Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Quote of the Day

Shamelessly swiped from the Facebook status of my dear sister Donna, a homeschool mom of eight children 17 and under:
It only takes...

...One Macy's catalog to convince me I'm not beautiful enough

...One Timberdoodle catalog to convince me that I'm not homeschooling enough

...One Vision Forum catalog to convince me I don't have character enough

...Yet just One Word from God shows me that I am loved more than enough!

Thank you Lord!
Have a Blessed Thanksgiving.

Related Post: Better Homes and Schooling

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Monday, November 23, 2009

NEA Puts Power Ahead of Kids

It's really no surprise to anyone ever that the NEA was more interested in protecting its power than educating children. What is surprising is that they actually feel confident enough in their power to admit it. Here's the NEA's General Counsel admitting as much in his retirement speech this past summer.
"Despite what some among us would like to believe it is not because of our creative ideas. It is not because of the merit of our positions. It is not because we care about children and it is not because we have a vision of a great public school for every child. NEA and its affiliates are effective advocates because we have power....

This is not to say that the concern of NEA and its affiliates with closing achievement gaps, reducing dropout rates, improving teacher quality and the like are unimportant or inappropriate. To the contrary. These are the goals that guide the work we do. But they need not and must not be achieved at the expense of due process, employee rights and collective bargaining. That simply is too high a price to pay.

If you're a parent with children in the public schools you can voice your objections here. But the best way to object is by removing your children from their schools. Without your children they have no real power.

In a related story, future teachers in Minnesota are being "reducated" and become "culturally competent" in order to obtain a teacher certificate.

Hat Tip: Michelle Malkin

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Homeschoolers and Health Care

For all my homeschooling friends who think ObamaCare will solve their financial and health insurance woes, think again. It may give you temporary relief for your financial headache, but it may also invite government nannies into your home to improve your child's well-being and health.

HR 3200 that passed the House of Representatives, currently has a provision for funding states that implement a "voluntary" home visitation program for parents with young children or who are expecting. (See Sec. 1904 sec. 440)
The intended purpose is to " improve the well-being, health, and development of children by enabling the establishment and expansion of high quality programs providing voluntary home visitation for families with young children and families expecting children."
In America we used to believe that was the role of the parent, but now it's the role of our benevolent and compassionate Uncle Sam. A gaze over the Atlantic will show us exactly where we're headed,
"Health and safety inspectors are to be given unprecedented access to family homes to ensure that parents are protecting their children from household accidents.

New guidance drawn up at the request of the Department of Health urges councils and other public sector bodies to “collect data” on properties where children are thought to be at “greatest risk of unintentional injury”.

Council staff will then be tasked with overseeing the installation of safety devices in homes, including smoke alarms, stair gates, hot water temperature restrictors, oven guards and window and door locks.

The draft guidance by a committee at the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) has been criticised as intrusive and further evidence of the “creeping nanny state”.

Where are the safety devices for the "creeping nanny" who keeps sticking her nose into our personal lives?

Why homeschoolers support this bill or President Obama is beyond my understanding.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Subsidizng Irresponsibility

Regarding the punitive consequences for those that do not acquire health insurance, Obama said this to Jake Tapper.
"I think the general principle is simply that people who are paying for their health insurance aren't subsidizing folks who simply choose not to until they get sick and then suddenly they expect free health insurance. That's - that's the basic concept of responsibility that most Americans abide by," Mr. Obama said, "Penalties are in place for people who try and free ride the system and force others to pay for their health insurance."
If you really believe in the basic concept of responsibility, Mr. President, then those have an abortion should be required to purchase abortion insurance or face jail time and strict fines. Getting pregnant is the arguably one of the most preventable medical conditions. Why should responsible taxpayers subsidize immature fools who simply choose irresponsible behavior and get pregnant and then suddenly expect the the federal government (taxpayers) to pay for their abortion?

Using Obama's own logic, penalties should be in place for people who try and free ride the system and force others to pay for their abortion, which many believe is a selfish act of murder.

Obama once said that if his daughters make a mistake and get pregnant he doesn't want them "punished with a baby." Instead, it seems he'd rather punish the taxpayers and make them pay for those who make a similar "mistake" instead.

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Rebutting Socialism

This week, a group of college students at Washington University in St. Louis sought to commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall and the eventual end of communism in Russia. But the university forced them to take down their display because it was "too offensive."

Instead of going away quietly, the students decided to take their message national. Campus Gulag website reported:

On the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall, the day that gloriously lead to the eventual fall of Communism in Russia, the ideas that led to the slaughter of 100 million souls in the 20th century alone are alive and well. Far from being on the ashheap of history, Communism and socialism in America is growing, and tomorrow’s leaders and thinkers need to see the impact of socialism: the extermination of political dissidents and unwanteds. From national socialism to international socialism, the same bad ideas lead to the same bad results: imprisoning dissidents and their eventual execution.

You and I can stop this, because we can reach students with the message of freedom, the message of hope, and the message that socialism and its ideas leads to mass murder.

This would have been a mild display compared some of the offensive displays I saw at the University of Michigan twenty years ago! At least these people were clothed! I guess freedom of speech only applies to liberals teaching communism or praising Mao.

And if you think socialism doesn't lead to communism, just ask yourself, if the Obama health care plan is so good why must our limousine liberals in DC criminalize and threaten citizens with fines and jail time for noncompliance? Or why an "ethics committee" from the CDC meeting to debate who should have access to a ventilator for the swine flue?

As my dad often says, "This isn't the country I grew up in."

But, intimidation only works for those willing to be intimidated. Don't give up and don't give in. (You can read my own run in with a liberal prof while in college here.)

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Friday, November 06, 2009

Reaching Homeschoolers

At a homeschool convention last year, another vendor and I struck up a conversation. He had a lot of energy but seemed a bit uptight; however, he readily admitted that he felt totally out of place because he didn't homeschool and this was definitely not his "typical convention." Not really interested in finding out what his "typical convention" was like, I smiled and assured him that we all knew he was out of place the minute he walked in the vendor hall, but we're a polite group and so we didn't point or stare as we talked about him to each other. He grinned and relaxed a bit.

"Obviously, you're a pretty direct person," He said. "So I was wondering, how does a guy who knows nothing about homeschooling sell his product to homeschoolers?"

Ignoring the fact that this out of place "greedy capitalist" was there just to make a profit, I chuckled and asked him, "Why do you think homeschoolers would even want to buy your product if you know absolutely nothing about us?"

He didn't seem to want to answer that, so I continued, "Get to know us a bit and you'll figure out it's not that hard to sell to us. We're pretty frugal but can be gullible in the right circumstance with a promising product, especially at a homeschool convention."

"Fair enough." He replied. "Then I'd like to show you my stuff and see what you think. But first there's one thing I've been wondering about homeschoolers for quite a while now."

"Oh, and what is that?"

"Why do you homeschoolers have so many kids?"

