Thursday, July 31, 2008

Obama's position on homeschooling

NPR did a side-by-side comparison of McCain and Obama on education. One section was titled, School Choice: Vouchers, Charters and Home Schooling. McCain's paragraph affirms his support of homeschooling.

McCain supports vouchers, home schooling, charter schools and generally any policy that helps parents choose the private or public school that they want their children to attend. School choice, McCain argues, will create market forces that will spur competition among schools, not just for students but for the best teachers. He has also said that he would expand federally funded vouchers called Opportunity Scholarships that would let more parents pick the school of their choice.

Obama's section does not mention homeschooling at all.
Obama also wants to give parents more options when they pick a school for their children, but he would limit those choices to public charter schools. He does not support vouchers for children to attend private and parochial schools.
What are Obama's thoughts on homeschooling? The only evidence that Obama supports homeschooling comes from a quote in his book, The Audacity of Hope on page 344.
"none of these policies need discourage families from deciding to keep a parent at home…For some families, that may mean doing without certain material comforts. For others it may mean home schooling….Whatever the case may be, such decisions should be honored."
I'm humbled that Obama wants to "honor" the decision, but does that mean he won't seek to increase oversight of those who homeschool?

According to NPR, Obama's education proposal "borrows many ideas from several commissions that promote the national certification of teachers." Further, Linda Darling Hammond, is key Obama advisor on education and a strong proponent of teacher certification.
"If we are serious about leaving no child behind, we need to go beyond mandates to ensure that all students have well-qualified teachers." (Emphasis in original)
Does Hammond's "all" include parents who homeschool?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What is your vote based on?

Americans are diverse and so are our reasons for voting a certain way. My grandfather, a UAW member, always voted straight Democrat no matter who was on the ticket. Many evangelical and Catholic friends vote strictly on the abortion issue and National Right to Life endorsements. I also know quite a few strong advocates of the Second Amendment who look for a candidate who supports gun ownership. I also know people who believe God has left the Republican party and is now blessing the Democrats, so as a "Jesus follower" that's where they've moved too.

Having said that, I struggled to understand exactly what pastor and emergent church leader, Brian McLaren bases his vote.

"All of us who choose to vote must base our vote on something...."

"I can't simply let the interests of the groups I am part of determine my vote, but I must have a special concern for the poor and vulnerable, and must even take the needs of my enemies into account.

That, by the way, means I can't simply vote on what's best for Christians, or Protestants, or evangelicals, or whatever. My Christian commitment obligates me to ask what's best for Muslims, Jews, atheists, Buddhists, and others. And my understanding of environmental stewardship obligates me to ask what's best for birds of the air, flowers of the field, and fish of the sea too. Since they don't have a vote, I need to try to speak on their behalf. And as a citizen of God's kingdom, which transcends all national boundaries, I can't simply vote based on what's best for U.S. citizens: My vote has to have in mind the good of Mexicans, Canadians, Iraqis, Iranians, Chinese, and Burundians as well.

In this way, my faith doesn't make my voting easier ... it calls me away from a broad and easy highway to the voting booth to a rough and challenging path. Harder, yes, but for me, better by far."

The idea that we should look not only to our own interests, but also the interests of others is a biblical precept. So, in part, I understand what McClaren is saying. I also accept the premise that the next President will have an impact on the entire world. Every President does. However, this is still our country's election. The leader we select has a solemn duty to uphold our Constitution and represent the people and interests of United States.

McLaren's desire to consider what is best for every living creature on the planet is noble, but defies logical reasoning. Voting is an exclusionary act. A vote for Barack Obama is obviously not what is best for John McCain. Placing a vote by defintion excludes the interests of some creatures in God's Kingdom or at the very least, makes their interests less important.

McLaren seems unwilling to prioritize and say which interests are more important to him than others. Do our borders and our Consitution require an elected leader to protect the interests of the citizen on our shores over the interests of the foreigner overseas? Should the birds of the air and flowers of the field be given a voice over the babies in the womb? Despite his poetic rhetoric, McClaren has not answered his own question, "Just what is his vote based on?" After all, even emergent post-modernist pastors have to base their vote on something.

What do you base your vote on?

The preschool gap

What's the "biggest issue" facing our nation today? The Iraq war? Gas prices? Terrorism? Saving the planet?

NY Times writer, David Brooks, believes the "Biggest Issue" facing Americans today is a "skills slowdown" which threatens our country's long term prospects. Brooks points to research that says the "deteroriation of the family" over the last 40 years has resulted in educational gaps; the biggest gaps occuring before age five.
Some children are bathed in an atmosphere that promotes human capital development and, increasingly, more are not. By 5, it is possible to predict, with depressing accuracy, who will complete high school and college and who won’t."
In other words, because the family has deteriorated, the state must step in and educate all our deliquent preschoolers or we're doomed to economic defeat.

We've moved on from "It takes a village to raise a child." to "It takes the state to develop human capital."

Predictably, Brooks goes on to promote the policies of Obama which "flow naturally and persausively from this research." He chastizes McCain for being "oblivious to the findings" and then more broadly criticizes Republicans as being "inept when talking about human capital policies." On this issue, I'll take someone who is viewed as "inept" over one who views our children as nothing more than "human capital" in need of development. (No, I'm not endorsing McCain.)

Brooks concludes, "America rose because it got more out of its own people than other nations."

Not so.

America rose to greatness because "we the people" desired something great for ourselves and our family and, unlike other nations, the state got out of the way.

Monday, July 28, 2008

News to me...

Did you know that paying federal taxes is "voluntary?" I didn't either. But believe it or not, that's the way that Senate majority leader Harry Reid sees it.

