Homeschooling Archives

Rusty Nails (SCO v. 22)

School officer shooting – a hoax
Oh, this is just icing on the cake for homeschoolers. Remember the school officer shooting that resulted in a pee-deprived 5 hour LOCKDOWN, for up to 9 schools, in a 7 square mile area? Well it appears that the “shooting” was orchestrated by the officer who was “shot”.

Keep incidents like this in mind whenever someone advocates that ordinary citizens should have sensible gun-control laws foisted on them, because we can only trust those who have been trained to be responsible with firearms. Incidents like these do not indicate that all law enforcement is bad, but merely that they are human.

If you think parents were peeved before…

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It was green in every way – except that of money
Huntington Beach’s [California] first ‘green’ home is seized by bank.

The first ‘green’ home in Huntington Beach, debuting to much fanfare a little more than a year ago before having its asking price chopped dramatically and becoming a short sale, has gone back to the bank.

You’d think someone like… Robert Redford, might have cared enough to pick it up.

I suppose that some enviros have yet to understand the concept of free market economics.

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Green in name, but not in deed? Must be due to Big Oil Greed?
And in the same Huntington Beach, we have a middle school protest over the installation of solar panels on school property. Why? Because said panels will be installed by – shudder! – Chevron.

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Hey, Wally?
For some lighter Huntington Beach news, it seems that The Beaver just got married in the H.B.

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A common sense lib
From the Huffington Post,

As a liberal Democrat, I worry about the damage we might do by rushing toward a fresh raft of gun-control laws. It’s very hard to demonstrate that most of them — registration, waiting periods, one-gun-a-month laws, closing the gun-show loophole, large-capacity-magazine restrictions, assault-rifle bans — have ever saved a life. It’s a hard thing to accept, but in a country of 350 million privately owned guns, the people who are inclined to do bad things with guns will always be able to get them. One might as well combat air crashes by repealing gravity.

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    Rusty Nails (SCO v. 21)

    So… where’s my blessing?
    I’m particularly touchy on # 2, although it does take some of your own understanding to grapple with # 6.

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    Grandma would command a lot more respect in one of these babies!

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    Estimates vary, but do the math
    The country has gotten riled up over a lone madman using a firearm to kill 6 people, somehow coming to the conclusion that we need to implement stricter gun control laws. Consider that if 0.001% (that’s one thousandth of one percent) of the firearm owners in the U.S. decided today to shoot and kill 6 people, we’d have 4,800 people killed. Seems to me that, under current laws, over 99.99% of firearms owners in the U.S. pretty much keep control of their actions.

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    Now this is cool
    One thing, though… might it be done to our infrastructure as well?

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    Another advertisement for the home school industry.

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    Global Warming Denier?
    From the New Mexico Independent, Martinez picks former astronaut, global warming denier to head energy, natural resources department. Alternate title, “Martinez picks first and only scientist to walk on the moon, global warming realist to head energy, natural resources department”.

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      Lockdown: yet another reason to home school

      Imagine thousands of young adults kept locked in various rooms, separated from their parents, and some with no access to food, water, or the opportunity to relieve themselves, for up to 5 hours.

      That’s what happened to several Los Angeles Unified School District high schools a few days ago after a school police officer was shot and wounded.

      From the L.A. Times,

      Thousands of students were kept in classrooms without food, water or access to restrooms longer than necessary, the Los Angeles school district’s police chief acknowledged, as officials coped with complaints from parents frustrated once more with the district’s handling of an emergency situation.

      Not to worry, though, for even though the lockdown encompassed 9 different schools in a 7 square mile area (for one person shot, mind you), the police department is sympathetic to the predicament the students faced.

      “That is not the time to attempt to deliver food to 3,500 students — during the search for an armed assailant,” said LAPD Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese.

      Well… surely the school district must have a bit more sympathy?

      “Yes, parents are upset that their children at El Camino perhaps weren’t allowed to use the bathroom,” Siegel said, “but safety of the students is our top priority”.

