Saturday, April 29, 2006

Carnival of Kid Comedy, week 8, is up

Kim has this week's Carnival of Kid Comedy up at Life in a shoe.

Technorati tags: , , ,

Washington DC Trip - Days 6 & 7 - Back in DC

Day 6 - Monday, 24 April

We got up in the morning. Hotel Harrington did not provide a breakfast, so we walked east for four blocks to McDonalds.

After breakfast we hiked over to the Washington Monument. It is huge, over 500 feet tall. We weren't sure exactly when we'd be able to go to the Monument, so we hadn't arranged to get tickets ahead of time. If you ever go to DC, you need to arrange weeks in advance. The ticket office told me that the tickets the office had for that day were gone. If I wanted to try for tomorrow I'd need to show up about 6:30 AM, wait till 8:30 AM when the office opened, and I'd probably get tickets. Each day the office gets about 900 tickets, the rest are available online.

We walked down the Mall to the World War II memorial. It was very impressive, in a dramatic way. Next we walked along the reflecting pool to the Korean Memorial. From there we hiked over to the Lincoln Memorial. There is a great view of the Capital from the top of the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

Next we walked along the Vietnam Memorial. I was surprised by the power of the list of names on a black wall. I was strongly moved, almost to the point of tears. The World War II Memorial presents more of a sense of power and grandeur. The Vietnam Memorial is at a more personal level, making the sacrifices more real.

It was now about lunch time. We wandered a bit looking for a place to eat. We got directions to a Food Court near the Reagan building. Like almost so many buildings in DC, we had to go through a security check. The food was OK.

After lunch we went over to the Virtual Tour of the White House. Our daughters were so exhausted that we sat down and watched a movie for the next forty minutes. All total this day I think we walked about five miles. It wasn't real hot, about 80 degrees, but they were dragging by the end of the day.

About three in the afternoon we walked over to the Daughters of the American Revolution, DAR. In doing some research on her ancestors my wife connected with a woman who works at DAR. Janine was able to read a journal of a woman who married the cousin of one of Janine's ancestors. Our daughters and I played with toys from the last couple hundred years.

Afterwards we went to the home of the lady who worked at DAR. We had a nice dinner and learned a bit of what it was like to raise children in DC.

Then we took the Metro back to our hotel, and crashed for the night.

Day 7 - Monday, 25 April

We got up early in the morning, well early for us, since we were still on West Coast Time. We packed up and checked out of the hotel.

One of the highlights of the trip was a tour of The White House. The man we had meet on Wednesday, who works in the White House, called us back on Monday and offered to help us get a tour of The White House. We meet him at 9:30 AM at the same sandwich place, and then walked over to The White House. I had misunderstood, I had thought he would just connect us up with a tour, but he personally took us through the normal tour. We were very grateful. We got to see some of the rooms in the East Wing. There was security everywhere. There was one sad note, we weren't allowed to take our camera through, and so we didn't have any pictures of us in The White House.

Afterwards we took the Metro over to Union Station. We did a little souvenir shopping and got a light snack. Then we got a car from Alamo. We drove over to our hotel, picked up our bags and headed off to Williamsburg. Our daughters watched a DVD on the way.

We arrived at about 3:00 PM. After checking in, we drove over to Colonial Williamsburg and walked around a bit. Then after things started closing down we went out for dinner.

Back at our hotel we watched some TV and then went to bed.

Book review: A Son of Thunder by Henry Mayer

I enjoy history. I enjoy reading about the history of The United States, and the history of the world. While earning a BS in Physics I took almost enough history credits to get a BA in History. Through all the history I've read Patrick Henry seemed to be a supporting actor in the creation of the US.

Last year my family and I went to Colonial Williamsburg. For one of the events Richard Schumann acts as Patrick Henry. Mr. Schumann stands out under an Oak tree. He greets the audience, informs them of the events of the day (in 1776) and then takes questions from people. I was so fascinated and so enjoyed this the first day I went, that I went every day I could for the rest of the week, and when recently we flew back to the East Coast to see Washington DC and Colonial Williamsburg, I went again.

You can learn more about Richard Schumann's interpretation of Patrick Henry here, and even listen to him give the famous speech. And here you can read an interview with Richard Schumann.

In response to some questions, Richard Schumann as Patrick Henry will "speculate" on the future. I asked if he thought there would be any good biographies written on him. As a typical Patrick Henry speech, he responded with a five to seven minute answer. He talked about the first biography written, about 30 years after Patrick Henry died, and gave the background on a number of other biographies written over the last 200 years. Finally he recommended "A Son of Thunder" by Henry Mayer.

This is a well written book. It is informative and engaging.

The book moves chronologically through Patrick's life. It starts with his ancestors, focusing on his parents. We learn of some of the major events in his childhood. As a child Patrick Henry was pretty easy going and had little drive. One he got married Patrick Henry finally grew up and started studying to become a lawyer.

