Saturday, December 20, 2008

Ohio "scrooges" raid home

Over the years, I have participated in various food co-ops with other families who are eager to purchase a variety of foods, in bulk, at affordable prices. I have never thought of it as a retail business, let alone criminal activity; apparently, some Ohio officials think otherwise.

The Stowers, a homeschool family of 10, appeared to be operating a similar food co-op, Manna Storehouse. Eager to comply with all requirements, the Stowers sought clarification of existing regulations in December of 2007. They never heard back until armed officers with guns drawn entered their home a few weeks ago and confiscated food and personal property. Officials held the family for over six hours - all for allegedly operating a "retail store" without a license. This YouTube tells their story.

This all seems a bit of bureaucratic over kill for a family whose only "crime" appears to be peddling organic whole wheat flour! Couldn't they have at least waited until after Christmas?!

The Stowers have retained the counsel of the Buckeye Institute and a lawsuit has been filed on their behalf.
The Buckeye Institute argues the right to buy food directly from local farmers; distribute locally-grown food to neighbors; and pool resources to purchase food in bulk are rights that do not require a license. In addition, the right of peaceful citizens to be free from paramilitary police raids, searches and seizures is guaranteed under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Section 14, Article 1 of the Ohio Constitution.
I hope to contact the Buckeye Institute to find out how others can help the Stowers. Hopefully, this won't lead to my own arrest for random acts of charity on a blog without government approval.

(Thanks to Peg for sending me the link.)

Merry Christmas

And the angel said unto them, Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all the people: for there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

(Posting will be light. I plan on taking the next two weeks off to spend with my family, and away from the computer as much as possible. )

Thursday, December 18, 2008

You can please some of the people, some of the time

Seems like Barack Obama made enemies on both sides of the political spectrum with his selection of Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration.

The right thinks Rick Warren is selling pro-lifers out.

The left thinks Obama is selling gays out.

If anyone ought to be upset, it would be the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

I'm just wondering how long it will be before the ACLU decides to petition to the Supreme Court to prohibit prayer at Presidential inaugurations on the grounds that it violates the separation of church and state.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Obama's Education Secretary

The New York Times is reporting that President-elect Barack Obama will announce Arne Duncan for Secretary of Education.

Mr. Duncan is a Harvard graduate whose friendship with Mr. Obama began on the basketball court and flowered into frequent discussions of education policy.

He has seven years’ experience as chief executive of the Chicago Public Schools, the nation’s third-largest school district, where he has earned a solid reputation for confronting pressing issues in public education, like how to raise teacher quality, how to transform weak schools and when to shutter those that are irredeemably failing.
In a related article, the New York Times also reported,
Despite an 18-month campaign for president and many debates, there remains uncertainty about what Mr. Obama believes is the best way to improve education...Mr. Obama has given no hint of his own leanings. (HT: Common Room)
Obama's only leaning was for "change." The media love fest allowed him to succesfully avoid answering exactly what changes he would make.

Update: In October, The Chicago Tribune spotlighted one of Duncan's more controversial recommendations, creating a high school for gay students.
Supporters have said the Pride Campus would help students find a safe school environment because studies have shown that gay youth are at a greater risk of dropping out of school and abusing drugs and alcohol, and are two to three times more likely to attempt suicide. A 2003 district survey shows that gay and lesbian youths are three times more likely to miss school because they don't feel safe.
Duncan also supports the idea of service-learning which is being implemented in the Chicago Public Schools. One service-learning "lesson" sounded more like a Democrat get out the vote campaign using kids for their own gain,
In a U.S. history course, students learned about the Civil Rights movement. Two important components of the Civil Rights movement were the grassroots voter registration, education, and mobilization work done by many activists and the advocacy effort aimed at passing the Voting Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965. The class decided to enhance their understanding of voter mobilization by collaborating with Operation Rainbow/PUSH, a national civil rights organi-zation located in Chicago. Operation Rainbow/PUSH provided educational and logistical support to help students develop their own voter turn-out campaign.
If this can be considered service-learning, no wonder Obama wants to make community service a requirement for all students nationwide.

Prisoners of purity

The YouTube clip of the homeschool boys receiving an IM from a girl is a humorous peek at teenage relationships in the technology age, but it appears that some high schoolers are bypassing IM and the often awkward "first date" in favor of "hooking up" without any expectation that it may lead to a dating relationship - much less marriage. The New York Times laments this trend as the "demise of dating." However, it isn't just the end of dating we're witnessing, but the demise of something much more valuable - purity.

At a recent homecoming in our suburban town, couples - dressed to the nines - engaged in "dances" that were usually reserved for bars in the seedy red-light district. I was told by a few ninth grade girls who attended the dance that teachers stood around and did absolutely nothing. The girls left the dance feeling dirty and violated even though they never actually went on the dance floor. Even more sad, some adolescents are not even patient enough to wait until the night of the big dance. Middle schoolers in Broward County, Florida decided the classroom would do just fine. We're talking about middle-schoolers, twelve and thirteen year old children! The sexual revolution is in its final revolution, liberating young children from any moral standard and stealing their innocence.

We prefer to remain prisoners of purity. We've taught our young adults to cherish their purity and to wait until their wedding day and a ring is on their finger. That advice sounds a bit old-fashioned. And it is. But some fashions are timeless classics that never go out of style, even in the technology age . Purity is one of them.

Subscribe to SpunkyHomeschool by email.

Friday, December 12, 2008

When friends quit homeschooling

Recently, I ran into a homeschool friend that I hadn't seen in a few years. As we began to catch up with one another, the inevitable question came up, "Are you still homeschooling?"

With a downward glance and slight shuffle of her feet, she responded, "No. We had to give it up last year because...."

But before she could continue with her explanation, I gave her a hug and interrupted, "Please don't feel like you owe me an explanation. You've made your decision and I'll support you in whatever way I can." Her face brightened, the tension eased, and we were able to continue our conversation and, more importantly, our friendship.

I"m ashamed to admit that I haven't always been so gracious. Very early in my homeschooling journey, I would have pressed in and tried to "help" her see why that can't possibly be the best choice. But it never worked and it usually killed what little hope there was of retaining the friendships.

If you've been around homeschooling as long as I have, you will probably encounter families along the way who will decide that homeschooling is no longer the right choice for them.
Change is never easy, but that doesn't mean I have to make it harder on them. The worst thing I can do as their friend is stamp a judgment on them, make them feel that they are a failure, or destroy the friendship because they have changed the way they educate their children. Once the decision has been made, it's time to move on and allow God to lead them in the way that they should go. If that's back to homeschooling then I'll be there to help them along; if not, then I'll still be around as their friend. Friendships are more important than homeschooling.

It's a lesson I learned the hard way, but at least I finally learned it.

Subscribe to SpunkyHomeschool by email.

I'm alive

and breathing normally again.

Thankfully, the room has stopped spinning and the washer and dryer have started to spin once again. If I had money to invest, I'd buy stock in whoever makes Kleenex; they are likely to be one of the few companies that will survive the coming depression. After all, they don't call it the common cold because it's rare. I may as well profit, at least a little bit, from my own misery.

Our whole household was hit by this bug over the last few weeks. I think I was the last one to get it. Our home still sounds like the Carol of the Coughs each night, but I think the worst is over.

Posting may still be lighter than normal as I attempt to dig my way out of my inbox and my laundry room. I may even get the tree decorated before Christmas.