"Umm, gee, maybe it's because we have more exciting things to do than watch Jay Leno after the kiddos go to bed?!?" (Okay, I didn't really say that but I did think it.)

Instead, I politely tried to explain that for some of us homeschooling isn't just an educational choice but a life decision based on a belief that children are as a blessing from God. He wasn't getting it and I was getting hungry so the conversation quickly died of natural causes.

If I ever run into him again, however, I'm sending him over to Ethan Demme (of Math-U-See fame) who gives a much more thoughtful and complete answer to the question, How do I reach the homeschool community? His post is directed at politicians but he starts from the same premise that you have to know something about us, past and present, in order to reach us.

As a homeschool grad and marketing guru, Demme provides an excellent round-up of information and resources to understand this growing but changing movement of homeschool radicals who actually believe they can teach their children at home and live to blog about it. Check it out and keep in handy if you ever run into my vendor friend at your state homeschool convention.

(Note to Demme: Please add a paragraph on fecundity and homeschoolers, thanks in advance.)

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

The real epidemic in our schools

Obama declared H1N1 a national emergency but there's another virus that is threatening our children's minds that could prove more widespread than once believed. Big Hollywood has posted 11 more videos of children in various schools around the country singing praises to Obama and quoting his speeches.
This is about brainwashing our children into Leftist identity politics. Sure, the schools can argue that they had some kind of parental permission — which, if true, is somehow even more disturbing — but who even considers doing something like this with young minds? That’s a rhetorical question.
Homeschooling is the cure for the Obama virus that seems to be infecting our schools.

There is one student, however, who might not be singing the praises of President Obama right now--his own daughter, Malia. Speaking at a middle school, President Obama went off telepromter and used Malia's poor grade on a science test to encourage parents to set a high standard for academics in the home.

His message is sound, but do I feel sorry for his daughter. It's bad enough to get a lousy grade on a test but it's even worse when your daddy tells the whole world. And besides I thought his kids were off limits? Maybe to make up for his mistake, Malia will make him show his college transcripts and how poorly he performed on some of his tests. Here's the video

Michelle Malkin has adds more thoughts about Obama worship in the classroom and provided the photo above.

Update: Malkin also concurs with my thoughts on Obama's college transcript.

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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Hardball on Homeschooling

Last night, MSNBC's Chris Mathew's announced his litmus test for Republican candidates and wrongly stereotyped homeschoolers in the process. In a post election round-up he posed this question to Club for Growth President, Chris Chocola, after Chocola talked about the limited role of government:
MATTHEWS: Last question—here‘s my litmus test—are you pushing home schooling?

CHOCOLA: We don‘t—no, we support school choice.

MATTHEWS: No, but home schooling, where you don‘t go to public school because you don‘t want to mix with other children. You want to keep the kids at home, so you can teach them about life at home, away from the exposure of other social groups. Are you for that? Because I would consider that culturally conservative at least.

CHOCOLA: We do not push home schooling. We support school choice. We think parents are the ones that are best in a position to make a decision about the education of their children.

MATTHEWS: Mr. Chocola, I‘m with you on school choice. Thank you, sir, very much...
My liberal homeschooling friends might want to drop Mathews a note and let him know that the only one lacking exposure to other social groups is Chris Mathews.

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Courtship in the 24/7 Era

My friend, Kim, has a saying on her Facebook, "A woman's heart should be so lost in God, that a man has to seek Him in order to find her." But this generation seems to be lost to Facebook and their cellphone making it way too easy not only to find her but everything about her too. The combination has made any rules of engagement (pun intended) obsolete.

David Brooks examines how cell phones have changed the dating game.
Once upon a time — in what we might think of as the “Happy Days” era — courtship was governed by a set of guardrails. Potential partners generally met within the context of larger social institutions: neighborhoods, schools, workplaces and families. There were certain accepted social scripts. The purpose of these scripts — dating, going steady, delaying sex — was to guide young people on the path from short-term desire to long-term commitment.

Over the past few decades, these social scripts became obsolete. They didn’t fit the post-feminist era. So the search was on for more enlightened courtship rules. You would expect a dynamic society to come up with appropriate scripts. But technology has made this extremely difficult. Etiquette is all about obstacles and restraint. But technology, especially cellphone and texting technology, dissolves obstacles. Suitors now contact each other in an instantaneous, frictionless sphere separated from larger social institutions and commitments.
As a parent, we've encouraged our young adults to establish appropriate guardrails which will help them navigate the temptations that are ever before their eyes. But it isn't easy for them or us. We understand the traps that lay before them that could derail their hopes and dreams, but frequently our young people only see another "friend" to add to their growing list.

In the "Happy Day's era as Brooks identifies it, a young man thought longer before he reached for a phone and called a girl. More importantly, the ring of the phone and one-side of the conversation were heard throughout the household. Now, the instantaneous access to a new friend through cell phones makes it easy, very private, and speeds up the courtship process. Add in social networking sites like Facebook and young adults quickly learn what their new friend's favorite food, music, song, and a whole lot more before the first date. They become emotionally bonded and "in a relationship" before parents and others in their social sphere know they even exist.

Even parents like us, who have encouraged our children not to commit to a long-term relationship until they are ready for marriage are struggling how to navigate these waters. The only "script" seems to be written by the next generation as they go along, eliminating many safeguards that prevented heart break or at least softened the blow.

God said it was not good for man to be alone, so He created woman and said it was very good. We created technology that has become our constant companion and what is happening to our generation because of it isn't so good.

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Monday, November 02, 2009

Rules For Radicals

If the maxim is true, we are what we read, then the NEA's book recommendation tells us much about what they want their teachers to become.

The National Education Association recommends its teachers read Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals and Reveille for Radicals as "An inspiration to anyone contemplating action in their community!" Here's a quote from the book, Rules for Radicals,
"There's another reason for working inside the system. Dostoevski said that taking a new step is what people fear most. Any revolutionary change must be preceded by a passive, affirmative, non-challenging attitude toward change among the mass of our people. They must feel so frustrated, so defeated, so lost, so futureless in the prevailing system that they are willing to let go of the past and change the future. This acceptance is the reformation essential to any revolution."
There is no more perfect avenue for instilling mass frustration and defeat than the public schools. Forget the NEA, Alinksy, and his Rules for Radicals; Spunky recommends reading John Taylor Gatto's Underground History of American Education instead. It's a book the NEA definitely doesn't want you to read and then it's time to get radical and homeschool.

Homeschooling is a revolution which does not rely on the passivity of the masses but active parents. It provides a promising future for those willing to let go of the public schools and change the future.

Barbara Curtis at MommyLife just started an online book club for those interested in reading Rules for Radicals.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Homeschooling and High School

Parents thinking about homeschooling in the early years and then sending them off to the local high school for their last four years may want to rethink that strategy.

Drew Gamblin, a 16 year old gifted student, desires to go to the local public high school after being homeschooled. He hopes to experience "the memories" and graduate with his peers. Gamblin is being held back, however, because Howard High School refuses to recognize his home school and college credit and insists that he retake certain classes.