Patrick joined Virginian politics and led a major change. For decades politics were run by the Virginian aristocracy. Patrick worked with the common men. He supported them, and they supported him.

Patrick is known for his ways with the spoken word. He was very gifted. The book gives some insight into how he developed this gift. As a lawyer he lost few cases. In fact after he beat Thomas Jefferson in a case, Thomas Jefferson gave up law.

Patrick Henry was very influential in the creation of the United States. The first ten amendments, the Bill of Rights, are largely due to Patrick Henry forcing James Madison to commit to supporting them.

The book shows that Patrick Henry was a good man. He had a few flaws, but Patrick Henry rates high in my mind for making the effort to make a difference.

This is a good book to read. If you have any interest in the creation of The United States of American, this book is worth reading.

(I'll post a variation of this review to

Technorati tags: , , , ,

Selections from The Homeschooling Revolution

Back a couple years ago, before I even knew what a blog was, I came across and started reading Isabel Lyman's blog, The Homeschooling Revolution. She has also written a good book called The Homeschooling Revolution. You can read my review of her book at Amazon. My decision to try doing some interviews with people involved with homeschooling was influenced by some interviews Isabel did awhile back. I really enjoy her blog. Here are some recent posts I found interesting.

Having just spent almost a week in Washington DC and a couple days in Colonial Williamsburg, the history of The United States is fresh in my mind. So I thought this quote by Benjamin Franklin was very insightful: "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote."

Recently I've been wondering if I really wanted my daughters to go off to college. Don't be confused, it is very important to me that they are educated, but just like so many scary elementary and high schools in the public school system, I've reading more and more about scary colleges and universities. Isabel found an article in Forbes with five reasons not to go to college. One of the main points is that really all a university degree does is to help employers feel comfortable in hiring someone. And that with the rising high cost of education, a young adult might be better off investing the $150,000 for tuition and jumping right into the job workforce after high school. The article has some interesting food for thought.

Isabel found a new homeschooling blog, The Homeschool Cafe, which looks very promising. A group of Mississippi moms are blogging about homeschooling, education, and other issues. Isabel also found a blog on Education and Homeschool News. It has a surprising amount of information for such a short period of time.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, , , , ,

A few recent Astronomy Pictures of the Day

During our ten day trip back East I was out of my normal routine of checking certain blogs and web sites each day. One of the sites I missed is NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day. There were several fun pictures recently.

NGC 246 and the Dying Star - is an a fascinating picture of a cloud around a star.

NGC 253: Dusty Island Universe - shows another galaxy. I get lost trying to imagine another galaxy full of billions of stars.

M82: Galaxy with a Supergalactic Wind - is another picture of a galaxy.

NGC 7635: Bubble in a Cosmic Sea - is a beautiful picture of stars.

If you find these interesting, you may want to bookmark the Astronomy Picture of the Day site.

Technorati tags: ,

Friday, April 28, 2006

In Education, as business, what gets rewarded gets done

Joyce Wycoff's, in her blog Heads-Up!, has an article by Robert Tucker. Robert compares Maytag and Whirlpool. Times have been tough in the appliance business. Maytag decided to watch pennies. Whirlpool decided to create a culture of innovation. After five years Whirlpool had grown by 36% and Maytag was collapsing. He writes about how Whirlpool created an environment that rewarded innovation. Robert Tucker makes the point: "When it comes to changing people's behavior, it's important to remember an underlying principle: behavior that gets rewarded gets repeated." (The emphasis is mine.)

This reminds me of The Greatest Management Principle in the World, by Michael Leboeuf. I read a review of this book several years ago. The one line summary was "That which gets rewarded gets done."

Both lines remind us that if we want certain events to happen, we need to reward people when those events occur.

One of the main problems with public education today is that rewards are almost completely separated from accomplishments. For example, the politics of funding are scary. The public school systems are always pleading for more money. They get more money, or are rewarded, not on how good of a job public schools do in educating students, but on how well they pled their case. The public schools get rewarded for lobbying for more money, so it isn't a surprise that they keep focusing on trying to get more money.

The only way public schools are going to dramatically improve is by having an incentive system which rewards giving children a quality education.

We know there is great room for improvement in public schools. Joanne Jacobs shows some of the room for improvement in her book: Our School: The Inspiring Story of Two Teachers, One Big Idea, and the School That Beat the Odds. The book is about a charter school in San Jose, California. The high school takes students from the wrong side of the tracks, who are often at the second to forth grade levels, and after a couple years this charter school is able to graduate many of them ready for college. It is an amazing story.

One of the reasons vouchers are so appealing to many is that it provides an incentive system for schools. If the schools do a good job, parents will send their children there, and the school is rewarded with the money which comes from the voucher.

The public school system fights vouchers. Vouchers were proposed 50 years ago by Milton and Rose Friedman. Yet very few students today have access to vouchers. Given the slow and painful history of vouchers I don't see a dramatic change in the near future.