While I was away, the Carnival of Homeschooling was also posted. Check it out.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Excuse my absence

i'll be back when the room stops spinning.

(posted by Spunky's daughter)

Monday, December 08, 2008

The Success of Homeschooling

Nearly ten years ago, I participated in a radio debate with a Michigan legislator regarding legislation he proposed which would have required homeschoolers to be tested every year. The legislator's primary argument was that testing would help insure that parents were providing an adequate education similar to those enrolled in the public schools.

After he eloquently made his case, the talk show host turned to me and asked, "What proof do you have that homeschooling works?"

Rather flippantly I replied, "Because there have been no shootings in my home-school."

The host laughed out loud and the legislator groaned, but they both quickly understood that there are other factors in determining educational success. Testing is one measure; but inevitably test scores becomes the standard because all other factors are more subjective and difficult to quantify.

Homeschoolers do routinely score well on standardized tests, but is empirical data something we want to promote as the reason homeschooling is successful? Is it even necessary or wise for homeschoolers to promote our own success?

Consider the recent headline from the Washington Times, Home-schooling: testing proves success of grads. According to a study commissioned by HSLDA, the "best" homeschoolers "systematically outperform" their non-home-schooled counterparts. Wonderful, but does this mean that the grads are more successful? I suppose the answer would be "yes" if, like the Michigan legislator, the definition of success is determined by a test score. But that's not my definition of success.

A well-educated child is one who knows and loves the Lord their God with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength; and loves their neighbor as themselves. That's not proven by a standardized test score, but demonstrated daily in a life lived in obedience and service to Him.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Teaching math with Dr. Callahan

If you're anxious about what to do for high school math, my interview with Dr. Callahan from the Fall issue of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine is now online and may help you rest a little easier.
"Dr. Callahan has developed a remedy for your math anxiety: AskDrCallahan . AskDrCallahan is a complete college prep high school curriculum including courses in algebra, geometry, algebra 2 with trigonometry, and calculus.

Dr. Dale Callahan is both a homeschool father and an engineering professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He knows exactly what you need to do to help your child master advanced concepts and succeed at the college level. His courses include a DVD for each lesson, along with the best standard college-level textbooks. Free support and a money-back guarantee are also available. (Read the entire article)

My son, Joshua (16), completed his Geometry course and my daughter, Katie (14) is using it now. They both had the same question, "Why can't all math curriculums be like this?" The combination of the text, Jacobs Geometry, and Dr. Callahan's DVD's make this an excellent course. Josh has now moved into the Algebra 2/trig course in preparation for Calculus next fall.

For more information about the Dr. Callahan and his courses, you can visit his website Ask Dr. Callahan.

A comment about comments

The comment box here at SpunkyHomeschool often fills up fast with spirited discussions, debates, and often a bit of sarcastic humor. I wouldn't have it any other way. As suprising at it might be to some, I'm not in the least bit annoyed or offended by the banter, or anyone who decides to comment here. The minute I allow a commenter to make me angry or annoyed, I've lost more than an argument and given a measure of control over to someone I don't even really know. That's just not my way.

That may lead some people to wonder why I subject myself to this on a regular basis? The short answer is that I enjoy a good debate.

But the longer and more important reason is that I value the truth above all else, whether it about a homeschool issue or a national election. Readers' comments allow challenges to what I think is right and true. If I can defend myself against the most strident detractors and not find a gap in my reasoning, then my argument becomes stronger that has value to me. If a detrarctor successfully pokes holes in my argument like swiss cheese, then I’ve learned something even more valuable - I just might be wrong. So comments have never annoyed me, in fact that have strengthened me and at times pointed out weaknesses. I’m truly grateful for both.

This was my attitude when I started my blog and it has served me well. Although at times I may appear stubborn, I'm really not. I'm somebody who studies hard to know what I believe and then is willing to subject myself to scrutiny to know if my research or thinking is accurate and true. I'm sure to some that may appear like I want to be right; and I do. But I value the truth much more than being right.

Other bloggers turn off comments or moderate them and ban those that disagree. That's never been my practice and never will. Avoiding those that see things differently than we do is one of the greatest tragedies of homeschooling and people in general, but at least on my blog I can make sure that we can have a spirited discussion with anyone who chooses to participate and let them know they are always welcome.

So carry on, all's well at SpunkyHomeschool.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Friday Fun Day

Things have been a bit intense on the ol' blog lately; so here's a couple of videos that will hopefully lighten up the mood just a bit.

Perhaps they can do a follow-up telling us all what's happening at the girl's house?

I know homeschooling is not the solution to everything and our goal is not just mere survival, but doesn't this video just make you excited to be a homeschooler? (HT: Homeschooling is Life)

Receive SpunkyHomeschool by email.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Deadly Lies

In the comments section of my previous post "Don't Lie to Me!" JJ asked, "What about ways that parents -- and school and society -- all lie to kids?" Good question and here's an example:

Watch as a Planned Parenthood nurse encourages an undercover student journalist to lie about the age of her "boyfriend" in order to avoid reporting the incident to CPS.

Indiana Planned Parenthood Covers Up Sexual Abuse of 13-year Old - The best free videos are right here

Yesterday, the nurse was put on unpaid leave pending an investigation of the incident.

One of the deadliest lies comes in the form of abortion and the lie that an unborn baby is not a human being; therefore, ending its life is not murder but a choice. Once a nurse is willing to perpetuate that lie, what's the problem with lying to cover up his age too? After all, we wouldn't want the young lady punished with a baby or the guy to go to jail simply because they made a mistake.

This isn't the first time Planned Parenthood has been caught failing to report a potential rape. Read more here.

Receive SpunkyHomeschool by email.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Don't lie to me!

Have you ever said that to your child or teen? If so, you're not alone. It appears that America's teenagers are lying and cheating more than ever. A study of nearly 30,000 high school students found,

Thirty percent of students admitted to stealing from a store within the past year, a two percent rise from 2006. More than one third of boys (35 percent) said they had stolen goods, compared to 26 percent of girls.

An overwhelming majority, 83 percent, of public school and private religious school students admitted to lying to their parents about something significant, compared to 78 percent for those attending independent non-religious schools.

"Cheating in school continues to be rampant and it's getting worse," the study found. Amongst those surveyed, 64 percent said they had cheated on a test, compared to 60 percent in 2006. And 38 percent said they had done so two or more times...

Boys were found to lie and steal more than girls. "

When I first started reading the article, I immediately thought, if this is true then can we really trust the results? I mean, if teenagers lie then how can anyone possibly know if they were lying or telling the truth when they took the survey? I should have stopped wondering and kept reading because it looks like we can't.

"As bad as these numbers are, it appears they understate the level of dishonesty exhibited by America's youth," the study warned, noting than more than a fourth of the students (26 percent) admitted they had lied on at least one or two of the survey questions."
But whatever the numbers, lying is obviously a problem and a struggle to overcome in many families. We've had our struggles with a few of our children; but by the grace of God we're working on it and thankfully, there have been no criminal allegations!

There are no easy solutions, especially as they mature into their teen years when lying can lead to significant long-term problems.
Our goal as parents has been to impress upon our children that bad news does not get better when you lie about it. It's better to be upfront and handle the consequences than lie and try and hide with the hope that no one will ever find out.

