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.

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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.

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