Drew, a child so gifted he taught himself to write at age 3, craves a high school education and all that comes with it -- debate team, music, drama and senior prom.

After a series of inexplicable decisions by Howard County school officials, such as requiring him to stay in a Howard High algebra class he had already mastered, his parents decided to home-school him and put him in college classes. But Drew insisted on his high school dream.

So he is back at Howard, although it's not clear what grade he is in, and the school district is making it hard to enjoy what the school has to offer. He is being forced to take a world history course he already took at Howard Community College and a junior-year English course he took at home, as well as classes in other subjects he has studied.

The school finally accepted his college Japanese courses after his parents persisted. They plan on appealing the board's decision but "that process could take months" costing him valuable time learning new subjects. Obviously, this was probably not the memory he was hoping to make.

As graduation requirements become more "rigorous" and accountability at the federal level intensifies, stories like Gamblin's will probably become much more common. A homeschooled young lady in our district was hoping to enter the local high school as a sophomore but was told she would have to repeat her entire freshman year. Her parents enrolled her in a private school instead.

Parents hoping to homeschool until their high school years and then enrolling their child in the public school may want to rethink that strategy. Their local school may not be as enthusiastic about the arrangement as you and your child.

However, the up side is that if you continue to homeschool you may find that many employers ARE enthusiastic about hiring homeschool teens because their schedules are flexible and their work ethic is excellent. An assistant general manager of a fitness club shares his experience here.

Also worth a read: An inspiring conversation between a Detroit inner-city homeschool graduate and an executive from the Detroit Public Schools while on the golf course. HSLDA also has a some helpful advice and newsletter devoted to homeschooling through high school.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Obama: The Balloon President

When asked a month ao about the H1N1 flu shot for the First Family Obama said,
"Here's what I guarantee you. We want to get vaccinated. We think it's the right thing to do. We will stand in line like everybody else. And when folks say it's our turn, we will get it.
A humble declaration from a President who desires to put the needs of the nation above his own family, isn't it? However, like the balloon boy hoax, Obama's guarantee is empty. The White House blog reported yesterday,
"Malia and Sasha were both vaccinated for H1N1 last week, after the vaccine became available to Washington, DC schoolchildren...The girls' H1N1 vaccine was administered by a White House physician, who applied for and received the vaccine from the DC Department of Health using the same process as every other vaccination site in the District."

A White House physician? Why, when according to DC health officials there are clinics around DC where the First Family could have waited in line just like the common folk do. The NY Times speculates that,

Sharing the news that the president has allowed his own daughters to receive the shots could assuage the fears of ordinary Americans who are wondering whether or not to get vaccinated.
But I thought Obama was an ordinary American? That's what his guarantee was supposed to prove.

The President isn't ordinary. His words have meaning. Not just with American citizens at home worried about the flu shot, but to our American soldiers abroad who are worried about the enemy shots fired at them. With great conviction and resolve, Obama said in March,

"Good morning. Today, I am announcing a comprehensive, new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan....For three years, our commanders have been clear about the resources they need for training. Those resources have been denied because of the war in Iraq. Now, that will change."
Our commanders are clearly asking for more resources and soldiers are dying, Mr. President. But yesterday aboard Air Force One, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said,
"I think the president will take some time after these meetings to pick through what he's heard, what we've all learned, and evaluate this process with what's best for our country, what's best for Afghanistan, Pakistan and for the region as a whole,"

Gibbs said the president will announce his decision "in the coming weeks," a phrase he has used often before.
So much for the "comprehensive new strategy" of "change" announced in March. This one will be the "real comprehensive new strategy" of "real change" that Obama really meant to say back in March.

It all makes me wonder, is Obama becoming "The Balloon President" full of hot air and nothing else?

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Advice for Aspiring Homeschooler

Crunchy Con author and BeliefNet blogger, Rod Dreher, had a reader write to him seeking advice regarding homeschooling.
A reader writes to say that his five year old came home from public school kindergarten with a flyer alerting parents that the kids are about to have a whole week of "Just Say No to Drugs" education. It shocked him that kids as young as this are being subjected to this sort of thing, and made the reader and his wife consider whether they would be better off getting their kids out of the public school environment, and homeschooling them.
Dreher advises the father to "be realistic" and as a dad he encouraged him to step in and support his wife in any way he can. Definitely good advice. Here's some of my own thoughts.

Before we can ever begin to think about HOW we are to teach a child, we must decide WHY we are to teach a child. What is a "well educated child"? Asked another way, why do you care that your child knows anything about anything? The answer is not as easy as it may seem.

Why you educate will help you determine how to educate. The schools have already thought through this question some and that's why they have drug campaigns beginning in kindergarten. They know what they want children to think and believe as they move through the system. Many parents, however, don't have have such a plan. They only know that they want their child to get a "good education" and probably go to college when they're done. But few define what a "good education" means for them. Thus, many are blindsided and aghast when their children start school and learn things they don't want them to know.

At this point some parents, like this reader, consider homeschooling and that's great. I'm a huge proponent of homeschooling and I have helped many families get started. But most successful homeschoolers that "finish strong" do so because they have some ultimate goal in mind (subject to modification as you and your child mature).

Obviously, the answer to "Why do you educate a child" will be different for every parent and it should be. God gave this child to you. As parents, you are uniquely qualified to guide his young life into adulthood. That doesn't mean that homeschooling MUST be the avenue to a "good education." But unless you determine why you're educating, you'll continue to run afoul of any method, including homeschooling.

It is a start that you know what you do NOT want you child to learn in school, such as drug awareness in kindergarten. But it is a whole different matter to decide what you want him TO know. This might include life skills, character development, spiritual knowledge, and core academic subjects.

Long term objectives combined with your child's interests and learning style will enable you and your wife to create a learning experience that is rewarding and life long.

We are about to graduate our third child in 2010 with three more to go. I can guarantee that if you do decide to homeschool, there will be rough spots and days that try your patience and resolve to continue; but rest assured that if you do continue, with God's help the end will be better than the beginning.

Related Post: Why do you educate?

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

H1N1 and Our Children

Interesting. President Obama has declared the Swine Flu or H1N1 a national emergency.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius now has authority to bypass federal rules when opening alternative care sites, such as offsite hospital centers at schools or community centers if hospitals seek permission.
But if this is such an "emergency" worthy of bypassing federal rules, why are Obama and his children still not vaccinated? Obama seemed to stumble a bit in his answer when asked "as a parent" about the H1N1 vaccine and when the First Family will get it. Watch...

Obama is attempting to appear selfless and humble. But considering that he just recently accepted the Nobel Peace Prize for doing absolutely nothing, he fails miserably. Everybody understands that the President's physical health is important; that's why he has a personal 24/7 physican follow him around everywhere he goes and Michelle Obama has an organic garden in the White House. There may be a shortage of vaccines, but certainly they can spare four doses for the President of the United States and his family, no?