But I have to admit, the society doesn't make it easy or provide clear boundaries. Especially when you watch politicians, national leaders, and even friends and relatives lie and appear to get away with it. From an eternal perspective, no one gets away with it; but the consequences are not always immediate or obvious leading many to conclude that they did.

I'd like to think that homeschoolers would be above lying or cheating, but the recent Homeschool Blog Awards showed us that even adults will cheat to win. Sad, but true.

Has lying been an issue in your family? How have you handled it?

Monday, December 01, 2008

Patriarchy, the Pearls, and the Truth

Michael Pearl, author and founder of No Greater Joy Ministries, has decided to publically distance himself from the teachings of so called Biblical Patriarchy popular with many Christian homeschoolers. He has written two articles so far:

Cloistered Homeschool Syndrome:

"I laughed the first time I hear of the Patriarchal Movement. “It will never fly,” I said, “People are not that gullible.” But they were. Daddies who were never in charge of anything, maybe not even their wives, were finally given justification for assuming the throne. Yippee!

It is now become a disease of epic proportions. We call them PDFs, Patriarchal Dysfunctional Families.
The response to the article was so great that he wrote, Patriarchal Dysfunctional Families Part 2:
"They plod on in blind faith trying to do better, but they blame their failure on their children...When things don’t work out like the model they have been presented, they shut the door tighter against the world outside, not realizing that their failure... is actually a universal side effect of a very bad idea.

Despite my own concerns about some of the Pearls teachings I am glad that, for whatever reason, they have decided to examine the ideas promoted as Biblical Patriarchy. The discussion needs to happen among Christian homeschoolers for the benefit of all. (That's also the reason I wrote my review of Debi Pearl's book, Created to Be His Helpmeet.)

We are a Christian homeschool family that believes in Biblical patriarchy. Which, at one time, we believed was the same thing that Christian homeschoolers such as Doug Phillips believed. (We were very early supporters of Vision Forum.) However, having read the Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy shortly after they were first published and some other writings by men within Vision Forum, we began to see that what they purport as biblical patriarchy isn’t exactly what we see in Scripture. There are places where their scriptural justification is not sufficient for the claims they are making. (This is also why the recently announced Mens Homeschool Leadership Summit to lay out a vision for home education was of concern.)

This difference I, the Pearls, or anyone else has with another's ideas would, in and of itself, be fine. This wouldn’t be the first time that disagreement occured between believers over doctrine. What is often troubling to me is that any disagreement is seen by those that adhere to certain teachings as an attack on them personally. Those who have supported and encouraged the various ministries over the years are often surprised to find out that those who ask legitimate questions or disagree are viewed as the enemy simply for saying that perhaps this isn’t quite right or supported in Scripture. Why?

Don’t misunderstand I’m not saying that others must agree with me. But isn’t there something between total agreement and total enemy?

Can sensible bible-believing Christians disagree with the tenets of patriarchy as written by Doug Phillips or the idea of biblical submission by Debi Pearl without being considered a feminist, a Jezebel, or thwarting God’s restoration of Western Civilization?

Our focus as believers should be on truth. As I have said many times, truth will stand up to the toughest scrutiny. It is we who must have the courage to accept what the truth reveals about us and what we believe. Clinging to an idea simply because the messenger has been right in the past, or his idea have been personally helpful, is insufficient to believe an idea is Biblical or that the teacher is consistently right in all areas.

I know how easy it is to have someone tell us what to believe. Following someone else who has studied and found what they believe is easier than doing the work ourselves, especially if we like what they've taught in the past. But we are called to study to show ourselves approved unto God and workman that need not be ashamed rightly dividng the word of Truth. Doing the work of a believer prevents us from falling into error and allows the teachers to know they are accountable for the words they teach; in the end the body of Christ benefits.

Accountability isn’t to be feared; it is to be embraced. When we hold ourselves and those we allow to teach us accountability, error is exposed and the purity of truth shines forth.

Hearing or accepting the truth is often uncomfortable because it requires something of us. Dr. George Grant wrote,

“None of us like to hear that we are wrong, that we have to make changes in our lives, that we have to adjust our way of thinking, or that we have to admit our faults. We are loathe to confess that are in need of repentance, forgiveness, or forbearance. And we persist in our pride even when we know the truth."

We don’t want to admit that we or someone we admire might be wrong. But the truth will set us free. I am thankful for the honest crticism and feedback others provide to me about what I say or do. It's humbling to know that I'm wrong, but it is far better than clinging to my "rightness" and continuing to believe a falsehood.

There is a inherent danger in any man or woman misapplying what the Bible says about Patriarchy or any biblical issue and misleading others in the process. The remedy is for each of us to apply the unchanging standard of God’s Word to our lives and those we allow to teach us. This should not be viewed as an attack or threat by anyone truly seeking God’s Truth and His alone.

Subscribe to SpunkyHomeschool

Sunday, November 30, 2008

It is finished

From the first pie baked on Wednesday...

to the last load of dishes...

Thanksgiving Day was a huge success.

My daughter, Katie, was such a big help (she peeled 14 lbs. of potatoes by herself), that I told her Friday was her day; I'd do whatever she wanted . Her eyes lit up and she squealed, "Shopping. Tomorrow. Let's do it!" And so we did. Not at 4AM mind you. We left at a much more sensible 7AM and the dear girl even treated me to a Starbucks! Tomorrow, it's back to a normal schedule and hopefully normal eating habits.

Subscribe to SpunkyHomeschool

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm hosting Thanksgiving dinner for 20; so, I"ll be off the computer and in the kitchen today and tomorrow.

For those that are not cooking turkeys tomorrow and are looking for something interesting to read:

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up at the Common Room and
The Homeschool Blog Awards have announced the winners. Congratulations to them all.

Finally, if you're looking to get a jump start on your Christmas shopping this weekend, you can get an awesome gift for the homeschoolers on your list without battling the crowds at the mall or breaking the bank. The Old Schoolhouse Magazine is having a sale on subscriptions during their annual Black Friday Sale. From November 26 -30 you can get a one-year subscription for the low price of $7.95. You can get all the details and learn about their other offers here.

Happy Thanksgiving, I'll be back in a few days.

Subscribe to SpunkyHomeschool

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Seeing the flip-side

I enjoy reading many different blogs, especially well-written blogs of those that view life from a completely different perspective than I do. I learn much about them and even more about myself; however, finding common ground is rare. In fact, their opinions usually stir up a mini-debate in my own mind about how I might respond but rarely do I comment.

So imagine my surprise when I read Christine Escobar's article at the Huffington Post about liberals and home education and found a bit of common ground. Escobar is a left-leaning homeschooling mom, who was prompted by the "demented" comments of Joy Behar to remind her fellow liberals that being open-minded is supposed to one of their trademarks.
"I think it's healthy for people to see the flip side once in a while. It seems the problem with some folks who consider themselves open-minded, liberal and left-leaning, is that they think you aren't for the people unless you are 100% behind public schooling. That's utter nonsense.

Left-leaning people support the right for men and women to choose marriage, whether they are gay or straight. I support that too. They often support the idea that women's bodies are theirs only and that the government must not make laws dictating their choice to have or not have children. I support that too. So, what's wrong with having the freedom to choose your child's best educational environment?

The spectacle of pro-choice liberals opposing homeschooling has to rank as one of the seven great wonders of the political world.

