Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Case Against Homeschooling

Because I am a socially-phobic selfish mom who has chosen to use my vast wealth to homeschool my children and isolate them from their poverty-stricken peers (and I have nothing better to do,) I feel I have the necessary credentials to rebut the case against homeschooling written by a public school advocate and teacher, Jesse Scaccia. I'll address Scaccia point by point. For context, an excerpt of each of Scaccia's points is in italics followed by my response:

10. “You were totally home schooled” is an insult college kids use when mocking the geeky kid in the dorm (whether or not the offender was home schooled or not) And… say what you will… but it doesn’t feel nice to be considered an outsider, a natural outcropping of being homeschooled.

This is a reason against homeschooling? What happened to all that tolerance training the non-homeschooled kids received in their 12 years of public education? I guess it didn't make the difference some thought it would.

9. . Call me old-fashioned, but a students’ classroom shouldn’t also be where they eat Fruit Loops and meat loaf (not at the same time I hope). It also shouldn’t be where the family gathers to watch American Idol or to play Wii. Students–from little ones to teens–deserve a learning-focused place to study.

You're not old-fashioned at all. In fact your comment speaks to your vast knowledge of the modern American family but alas also to your ignorance of the American homeschool family. I'm sure this is hard to understand for a teacher confined to teach in an institution all day, but the world is truly both a child's playground and their classroom. It provides both a focused place of study and the ability to roam freely. It's time to think globally and liberate yourself and your students from a classroom-centric world. And by the way, I'm not sure if you're into saving the environment but you might like to know that homeschooling is also eco-friendly.

8. Homeschooling is selfish....

Now on this one you may have a point but not for the reasons you stated. It is selfish for me to give birth to not just one but six children, feed them, clothe them, and educate them for 18 years from our increasing wealth. I mean, gosh, wouldn't it be better if we shared our burden with the rest of society? Maybe my husband ought to quit his job, go on welfare, and put my children in government assisted education so that they won't be so "geeky" when they get to college (federally assisted of course.)

7. God hates homeschooling... To the homeschooling Believers out there, didn’t God say “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations”? Didn’t he command, “Ye shall be witnesses unto me”? From my side, to take your faithful children out of schools is to miss an opportunity to spread the grace, power and beauty of the Lord to the common people. (Personally I’m agnostic, but I’m just saying…)

I"m not so arrogant to presume that I can speak for God, He does a pretty good job on His own. So I'll let Him speak for Himself on this one. Proverbs 6:16 talks about the six things the Lord hates, funny homeschooling doesn't make the list. But in Proverbs 1:8 it says "Hear, my son, your father's instruction And do not forsake your mother's teaching" Now, I wonder why God didn't tell a son to hear a public educator's instruction or warn against forsaking public education? As to your point about going out into all the world, please see point #10 above and this post.

6. Homeschooling parent/teachers are arrogant to the point of lunacy. For real! My qualifications to teach English include a double major in English and education, two master’s degrees (education and journalism), a student teaching semester and multiple internship terms, real world experience as a writer, and years in the classroom dealing with different learning styles.....

My primary qualification is that I gave birth to them, you didn't. But since you seem to be impressed by degrees, I have a double major in Computer Science and Mathematics. Those that couldn't cut the program became English majors or teachers. For real! I also have real world experience.
I won't bore you with my 46 years of experience though. Read the archives. As my son loves to say, "School is life and life is school, you never stop learning."

5. As a teacher, homeschooling kind of pisses me off. (That’s good enough for #5.)

I'd encourage you to buy a pack of Depends and lighten up. We're a relatively small group of families over all, no need to get yourself all messed up over it.

4. Homeschooling could breed intolerance, and maybe even racism.

Now, comes the heavy artillery, let's call homeschoolers racist (or come close). But remember point #1, it's those that are public educated that consider us the "geeky" ones. So who is really breeding intolerance?

3. And don’t give me this “they still participate in activities with public school kids” garbage.

Okay I won't. But remember we're the ones who are breeding intolerance you might want to watch your words here.

Homeschooling parents are arrogant, Part 2. According to Henry Cate, who runs the Why Homeschool blog, many highly educated, high-income parents are “probably people who are a little bit more comfortable in taking risks” in choosing a college or line of work. “

Arrogant. Remember, it wasn't I who presumed to speak for God. As for taking risks, I think Cate is right. I hope I don't sound arrogant when I ask you this, but can you tolerate an opposing opinion?

