking for opportunities to leave my "cloistered office" and engage the culture with God's Truth. I assure you, I am daily in the battle.

My comments were not meant to insult you. Not any more than your assertion that homeschoolers "cut and run" from the culture. I did, however, find it ironic that you would ask our children to sit for 8 hours a day in with the godless and pagans while you enjoy sitting daily with Christians. As a mature believer, I would expect that you would engage the culture as you do. But you also have the benefits of surrounding yourself with the Godly who will encourage you as you engage those with differing views. That is not the case in the public schools.

By placing our children in the schools, you are asking them to do what you are not even asking Christian students in your college to do. That is, spend the majority of their time with non- believers and allowing them to be taught by them. Daily requiring them to memorize the lies and falsehoods necessary to get "straight A's" to please mom and dad. And then turn around and have the mental stamina to "debate" the lies that are being taught to them! That is a tall order for one so young. At that pace, it is no wonder that most Christian children enter the schools professing a faith but come out twelve years later doubting the existence of God and the Truth of His Word. Jesus said it best in Mathew 18:6
but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
Dr. Beam, if you as a pastor and parent can demonstrate how scripturally a young believer can grow in wisdom while sitting in the counsel of the ungodly and come out unharmed, I am open to hearing it. But in the meantime, I'm not going to give the enemy any more ground to plunder. This is not a retreat from the culture. But the best armies do not do train their soldiers on the battlefield. There are too many opportunities for unncessary casualties. No, we will educate our children at home. Together, we'll memorize God's Truth not man's lies and engage the culture as God provides opportunities. And I can assure you, we are daily in the battle.

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Dr. Beam's Response

Dr. Tony Beam recently blogged about how Christians Are Needed in the Public Schools. I wrote a Another Pastor Speaks Against Homeschooling in response. He emailed a reply to me. Since his response is lengthy, I'll print it here in its entirety and comment in a separate post. Here's what he said,

You are a very wise and articulate defender of what you believe and I have nothing but respect for your stand. In my reply, I want to affirm to you again my whole-hearted support for homeschoolers and for private Christian Schools. I had the privilege of speaking at a chapel program at Pleasant Grove Christian Academy last week on the issue of separation of church and state. Just recently, I conducted a seminar for homeschoolers at Piedmont Community Church in Spartanburg, South Carolina on the importance of possessing and expressing a well developed Christian worldview. My children have been homeschooled, participated in Christian School and they have attended the public school. My 14 year old daughter has quite a ministry going at her Middle School. She regularly brings home girls from broken homes who are hurting and confused. We try to minister to them as a family offering a place of stability where they can see Christian principles at work. They often want to come home with my daughter over the weekend so they can attend church with us. Two of her friends have accepted Christ as their Savior because Allison cared enough to befriend them and share the Gospel.

I do not want to be considered to be "a pastor speaking out against homeschooling"....I do not oppose homeschooling in any form. I support people who believe it is the right way for them to educate their children. My problem lies with the idea that people who do not homeschool their children or send them to a Christian School are somehow sinning against God. I don't believe every Christian or every Southern Baptist for that matter is going to pull their kids out of the public school. Those who chose to stay should be equipped to take on the darkness they find, not criticized for staying in the fight. Certainly, as you pointed out, children alone are in no position to fight this battle. But the children of Christian parents shouldn’t be alone. They should be backed up and supported fully by parents who are fully engaged in the battle. When a 3rd grade teacher decides to include the homosexual agenda in some manner in his or her class, the Christian parent should be aware because they are actively involved in what they children are doing in school and they should respond. They should teach their child why what the teacher says is wrong and then join with other Christian parents to demand change.

As far as what Jesus did before He was 12, the Bible is silent. You are assuming that He was not taught by anyone but his parents but that is an assumption made from silence. And what about Jesus appearance before the teachers in the Temple...would you suggest that he shouldn't have engaged them in discussion because they might influence Him in a negative way since He was only 12? And yes, it is true Jesus went home with His parents but it is also true when he was confronted by his mother He made it clear that His debate with the teachers was, "His Father's business." I believe every time we engage this lost world and attempt to replace the darkness with the light we are tending to the Father's business. I think for everyone to be called to step away from the public school is giving up the ground to the devil. What if every born again believer removed their children from the public school system? Some say the system would collapse and yet do you really believe our country is going to allow the total collapse of free public education? I think rather than the system collapsing you would simply create a completely godless enterprise that would turn out a generation of children with no hope because they have nothing but darkness as an example.

I certainly hope your comments about my preaching in a Christian church, teaching in a Christian college and having a talk show on a Christian radio station were not intended to insult me. Saying that I sit back in my "cloistered office of Christendom giving marching orders" is unfair. As I mentioned to you in a previous e-mail, I recently debated church/state separation with the head of the ACLU and a representative from the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty. I am constantly looking for opportunities to leave my "cloistered office" and engage the culture with God's Truth. I assure you, I am daily in the battle.