Escobar's advice about seeing the flip-side might also come in handy now that the holidays are upon us. Parents in a California elementary school are in a feud over Thanksgiving costumes that some find offensive. Both sides seem pretty determined not to give in to the presssure of the other.

And in a nod to political correctness, Florida Gulf Coast University is now limiting holiday decorations. They have renamed their giving tree a giving garden and traded their greeting card contest for an ugly sweater contest. So how long before someone is offended by the term "ugly" and they change it to an "aesthetically challenged" sweater contest?

Subscribe to SpunkyHomeschool

Monday, November 24, 2008

Common Ground

Prompted by the the announcement of a Homeschool Leadership Summit and the attempt to define a homeschool standard, homeschool blogger Melina, would like to find common ground between secular and Christian homeschoolers.
Our world has plenty of divisions. It is easy to find things to judge in other people. Places where we disagree, fundamentally offend, and just plain don't like. The hard part is finding common ground, which could also be called sacred ground. Until we expand our common ground, the fantasy of a peaceful human race will be impossibly out of reach. In the case of homeschoolers like me, and male-led-family homeschoolers, the common ground is very tiny but very clear: we both believe in our right to make our own family culture. The right to organize our family in the way that best supports its members, free from judgment or coercion from outside forces. So while I vehemently disagree with the premise of Bible-endorsed male-led family structure, I am just as adamant in the right for a family to make that choice. I encourage all homeschoolers, religious and secular, to embrace a culture of non-judgment. Isn't that a value we can all agree on?

The problem with asking if a culture of "non-judgment" is something we can all agree on, is that those that say "no", are likely to be judged by those who think that this is a value we can all agree on!

But I'll take the risk and say, "no" I don't think a culture of non-judgment is something we can all agree on. Simply because judgments are made by each of us every day and those judgments will affect others. Choosing one curriculum over another is a judgment that affects both vendors. If I tell others why I chose one over the other this multiplies the effect and has the potential to offend. On my blog, my choice of topics and voicing my thoughts about them could cause others to feel judged by what I've said. It's happened before and will likely happen again. Should I stop blogging on a topic simply because others may feel judged? Should I cease taking a strong stand on a issue because others might become offended?

Making a judgment of right or wrong should not be banned from public discourse. Rather, it is how I respond when confronted by those judgments that is more important and within my control.

I cannot prevent others from judging me for my choices nor can I prevent them from feeling judged by what I say or do. But I can refuse to become offended by their judgment and hopefully deal with them and the disagreement maturely. So, rather than asking for a culture of "non-judgment" and attitude of non-offense when disagreements or judgments occur would be a much better choice for me.

Subscribe to SpunkyHomeschool.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Friday Freebies (a day late)

In these tough economic times it's nice to find a few items where the price is right.

Free e-books from Trivium Pursuit
If you're not familiar with Trivium Pursuit and the Bluedorn family, you're missing out on some of the best resources available for homeschoolers. I'm using their book, The Fallacy Detective and The Thinking Toolbox, as a supplements in my informal logic class for middle schoolers with great success. Until the end of the month, they are making two of their e-books available for free. You can get all the details here. While you're at it, if you're looking for excellent picture books for young readers check out Johanna Bluedorns books as well.

Free Thanksgiving Cookbook
Need a unique recipe to add sparkle to your Thanksgiving feast? New punch recipe? Crunchy salad? Fabulous dessert? Homeschool mom of six, Cheryl Moeller's cookbook, Aunt Sarah's Alaskan Cookbook, will give your guests cause for a standing ovation. You can receive a free copy from now until Thanksgiving Day. For your free cookbook, click here.

Free blogging advice from Spunky
I appreciate the encouraging notes that are sent to me from time to time from readers of my blog. The note usually includes a sentence that says something like, "I don't know how you have time to blog." We all have our addictions; mine is blogging and Starbucks. The bad economy has forced me to severely cut back on my Starbucks, but thankfully blogging is still FREE! There are a few free resources that I use to make my blogging easier. Bloglines enables me to read a lot of information quickly and categorize it for later retrieval. You can also subscribe to your favorite blogs by email and have their most recent posts sent to your inbox. (You can subscribe to SpunkyHomeschool by putting your email in the box located at the top of the sidebar on the right.) Utilizing these services have maximized my time on the internet and allowed me to blog efficiently.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Weight Check

Concerned about the number of overweight people in Oklahoma, a Democrat lawmaker wants every student, sixteen years and younger, to be weighed, measured, and their BMI calculated - including homeschool kids.
Students in public schools would be checked during the school year. Arrangements would be made for homeschooled students also to be screened, Morrissette said.

However, if parents don't work with school and health officials, the matter could be turned over to the state Department of Human Services for possible investigation, he said.

Unless a parent complies they can be "investigated." So much for probable cause and innocent until proven guilty.

I've heard the illogical rationale for this type of legislation before. It usually goes something like this: If a parent has nothing to hide why would they object to their child being weighed?

Mr. Morrisette calls this a "nutrition bill."

"It is a nutrition bill with a near-zero fiscal impact that has the potential to improve every aspect of life in Oklahoma, as children need to learn at an early age the importance of eating healthy."
Mr. Morrisette needs learn the importance of the Constitution and the Fourth Amendment. Something he obviously failed to learn at an early age.

HT: Homeschool Buzz

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The View on Homeschooling

In a discussion about Obama and the education of their two daughters, Joy Behar of The View slams homeschoolers and calls all lot of them "demented when they're homeschooled" and that "they learn to be scared of other children." The discussion begins at the 5:45 min. mark. Behar's remarks are at the 7:08 min. mark.

Considering the comments come from Behar, I think "demented" might actually be a compliment.

Hat tip to Extraordinariliy Ordinary for spotlight this and reminding me once again why I don't watch TV. I think our discussion here about the Obamas and the education of their daughters was much better.

Motor City Meltdown

I've decided to become a Democrat. Seriously, my kids too. They've even begun marching around the house dressed in military fatigues muttering "because of Obama" and volunteering to do the dishes, fold the laundry, and take out the trash. Miraculous, I know. When I saw the change in them, I wished I'd converted to the Democrat Party even sooner. But better late than never I suppose.

What caused this drastic change of heart?

I'm glad you asked.

Well, it all started with a phone call from my daughter early one frosty morning. The car had broken down. She was in a panic and needed a bailout. Momma can you come get me!

Next in the line up was my son. He just had tooth extracted and braces put on. The site where the tooth was pulled became infected. He was in serious pain and needed a bailout. Momma can you get me some medicine!

Then there was my five-year old who woke up early in the morning with the stomach flu. She was looking pretty green and in desperate need of a bailout. Momma can you get me a bowl!

After playing the bowl game for the third night in a row, I was exhausted and in need of a bailout. Momma can you come...

Suddenly, a light shown through the window and I had an epiphany. It wasn't momma I needed but Obama! After all, if he can bailout the Big Three why not Spunky! It was time to spread the mess around.

Immediately, I started singing,

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming The One.
He has trampled on conservatives who never have any fun.
He will cure my sick child and make my auto run.
His change is marching on.

Glory, Glory, I support Obama
Glory, Glory, I support Obama
Glory, Glory, I support Obama

Help is on the way.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Defining A Homeschool Standard

Karen Campbell sent along this video about a forthcoming homeschool documentary, The Rock From Which We Were Hewn. The documentary seeks to inform the viewer about the history of homeschooling with the purpose of motivating homeschoolers to consider what may be be ahead for the homeschool movement.