After all, just a month ago in an exclusive interview with Bob Schieffer on the news show Face the Nation Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan said,
"We're prepared for the worst. Yes, you have to be prepared. Again the more the school is a part of the solution, the more the schools become vaccination centers, the more we help solve this thing. That's the right thing for us to be doing."
Apparently, the Obama administration wasn't as prepared as he thought. Recent reports indicate that school children are particularly at risk for this virus. In Missouri, one health official stated, "“So school age children are really bearing the brunt of this pandemic right now.” (If this is such an emergency maybe we ought to bypass turning schools into vaccinations centers and just shut them down. That should at least help stop spreading the virus!)

Seriously though, if Obama wants to convince the American people that this is truly a state of emergency worthy of turning schools into vaccinations centers, he ought to start by demonstrating that his own family, including his school age girls, is willing to get the vaccine. This "put the country above his own family" routine is a not very convincing when you realize that his daughters attend the toney private school, Sidwell Friends, while most of the neighboring school children languish in the wretched DC schools.

Once again, we see a do as we say but not as we do mentality coming from this administration. Very strange and troubling indeed.

(Note: The family of SpunkyHomeschool has not had the vaccine. Nor do we intend to get it at this time.)

Update: TheBlogProf who resides about 45 minutes north of me has video of the scene at a local school where people waited 5 or more hours to get the shot. "The high school looked like a scene from a new ride at a premier amusement park that just opened." The day was rainy and 48 degrees. Not good PR for Team Obama and his ability to take care of our health.

Update II: Parents are upset because their son had been given the H1N1 without their consent. Their son has medical issues that make the vaccine potentially dangerous. The school claimed it was a "mix up" and it was supposed to go to another child with a similar name. The vaccine was given by the health department and not a school official.

Another reason to be very glad if you homeschool. (HT @everydaymommy Via Twitter)

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Pick of the Clicks

Some of the better stuff I've read, watched, or heard this week

On Education

A Truly Divine Moment: Too good not to post again.

Who's the Teacher: "I encourage you to try and find small ways throughout your day when your children can teach- whether it’s you, a sibling, or the family dog!"

HomeschoolShare: Great website with loads of free stuff to help with lapbooks. My daughter and I are enjoying the ones we've done so far.

Homeschool Blog Awards: Has another year passed already?

An overlooked government intervention. Ed Morrissey looks at the Feds takeover of student loans.

Who's On First? (video) Abbott and Costello's famous routine. I showed this video today in my argumentation co-op class for our amphiboly and equivocation. It was just as good as I remembered and the kids loved it too.

Quotes from the students and staff of SpunkyHomeschool

"Whoever said this was going to be a fun craft was wrong!" My six year old after finishing her paper mache' globe.

"That is sooo anti-acts of service!" From my husband who was NOT feeling the love after I swept some crumbs onto his clean floor.

On Obama

Leno's mocking monologue of Obama. (video) Does this put Leno on the enemies list?

Obama: Excessive Pay Offends our Values:
I thought we weren't supposed to legislate morality?

Noonan: It's his rubble now. It's time for Obama to quit blaming Bush for his problems.

Kudos to the networks
for not caving in to Obama and his war on Fox.

I'm indifferent, but after seeing the hoola hoop photo, my daughters say Michelle Obama's belts have to go.

Best status on Facebook

From my friend Barb: "So with pleasure and promises, sin took control, leaving me dying with nothing to show...Sin can take you father than you want to go. Slowly, but wholly taking control. Sin will leave you longer than you want to stay. Sin will cost you far more than you wnt to pay."

And just plain fun

Grocery Cart Musical (video) A bit of "Yes we can" Obamology blended in a very fun video. (via Laurie Bluedorn on Twitter)

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Truly Divine Appointment

I wish I had been a fly on the course when this event took place. Let me explain...

I have a very dear friend who lives and homeschools in the city of Detroit. Her neighborhood is rough and her circumstances are difficult; yet through it all she manages to smile and trust the Lord to help her do the work necessary to raise five children without the support of her husband. Her children range from 12 to 19 in age.

The oldest two young men are both homeschool graduates and attend a local college. To help pay for their studies they tirelessly work as caddies at an exclusive golf course. My friend sent me this exchange her son Josh had with the golfer he recently assisted around the course.
Let me set the scene for you . . . . Josh meets his golfer. They shake hands and begin the loop of 18-holes (3-4 hours) together. Golfer expresses how impressed his is with Josh and comments on how well versed Josh is (says Josh is able to give intelligent opinions on many subjects golfer initiated, speaks English not Ebonics, wears trousers that fit and such)

GOLFER: So what school do you go to? (eagerly awaiting an answer)
JOSH: I recently completed my high school studies and just graduated one month ago.

GOLFER: Really? Which DPS (Detroit Public School)?
JOSH: The Mitchell Academy! (proudly spoken)

GOLFER: a look of bewilderment . . . .
JOSH: Smiling proudly. I am home educated.

The golfer begins coughing and (for a black man) turned white as a sheet.

Who was the GOLFER? None other that Robert Bobb, Detroit Public Schools' emergency financial manager who is trying to encourage every Detroit resident to denounce charter, private and home schools and return to DPS. Even though Josh knew his name, he still had no clue what this man did for a living. Josh then offers his golfer bottled water to calm is choking cough.
The Detroit Public Schools is currently seeking more money to fix the schools. It's a public works project that's never works. Currently DPS spends over $11,000 per student yet they have the worst graduation rate in the country. Young men like Josh are living proof that it isn't money that is the problem. It is a government system that creates a poverty of spirit and a vicious cycle that Robert Bobb and many others perpetuate to protect their power. However, parents have the ultimate power if they would use it.

My courageous friend bucked the government's system of dependency and despair. Like her son, she is proof that a dedicated mother can break the cycle and raise GREAT kids who positively impact their community and the world. Bravo to you both!

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Hey Mikey, He likes it!

Salon writer and homeschooling father of Kindergarten twins , Andrew O'Hehir, has joyfully discovered what many parents do when they try homeschooling;
But it isn't simply that Nini and Desmond are enjoying themselves, have learned a bunch of names and stories I didn't know until I was much older, and may, just possibly, have received a basic foundation in cultural literacy that I'm not quite sure I possess now. They love it. They've devoured it all voraciously and begged for more.
Children are naturally curious and love to learn, it's the educational process that is foisted upon them once they turn five that slowly drains them of it. That's why many homeschooling parents like O'Hehir are pleasantly surprised when our children actually "love it" and beg us for more. That's not supposed to happen!?!

It's difficult for most of us to remember our pre-institutionalized days when we actually loved to learn something new for the sake of knowing it, not just to pass a test or get a better job.

Homeschooling is the best antidote for the poor soul who has lost their love for learning. The dirty little secret is that while we think we are educating our children, they are really the ones teaching us how to learn all over again and actually like it!

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Twitter Me Silly Then

I have a Twitter account that I use whenever my thoughts can be condensed to 140 characters or less; which as most of you dear readers know, is not very often. And even less often do I venture into issues that are not related to the family or education. However, today was such a day.

