Thursday, August 31, 2006

Homeschooling in Germany

There have been quite a few comments here in recent weeks advocating that state involvement in homeschooling is the best way to keep homeschoolers accountable. The reasons range from our refusal to "police our own" and that those who don't want the state involved are just "fearful". We would do well to consider what this German homeschooling father is going through before inviting the state to regulate our children's education. I admit that this is an extreme example, but much of our education reform is patterned after the German educational model. So it's worth a look forward to see where state accountability may lead if we become complacent.

In February, Andre R and wife Frauke, 39, were hauled into court and fined 840 uros (1,090 dollars) for defying education laws. This month, five police showed up at the family's rented, suburban row- house and hauled Andre R off to the Hamburg city prison.

Andre R refused to give in, so after a week among murderers and drug dealers, he was released and the authorities tried a new tack. Officials last week began fetching the children each morning from the R home and taking them to school. Custody of the children is to be taken away from the parents and the children will become wards of the state.

On Monday, no one answered when officials came knocking at the door of the R home... Alexander Luckow, a spokesman for the Hamburg education authorities, said application had already been made in court to seize custody of the children, with a decision due within days. The order would apply throughout the 25-nation
European Union, he added...

A majority of home-schooling parents are concerned that schools will undermine the religious commitment of their children. German educators argue in reply that schools are a means to integrate children into society.

Parents who accept the regulation for the convenience and accountability may find it tolerable now. But what if the state decides to cross your threshold and requires you to do things that you find unaccepable for your child. Will a distinction matter to you then? Or perhaps the "champions of state accountability" feel that this German Christian father is acting out of fear and in error. Maybe he should just come out of hiding and willingly turn his children over to the secular state for their education indoctrination.

(HT: Gary)

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Stossel on Homeschooling

Taking on the monopoly of government schools, John Stossel talks up the benefits of homeschooling.

The monopoly fails so many kids that more than a million parents now make big sacrifices to homeschool their kids. Two percent of school-aged kids are homeschooled now. If parents weren't taxed to pay for lousy government schools, more might teach their kids at home.

Some parents choose to homeschool for religious reasons, but homeschooling has been increasing by 10 percent a year because so many parents are just fed up with the government's schools.

Homeschooled students blow past their public-school counterparts in terms of achievement. Brian Ray, who taught in both public and private schools before becoming president of the National Home Education Research Institute, says, "In study after study, children who learn at home consistently score 15-30 percentile points above the national averages," he says. Homeschooled kids also score almost 10 percent higher than the average American high school student on the ACT.

I don't know how these homeschooling parents do it. I couldn't do it. I'd get impatient and fight with my kids too much.

But it works for lots of kids and parents. So do private schools. It's time to give parents more options.

Instead of pouring more money into the failed government monopoly, let's free parents to control their own education money. Competition is a lot smarter than bureaucrats.

ABC plans to rerun his 20/20 Special 'Stupid in America' again this Friday night. But if you don't want to wait, you can view it right now on YouTube. I watched the special when it first aired, I wrote up my thoughts here.

(Thanks to reader CJ for the tip.)

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This Should Settle It

In my previous post, The Online Charter Homeschool Myth, I stated that state online charter academies are not homeschooling but public schooling at home. A little debate followed with Dan at Cerulean Sanctum whose son is enrolled in the Ohio Virtual Charter Academy and the original catalyst for my post. He ended with the statement,

We're locked in a dogmatic stalemate that resembles the Gordian Knot.
In hindsight, we could have all saved ourselves a lot of trouble by just going to their website to determine what they consider his son. It seems they have a page dispelling a few myths of online charter academies similar to yours, Dan, on homeschooling.

OHVA is a public school that happens to operate within the walls of your own home. As public school students, your children will be expected to spend a certain amount of time each day engaged in schoolwork. (emphasis added).
They wrote it, I just quote it. From the state's perspective Dan your child is a public school student. I hope that settles the issue? After all, it's your curriculum provider and not Spunky saying it this time.

They use a different term to describe what you do, public e-schooling.
Make the move from traditional homeschooling to public e-schooling.
So, unless someone can come up with another term, I think I'll start using that when I talk about public online charter schools.

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Clash of the Testing Titans

Joanne Jacobs writes about a new report by the Fordham Foundation that calls for national standards in education. To Dream the Impossible Dream: Four Approaches to National Standards and Tests for America's Schools, identifies four ways to achieve state standards.

1. The Whole Enchilada. The U.S. moves to a national accountability system for K-12 education by tasking the federal government with the creation and enforcement of mandatory standards and assessments to replace the current state-by-state system.

2. If You Build It, They Will Come. A voluntary version whereby Uncle Sam develops national standards, tests and accountability metrics, and provides incentives to states (e.g., more money, fewer regulations) to opt into such a system. (A variant would ask a private group to frame the standards.) Participation is optional for states which remain free to set their own standards.

3. Let's All Hold Hands. Under this approach, states are encouraged to join together to develop common standards and tests. Washington would provide incentives for such collaboration.

4. Sunshine and Shame. This less-ambitious model makes state standards and tests more transparent by making them easier to compare to one another and to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

We're definitely moving toward a national standard and curriculum in education despite the fact that the Constitution provides for no such role. (When has that ever mattered?) It's just a question of which path the educrats will take to get there. If I had to pick the most likely scenario from this list it would be number 3 or a version of 2 and 3.

States are already developing common standards even if it isn't deliberate collaboration. Rigor with relevance are the new buzz words in education. Many state governors are echoing the same mantra. A handful of states have adopted the same state exam (the ACT) with more to follow. (Michigan adopted the ACT in December of 2004.)

However the SAT is trying to stage a comeback. Despite declining test scores and negative press, the New York Times writer Karen Arenson recently reported that the SAT wants back in the game and not just as a college entrance exam.
To generations of students and their teachers, the College Board has been synonymous with the SAT test. But these days it has broader ambitions and wants to reach deeply into high school and even middle school classrooms nationwide.
The SAT has gained the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Is this a last gasp for an aging testing company? Or the opening salvo in an aggressive new strategy to become the testing leader? Time will tell. But one thing is certain the ACT isn't going to concede any ground to them. Quoting Arenson's article,
Nearly two million students now take ACT's 8th- and 10th-grade assessment tests, and a growing number of states are giving the ACT test to all 11th graders. ACT is also increasing its teacher training in middle and high schools.
The Superbowl of education is set to begin. Whoever wins this match up will get more than a trophy, they will be well positioned to run the coveted national exam. Sadly, the loser in this game isn't just the other testing company, it's the American people. And don't be fooled, just because homeschoolers may be exempt from national tests and curriculum, they are not exempt from the consequences they create.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

What Happened to Marmaduke?