The video production is professional but the build-up of suspense using music and courtrooms attempts to provoke a sense of urgency and fear that I'm not sure is warranted. The sentence "This movement has continued, its history undefined." also seems a bit confusing. History is written as people live their lives and make decisions. We should know the history of homeschooling, but I'm not sure how to "define" it.

My first introduction to homeschooling in 1981 until today, I viewed homeschooling more as a verb than a noun. I would say to my friends and family, "We are homeschooling." Not, "We have joined the homeschool movement."

I understand and accept that homeschooling has become a movement, but I never considered myself part of a particular movement toward a particular end, even though I am a Christian that homeschools. In fact, I usually resisted the "bandwagon" mindset that was prominent among many homeschoolers, especially in the early days when a certain curriculum was "God's choice" for the homeschool family and those that didn't adopt the curriculum were shunned.

Secular and Christian homeschoolers are both part of homeschooling in America and its history. Each has made significant contributions to the liberties we now enjoy. I certainly hope that those that seek to tell the history allow all the facts to be known. We'll see.

Karen also sent along a link to a Homeschool Leadership Summit taking place in March, 2009.
"The home education movement has reached a critical juncture . . . With the explosion of school choices and increased government intrusion in homeschooling, the time has come to define a vision, and in the words of George Washington, "Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair; the event is in the hand of God." Otherwise, we will see the heart of what we have worked for fade away.

In March of 2009, Christian Home Educators of Colorado will host homeschool leaders from around the country at a national gathering in Indianapolis. The Purpose? To lay out a vision for home education in the 21st Century."

I do not want to see the freedom to homeschool fade away, but I'm not certain that a self-appointed group of homeschool leaders raising a standard for the "homeschool movement" is the answer. As Christians homeschoolers, we have one standard: God's word. Secular homeschoolers have whatever standard they choose to adopt or none at all.

The best way to make sure that homeschool freedoms don't fade away is to educate parents on what has happened and the possible ramifications of certain choices, especially those involving the state. But I do not see the need for a separate standard or to define a vision for home education for the 21st Century.

What do you think?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Parenting Sasha and Malia

One area I have a great deal of empathy for President-elect Obama and his wife, Michelle is with their two daughters, Sasha and Malia. Parenting isn't an easy task for anyone, but the job is made infinitely more difficult when everyone wants to know everything about you. What school will the girls attend and what puppy will take up residence with them in the White House seem to be the two topics most chatted about recently, but in the 24/7 age of the internet will it end there?

Children residing in the White House is not unique, Chelsea Clinton and Amy Carter were also young girls when their dad entered the White House. But John Podhertz explains why maintaining the Obama girls privacy is likely to be more difficult this time around.
"Malia and Sasha Obama are part of the new world of childhood, a vastly more public world, with scores of television shows directed toward their age group, consumer goods specifically targeted at them, and the celebrity journalism sector completely without shame in exploiting performing children to keep itself in business. The question may not be what the adult Obamas will want, but what the junior Obamas will want. What if they decide, over the coming years, that they hunger for the company of Hannah Montana, that they would be thrilled to be on the cover of People?

More disturbing, perhaps: What if their school classmates decide to post cellphone videos of them on YouTube? What if rumors about their conduct hit shameless, willing-to-say-or-publish-anything sites like Gawker? One heard things, almost certainly invented, about the Clintons and their relationship with Chelsea from Washington people who claimed to know the truth because their kids went to school with Chelsea. But that was before the Internet really exploded.

Protecting Sasha and Malia from the mainstream media will be easy for the Obamas, because the mainstream media will go along. Protecting them from the world beyond it will be harder. And protecting them from the desires they may themselves feel when they know they can have or be anything they wish to be might be the hardest job of all."

For the girls, sake I hope that people leave them alone. But if not, I suppose the Obamas can always homeschool!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Patriotic Police State

It seems with the election of Barack Obama everyone is feeling pretty patriotic these days, doesn't it? Only be forewarned, some people within the new Obama administration may not define patriotism the way you or I might.

First we had Vice President-elect Joe Biden declared that paying taxes was "patriotic" now we have Barack Obama's choice for chief-of-staff Rep. Rahm Emanuel reveals that we need a civilian national security force to "bring out the patriot in all of us." From his book, The Plan: Big Ideas for America, Emmanuel wrote,

It's time for a real Patriot Act that brings out the patriot in all of us. We propose universal civilian service for every young American. Under this plan, All Americans between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five will be asked to serve their country by going through three months of basic training, civil defense preparation and community service. ...

Here's how it would work. Young people will know that between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five, the nation will enlist them for three months of civilian service. They'll be asked to report for three months of basic civil defense training in their state or community, where they will learn what to do in the event of biochemical, nuclear or conventional attack; how to assist others in an evacuation; how to respond when a levee breaks or we're hit by a natural disaster. These young people will be available to address their communities' most pressing needs.

It isn't certain that Barack Obama will implement the plan exactly as Emmanuel outlines here, but the fact that he chose him as his chief-of-staff is not an encouraging sign. Emmanuel's co-author Bruce Reed says this isn't a draft. Then just how will "every" young people "know" that the nation will "enlist" them for three month of basic training without a draft?

How patriotic does this make you feel?

As a reminder, here's the speech Obama gave calling for the a civilian national security force that is just as powerful and well funded as the United States military.

(HT: The Examiner)

Blogging My Life Away

Taking a break from current events for a moment, here's some blog related news.

Voting has begun for the 2008 Homeschool Blog Awards.

There are plenty of great blogs nominated in a variety of categories, so here's your chance to vote for your favorites and become acquainted with some new blogs you may not know about.

Go vote!

In other blog news, I have been invited to live-blog the Midwest Homeschool Convention April 16-18, 2009 in Cincinnati, Ohio. I'll also present a workshop on blogging and homeschooling on behalf of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. This is a great event with an excellent roster of speakers. I'm humbled to be a part of this fun and informative event. If you can carve out some time in April, I'd love to meet you in Cinci.

Finally, I was invited by my daughter's Journalism Ethics professor to present a guest lecture on blogging and its impact on the culture and media. Her request came when she heard that I had competed against (and nearly beat) Penn State Professor of American literature and cultural studies, Micheal Berube for the 2006 Wizbang Blog Awards. The lecture is tomorrow at 10AM. If nothing else, I'm looking forward to giving one more lecture to my daughter!

(Truth be told, she is the one who set up my blog in 2004 and could probably do the lecture for me.)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Many homeschoolers are wondering how the election of Barack Obama will affect education and homeschooling. That remains to be seen - literally - because Barack Obama has taken his whole agenda down from his website, A few vague paragraphs remain, but most of the pertinent information on the issues was removed this weekend.

I realized this today when I attempted to finish a post on Obama's plan to require community service; I started the post last Friday after a brief exchange in the comments section. At that time, I copied this portion from the website.
"The Obama Administration will call on Americans to serve in order to meet the nation’s challenges. President-Elect Obama will expand national service programs like AmeriCorps and Peace Corps and will create a new Classroom Corps to help teachers in underserved schools, as well as a new Health Corps, Clean Energy Corps, and Veterans Corps. Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by developing a plan to require 50 hours of community service in middle school and high school and 100 hours of community service in college every year. Obama will encourage retiring Americans to serve by improving programs available for individuals over age 55, while at the same time promoting youth programs such as Youth Build and Head Start."
When I grabbed the text, I forgot to copy the URL. When I went back to the website today to grab the link, I noticed the page wasn't there. In fact, nothing that I previously read regarding the Obama agenda was on the website. (There was a section at the bottom that linked to a variety of issues.) What happened?