Remember "That which gets rewarded gets done." By remembering this, it is easy to understand some of why public schools are doing so poorly today.

(Hat tip: One of the mailing lists I'm on is NewsScan Daily; the company sent a link to Joyce Wycoff's blog this week.)

Technorati tags: , ,

Recent columns from the Goldwater Institute

Matthew Ladner has a short column, Missing the Mark(et), in which he builds on the two recent episodes on Oprah Winfrey. He focuses on one of the problems with public schools: "Why do some of our k-12 schools perform so shamefully? One reason is that unlike other services in the U.S., we have tragically divorced our schools from normal accountability mechanisms."

In Where Does the Buck Stop?, Arwynn Mattix points out that a recent U. D. District Court decision to make the schools give more money to English Language Learners (ELL) has no guarantee of success. The funding needs to be structured in such a way that the schools are motivated to help the children succeed.

And in The Silent Epidemic, Arwynn Mattix addresses the public school drop out crises. Currently almost a third of the students in the United States public schools drop out. The Gates Foundation did a study and Arwynn reports on one of the findings: "The overwhelming majority of participants said they might not have dropped out if their schools offered better instruction (81 percent) and fostered an academic climate (65 percent)."

Technorati tags: , , ,

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Reminder - upcoming carnivals

Submissions to this week's Carnival of Kid Comedy are due tomorrow, Friday, at midnight. Here are the guidelines and details on how to submit an entry.

The Carnival of Homeschooling next week will be held by The Thinking Mother. Entries are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM, PST. Here are the guidelines and details on how to submit an entry.

Washington DC Trip - Days 3 to 5 - with family

Day 3

We checked out of our hotel, a Best Western. We loaded everything into my brother's car. He drove over to park near Union Station. My wife and I took our three girls over via the Metro. We meet at the steps of the Supreme court.

We had to rush to the Senate Hart Office building. We had a 11:00 AM tour of the Capital scheduled through one of our senators. We were a couple minutes late, but made it before the tour left. And there was enough room that my brother and his three daughters were able to be on the tour.

The hour long tour was fun. One of the senator's aids took us into Senate side of The Capital. We learned some history. At the end of the tour we then waited in line to see the House floor from the gallery. Since Congress wasn't in session, there was little activity on the floor.

We had lunch at the Senate cafeteria. The food was good and there was an amazing amount of variety. It was a bit of a zoo, there were tons of people. I wonder how crazy the cafeteria is when Congress is in session.

After lunch we walked with my brother to his car. We got a few bags. He headed back to his home, in central Virginia. We headed into Union Square to a car rental. We picked up our car.

We headed out of Washington DC. The traffic wasn't too bad. I was expecting worse for a Friday afternoon. It took us about four hours before we arrived at my brother's house. We have a DVD player on which our daughters a couple movies.

Day 4

This was a slow day for my wife and I. Our daughters played with their cousins nonstop.

I played Civilization IV. I've recently bought the game, but our PCs are too old and slow to run the game. It was fun to finally play Civ IV.

We talked, ate, relaxed.

Day 5

After church we had lunch and hit the road back to Washington DC. We arrived about 6:00 PM. We stayed at a different hotel, Hotel Harrington. I dropped my family off and headed over to Union Square to return the rental car, and then walked back.

The rest of the trip

The Carnival of Education, week 64, is up

This week the Carnival of Education is at The Education Wonks.

Technorati tags: , ,

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Day in Williamsburg

We had a great day in Colonial Williamsburg.

I don't know if Henry has mentioned the problem with the computer at the hotel. They have a very aggressive porn filter. As a result of my Educator S**** Misconduct post, we can't look at our blog at all. Henry has found a way to look at individual posts but not the whole blog, and only posts that make it past the filter. I'm afraid if I use the full name of the "Educator" post, I wouldn't be able to post it or look at either. So if you've posted any comments on our blog recently, chances are we haven't seen them.

Even with all this trouble, I'm glad the hotel has taken such a hard stand agents viewing porn on their computers.

We get home tomorrow late. We had fun, but are very tired. I think Henry is going through BLOG withdrawal. The kids held up pretty well, but are glad to go home. We've not done very well keeping track of our "stuff." So far we have lost a pink striped long sleave shirt, a yellow pollo shirt, and two teal blue windbreakers. It just makes me nuts that I can't figure out how we lost them. I would think that someone stole them out of our hotel room, but the computer and DVD player weren't touched. It's like some little gremlin took them in the middle of the night.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Interview: Judy Aron - Director of Research at NHELD

Below is an interview with Judy Aron done via email. Judy makes some great points. One of the ones which resonanted with me is how children who are being homeschooled need to realize their education is a partnership and take initiative. Her thoughts about how all homeschoolers need to be informed and involved with poltics reminded me of some of the reviews I've read about An Army of Davids (which I have, and hope to read soon) by Glenn Reynolds.

I hope you enjoy the interview.