1. And finally… have you met someone homeschooled? Not to hate, but they do tend to be pretty geeky***.

You should have really left this one off. Not to hate, but does a college educated man with advanced degrees really want to come off sounding like an intolerant freshman insulting those who have chosen to live differently than you?

Scaccia goes on to define the term "geeky" this way, "
But, in general, to be geeky connotes a certain inability to integrate and communicate in diverse social situations. Which, I would argue, is a likely result of being educated in an environment without peers."

So then how do you explain Joe Biden?

Scaccia finishes with this invite to homeschool bloggers, "If any of you are interesting in writing for us, send me an email: I would love to have you as part of our conversation."

Thanks for the offer but I'll pass. I'm a busy homeschool mother of six "geeks" who would rather selfishly isolate myself on this blog. But if you're on Facebook, I promise to add you as my friend.

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Friday, May 29, 2009

How NOT to choose a college

My husband was all set to go to Michigan State University but at the last minute he changed his mind and went to the University of Michigan. The reason? He had agreed to room with a high school friend but really didn't want to live with him. Rather than just tell him the truth and switch roommates, he switched universities. (His loss was my gain.)

College Confidential
offers up some other silly reasons students decided against a certain school. Here's a few choice comments:

"My niece ruled out Princeton solely on the basis that she disliked the tour guide's shoes."

"My young cousin wouldn't apply to Georgetown because the weather in DC means frizzy hair for most of the year. Preferred low humidity places."

"My S refused to look at WashU because an older friend who goes there told him that the entire student body has bad music in their I-Pods."

"S would not consider any school in a "red" state. "

"My older S refused to consider a "school named after a body part". Ursinus. He didn't do well in Latin"

"S would not consider Bard because the tour guide said the word vegan way too many times! "

"My D had a low tolerance for schools with lots of girls wearing Uggs, even less if they wore them in summer and even less if they wore them with mini skirts." (Spunky's daughters agree!)

And the personal favorite of this Michigan grad is, "My D wouldn't apply to Michigan because the squirrels were too big. " (Yes, they really are that big and they even have their own fan club.)

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The First Kiss

Last weekend, I attended the wedding of a homeschooled couple who waited until after they vowed "til death do us part" to share their first kiss. The kiss was a beautiful ending to the ceremony and an incredible way to start their married life.

We would be appalled if someone other than the bride or groom opened up the wedding gifts intended for them, but yet we don't even blush when we express our affection with multiple people before selecting "the one." A kiss, like all expressions of affection, are gifts we give to others. It's a minority of young people who choose complete purity until the altar (we waited until we were engaged) but the road less traveled is often the most challenging and the most rewarding.

The desire to refrain from kissing until the alar will probably never become a wildly popular choice, but it is fairly common among conservative Christian homeschoolers. (Even if it is just for their parent's sake.) What I will never understand is why those that disagree with this choice feel the need to mock their decision.

Recently a reporter in Nashville called it the "Virgin Lips Movement" and wrote,
"For those of you not versed in the Virgin Lips Movement, the practice takes the abstinence pledge and, as Toby Keith might say, supersizes it, encouraging you to save your first kiss till your wedding day. That's right. Never mind second and third base--you're not even getting to first. You're stuck in the on-deck circle.)....So is this Virgin Lips Movement a little creepy or what?"
It may not be his preferred choice, but is it necessary to call it creepy? I wonder what he would call teens engaging in the new "good night kiss" on their first date? Now that's creepy.

As I remind my teenagers frequently, if you don't start the car you never have to worry about putting on the brakes. Whether they follow it, is up to them.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Condition of Homeschooling

People are always curious about the number of homeschoolers in the US. According to a new report by the Department of Education, The Condition of Education, here are some of the government's latest statistics on homeschoolers:
In 2007, the number of homeschooled students was about 1.5 million, an increase from 850,000 in 1999 and 1.1 million in 2003 (see table A-6-1).
According to the report this number represents about 2.9 percent of all school-age children. Of those 1.5 million her are some interesting facts:
More White students were homeschooled than Black or Hispanic students or students from other racial/ethnic groups, and White students constituted the majority of homeschooled students (77 percent)...