      Safe, if not thirsty, hungry, and doing the “I gotta pee so bad!” dance. Yet some classes did improvise by, as one parent put it, “peeing into trash cans”. Some schools have gone so far as to implement the use of “Lockdown Kits”,

      In fact, a 5-gallon pail is part of a “lockdown kit” that is supposed to be accessible to every classroom. The pail with a removable lid is “solely for the purpose of this kind of situation,” said district spokesman Robert Alaniz.

      Other elements of the lockdown kit include toilet paper and a portable toilet seat. There’s also a flashlight, polyethylene bags, blankets, a pocket radio, bandages, tissues, disposable vinyl gloves, assorted batteries and duct tape.

      Every new teacher is supposed to receive training in using the kit, which includes a recommendation that teachers supply a sheet that can be draped to provide privacy, said Bob Spears, the district’s director of emergency services.

      What’s that? A “recommendation” that the teacher supply a sheet that can be used to provide some bit of privacy?

      It seems to me that about the only other place you hear of a “lockdown” occurring is… that’s right – a prison.

      Rest assured. If our home school ever goes into lockdown mode, there will be more in the lockdown kit than mere toiletries.

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        Friday Link Wrap-up

        Haven’t found much to expound upon this week, or perhaps my blogging muse took an extended (if you’ll pardon the expression) Christmas vacation.  But indeed, I still have been perusing the ‘net, and have found a few interesting links.

        If you’ve ever wondered why the ACLU seems to regularly side with organizations and issues that seem to oppose traditional American values, this collection of unearthed letters between the ACLU founder, Roger Baldwin and the American Communist Party should shed some light.  (Hat tip: Holy Coast)

        Y’know that phrase, "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it"?  Here’s you’re chance to learn from it.  If you want to find out how ObamaCare will turn out, just look at the broken promises and escalating costs of RomneyCare in Massachusetts.

        An impressive new invention from Germany; heat balls

        Chavez currently has dictatorial powers in Venezuela, and is currently in a stand-off with American diplomats.  So he wants the US to change the envoy to Caracas to one of his choice of useful idiots; Sean Penn, Oliver Stone or Bill Clinton.  Talk about gall.

        So many liberal blogs got this absolutely wrong, you wonder if poor civics or history classes in public school lead to liberalism.  Talking Points Memo illustrated this perfectly.  When reading the Constitution in the House chambers yesterday, Republicans read what amounted to the amended Constitution, skipping parts that were superseded by later amendments.  This included counting only 3/5ths of the slaves.  Evan McMorris-Santoro writes:

        It’s fairly likely that no elected politician wants to stand up and read aloud the Founder’s vision of African Americans as equaling three-fifths of a white person, so the GOP has decided to leave that part, and others, out when the Constitution is read today.

        This was no "vision" of discounting African-Americans.  In fact, the "Three-Fifths Compromise" did two things when it was written into the Constitution.  It gave us a "united" states, which would have been impossible if slave states would not agree to the new Constitution, and it kept slave states from gaining too many representatives in the House (by simply importing "constituents") to keep slavery from ever being abolished.  It was a compromise, not a "vision", and it paved the way for the abolition of slavery.  A good explanation is here.

        The federal debt is certainly cause for concern, but there’s also the problem of individual cities who have been financing all sorts of things with municipal bond debt.  This, too, has gotten out of control, leading us to another bailout-or-bankruptcy issue.

        And finally, the roll of homeschoolers has grown to 2 million, 4% of all school-aged children.  Thanks, public schools.  Couldn’t have done it without you.

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          Stephen Meyer & William Dembski, tonight

          For those in southern California, check out the Apologetics Conference at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, tonight at 6 p.m. On tap for the evening are Steve Collins, Stephen Meyer, and William Dembski. Best of all, the event is FREE!

          Not in southern California? There is supposed to be a live stream of the conference at this link.