Forced benevolence, often called government spending, is never charitable or the solution. It is we, not the state, who are told to love and serve our neighbor. Further, government "charity" is the most inefficient form of help. I pay my taxes, they spend some on administration, and give some to those they feel need the help. Basically, wealthy distribution according to the needs of the state, which may or may not help my neighbor. Isn't it much more efficient if I just help my neighbor and give him the money directly? But the state doesn't believe enough of us will, so they force us to do it through taxation and compulsion.

But according to Harry Reid, we aren't forced into paying our taxes we "volunteer?"

Is Obama's Global Tax on Poverty better known as the United Nations tax on Americans going to be voluntary too?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Question About Preschool

From my inbox,
Hey there, I came across your website a few months ago after I typed in “classical reschool lesson plans” into my google toolbar. I have really enjoyed your insights and information. My husband and I have been reading all we can about classical education and how beneficial home schooling is for our children. We have twin boys who are 3 and a daughter who is 14 months and we live overseas in East Asia . What ages is the Tapestry of Grace curriculum for? What do you suggest/recommend for
Thanks for your questions! I get asked about Tapestry of Grace quite a bit. I have written a complete review here.

The curriculum begins at the kindergarten level, Early Grammar, and continues all the way through high school, Rhetoric. Tapestry of Grace is designed in a four year cycle, advancing through the levels as you move through World History and Literature from a Christian worldview. We have completed three of the four years. We will be doing Year Three, the 1800's this fall. I began using the curriclum after my older five children were beyond the early elementary years; so I don't have much experience using Tapestry at the Early Grammar level. But that will change this year.

I have an almost five year old daughter, Elaina, who can read books with simple words. I will be using the Early Grammar Tapestry with her; but I will probably slow the pace down a bit. Tapestry does not have a specifically preschool level. Many of the Early Grammar books are great read alouds for younger children, but it isn't necessary to invest in a complete curriculum to find such quality books. However, when they are a bit older, Tapestry of Grace is an excellent choice.

Since Elaina is seven years younger than her next sibling, I've been out of the preschool stage for a quite a while. Currently, we're using the books and curriculum we have around our home, which include: Five In a Row, Sonlight Phonics, and beginning math skills using every day objects. Somewhere between birth and now she learned to write her letters, I think I have her older siblings to thank for that because I don't remember teaching her. She also does bible time and memory along with the others. All that takes very little time out of her busy little day. She fills the remaining hours with painting, drawing, coloring, singing, "practicing" her violin and piano, and whatever her little hands find to help mom with in the kitchen. That's what we've called preschool.

What do (did) you do for preschool? All suggestions for early elementary are welcome, especially if you're experienced with curriculum centered around the classical model. I'd love to know what people like for early elementary math.

Websites suggestions are welcome too. Kendra's website, Preschoolers and Peace is a great resource.

What an awesome experience to homeschool in East Asia. It takes a special mom to homeschool twin boys over seas! Any advice from experienced homeschooling moms of twins or homeschooling overseas would be probably be helpful too.

I'll be gone for the weekend. Away from life, children, Wi-Fi, and Starbucks, but I'm looking forward to every minute.

Help! I'm Homeless

Frequent readers of this blog know that I will use satire and sarcasm sometimes to make a point. I did that in this post. However, I realize that my effort to poke fun at myself and my blindness as a voter was done a little too well and caused some people some unncessary stress. That wasn't my intention, so I took the post down. My apologies to anyone who was needlessly upset by my words.

Thanks for caring so much.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Purpose /Poll Driven Election

One would think that if a person decides to run for POTUS that his purpose in running and the principles he stands for would already be firmly in established.

However, because polls not principles drive politicians, the Republican National Committee is asking for your input to develop their platform for the next four years. Under the Accountability in Education category, here's some of the suggested areas for comment. I offer my comments in bold.

Should the government continue to test students in reading and math? No.

Should we increase spending on science education? No.

How do we attract high quality teachers? You let parents do the hiring and make them responsible for the teacher's paycheck.

What is the proper federal role in state and local educational systems? There isn't one. See the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution.

Should the No Child Left Behind law be reformed, and how? No, it should be repealed and now. See the Tenth Amendment.

In an effort to be fair and balanced, there's a a similar site set up for the Democrats, Listening to America.

Does anyone really believe either campaign is really listening to the masses? Honestly, the media loves Obama; and Obama loves Obama. What any one else has to say is just not relevant.

Obama has also a website up for young evangelical voters. That's the outreach that was supposed to be called the Joshua Generation. The site goes live in August. I have yet to meet any young evangelicals for Obama, most were for Ron Paul or Huckabee and haven't waivered.

McCain is also close to announcing his running mate and getting the Dobson endorsement. Is that a coordinated strategy to get the evangelical vote or to get some media attention?

Whatever the case, I don't think it will matter. The media loves Obama; and Obama loves Obama. What anyone else has to say is irrelevant.

I've actually met very few evangelicals who like either candidate. (Paging Dr. Paul)

They must be out there, but undecided, because both McCain and Obama have agreed to a forum (not a debate) with Rick Warren at Saddleback Church. I guess when both candidates are liberal, previous interpretations of the separation of church and state are ignored. Warren will be asking for input from an imam and a rabbi, but he will ask all the questions. He's planning to ask questions like "What's the most difficult decision you've had to make, and how did you make it? " Do you think either candidate will say their vote on the surge in Iraq?

Whatever the case, I don't think it will matter. The media loves Obama; and Obama loves Obama. What anyone else has to say is irrelevant.

I think election fatigue (or is it Obama fatigue) is starting to set in. Can't we just hold the election today and get it over with? But even if we voted today, I don't think it will matter. The media loves Obama; and Obama loves Obama. In their mind, he's already President.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Mommy Moment

Please excuse my absence today. I'm busy having a mommy moment that will probably not happen again. I just taught my last child to ride a bike without training wheels. Sigh. She's growing up too fast.