Judy Aron is a long time Homeschooling Activist. She has been heavily involved in protecting the rights of parents: particularly homeschoolers. Currently Judy works as the Research Director for the National Home Education Legal Defense ( Judy was also Vice President of CT Homeschool Network, and currently is their legislative liaison. ( She is wife to Michael Aron, and mom to 3 wonderful kids. David is a graduate of Boston University, Jeff currently attends Wentworth Institute of Technology, and Rachel is pursuing her high school studies at home.


Judy, tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? What hobbies do you have? Where is the most exciting place you've traveled to?

I was born in Far Rockaway, New York, and attended public school there up until my parents had to deal with bussing and other problems with the school system. Yes, I recall being bussed quite far away from my home to a horrible school. So, when I was a “tweenager” we moved to “upstate” New York, to a little town called Accord. I attended public school there and then graduated from Rondout Valley High School and went on to attend SUNY New Paltz, where I earned a BA in Economics in 1978 with a dual minor in Business Administration and Computer Science. I graduated Magna Cum Laude. Shortly after graduation I married my husband Michael Aron and we moved to Connecticut. I worked for the Travelers Insurance Company as a manager in Data Processing, and after having my second child I hung up the corporate suit and stayed home to be a parent full time. It was a wise decision, and one that I will never regret, despite the hardship of giving up half of our income at the time. During my time at home and raising a family, I did all kinds of things including obtaining a real estate license, running a travel agency out of my home for a time, and doing lots of community work.

The most exciting place that I ever traveled to is a tough question to answer, because as I said, I was a travel agent. I had left the corporate world to raise a family, and while at home I started a travel business. I did lots of traveling as a result. I have enjoyed going to Israel, Finland, Sweden, and various parts of Mexico and the Caribbean, England and Ireland, plus lots of other places. The cruises we took were lots of fun and really relaxing. Our trip to Israel was the most awesome and meaningful to me, but I really enjoyed Sweden and Finland. Best trips with the kids had to be Ireland and England, though, because we did an amazing driving and bed and breakfast tour. We just loved the castles and history, and the people were really kid friendly. While international trips have been exciting, I have to say that our domestic travels have also been wonderful and we’ve seen some very beautiful sites right here at home. From the canyons in Utah to Pennsylvania Dutch country and Disneyworld, we’ve traveled to some very special places in the USA.

My hobbies include soap making, gardening, cooking, quilting, reading, stained glasswork and some scrap booking. I just love crafts mostly because I love home made stuff. My husband brews his own beer too! People jokingly chide us for being like the Little House on the Prairie. I also love politics – but sometimes I hate it too.

General homeschooling:

How did you get started with homeschooling?

We began homeschooling about 10 years ago. In 1995, our oldest son was in middle school – 7th grade – and our middle son was in 3rd grade. All along, since they were in kindergarten, I was the typical PTO mom and was very involved in helping out at school. Our town, West Hartford, is touted as having the best school system. After curriculum changes in the late 80’s that included whole language and “mom and pop” psychology that started to creep into the curriculum, we began to see some pretty bad things unfolding. The climate in middle school also began to change, and kids were getting to be pretty nasty to each other, and I also saw the administration become less interested in the kids and more interested in the rules. We just came to see that our kids were not getting the same quality education that we got when we were kids.

My oldest child was bored in school and very frustrated because he wanted to learn about Galileo and Copernicus and the great art masters and other aspects of a “classic curriculum”. They were just not doing the job for him. Meanwhile my 3rd grader was having lots of difficulty with his reading and writing, and the school wanted to blame it on “learning problems”. The only problem that my child was having was that they were spending more time on making quilts for AIDS babies then teaching him how to read or write. I also saw that school was completely monopolizing our family time. When the kids were not in school, then we had to go to parent nights, or some other school sponsored event. Believe it or not, they were even sending homework home for me to do! It was ridiculous. We had lots of school meetings to discuss these issues with curriculum specialists and the principal and other administrators, and finally the principal of the middle school told me that since they thought that they were meeting the needs of 85% of the children at the school, that they felt they were doing their job, and if we were dissatisfied then we ought to put our sons in a private school. That was that. They basically told us that they couldn’t do a better job.

We did start looking at private schools, but quickly saw that it was unaffordable. We began doing supplemental work at home for the kids, and after a while saw the unfairness of that. Why spend a day at school and come home and be expected to do more school work? But what I saw was that we could teach our own, and they liked it, and they did well with it. Anyway, after doing some reading and finding out about homeschooling, we discussed it with our kids and they said they wanted to try it. Homeschooling was a completely new concept to me, and I had no idea people actually taught their kids on their own, let alone that they were allowed by law to do that. The thought of homeschooling was akin to jumping off of a cliff. So we thought we’d try it for a year and see what happened. We left the public schools in 1996 and haven’t gone back since. It was a very good decision on our part. Our kids have done quite well, and are all well educated and well adjusted individuals.

What do you see as some of the biggest reasons for homeschooling?

