Monday, April 27, 2009

Homeschooling in Hard Times

It seems to be a daily occurance in our area now - another homeschool dad loses his job leaving the family to scramble to hold things together financially. And things don't look to bright for the future either.

General Motors just announced the closing of the Pontiac Division which means even more layoffs for the Detroit area. (Some estimate as high as 21,000 jobs.) But rather than let bad economic news defeat homeschoolers and drive moms back to work and children to the public schools, many parents seemed more determined than ever to make sure they continue to educate their children at home. That's welcome news because it shows parents are not willing to give the government the controlling interest in their child's education even when the going gets rough - unlike General Motors.

The Houston Chronicle reports that the economic downturn has caused an increased interest in homeschooling in Texas.

Holly Wallis, head of the Southeast Texas Home School Association, thinks the recession is driving a large part of the interest.

“We’re expecting an increase because the private school sector is going to be too expensive for a lot of people,” she said..

...The home-schooling gains are a surprise for the leaders of the advocacy group, which feared that the economic downturn might force home-schoolers to return to public schools. It’s cheaper to attend public school than to pay hundreds of dollars a year for the curriculum, supplies and activities needed to home-school, experts said.

Public school is cheap but the cost of putting our children in public schools is too high a price for many homeschool familes.

The economic downturn has forced our family to cut back on extras and get creative with our curriculum. We've always used the library but instead of buying curriculum we're borrowing and bartering with other homeschoolers in our area. I've also joined a homeschool co-op where the cost is minimal but the teaching has been excellent because parents are commited to making it that way. I've also used Ambleside Online for curriculum help especially with literature and history material.

What other creative ideas has your family come up in order to continue homeschooling?

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

The (Depressed) Mothers Act

Our loving and benevolent federal government wants to "help" mothers suffering from post-partum depression. If passed, the Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act (H.R. 20) will provide grant money to
"eligible entities for projects for the establishment, operation, and coordination of effective and cost-efficient systems for the delivery of essential services to individuals with a postpartum condition and their families."
Post-partum depression can be a serious issue but is it a federal issue? I don't think so.

If we can't interrogate terror suspects who might bomb our country without violating their rights, what authority does the federal government have to interrogate mothers who have just given birth? And if the government is supposed to stay out of our bedrooms where conception typically occurs, why would they even think of trespassing into our hospital rooms after the delivery? I guess the right to privacy only applies when the mother decides to abort the baby. Those that actually deliver are potentially crazy and in need of "essential services."

I remember the "Are you nuts?" looks I received after giving birth when I told the nurses that I don't use contraception and another baby would be just fine with me. That answer would definitely classify me as a psycho and in need of immediate help to some "eco-friendly" nurses today.

And just what sort of questions are they going to ask anyway? I once took a test to check to see if I was ADD. Guess what? I was. And so was just about every member of my family. So does that mean we all have ADD? No, not by a long shot. But if I wanted it, this diagnosis would allow all sorts of "essential services" (read drugs) designed to help our ADD family courtesy of our benevolent nanny. No thanks.

Dr. Karl Hoffower provides some insight into the real motivation for this bill, "Psychiatry is just looking for a new crop of patients to sell more drugs to." He explains how in his post, Stop the Mothers Act.

The bill is swiftly moving from the House to the Senate. But a vocal group of mothers can let them know that we're not crazy about this bill or their intrusion into our hospital or our lives. Post-partum issues are best handled between the woman and her doctor. Once we let the state into our hospital rooms to interrogate mothers and provide "essential services" the home won't be far behind.

This Means Socialism

Dick Morris wrote of Obama's giant leap toward socialism in The Hill:
"President Obama showed his hand this week when The New York Times wrote that he is considering converting the stock the government owns in our country’s banks from preferred stock, which it now holds, to common stock.

This seemingly insignificant change is momentous. It means that the federal government will control all of the major banks and financial institutions in the nation. It means socialism."
Morris writes like this is some new discovery. And maybe it is to him, but not to me. Our country has been on the road to socialism for years, Obama is just making it more obvious than past leaders - because he can.