I'm spending the day enjoying the moment. Hopefully, I'll be back to normal tomorrow.

If you're looking for a reason to stay on the computer a little longer, you might want to visit the Carnival of Homeschooling . I submitted the post Conventional Wisdom where the discussion thread is still quite lively. Jim Spiegel, author of Gum, Geckos, and God is also continuing his blog tour at Beauty From The Heart. I

Monday, July 21, 2008

Truancy and Parental Rights

Michigan education columnist Kelly Flynn makes the case for a Democrat proposal requiring parents to register with the state in order to homeschool because some parents use bogus claims of homeschooling as an excuse for habitual truancy.
"In Michigan, HB5912, introduced by state Rep. Brenda Clack, seems to be a logical compromise. It does not interfere with a parent's right to homeschool, but merely requires parents to register. Where the bill goes wrong is in requiring them to register with their already overburdened school district. The registration should be handled by the state." Where Flynn goes wrong is in not realizing that the burden is not on us to prove that we are doing what we say we are doing.
In a free society, it is not the responsibility of the parents to register or report to the state in order to alleviate suspicions of guilt that arise simply because they choose to homeschool or other parents neglect their duties.

As free citizens, we are not required to report to the courthouse if we are not accused of a crime. We do not report to the Department of Health and Human Services if we are not on welfare. We do not report to the Department of Transportation if we don't ride public transportation. Likewise, we should not be required to report to the Department of Education or the local school district if we don't intend to use the public schools.

The motivation to increase regulation is rooted in good intention (aren't all liberal power grabs?)and a desire to protect children from abuse or neglect. However, good intentions do not necessarily form the basis for good laws. (Haven't we learned that by now?)

In America we're innocent until proven guilty. The burden of proof is on the state to provide evidence of neglect, not on the parents to register to prove that they are not.

When this Michigan bill was first introduced a few months ago, I spoke with one of the 24 Democrat co-sponsors. During our conversation he admitted that he hadn't even read the bill, but signed on with Rep. Brenda Clack because, "she is a nice person who really wants to help children who are suffering from educational neglect which affects all of us."

Can someone please introduce a bill that makes "legislative neglect" a crime? The abuse lawmakers inflict on the people by their ignorance affects all of us!

(More articles on Educational Neglect and Parental Rights can be found in both the Spring and Summer issue of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine .)

Gum, Geckos, and God

Have you ever been driving down the highway, anxious to get to your destination and from the backseat your child asks you one of those thought provoking questions that demands your full attention? Questions like, "Why do some people not believe in God?" "When will we see Jesus?" or "Why is it so hard to be good?" Those untimely interruptions often lead to some hilarious conversations and hopefully greater insight into the complex issues of our faith. James Spiegel, a homeschool father of four, knows these conversations quite well and has chronicled them in his new book, Gum, Geckos, and God so we can all laugh and learn together.

Spiegel is also a professor of Philosophy at Taylor University so handling complex questions was not new to him. However, answering them in every day language so that his children could understand proved to be very challenging. Or as he says in the preface,
"If you can probe the sticky topics of faith and life's meaning with a kid while he probes the sticky recesses of his nasal cavity, then you can discuss theology with anyone."
Spiegel is conducting a blog tour to promote his book and asked me to participate by asking him a question. Since he's always been in the role of teaching his children about God and the meaning of life, I decided to turn the tables and asked what he has learned from them...

Q. As a professor of philosophy and one who diligently seeks to understand God, what was the most enlightening thing you have learned from your children about God’s nature?
A: There have been many insights about God I have gained while interacting with my kids. Some of these I explore in the book, such as aspects of what it means for God to be our "heavenly" Father-including his patience, generosity, humor, grace, and unconditional love. With regard to God's love, I understand much better now what it means to say that there is nothing we can do to make God love us any more or less than he already does.

Another fact about God that I have glimpsed more clearly as a parent is what a remarkable artist he is when it comes to human development. There is much in creation that is breathtaking in terms of its beauty-from the Grand Canyon to butterflies, but to me nothing compares to the beauty of human development. Not only is the physical process utterly fascinating (heck, a single cell is a work of art more profound than any work a human artist has produced), but the narrative of each individual life is amazing. Every person's story is complete with plots, themes, morals, conflicts, crescendos, and resolutions, all intricately orchestrated, involving a host of supporting characters in the drama. As a parent, I have seen this much more clearly in my kids, so my view of divine artistry has expanded tremendously.
Truly, it does take a divine artist to create the masterpieces we call our children. (And a bit of divine patience to answer all their questions.)

Thank you Jim for the opportunity to participate in your blog tour. You can find out where Jim will be tomorrow by going to the Zondervan blog. To keep up with Jim and his family, you can visit his new blog Wisdom and Folly. Now we all have a place to go when our children ask us one of those tough questions and we need a witty but powerful answer.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Conventional Wisdom

What was your first experience like at a homeschool convention?

At the first convention I attended, I happened to walk into a booth just as the coordinators were asking a particular vendor to leave because their materials were considered inappropriate for the conference. I have since learned more about the vendor. Their materials contained an extensive amount of information helpful to all homeschoolers in Michigan, but they were also from a more neutral/secular worldview. There didn't appear to be anything offensive; however, there were no specific references to God or the gospel. This convention was promoted as a Christian conference. I was uncomfortable and embarrassed, not for the vendor but for the coordinator. If a Christian worldview was necessary to participate at the convention, they should have screened the of vendors before opening the doors.

Since that convention over 15 years ago, much has changed at homeschool conventions; but some things are still the same.