I certainly understand principled people are going to disagree with my position. I do not claim to be the final repository of knowledge and therefore have some inside track on being right. I thank you for your response and I will pray for you as you continue to serve God in the way He leads you.


I wrote my response here. I'd also appreciate hearing what others think about what Dr. Beam has said.

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Photo Op

"Mom, where's all the other children?"

That's what my girls were wondering when we got to the beach on Monday. I was asking a different question.

"How do southern homeschoolers get anything done?!?

Homeschool Discrimination?

George Mason University has decided to drop the SAT requirement for some of its applicants.

Andrew Flagel, George Mason's dean of admissions, said the university examined the performance of students who did well in high school and found that SAT scores were a poor predictor of how those students would fare at the university. He said officials worried that reliance on the test could unfairly exclude some talented students who are poor test-takers.
But apparently some talented students who are homeschooled must still take the test.

The George Mason admissions website specifically excludes homeschooled students from the score optional review process. They also excluded some students applying to specific majors and the honors program.

Many public colleges it appears are taking the no test route. The website Fair Test has a list of colleges that are going test optional.

The development of a no test rule is a postive sign in college admissions. However, the exclusion of homeschoolers could put them at a competitive disadvantage to their public school counterparts in the admissions process, simply because they were homeschooled. I wonder if some homeschoolers will get as upset about this as they did Oprah?

Of course, much of this can be for naught when the President's Commission on Higher Education issues its report due out in August.

In other testing news, the California Supreme Court reinstated their state high school exit exam.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Long and Winding Road

How do you drive for four hours and manage to go less than 100 miles? By driving the Blue Ridge Parkway and stopping every 10 minutes to take pictures. We decided yesterday, at the last minute to take the long route home. I'm glad we did. The scenery is absolutely gorgeous. You just don't see country like this in Michigan! We're in Charleston, West Virginia today. We should be in the Detroit area by this evening. (The Ohio Turnpike just doesn't make you want to stop like the mountains.)

I'm a little late, but the The Carnival of Homeschooling is up at Dana's.

I also received an email response from Dr. Tony Beam regarding my post, Another Pastor Speaks against Homeschooling. So if you've been wondering what he thinks, I should be able to post it tomorrow.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Climbing Mt. Homeschooling

(Since we will not be winding our way through the Blue Ridge Mountains today, I decided to repost about the mountain many of us are climbing each day.)

I was discouraged about the progress of our homeschooling recently. I dumped my tale of woe to my dear husband. (Over a Starbucks of course.) "Nothing seemed to going as planned." I lamented. "How did I ever think I could teach one child how to figure out the area of a circle, while training another to figure out the circular area in the bathroom? " I was having a classic, woe is me, meltdown moment.

My husband, the steady one, just listened attentively. Bless his heart, living with me all these years, he has learned it is better to listen than speak at times like these. Lest my pity party cross over into the dreaded "and it's all your fault" discussion. For which, I will later regret and have to make ammends. Finally exhausted, I paused for a few minutes to catch my breath.

"Do you know what it's like to climb Mount Everest?" he asked.

"No. You know me. If it has anything to do with athletics I'm blissfully clueless."

"Well, that's what you're doing."

"Huh."

"I just read an article on it. When you climb Mount Everest there are times of sheer endurance. Moments that test your stamina and ability to climb one foot higher. As you climb higher the pressure intensifies. You're in one of those times right now. But if you keep going you'll eventually get to the next camp. When you do, you'll look back down the mountain and wonder how you made it. But you made it. Then it's time to sit, rest, and acclimate yourself to the conditions at that level. That's just as important as the climb. You need to get used to the air at that level otherwise your brain can't handle the pressure. Then with a burst of energy you'll tackle the next climb only to be tested even more. The closer you get to the top the more strength it will take. But God has given us the ability to meet the challenges if we endure the hard times and rest as necessary. The challenge for you is not to give up when it's difficult. And not to rest too long that you don't go to the next level. "

That was the most encouraging thing he could say to me. He didn't try to pretend it would be easy. He perfectly described my atttitude and my struggle. He knew I wanted to continue. But the pressure of the moment were causing my mind to go a little crazy with anxiety.

Homeschooling our children is our goal. He was climbing it with me. But his strength gives him the ability to handle the struggles in a much different way. He can't climb the mountain for me. It is something I must learn to do, leaning on him and the Lord for guidance up to the top.

Curious, I decided to google how to climb Mount Everest . Here's a paragraph that I found.

In life, and sometimes in death, Mount Everest has had a lasting effect on all of those who have challenged its heights. It can vanquish those who disrespect it, and mercilessly test those who honor it. Yet Everest is indifferent to your presence. Climb it and you will receive a lifetime dose of humility and exhilaration.
While no analogy is perfect, I think this might describe homeschooling.