It's amazing to me that people are all upset when the government takes over the banks but willingly give them the minds of their own offspring. But for some strange reason, government controlled education is palatable where government controlled banks are not. I don't get it. And I hope I never will.

Morris concludes,
"The Times story did not influence the dialogue of the day. People were much more concerned with the death of 21 horses at a polo match. Much as we will miss these noble animals, we will miss our economic freedom more."
Don't kid yourself Morris. You can't miss what you never knew you had. Thanks to the public schools people don't even know what "economic freedom" means anymore. They're fat, dumb, and happy. Just the way the state likes it. Well, maybe not the fat part but Obama's gonna fix that too.

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Separation of Mega-church and Christ

An odd controversy involving a public school and a mega-church is brewing in Wisconsin. For nine years, Elmbrook Church has allowed the local high school to use its facility for their graduation ceremony because the auditorium best suits their needs. But maybe not this year or ever again.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed the lawsuit in federal court in Milwaukee on behalf of a graduating senior and several others who were not named. It seeks to prevent the Elmbrook School District from holding the graduations on June 6th and 7th.

"This is a clear violation of the Constitution, a clear violation of the separation of church and state," said Alex Luchenitser, litigation counsel for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, in an interview on 620WTMJ's "Wisconsin's Morning News."

"These students and family members are being forced to graduate in the sanctuary of a church underneath a huge cross that dominates the sanctuary. They're sitting in pews with bibles and hymnal books right in front of them."

There is some "wiggle" room.

While there's an injunction that bars the graduation this year, there's also an option in there that the church would do some things as far as removing whatever symbols they could, or veiling other symbols, that they may be alright with that."
I hope the church doesn't cave in on this but I'm not convinced that they won't. According to the news report, in the past the church has veiled the cross and remove anything that was not permanent to accommodate the ceremony. They've changed that policy slightly to keep the permanent objects in view but removed everything else to accommodate the public school. How sad.

"But for a morsel a man will transgress" has become "but for a rental check a mega-church will deny the cross of Christ."

HT: Slice of Laodicea

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Listen Live Today

I'll be interviewed live today on Crosstalk America at 3PM EST (2 PM CST).

The host, Ingrid Schlueter, and I will be discussing why parents choose to homeschool, how it has changed over the years, and what new opportunities are available to help parents homeschool their children.

Schlueter shared some of her thoughts about home education in an article, Home Education: A Viable Option. Like Schlueter, I continue to be grateful for the opportunity and privilege to home educate my children.

I hope you can listen today as we share our homeschool experiences. There will also be a time for callers to ask questions and share their thoughts. If you can't listen live, the shows are archived so you can listen when it is most convenient for you. But I do hope some of you can join us this afternoon.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Obama's Call to Volunteer

Obama signed a bill today which called our nation's citizens to serve their country.
"We need your service, right now, in this moment in history. ... I'm asking you to stand up and play your part," said Obama, a former community organizer in Chicago. "I'm asking you to help change history's course."
He's changing history's course but also increasing the size and scope of the federal government too. If you "volunteer" the government wants to pay you,
The service law expands ways for students and seniors to earn money for college through their volunteer work. It aims to foster and fulfill people's desire to make a difference, such as by mentoring children, cleaning up parks or buildings and weatherizing homes for the poor.
Don't fall for the hype or the money, if the federal government is paying people to volunteer it is no longer volunteering but employment and a way to bring our nation's young students in on the entitlement trap and our nation on the road to socialism.

By the way, Obama is attempting to fulfill his campaign promise where he said,
"So when I'm President, I will set a goal for all American middle and high school students to perform 50 hours of service a year, and for all college students to perform 100 hours of service a year. This means that by the time you graduate college, you'll have done 17 weeks of service."
I didn't like it when he said it then and I like it even less now that it's becoming the law of the land.

Should Conventions Have Childcare?