Saturday I blogged about a Marmaduke cartoon after seeing it posted at Gary's blog. The comic is no longer up at the website. For those who never saw it, it was a slam against homeschoolers by implying that they are just lazy people who sit on the couch all day doing nothing. I didn't even have time to write the artist.

I sure wish other things were this easy to reform.

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Online Charter Homeschool Myth

I'm sure I'm beginning to sound like a broken record, but the myth that those that use online charter schools are homeschoolers just keeps rearing it's ugly head. Many states are working overtime to get homeschoolers back into the public school system. And it appears some parents are being persuaded that online charters are indeed homeschooling. From Cerulean Sanctum,

Today, my son formally starts Kindergarten with Ohio Virtual Academy, a homeschooling program chartered as a public school, so our taxpayer dollars go
to our homeschooling!
For the record, I don't care what curriculum Dan or anyone else chooses to homeschool their children. It's your right as a parent to pick whatever you feel is appropriate. But not all who call themselves homeschoolers ARE homeschoolers. Some are public schoolers at home. Let's not get sloppy and allow the term "homeschooling" to become generic for anyone who just decides that the public school building is not to their liking but the curriculum and state control are just fine by them. I'm not saying the term "homeschooling" should only be reserved for those who teach the Spunky approved way, but that the term should not be so broad as to include those that homeschool the state approved way either.

Terminology is important.

It is important that the definition of homeschooling 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 public/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 (mostly financial) 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 or seek the permission of the state.

So Dan, I do hope you'll add the myth that "online cyber charters are homeschoolers" to your list of homeschooling myths. If we each do our part, homeschoolers across the nation will continue to enjoy the freedom to homeschool.

Follow up post: This Should Settle It. The state agrees with Spunky online charters are indeed public school students.

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Sunday, August 27, 2006

Alternatives to eBay

The policy has been going on for a while, but World Net Daily is reporting it as "breaking news" that eBay prohibits teacher texts for homeschool resellers just like all other teachers.

The policy, which is inclusive of all teachers' texts, was made known recently as those who were auctioning various books watched as their postings were
deleted.
It's unfortunate and maybe with enough pressure they'll reconsider. You can read the details of the policy here. Information to voice your concern is here.

We've never been big eBay users, but we've bought a few items over the years. I can't be too hard on them though. They did connect us with our great grandfather's Civil War Bible last year. (If you haven't read the story, it's a down right miracle.)

In any case, I am looking for a used edition of Saxon Algebra 2. One source recommended by the Common Room was This Little Piggy Stayed Home but they don't have it. Homeschool A to Z and Daryl list some sites. Are there any other reliable online sources for used curriculum that you can recommend?

Suggestions from the comments:
Book Samaritan
Homeschool Classifieds
VegSource.com
Craig's List
Waggle Pop
My Homeschool Store
Homeschool Christian

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Friday, August 25, 2006

He Said, She Said

Forbes carried an interesting point / counterpoint on marriage.

Michael Noer said,


Guys: A word of advice. Marry pretty women or ugly ones. Short ones or tall ones. Blondes or brunettes. Just, whatever you do, don't marry a woman with a career.
But that set working women in a tizzy. So they brought in Elizabeth Corcoran. She said,


So guys, if you're game for an exciting life, go ahead and marry a professional gal.
Sorry Ms. Corcoran, but Mr. Noer won this debate in our home. We're encouraging our boys to follow his advice with the addition that they also marry a Christian. An we're encouraging our daughters to choose home when their heart is swept away by the man of their dreams. I'm sure that sounds pretty narrow minded, but it's the way we see it. A house divided cannot stand.

And I have to say, our lives are pretty exciting as well.

We may not be "beaching it" in Maui, or "hitting the slopes" of Vail; and no, we don't have a cleaning lady to wash the bathrooms while we trade office gossip over dinners out. But we're not exactly lacking in excitement ourselves. Like the day I taught my child to read and he hugged my neck and said, "Oh thank you, momma! Now I can read the Bible for myself." Or the day my husband carried our sixth child into the waiting arms of her five siblings. That same little girl is now nearly three and just recently realized that seeds really do grow up to be sunflowers. I gotta say, those were pretty exciting days. No match for an office meeting I'm sure. But exciting to us.

They'll be time enough for exciting mountain adventures and oceanside retreats long after our children are grown and gone. After all, they haven't changed much in the last couple hundred years. A few more years won't matter too much. But children are a lot like sunflowers, you blink and they're four inches taller!

And the working world, it'll just have to get along without me I guess. I'm sure there are enough women out there who wouldn't want the drudgery of my life to more than make up for my absence. I'm sure of one other thing too. No secretary or school teacher will ever take my place as wife and mother.

My heart is a home with my family. And my husband, he seems pretty glad he didn't marry a career woman.

So which advice are you going to give your children, Michael's or Elizabeth's?

You can read more about my decision to leave the working world for home at my post, Choosing Home.

More from around the blogosphere,

Rachel Dry at the Washington Post talks about the Forbes article and how quickly the blogosphere picked up on the story.

Rebecca Traister at Salon adds her thoughts with quotes from Gloria Steinhem and Linda Hirshman.

Susan at Old Fashion Girl takes a biblical look at the role of women.

(HT: Biblical Womanhood)

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Open Blog Friday

An anonymous teacher asked,
Quick question -- You seem to have plenty of time to play on the internet and read - do you really homeschool your children?
Quick Answer: No, at this stage of the game they're schooling me. It is amazing all the things I never learned the first time around. Blogging is one of my courses. My kids say I'm getting an A+. They also give extra credit points when I get public school teachers to read and comment!

Since my "teachers" thought that was such a great question and answer, they gave me special permission to open my blog up for more questions or comments. So today is Open Blog Friday. Feel free to ask a question or comment on anything. (Within reasonable limits of course!)

Also, for some reason my bloglines didn't pick up the post Trust and Obey for me. So it probably didn't for others as well. So, I thought I'd mention it again.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Education in the Free Market

Kim said in a comment under my post, "Someone Forgot to Read Them Their Rights",

A good school sees students and parents as its customers and actually serves them and their needs. Good teachers do value parents and give them a voice in their child's education.
The public schools don't function like the rest of the free market so they will never see the parent as the consumer. By way of analogy, a good and honest proprietor doesn't demand that a customer pay BEFORE they enter the store. And then if they (the consumer) decide to shop somewhere else, the proprietor keeps the money anyway. We are not consumers of education in America. Any other business that did this would be called a thief or an extortionist. There are good teachers, unfortunately they are trapped in a flawed system. If education operated in a truly free market it would serve them and the public so much better.

The article, Enterprising Education: Doing Away with the Public School System provides an excellent discussion on free markets and the paradox of government involvement in education. Here's a peek.