Curious, I googled around a little and saw that The Washington Times noticed too. I also found a post from Little Green Footballs that noticed that the education section had been changed and the "requirement" portion edited. The website now has a section titled, America Serves which reads,
The Obama Administration will call on Americans to serve in order to meet the nation’s challenges. President-Elect Obama will expand national service programs like AmeriCorps and Peace Corps and will create a new Classroom Corps to help teachers in underserved schools, as well as a new Health Corps, Clean Energy Corps, and Veterans Corps. Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by setting a goal that all middle school and high school students do 50 hours of community service a year and by developing a plan so that all college students who conduct 100 hours of community service receive a universal and fully refundable tax credit ensuring that the first $4,000 of their college education is completely free. Obama will encourage retiring Americans to serve by improving programs available for individuals over age 55, while at the same time promoting youth programs such as Youth Build and Head Start.
Most of the information was just repeated from his campaign website, so why take it down? Now that he's been elected, perhaps Team Obama is worried that people might actually read the fine print and find out just how "progressive" he really is. But requiring citizens to work without compensation is not progressive, it's regressive. Those are changes Barack Obama obviously doesn't want you and I to see.

Is it any wonder that Obama selected the URL "" for his new website? Obama promised to fundamentally change government. Perhaps he's hoping we won't remember exactly what those changes were now that he's President-elect. Thankfully, there are too many people paying attention.

Over the weekend an Obama spokesman, Valerie Jarrett, told Tom Brokaw, "given the daunting challenges that we face, it's important that president elect Obama is prepared to really take power and begin to rule day one."

Before day one, can somebody please remind Team Obama that he's in America where "we the people" rule and the President serves with our consent. They might also want to mention to him slavery was outlawed and no one works without just compensation, including our children. is a catchy URL, but let's not carry this change mantra too far. After all, there are a were a few moments in our nation's history when we did do things right.

Brandy has provided some excellent commentary on the same subject in two posts, The new slavery and Infringements on Liberty. I especially liked this thought, "The Obama transition team deliberately appeals to the American ideal of freedom while undermining it at the same time."

Saturday, November 08, 2008

NC Teacher discusses comments

Fayetteville teacher Diatha Harris talks about a controversial online video that shows her telling a student her soldier father might stay in Iraq another 100 years because of her support for presidential candidate John McCain.

The teacher regrets saying "So, that means that your father could stay in Iraq for 100 years." She has apologized to the student and her parents for saying it. She also believes she is not browbeating the students and is troubled by the editting that was done. Watch the video interview at

The students are defending the teacher saying,

"But the parents of that student, and the student herself, said Friday that teacher Diantha Harris did nothing wrong.

“She is usually messing around,” said Cathy Thompson, who was in Harris' fifth-grade class in May when a Swedish film crew visited for a documentary on American politics. “When she said that, I knew she was messing around.”

The Swedish filmakers also defended the teacher,

"Filmmaker Folke Ryden said during a telephone interview from his home in Sweden that Harris was “exaggerating” with her comments to students that day to get them interested in a discussion about the presidential race. He had asked her to talk about politics in the classroom for his film. He said the comment about the child's father staying in the military for 100 years was a joke.

“And I think her students know that as well,” he said. “But if you want to, of course, you can interpret the situation in a way that is not favorable for her, for the teacher, and I think that is what you are seeing.”

I'll have to go watch the video again, I must have missed the laughter from the kids the first time.

I guess this whole controversy is just the fault of conservative bloggers who just don't know how to take a joke! So what are we to think about the teacher saying "Oh, Jesus" every time a student mentions John McCain?

The Fayetteville Oberver adds more details here.

Previous post: Educating for Hope and Change

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Educating for Hope and Change

The daughter of a military soldier is nearly in tears as her elementary school teacher berates her for saying she is for John McCain. The teacher scoffs and tells the young girl, "So that means that your daddy could stay in the military for another hundred years!

(Note the clip is taken from a Finnish documentary on Barack Obama thus the use of subtitles.)

So much for tolerance and respect for diversity in the public schools. I can only imagine what would have happened if this had been a white teacher berating a black student for supporting Barack Obama because he failed to protect infants born-alive after a botched abortion.

It's going to be a long four years.

Update: The Superintendent for the Cumberland County Schools in Fayetteville, NC has issued a response,

I was shocked when I saw the clip of an interaction between a Cumberland County Schools teacher and her students as posted on YouTube. While neutral discussion of the political process is appropriate, at no time, particularly with elementary students, should a teacher infuse his/her political views into the discussion. Most disconcerting was the military slant that made its way into this discussion. We are a military community, serving over 15,000 military students and their families. We value the sacrifices, not only of the military parents but also those of their families.

We believe that military children are our children, military spouses are many of our employees, and military service men and women are our heroes. We proudly serve our military children and have received national awards for our support of military families.

I was particularly disturbed to see the uncomfortable position in which our children were placed due to the inappropriate actions of one of our teachers. Please be assured that the actions exhibited in this video are not consistent with the vision of the CCS. Moreover, the actions of one teacher do not represent the 7000 employees in our organization.

Once the video was brought to my attention, I immediately launched an investigation. Personnel laws prevent me from releasing information regarding individual employees and personnel action taken. I can assure you that upon completion of the investigation, I will take appropriate action.

Dr. William Harrison
CCS' Superintendent

(HT: Michelle Malkin)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A statement on Obama

Unable to snag a press conference with Barack Obama for over a month, anxious reporters desperate for news consoled themselves with a brief Q & A with Obama's antagonist-in-chief Spunky from SpunkyHomeschool.

Question: Spunky, now that the election is over will you be able to get over your bitterness and anger and support President-elect Barack Obama?

Answer: Spunky respects the decision reached by some people to elect Barack Obama as the next president of the United States, provided Barack Obama conforms to the laws and principles set forward by the Constitution governing these United States of America.

(If this answer seems confusing see this post.)

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Somebody forgot to tell these guys that Obama's a man of hope and change, not fear and intimidation.

On a lighter less intimidating note, I was at the grocery store with my five year old and someone noticed she had on an "I voted" sticker. They asked her who she voted for? She said, "I'll let you know after the election, if McCain wins, I'm for McCain. If Obama wins, I'm for Obama."

Then she looked up at me and said "Is that how it works mom?"

Not wanting to dampen her idealist notions I repled, "Yeah, that's how it works. Sort of."

Time to vote (and eat)

When all is said and done, more is said than done.

Let's vote!

And please don't get too worked up about the outcome. After all, we're Americans. We don't worry, we eat.

To quote a Krispy Kreme ad, "Celebrating one of America’s most coveted constitutional rights can be oh-so-sweet." Krispy Kreme is giving away a free donut to everyone who has the "I voted." sticker.

Starbucks is giving away something today too, "If you care enough to vote, we care enough to give you a free cup of coffee." You don't even need the sticker, they're trusting you to be honest.

The voluntary redistribution of wealth continues over at Ben & Jerry's. If you vote, they'll give you a free ice cream cone from 5-8PM.

It's truly amazing that all of this generosity occured without Congress passing one law or taking the first bite out of my donut. Obviously, Americans are not as selfish as some would like us to believe.