I have much to write about the convention but the question of child care at conventions came up in a recent conversation so I thought I'd bring it up here too. Brennan Dean coordinator of the Midwest Homeschool Convention wrote on the convention website, "
Prevailing wisdom is that any homeschooling Mom will have a much more productive and enjoyable convention experience if she is able to attend without bringing along a young child or children. That’s a no-brainer. But, what if a Mom has no other options? What if she either brings along a young child (or children) or stays home?
I flip and flop on this issue. I've brought my children to past conventions and we had a great family time but I've also gone solo and felt much more refreshed. So I'm not sure what the "prevailing wisdom" is for me.

My husband and I both will be speaking at the INCH convention in Lansing, MI in a few weeks and they are having an on-site children's conference, Pirates of the Cranium. We're thinking of bringing our younger two daughters with us but part of me would like to have a small get-away weekend with my husband since he couldn't attend the Midwest. So we haven't decided what we're doing yet.

Looking to 2010 Midwest Convention Dean asks,
Would you like to see an optional Children’s Program that your own children could participate in while you are attending the convention? If so…what do you feel is a reasonable “per child” charge?
What do you think?

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Home Again, Home Again

The Cincinnati Homeschool Convention was wonderful even if the technology didn't cooperate. The WiFi in the convention hall was unreliable and the hotel only had it on the second floor mezzanine which was not very convenient.

Cincinnati is a wonderful town and the weather was awesome and if anyone ever wants to get together, it there's a Chipotle Mexican nearby I'm definitely available.

Thanks to my husband who did an amazingly outstanding job keeping the home running and getting ALL the laundry done while I was away. You are a blessings.

I'll post more thoughts about the convention soon, but it's nearly time to teach my homeschool co-op class on Money Management for Teens.

By the way, my blog template is having problems loading. It is not the fault of your computer and will hopefully be fixed soon. My apologies.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Who Knew?

Yesterday, as I was walking up the escalator that still wasn't working, I was thinking of this YouTube and made a slightly snarky comment.    A woman behind recognized me and her husband that I was a "mini celebrity."      Who knew?  But I'll accept it     To me, being a mini-celebrity means that I don't have children out-of-wedlock and I'm still married to my first husband.   

Blogging the convention has been a real treat but the wi-fi in the convention isn't.   Finding the connection seems to require me holding my computer above my head and twirling like a ballerina.   But that makes blogging impossible.    Thankfully, the The Olds Schoolhouse booth seems to be a hot spot, not just for internet but connecting with readers of the magazine and my blog.   

My first workshop was great.   I was able to finally meet Amy Scott of Amy's Humble Musings and quite a few other bloggers from HomeschoolBlogger.com.     It's odd to talk about blogging at a homeschool convention but the highlight of my talk was explaining to a homeschool mom how a blog can help her daughter market her first novel.    She had been told not to start a blog because bloggers are so stressed their dying!    I laughed because I've been blogging for a few years now and I'm still alive and blogging.   But her daughter's done the hard part and website and a blog will now help her organize and market herself and her book.

I'm scheduled to do a second workshop at 1PM, The ART of Homeschooling - Attitude, Relationships, and Training.    I'm looking forward to it.  

In the meantime, I hope to be able to meetup with other bloggers and speakers and let you know what else is going on here .   (As long as my internet connection holds anyway.) 

A few readers emailed and asked if I had any convention tips.   My best advice is wear comfortable shoes and leave your checkbook at home.    But that's just me.    If you have any tips that make a homeschool convention a success for you feel free to share them as well.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Meet Carol Barnier

I'm live blogging the Midwest Convention and the first workshop I attended was by Carol Barnier, "Help! I Fell Off My Lesson Plan!

Barnier's main point was that life happens and we must decide what we are going to do about?

Her answer is that homeschooling is incredibly efficient and forgiving even when life tosses us into unexpected situations. And for those who've homeschooled for a while, they'll know how true that statement really is.

Some of her tips for surviving and thriving include:

1. Put catch up days in the lesson plan.
2. Reassess "the list" and what is essential and what is too much.
3. Focus on the core of learning which is the 3R's.
4. Put the "home" back in homeschooling.