With a real war going in the Middle East and generals needing more troops, I was mystified that the White House would rather spend time fighting a rhetorical war with Fox News than fight the real enemies of the United States. After ABC White House Correspondent Jake Tapper's, excellent question to White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, I just couldn't help myself. I tweeted Tapper the following thought....
@jaketapper There's something seriously wrong when the POTUS shuns Fox but wants to sit down with Ahmadinejad. Who is the real enemy?
I posted the same thought on my Facebook. Many of my Facebook friends quickly concurred with my thoughts and some copied it as their status. Jake Tapper however, thought me a bit silly and tweeted me back the following message...
jaketapper @SpunkyBraun that's just silly rhetoric that elucidates nothing.
Taking a great career risk, I followed up with two more tweets...
@jaketapper maybe 2 U but there are plenty in America who think that the WH rhetoric on FOX is silly and illuminates much about Obama
@jaketapper this makes Obama & Co. look small in the face of some very large issues around the globe
Well it turns out, I'm not alone. The Washington Post called Obama's war on FOX "dumb" for pretty much the same reason. Just more "silly rhetoric" I suppose.

Very well then, but at least for a brief moment in time my silly rhetoric caught the attention of a White House correspondent (and maybe even some lowly intern at the White House?) Something that would have been unheard of just a few years ago.

Obama can attempt to marginalize Fox News with his silly rhetorical war, but he'll never silence all of us. This gives me hope that our country will survive the disaster that is President Barack Obama and in the end "We the people" will continue to have a strong voice in this great country of ours.

Tweet On! (But you won't catch me lifeblogging any time soon!)

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Mensa Studies Homeschoolers

The Mensa Foundation conducted a study of first-year college performance of homeschool graduates. The purpose,
"was to determine differences in first-year college academic performance between home school and traditional high school graduates, measured by grade point average, retention, ACT test scores, and credits.
The conclusion,
"Families who home school their children should not feel that the education they are providing is inferior to the traditional K-12 education of their neighborhood peers...

The academic performance analyses indicate that home school graduates are as ready for college as traditional high school graduates and that they perform as well on national college assessment tests as traditional high school graduates."
Rarely do I meet a homeschool parent who feels the education they provide to their children is inferior to the public schools. Most, in fact, believe that their child's education has been better. I know I do.

Three of my children are taking college classes and all three doing just fine. Success in college is not the main reason we chose to homeschool, but it is great to see our children thriving academically, socially, and spiritually.

My oldest daughter attends the University of Michigan - Dearbon campus. She is majoring in Arab American studies and learning to speak Arabic. She enthusiastically told me a week ago, "Mom, I never knew diagramming sentences in Arabic was so much fun." Her statement not only proves her academic success but also demonstrates that homeschoolers are NOT cookie cutter kids made in their parent's image. Both of my sons attend our local community college.

And while I'm on the subject of college, many universities are rethinking how college is done and are looking at providing three-year degrees in order to save students time and money.

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Autumn Treasures Unit Study

Fall is in full swing. The air and the apples are crisp, the footballs are flying (Go Blue!), the leaves are falling (in Michigan anyway), and the children are smiling (hopefully!).

To go along with all the fall fun, The Old Schoolhouse and Amanda Bennett (the "guru" of Unit Studies) have teamed up to offer, Autumn Treasures, the first in a series of Download N Go unit studies for K-4.

The one week unit study is easy to use, includes lapbooking, and best of all it's available for free with this link to the download page.

I had the privilege of getting to know Amanda Bennett at the Midwest Homeschool Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio last spring. She's a dynamic woman with boundless enthusiasm for homeschooling and creating materials that both you and your children will enjoy.

Bennett along with the great team at The Old Schoolhouse Magazine adds up to a winning combination for homeschoolers.

(FTC Obligatory Disclaimer: I receive NO compensation for endorsing Autumn Treasures, Michigan football, crisp apples, or the fresh fall air.)

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Am I the only one...? (Update: Fake or Real?)

...who breathed a small sigh of relief when I found out that the six-year old boy thought to be drifting in a hot air balloon was both safe inside his garage AND not a homeschooler?
FORT COLLINS, Colo. - A flying saucer-shaped helium balloon drifted away from a home in Fort Collins, Colorado Thursday. Contrary to earlier fears, however, there was not a 6-year-old boy inside.
Falcon Heene attends the Poudre School District in Fort Collins which was off today for a teacher work day.

There are some who wonder if the parents should pay for the search and rescue effort. I don't think so. This doesn't appear to be a planned hoax by the parents to deceive but the normal curiosity of a little boy who likes to explore the world around him. It just so happened that his world happened to include a life size helium balloon in his own backyard created by his dad.
"Our biggest fear is that he was inside, he would kick the wires and get electrocuted." "This is a relief. We're going to watch him a lot closer," Richard Heene said.
It sounds like everyone learned a little something. Case closed.

And then maybe not...Was this storm chasing family really chasing fame? The young boy confesses to CNN he "did it for the show."

If his parents were in on it in order to make a movie for the father's Fake or Real YouTube series then I'm REALLY glad they were not homeschoolers! And I hope their movie is banned from YouTube.

Breaking News: If this story couldn't get more bizarre, it's just been announced that Obama was awarded a prize for rescuing balloon boy. Okay, that was a hoax and just one of the more hilarious tweets for #balloonboy.

Update: Wolf Blitzer later questions Richard Heene about Falcon's previous comment, "we did this for the show." The father becomes uneasy and reluctant to reask his son the same question.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Chris Klicka

I've been offline for a few days attending the funeral of my dear friend's mother, but I wanted to extend my deepest sympathies to Tracy Klicka and her family for the loss of their husband and father.

HSLDA has a memorium of his life and contribution to home education.
A longtime champion of homeschooling rights around the globe, Home School Legal Defense Association Senior Counsel and Director of State and International Relations Christopher J. Klicka was called home by his Lord on October 12, 2009, at age 48, following a 15-year battle with multiple sclerosis. An attorney, spokesman, lobbyist, and homeschooling husband and father, Chris is survived by his wife, Tracy, their seven children (ages 11–21), and his parents, Ardath and George Klicka.
I had the pleasure of sharing a lunch time meal with Chris in May at the INCH Convention. His love for the Lord, his family, and homeschooling was obvious despite his illness. He was truly a gift to his family and to the homeschool community. We grieve his passing but rejoice that Chris is with the Lord he loved and served.

Please pray for the Klicka family and the staff of HSLDA. His wife, Tracy, has updated his CaringBridge site with more information and HSLDA has provided various ways to pay tribute to Chris Klicka and help support his family.

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Define "suitable" and "efficient"

Questions which ask who is a "true" homeschooler are not just theoretical nor are they meant to be divisive. They are important as public officials attempt to develop policies which balance the desire of parents to home educate with their alleged desire to keep all children safe and learning.