Dana linked to a post by homeschooler, Brian Sandifer, who just finished his first year of home education and recently attended his first homeschool convention with his wife. His immersion into the "homeschool culture" was not exactly the refreshing experience they were hoping for. Here's a few snippets from his thought provoking post;

"[R]ecently we got a major dose of the radical wing of the movement through one of the keynote addresses at the conference we attended last weekend. The speaker's name is not important, but his 45-minute message was a glimpse into the worldview of (I fear) many Christian homeschooling families...

I fear that many in the Christian homeschooling movement have a false understanding of the problem, the solution, and the ultimate goal. And smooth-talking, eloquent, yet misguided speakers that give vision and encouragement to homeschooling parents are not helping build the kingdom of God...

"Encouraging someone to consider the benefits of homeschooling their children is not "evangelism"...

Homeschooling is NOT the gospel!"

I agree with Brian's basic premise and have said as much in past posts,
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.
Despite the topical nature of this blog, I am also not an "homeschool evangelist." I am a Christian who homeschools as a part of our discipleship, but I'm not here to make converts to a movement or to keep the movement purely Chistian.

There are those that have that goal and actively worry that homeschooling is at a crossroads and in danger of becoming polluted with a "big tent" philosophy. This anxiety was articulated well in a note sent to Doug Phillips and recorded on his blog earlier this year.
I believe that the situation is akin to that with creation apologetics and intelligent design: the church is at a crossroads and must choose between presuppositionally Biblical science and an easier, less controversial, "big tent" approach that is content to have an unnamed designer. In like manner, the homeschool movement must decide whether it will work to advance a specifcally Biblical vision, or take a "big tent" approach that is now comfortable and uncontroversial - and lose the covenantal vision.
Asking the homeschool movement to decide whether it will advance a specifically Biblcial vision or not is like asking a hammer if it will build a house or a table. It can't decide anything nor can it lose a vision for what it is supposed to build. Homeschooling, like a hammer, is completely dependent upon the one who uses it. No one philosophy or worldview controls homeschooling. As long as the freedom to homeschool is open to all parents, it is an exercise in futility to demand that the movement have only one specific vision --secular or biblical. However, that won't stop some folks from trying.

In her post Dana asked,
"I am curious what it will be like ten or fifteen years from now. Will the tone of speakers at homeschool conferences slowly change and adapt to a changing audience? Or will an increasingly large number of homeschoolers feel alienated by the conferences which are meant to encourage them?"
Homeschooling conventions will continue to become as diverse as the homeschooling population itself. They will likely begin to have a more specific philosophy or focus as homeschooling increases in popularity and different subgroups continue to emerge.

The convention Brian attended with his wife happened to have a distinctly covenantal philosophy because that is the particular worlview that appeals to those that hosted the convention. There are conventions for Catholics and secular homeschoolers, as well as events for a particular homeschooling style.

Is that the most efficient way? Probably not, but homeschoolers are a stubborn and independent people who love doing things their way. As my first convention experiences demonstrates, some (but not all) people are not content to share their "tent" with someone who doesn't homeschool or think their way.

Brian, congratulations on finishing your first year of homeschooling and welcome to the homeschool movement. If you continue to homeschool, I hope you find a convention that encourages and inspires you. If not, then like many other homeschoolers, including those at the convention you just attended, you may just have to host a convention yourself.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The View on Racism

While discussing Jesse Jackson's use of the n-word in his off-the-air remarks about Obama, Whoopi Goldberg makes the stunning announcement that it's okay for a black person to use the n-word but not a white person.

Sad to say, I know exactly how Elisabeth Hasselback feels.

By the way, if Whoopi is right about how blacks use the word then why is Jackson apologizing to the Obamas and the nation for his "hurtful words?"

The Politics of School Choice

In a prepared speech before the NAACP Convention in Boston, McCain said,

"Parents ask only for schools that are safe, teachers who are competent, and diplomas that open doors of opportunity. When a public system fails, repeatedly, to meet these minimal objectives, parents ask only for a choice in the education of their children. Some parents may choose a better public school. Some may choose a private school. Many will choose a charter school. No entrenched bureaucracy or union should deny parents that choice and children that opportunity."
No mention of parents who may choose to homeschool. Actually, when talking about education, neither candidate says a whole lot about homeschooling. Which is A-OK with me. The less any politician notices or meddles with homeschoolers, the happier I'll be.

I know not all homeschoolers feel that way. Which made me wonder, will the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA-PAC) endorse anyone in the Presidential election? They jumped in very early for Huckabee stating he was a principled conservative governor and he had the best chance of winning because no member of the House or Senate has been elected President in nearly half a century. However, the race is now between two senators. Obviously, Obama is not HSLDA's choice. So why wait on a McCain endorsement? Perhaps they are holding out in hopes of a Huckabee nod as VP and then they'll order the foot soldiers into battle. I'm not sure how many privates they'll find in the ranks. I know a lot of Republican deserters who are wandering the countryside looking for a home.

In his speech, McCain also took a swipe at the teachers unions by critcizing teacher certifiction. He reminded NAACP members that you can be a "Nobel Laureate and not qualify to teach in most public schools today." So true. McCain also criticized Obama's refusal to give low-income Americans a choice in education.
"In remarks to the American Federation of Teachers last weekend, Senator Obama dismissed public support for private school vouchers for low-income Americans as, "tired rhetoric about vouchers and school choice." All of that went over well with the teachers union, but where does it leave families and their children who are stuck in failing schools?"
McCain's website says it is hypocritcal for politicians to send their children to elite schools and not give that same choice to all parents. He believes parents should be able to move their children and the money associated with them away from failing schools. Obama opposes school choice, because that will siphon money and resources away from schools that need it. But that obviously wasn't a concern when he chose an elite school for his young daughters.