          More Info:

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            Ken Ham, staunch Young Earth Creationist, has recently written a blog post highlighting a recent position change taken by the Assemblies of God (AG) denomination (HT: Ron’s Bloviating). Ham takes issue with the AG for revising their earlier held position, sympathetic to a Young Earth position, for that of one which allows for Old Earth belief as well. For the record, I have grown up in the AG denomination and have been partial to the Old Earth Creation model, despite their earlier stance, since I was in elementary school (the 1960s). In A Sad Day for the Assemblies of God Denomination, Ham writes,

            The general presbytery of the Assemblies of God (AG) denomination, in session August 9–11, 2010, adopted a revised statement on “The Doctrine of Creation.” Here is an excerpt from the official AG position paper, that opens the door to evolution and millions of years, and the various compromise positions on Genesis held by some in the church (such as gap theory, day age, progressive creation, theistic evolution, etc)

            Of particular concern, to Ham, is the statement by the AG,

            The advance of scientific research, particularly in the last few centuries, has raised many questions about the interpretation of the Genesis accounts of creation.

            evidently because he connects such reasoning as equivalent to succumbing to the lie told by the serpent in Genesis 3, in which he tempted Eve to doubt God’s Word. By comparing a 1977 statement, from the AG, Ham contrasts a previous belief that a “natural reading” of the Genesis 1 creation account results in an understanding that the account refers to consecutive 24 hour solar days. His concern seems to be that any acceptance of data, from scientific research, that points towards a billions of years old universe, is tantamount to the doubting of God’s Word, which he understands – nay, demands – to state otherwise. Ham writes,

            The AG with its August statement is now saying we have to take the fallible ideas of fallible humans and use these in authority over the Word of God.

            I applaud Ham’s concern, which is ultimately driven by a desire to keep Christians from falling prey to worldly wisdom, yet I seriously question the dogmatic stance he has taken. He posits that a Young Earth interpretation of the creation accounts, found in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2, is the only viable interpretation allowed. Such a position has neither a theological, historical, or scientific grounding.

            While this blog post is, by no means, an attempt to exhaustively answer the Young Earth / Old Earth debate, I do want to make a few concise points.

            In discussing this subject, with Young Earth proponents, I’ve sometimes been told that the Young Earth position is held because “it’s what the Bible says”. The obvious conclusion, from such a position, is that the Old Earth interpretation is NOT what the Bible says. I wonder if Young Earthers, who make such a statement, are really aware of implications of what they’re proposing? Do they really think that some of their fellow Christians are not aware of what they happen to be reading in God’s Word? I also wonder how consistent Young Earthers are with their “natural reading” of “what the Bible says” argument? If they wish to be consistent, then surely they must think that God has wings, that Jesus’ had nails driven through his hands, that it’s the Sun that revolves around the Earth*, that the mustard seed is the smallest plant seed on earth, and that the value of Pi is equal to the integer 3. But, of course, I would imagine that for those references they would argue that the meaning found in text involves intent and context – context which includes culture, language, genre, etc. Try as they might, they cannot get around the fact that the Genesis creation accounts have not been dogmatically held, through Christendom, to mean that God created the cosmos in 6 24 hour solar days, nor that one is mandated to translate the Hebrew text as such. It’s my conclusion that they are incorrect in stating that their interpretation is the “natural reading” of “what the Bible says”.

            Another point in which Ham slips up, in my opinion, is his accusation that the belief the universe is billions of years old correlates with a belief in natural process evolution. To his credit, he does not accuse Old Earthers of categorically believing in natural process evolution, but merely states that the Old Earth position “opens the door” to such belief. Still, I take issue with such a proposition, for it demonstrates a lack of understanding of both the Old Earth position as well as the natural process evolutionary position. The Old Earth interpretation attempts to harmonize not only the multiple creation accounts found in the Bible (including and beyond the two major ones found in Genesis), but our understanding of the physical realm as well. If the data points towards a universe billions of years old, and if we can harmonize the data with what we read in the Bible, then it is irrelevant whether or not the natural process evolutionary model also accepts a billions of years old universe. Also, as research continues, the complexity of our natural realm is becoming more evident: from the minute structure of DNA to the makeup of the universe itself. As we discover that advanced life requires this specified complexity, and as we understand that specified complexity is highly improbable, by chance, we begin to understand how improbable our existence is – from a purely natural point of view. Truth is, billions of years is appearing to be not enough time for advanced life to arise through natural means.