It is a mountain to be climbed. We look at the summit from a distance below and wonder how am I ever going to get there from here. We hear the stories of those who have finished and wonder will we finish as well? Will my children be all that I envision them to be? More importantly, will they become all that God envisions them to be? " Mt. Homeschooling" will have a lasting effect on all those who have challenged its heights. I have been tested in ways I never imagined. Even with all the advanced preparation and research there are always unforseen challenges. . But just like Mount Everest I know that when I persevere and continue the climb to the top I will receive a lifetime dose of humility and exhilaration.

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Phillipians 3:13-14

Post at Edspresso

I have a guest commentary today at Edspresso, Teach to Whose Test.
If you're a homeschooler who thinks No Child Left Behind and standardized testing doesn't affect you, think again.

If you follow education issues and Edspresso isn't on your blog roll yet, this would be a great time to check them out.

Travel Update
We've decided to stay another day in Charleston. We were going to head slowly back through the Blue Ridge Mountains and spend the night there. But we decided to stay an extra day here and go back to the beach one last time. We'll leave some time tomorrow instead.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

It's a start!

Dr. Jim West is coming around. No, he hasn't endorsed homeschooling just SpunkyHomeschool.

SpunkyHomeSchool is the blog of a witty and clever homeschooler. So, besides Chris Heard, there is at least one other homeschooler I think something of! Besides, her family looks Amish and who doesn't love the Amish? (Though it is curious to me that an Amish family not only has electricity, but also the internet and a weblog! But never mind- she seems very together). So, to you homeschoolers who hate me- just remember- I like 2 of you!
Thanks Dr. West. If you don't know what all this is about, Dr. West is one of several people who have spoken out against homeschooling and Dr. Bruce Shortt's resolution in the Southern Baptist Convention. I'm still waiting to hear from Dr. Tony Beam. (Thanks to David for alerting me to his slight change of heart.)

As much as I enjoy a compliment, it was more gratifying to read the comment Daisy left yesterday on Learning to Socialize,

Thanks for putting my only real concern to rest. I can't tell you how useful this blog has been to me, even though my little student is only two years old right now, and homeschooling hasn't really begun. Keep up the great work, Spunky!

Thanks. Knowing that parents like you find this blog useful means a lot to me.

For mothers, like Daisy, who are just beginning to homeschool, you may enjoy a post I wrote to my daughters on their first day of homeschooling.

Vacation Update,
We made it to Charleston without any accidents. That's because my recently potty trained two year old daughter discovered the wonder and joy of self-flushing toilets! She wanted to stop at every bathroom on the freeway and try it out!

We'll be checking out the beach today, and tomorrow my husband will be speaking at Miles Road Baptist Church.

Have a great Saturday!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Learning to Socialize

(This is a repost of how homeschoolers can help teach their children proper social skills. Believe it or not it can be done outside the "school yard"!)

Daisy left this comment under my Pros and Cons of Homeschooling post. Her concern echos many that I have met so I thought it merited a post and not just left in the comments. She wrote,
As a less than outgoing future homeschooler, I am concerned that my son won't meet enough people outside our small social circle. It is (or seems to me to be) important for a child to learn to socialize with many different kinds of people. Socialization concerns are actually the only con on that list that worries me at all.
The myth that children who are homeschooled are not going to learn to socialize has been largely dismissed. It is obviously necessary for our children to learn to get along with many different kinds of people. However, I don't think you need a large social circle, or a classroom, to learn proper social skills. In fact, I actually believe that can be a hinderance. How many of us interact with 20-25 people who are all the same age everyday for six hours? A classroom is a manufactured environment with little resemblance to the "real world".

Proper social skills are learned in a variety of formats. When a child learns to respect others, he can apply that to any age group. When a child learns to listen to another's opinion without getting angry, he can apply that to any age group. When a child learns to stand alone for what is right in the face of opposition, it can be applied to any age group.

Decide how you want your child to respond it different situations and teach it to him. Let him learn and practice these skills in the home. As he masters the skill he will begin to apply it in the various situations he encounters. Don't look for the encounters without first teaching the skills. It is then that your child will learn the proper social skills. This is proactive parenting not reactive punishment. There is a place for correction but it should not be our only tool for teaching our children.

Our schools have it all backwards. We throw our children into a classroom and say sit still. Without ever teaching them how. We say be quiet when the teacher is talking without ever teaching them self control. Our cafeterias are filled with unruly children because in many cases no one took the time to teach them proper etiquette. We assume that they will just know it. The chaos in the cafeteria shows that they don't.

We would never think of expecting a surgeon to operate on a live human right after reading a book on human anatomy. First, we train him on a few cadavers to make sure he's got it down. Even someone in a less risky situation like a waitress receives some training before we throw her in front of hungry customers. Yet, somehow with our children we expect that they should "just know" what is expected of them.