McCain isn't the only one taking aim with Obama's opposition to school choice. Black radio talk show host and staunch Obama supporter, Roland Martin says his guy is wrong on school choice,

"But part of the reason why vouchers have been denounced and dismissed is because Democrats have been far too obstinate on the issue, and have not listened to their constituents, especially African-Americans, who overwhelmingly support vouchers.

There is no doubt that on this issue, McCain has it right and Obama has it wrong."

School choice is a popular issue with many black voters. Perhaps, Obama should reschedule his trip to the Iraq and take a fact-finding mission to Detroit to see the success war zone our public schools have become. The detainees at Gitmo are safer than those kids.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Federalizing Education

I've long thought that our nation is inching closer toward a seamless nationalized education from preschool through college. The Bush administration under Secretary of Education Spellings made attempts in that direction. What will the next president do? Obama has said he seeks to a "truly historic" commitment to education with bold reforms. Is he the man with the political will to fast track the federal takeover of education? Some people think so.

Obama said the following in a speech in 2007, Our Kids Our Future,
"I am running to be that President. And that's why I'm proposing a comprehensive plan to give every American child the chance to receive the best education America has to offer - from the moment they're born to the day they graduate college. As President, I will put the full resources of the federal government behind this plan."
Lee Carey of the American Thinker writes,
"Political will" is about provoking the will of the people to give the federal government the authority to education America's children. Obama sees himself as the Chief Education Officer of the United States. His Department of Education will manage one large, nationwide, public school district with a unified federal budget."
He believes that the response from most involved with education will be positive, except that of the homechooler,
"Home Schoolers: They'll see nationalization as a threat to their independence, because it is. But they're dedicated and resourceful people. They'll survive, and perhaps even flourish after a favorable court decision. (Maybe) "
Homeschooling will surive, but I'm not optimistic about it flourishing. Federal control of education will render homeschooling obsolete. There will always be some homeschooling diehards like me who will continue to the bitter end, but many will trickle back to the public system because of the greater opportunities given to those with a federal diploma and credentials.

Once nationalizing education is complete, it will be time to think global. In fact, some people already are. Secretary of Education Maragaret Spellings said in a speech on education at UNESCO last week,

"Imagine Cup finalist Louis Sayers said it well: "There's no one telling us that we can't do something.... If we don't like [it], we change it, and at the end of the day we know that [it] was built by us."

That is how we build a global platform for collaboration. It is the opposite of isolation. And it's exactly what we need right now!"

Socialism knows no political party.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Vision For Women and Politics

I was, at one time, a supporter of Vision Forum Ministries -- mostly in their early days. However, as the ministry's vision moved away from our own beliefs as a family, we decided it was time to support other vendors for our homeschool and family discipleship needs. Specific areas of major concern were their promotion of the writings of Robert Lewis Dabney without renouncing his belief that blacks were a morally inferior race, and their patriarchal beliefs derived from the Dominion Mandate. (You can listen to a podcast series on Patriarchy I recorded last fall with ThatMom, Karen Campbell, here.)

So it was with some interest that I read that a long time associate of Vision Forum and the Phillips family was running for public office. Matt Chancey and his wife, Jennie, have eight children and homeschool in Alabama. He is seeking to become president of the Public Service Commission and is in a run off for the Republican spot. It's not exactly a race that grabs my attention except for the fact that the published writings of Jennie, who is also affiliated with Vision Forum, appear to have become a campaign issue .

Jennie Chancey supports her husband's bid for public office, but from a biblical and historical perspective, she doesn't think she necessarily has the right to vote for him.

Instead of "one man, one vote," she believes in “one household, one vote."

Jennie Chancey does not believe in the divided household idea, whereby she and her husband could vote differently on an issue, thereby canceling each other's vote. Just as politicians are elected as representatives of the people, Chancey views her husband as the decision-maker in the household, but that doesn’t mean her views aren't heard.

More on Jennie Chancey's views on women and voting rights are at her site, Ladies Against Feminism.

The Chancey's may not support all the beliefs of Vision Forum, but the concern of some voters in Alabama is how much the Chancey's perspective on women will affect his ability to do his job if elected. Given that he's running for commissioner, their perspective on whether or not women should vote is not likely to be a major issue. But what about his ability to work with women, specifically those who have authority over him? Is Chancey open to women in the workplace?

He says yes, since he has worked under women, over them and beside them for years.
In fact, Matt Chancey met Jennie in the workplace. But their beliefs have since changed and the Chancey's now believe that the woman's sphere of dominion is strictly in the home, and that a woman who works outside that sphere is in sin and "blaspheming the word of God." Jennie wrote in an essay on working mothers published on the Vision Forum website,

"But a "sin" to leave it and work elsewhere? Them's hard words! People will get offended if we say a wife working outside of the home is a sin. Poor women who have to work will feel they are second-class Christians or looked down upon by their stay-at-home sisters in Christ. What about women whose husbands have abandoned them? But let's try to look at this without knee-jerking if we can. We are living under a cursed economy. We are not living under God's blessing. When the Church abandons "hard" teachings for soft words, the salt loses its savor and is trampled underfoot. When we follow pell-mell in the path of the "working world," straining after the "American Dream" income, we're going to fall into the same trap the rest of our culture is in: wives forced to work to make up a "shortfall," debt, divorce, children handed over to government schools, etcetera. And we're in it - knee-deep.

Where are the older women who are supposed to teach the younger ones how to be sober keepers at home? Oh, their children are all grown, and they have "nothing' to do, so they've gotten "real" jobs. What about the women who are to be "washing the feet of the saints" and "ministering to the poor."

Ummm... too busy earning that second income."