In my mind the biggest reason is freedom and flexibility. Maybe people leave the government schools because they are unhappy with it or it isn’t serving their needs somehow. Ultimately, I think people homeschool for lots of different reasons. I’ve known people who homeschool because their child has a specific talent they wish to pursue – like music or equestrian or figure skating. I knew a family whose child was an Olympic competitor in luge. I have known families who homeschool because the parent’s job is such that they travel a lot. It doesn’t even matter what the reason is, because in the end, a home tailored and specific education for your children is the best way to go. Engaging kids in what interests them, and weaving in what doesn’t, really works well and if they have input into the process then they have total ownership of their education. When kids are invested in what they are doing, they are excited and motivated to achieve goals. It is much different than government schooling which tends to spoon feed everything, and kids are always told what to do and how to do it. Leaving it was total freedom from their schedules and demands.

And along the same lines, what do you see as some of the strengths of homeschooling?

I think my previous answer touched on that.

Do you see any valid concerns about homeschooling?

I am concerned that most parents rely on others to tell them what they need to do to homeschool. They especially should be wary of their school system telling them what they need to do to begin homeschooling, or what paperwork they “must” submit. I believe first and foremost, that parents need to understand the laws that allow them to homeschool in their state. They should not allow themselves to be told what they need to do, or not do, without having read the law themselves and fully understanding it.

Secondly, parents should not listen to others about how to homeschool their kids because everyone should homeschool in their own way. There is no “one” correct way and there is no “best” way. You have to find your “own” way. Parents have to want to take the time to either guide their kids through materials or to track down and obtain materials, like local classes or online programs, for their kids to use. They also should try their utmost not to replicate school at home. Kids also have to want to homeschool as well, and should understand that they have a stake in succeeding in their own education. This isn’t something that someone is going to do for them, and it is all about what they make of it themselves. It is very much like life in general. Families should always discuss and reassess how they are doing, and make sure that they are co-operating in the effort and not butting heads. Parents can be excellent teachers, but they also have to know how and where to get appropriate resources to achieve good results. I think it is important to be connected to a network of other homeschoolers. It certainly can make the path a lot easier.

Public Schools:

What do you think will happen in the future with Public Education? What are some of the biggest problems with public schools? Do you think things will get better, worse, or stay about the same with the public schools?

As it is, the system seems to be failing in general, and there is rising pressure for competition in the demand for charter schools, magnet schools, voucher programs and other forms of reform regarding choice. There has got to be some major reforms in the current design of government schooling or it will just continue to crumble under the weight of union control and federal and state mandates. The taxpayers will certainly revolt because they simply cannot keep throwing huge amounts of money down this never ending hole of need. It is already happening in many municipalities across the country where taxpayers are voting down school budgets and drawing the line on spending. The only ones getting hurt are the kids. The fact of the matter is that more money is being spent on administrators than on school children. Comparatively little money actually shows up in the classroom. We are spending huge amounts of money for the credentials of the administrators who continue to dream up more ridiculous programs to spend even more taxpayer funds. With the addition of legions of school psychologists, psychiatrists and counselors, and the notion that schools also need to be health centers there is something pretty insidious going on. Not only is the teacher’s union in control, but the pharmaceutical and medical industry seems to also be taking hold in the form of school mental health screening programs and school health centers. It looks like they are setting up screening programs in order to cultivate new medication users. On top of all that, parental rights are being stolen from us. For some parents that is what they desire, for they have abrogated most of their responsibilities for raising their children to the state.

At some point, compulsory school age will be dropped to 3 and 4 year olds as we move ahead with universal preschool in many states. Most parents seem to welcome the state takeover of the care of their children, and that is pretty alarming. They view it as free daycare while they go out and work, or do whatever else, instead of raising and educating their kids themselves.

Somewhere along the way people have forgotten what educating kids is all about. It has become more of an indoctrination of political correctness and less about actual learning and exploration. There is way too much fluff in the schools as they attempt to “teach” about sex education, AIDS awareness, gay and lesbian issues, anti-smoking, anti-drugs, and every other campaign that comes down the pike. Kids are not spending enough time actually learning the things that they need to learn. It seems to me that there is precious little on task time being spent on the essentials. Kids are not learning enough history or civics to become active informed citizens. The reading lists at most schools contain such contemporary trash and little in the way of real literature. Kids are not learning enough higher math or science and they cannot even read or write properly. This is evidenced by the huge number of remedial classes that colleges now have to offer in order to get their students up to speed. That is shocking!

Are public schools fixable?

Yes. Here is what I think has to be done: Get rid of union control. Get rid of government mandates. Get the psychologists and psychiatric community out of the school system. Get rid of tenure. Put a cap on the amount spent on attorney fees for the schools. Do not allow unlimited legal proceedings against families who are just trying to do the right thing for their kids.