The time to teach self control is not at a wedding buffet line. When your children spy the desserts but you want them to eat the meatballs. A battle erupts and no one ends up enjoying the meal. Teach and train them at home about what is expected of them. Let them practice and make their mistakes there. Don't let the situation do the teaching. Public situations are a blessing and a direct result of proper instruction before you leave the house. Think about it, even the bride and groom have rehearsal before the wedding.

Define for your family what it means to have a well socialized and disciplined child. Then begin to teach those disciplines (and more) first and then your child will be graceful in any social situation. (Most of the time!)

Previous related posts: Who's Missing Out

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Heading South

We're headed to Charleston, South Carolina. Posting may be sporadic with a few best of Spunky posts tossed in. I'm looking forward to the break. I'll be back next Tuesday. Or maybe Wednesday. Or maybe Thursday. But I'll be back. Maybe.

Meanwhile, here's a few links to keep you going,

If you haven't already read about the most recent pastor to bash homeschooling, Make sure you do. Dr. Beam sent me an email saying he will respond to my post soon. By the way, he also said he homeschooled his children for some of their education. Interesting. Stay tuned.

The newest edition of Regenerate Our Culture Online Magazine is up. My daughter shares how homeschooling has kept her "grounded". (So much for homeschoolers retreating from the culture.)

Susan Ryan shared this article School To Careers; The German Roots of Outcome Based Education By Judy Aron. It's a concise history of how we've gotten where we are in education.

An emailer shared a link to a free e-book The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America. It's written by Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt, a policy advisor on education during the Reagan Administration. It provides a more in-depth look at education reform.

What's up with the Shakeup at Patrick Henry College? (HT: Jay Ryan)

Interesting article on how the internet is changing our lives.

Need a good laugh, The Thinking Mother shares a humorous story.

Warning: Wife Swap (I refuse to link to them.) is on the prowl again. I got another email promising $20K to participate or a $1000 referral fee. They made the rounds last year. No thanks.

Congratulations to Kay Brooks homeschool advocate and mother of 4. She was elected to her local public school board.

Congratulations to Amy at Dandelion Seeds on baby #7.

Consider this an open post. Feel free to comment and share what's on your mind or blog.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Another Pastor Speaks Against Homeschooling

[Update: I emailed Dr. Beam with the link to this post. He replied and said he would read it and respond to what I have written. Stay tuned.]

The issue of homeschooling is sure ruffling a lot of Baptist preachers feathers.

First, we had Dr. West telling us we didn't understand the theology of the cross for homeschooling. Now we have Dr. Tony Beam telling us not to "cut and run". He admits the schools are "in disarray and pagan to the core", but asserts our children must go to public school to be part of the redemption of the schools.
I would like to submit another scriptural argument for believers to remain in the public school for the purpose of redemption. In His final prayer for His disciples Jesus said, "I am not praying that You take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by the truth, Your Word is truth. As You have sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world"(John 17:15-18). In this prayer, we hear the heart of Jesus as He intercedes for those who will have to live in and deal with
this world. He specifically asks God NOT to remove is from the world but to prepare us for engaging the world by protecting us from the evil one and sanctifying us in the Truth.
I'm not a bible scholar, but I beg to differ with Dr. Beam's use of this passage as justification for our children going into the public schools. Jesus' final prayer was for His disciples and yes, it could be extrapolated out to mature believers today. But certainly our children lack both the maturity and insight of a disciple and therefore it would be a bit of a stretch to include them in this passage. By doing what Dr. Beam advocates we would actually be running contrary to the very life of Jesus himself. He remained under the authority of his parents until the age of 12 and possibly further. That's what so confounded observers the day he was found in the temple courts listening to the teachers. Quoting from Luke 2:46, 51,

After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers...

(verse 51) Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

Interestingly, even after this incident of obvious scholarly brilliance, he didn't stay with the teachers but left with his parents in "obedience to them".

Would you, Dr. Beam, declare that Jesus withdrew from the culture by not remaining with the teachers? Were Mary and Joseph wrong for removing him and not allowing Him to engage the culture? I hardly think so. He and His parents knew His time had not yet come. They knew their role was to protect Him until He fully matured. Eventually, Jesus grew into the man worthy to die on our behalf.

A young child's role is NOT as a redeemer. Their time has not yet come.

If you as a mature, well-discipled, Christian man would like to go into the schools and affect change, GO FOR IT! A scholarly man with your zeal to change the culture would be dynamic in the godless schools. Why spend your days preaching in a CHRISTIAN church, teaching on CHRISTIAN radio, or teaching at a CHRISTIAN college? Stop retreating from the culture into the comfort of the church!

Go forth! Charge to the front lines where the enemy is hitting hardest. Give up your personal ambitions and pursuits and become a TEACHER in the public schools. Charge in there with bible blazing and boldly tell them their redemption is near!

But please don't ask my children to go spend their childhood on the front lines, while you sit back in the cloistered offices of Christendom giving them their marching orders. That, to me, seems a little cowardly don't you think?