It's up to the voters in Alabama to decide if the Chancey's views are acceptable to them and if he will be able to separate his belief that women are in sin for working alongside him in the office (See Tenet #14). But Chancey seems to have political aspirations beyond the local level. He's campaigning as a "Ron Paul Republican" and was the Southest regional coordinator for Paul's bid for the Republican nomination. Chancey was also very active in Virginia politics. So a bid for the commissioners job in Alabama is probably a stepping stone to higher offices in the future.

I've taken some ribbing for bringing up Michelle Obama's public comments about her family life and how they might affect policy, but the more theocratic associations and views of the Chancey's are just as concerning to me; even if their actual decisions regarding family life are much closer to our own.

How much should a candidate's personal views on family life or those of their spouse be scrutinized and considered when evaluating them for office? Personally, how a candidate functions in his home tells me a great deal how he'll govern if elected. Given how much I've written here, I've probably killed any chances of my husband or I getting elected, but I'd still like to know what I'm up against if we do attempt it someday.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Humble Address to the Nation

My fellow Americans, we face many great challenges in America. However, I believe the single greatest challenge we may face is finding a qualified candidate for President. I long for a person who possesses the necessary credentials to lead our country away from the evils of terror abroad and from the evils of socialism here at home.

Amazingly, our Constitution allows any natural born citizen who has lived in the United States for fourteen years and celebrates their 35th birthday to become President.

How can this be? A person isn't even considered qualified for a teaching position in the Detroit Public Schools with those credentials. And soon you may not even be qualified to teach your own children either! Nevertheless, you are considered qualified to lead the whole nation with the simple passage of time.

To our founding fathers, this made perfect sense. Few credentials afforded the common man the opportunity to lead and prevented the tyranny of an aristocracy. Sadly, an attitude of ambition formed by an elite education has created a new type of aristocracy. An aristocracy where knowledge and arrogance reign supreme; yielding leaders who have become wise in their own eyes and who believe they must choose what is best for us -- from the light bulb we put in our homes to the language we put in our heads. A sly tyrant who uses the power of taxation to manipulate personal behavior, redistribute wealth, and deny personal freedom.

What shall we say then? Shall we continue to allow mediocre people possessing a form of knowledge but denying the Constitution to rule over us? May it never be!

In recent years, our leaders have called our nation's schools to meet higher standards. I believe what is good for the student, is good for the leader. We must demand a higher standard for those who seek to lead us. We must demand leaders who esteem the Constitution more highly than personal ambition. I'm not seeking to revise our Constitution but to return to the standard of humble wisdom envisioned by our founders.

I call on the great people of this country to leave these men behind and demand candidates who understand that they are not the savior, but the servant of the people.

After all an election is a terrible thing to waste.

Thank you and God Bless.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Here's to you Dr. Bainbridge

Speaking about homeschooling older children in high school, Dr. William Bainbridge said, "At some point you have a line to draw--this is responsible parenting and this is child abuse. [Homeschooling] can be child abuse."

I've been thinking about Dr. Bainbridge's comments a lot in the last couple of days.

I spent most of yesterday updating my son's high school transcript and today I registered him today for his first college class. To enroll at this particular college a student must be 16 by the first day of class; my son misses that requirement by 6 days. Special permission is granted if the student meets with the Director of Admissions and she approves the waiver. We met this morning. After a brief glance at his transcript, she talked to my son about his interest in engineering and car design, the course he selected (Computer Aided Design 103), and college life. Then, without any hesitation, she signed the special admission form and welcomed him to the college. It was a very enjoyable experience for all of us.

Afterward, we walked to the bookstore to look through the textbook for the class. A student pointed us to the correct text and informed us that he had already taken the course. Eagerly, we asked him a few questions. His answers were very helpful. He then told us he'd be taking the course in the fall. Confused, my son glanced over at me. I knew exactly what he was thinking. Being the bold woman that I am, I turned to the student and asked, "Didn't you just say you already took this course?"

He smiled sheepishly and said, "yeah, but I got a zero." But he quickly regained his confidence and continued, "It's no big deal. I'm just going to retake it again and the previous grade won't matter." I told him I admired his perservance and positive attitude, but inwardly I wondered if my son might be reconsidering at this point. Thankfully, he has done quite a bit of reading and drafting work on his own and this conversation did not deter his decision to enroll.

So, here's to my 15 (almost 16) year old homeschooler whose Constitutional right to equal protection have been denied because his parents have "unfettered" control of his education and decided to educate him through high school and to his classmate, a 20-something college student who is repeating the course right along side him.

Cheers Dr. Bainbridge!

(Note: Taking nothing for granted, I realize that my son might not pass the class either; but at least he has five extra years to try!)

P.S. While we're on the topic of abuse, we're going to a Tiger's game tonight. I sure hope we don't get served the wrong lemonade. Things are sure crazy in Detroit these days.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

TOS Magazine Needs You!

Do you have an opinion? Do you homeschool? Do you have an opinion about the products and curriculum you use in your homeschool? Do you like to share your opinion with your homeschool friends on your blog, through email, forums and at your coop? Do you love to get your products and curriculum for free? If the answer to these questions is, "Yes!" then the The Old Schoolhouse Magazine (TOS) wants to talk to you. Click here for the details.

Bummer, as a writer for the magazine, I'm not eligible to participate in all the fun.

By the way, the summer issue of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine (with a few articles written by yours truly) should be in mail boxes soon. This issue also contains an interview with Norm Wakefield of Elijah Ministries. I am currently reading his book, Equipped to Love out loud to my children during our morning devotions. If you have teenagers in your home, this book is a must read before they enter into serious relationships. Elijah Ministries also sends out a monthly newsletter. His eight part series, The Curse of the Standard Bearer is both encouraging and challenging.

Name Obama's Generation

David Brody reports that Team Obama is having a contest to rename their faith outreach to young evangelicals after it dumped the name Joshua Generation. I'd like to offer a few suggestions...