"Despite virtually omnipresent dogma, there is no simple explanation as to why government provision of primary education must be substituted for private alternatives."
The whole article is worth reading and considering. Remember, he who controls the purse, controls the children. Or at least that's what the government wants us to believe. I can't do much about them taking my money, but I don't have to turn over my children.

By the way, a few people told me they were offended by my "New Miranda Rights for Parents." To that I say, If this post offended you, then the Court decision I linked (PDF) to is the real culprit not me. All that "legalese" can get a bit confusing. I only took their decision and made it "readable" to the lay person as a public service to parents. Since I'm not actually a lawyer, I did it free of charge.

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Winning Over A Relative

I've received a few emails from readers who are just beginning to homeschool but their extended family isn't on board with the idea. What do you do? Here's a post I wrote a while back that shares how we handled it.

As homeschoolers we all encounter them. Friends and relatives who are skeptical about our choice to homeschool. They are not in the same category as strangers you meet on the street who question your decision. Strangers share their thoughts and opinions and move on. But what do you do when a relative or good friend is not exactly on board with your decision to homeschool? I had very few who were against homeschooling but I did have a few relatives who were not exactly encouraging.

A part of me wanted to try and convince them from the start that this was the right thing to do. But another part said to wait and let things play out for a few years. And that's what we did. (No small feat from one who doesn't like to back away!) It's one thing to SAY all the great things that homeschooling can do for a child and a family and quite another to DO them. So we set our hearts to just say very little and let our lives speak for themselves. This was hard at different points in time. It is hard to let a difficult comment go unanswered but for the sake of the relationship and the greater good that is what we did.

The fruit of that decision came this week. A close relative told me, "I would not have said this ten years ago but your family made the right decision to homeschool." I was smiling and crying at the same time. Smiling because somebody we care about thought things were going well and said so and crying knowing that this encouragement came from someone who was less than enthusiastic when we first began. God is awesome.

Homeschooling is hard work. When there are negative relatives who you can't avoid, the job can be even tougher. Be still and know that God is at work and be patient. The fruit will be evident in due time and you will enjoy the blessing with those who care about you most.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Trust and Obey

In my post Seven Habits of a Highly Effective School Year, I said that just because the calendar says September doesn't mean we have to start school. Commit your days to the Lord and be sensitve to His leading for each day. In a comment Kendra agreed and added,
Why is it that I can dole out good stuff like this to other moms but then freak out when my husband suggests we don't start school until October this year? But...but... was my initial reluctant response. I am so tainted by years of government schooling and brainwashing! Education is what happens EVERY day. Schooling is a whole different thing.
I know exactly what she's saying. I've been there....

The year was 2000. After a period of "transition" our family was finally moving forward in homeschooling again. (Read from Honeymoon to Happy Home for that story.) I was eagerly anticipating a strong start that fall. The change from summer's carefree days to a more structured fall schedule had gone amazingly well. By early September, I was happy with our routine and how things were progressing. But just as our leaves were starting to turn, my husband suggested we go visit his grandfather in southern Ohio for a long weekend.

But... but... that meant packing and driving.
But...but...that meant tired kids and a tired mom.
But... but...that meant a break in this wonderful routine!
But...but...

Our plan is not always God's plan.

"Sure honey, sounds like fun. Let's do it!"

I learned the hard way about taking the lead in the home. As much as I didn't want to hit the road for Marietta, I didn't want to go back down the road toward an unhappy home even more. So we packed up and headed south.

Marietta is a charming town and so was grandpa. Despite his nearly 97 years of age, he was lively and energetic. And so were the children. Surprisingly, not one antique in the house was broken - not even grandpa.

On the last day of our visit, my husband sat down and had a long talk with him. The two had a great relationship and shared a love for many of the same things -except one. As they chatted, Steve grabbed his Bible and began to once again share with grandpa the Truth of salvation. It was all very familiar to him. At his age, I suppose very few things were actually "new". He listened to all Steve had to say while the children sat listening quietly around him. He didn't argue but he didn't exactly embrace all that was said either. After a while, grandpa looked over at me and said, "If what Steve says is true, and that I need Jesus as my Savior, you'll be the first person I call." I nodded and gave him a hug. That pretty much ended the conversation. We packed up and headed home.

A week or so later, my son (9) came to us late one evening. "Dad, you know that day you were telling Grandpa all about Jesus."

"Yes, why?"

"Well, even though grandpa didn't listen I was. While you were talking to grandpa, God was talking to me. Those stories you told him, they were for me too. I want to know Jesus."

We must be willing to submit our plan to God.

A few weeks later the phone rang. It was Steve's cousin calling to tell us that Grandpa had died peacefully in his home on his 97th birthday.

But...but...

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart,
And lean not unto thine own understanding,
In all thy ways acknowledge Him,
And HE will direct thy paths.
Proverbs 3:4-5

We are called to trust and obey, HE is responsible for the outcome.

Be Liberal But Multiply, Please!

That should become the mantra if liberals want to retain any voice in American politics. According to Arthur C. Brooks in the Wall Street Journal the "left" has has a fertility problem.

Simply put, liberals have a big baby problem: They're not having enough of them, they haven't for a long time, and their pool of potential new voters is suffering as a result. According to the 2004 General Social Survey, if you picked 100 unrelated politically liberal adults at random, you would find that they had, between them, 147 children. If you picked 100 conservatives, you would find 208 kids. That's a "fertility gap" of 41%. Given that about 80% of people with an identifiable party preference grow up to vote the same way as their parents, this gap translates into lots more little Republicans than little Democrats to vote in future elections. Over the past 30 years this gap has not been below 20%--explaining, to a large extent, the current ineffectiveness of liberal youth voter campaigns today.

A state that is currently 55-45 in favor of liberals (like California) will be 54-46 in favor of conservatives by 2020--and all for no other reason than babies.

That's assuming that conservatives can stand to live in California for another 14 years! And if the Republicans continue to act like Democrats this may all become a non-issue. We'll have enough babies to start our own party. And given that most of the large families are also Christians, maybe we'll even adopt the term used by the People for the American Way - Christocrats. That's what they call Christians involved in politics in their just released report, Patriot Pastors' Electoral War Against the 'Hordes of Hell.'

You know, for a bunch of people who don't believe in God, the People For the American Way sure fear those of us that do.

By the way, not all Christians who are involved in politics are reconstructionists. And neither are all Christian homeschoolers.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A Moral Dilemma

If there were a building on fire, would you send a child in to save the stranded occupants?

NO. It wouln't be worth the risk. Instead, you send an adult fireman in to warn and evacuate the other occupants.

But a mother in Charlotte, NC wants to rally other parents to enroll their children a failing urban school in order to keep the school integrated and keep middle class families from seeking alternatives. She's baffled that she's not finding many parents taking the challenge.

Until 2002, the county used busing to maintain racial balance at its schools. When the courts shelved busing, and it was replaced by neighborhood schools, magnets became the district's key integration tool.