(HT: Daryl)

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Education Styles

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up at Home Sweet Home.

One of the posts that caught my eye was Education Styles by Nerd Mom. She's just beginning her homeschool journey and is trying to decide on the right educational style. Right now, she is evaluating classical and unschooling. These decisions are daunting but thankfully not life threatening. A bad decision here or there is like a bad haircut. It can be frustrating, but eventually it just grows out. The same is true with our children. They are flexible and will grow with you. Really. Trust me on this. If you make a choice that doesn't seem to work, re-evaluate, adjust as necessary, and move on.

I wrote a few posts that may be helpful to those just beginning to evaluate educational styles and curriculum.

Curriculum Soup Just as there isn't one "right" way to prepare soup, there isn't one way to homeschool. This analogy may help sort through the many curriculum options out there.

What Curriculum Do You Use? Here's some guidelines and questions to ask yourself as you decide which style and curriculum will work best for you.

I also wrote about my brief period as an unschoolers in a post called, The Undeniable Truths of an Un-UnSchooler.

And for those who want to know what curriculum we currently use. It's Tapestry of Grace. We're doing the Volume Four, the 1900's. It's a classical approach, but we've adapted it to fit our family's needs. I wrote a little more about it here. We will continue with Tapestry of Grace using Volume One (Ancient History) after we finish Volume Four. Although, next year we are going to add in a twice monthly book discussion with a few other families. We generally avoid large co-ops but I think a small book discussion will be helpful to cement some of the ideas we are learning.

One Final Thought
Next year will be my daughter's senior year. Last summer we had a discussion about her high school years. In a moment of anxiety, I asked her if she thought there were any holes in her learning. "Yes, mom there are." She replied.

My heart sank. "But mom," she continued, "everyone has holes but that's what homeschooling is for. When I teach my children I can learn it right along with them and fill some of those in!"

So, in reality, homeschooling never ends. And I must admit, it kind of makes me look forward to being a Grandma!

Update: For more inspiration, Why Homeschool has interviewed Barbara Frank.

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Monday, May 15, 2006

Outsourcing Homework

If you can't beat 'em, hire 'em!
We're told over and over again how US students are falling behind their counterparts around the world. Many students have taken action by hiring international "virtual tutors" to help them with their homework.

The tutors, who communicate with students over the Internet, are inexpensive and available around the clock, making education the newest industry to be outsourced to other countries.
Seems to be a "win - win" propostion for everyone right? Not according to the American Federation of Teachers. They're not happy about this development at all.

[T]he American Federation of Teachers, said after-school tutors should be required to pass the same rigorous certification process as public school teachers.

"Quality control doesn't end at 3 o'clock when the school bell rings," he said. "If you need a highly qualified teacher in school at 2:59, you should have a qualified teacher as a tutor after school at 3:01."

Sounds to me like the union is more concerned about job security than actually teaching the material. How many of the AFT teachers could pass the rigorous final exam for many of these classes? At a recent education conference Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, pointed out that

the aggregate number of college graduates who take up teaching represent the bottom third of scores on the ACT and the SAT.
Maybe before we think about No Child Left Behind, we should think about No Teacher Left Behind! Let's make sure that teachers can pass the test before we require it of students. And if these tutors are helping with subjects such as physics and statistics, some how I just don't think that the "rigorous certification" process would be that much of a problem for them, do you?

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Teach to the Test, Please!

If you're a homeschooler who thinks No Child Left Behind and standardized testing doesn't affect you, think again. This post is a little long but explains why testing matters to you.

Recently, the ACT issued a report Ready for College and Ready for Work: Same or Different?" Quoting from the press release
"This landmark report makes it clear that we must ensure high school is relevant and rigorous for all students," said Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, chair of the national Governors Association Education, Early Childhood, and Workforce Committee. "We need to bring accountability and focus to our classrooms in order to prepare graduates for the fiercely competitive global economy, whether their next step is college or a career."
Rigor with relevance are the new buzz words in education and the reform that is pushing toward consistent standards in all 50 states. It should also be no surprise that the ACT commissioned this report. Or that they are actively endorsing uniform standards and testing. They have a lot to gain with uniform testing.

Last week in my post, Wise Investments? I focused on how career tracking and universal preschool are two mechanisms that are being used to further the state's economic goals at the expense of children. There is another component that the government is "investing" in as well. Testing and high school exit exams. Standardized testing is closely tied in with career tracking and managing the economy.

Right now California is in a court battle for their high school exit exam.

We are also hearing about problems with the SAT test.

Despite these negative reports, there is one test that is gaining a lot of positive press, the ACT. They are positioning themselves to be the "test of choice" in education. Several states are considering or have already adopted this test as their state high school exit exam. Kentucky is the latest. The Blue Grass Institute defends this decision,

By approving legislation requiring all 11th-graders to take the proven ACT assessments, the 2006 General Assembly took an important step toward reducing Kentucky's undue reliance on the inadequate Commonwealth Accountability Testing System (CATS).