The (W)Right Generation: Since the youth outreach is an attempt to reach evangelicals typically on the conservative or "right" side of the political spectrum, this name would make them feel welcome in the group without compromising the relationship with his former pastor and personal mentor Jeremiah Wright.

The Change Generation: Because the next generation needs to understand that after Obama gets done with all of his liberal federal spending programs, the only thing they'll have left is a bunch of change.

The 57 State Generation: Because our youth need a president who represents all Americans. A man who has been to every corner and to all 57 states in the Union. (You Tube here.)

The Arugula Generation: Obama asked a group of voters in Iowa, "Has anybody gone into a Whole Foods lately and seen the price of arugula?" Our young people need a candidate they can relate to, but also someone who will address the serious issues of our time.

Because abortion is a central issue to many evangelical conservatives, I offer these final suggestions,

The Punished Generation: Obama said, "I've got two daughters. 9 years old and 6 years old. I am going to teach them first of all about values and morals. But if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby." This name would enable Obama to reach out to the young people who would rather be punished with a baby than choose to end its life. But Obama struggles with calling them babies; so as I final suggestion...

The Born Alive Generation. Obama said in an abortion debate on the floor of the Illinois senate,
"the testimony during the committee indicated that one of the key concerns was -- is that there was a method of abortion, an induced abortion, where the fetus or child, as -- as some might describe it, is still temporarily alive outside the womb. And one of the concerens that came out in the testimony was the fact that they were not being properly cared for during that brief period of time that they were still living."
After all this is the same child -- as some might describe it, that Obama is now attempting to reach out to during that brief time that they are still living.

I welcome your suggestions.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

In Loco Parentis

A British teacher has finally said aloud what many homeschoolers realized a long time ago, that teachers are functioning as "social engineers" and "surrogate parents."
Rod MacKinnon, the head of Bexley Grammar School, south-east London, said schools were being forced to shun traditional lessons as ministers manipulated the education system for the purposes of "social engineering"...There are those who wish to use children and schools as social engineers with a view to creating a different society but we should not even be trying to do such things," he said. "Children need to be nurtured, educated and cared for, not thrown into the frontline of social reform..."Teachers simply do not have the contact time to 'create' behaviours and attitudes within children," he said. "They are not – and cannot be – social engineers and social workers and surrogate parents, as well as subject teachers, all rolled into one."
Before compulsory education laws, the teacher served the needs of the children under the authority of the parents. But when the state took over and confiscated a parent's wages to pay for public education and required children to attend, the state became the authority. The teacher turned from satisfying the needs of the parent, to meeting the requirements of the state.

The state's intentions appeared noble; to help all children obtain a quality education. After all, our country depended on an educated electorate. However, it wasn't just poor parents that took advantage of the opportunity for a free education. Parents who could otherwise afford to pay tuition, willingly outsouced their primary obligation to the state and its agents in the schools and the state willingly became "surrogate parents." As they did, parents increasingly demanded more and more help from the state to help them meet their primary obligations.

So much in fact, that Michelle Obama has made "family friendly policies" and the plight of the working mother her platform as first lady.
Obama, 44, has worked as a lawyer and a hospital executive in Chicago. She left her job to help on her husband's campaign. They have two daughters, Malia, 9, and Sasha, 7. She said she would always be a working mother. "I used to get up in the morning and go to an office. Now I get up and go to a plane. ... My kids still don't care where I am," she said. "They've always known two parents to work in the household and as long as we're back in time for bedtime, they could care less where we are." (HT: Kay P.)
What kind of country have we become when a potential first lady boasts that her children don't care where she is during the day, while she's out campaigning for our government to spend more money to help take care of the family?

Monday, July 07, 2008

What Makes Someone A Racist?

I ask this question for two reasons, one policy related and the other personal. First the policy reason, the UK Telegraph reports that new guidelines have been issued for day care workers, advising them to watch for racists attitudes in young children. Children as young as three could be tagged as racists for such things as saying "yuk" to a foreign food that have been offered to try.
"The 366-page guide for staff in charge of pre-school children, called Young Children and Racial Justice, warns: "Racist incidents among children in early years settings tend to be around name-calling, casual thoughtless comments and peer group relationships."
Does the fact that a child doesn't like spicy salsa or curry mean that they are somehow against the people from which that particular food originates? And name calling and thoughtless comments can happen nearly every time children interact and play together. To say that such behaviors are rooted in racism, is to imply that the child has hate-filled motivesfor their actions. But how does a teacher or anyone else know when it's rudeness or when it's something more sinister?

Now for the personal reasons. My family and I were accused of being racists a few months ago by a friend I've know for about five years. The various emotions that come from being accused of intentionally showing partiality against another person simply because they are a different skin color skin are intense. When I asked what evidence she had to make such an assertion she said,
"Your children are an open window to the standards and belief systems taught in our home. The body language, glares, and refusal to respond when greeted with a smile or word affirm the spirit of racism. The demeaning attitudes in conversation also give light to the truth in heart. These behaviors and spirit are consistent when your family is present. "
I willingly acknowledged that my children don't always respond perfectly in every situation. Whose children do? However, when pressed for specific instances or how she determined that certain actions were rooted in racism as opposed to bad manners, she responded with, "It is no use and not my job to convince you of a heart condition that only God can address and change. "

I guess I was just supposed to accept her assertion because she said it was true. Unfortunately, no progress has been made. I did use the opportunity to ask several of our friends and acquaintances of various races their thoughts about our family. Thankfully, their opinions did not confirm her accusation, but the sting of her words still remains many months later. What we thought was a wonderful friendship with this family turned out to be something totally different. We are apparently a project for their family and the "exposure" to us helped them experience God's perfecting hand.