That approach leaves parents with a choice, and, for some, a painful moral dilemma: Do we risk our children's education in hopes of bettering a struggling neighborhood school? Or do we find the best school and risk appearing elitist or even racist?

Most are opting out. It's not elitist or racist to want your child to get a good education. They are your children, not social guinea pigs or agents of social justice. Isn't it about time we admit this fire has gone on too long? It's time to evacuate and just tear the building down so no more children get burned.

In a related story, another school district is offering incentives to teachers who convince students to enroll in the local public school. The program specifically targets "drop-outs" and homeschoolers. Quoting the superintendant of the district,
"Education is more than learning in books," Moore said about the home-schooling options, adding the social aspects of school are important as well.
You're exactly right Mr. Moore, and that's one reason why we homeschool. (HT: Daryl)

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The Homeschooling Meme

Melissa tagged me to answer a few homeschooling questions.

1) ONE HOMESCHOOLING BOOK YOU HAVE ENJOYED
The ORIGINAL Charlotte Mason Book series. Excerpts just aren't the same.

2) ONE RESOURCE YOU WOULDN'T BE WITHOUT
The library. Who can afford to buy all the books?

3) ONE RESOURCE YOU WISH YOU HAD NEVER BOUGHT
I'm not going to answer this. It's too close to the start of the school year. If I mention something, undoubtedly someone has just bought it and the last thing they need to hear is how I wished I hadn't.

4) ONE RESOURCE YOU ENJOYED LAST YEAR.
That's easy. Tapestry of Grace Year Four. We're doing Year One this year.

5) ONE RESOURCE YOU WILL BE USING NEXT YEAR
Tapestry of Grace Year 2.

6) ONE RESOURCE YOU WOULD LIKE TO BUY
Rosetta Stone Spanish.

7) ONE RESOURCE YOU WISH EXISTED
A library book finder. Who can afford all these library fines? Maybe it can double as a sock finder too! Who can afford all these new socks?

8) ONE HOMESCHOOLING CATALOGUE YOU ENJOY READING
Christian Book Distributors. I like a catalog that includes lots of options but isn't the size of a phone book.

9) ONE HOMESCHOOLING WEBSITE YOU USE REGULARLY
Does Google count as a homeschooling website? If not then Tapestry of Grace or Donna Young.

10) TAG 5 PEOPLE
Janine, Linda Fay, Holly, Sherry, and Susan

And while I'm mentioning bloggers, Patricia is hosting the Carnival of Homeschooling this week. She's "swamped" with good posts.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Someone Forgot to Read Them Their Rights

Los Angeles Pastor Brian Lews and his wife are suing their ninth grade daughter's public charter school for showing an explicitly R-Rated movie in her English class.
According to Pastor Brian Lewis and his wife Tara, Animo Venice Charter Public High School, a school serving the city of Venice, California, and the Los Angeles Westside, violated their parental rights when school officials failed to inform the parents that the school would be showing his daughter Alexis and fellow students the R-rated movie, Donnie Darko.
The daughter was also forced to read another book Always Running: La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A., a memoir by former gang member Luis Rodriguez. Other school districts banned the book calling it pornographic.

I feel sorry for this young girl. At 15, she was thrown into a situation she wasn't ready to handle. The Lewis's allege that school officials "are responsible for the "emotional kidnapping and psychological rape" of his daughter's "Christian innocence," and are now questioning the officials judgement. But why not the judgement of their own daughter and their own? Why didn't she speak up and walk out? The fact of the matter is, very few are mature or strong enough to handle these situations without being negatively affected. Now, after the fact they question the school's judgement. What were they thinking before this happened? That the school had their child's best interest in mind? I'm sorry if that sounds a bit harsh. But I just don't understand the mindset of Christians in this day putting their children in these situations and then suing after the fact.

Like many Christians they were probably fooled into believing their daughter could be "salt and light" and come out unharmed. That argument is false and runs contrary to scripture.
"He who walks with the wise, becomes wiser still but the companion of fools suffers harm."
A young child's role is NOT as a redeemer. Their time has not yet come.

An from the state's perspective the parents have no right to object. The Ninth Circuit Court ruled last year,
parents have no due process or privacy right to override the determinations of public schools as to the information to which their children will be exposed while enrolled as students. Finally, we hold that the defendants' actions were rationally related to a legitimate state purpose. (PDF).
Since this is back-to-school season, I feel it's my duty to help parents understand their rights as defined by the court. So as an act of public service I will once again read parents their rights, because no one else will.

THE "NEW MIRANDA RIGHTS" FOR PARENTS

Parent or legal guardian; As you enroll your child in our government system of state indoctrination we are required to inform you of your rights...

You have the right to remain silent. Do you understand?

Everything you say and do will be ignored anyway. So don't waste your breath. Do you understand?

You have the right to an attorney. But don't waste your money either. Most judges are on our side. They know how they got elected or appointed. Long live the NEA! Do you understand?

You have no right to due process or privacy. Just bake cookies (no nuts please!) and attend the PTO meetings and we'll get along just fine. Do you understand?

You have no right to object to any material we present to your child. Everything we teach is pursuant to legitimate educational as well as health and welfare interests of the state. Do you understand?

We will use the full power of the court to establish that the interests of the state are more important than your interest as a parent. All at taxpayer expense. (That means you.) Do you understand?

We realize that it may seem awkward to give up control of your child's education. But think about how many more hours in the day you will now be free to pursue your own interests. More importantly, the state is now free teach your child exactly what he needs to do to be a good worker in the global economy. Congratulations! You have just been liberated from your primary obligation as a parent. Go in peace.

Here's an interesting debate between Spunky and Dr. Beam about Christian children being "salt and light" in the public school.
Christians Are Needed in the Public Schools (Dr. Beam)
Another Pastor Speaks Against Homeschooling (My response.)
Dr. Beams Responds
How Should Christians Educate Their Children? (My response.)

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Saturday, August 19, 2006

Seven Habits For The School Year

Maureen is asking homeschoolers to share their Seven Secrets For A Highly Effective School Year. Here's some of mine in no particular order.

1. Begin when you're ready, not when the calendar says it's time to start. Just because the calendar says it's September doesn't mean you must begin. A week or two of extra preparation to organize things may be just the ticket to a more peaceful year. And around here, the fall is just too gorgeous to spend indoors.

2. Start with prayer. Commit your days to the Lord and be sensitve to His leading for each day. We have our plans, but He also has His. Make sure they match.

3. Talk to to your children, not just at them. It's easy to move into "drill mode" and forget that these are your children and you're their mother. A mom who constantly tells her children to "just go and do..." will eventually raise children that will want to "just go and do" anything to get out of their mom's way.