Students in two-parent households made up 89 percent of the homeschooled population, and those in two-parent households with one parent in the labor force made up 54 percent of the homeschooled population...

In 2007, students in households earning between $25,001 and $75,000 per year had higher rates of homeschooling than their peers from families earning $25,000 or less a year.
The most common reason cited for homeschooling was:
a desire to provide religious or moral instruction (36 percent of students) (see table A-6-2)
The definition used for homeschooling in this study was the following:
Students are considered to be homeschooled if (1) they are ages 5-17 in a grade equivalent to at least kindergarten and no higher than 12th grade; (2) their parents report them as being schooled at home instead of at a public or private school for at least part of their education; and (3) their part-time enrollment in public or private schools does not exceed 25 hours per week. Students who are schooled at home primarily because of a temporary illness are not considered to be homeschooled students.
Given that Michigan homeschoolers do no reporting to anyone, I'm not sure if we would be considered part of the 1.5 million homeschoolers. Does that mean the numbers are low? According to this report, the number of students homeschooling has increased but is that because existing homeschoolers had more children Or because more families decided to homeschool? It is difficult to tell from the report.

How did USA Today report the findings?
"Parents who homeschool their children are increasingly white, wealthy and well-educated — and their numbers have nearly doubled in less than a decade, according to findings out today from the federal government."
Does the wording make homeschooling sound a bit elitist to you?

Update: The USA Today has been modified. The first paragraph now reads:
"Parents who home-school children increasingly are white, wealthy and well-educated — and their numbers have nearly doubled in a decade, a new federal government report says. (change in bold.)
Not that this makes it sound less elitist but it does clarify things a bit. We were wondering how homeschoolers become "increasingly white." What's even more confusing is the second paragraph. which now reads:
"What else has nearly doubled? The percentage of girls who are home-schooled. They now outnumber home-schooled girls by a wide margin."
So what's the difference between "girls who are home-schooled" and "home-schooled girls" anyway? I'm sure they meant boys, but given that this article was modified from the first version I posted, you'd think the editors would be a lot more careful the second time around. (It's been fixed.)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Texting and Family Life

By today's standards, our family entered the cell phone era late, too late according to a few of our children. Up until last fall, September to be exact, we saw no need for more than two cell phones in our household. Before then we did what we do with just about everything else in this house - we shared. It's a novel concept that worked well until my three oldest began taking college classes. This development required a few more cell phones to navigate ride schedules.

So we took the plunge and signed up for the Family Plan which, to be the most economical, included unlimited texting. Our previous plan did not allow texting. We promptly set-up some guidelines for the phones and texting use and went on our merry way. Or so we thought.

Excited but cautious about their new phones, our children only gave their number to their 10,000 closest friends on Facebook. And within 24 hours it seemed like the phones were going off constantly as friends began texting them about everything at all hours of the day and night.

The novelty quickly wore off for my daughter and she gave texting a big thumbs down. Not so my very social son. His thumbs were up and moving fast. We were becoming more than a little concerned about how this might affect him and his school work. When I spoke with another parent about our concern, he said his daughter had 13,000 text messages in ONE month! (That's over 400 a day.) We were definitely NOT going to let that happen! We set a few more boundaries and despite some initial resistance our children have complied. Our home is back to managed chaos and their friends are no longer the uninvited text at the dinner table.

But I am wondering if all of this texting is good for young people or for any of us. It's nice to stay connected, but as I've asked my children, do we really need to be BFFL with everyone 24/7?

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Big Brother is Tracking Your Child

Aside from benchmarking America's education standards internationally, Obama's plan to track students from preschool through college presents a very real problem to parents, especially homeschooling parents.

In order to qualify for Obama's stimulus money, every state must develop "data infrastructure" mechanisms to track students' education from cradle to college. In his testimony before Congress, Sec. of Ed. Arne Duncan, said
"...states must build data systems that can track student performance from one year to the next, from one school to another, so that those students and their parents know when they are making progress and when they need extra attention. This information must also be put in the hands of educators so they can use it to improve instruction."
This all sounds so noble and good. Who doesn't want to "improve instruction?" But do we really need a federally mandated database to help parents know when their student is making progress?