Demand more from the kids and have some real discipline. Give the kids some respect and some real reasons to cultivate self respect and self esteem. Let them work hard to achieve results they can be proud of. Hire teachers who really understand what learning is all about. Have a curriculum in place that is interesting, and not just busy work. Believe it or not, some of the more successful charter schools in my area are doing the things I have just mentioned. Furthermore, I would, cut the school hours in half, and allow the kids to have a life and interests of their own choosing. There would be no homework because any work needing to be done would be done in school. Parents need to be fully involved in the endeavor of their kids’ learning. Kids should not be fed and clothed by the school system. If parents are not doing their job of taking care of their children’s needs then they should be prosecuted according to the laws having to do with parental neglect of duties. Basically I believe in parental control and responsibility and a policy of no government interference in education. If I had my way, we’d abolish the Federal Department of Education all together and the State Department of Education would have nothing at all to do with children who are not enrolled in their public school. I could say more, but I think you get my drift here.

Homeschooling and politics:Tell us a little bit about the National Home Education Legal Defense. What are its aims and goals?

NHELD is a national organization open to all who wish to join, and it seeks to protect and defend the rights of families who wish to educate in freedom.

NHELD's goals are as follows:

Empowerment of individuals. All individuals in this country, a country of the people, by the people, and for the people, should always be empowered. Too often today individuals do not feel empowered but feel overwhelmed by the dictates of "the government". We, the people, form the basis of that government. It is time to remind those whom we have elected that they work for us. It is time to remind them that the United States Constitution is still in existence and that they all have taken an oath to uphold it, not to disregard it. How can individuals become empowered? They can become empowered with knowledge, with information, with accurate facts about what the law actually says and accurate facts about any proposed changes to the law which are being perpetrated by elected officials. We believe that anyone can and should become empowered to act to retain freedom.

Unity of purpose. One individual acting to retain freedom faces a daunting task. Many individuals acting to retain freedom face an achievable task, a task that can and must be accomplished.

Freedom to educate. Parents educate their children for a variety of reasons in a variety of ways. However, there is one thing that is crucial for all parents, the need to be free so that they are able to educate in the manner in which they choose in the best interest of their children. Together, we can and must retain this freedom; without freedom, there is only one choice: government schooling. That is not acceptable.

What has it done recently?

NHELD has been working on analyzing various pieces of proposed federal legislation and putting out bulletins to inform everyone about what those bills may mean to our homeschooling freedoms as well as parental rights. We have been very concerned with the attempts of the education establishment to make withdrawal from public school conditional, to lower or raise compulsory school ages, to usurp the power of parents by performing various health screenings without proper parental consent, and a host of other issues. We have been monitoring what has been going on in various state legislatures as well as in Congress. We have also been doing some speaking at homeschool conferences and we have just begun a regularly scheduled radio show on WDRC-am 1360 , WSNG-am 610, WMMW-am 1470, and WWCO-am 1240 in CT (details can be found on our website). We are also working on continuing our networking for parents who are looking for legal help or support in their own state, and we are hoping to branch out to create NHELD chapters in each state.

Twenty and thirty years ago the parents who fought for the right to homeschool faced an uphill battle. In the United States then there were many states where it was illegal to homeschool. Today what are you biggest concerns about the continued existence of homeschooling?

First of all, it was not an uphill battle, and homeschooling was not illegal. I would check the accuracy of that statement, as NHELD knows where that misinformation originated from. What the law was back then, and what it was interpreted as saying, may have been the only problem that existed to begin with. People need to remember that the duty of parents to educate their children has been with us since the inception of the colonies in the 1600’s.

NHELD believes the biggest threat to parents nationwide is the lack of accurate information. If citizens are not informed about the law and the facts affecting their rights under the law, they cannot effectively retain their freedom. NHELD urges everyone, no matter how tedious the task is, to obtain, read, and retain copies of the U.S. Constitution, their state Constitution, and all federal and state statutes, administrative regulations, state Department of Education and local Board of Education policies affecting the right of parents to instruct their own children. Many of these documents are available on the Internet. If parents are not informed as to what these laws and polices say exactly, then those in a position of power may easily and intentionally distort the language and intent of the law and coerce, intimidate, or otherwise fool parents into compliance with their own whims. Even organizations that purport to protect your rights as homeschoolers, may try to misinform you. You do not have to be a legal professional to understand the law and what it says, or what it requires you to do or not do.