The new law additionally adds high-quality testing for eighth-graders and high-school sophomores. The results of these new, nationally normed tests will provide earlier identification of areas where students need assistance - and identify the educational opportunities needed to close those gaps - to prepare for their dream career or college opportunity.

The article also highlights Colorado, Illinois, and Michigan as states that have adopted the ACT as their state exam. To twist an old cliche, "this is not your father's ACT". It is paid for by the state and has changed dramatically. They have added a work skills component all with the goal of job readiness. Quoting again from the Blue Grass Institute
Students planning to immediately enter the workforce after graduation will also take ACT's Work Keys assessment, a business skills-oriented test that many employers require. High scorers will receive a Kentucky Employability Certificate from the state's Cabinet for Workforce Development, giving them a competitive advantage for better jobs. (emphasis added)
As more and more states adopt the same test, such as the ACT, to replace their state exams, we could end up with a de facto national exam. (By the way, having the SAT lose credibility greatly helps this effort.) It will be interesting to watch how California resolves their testing situation.

This is all a back door way of regulating not just curriculum but the economy as well. Employers and colleges will require an "Employability Certificate" (CIM) in the same way they look for a high school diploma. Here's how Oregon described the certificate (CIM) from their Dept. of Ed. website
When you apply to attend a college or university, to get a job, to join the military, or to do volunteer work, the CIM can help you prove why you should be admitted, hired, or allowed to join. It shows you did more than just attend school, take classes, and graduate with a GPA. It shows you worked hard to achieve high standards - standards that people respect in the world beyond high school.
Testing and certification have implications for our society as a whole. Those who homeschool will be affected by the educational structure that is required for a managed economy. Standardized testing is the oil that makes the engine of this type of economy run. The state needs compulsory schooling and testing to ensure that all children are taught what they need to know to be a good citizen in the global economy managed by the state. Those without the certification will be at a competitive disadvantage. And the only way to be certified is by taking the test.

If all of this sounds a bit far fetched and conspiratorial then let me remind you again of the words of Governor Jennifer Granholm from my state of Michigan. She said this in her state of the state address this year.
Now, when it comes to education, we will have one overarching goal: to become the best-educated workforce in the nation. To do that, we will give our children the tools they need to be successful in the classroom and in the 21st century economy.
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 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.

So is it any wonder that Richard Ferguson, President of the ACT recently said,
"Teach to the test, please."
No thank you, Mr. Ferguson. My children are not a commodity in the state's workforce. It's none of the state's business what my childre want to be when they grow up. And teaching to your test is not why we educate our children.

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Saturday, May 13, 2006

Together We'll Get It Done

How do you get it all done? That's a common question asked of homeschooling mothers. The fact of the matter is that my "to do" list is never all crossed off. But I try to remember that there is my list and there is God's list. In the end, His is the only one that matters. And when I see things from His perspective a lot more is accomplished than I realized. I'm not much of a poet, but here's a little poem I wrote to remember to see my tasks from His perspective. Happy Mother's Day!

Together We'll Get It Done

September began in earnestness and relative ease
But fell away by mid-November...
It all started with one little sneeze!

In no time at all, it was Christmas and all of its worry,
It all seems so distant now, what was the hurry?

The new year began with renewed vision and hope,
But things keep coming up, "Oh, why can't I cope?"

So now it is May and June is so near,
Nothing seems to get done with out someone shedding a tear!

STOP!!

"Come," says the Lord, "Rest in me."
"You view the year a lot different than I do you see."

That child who was sick....you taught comfort and love.
That neighbor in crisis...you gave a taste of heaven above.

All those projects and ideas started but never sewn;
You've sewn seeds of love, mercy, and grace; and my how they've grown.

So see through MY eyes, my dear sweet one,
Your job is not yet finished, but...

Together we'll get it done.

CA Judge Tosses Exit Exam

I have written extensively on this blog about high stakes testing. Testing is the oil for the engine of school reform. We are fast moving toward preschool - college (P - 16) tracking of students. Educrats need testing for career tracking. That reform suffered a setback when a California judge ruled that their state exam is unfair to minorities. It is a setback but unfortunately not a complete casualty. The reform effort continues to move forward.

According to the LA Times,
Nationwide, 19 other states with about half of the country's students require seniors to pass an exit exam, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Education Policy. Six more states are developing exams.
The trend is toward an exit exam and choosing career majors in high school. Further, a growing number of states are abandoning their own test in favor of the the ACT. (MI did so in December of '05) Colorado, Illinois, and Kentucky are also using the ACT. If this trend continues it will eventually build into a de facto national exam. It will be interesting to watch how California handles their testing if the judge's ruling stands. A high stakes graduation exam is bad news for homeschoolers. We may be exempt from the exam but not the effects of the exam.