Simply put, a tracking database isn't for the benefit of the student or their parents. It is for the benefit of the government. Children are a pool of labor to be sorted and trained for the masters use. This is nothing but social engineering to transform our economy and our nation. Students who are not educated in a public school and thus outside the tracking system will likely be considered drop-outs or non compliant, unless they can figure out a way to force them into the tracking system. After all, Obama's commited to making sure that no child is "crippled in the competition for jobs" in the global economy.

And just where do you think this leaves homeschoolers?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Obama Snubs Kindergarteners

It wasn't Obama's fault but I can only imagine the howls of elitism if the Bush White House had made the decision to turn away 100 kindergarteners to get ready for the arrival of the Pittsburg Steelers.
Parents say they were just 10 minutes late for their scheduled tour. School officials say White House staff said they needed to get ready for the president's event with the Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers, so they couldn't come in.
Gee, they coud have been a little more understanding, after all Obama is known for being habitually late to events and hearings.

But when you're Obama you can get away with things that the average citizen cannot.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Obama's Cradle to Career Reforms

Arne Duncan had a few comments in his testimony before the House Education and Labor Committee that give us clues into the direction the Obama administration is taking education. He said,
"If we are going to be successful in rebuilding our economy, our early childhood programs need to prepare our youngest children for kindergarten..., our K-12 schools need to make sure our students have all of the academic knowledge and skills that they need to enter college or the workforce, and our higher education system needs to offer whatever advanced learning students need to be successful in a career...,"
In education circles this is known as a P-16 seamless educational system that tracks students from birth to their entry in the workforce. This is nothing more than social engineering that tailors education toward the needs of the state rather than the dreams of the child.

And despite his silence, I have no doubt that private and home schools will be impacted by the P-16 reforms Duncan is proposing. Hold on to your hats folks, education is now on the fast track toward national control and standards. If you don't believe me, just look at how fast Obama took over the auto industry. If you take the king's shilling, you do the king's bidding.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Perfect Storm

A main criticism often heard from the education elites against homeschooling is that parents are not qualified to teach, especially in core subjects like math and science because they have not received the proper training and credentials. But it appears that at least in math, the training may not help them.
According to state education officials, nearly three-quarters of the people who took the state elementary school teacher’s licensing exam this year failed the new math section.

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is releasing the results Tuesday. They say that only 27 percent of the more than 600 candidates who took the test passed. The test was administered in March of this year.
Of course, this is only going to fuel the funding frenzy in order to increase teachers salaries and attract more qualified candidates into the teaching profession. Something Arne Duncan, Obama's Secretary of Education, is sure to address along with national standards when he testifies before the House Education and Labor committee tomorrow. (Today, the administration is busy tackling national auto standards - only one federal take over in a 24 hour news cycle allowed. )

Along with the dilemma of attracting qualified teachers, Duncan also as the perfect "crisis" to help usher in national standards - a new GAO report to be released today citing widespread abuse of special needs kids in the public schools. Congressman George Miller of California sets up the pitch,
"What the GAO is telling us is that that policy is fairly widespread," he said. "The state regulations about how to handle these incidents don't exist in about half the states, and in other states you have kind of a patchwork of regulations."
It will be Duncan's job when he testifies before the Education and Labor committee to offer up the national standards "solution."

By the way, does anyone else get a little nauseous when they see the words education and labor together in the name of a Congressional committee? Perhaps if we start calling public schools, labor factories, parents will begin to understand exactly how some government officials view children and federally imposed national standards will only make things worse, especially for homeschoolers.

Prayers for Jessica Hulcey

See Updates below as they are available.

Jessica Hulcey, founder of KONOS curriculum, was broad sided by a fire truck yesterday Here's an update on her status via Maggie Hogan on Facebook,
So far what I know about Jessica Hulcey's condition: Broken ribs, broken left humerus and ulna, broken bones in one arm, brain trauma, blood in her chest cavity, intubated and terefore sedated, and has received 5 units of blood so far. Doctors have classified her brain activity at Level 2 - she will respond to touch, but cannot hold up two fingers at their request. Keep praying--We serve a God of miracles.
Hulcey and her contagious enthusiasm for homeschooling made a huge impact on me. We were KONOS users in the early elementary years and enjoyed it very much. Hulcey helped me think outside the textbook and the traditional approach to learning through workbooks. (My children still remember making a life size ear out of furniture and toys in our living room.) Hulcey is a true gift to the homeschool community.