As for current issues that concern us about the continued existence of homeschooling, first and foremost we are concerned about the continuing proposal and enactment of federal legislation regarding homeschooling. Federal laws are being proposed by Congress at the behest of another national homeschool organization. The federal definition of homeschool does not currently exist, but laws mentioning homeschooling do exist. In any federal legislation the term “homeschool” eventually must be defined, either in the legislation itself or by the courts. Whatever that definition is, or turns out to be, because it is a federal law, it may, and probably will, supersede any definition of “homeschool” that currently exists in each and every state, and, in turn, may and probably will, supersede the law regarding homeschooling in each and every state. Aside from the fact that federalizing homeschooling, and education in general, goes against the 10th amendment, for the federal government to be involved at all in matters regarding education, we see an erosion of states rights in this area. As we all know this has been achieved by the power of the purse, the Commerce Clause, which is a means by which the federal government is coercing the states into adopting education laws that the federal government desires. A case in point is No Child Left Behind. NHELD would love to see just one state stand up for its rights and tell the federal government what to do with their Title 1 funding. We would love to see just one state remain free from federal mandates and to manage their own affairs when it comes to educational issues, because that is how the founding fathers meant it to be, and that is what the 10th amendment requires. Vermont came pretty close to doing this, but never came through. Instead, states like Connecticut would rather take the federal government to court to get federal money and exemptions from the law, rather than say no thanks to the federal funding and remain mandate free. They don’t seem to understand that the money has strings attached.

Another hugely important issue threatening parents nationwide is the issue of loss of parental control over the lives of children through a combined effort of the psychological community and the public school system. Whether you are a homeschool parent or a parent of a child in any educational institution, this is an insidious effort that already is underway all across the country. The psychological community has begun an effort to undermine parental involvement with children by introducing a new word in their lexicon, the word, “enmeshment”. It seems that certain influential psychologists have deemed parents who become “enmeshed” with their children’s lives to be neglectful of those children. “Enmeshment” is viewed as too much bonding with a child to the extent that the child is not able to thrive independently from his parents. The theory is that children must become independent from their parents, and the sooner the better. To do anything less is neglectful. Parents already have been charged with neglect for being too enmeshed with their children. Of course there is a lack of scientific basis for the claim that “enmeshment” between a parent and child or that it is inherently bad. Yet, this may be the next step in claiming that parents who homeschool and, who necessarily are “enmeshed” with their children’s education, are neglectful simply because they are homeschooling. Thankfully, we have also seen that the psychiatric bible, the DSM-IV, is coming under attack as being a tool of the pharmaceutical industry to define new “diseases” that require therapy, intervention or drug treatment, and that “disease mongering” is being exposed for what it is, selling sickness to otherwise healthy people.

The public school community, on the other hand, thanks to newly enacted federal legislation, is implementing the mandate to establish mental health clinics in every public school and to have “psychological evaluations” completed of children routinely in the public school system, along with eye and hearing exams. There is also an effort underway to have all pregnant women giving birth in hospitals undergo psychological evaluations. This type of legislation has already been seen in Illinois and New Jersey. Again this does not just affect homeschoolers, but everyone, and it is extremely troubling.

Legislatures are actually mandating that public money be spent on screening programs which were developed by companies being funded by pharmaceutical companies, and administered by people unqualified to make diagnoses. Talk about conflict of interests! It is outrageous.

Another looming threat is the likelihood that state and federal law will continue to evolve in such a way as to make it even more difficult for parents who resist the efforts to detach children from their parents and to leave the public schools to homeschool in freedom. The likelihood is that there will be more of an effort to “regulate” homeschooling and to prevent parents from withdrawing their children from the public schools in order to homeschool. This is where we are concerned about conditional withdrawal becoming more of an issue. We already have been fighting in Connecticut to put language into statute which will guarantee a parents right to withdraw their children from public school at any time for any reason, without anyone else’s approval. We never had to obtain approval from the school in order to withdraw our children, but recently new policies have been put into place, by the CT Department of Education, which require a parent to perform some conditions in order to obtain approval to withdraw their child. We foresee that school districts in the future likely will require mental health assessments from parents, children and others in the family, before consent to withdraw a child from public school is granted. It is troubling to think that we have come to this point. Parents used to be able to send a letter to school or make a phone call to the school saying their children will not be returning to school. Now we have seen parents threatened with removal of their parental rights for simply not signing a Notice of Intent form; a form not even required by law.

It is extremely important to educate parents and legislators about these issues, as well as a host of other concerns. It is also important to fight every effort to “regulate” homeschooling and to retain as much freedom from government intrusion as possible.

After reading about a father in Germany who was thrown in jail for homeschooling his family, I've become more aware of how important it is for us as homeschoolers to be informed and involved. What are some good resources for homeschoolers to stay informed and involved?

The best resources are your own state statutes, and the federal, state and local documents that I mentioned above, including the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution. Of course there is our website at but there are numerous websites having to do with many of these issues. Home Education Magazine hosts some wonderful ongoing columnists, like the Kasemans, who write about these issues. They also have a pretty comprehensive website at . The Home Education Magazine blog site also has wonderful updates on legislative issues affecting homeschoolers nationally. Valerie Bonham Moon does a fabulous job of keeping that site up to date and filled with very useful information. HEM also has a variety of Yahoo lists which facilitate conversation about these subjects . Other informative Internet websites include: Separation of School and State and Edwatch among many others.

On the topic of mental health screening there is lots to learn from TeenScreen Truth and Signs of Suicide

Whether you lean left or right, there is also a terrific list of organizations and weblinks at the Constitution Society’s website

There are some terrific books available written by Charlotte Iserbyt, Beverly Eakman, John Taylor Gatto, Isabel Lyman and Sam Blumenfeld. Parents should try to hear these fine people speak in person at various homeschool conferences.