Currently, government officials in the UK are forming a commission to review what a "suitable" and "efficient" education means for home educated children in England.

Responding to a report into home education, the government now wants a clearer definition of what is required.

Schools Minister Diana Johnson says all children should be "safe and learning".

Home education group, Education Otherwise, says that trying to define a "suitable" education will create another layer of hard-to-define benchmarks.

There's a rule in debate, he who defines wins.

Once officials define what is "suitable" and "efficient" in home education they will begin to examine which parents are meeting their standard and sanctioning those that don't. In the end, this unmeasurable assessment gives officials more jurisdiction into the private lives of law-abiding citizens who simply want to educate their children at home.

It is "we the people" who hold our state officials accountable and parents whoe define and decide what is suitable for our children, not the government.

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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Who is a "true" homeschooler?

When a mother at church asked me about homeschooling our six children and I mentioned our involvement in a co-op, she said, "That sounds good, but it doesn't sound like true homeschooling to me."

So, who is a "true" homeschooler?

A recent Wall Street Journal article referenced a 2007 statistic by the National Center for Education Statistics where online schoolers were included among the 1.5 million children who were homeschooled. But some homeschool advocates would say, "Using virtual academies is not true homeschooling." (Annette explains why here.)

All of the various choices available to parents who want to educate outside the "pupil shed" led reader Carol Topp to wonder if it is time to create a new term for what we do because "true home schoolers" are public virtual school families.
I think we home educators messed up when we started using the term "homeschooling." "Parent directed learning" is a better term for what we do, but it is a mouthful.

"Homeschooling" is a term that better describes public school at home.

Now the waters are muddied. I read an article in our local paper about a gathering of public virtual school students and parents. 230 families in our area and 2,042 in the state. The article mentioned "home schooling" about 5 times. Thee public virtual school families are probably the *true* home schoolers.

We are the parent directed learning families. Can we find a better phrase?
So will the "true homeschoolers" please stand up and tell us what you think?

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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The Pros and Cons of Co-ops

Are you in a homeschool co-op? I joined one last year so my son, a high school junior, could take a Physics class; we enjoyed the experience and signed up again this year. There are quite a few co-ops in our area and they appear to be a growing trend among homeschoolers around the nation.

As home schooling continues to grow, parents expect to see even more co-ops and organizations formed. Home-schooling parents tend to be creative and motivated: If they feel a need for another organization, most likely they'll create it.

Some parents are afraid that the explosion of co-ops, clubs and activities for home-schooled children can take away from what home schooling is supposed to be about: learning in the home.

“Because there is so much more that you can do with your children outside of the home, a lot of parents do too much,” said Trish Bober. “They are outside every day taking classes. The home part of home schooling is not as important now as it was earlier.”
When my children were younger, co-ops did not appeal to me because I felt the time was better spent learning at home and every day out seemed to take us a day to recover. But as the children have grown, that doesn't seem to be an issue.

This year, I've incorporated what I teach at home into a few classes at the co-op so I don't feel like I'm missing out on the home part of homeschooling. In fact, we've found that having the class one day a week motivates us and keeps us on track at home. We attend a full co-op on Monday and a few fun enrichment classes on Friday morning. All in all, it's been a very positive experience.

But I do sometimes wonder what the co-op trend means for the future of homeschooling. Will the government jump in and require those that teach other families to be credentialed; or God forbid, will the teachers union step in and demand that mothers be unionized. A few years ago, I would have laughed at that thought. But that is exactly was is a occurring with in-home health care workers in Illinois and mothers who do in-home daycare in Michigan. Right now this seems to be happening only with those workers who receive state aid, something our co-op does not do. But some co-ops may have members who do receive some sort of state assistance for their children and that's where things could start to get muddy.

There was an attempt in Texas to force a homeschool group to comply with state day care regulations. Thankfully, it was quickly settled when it was shown that the group was not operating as a day care. But that may not keep other states from trying to regulate homeschool co-ops.

Our co-op operates as a ministry of a local church; so we may have some protection against government intervention. I'm not looking for trouble where there isn't any, but the way things are going, I don't think any ground is sacred anymore.

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Sunday, October 04, 2009

Obligatory DC Photo Op

Spunky & Co. in front of the US Department of Education.

It was closed for the day and I pray one day it will be closed permanently.

Thanks to Kelly at the Accidental Homeschooler and her her family for taking the time to meet with us and show us around DC. The whole afternoon was unplanned and spontaneous (including the matching outfits) but from the the very first minute, I felt like I was meeting an old friend. Thanks Kelly, I'm already making plans for a return trip!

Finally, I was interviewed on the bus going out to DC by a former reporter of the Ann Arbor News (insert groan) but thankfully, he's a conservative. The newspaper has died (insert grin) so he has started a new conservative news site focusing on Michigan news. He did a feature on my blog that is up today. The interview took place at 4 AM, thankfully he waited after I had a shower for the accompanying photo.

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Saturday, October 03, 2009

Power to the People in DC

Favorite quotes from the Defending the American Dream Summit.

"It's really exciting being in DC. It's where it all happens!" Michaela Gnec0 (homeschooler, age 15)

"Even Tom Delay made it to Round 3 of Dancing With The Stars,” Laura Ingraham noting Obama's failure to bring the Olympics to Chicago.

"A recession is when your neighbor loses his job. A depression is when you lose your job. A recovery is when Nancy Pelosi loses her job." Rep. Mike Pence

"I appeal to you again to constantly bear in mind that not with politicians, not with Presidents, not with office seekers, but with you is the question: Shall the Union and shall the liberties of this country be preserved to the latest generations?" Rep. Mike Pence quoting Abraham Lincoln

"All great change begins the dinner table." Rep. Mike Pence quoting Ronald Reagan

Newt Gingrich is scheduled to speak this morning along with Hot Airs, Ed Morrissey who I met last night and is also blogging the event and is also blogging the event.

Quotes from Newt Gringich...

"People who wanted change they could believe in and they found out they elected someone who wanted to change what they believed in." Newt Gingrich quoting his daughter, Jackie Cushman

"We have to win the argument, then we will win the vote."

"You can't lead the world on the spurr of the moment. Great oratory and a smile is not a substitute for preparation." (Gringrich commenting on the Obama presidency.)

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Friday, October 02, 2009

Blogging The DC Summit

What could be better than driving nine hours through the night with very little sleep, a grande Starbucks, a five mile whirlwind walking tour of DC with my girls, a Capital Hill rally, and a Diet Coke to finish the afternoon?

An evening enjoying a great dinner (that I didn't have to cook) and a tribute to Ronald Reagan with Laura Ingraham and then hopefully a good nights sleep, but with three chatty teenage girls I'm not sure about the last part.

Here's my favorite photo so far, taken from the top of the Washington Monument. It was taken just moments after the announcement that the that the Olympics were not coming to Chicago; the unbelievable news had an immediate and obvious affect on the White House. The question is, can the White House recover?