Please continue to pray for her and her family.

Update via Marilyn Rocket who spoke to her son, Jordan: Ford Explorer was broadsided…about 11:30 on Monday morning. 25 minute extrication process Life Flighted as a level 1 (the most severe) trauma case to Hospital. Still in critical condition.

She is still unconscious but is moving all four limbs and attempting to pull the tubes out of her throat which is encouraging to the doctors. Major Lung trauma, punctures to both lungs. Both were collapsed. One is now working well and they are still draining the other. Doctors are checking for possible damage to wind pipe and trachea. Head trauma.

Medium amounts of blood on brain. Closely monitoring for improvement. Surgery not necessary now, but possible to come. So far multiple broken ribs on both sides, broken left wrist, broken left arm in 2 places. Will require surgery. Possible broken left leg and right wrist. Undergone 4 hrs of X-rays, over 1000 X-rays so far. Working on broken bones in the order of most life threatening-possibly more.

The Hulcey's have set up a website at CaringBridge to keep up to date.

Monday, May 18, 2009

INCH Report

My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the INCH convention and the opportunity to let other homeschoolers peek into our home and learn from our experiences - the postive and the not-so-positive.

My favorite moment of the weekend came when a young mom approached me with tears in her eys and said she felt like quitting because she "just didn't have what it takes to homeschool her children." However after listening to my talk, The Ten Commandments for the Homeschool Mom, she said felt like she could homeschool the next twenty years!

It was a nice compliment but in reality she had the confidence to homeschool all along. She just needed someone to shatter the perfect homeschool mother image she had created in her mind. I was only too glad to help in the effort. This mom, like most homeschool moms need to see homeschooling as a real option by hearing real moms share their real experiences, not just principles and platitudes that only seem to reinforce our imperfections. She needed to hear that, despite her imperfections, she is still God's perfect choice to disciple HIS children.

Some readers have emailed and asked if they can order CD's of the talks my husband and I gave. There will be available soon on the website that recorded the sessions. I'll provide the link when they become available. For those that did attend, here are the links to the post I mentioned in my workshops.

The Ten Commandments for the Homeschool Mom
Climbing Mt. Homeschooling
Don't Bend the Wire

I will be speaking at the Chicago Homeschool Expo August 7 and 8. So if you're any where near that location, I'd love to meet you too.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The goal of education

For those still on the fence about whether or not homeschooling is right for their family, I ask you to seriously consider the beliefs of the late Richard Rorty, a modern American philosopher and devout atheist -- and then ask yourself, is his goal for education your goal?
The goal of education, said Rorty, is to help these youth “escape the grip of their frightening, vicious, dangerous parents..."

"When we American college teachers encounter religious fundamentalists, we do not consider the possibility of reformulating our own practices of justification so as to give more weight to the authority of the Christian scriptures. Instead, we do our best to convince these students of the benefits of secularization. We assign first-person accounts of growing up homosexual to our homophobic students for the same reasons that German schoolteachers in the postwar period assigned The Diary of Anne Frank... You have to be educated in order to be ... a participant in our conversation ... So we are going to go right on trying to discredit you in the eyes of your children, trying to strip your fundamentalist religious community of dignity, trying to make your views seem silly rather than discussable. We are not so inclusivist as to tolerate intolerance such as yours ...” Universality and Truth,’ in Robert B. Brandom (ed.), Rorty and his Critics (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000), pp. 21-2.
Progressives (a fancy word for liberals) like to believe that public education is "neutral" on religion. Far from it. Further, his goal is definitely not my goal for education. I wrote more about why we educate here.

Homeschooling is the antidote to the dangerous philosophy of Rorty and other progressives and exactly why they seek to control it through increasing regulation, testing, and national standards.

And for those who are thinking that homeschooling might be their choice next school year, conventions are a great way to learn more. I'll be in Lansing, Michigan this weekend for the annual Michigan Home Educator's Convention. My husband and I will both be giving workshops and spending some time at The Old Schoolhouse Magazine booth. The Old Schoolhouse is giving away a tote bag fully of goodies to the first 100 people who stop by their booth. If you plan on coming to Lansing, we'd love to meet you.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Homeschooling is Eco-Friendly!