I'll have more to share on this soon.

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Friday, May 12, 2006

Supper Swapping Winner

Congratulations to Barbara. She has won the book Supper Swapping by Susan Thacker. I know you will enjoy the book.

If you haven't already heard, I have dubbed May "Reader Appreciation Month".

So far I've given away a Benz Microscope, Apologia Biology, and Supper Swapping.

The next give away will have three winners. The first place winner willl receive a $50 gift certificate to either Amazon or Staples. Second and third place winners will each receive a $25 certificate. I'll give out the details early next week. So stay tuned.

Motherhood: God's Plan for Universal Preschool

The City Journal reviewed the book To Hell With All That: Loving and Loathing Our Inner Housewife, by Caitlin Flanagan. This paragraph in the review was spot on.

Children are madly attached to their mothers. Families, including men--the louts!--thrive when home life is orderly, comfortable, and good-humored. For Flanagan, women can find no easy escape from "the tensions of our times." "What few will admit--because it is painful, because it reveals the unpleasant truth that life presents a series of choices, each of which precludes a host of other attractive possibilities--is that whatever decision a woman makes she will have lost something of incalculable value." These days, when every seventh-grade girl knows about the joys of the office, Flanagan has set herself the thankless task of reminding us of the deeper, though more encumbered, satisfactions of life at home. The housewife, she writes, can be "harassed into the end of time yet capable of moments of transcendence, when she [is] struck by the power of her love for her children and by the importance of her sacrifice on their behalf.
Motherhood is God's plan for universal preschool, anything else is just a cheap imitation.

(HT: Al Mohler)

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Hi-Tech Parenting

Here are some new advances in technology to help you with your parenting.

BabyFirst TV, (what a misnomer)

"This is the first channel dedicated to babies and their parents - transforming TV from its original purpose into a way for them to interact," said Sharon Rechter, BabyFirstTV's executive vice president for business development and marketing.

"The fact of life is that babies are already watching TV," she said. "That's why having BabyFirstTV is so important - what we want to offer is completely safe, commercial-free and appropriate content."

I fail to see how a TV helps parents and their babies interact. No thank you! Watching TV is not a habit I want to cultivate in my babies. And what was the original purpose of TV anyway?

Moving on....
Are you having trouble trusting your teen? Become a "secret agent" with a global positioning satellite (GPS) phone.

The Wherifone is the world's smallest cell phone for kids," says John Cunningham, director of communications for Wherify Wireless. "The value add is not just being able to call your child but also having access to their real-time location. It gives parents a real sense of safety."

With an embedded GPS system in the phone, parents can access their child's location, for safety or rule-breaking reasons, via a secure Internet site with a secret password. The web site features a map that pinpoints exactly where their child is, and better yet, it can "breadcrumb." "The parent can also do breadcrumbing, which is a series of location requests," says Cunningham. "So on the map, they can see dots where the child has been, and the direction he's going in."

The phone is set to sell this summer for $150. At this point, I don't see the need for a GPS for "rule breaking". If we thought they would break the rules they wouldn't get the car. But for safety this may be a real help.

But if they really want to help parents with new technology, I think a GPS for my two year old would be very helpful.

(Thanks to these excellent teen bloggers, David and Tim, for the links.)

Don't forget the Supper Swapping Cookbook giveaway ends this evening.

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Thursday, May 11, 2006

Supper Swapping Book Give Away


Scott Somerville recently asked a group of homeschoolers the question. "If Jesus returned tomorrow which part of homeschooling would you give up?" If I had been in the audience I wouldn't have given the answer a second thought.

Cooking.

Now some may balk at my answer and say, cooking isn't really part of homeschooling. (Not you homesteaders, of course!) But that's not true around here. Just try teaching your son biology while every cell in his body is craving food. No, my sister said it best, "Homeschooling would be a lot more fun if I didn't have to constantly feed them." (She's a homeschooling mom of 7.)

It's not that I don't enjoy cooking. I do. But with everything going on some days, I just don't want to think about "what's for dinner?" Susan Thacker is aiming to fix that. She's written a new book called Supper Swapping.

Supper Swapping is defined as an arrangement to trade fresh meals with one friend for the benefit of two households...

Each person selects one cooking day a week. On that day the assigned cook delivers two meals to the recipient. By the end of the school/work week, you will each have four meals with typically enough leftovers for one day.

The theory sounds simple enough. It's the practical application that needs a little refining for us. After all, cooking enough for a family of 8 has its own set of rules. Susan has those covered in the a section called "Exploring Variations of Supper Swapping." She suggests co-op cooking. That's what my friend and I are planning on doing. She's just built a new home with a large gourmet kitchen. Between the two of us and our daughters we're hoping to eliminate meal prep for a few meals each week.