            It seems to me that many in the Young Earth camp dismiss scientific research too easily. At best, they simply recognize man’s fallibility and apply that fallibility to our interpretation of the natural realm; at worst, they assume some grand conspiracy, in the scientific community, dedicated to the undermining of all religious belief. I will spend zero time discussing the latter option, as I believe it to be nonsense and as I believe that Ham holds to the former option.

            I wonder, at what point do I, as a fallible human, disregard the ideas of other fallible humans? Do I refuse to board an airliner simply because it was designed by fallible humans who, obviously, have fallible ideas about aeronautical engineering? Do I take the stairs, when visiting a high-rise building, because the elevator was designed by fallible humans with fallible ideas of structural engineering? How many Young Earthers have ever taken an over-the-counter medication? Since such medication was developed by fallible humans with fallible ideas regarding chemistry, I must conclude that Ken Ham does not take any over-the-counter medication. Speaking of fallible ideas – how about the idea of how we read, and understand, text? I think that we believe, however fallibly, that we are able to see, and then read text, due to the physical action of light photons bouncing off of a page of text, being received and processed by our eyes, through the lens, retina, and optic nerve, with the resulting electrical impulses then being interpreted by our brain. The whole notion of understanding God’s written Word is dependent on a physical process.

            You see, the problem with discounting scientific research is that one ends up having to pick and choose which scientific research they will believe in. While we don’t have an exhaustive understanding of the physical realm, we do have some understanding of it and – this is important – our level of understanding grows as we continue to do more research. So, whereas the scientific community in the 1800s thought that the universe had always existed, Albert Einstein threw them on their heads by proposing (with scientific backup), in the early 1900s, that the universe was finite and actually began to exist. It is indeed very interesting that this notion of a beginning was already found in God’s Word.

            In the years since Einstein, the ideas of general and special relativity have been refined, through continued experimenting and testing, and as our understanding of cosmology grew. Likewise, in the years since the Wright brothers, we’ve moved from airplanes built out of wood and fabric, capable of carrying only one person, to jet powered airliners which transport hundreds of people thousands of miles at a time. Is there a chance that as we gain a better understanding of the physical realm the ideas of general and special relativity, as well as those of aeronautical engineering, will be overturned? Certainly. As stated earlier, we don’t have a complete understanding of the entire cosmos. However, and this is how the process of progressive understanding works, as continued research builds cumulative support for a particular theory, the more reliable such a theory becomes in explaining the natural realm.

            Unfortunately, for the Young Earth camp, they have no credible scientific data which can support a universe of 6,000 – 10,000 years in age. And, to make matters worse, further research in multiple, unrelated disciplines, continues to support an old age for the universe. The Old Earth model is certainly not without paradoxes or weak points, yet one should consider its many strengths before dismissing it out of hand.

            Kudos to the Assemblies of God for revising their position on the creation accounts found in Genesis 1 and 2.

            * a natural reading obvious conclusion, if the Earth truly does not move (and a conclusion that the church had to revise due to an eventual better understanding of the physical realm).

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              Friday Link Wrap-Up

              I may start doing this more often.  I collect links during the week, some I comment on here, and some just languish in Google Bookmarks.  But instead of a daily report of links like my co-blogger Mark, I’m going to save it all until the end of the week.  This installment will be a bit longer than others since I’ve got some aging links here that really want to see the light of day.  So here they are, usually, but not always, in reverse chronological order:

              Coattails?  What coattails? “Some Democrats on the campaign trail have hit upon a winning campaign tactic: Run against President Obama and his agenda — especially the health care overhaul.”

              Seeking asylum in the US for … homeschooling persecution? “A German Christian family received asylum in Tennessee after being severely penalized for illegally homeschooling their children in Germany.”  I’ve covered this particular situation before; here, here, here, here, here and here.

              California, parts of which are boycotting Arizona for it’s new immigration law, which just enforce existing federal law, should take a look at it’s own lawbooks first.  They might find something familiar.