Go vote and enjoy enjoy the day!

Update: Oops! It looks like Starbuck's promotion might be illegal.
"No good deed goes unpunished," said Nick Handy, director of elections.Handy said there is a federal statute that prohibits any reward for voting.

Starbucks' good deed can be perceived as paying someone to vote, and that’s illegal, Handy said."The way it is written, it expressly prohibits giving any kind of gift,"
Astounding, election officials are all over Starbucks, but don't dare investigate all the illegal contributions to the Obama campaign through the internet.

Monday, November 03, 2008

I am my brother's keeper.

Obama can't even take care of his own family, yet we're supposed to believe he'll keep his promise to take care of us?

It's been a long election cycle, so I thought it might be helpful to post this video from the Weekly Standard to document all of the different and contradictory statements Obama has said in his quest to become the next president of the United States.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Socialist or selfish

In a rally, Barack Obama said,

(Note: Stop the clip at the 1:09 mark, I don't condone the remarks or the use of an expletive in the final 30 seconds of the video.)

Obama loves rich people and he loves their money too. So much that he wants to take it and give it to other people to spend. He thinks that's charity, I call it stealing. As Davey Crockett rightly said, "It's not yours to give." Go ahead and redistribute as many of your peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as you would like, but don't take mine and give it away while you keep yours and then turn around and call me selfish.

If Obama truly believes a rising tide lifts all boats then why doesn't he lift his Aunt Zeituni out of a rundown housing project in Boston and buy her a new condo with some extra cash to decorate? Just think of all the others that will benefit if she spends YOUR millions. He could even buy her a car and and hire a driver to get her around town with the royalties from his book, Dreams from My Father. In the book, Obama actually mentions his obligation to his Aunt Zeituni from Kenya:
What is a family? Is it just a genetic chain, parents and offspring, people like me? Or is it a social construct, an economic unit, optimal for child rearing and divisions of labor? Or is it something else entirely: a store of shared memories, say? An ambit of love? A reach across the void?...

If Jane or Zeituni ever fell ill, if their companies ever closed or laid them off, there was no government safety net. There was only family, next of kin; people burdened by similar hardship ...

Now I was family, I reminded myself; now I had responsibilities.
Nice prose for a memoir, but it's just words that provided millions for Obama but nothing for Aunt Zeituni. Ironically, Aunt Zeituni has found it within her heart to dig deep into her pocket to help her nephew. She has donated money to the Obama campaign.
"Federal Election Commission records show that Onyango donated at least five times to her nephew's campaign in July and September. Three of the donations were for $5 each, and two of the donations were for $25. Records compiled by The Huffington Post show she gave a total of $260 to the campaign."
Michelle Malkin reports that Aunt Zeituni is living in Boston illegally and as such, she is ineligible to to donate to a political campaign. So Aunti Zeituni lives in the United States illegally, living on welfare in subsidized housing, and illegally contributes to the campaign of Barack Obama, while he stumps around the country telling us we're selfish?

Obama, said, "Selfishness is not a virtue" true enough. But selfishness isn't a crime either. If it were Obama would be in prison for the way he treats his own Aunt Zeituni and other family members.

And this is the politics of hope and change?

Michelle Obama was right in 2004 when she said that Obama wasn't ready to be president because he hasn't done anything yet - not even for dear Aunt Zeituni.

UPDATE: The Obama campaign is giving Aunt Zeituni back her contributions to the campaign.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Trick or Treat

Vote for Obama and the treats are gonna flow. If you help him, he's gonna help you. Your gas tank will always full and you won't have to pay your mortgage.

No one, not even Obama, can meet the expectations he has set. Sadly, the fact that they've actually been tricked won't be obvious until after the election and they wake up with an empty gas tank. .

Thursday, October 30, 2008

What is a teacher?

Obama said,
"the single most important factor in determining a child's achievement is not the color of their skin or where they come from; it's not who their parents are or how much money they have. It's who their teacher is."
Since definitions matter, I thought I'd repost my definition of a teacher.

A teacher is somone who can...

--Give a hug without getting arrested.
--Bandage a knee without calling the school nurse.
--Change a lightbulb without calling the custodian.
--Make the children wash the bathrooms.
--Have a relationship with the principal without getting fired.
--Teach a child's mind while capturing their heart.
--Teach what they believe in and believe in what they teach.
--Meet the child's need and not worry about meeting the state guidelines.
--Commit to a lifetime of work without pay.
--Pray! in class, out loud, with the children and the ACLU can't say a word.

There is is only one that can fill that job description

A teacher is a mom.

"Hear, my son, your father's instruction, and do not forsake your mother's teaching." Proverbs 1:8

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Obama's cheesy infomercial

It rarely happens, but I actually agree with this LA Times opinion of Obama's stunt tonight,
"There's something cheesy about a 30-minute commercial. One half expects Obama to be introduced by a pitchman in a loud sweater: "But wait, there's more! If you act by Nov. 4, you also get the foreign policy expertise of Sen. Joe Biden!"
Exactly. What can Obama possibly say tonight that he hasn't already said in the last two years? That he was wrong about Iraq? That Bill Ayres was best man in his wedding? That he really wasn't born in the United States and this was all a bad dream? That if he's elected Joe the Plumber will be in charge of all the leaks in the White House?

But obviously we're not going to get any of that. We're going to get flags flown high, families in crisis desperate for a bailout, and Obama empathetically looking into the camera to tell us that he knows exactly how we all feel and that help is on the way.

Ironically, the blessings of America and voluntary contributions have allowed Obama to buy the air time. But isn't there something oddly unAmerican about having someone other than the President appear during prime-time on all the major networks in an address to the nation? He's paid for the right to be there, but he hasn't earned the right to be there. And that's why to me and the LA Times this whole thing seems manufactured.

If you plan on watching tonight, just remember the cardinal rule of infomericals...

If it seems to good to be true, it probably is.

Update: The Associated Press' didn't think Obama had his numbers quite right. "Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama was less than upfront in his half-hour commercial Wednesday night about the costs of his programs and the crushing pressures he would face in office."

The right to a "decent" education

I've been thinking quite a bit about this statement from Barack Obama to the American Federation of Teachers,
"Now, I don't believe that government can or should try to solve all our problems. I know you don't either. But I do believe that government should do that which we cannot do for ourselves - protect us from harm and provide a decent education for our children;...."(emphasis added)"
If America's parents accept Obama's premise that we cannot provide a decent education ourselves and therefore the government should provide it, we are left to the beliefs and legislative whims of those in authority to define a "decent education" for "our" children. That isn't a good thing for us, our children, or our freedom.

As parents charged with the responsibility of educating our children, our definition will become subordinate to their definition and will likely require some proof of compliance. Failure to conform to the standard of a "decent education" dictated by the state would likely result in lack of consideration for college or employment opportunities or worse, charges of educational neglect simply because our definition does not match theirs.

I readily acknowledge that this would not happen right away so some might be quick to dismiss this as a scare tactic against Obama. It's not.

The rule of debate is - he who defines wins. I am NOT willing to yield the definition of a "decent" to the state- no matter who is in the White House. Are you?

Don't misunderstand. The desire for a "decent education" for all is noble and laudable. But an equal education is a fallacy because as individuals we will never all have the same definition or goal. What one may call a success or a "decent education" another would call a complete failure. That is the great dilemma of the public schools. Equal education only works with a uniform goal. A goal which works well for the state but leaves the individual out in the cold.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Are you stressed out?