The trend toward making a judgment of racism based on a dislike for a food or an individual's alleged poor manners is disturbing. It could be true, but shouldn't the benefit of the doubt be given to the individual until there is more concrete evidence of actual racism? My friend's children have been distracted at times and failed to greet me; yet I never thought they were racist against white people. It seems as though baseless accusations and careless judgments might actually fuel racial tensions rather than diminish them.

As the Presidential race heats up, I can only imagine who will be called racist in the months ahead. Especially when the definition of a racist is left only to those making the accusation.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Obama and HSLDA (Update)

In deference to HSLDA and their trademarked name Generation Joshua, the Obama campaign has decided to abandon the previously announced name, Joshua Generation for their youth faith outreach. HSLDA provided an excerpt from a letter they recently received from the Obama campaign,

"Please know that the Campaign respects the intellectual property of others and wants to avoid any unnecessary confusion. As you may already know, the Campaign is no longer planning on using the "Joshua Generation Project" name or any other confusingly similar name in the future. We appreciate you informing us of HSLDA's marks."
And they all lived happily ever after.

The End.

Well, not quite. Obama is still attempting to reach out to evangelical voters. This week he announced plans to expand Bush's faith-based inititatives but liberals for the separation of church and state are giving his faith inititative a big thumbs down. And as David Brody explains his pro-abortion stance is still a major stumbling block to broad evangelical support despite recent nuances to his position.

That's what happens when a candidate tries to be all things to all people. Obama may turn out to be the candidate no one can believe in.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

A Call to Serve

It's not enough for Obama that the state educate our children, he is now calling them to "serve" as well. "
Just as we teach math and writing, arts and athletics, we need to teach young Americans to take citizenship seriously. Study after study shows that students who serve do better in school, are more likely to go to college, and more likely to maintain that service as adults. So when I'm President, I will set a goal for all American middle and high school students to perform 50 hours of service a year, and for all college students to perform 100 hours of service a year. This means that by the time you graduate college, you'll have done 17 weeks of service."
Service to whom? And will all of these minor children be paid for their service or are they expected to "volunteer"? Under Obama's plan, it is the school not the child who will benefit financially,
"At the middle and high school level, we'll make federal assistance conditional on school districts developing service programs, and give schools resources to offer new service opportunities. "
We fought a war to stop the powerful from preying on the vulnerable and requiring them to work without just compensation. Mr. Obama, unless you're offering to pay each student directly for the work they are expected to do, what you call service, I call bondage to the state.

Happy Fourth of July!

Celebrate your freedom today, a new civilian draft era of service is about to begin.

Related post: Change We Can Believe In

Ivy Retardation

Drooling over that Ivy League education that you never had and can't afford to provide for your children? It may not be all it's cracked up to be. Writing for the American Scholar, William Deresiewicz, explains why in his essay, The Disadvantages of an Elite Education .
"It didn't dawn on me that there might be a few holes in my education until I was about 35. I'd just bought a house, the pipes needed fixing, and the plumber was standing in my kitchen. There he was, a short, beefy guy with a goatee and a Red Sox cap and a thick Boston accent, and I suddenly learned that I didn’t have the slightest idea what to say to someone like him. So alien was his experience to me, so unguessable his values, so mysterious his very language, that I couldn't succeed in engaging him in a few minutes of small talk before he got down to work. Fourteen years of higher education and a handful of Ivy League dees, and there I was, stiff and stupid, struck dumb by my own dumbness. "Ivy retardation," a friend of mine calls this. I could carry on conversations with people from other countries, in other languages, but I couldn't talk to the man who was standing in my own house."
Socrates wrote in The Republic,
"To be deceived about the truth of things and so to be in ignorance and error and to harbor untruth in the soul is a thing no one would consent to."
Obviously Socrates never imagined an Ivy League education, where students are not only consenting but paying extraordinary sums of money to obtain it.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Change We Can Believe In

Obama's really trying hard to win over evangelicals. He's announced that, if elected, he's going to expand Bush's faith-based inititiatives.

"The challenges we face today ... are simply too big for government to solve alone," Obama was to say, according to a prepared text of his remarks obtained by The Associated Press. "We need all hands on deck."
Be still my beating heart, the candidate for change is starting to sound like Huckabee!

"In time, I came to see faith as being both a personal commitment to Christ and a commitment to my community; that while I could sit in church and pray all I want, I wouldn't be fulfilling God's will unless I went out and did the Lord's work,"
For his next trick, Obama's going to announce that after much prayer and reflection he's decided to renounce evolution and the NEA, support tax-credits for homeschoolers and select Huckabee for VP! With all this focus on faith, a Dobson endorsement can't be far behind and HSLDA will be begging him to use the name Generation Joshua. By the way, the cross you see in the above photo really isn't there; but don't blame him that was Huck's idea.

God-O-Meter has the full briefing from Team Obama which explains why his plan doesn't violate the separation of church and state.

"federal dollars that go directly to churches, temples, and mosques will only be allowed to go toward secular programs. And Obama will ensure that taxpayer dollars only go to those programs that actually work. "
Either Obama really does think he can work miracles or one of his policy advisors is actually a joke writer for Saturday Night Live. Does he even believe what he's saying?

And while Obama's getting in touch with his inner evangelical, can someone with access please ask him if "all hands on deck" includes the Reverend Wright or is he still confined to political purgatory until he recites ten Hail Obamas and sings God Bless America on national television?

Some liberal lefties aren't finding Obama's courting of conservatives as funny as I do. Sounding a bit like a jilted school girl the night before prom, Arianna Huffington scoffs that leaving the left for the middle is a strategy for losers, "Watering down that brand is the political equivalent of New Coke. Call it Obama Zero."