              The economic meltdown in Greece should be a wake-up call to politicians of both parties in the US.  Otherwise, it may turn out to be, rather, a coming attraction.

              ObamaCare(tm) is predicted to increase the crowding in our hospitals’ emergency rooms.  “Some Democrats agree with this assessment. Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) suspects the fallout that occurred in Massachusetts’ emergency rooms could happen nationwide after health reform kicks in.”  But he still voted for this snake oil anyway.

              “Economic Woes Threaten Chavez’s Socialist Vision” Only on NPR would this be news.  For the rest of this, it’s a redundancy.

              Comedy Central stands on the bedrock of free speech and will mock anyone, just as long as there’s no chance of getting beheaded for it.  “The show in development, “JC,” is a half-hour about Christ wanting to escape the shadow of his “powerful but apathetic father” and live a regular life in New York.”

              Green energy falling by the wayside in Europe.  Seems the massive subsidies for this alleged cost-saving energy are too much for governments going through financial troubles.  Should we (will we) take note?

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                Are you a home school parent? Have you come up against criticism such as, “How can you be qualified to teach high school to your child”? If so, then simply hand out the following am i kwalafied 2 teech? card, which highlights an incoherent E-mail written [sic] by the President of the Detroit Public School Board.

                Printing instructions: Click on the image above to open up the full-size version. Print the image, size to 3.5″ wide by 2″ tall.

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                  As part of our homeschooling endeavors, my wife and I will have our children keep journals while we are on road trip vacations. Besides being a method to keep them busy, the exercise also helps them learn about the various places we visit, as well as to hone their writing skills. Typically, we’ll have them keep a daily journal, encouraging them to be verbose and expressive as they relate the details of our trip.

                  On a recent trip, however, I asked them to take their journal writing in a slightly different direction. Instead of having them write from a perspective which relied heavily on feelings (i.e., expressing their thoughts and opinions about what we were doing), I instructed them to give an essentially historical and factual account of what transpired on the trip. They didn’t have to try and include everything that had happened each day, but only that which they considered most important or most unusual. As an added bonus to this alternative approach, my wife and I also kept trip journals.

                  After the trip, the journals were polished off and printed. I then had each family member read the entire set of journals. Once that task was completed, we all gathered for a group discussion. As expected, the journals were written in a chronological manner (e.g., Sep. 21, Sep. 22, Sep. 23). And, as expected, while the journals contained many of the same trip events, they were not equally comprehensive in their coverage of the trip. Descriptions varied, numerical values were sometimes rounded, specific events were ignored, etc. Due to the type of experiment I was conducting, I purposely varied the style of my journal from that of chronological to topical. I also crafted my account to include rounding, and exclude extraneous information of events that none of the other family members were a part of.

                  During our discussion I brought up these various differences in each of the journals. I asked what the differences might indicate (e.g., error, difference of opinion, omission). I asked if any of the differences indicated a direct contradiction or whether the differences were simply paradoxical. Essentially, I took our children through the process of harmonizing the four accounts of our trip. This was possible because the harmonization was being done on events they were eyewitness to, and the analysis was being made on data they had a direct part in producing.

                  Lastly, I then asked if they were aware of any other examples, of multiple accounts of the same events, having a different appearance in the forms we had just discussed. Our oldest quickly answered with, “Matthew, Mark, Luke and John,” and our youngest even piped in with the statement that Mark does not include any mention of Jesus’ birth. This, of course, was the point of my exercise: To show our children, brought up in the midst of a 21st century Western culture which prides itself in recording data comprehensively, that historical narratives can (and do) vary, and that such variances are not, in and of themselves, indicative of contradictions or errors.

                  I think that an exercise, such as this, is important for our children (and for some adults) to understand. During our discussion, I told our children that there are critics of Christianity, and the Bible, who will attempt to convince believers that there are irreconcilable contradictions within the text of the Bible. As this exercise hopefully demonstrated, we have the means to intelligently respond to the critics.