Her strongest point was that if the day has totally gone away done get frustrated, use it as an opportunity to reconnect with your children and find out what they're thinking about life. And those days are never wasted.

Barnier is the author of the book, How to Get Your Child Off the Refrigerator and On to Learning and her newest book, The Big WHAT NOW Book of Learning Styles.

Blogging the Midwest Convention

I'm excited to here at the Midwest Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati, OH. I'll be bringing live updates of the various workshops and from the vendor hall. If you can't make it here, hopefully you'll still be able to glean a fresh burst of enthusiasm and inspiration for your homeschool.

The vendor hall is HUGE. I'm currently blogging from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine booth, but I'll be making my way around the convention hall beginning today and continuing through Saturday night when the convention closes. I already had a fun chat with the unit study lady, Amanda Bennett while checking into the Millenium Hotel which I must say is absolutely fabulous. My room is a two-room suite and for the first time in my life I have my own bathroom!

Kudos to Brennan Dean for putting this convention together. I'm honored to be here blogging. So if you can't be here then I'd encourage you to check out the speaker roster and workshop schedule and if there's a topic you're dying to hear about or a speaker you'd like to ask a specific question, leave a comment and I'll do my best to accommodate. Hopefully, I'll get my camera working soon and get some pictures posted too.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Hope and Change in Education

In a recent speech, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan admitted that the United States is headed toward adopting international standards in education.
"A nation that does not benchmark its standards against the highest international standards is crippling our children in the competition for jobs."
Jobs. The only goal for education according to the state seems to be jobs. We cripple our children when we send them the message that the primary reason for education is a job. Duncan also called for better student tracking,
"[W]e want to see states building robust data systems that allow districts to better track the growth of individual students."
What type of "growth" will these "data systems" track?" I don't know about you, but I get a little nervous when I think of a federal database gathering data on school children.

Here's what education historian Diana Ravitch had to say about Obama's education policy and Arne Duncan,
"based on what I have seen to date, I conclude that Obama has given President George W. Bush a third term in education policy and that Arne Duncan is the male version of Margaret Spellings."
Not exactly hope and change is it?

But no matter whose ideas they are, national/international standards and student tracking are very problematic for homeschoolers, especially those "extremists" who believe that the state has no business requiring anything of parents determined to educate their children free from government intrusion. Just look around the international community and you'll see what most countries think about homeschooling.

As citizens of a free country, we are called to track the "growth" of government, not the other way around.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Beware the Right Wingers

A new report out by the Department of Homeland Security warns about "right wing extremism."

A footnote attached to the report by the Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis defines “rightwing extremism in the United States” as including not just racist or hate groups, but also groups that reject federal authority in favor of state or local authority.

“It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single-issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration,” the warning says. (PDF file here)

I guess that would include me and many other homeschoolers (Christian and secular) who reject federal authority in education in favor of local control.

The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution says,

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it ot the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
But why let a little thing like the Constitution get in the way of the hope 'n change we've been waiting for.

But try as they might at intimidating the masses into submission, they will not stop people from voicing their objections to the policies of this administration or any other with name-calling and baseless accusations of terrorist activity.

And to that end, I plan on joining my fellow "right wingers" in a Tea Party tomorrow. (I'll be at the one in Plymouth, MI) and the next day I'll join thousands of other "homeschool extremists" who dare to believe that education is the responsibility of parents not the federal government at that the Midwest Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati, OH. (I'll be giving a few workshops and live blogging too!)

I hope you can join me and let your voice be heard.

Update: Gov. Rick Perry of Texas is declaring his independence from federal intrusion

. 'I believe that our federal government has become oppressive in its size, its intrusion into the lives of our citizens, and its interference with the affairs of our state,” Gov. Perry said. “That is why I am here today to express my unwavering support for efforts all across our country to reaffirm the states’ rights affirmed by the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. I believe that returning to the letter and spirit of the U.S. Constitution and its essential 10th Amendment will free our state from undue regulations, and ultimately strengthen our Union.”
So does this mean he'll stop taking federal money???

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