4. Be content in the moment. When you're doing an activity whether it be reading a book to the children, sitting down for a well deserved rest time, or folding laundry; don't allow yourself to become anxious about all the other things you could be doing or haven't gotten done. Trust that they'll get done soon enough and enjoy the moment.

5. Respect your children. They have thoughts and feelings too, take time to listen to them. Value their opinion and they will value yours. Respect their time. If they're really enjoying something, don't rush to the next activity just to cross it off the list.

6. Smile. Lots and lots of smiles. They're free and they do so much for the mood in the house. When momma's happy, everyone's happy. Here's a post to help you put on a grin today.

7. Teach your children how to resolve conflict on their own. The post Help! There's a Bully in My House is how we taught our children. It has made our home a lot more peaceful.

And if you're in the Detroit area here's a bonus
8. Attend the (Not) Back to School Picnic On Sept. 6. We'll be there. My husband will be doing Civil War drills. There is free food and a tail gate used book sale. It's a great way (not) to start the school year.

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Abraham's Law

Virginia Beach legislator, John Welch, wants to draft a law so that no other parent will have to go through what the Cherrix family did with their son, Abraham. The sixteen year old is battling Hodgkins Lymphoma. The bill dubbed "Abrahams Law" would,


exempt terminally ill patients from any type of government intrusion

"No one should have any decision over that child but the parent again if there is no neglect no abuse, what makes us as a state be the ultimate parent," said Republican John Welch from District 21 in Virginia Beach.

If that's true (and I believe it is) then why only limit it to terminally ill patients? I guess if your going to die anyway the government is willing to back off. But if there's any shot that you may live, the government is allowed to push their way in and deny your freedom to choose for yourself. Where does the state get the authority to intrude at all?

Chesterton said it best,

The free man owns himself. He can damage himself with either eating or drinking; he can ruin himself with gambling. If he does he is certainly a damn fool, and he might possibly be a damned soul; but if he may not, he is not a free man any more than a dog." - Broadcast talk 6-11-35
For the medically minded, Respectful Insolence has more on the doctor and the center that will be treating Abraham.

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Friday, August 18, 2006

The New Term For Mom

My friend and I met at the park this week. As it always does, the conversation turned to raising large families. She has 7 children. Almost at the same moment we turned and asked each other, "Did you hear the new term for mothers who have many children?" We laughed. Yes, we had both heard it. And it isn't complimentary.

Christianity Today writer Leslie Leyland Fields has heard it said too. She wasn't pleased either.

I first heard the word in my college classroom a few years ago. I was an assistant professor of English at a state university, and, not incidentally, the mother of five children at the time. We were doing the usual around-the-room introductions in this opening class, which served as my forecast and early warning system for the upcoming semester. Several of the women had listed their occupations, their passions, and then mentioned they were also mothers. Then it was Rosalyn's turn. "Hi, I'm Rosalyn, and I've been a truck driver and a commercial fisherman, and I'm not a breeder." Everyone looked at me, silent, eyes wide. I smiled out of reflex, but suddenly it hit my brain like a smart bomb: A breeder? So that's the term now! Like dogs or horses, purely animal-species survival.
Undeterred, Fields, a mother of 6, goes on to make "the case for kids".

What happens in larger families? Children are more tolerant. They learn that they are one part of a whole much larger than themselves and that the common good usually takes precedence over their particular desires. They also discover the principle of scarcity; they learn to conserve. Their clothes are on loan and passed on to others when they are done. They have to share their toys. They cannot take more food than they can eat, or someone else will not have enough. They can't take long, hot showers, or someone else gets a cold shower. They learn that their singular behavior affects multiple people. They are not the center of the universe.
So true. Our culture tricks us into believing that life is about us and disaprage what mothers do with their silly names. But I don't worry about what they say too much. I'm not a mom to win their approval. I've got higher aspirations.

Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. Psalm 127:3-5

It's just a matter of WHO you're living for.

So, let the world call us breeders in our kennels.

As for me and my house, WE will serve the Lord. And that makes me blessed.

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Timeline Turmoil

I have a self-inflicted guilt trip about timelines. Everybody seems to do them but me. I want to do them. I really do. I begin them with the best of intentions to complete them, but they usually end up in the same bin with all the half done cross-stitch projects. My children have done mini-time lines for small periods of time. But we've never done a beginning of the world to the present day. We're doing Ancient History this year, and it seems like a perfect time to try this again. And maybe get rid of the guilts once and for all.

Has anyone out there ever been succesful with a timeline? Please share your secrets of success. (Products and websites too!) I'm all ears. By the way, I don't do well with baby books either. My children will just have to believe me that they were born and they were cute. If they want proof it's in the box in the basement, right next to the box of timeline stuff.

I'm still working through the list of books to order this year. I'm trying to keep Moritmer Adler's thought in mind as I struggle to stay within the budget.
In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but how many can get through to you.
But won't just one more, make them just a little smarter?

And a few announcements,

Gena, at The Old Schoolhouse is hosting a contest. Hurry, it ends today. Winner gets a $25 shopping spree to the Schoolhouse Store.

EdWonk is hosting the Carnival of Education.

How Private is Too Private?

Is a school that requires boys to do nothing but memorize the Koran all day acceptable in America? Ann Althouse spotlighted such a private Muslim school in NYC,

The carpeted room is full of children in skullcaps crouched on prayer mats, reciting verses from a holy text. Some mumble the words under their breath; others sing them out. They rock back and forth as they chant, their disparate voices blending into an ethereal melody. The children, ages 7 to 14, are full-time students, in class 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, even in the summer. But they are not studying math, science or English. Instead, they are memorizing all 6,200 verses in the Koran, a task that usually takes two to three years...

Because the task is so difficult, most of the children at the Muslim Center study only the Koran while they are enrolled in the class. Some parents try to tutor their children in other subjects on the side. But for the most part, it is after the children finish that they work to catch up in other subjects in preparation for going back to regular school.

The all boys school promises that if they are successful, they will gain the title of "hafiz", which earns special priviledges during Ramadan, and "guaranteeing entrance into heaven along with 10 people of his choosing." That's quite an incentive.

The article points out the obvious; that this would not be as out of place in countries such as Pakistan as it is here.
"This is very much influenced by traditions back home," said Imam Shamsi Ali, director of the Jamaica Muslim Center in Queens, which started its own memorization school several years ago. He envisions the children in the school becoming not just religious leaders but doctors, lawyers and engineers, helping to bridge the gap between the Muslim world and American society. "We want them
to be leaders in all different kinds of roles.".
According to several Muslim parents they are not concerned about the lack of other academic subjects,
they are smart enough to make up the academic work. Some students from the class have, in fact, gone on to the city's best high schools, parents and school officials said.
The school does plan on adding two hours of academic training beginning this fall. However, the empahsis will still be on rote recitation and memorization of the Koran.