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                    First Day of School

                    Growing up in the North, school never started until after Labor Day.  Living now in the South, it comes much earlier.  Today is the first day of school for most districts around metro Atlanta, and I have 2 in high school; one a freshman and one a junior.  For the freshman, it’s his first day of public school, and he’s looking forward to it.  All our kids have been home schooled through 8th grade.

                    One reason (of many) that we do this, relates to this article talking about Delaware schools.  It repeats a statistic that I’ve highlighted in the past, and think now is as good a time as any to repeat it.

                    Across the country, it was estimated in 2003 that nearly 10 percent of American students — or more than 4.5 million — were targets of sexual harassment or abuse by a public school employee between kindergarten and 12th grade, according to a study by former Hofstra University professor Charol Shakeshaft.

                    The study, commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education, said those numbers could be low because inappropriate behavior by educators is likely under-reported, Shakeshaft wrote.

                    Emphasis mine, as I emphasize them again.  Know your school district.  Home schooling is always an option.

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                      Britain Clamping Down on Homeschooling

                      …and using the United Nations as the club.

                      British homeschoolers may no longer be able to teach independently. Children’s Secretary of Britain accepted a report in full last week that could change the face of homeschooling in Britain indefinitely. In the report, the author, Graham Badman, Chair of the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (BECTA), argues for an end to homeschool freedom.

                      "While it’s disgraceful that the British government would even entertain this report it’s particularly troubling for American parents because the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) was used as the justification for this action," said Michael Farris, Chairman of HSLDA and President of ParentalRights.org.

                      The Badman report uses Articles 12 and 29 of the UNCRC to justify registering the estimated 80,000 homeschooling families in Britain, forcing them to provide annual reports regarding their homeschool, granting government officials the right to enter the home and interview the children alone as well as reserving the choice of curriculum to the state.

                      HSLDA has been warning that the UNCRC could bring an end to homeschool freedom in the U.S., if the treaty was ever ratified by the U.S. Senate because Article VI of the U.S. Constitution says that treaties become the supreme law of the land.

                      OK, first I have to admit that I snickered a bit when I read the phrase "The Badman report".  But getting beyond that…

                      I’m wondering if the UNCRC says or implies that children can be used as witnesses against their parents without a lawyer present.  I mean, why would any government official be granted exclusive access to a homeschool child other than to find out what’s really going on?  Somehow, without all this invasiveness, homeschool children are, on the whole, doing better academically than their public-schooled peers.  Part of the reason people homeschool is precisely to avoid the problem with government-chosen one-size-fits-all curriculum.

                      Do people misuse the opportunity?  Indeed they do, but it is such a small minority that this is akin to burning down the forest to kill the mosquitoes.  Parents, on the whole, are doing just fine thankyouverymuch educating their own children.  (One wonders how we learned anything prior to the 19th century.)

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                        The Rise of Homeschooling

                        A new report from the U. S. Department of Education National Center for Education Statistics shows a dramatic rise in the number of students that are being educated at home. Dr. Albert Mohler provides some details from the report:

                        Homeschooling was the choice of families for 2.9 percent of all school-age children in the United States in 2007, involving 1.5 million students. By comparison, in 1999 only 850,000 children were homeschooled. By 2003, that number was up to 1.1 million. This report indicates significant jumps in homeschooling as compared to other educational options. In fact, the report reveals that the actual number of American children whose parents choose homeschooling for at least part of their education exceeds 3 million. According to the report, 1.5 million children are exclusively homeschooled while another 1.5 million are homeschooled for at least part of the school week.

                        At this point, the picture grows even more interesting. When parents were asked why they chose to homeschool their children, 36 percent cited a desire to provide children specifically religious or moral instruction. After that, 21 percent of parents pointed to concerns about the environment of schools, 17 percent cited dissatisfaction with educational quality in the schools, and 14 percent cited “other reasons.” Among those “other reasons” was a concern for more family time together.

                        Higher numbers of parents with college educations and greater family incomes are now homeschooling. This trend points to the fact that homeschooling is increasingly the option of first choice for many parents. This pattern is also revealed in increasing numbers of college students, primarily young women, who indicate that they desire a college education so that they will be better equipped in years ahead to be homeschooling parents.