In that last couple of days, I've had a few phone calls from homeschool moms stressed out for various reasons and in desperate need of a bit of encouragement. Why they called me I'll never figure out! Talk about stressed out.

Homeschooling while trying to keep up with all the news this election season has been no picnic for me. (grin) Does recalculating the results of the electoral map count as both geography and math for the day? I didn't think so.

Oh well, if you're in need a a little encouragement or a distraction from the election, you might want to check out the Carnival of Homeschooling hosted by the Cate's at Why Homeschool.

If you need to get out of the house and away from the computer to really break the stress cycle, head on over to Barnes and Noble for a complimentary cappacino. Hurry, the offer ends Friday.

And while your at the bookstore, pick up the Fall issue of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. In this issue, I talked with Dr. Callahan about his college-prep high school video math program that covers Algebra 1, Geometry, PreCalculus, and Calculus. But if you're not quite at that point in your homeschool, there's plenty of other encouraging articles to keep you going.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Obama disses homeschoolers

This should end some of the earlier chatter about what Obama really thinks about homeschoolers. In a speech in Canton, Ohio, Barack Obama said:
"Now, I don't believe that government can or should try to solve all our problems. I know you don't either. But I do believe that government should do that which we cannot do for ourselves - protect us from harm and provide a decent education for our children;...."(emphasis added)
Thanks, but no thanks, Senator Obama. We don't need your help to solve the problem of providing a decent education for "our" children. As hard as it is for you to believe, over a million homeschool families are doing just fine without your help.

Obama's view of parents is also reflected in his remarks to the American Federation of Teachers that teachers are the most important factor in a child's life:
"Real change is finally giving our kids everything they need to have a fighting chance in today's world. That begins with recognizing that the single most important factor in determining a child's achievement is not the color of their skin or where they come from; it's not who their parents are or how much money they have. It's who their teacher is." (emphasis added)
Sherry at Semicolon has an excellent list of Obama "in his own words."

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Homeschooling after the election

While we continue to sort out what Obama really thinks about homeschooling, here's a question I received via email from a reader:
We are a home schooling family in Texas. I read your blog regularly and glean so much from you. I wanted to know your opinion on a matter. I am worried about the future of home schooling especially if Obama wins and the Democrats are in charge. I never finished college and am now wondering if I should go back and get my degree and get a teacher's certification. Do you think that home school moms will have to be certified to teach in the near future? This is something that has been on my mind these past few weeks. Thank you for your time and again I really appreciate your blog and all your insight.
Teacher certification or any added restrictions on homeschooling depends more on your own state legislature or state supreme court ruling than who is elected the next president. However, as long as there is a federal department of education there is always the possibility that something could be passed nationally - no matter who is elected. Republicans and Democrats are both eager to "fix" our schools. Quality teachers for a"all" children is always part of that fix.

Clinton had School-to-Work and Outcome Based Education (OBE) and Bush had No Child Left Behind (NCLB), both of which could have negatively impacted homeschoolers. Thankfullly, OBE was defeated and homeschoolers were exempted from the requirements of NCLB, so I wouldn't panic and drop homeschooling and enroll in a teachers college just yet. But at the same time don't become complacent in the (unlikely) event McCain/Palin gains the White House.

Something that might affect homeschoolers in a future administration would the passage of national testing and standards. In the past, homeschoolers have successfully fought and won exemption from such requirements, but with every new administration comes new uncertainties. Who the next president appoints as the the Secretary for the Department of Education will tell us quite a bit about their priorties and the adminstration's education agenda.

Both Obama and McCain currently oppose national standards. That doesn't mean that we're safe from national standards, the pressure on the next president to accept national standards is mounting. At a forum in Houston,
The Council of the Great City Schools released an open letter to the next president calling for such standards to raise expectations for students in every state.

"I don't believe we can have a federal accountability system without some kind of national standards," said Houston Independent School District Superintendent Abelardo Saavedra.

Whoever the next president is, credentialing and national standards are both issues to watch in the coming years.

Obama speaks on homeschooling

Since Barack Obama's website has said nothing in regards to homeschooling, I called the Obama campaign four times this week asking if Obama supports homeschooling. None of the volunteers I spoke with seemed to know because Obama has never said anything about homeschooling. However, Obama spokesman, Justin Hamilton, recently answered the question posed by Suburban Journals.
"Q. Do you support home schooling?

A. Barack Obama respects the decisions reached by some parents to home school their children, provided those parents are conforming to the laws and regulations set forward by their states governing home-based instruction."
I respect Obama too, but that doesn't mean I support him. This statement is absolutely meaningless.

For more information on Obama's education plan, check out Maggie's very informative post about his chief education advisor Linda Darling-Hammond.

Friday, October 24, 2008

White man's greed and Obama's salvation

(For those tired of my discussion of Barack Obama, take heart the election is only 10 days away.)

Via Gateway Pundit: In a 1995 interview, Barack Obama is critical of white executives" living out in the suburbs who do not want to pay taxes to inner city children for them to go to school" The video demonstrates that his past ideology is still reflected in his current rhetoric.

So if a white suburban executive rejects higher taxes for the purpose of government mandated wealth redistribution, he is a racist? I don't think so. I simply reject socialism. It is my job, not the governments, to help my neighbor - black or white.

Obama also said the following about his salvation,
"my individual salvation is not going to come about without a collective salvation for the country. Unfotunately, I think that recognition requires that we make sacrifices and this country is not always willing to make the sacrifices to bring about a new day and a new age."
Linking one's personal salvation to a "collective salvation" may seem like an odd comment until you understand Black Liberation Theology.

Watch this interview with Black Liberation Theology founder, James Cone as he explains how religion is never completely separated from power. It's worth watching the whole 20 minutes, but in a nutshell "If you are part of the dominant group in this society you are being violent." According to Cone, Clarence Thomas is considered "white" because he has become part of the powerful and not identified with the vicitms in America.

An authentic Christians identity is tied to the victims of lynching and a white Christian's salvation is tied to reparations. (It begins around 10:00)
Interviewer: (Quoting from Cone's book) "Most whites want mercy and forigiveness, but not justice and reparations." How does the cross inform the issue of justice and reparations.

Cone: Well, the cross as I said, is God taking the side of the victim. It is a symbol of that. God making ultimate identification with the powerless. Now, if the powerful in our society, the white people, if they want to become Christians they have to give up that power and become identified with the powerless; if you're gonna to be a Christian. You can't be identified with the powerful and also a Christian at the same time, that's a contradiction of terms. Now, how do I know if you're really identified with the vicitim? Well, if you're identified with the vicitm you not only want to feel good about that, you also have to pay back that which you took. You don't just say please forigive me now. The only way in which your repentance, your forgiveness, can be can be authentic, your reception of it can be authrentic, your repentance can be authentic is that you give back what you took. And white people took a lot from black people.
You can watch the video here.

It becomes easier to understand why Barack Obama, a black man, would seek wealth redistribution as a part of his agenda as President. If he doesn't, like Thomas the ninth "white" justice on the Supreme Court, he's at risk of becoming just another "white" man in the White House.

(Note: Black Liberation Theology is the prominent ideology of the church Obama attended for 20 years, Trinity United Church of Christ. I first read about James Cone and this theology through their website.)