Ann Althouse asks the question,

At what point do you stop romanticizing another culture and start to see child abuse and plain violations of compulsory schooling laws? Surely, a Christian private school that dispensed with academic study (or threw in two hours) would catch hell....

No. The beauty and freedom of this country does not include the right to deprive children of schooling.

Interesting thoughts. But, are these children being denied "schooling"? By what definition? After watching the John Stossel expose, Stupid in America we saw that many public schools have equally dispensed with academics but for far less than memorizing the Koran. And considering the total depravity going on at another New York high school, chanting repetitively in Arabic seems quite tame by comparison. Don't get me wrong, I'm no fan of Islam. Not at all. But the freedom of religion and the natural rights of parents applies to all religions, not just Christians.

The parents are well aware of the decisions they are making for their children, and they've chosen Islam above academics. One mother admitted that her son would be entering sixth grade doesn't even know his multiplication tables.
But the beauty of this country, Mrs. Sherwani said, is that her son is free to have it both ways, to be steeped in Islam and be whatever he wants.
Yes, that is indeed the beauty of America - freedom of religion is a hallmark of a democracy. I wonder when they'll try it in the Middle East?

And for the students who make it through the memorization of the Koran and return to the public school, they'll probably catch on to the multiplication tables pretty quick. Sadly, what they won't be taught is what really makes America so beautiful. So we'll have a collection of students who know the Koran but nothing of the Constitution that allowed them to learn it so freely. That is the real threat.

(HT: Scott)

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Abraham Cherrix, "We've Won."

A settlement has been reached involving Abraham Cherrix and his battle with the state of Virginia over his cancer treatment,

"It's all over. It's everything we fought for, everything we wanted to ever have, we've won. We got our freedom back," Abraham said outside the courthouse after the hearing.

Under the decree, the Chincoteague 16-year-old will be treated by an oncologist of his choice who is board-certified in radiation therapy and interested in alternative treatments. The family must provide the court updates on Abraham's treatment and condition every three months until he's cured, or turns 18, whichever comes first. Tyler emphasized that the decree states that the parents weren't medically neglectful.

After the short hearing, the judge looked at Abraham and said, "God bless you, Mr. Cherrix."

Indeed. I pray he can now focus all his energy on fighting the cancer and not the state along with it.

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Quote of the Day

The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next. Abraham Lincoln

The New Scholar, an 1845 painting by Frances William Edmonds is part of the American ABC exhibit at the Smithsonian American Art Museum More on the exhibit at NPR

I'll be ordering our school books (Tapestry of Grace) and watching for a verdict in the Abraham Cherrix court case today. If your looking for a great price on used literature, Abebooks is worth a look. I've found quite a few good deals.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

How Welfare Went Wrong

When a black man says that life was better for blacks in the 1920's or '30s before the welfare state mentality took over, it's definitely worth sitting up and taking note. Author, John McWhorter told Steve Inskeep of NPR just that,

McWhorter finds "a certain coherence" in those earlier days. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, he says, welfare became "a program that had no time limit," a situation that "brought out the worst in human -- not black -- but human nature."

"Welfare has ruined communities of other color too," McWhorter points out.

The bottom line is that the state was never meant to solve social problems. In trying to solve one problem, an even bigger one is created.

The whole seven minute interview is worth listening to.

(HT: LaShawn and Tonia)

Having Their Day In Court

There are two court cases I have been watching, here are some updates.

Abraham Cherrix and his battle with cancer and the court.

The Cherrix family is due back in court for a completely new trial in the case involving there 16 year old son, Abraham. Abraham was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma last year. After undergoing the conventional treament with chemotherapy, the cancer returned. Abraham refused a second round of chemotherapy and instead chose alternative methods. The parents support their son's decision. However, the state has intervened. Initially, the juvenile court determined that the parents were negligent and ordered Abraham to undergo a second round of chemotherapy. A second judge, in the circuit court, stayed the order pending a new trial. According the the family's website, that trial is scheduled to begin tomorrow, August 16. Whichever way the verdict goes, both sides are planning an appeal. Stay tuned.

Calvary Chapel Christian School -vs- University of California

In a case that I first blogged about here and here, and could impact homeschoolers, Calvary Chapel Christian School realized a small victory when a judge refused to dismiss a lawsuit alleging discrimination in admissions.
The debate centers on the three classes offered at Calvary Chapel Christian School that UC officials have refused to certify for admissions credit. High school students who want to attend a UC campus must complete a sequence of UC -approved college-preparatory courses.
The university claims they retain the right to refuse courses if they don't meet their required benchmarks for academic rigor. Calvary Chapel alleges that they are refusing to certify them based on their religious content and that the courses are very strong academically. In the judge's opinion regarding the refusal to dismiss,
The judge wrote that, if in fact if the UC system rejected Calvary's courses based solely because of the religious viewpoints expressed in the applications, "such action would run afoul of the limits of the defendants' freedom to determine its admission policies."
The courses in question are from popular publishers Bob Jones University Press and A Beka Book. Both publishers are widely used among homeschoolers. If the UC admissions is allowed to refuse these courses, the impact will also be felt by homeschoolers who use this curriculum or any other curricula with religious content. Further, with all the talk of the federal government setting standards in higher education, this case could have implications in other university systems as well.

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Need a little motivation?

The Carnival Of Homeschooling is up at one of my favorite blogs, The Common Room.

The Back To School Edition of Regenerate Our Culture e-zine has been published. The topics include: Why School Matters, and Five Steps to a Better Homeschooling Experience, Deliberate Inspiration. This magazine is completely written and published by homeschooled teens and graduates.

Apparently, the teens who started Regenerate Our Culture are not quite the norm. According to a new survey, most teens are actually quite bored and Underwhelmed by it All.
A survey recently showed that, despite all the electronics, most teens are actually bored with it all. A new Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll, the first in a series of annual entertainment surveys, finds that a large majority of the 12- to 24-year-olds surveyed are bored with their entertainment choices some or most of the time, and a substantial minority think that even in a kajillion-channel universe, they don't have nearly enough options. "I feel bored like all the time, 'cause there is like nothing to do," said Shannon Carlson,
To me, boredom is the saddest consequence of insitutionalized education. My children say a lot of things, but honestly "I'm bored." has never been one of them.

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Monday, August 14, 2006

National Conformity

As Congress considers the reauthorization of NCLB, Jeb Bush and Michael R. Bloomberg want states that receive federal money to conform to a national standards,

Make standards meaningful. Ensure that every state sets a high standard for proficiency. The existing law left room for states to define proficiency levels, and some have dumbed them down to create the illusion of progress. We need a uniform measuring stick.