                        It’s no great surprise to me that there has been such a tremendous rise in the number of families choosing to homeschool. In the nine years we’ve been homeschooling we’ve seen exponential growth among our homeschool community.

                        But the most crucial points in Dr. Mohler’s essay come at the end of the post:

                        Homeschooling is now a major force in American education, and Christian parents have been in the vanguard of this movement.  For many Christian parents, homeschooling represents the fulfillment of the biblical mandate for parents to teach their children.  These parents deserve our respect, our support, our advocacy, and our prayers.  This movement is a sign of hope on our educational horizon, and a phenomenon that can no longer be dismissed as a fringe movement.

                        As president of a seminary and college, I can attest to the fact that questions about the educational aptitude of homeschooled students are now settled.  These students can hold their own as compared to students from all other educational backgrounds.  One other fact speaks loudly to me concerning their education.  Most of the homeschooled students I meet at the college and graduate levels indicate an eager determination to homeschool their own children when that time comes.

                        Education cannot be reduced to statistics, but the trends revealed in this new report from the Department of Education deserve close attention.  In our day, education represents a clash of worldviews.  Increasingly toxic approaches to education (or what is called education) drive many schools and many school systems.  In that light, the fact that so many Christian parents are taking education into their own hands is a sign of hope.  As this new report makes clear, we should expect homeschooling to be a growth industry in years ahead.

                        It’s encouraging as a homeschool parent and as a Christian to see a prominent pastor and seminary president embrace the choice that thousands of families make. Homeschooling is not easy and families who make this choice often face derision and ridicule from both friends and families. Those who make the choice to educate their children at home (either full-time or part-time) should be applauded and respected for making this choice. While not everyone will agree that it is the best choice for their own family it’s important that those who don’t homeschool respect those who do and vice versa.

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                          "In the Best Interest of the Children" Follow-up

                          Henry Neufeld and Timothy Sandefur (here and here) have both blogged about the NC divorce case that I highlighted yesterday.  Both point to a PDF of the judges ruling in the case, and note that there is more to the ruling on schooling.

                          Mrs. Mills has joined the Sound Doctrine church, a church that many who have “escaped” from it (that’s the term they, in fact, use) say has anything but sound doctrine.  After reading excerpts of the affidavits in the ruling, I would have to agree.

                          The concerns that Mr. Mills had to homeschooling included misconceptions that those don’t homeschool typically have about the practice; that it did not expose the Mills children to “the real world” and didn’t give them a “firm foundation for their future social relationships”.  Some of their extra-curricular activities are listed, and it sounds like they could easily find socialization in those.  He also said that it was his understanding was the the homeschooling was temporary.

                          At the end of the section about schooling, he does mention that some of this included religious training from this Sound Doctrine church, which he was concerned about.  Fair enough, but here is where we find ourselves at a decision that could, contrary to Mr. Neufeld’s and Mr. Sandefur’s thoughts, have widening influence.  The judge finds that it would be in the best interest of the children to pull them out of a schooling situation where, the judge agrees, the children have “thrived academically”.  There can be only two reasons for this based on what’s in the ruling; either it’s the “only temporary” issue or it’s the religious issue.

                          If it’s because the understanding was that homeschooling was to be only temporary, then perhaps some other education needs to be done to make sure that this isn’t being nixed by the husband because of misconceptions about homeschooling.  The whole “real world socialization” idea has been thoroughly debunked.  And on page 7, point #5, the judge “clearly recognizes the benefits of home school”.  So this appears not to be the main reason.

                          Which brings us to the religious issue.  After conceding the benefits of homeschooling, the judge, in the same point, then agrees to Mr. Mills’ request to “re-enroll the children back into the public school system and expose them and challenge them to more than just Venessa Mills’ viewpoint.”  This is where it gets dicey.