Susan's book also provides recipes by master chef's from around the country. Some of the recipes were a bit much for my taste. But I do enjoy the challenge of a new recipe and ingredients occassionally. Most receipes were quite doable. My 12 year old daughter made the Grilled Lemon Rosemary Chicken (page 132) and we all gave it two thumbs up. She's eager to try out even more of the recipes as well.

So even if I can't give up cooking completely, it's nice to know there are women out there like Susan who are thinking of ways to make it more manageable. As soon as my friend get's her kitchen in order, I'll let you know how our swap goes.

In the meantime, I'd love to hear your suggestions for meal planning, quick lunches, or funny food stories. If you have any favorite websites to share pass those along as well.

I don't plan on turning this blog into a recipe blog. But I love new cookbooks. Susan graciously provided her book to me for review and I couldn't pass it up.

She'd also like me to give another one away to a reader. So I'll select one commenter at random to win a copy of Susan's new book. I'll pick a winner tomorrow evening. Even if you don't have a tip to share, go ahead and leave a comment to enter the contest.

More on Sean Paddock

For those who have been following the story about Lynn Paddock here's the latest...
Presecutors could decide today on the death penalty.


Lynn Paddock, a Johnston County woman accused of killing her 4-year-old adopted son, could learn today whether prosecutors will seek to have her put to death.
An autopsty report on the cause of his death revealed that,


In the week before 4-year-old Sean Paddock's death, he refused to stay in bed at night and roamed the Johnston County farmhouse of his adoptive parents, according to an autopsy report released this week.
Her attorney Michael Reece is considering whether to call Michael Pearl to testify if the case goes to trial.

Judging from the number of google searches that daily hit my site and the frequent emails I receive, this story and the Pearls continue to be of great interest to many people.

Update Thursday PM: The judge has ruled that Paddock will not receive the death penalty.
The state must possess evidence of aggravated circumstances and I did not think the evidence was compelling enough to pursue the death penalty, [District Attorney] Lock said.
Paddock will be charged with second degree murder.

Related Links:
A Switch or A Cross
Review of Created to Be His Helpmeet

Tulip Girl also has a round up of links from around the internet on this subject.

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Enough already!!!

This is just plain awful.

Twelve boys in the first and second grade at a St. Louis elementary school are accused of sexually assaulting a second-grade girl during recess, authorities said Tuesday.
We're talking about 6-8 year olds! The teacher in charge has been fired. Another was supsended with pay. This is what the superintendant had to say,

In my mind it's unconscionable that it happened and in my mind people have to be held accountable," Williams said. "How is it this kind of thing is even in the minds of young men?
Maybe the teacher was reading the same book as this Boston teacher. Parents, when is it finally going to sink in? Nobody loves (or watches) your children like you do. But most parents just don't want to believe it.

Here's an example. After I posted my Miranda Rights for Parents which addressed parents giving up their authority, Tammy chastised me for going overboard. She said,

Most of the time I can laugh at what you write about public schools but this one was a bit too overboard. Not every school is this way-WAKE UP!!

At 3 different school if I wanted my children to be taught about sex,I was allowed to preview the videos and had to give permission for my child to attend the sessions.I could go on and on nit picking about each point and give you a poistive answer but I won't .

Just remember not every state is California.

Your right Tammy, not every state is like California. And I suppose your going to tell me your child's school isn't like St. Louis or Boston either. All I can say is WAKE UP!!

CNN provides video of the school yard and an interview with the superintendant here.

(HT: Edwonk)

Wise Investments?

More and more the talk in education is about making wise investments in education and getting a postive return on that investment. Margaret Spellings started us out last year in her speech announcing the need for reforms in higher education. And the rehetoric continues to trickle down to the state and local governments.

Here's a few places where this investment "wisdom"is showing up in the news this week.

Florida's Wise Investment.
Florida lawmakers made a smart investment in the state's future by approving near-record spending for schools and by passing the last round of Gov. Jeb Bush's school reforms. Those reforms will bring rewarding new challenges to middle- and high-school students.

Part of their "wisdom" includes requiring middle and high school students to select a career major and minor in the same way that university students do.

Early education a wise investment

One of the best investments state and local governments can make with their public dollars is in high-quality, parent-involved early childhood development programs, an early education and economics expert told a local conference of educators Thursday.
The "expert" is Arthur J. Rolnick, senior vice president and director of research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. So now we have the Federal Reserve telling us what's best for our children? Not at all. He's telling us what's best for the economic development of the nation.

Career tracking and universal preschool and are two mechanisms that are being used to further that economic development. Never mind that children are better off at home with their parents. (That's why babies cry when they leave their mothers. And why mothers cry after they leave their babies.) Never mind that most high schoolers can't decide what to wear to the prom, let alone what they want to do with the rest of their life.

Wise investments means only what is best for the state. They have invested nothing but gain the most. So is it any surprise that we have a banker advising educators on what's best in education? However, parents, who have invested the most have the least amount of input and the worst return on their investment. I don't call that a wise investment. I call that a scam.