The well-respected National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which is administered in every state, should become an official benchmark for evaluating states' standards. States that accept federal money without maintaining NAEP standards should be required to bring their standards into line. We believe in the role of sovereign states in our federalist system, but we also believe it is in our national interest to raise standards and expectations.

To translate, we believe in the role of sovereign states but since you're too stupid to know what's in your best interest we have to tell you. After all, what's in the national interest is really in your best interest, even though you really don't know it yet.

(And then Jeb "high fives" his brother George and whispers, "Boy this dumbing down stuff is working out really well, don't you think? People are too stupid to understand that the Constitution gives the federal government no role in education. But all we have to do it tell them its "for the children" and they'll tolerate anything.)

Could it be any clearer why homeschoolers and private schools taking government money in the form of vouchers or virtual charter schools is a VERY bad idea? Conforming to a government standard of proficiency is not why I educate my children. Their goals are NOT my goals.

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On Diets and Homeschooling

(This post is dedicated to Betsy and Spring, and others like them who have decided to take the plunge and pull their children out of public school and homeschool for the first time this year. )

A few months ago, my husband began a new diet regime. He has never been heavy but the extra few pounds gained over the last few years were starting to add up. He realized if he didn't make a change now, he would be literally living with the consequences for a long time. Thankfully, he made it through the first few weeks of "torture" as he gave up many foods he loved. Changing old eating habits wasn't easy (he loves ice cream), but the fruit of his efforts are finally starting to show. He's a slimmer, trimmer 190 lbs. Much better for his six foot frame. It was tempting to give up on the diet when the results were not as immediate as he would have liked, but the long term goal keeps him motivated to continue - even on the weeks when he had a setback and gained back a pound or two.

There are many families who have pulled their children out of the public schools and have begun homeschooling this year. Like my husband, they realized that if they didn't make a change now, they would be living with the consequences for a long time. I think the adjustments they are going through are, in many ways, similar to starting a new diet. Giving up old habits is not easy. It can be even harder on children. Unfortunately, the postivies changes you are making will not always be welcomed with squeals of delight.

Instead, your instructions are often met with blank stares and groanings of "I don't wanna do it.". There is a disconnect between your hopeful expectations and the reality that hits you in the face day after day. Your vision of joy filled days learning together, can quickly turn into, "How many more years do I have to do this?"

Just like my husband's diet, the results of a drastic change in learning habits are not always immediate and obvious. Learning has been a "chore" for so long, that regaining the joy will take time and patience. Changes are indeed happening, but for the most part, they are internal. The children are being weaned off the "junk food" and a whole new appetite is being created. Who of us likes to give up cotton candy for green beans? But over time we realized that the fresh cut salads are the healthiest and actually taste better than we thought. My husband has lost the inches, his clothes fit better, and has gained a lot more energy. He wouldn't think of going back to the old habits now.

Slow and steady, steady and slow that's the way homeschooling often goes. Don't judge yourself or your children by the first few weeks, or even months. We've all had bad days. Keep in mind what your family will become as you maintain a balanced diet of healthy learning.


"All your children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of your children. ~ Isaiah 54:13

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Saturday, August 12, 2006

Final Exam Day

Since accountability and standards are all the rage these days, I think it's high time I administer my first test, don't you? If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. After all, I've been blogging for over a year now. Has anyone learned anything? It will be an essay exam but short answers will be accepted.

The questions have been conveniently provided by Mr. Arnold Greenberg co-founder and director of Liberty School - A Democratic Learning Community in Blue Hill. Here we go:

1. Why are we so ignorant? What is it about our approach to education and our way of living on this planet that has caused this crisis?

2. What is it about how we have been educated and continue to educate that is not working?

3. How can we create learning environments that prepare students for their futures when we are not even certain what the future will be like? How can we overcome the "crisis of ignorance" and become educated to meet the economic and environmental challenges we are facing?

4. Why do so many children lose their uniqueness and joy of learning?

Extra Credit Bonus Question

Who's responsibility is it to educate our children?
a. Bill Gates
b. Uncle Sam
c. Spunky
d. None of the above

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At Home with Preschoolers

For those of us going the "unconventional" route and actually raising our own preschoolers, Ann directed me to a website called Preschool and Peace. It's an interesting site, chock full of suggestions and tips for homeschooling moms who have a preschooler to chase while working with their older children. (A post about homeschooling during the preschool years is in the works.)

While reviewing that site, I was led to a another one called Universal Preschool. Lots of good information and links for those concerned about government funded preschool. There is also a blog associated with the website written by Diane Flynn Keith. One of my "favorite" philathropists, Bill Gates, is the current topic of conversation.

Bill Gates Senior - The Preschool Pusher Man
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced on July 10th that they are part of a public-private partnership for universal preschool in Washington state under the despicable name, "Thrive By Five." Nothing about universal preschool causes children to thrive -- in fact, it's more likely to cause a failure to thrive. Gates has formed a public -private universal preschool in Washington State. The initiative is called "Thrive by Five".
First we had Reiner in California, now its Gates in Seattle. Don't these people have anything better to do with their money? Bill Gates recently said,
The business of philanthropy is thinking through the way to change something.It's just this simple: You have some money, and you have some things you'd liketo see different."
Mr. Gates, keep your philanthropy away from our children. Motherhood is God's plan for universal preschool, anything else is just a cheap imitation.

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Friday, August 11, 2006

Trump U

I wonder if the Commission on the Future of Higher Education included holding Trump University accountable?
"I created Trump University for a very specific reason - to help create the next generation of millionaires. Starting your own business is one of the best paths to that goal - and my new Entrepreneurship Mastery Program can really give you an awesome head start. My team of experts and 100% practical program content will help you hit the ground running and stay way in front of your competition. If you're at all serious aboutmaking it in your own business, my serious advice to you is: take this program!" - Mr. Donald Trump
If Ms. Spellings is worried about getting a decent return on the government's money, maybe she ought to enroll and see how the "experts" do it.

(HT: Al Moher)

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The Future of Higher Education

"No Child Left Behind", just graduated to the college level. The report by the Spelling's Commission on the Future of Higher Education is out. From the San Francisco Chronicle,

A federal commission approved a final report on Thursday that urges a broad shakeup of American higher education, calling for public universities to measure student learning with standardized tests, for federal monitoring of colleges' quality, and for sweeping changes to the financial aid system....

A proposal on standardized tests was also weakened at the last moment. Previous drafts said "states should require" public universities to use standardized tests, but the final version said simply that universities "should measure student learning" using standardized tests.

Spellings will now review the report and issue a set of actions based on the commission's recommendations. (You can read the report here. (PDF)

The commission was charged with examining access, affordability, and accountability in higher education. All in an effort to make sure that students are adequately prepared to compete in the "global economy".