                          Others cited in the ruling consider the Sound Doctrine church to be a “cult”, and I’m not in a position to disagree with them.  The behavior of Mrs. Mills tends to back up their assertions.  However, if this ruling is made specifically to expose the children to other viewpoints, than any homeschooler of any religion or philosophy could have their choice annulled by a court for that reason, cult or not.  (I imagine, indeed, a judge that took children out of an atheist homeschooling situation to “challenge” that viewpoint would find all sorts of “friend of the court” briefs from the ACLU.)  The mother could lose custody of the children based on her religious beliefs and how those beliefs translate into abuse, but, while even that is a difficult thing for a court to decide, that is not, as I read it, the reason that the children are being sent to public school.

                          There’s that poem that has lines “First they came for ___, and I did not speak up because I wasn’t a ___.”  It’s been used and misused over the years, but I think it applies here.  I don’t think we can see this ruling and not feel some concern over perhaps government coming for Christians or Jews, or whatever other religion that a judge thinks needs to be “challenged”, on the say-so of an aggrieved spouse.  Whether the grievance is valid or not, or whether the religion is a cult or not, it should be cause for concern.

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                            In the Best Interest of the Children?

                            Last week, a judge in North Carolina was ruling in a divorce case.  The husband was an admitted adulterer.  His wife was going to get custody of the kids. 

                            However, the husband decided he didn’t want to pay for the expenses of continuing to homeschooling the children, so his lawyer drew up a request, and the judge granted it.

                            Even with abundant evidence showing the Mills children are well adjusted and well educated, Judge [Ned W.] Mangum ruled overwhelmingly against Mrs. [Venessa] Mills on every point. He stated the children would do better in public school despite the fact that they are currently at or beyond their grade level.  Evidence showed two children tested several grades ahead.

                            When issuing his verdict Judge Mangum stated his decision was not ideologically or religiously motivated. However, he told Mrs. Mills public school will "challenge the ideas you’ve taught them."

                            Typical big-government mentality.  Never mind results, you gotta’ get with the program.

                            More details here.

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                              Post-Vacation Catch-up Links

                              During my Thanksgiving vacation, I didn’t do any blogging but I did still read the news.  I’ll have long posts about some of the items later on, but just wanted to do a quick hit of some bits I found interesting:

                              * Tying up some loose ends, the state agency director that pried into Joe "the plumber" Wurzelbacher’s confidential information will be punished, if by "punished"  you mean "one month unpaid leave".  I think that qualifies more for "lightly tapped on the wrist". 

                              * The singles dating service eHarmony had chosen not to match same-sex couples.  The reason shouldn’t matter, as its a private business, but psychologist Neil Clark Warren, who started the site, had done his personality studies on heterosexual couples and didn’t think that, scientifically, he could extrapolate his findings to homosexual couples.  Disagree if you want, but it was his business and he can run it the way he wants to.

                              Well, perhaps not.  eHarmony has just caved to a lawsuit by a gay man, and now has a new site for same-sex matches.  Coming next; meat-eaters suing vegetarian restaurants.  So much for "tolerance".

                              * Archaeologists have found new evidence that they have indeed found King Herod’s tomb

                              * A funny little list that has made the rounds on why public schooling is better than homeshooling.

                              * Opposition parties gained ground in Venezuela against Chavez. 

                              * Academia’s assault on Thanksgiving is descending into self-parody, where a pair of public schools decided to stop a long-standing tradition of having kids from one school dress up as pilgrims and the other as American Indians and come together for Thanksgiving.  When opponents of this celebration of a very bright spot in our nation’s history protest it with signs saying "Don’t Celebrate Genocide", you know that either they are just full of anger or are simply products of the public education system.  Or both.

                              * Academia’s assault on Christmas is descending into self-parody (sensing a trend here?) with one school banning, not just Jesus, but even Santa.  When Jews and Wiccans are standing up for Christmas, you know you are light-years over the line.

                              * Salvation Army bell-ringers considered noise pollution?  Now, while I rang those bells as a kid growing up, and even in college, I just gotta’ say that this is serious over-sensitivity.  Bell ringers have been at malls for decades; it’s not all that loud.  If the bell-ringer can handle the "noise", the kiosk merchants should be able to.  And let’s not forget that the Christmas song "Silver Bells" was inspired by those bell-ringers.

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