America's new religion coming soon to a public school near you,

Where in the world, let alone the Constitution, does Leonard get the idea that it is the government's job to "watch out for us and take care of us?" Aren't we supposed to be watching the government?

The government has to be the biggest waster of our resources. Was that Air Force One trip to the Statue of the Liberty eco-friendly?

Leonard said she's traveled the world learning about how we consume resources in order to put this video together. I wonder how big her carbon footprint is? I've been on a plane less than 10 times my whole life!

And for that matter, I never buy juice boxes, my children don't ride in buses spewing nasty exhaust, and our nutritionally balanced lunches of home-grown veggies are never served on styrofoam plates. I'm also fairly confident we don't waste nearly as much paper as the public schools either. Think of all the trees we've saved simpoly not having to fill out useless permission slips.

So for those truly serious about saving the environment and keeping Leonard's religious beliefs from polluting their child's mind, I say homeschool.

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

In Honor of My Mother

Happy Mother's Day to all. I wrote this post a few years ago, to honor my mother for her love and faithful dedication to me and my family.

Perfect Attendance

I had perfect attendance most of my K-12 academic career, I think I missed less than 5 days. Most of them were in third grade, the year I had eye surgery. I didn't miss any in high school. And what did I get for all my hard work? A certificate. That's it. Big deal. Or so I thought.

The certificates were always awarded at a little end-of-the year ceremony. It wasn't anything fancy but mom insisted on coming. She was one of only a few that bothered. Faithfully, she came to them all. I can still see her in my mind's eye sitting in the back of the gym anxiously waiting for one of her children's names to be called so she could applaud. Mom didn't just gently tap her hands together either. She clapped loudly. Loud enough so everyone in the next county knew she was there.

One year a friend asked me, "Why does your mom come to these? They're really nothing special."

I shrugged, "I dunno, nothing better to do I guess."

Nothing better to do? What was I thinking? I mean, what else does a mom with 5 children all within a year of each other have to do with her time?

Never-the-less, she always showed up. And it continued day after day, year after year. She was there to witness my graduation from high school. Graduation from college. My wedding. The birth of my first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth...Mom was there for them all. She always stayed extra days to help out too.

One time, she even came back the next day with a smile after I kicked her out for some dumb reason. (I was severely post partum, 'nuf said!)

She wasn't just there for the momentous but the mundane as well. Doctor's appointments. Small get-a-ways. Laundry day. And yes, dumb awards ceremonies in elementary school.

Perfect attendance.

How I wish I could go back in time and answer my friend's question all over again.

"Why does my mom come to these?

"Because she loves me. That's why."

My certificates for perfect attendance are faded and gone. But the memory of a faithful mother and a lifetime of lessons in motherhood, those I will cherish forever.

Thanks mom, it is you who deserves the award for forty-six years of perfect attendance. I don't have a silly certificate to give you and there is no stage to walk across, but I stand up today and applaud you. Loud enough for everyone in the next county to hear. I am honored to be your daughter. I rise up and call you blessed.

With love.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Conformity and homeschool diplomas

Tennessee appears ready to pass a bill which gives a homeschool diploma the same weight as a public high school diploma.
The proposal sponsored by Rep. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, would require that all state and local governmental entities recognize diplomas issued by home schools and church-related schools as having the same rights and privileges of diplomas issued by public school systems. .
While this bill seems necessary to prevent discrimination in state employment, I do wonder if the law of unintended consequences may have some Tennessee homeschoolers regretting the legisation in the long run. Once a homeschool diploma gets the state's seal of approval, in order to be consistent state education officials may require homeschool graduates to prove that the education they received from their parents met the same "rigorous" standards of their public school counterparts - potentially adding further regulations on an already over regulated homeschool state.

Diploma controversies will likely become an even greater issue as states move toward adopting national standards under President Obama. Obama's Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, made it crystal clear that this administration supports national standards.

If we accomplish one thing in the coming years—it should be to eliminate the extreme variation in standards across America.

I know that talking about standards can make people nervous—but the notion that we have fifty different goalposts is absolutely ridiculous.

A high school diploma needs to mean something—no matter where it's from."