One aspect of the report that was "chilling" according to some was a "recommendation to develop a national database to follow individual students' progress as a way of holding colleges accountable for students' success. "

To me, any time the federal government talks about accountability for their "investements" and tracking student progress in a database, it's chilling. Make no mistake about it, this is a move toward national standards and outcomes in education from preschool to college. They may not get everything they want this time around, but incrementally they'll achieve their goal. Once the federal government decides there's a crisis, they won't stop until they "fix" it.

Here are some selected quotes from the report (the headings are mine),

Who is responsible for success?
From page 2:
Among the high school graduates who do make it on to post secondary education, a troubling number waste time - and taxpayer dollars - mastering English and math skills that they should have learned in high school. And some never complete their degrees at all, at least in part because most colleges and universities don't accept responsibility for making sure that those they admit actually succeed.
Who defines success? And how do you measure it? Is Bill Gates a failure because he never graduated? How about my mom?

Student tracking and "seamless pathway"
From page 6:
We propose to dramatically expand college participation and success by outlining ways in which post secondary institutions, K-12 school systems, and state policy makers can work together to create a seamless pathway, beween high school and college. States K-12 graduation standards must be closely aligned with college and employer expectations,
This is where homeschoolers who are not "tracked" could potentially encounter problems. High school "exit exams" which my state of Michigan now requires for graduation are part of that "seamless pathway".

Previous posts
The New "C" in NCLB
College Exit Exams
A Move Toward National Standards

Around The Web
Inside Higher Ed has quite a few links and opinions from around the web on the Commission.
Commission Website

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Thursday, August 10, 2006

High Anxiety Acceptance

From Preschool..."Her son had barely begun to walk, but the race to find a nursery school had her puffing to catch up"
Like many parents these days, I'd heard about research underscoring the importance of the first three years of life.
To College..."An Arlington mother finds that, as the competition for college intensifies, ninth grade never seemed so important"

High school prepares you for college, college prepares you for life. Ergo: High School = The Rest of Your Life.

When do these parents have time to just sit and enjoy their children? They grow up so fast, slow down and hug them a just little while longer. Make sure that they know they're loved and accepted at home before you apply for acceptance from somebody somewhere else.

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

News in Public Education

A School and Their Money
In an effort to give students "real world" experience, North Fork Bank plans to open a branch in the local high school, staffed by student tellers. The students are paid $11 an hour and given a clothing allowance. They will work for seven 40 hour weeks.

The goal is to help students further their skills in banking services and to promote basic finance literacy among the wider student body. The branch will have two teller stations and two customer service desks, but to make sure that students do the work, it will have no A.T.M. The branch will serve students and the high school's staff members three days a week during lunch periods. Outside customers will not be permitted.

I'm all for "real world" experience, that's why we homeschool. But there's something odd about having a bank inside of a school.

Silencing the Options
Jefferson County Public Schools in Kentucky, the same district that is using KidTrax, has threatened an intern with arrest for telling parents about their choices in education.
By denying me the chance to speak with this family, school-district officials not only silenced me, but showed their complete insensitivity to parents' desires. Who are they to decide what information should - or should not - reach the hands of parents?
Welcome to the nanny state. Who needs parents when you have "expert" to tell you what's right. (HT: Judy Aron)

According Bernard Gassaway, former public school principal and homeschooling father, there's a lot schools don't want parents to know.

School business is for educators, not parents. Parents need to focus more on raising their children than getting too involved in what goes on in schools."

DOE officials rely on your lack of options. They readily dismiss you because you have limited options. Private school is not an option for many. They realize the majority of families whose children attend public school fall below the poverty line and can barely afford to pay for living expenses, let alone pay for an education.

If you are a parent with a child in the public school this article is a must read. The writer has been on both sides and tells it like it is. (HT: Why Homeschool)

Carnival of Homeschooling
Parents if all of this news makes you want to homeschool, The Carnival of Homeschooling is up at the Heather's. You'll find many helpful ideas to help you get started.

Reorganization Day


Sometimes in life, you gotta make a mess to clean a mess.

Solving the Crisis in Homeschooling

When I began investigating homeschooling in the early '80's, I heard from quite a few speakers and authors who promised outstanding Godly children if I would just follow their particular plan. The authors and seminars were different, but the promises were the same - homeschool and parent their way and life would be smooth sailing from now to retirement. That's a tempting offer for a new parent insecure about everything from when to start feeding carrots to when to send them off to college. And to be honest, we were tempted, but we resisted most of these formulas and promise filled plans. I'm not sure why in every case, but it seems as though many of them, even though they were Christian based, seemed to take Christ out of the formula.

Twenty years later, homeschooling has grown up. Many of the children are now parents themselves and doing very well. Others are not. What happened? And why? Was it a faulty plan, or a flawed parent? Those are some questions many are now asking. Including some who earlier in their careers had promoted ideas that promised success.

In his monthly article Solving the Crisis in Homeschooling Reb Bradley examines the issue and looks at possible reasons why the promises haven't matched the results.

In the last couple of years, I have heard from multitudes of troubled homeschool parents around the country, a good many of whom were leaders. These parents have graduated their first batch of kids, only to discover that their children didn't turn out the way they thought they would. Many of these children were model homeschoolers while growing up, but sometime after their 18th birthday they began to reveal that they didn't hold to their parents' values.

Some of these young people grew up and left home in defiance of their parents. Others got married against their parents' wishes, and still others got involved with drugs, alcohol, and immorality. I have even heard of several exemplary young men who no longer even believe in God. My own adult children have gone through struggles I never guessed they would have faced.

Most of these parents remain stunned by their children's choices, because they were fully confident their approach to parenting was going to prevent any such rebellion. Some were especially confident, because as teens these kids were only obedient. Needless to say, the dreams of these homeschool parents have crashed, and many other parents want to know what they can do to prevent their own children from following the same course.

He goes on in great length to detail what he believes are some of the contributing factors. I agree with most of what he says. But the bottom line is that there is no such thing as "plug and play" homeschooling or parenting for that matter. Even if we did everything perfectly our children can choose NOT to serve God or accept our values. If there is a crisis in homeschooling it's because we're expecting it to do what it was never designed to do. As a I wrote in my essay, Successful Bloggers and Homeschoolers,

Homeschooling is not the salvation of our culture. Jesus is. Homeschooling will not make a family successful. Jesus does. Homeschooling will not keep a child from rebellion. Jesus does. Homeschooling will not keep a marriage strong. Jesus does. And the minute, I think that homeschooling will do any of these things, is the day I begin the slide toward defeat. Homeschooling will not build a successful family any more than a hammer will build a successful house.

Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: Psalm
127:1

Don't expect homeschooling to do what it was never designed to do. The hard part of homeschooling is the heart part. Don't let anyone fool you, there is no formula we can follow for guaranteed success, that's the work of God Himself.

(Thanks to my friend Barb and Lindsey for pointing me to this article.)

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