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Defending the Dream in DC

Thanks to Scott Hagerstrom and the wonderful people at the Americans For Prosperity Foundation, I'll be attending and blogging the Defend the American Dream Summit in Washington, DC this weekend.

Featured speakers include, Newt Gingrich, Laura Ingraham, Senator Jim DeMint, Larry Kudlow, Rep. Mike Pence, and two of my personal favorite, Ed Morrissey of Hot Air and Hugh Hewittt. Morriseey and Hewitt were two bloggers that I began to follow on a regular basis in early 2004 and were instrumental in getting me to start my own blog.

The chartered bus leaves this evening and arrives in DC around 8 AM Friday morning. I've never been to Washington, DC; so despite the frantic schedule, I'm excited to see a few sites, take a stand for the American values, and share the whole weekend with two of my daughters.

I hope to share photos and updates throughout the weekend.

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The Future of Homeschooling

Dana at Principled Discovery asks a question similar to the one asked by a friend recently, "Do you see homeschooling replacing public schools?" Dana quotes James Howard Kunstler, author of The Long Emergency, who sees a trend away from centralized schooling.
In the future, there will no longer be centralized school districts, or as Kunstler calls them, “pupil sheds.” Homeschooling will replace public schools, he noted. The Brown and White
Dana doesn't see it happening. "I can only imagine that if there is a complete collapse of our central government, in which case teaching our children to read may be the least of our concerns."

I think the answer depends on the definition of homeschooling. If it means complete parent directed learning with minimal government control or oversight, I'd say he's wrong. If he means the elimination of "pupil-sheds" and children learning at home or a variety of environments during the week watched over by a certified teacher, he may have a point.

Virtual charters and online academies are booming in many states and can be a means to educate more children with nominal costs to the state. However, I don't think the removal of a building means the elimination of centralized school districts or government control.

The trend points in directly the opposite direction. Obama is increasing the mandates placed on states and their schools in order to receive government funds and substantially increasing the role of the federal government in education. The President has also said that students need a safe place to go. Obama views the schools as that place and seeks to add more hours and days to the school year.

But if public schooling at home were to become the norm, the traditional idea of parent-directed homeschooling without government oversight would likely be a casualty. In fact, it would probably open the need for more laws and regulations upon all families. Too many officials in both parties believe that parents need to be monitored by the state in order to protect children from abuse or neglect. And similar to the debate in health care, it may force all parents into the public curriculum, or pay a fine if their preferred curriculum provider does not meet federal guidelines.

Homeschooling will never replace public schools until parents decide that their child's mind and heart are just too valuable to be left to state-certified strangers. And I just don't see that happening any time soon.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Government is NOT our Savior

To some, a government solution is the only solution to all our problems, including who is best able to protect our children from harm. In fact, protecting children from parental abuse is often the first reason government officials provide for increasing regulation on homeschooling.
Government officials feel more regulation is necessary because they are unable to track the number of home-schooled children, and they fear that many are being neglected or mistreated. Children who are home-schooled are roughly twice as likely to be abused by their parents, according to Graham Badman, author of the government report.
Badman's report came from the United Kingdom. But even President Obama appears to believe that the schools are a better place to keep kids safe,
"The president, who has a sixth-grader and a third-grader, wants schools to add time to classes, to stay open late and to let kids in on weekends so they have a safe place to go."
But the escalating violence in the Chicago Public Schools, where Derrion Alber was beaten to death by a mob, demonstrate that the schools and after-school community centers are not the safe haven that Obama wants us to believe,

Toya Truitt, who has two sons at Fenger, said tensions between kids living in the Altgeld Gardens housing project and those living near the school have been on the rise.

"A lot of kids don't want to come back" to school, she said. "This boy [Derrion] was innocent. He was a kid going home."

Derrion Alber was going home where he belongs and where a lot of other kids would rather stay because they don't feel safe in the schools. You can bet that if this young man had been beaten by a mob of homeschoolers they'd already have "emergency legislation" introduced in Congress requiring all homeschooling to cease and ordering all kids back into the schools to keep them safe.

Isn't it time we start regulating government officials who think everyone else is the problem and only they can provide a solution? Regrettably, we have people who believe government is their savior and pray to Obama for deliverance...

God, whose name is not Obama, help us all.

Lord hear our prayer.

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Obama Schooling

We are starting to get a glimpse of what is in store for America's school children should they choose public schools under Obama - end summer break and spend more time in school learning to serve the state.
"Now, I know longer school days and school years are not wildly popular ideas," the president said earlier this year. "Not with Malia and Sasha, not in my family, and probably not in yours. But the challenges of a new century demand more time in the classroom."

The president, who has a sixth-grader and a third-grader, wants schools to add time to classes, to stay open late and to let kids in on weekends so they have a safe place to go."

What this really means: Parents you're potentially dangerous; therefore, only the government can keep your kids truly safe. Longer school days and years also increases the the demand for teachers and the hours of indoctrination so children can learn more praise songs to "The One" and how they can serve the needs of the state and has nothing to do with keeping kids safe.

Which brings up the next change under Obama, National Service-Learning:

A teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities.
This is compulsory voluntary service to promote liberal causes and social justice such as voter mobilization with Operation Rainbow/Push. (I wonder if they'd count voter mobilization toward Sarah Palin as service-learning too?)

The national service-learning campaign kick-off is scheduled for October 5.

I'm all for volunteering when it comes from the heart not a requirement for school. The challenges of a new century may require Obama's daughters to spend more time in the classroom but Obama's choices as the father should not become our mandates as a nation.

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Prayers for Chris Klicka & Vickie Farris

Praying and passing this along this email from Homeschooling with the Trivium via Facebook.
Two emails from Tina Farewell:

Dear friends,

Bob's in Colorado Springs this week at the HSLDA Leadership Conference...

~ He just called asking for prayer for his dear friend Chris Klicka, who, amazingly, since the sharp downturn in his MS the last couple of months, has been there also. He's been barely intelligible and is, at this moment, was admitted to the hospital, where Bob's been with him praying.

~ Mike Farris is flying home, at this moment, to join his wife Vicky, who is hospitalized and has had a turn for the worse.

Please pray for each of these people and for our nation's Christian homeschool leaders to stand strong against the enemy and to know in their heart of hearts that God is in control!

May Christ's Name be praised!!

Tina Farewell
Bob just called with these very urgent prayer requests….

Pray for

~ Pray for the Klicka children who have just been told to come to the hospital.

~ His blood pressure to go up

~ His temperature to go down

~ For his body to absorb oxygen or he won't last for another few minutes and his children won't get to see him again on this side of Heaven…

As Tracy often writes,

Clinging to the Vine!
Tina Farewell
Further updates are available at Chris Klicka's CaringBridge site.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The First Church of United Statism (video)

(Scroll down for updates)

My daughter sent me this link tonight. Some of the audio is muffled but don't worry you'll catch on to the beat real quick. So on the count of three, everybody say it together...Barack Hussein Obama.