Translation: A diploma coming from any school (including a homeschool) that refuses to conform to the national standard is useless. After all, what parent wouldn't want their child to receive a federal diploma backed by the United States government complete with the Barack Obama seal of approval?

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Kindergarten Cram

Today, my kindergarten-age daughter "practiced" her violin, danced a ballet (she's still in her tutu but playing horse now), rode her bike around the park, read a Miss Frizzle book, listened to several books, ran a few errands with me, and did various chores around the house. Why any parent would trade all of that and more for this instead is beyond me.
Instead of digging in sandboxes, today’s kindergartners prepare for a life of multiple-choice boxes by plowing through standardized tests with cuddly names like Dibels (pronounced “dibbles”), a series of early-literacy measures administered to millions of kids; or toiling over reading curricula like Open Court — which features assessments every six weeks.
They can have their ovals, assessments, and kindergarten cram sessions; I've got a play date with my daughter for the next 13 years that I intend to keep.

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Ten Commandments for the Homeschool Mom

My husband and I are speaking at the INCH Convention in Lansing, MI next week. One of my workshops is based on this post, first published in 2006, so I thought I'd repost it again as I prepare my talk.

I am the Lord your God, Thou shall have no other curriculum before Me.
Every homeschooler wants to find the perfect curriculum. God's word is the best one around. Best of all most of us already own it.

Thou shall not make a graven image of the perfect homeschool family.
There is no perfect homeschool family. We all have sinned a fall short of the glory of God.

Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy.
Don't be a slave to your duties. Take time to rest and enjoy your children and husband.

Honor your father and mother
Even if your parents are not believers or supportive of homeschooling, honor them. It isn't easy, but the example you set now will pay dividends down the road. If they are deceased talk often of your parents and build bridges from the past to the future.

Thou shall not destroy thy children's spirits
Keep a tender eye toward their heart to make sure that their relationships with the Lord, you, and each other remain strong.

Thou shall not compare yourself one to another
Trust me, you'll always come up short and discontent.

Thou shall not commit "adultery"
Stop cheating your husband of the respect he desires by comparing him to other homeschooling dads, speakers, or authors; and then wishing your husband would be different. Love the man you married not the perfect image in your mind.

Thou shall not boast about your accomplishments.
Scripture says, "Let another praise you and not your own lips." The fruit of your work will be raising a generation of servants for the Lord. And the best reward will be when you stand before His throne and He boasts, "Well done my good and faithful servant. Enter now into the joy of my rest."

Thou shall encourage other families to good deeds not judge one another harshly
We all make mistakes and have things we wished we had done differently. Seek to find ways to build one another up not tear each other down.

Thou shall not steal the joy of your family
The joy of the Lord shall be your strength. As you delight in the Lord your household will become delightful as well.

I don't pretend to do any one of these things on a consistent basis. God is still working on me but I press on to the high calling that Christ has set before me.

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Homeschooler arrested under Patriot Act

Homeschooled sixteen-year-old Ashton Lundeby was arrested under the Patriot Act and removed from his home for allegedly making a bomb threat from his computer; despite the fact that there was no evidence other than a phone call made with his IP address.

I don't know if this young man made the call or not, but the actions taken by law enforcement officials do seem to be excessive. Especially when you consider that KNOWN terrorists have been cleared for release from from Guantanamo Bay. It really makes you wonder who our government thinks is a "real" threat to our country, does it not?

UPDATE: Thanks to Izzy for this providing a link to this update which states that Aston Lundeby is NOT being held under the Patriot Act. More info here. It appears that he is being held in a juvenile facility in Indiana and prosecutors are seeking to change his status so he can tried as an adult. Lundeby is being charged with a violating Title 18, United States Code, Section 844(e), which prohibits sending false information about an attempt to kill, injure or intimidate any individual or to unlawfully to damage any building through an instrument of interstate commerce.

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Expert or exploited?

When I watched this young man, I had the same feeling I had when I first saw Barack Obama deliver the keynote at the Democrat National Convention in 2004.

He's articulate and appears to have a bright future but don't you think it's too soon and that he needs a little more experience to go with that "expert" opinion?

Ironically, Michelle Obama felt the same way in 2004 about Barack Obama becoming POTUS saying "it's way too soon, he hasn't done anything yet."