The young boy in the beginning recites a familiar hymn about the Lord Jesus, only it is changed slightly in praise of "the one" who thinks he is the Savior of the world. "red and yellow, black and white, all are equal in his sight. Barack Hussein Obama. Mmm, mmm, mmm."

Oh, but don't worry parents this isn't indoctrination, it's an education. Obama and his operatives in the schools truly care about your children. They simply want to encourage your kids to work hard and become life-long members of the First Church of United Statism, with a worship center conveniently located in your neighbor and a bus ministry to make sure they get there on time. All in an effort to make this country strong again.

Barack Hussein Obama. mmm, mmm, mmm.

UPDATED: Michelle Malkin has more information on the video. It appears that this was part of a presentation by Charisse Carney-Nunes, the award-winning author of the children’s books, I Am Barack Obama (2009),” and according to her biography, “a graduate of Harvard Law School, where she was a schoolmate of President Obama.”

The video was originally posted by Nunes in June, 2009. The school is reported to be B. Bernice Young Elementary School in Burlington Township, NJ. Malkin has emailed the principal of the school.

Ace of Spades
found a video that is more audible. You can watch it here.

From Exurban league: The school district has issued a statement and confirmed that this was an official school activity. They said the recording and distribution of the video were not authorized. Liberals exploiting school children for their own gain? Who'da thunk it?

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Great Deals in Hard Times

The first great deal is from my daughter

The second great deal is a lot less exclusive...

A subscription to the Old Schoolhouse Magazine for only $7.95. To order, click here and enter coupon code FB795. But hurry, the offer ends at midnight tonight.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Good Takeover?

With little opposition, the House of Representatives voted today to give the federal government direct control over all student loans. Prior to the vote, TIME Magazine noticed the lack of conservative critics and asked if that indicated that Obama's Student Loan Plan is a "Good Takeover?"
On its face, it would seem to be a gift to Barack Obama's conservative critics, who have spent the summer painting the new Democratic President as a socialist who is eager to nationalize the entire health-care system. After all, the Administration's proposal to restructure the student-loan industry is, in many respects, much closer to an actual government takeover than its relatively tame market-driven health-reform plan. But as the House holds hearings and looks likely to pass a student-loan bill this week, it's clear that the education overhaul is not going to be the high-pitched battle that opponents and the White House once expected it to be.
If it passes the Senate then the federal option will be the only option in student loans as of July, 2010. According to TIME, education officials claim the transition from one system to another can be done "easily." But nothing is ever easy when the government's involved. Did they already forget the Cash for Clunkers debacle and all the dealer headaches? Can you imagine what it will be like when thousands of college students are waiting for their "Cash for College" loan in order to register for classes next fall?

Given the anger over the takeover of health care, the banks, and the auto industry, you'd think conservative parents would be outraged by this obvious power grab.

Why is the conservative "mob" so silent?

Because when it comes to the education of their children, most conservative parents are content to let the government do it for them. They'll storm the mall in DC in protest on a sunny Saturday, but put little Johnny on a government bus the following Monday. Conservatives have no reason to protest this takeover and little credibility even if they do. They've been choosing the public option in education for decades; so what could possibly be wrong with the government option being the only option in student loans? Not a whole lot as far as they're concerned.

But let us never forget that whoever holds the purse, holds the power. Once the government seizes control of who gets money for college, where they attend and what program they are allowed to study is much more easily managed by the state. The federal government already has a loan forgiveness program which creates an incentive for graduates to choose a career in public service and not join the ranks of "evil" corporate America.

No, this is not a "good takeover" of student loans in order to save taxpayers money, but another piece in the transition toward a planned economy that is dictated by the demands of the state not the dreams of the child.

And homeschoolers, in the event you haven't already figure this out, you're just not a part of the state's long term plan.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Just Say No to HR 3221

Over decade ago, I called a journalist from the Wall Street Journal to discuss the expanding federal role in education and the move toward national curriculum and standards in America. He didn't want to hear about it. In fact, he laughed loudly in my ear and said, "It'll never happen. The American people would never stand for it." He was wrong.

This week, in the House of Representatives, is scheduled to consider and possibly vote on H.R. 3221, The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA). HR 3221 expands the federal role in education by taking over the student loan industry and includes a provision which allows the Secretary of Education to develop and disseminate a free online national curriculum both for high school and post-secondary education (Section 505) and establishes Pre-K learning programs and standards (Section 401).

RedState calls the bill unprecedented and unecessary. Indeed, it is.

The Constitution provides for no federal role in education; Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan previously stated that education was a "state and local issue." When the Department of Education was formed ( 20 U.S.C. § 3403) the statute prohibited the department from "increasing the authority of the Federal Government over education" and did not authorize the Secretary to "exercise any direction, supervision, or control over curriculum." HR 3221 does both.

HR 3221 is a back door approach to the ultimate objective - national standards benchmarked internationally.

If the Department of Education is given half a billion dollars to create and disseminate a national online curriculum it will likely become the framework for a national standard. The money will be passed on to states which align their curriculum and standards to the new national online curriculum. Never mind that it violates the Constitution and usurps their authority, for many state politicians and Governors, that's an offer that's too good to refuse. And if they want to align those standards to the rest of the world, that's okay too. We're all citizens of the world who need to be prepared to compete in a the global economy.

These provisions are nestled in a larger proposal to help make college affordable for more Americans and to promote early-learning and "school readiness" for children from birth to age 5. That's not surprising.

HR 3221 streamlines federal financial aid and removes subsidies to private lenders for college loans. This consolidates the power to determine who gets a grant or a loan under the direct authority of the federal government and will eventually render graduates who did not complete the federally approved national curriculum ineligible for financial aid. (In 2006, even the New York Times saw the danger this posed to private and homeschoolers.) It will also allow the federal government to require community service for all students who receive a student loan or aid. Something that would be much harder to do if the money came from a private lender. Remember, Obama promised a civilian national security force and linked funding to service programs.

In the past, HSLDA has warned of the dangers of a national curriculum and standards to homeschoolers. In July of this year, they also encouraged strong opposition to HR 3221 because of the early learning provision. They rightly asserted that, "Parents, not federal or state officials should decide what is appropriate for their children." There have been no further updates.

Given that the House will debate and vote on the bill this week and Republicans lawmakers are struggling to come up with good arguments against the legislation, I hope that HSLDA and other homeschool advocates like Homeschool Legal Advantage provide more information, alert their members, and encourage strong opposition to HR 3221.

UPDATE: Since I posted early this AM, HSLDA has updated the link from July 20 and now has included information regarding the federal takeover of student loans.
H.R. 3221 will greatly increase the size and power of the federal government and fundamentally alter the student loan process by federalizing all student loans: Currently, many college students obtain student loans through private entities. H.R. 3221 will change this by federalizing all student financial aid. The U.S. Department of Education will be tasked with administering and supporting all student loans, which will greatly increase the federal government’s role and power in education.
They provide no information the Open Online Education provision which allows the federal government to develop and disseminate online and college curriculum.

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