I guess the older I get, the more I realize how little I knew back when I thought I knew a lot and how living out what I believe to be true is more difficult than just believing it is true. But sadly, our country and the media seems to idolize in the zeal of the young rather than the wisdom of the experienced.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Teaching children to read

I'm way behind on e-mail but this note caught my attention because I've been teaching my daughter to read this year...
I have a 6 year old boy we adopted last year. We were told he had a mild learning disability. He is able to associate letters to pictures, such as g for a picture of a girl, and j for jeep/jellybeans etc. but is unable to tell me the name of the letters. He is able to copy the letters without difficulty, and they are not backwards. It is very frustrating because I don't know what to do. Do you have any suggestions or programs that may be helpful? Or maybe there is a name for this, so that I could research it some more. He started kindergarten in PS because we thought that he couldn't receive speech therapy only, but when we found out that we could have speech and HS we took him out. The school told us that his IEP made him eligible for the use of the resource room, but when I tried to set up a schedule for this, that would work for us, they said that they could not accommodate our time. The resource teacher was supposed to call once a month to check on us and didn't call all year. We finally decided to go to a private speech therapist and withdrew him completely. I don't want to put him back in.

PS. There has to be a way for me to teach him.
I read your blog often, and went to your seminar at the cinncinati convention because i appreciate your views and your experience that you share.
I'm not a reading expert, but from personal experience I have found that knowing the names of the letters is not necessary to teach a child to read and in some cases may actually be a hinderance. Given that your son is already associating letters with a particular sounds and writing the letters, I'd say keep reading good books to him and add in a few other activities to go along with the book you're reading. Mastering letter names, phonics lessons, and learning to read is not the ultimate goal for me, learning to love reading good books is our goal.

I'm a big fan of Five In a Row for the early elementary years because the picture book they include are engaging for both the parent and the child. Other excellent choices are Jeannie Fulbright's science series and Ann Voskamp's A Child's Geography. All of these curricula guide the parent and equip them to to teach the child in a very natural way.

There is a lot of pressure on parents to make sure their child is learning to read by a certain age. This is unfortunate because it puts needless stress on the parent and can create a very tense home environment for the child. All of my children learned to read at different ages, some very early and others a bit later. But they all eventually learned to read and more importantly love reading.

You son blessed to have a mom who cares so much and wants to do the very best for him. Given that he's only been in your home a short time, my advice is to relax and enjoy your son. Reading will come over time. Love him and learn with him and you can't do enough to screw him up. Hard to believe but from personal experience it's true.

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Republican no more

Interesting assessment about the direction of the Republican Party,
"But of the roughly four different pathways the Republicans could take in the post-Obama universe -- toward Ron Paulesque libertarianism, toward Sarah Palinesque cultural populism, toward Mike Huckabeesque big-government conservatism, or toward Olympia Snowesque moderation/ good-governmentism -- the libertarian side would seem to have had the best go of things in the First 100 Days."
I agree, but I don't hold out much hope that the Republican Party will allow a Ron Paul Libertarian type Republican to be their choice for the top of the ticket any time soon. Obama has shaken things up in the Republican Party but fear of losing an election still drives many people to select a more palatable "mainstream" moderate Republican - which in my not-so-humble opinion is just a closet Democrat. Which is ironic, because we're already losing elections with that game plan.

People often say we need another Reagan, I disagree. We don't need another Reagan anymore than we need another Noah to build an ark. Until Republicans stop looking for another Reagan, they'll never regain their credibility or win many future elections.

Conservative Christian homeschoolers have typically aligned with the Republicans and many of us were dependable foot soliders in past elections. But I don't think that is the case anymore.

It's time to get a bit more radical, make the candidates work for your vote, and make the distinctions in political philosphy much more obvious. Even though Huckabee earned media attention because of homeschoolers and HSLDA, many homeschoolers were definitely attracted to Ron Paul. Paul shook us out of our blind allegiance to the Republican Party and he helped us realize that all of the other choices were just not acceptable any more and neither is the Republican Party.

Libertarianism is shining bright in Obama's first 100 days even through the gathering clouds of socialism that are attempting to drift over the land. However, until the average family is willing to radically think through their own view of government and its role in their lives will the libertarian position become a formidable foe for Republicans and Democrats. And to help them along, I'd like to remind them that public schools provided by the government are just as socialist as any of the other policies Obama is currently promoting.

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