What can homeschooling parents and children do to protect the rights of homeschoolers?

Get educated, stay informed, and get involved. Keep an eye on what your legislature is doing and take the time to go to testify on proposed bills that will affect you and your parental rights. Every state has a website about their legislature; take the time to find yours and check it over. You can track bills online and you also have the ability to email your representatives and tell them what is on your mind. When election time rolls around find out what your candidates positions are on the issues that affect you. VOTE!

Another thing that you can do is listen to talk radio, and call in to discuss these issues. Write letters to your local papers. Talk to your friends and neighbors about these issues. If this seems like too much work, then just remember that freedom is not free and it never was meant to be free. The price of freedom is vigilance because there will be others who will attempt to take your freedoms from you. Remember that the laws that are enacted today may in fact govern your children and grandchildren. Don’t think that you are ever immune from legislation that doesn’t seem to directly affect you at this time. Teach your children valuable civics lessons, and let them know that they have a voice in how they are governed. Discuss the issues with them. Teach them about propaganda and how it is spread. Teach them the difference between various governments from democracies, theocracies, communism and socialism and everything in between. Most kids today do not even know what type of system we live under; let alone who their elected officials are. The prevailing ignorance and laissez faire attitude of most people is unbelievably shocking as is the willingness of most people to believe what is told to them without so much as a follow-up investigation for the truth. It is no wonder that their/our rights are being eroded daily.

Do not rely on others to interpret laws or proposed legislation for you or to represent your interests. Do not think that just because an issue touches public or private school that it won’t come to interfere with your life, because at some point the same laws governing public education may be applied to you and yours.

Lastly, be positive…sometimes really good laws are passed and every once in awhile you will find a politician who knows what our founding documents mean. We are still very blessed to live in this country, and each of us can make a difference.

NHELD’s motto: Knowledge through freedom, freedom through knowledge.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Carnival of Kid Comedy, week 7, is up

Kim, at Life in a shoe, appears to be fully back online.

And she has this week's Carnival of Kid Comedy up.

Technorati tags: , , ,

Interesting Report on Educator Sexual Misconduct

I came across an interesting report by the Department of Education on sexual abuse by teachers. It examines the incidence and prevalence of abuse, patterns of misconduct, and prevention strategies. Educator Sexual Misconduct: A Synthesis of Existing Literature reported some disturbing statistics.

According to a draft report commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education, in compliance with the 2002 "No Child Left Behind" act signed into law by President Bush, between 6 percent and 10 percent of public school children across the country have been sexually abused or harassed by school employees and teachers.

Here are some excerpts from the study:

** In the state of New York alone, more than $18.7 million was paid between 1996 and 2001 to students who were sexually abused by educators. Fees for attorneys and investigators are in addition to the settlement amounts.

From a study of 225 cases of admitted educator sexual abuse in New York State:

** None of the abusers was reported to authorities

** Only 1 percent lost their license to teach

Only 35 percent of abusers received a negative consequence for their actions: 15 percent were terminated or, if not tenured, they were not rehired; and 20 percent received a formal reprimand or suspension.

** Another 25 percent received no consequence or were reprimanded informally and off-the-record. Nearly 39 percent chose to leave the district, most with positive recommendations or even retirement packages intact.

There are some wonderful, dedicated administrators and teachers out there. Involved parents make a difference. I don't think they can turn the system around because bureaucracy rewards incompetence. I believe that is why so many administrators and teachers cover up abuse of children.

Here's the sad part. This study made policy recommendations to prevent future abuse. A follow up study showed that NONE of the recommendations had been implemented. Why pay for the study if they are going to ignore the problem and do nothing to fix it?

Most parents with children in school respond to this kind of story with "Things like this don't happen at my school." My response is "How would you know?" Unless you are in the inner circle or know someone who is, you wouldn't know. School Districts have paid out more to sex abuse victims than the Catholic Church.

Some parents feel comfortable that their child will not be a victim of sexual misconduct by an educator. An estimated 90 to 94% of children are not abused by educators. However, educator misconduct only accounts for 21 percent of sexual misconduct in schools. The remaining 79 percent of victims were targets of other students.

So, what's a parent to do? Many families, like ours, choose to more carefully monitor our children's education by directly providing or supervising the instruction. We use a mix of home instruction, distance learning, private school, co-op classes, and private lessons. We take an active roll in supervising our children when they interact with other children and adults. This does not mean that our children are isolated. We interact with a wide variety of children and adults through extended family, neighbors, homeschool groups, church groups, sports teams, parks and recreation classes, and summer camps.

In all these settings, we monitor who has access to our children. Just because someone is a family member, long term neighbor, or friend from church, we make no assumptions of trustworthiness. Neither, are we overly distrustful. Simple precautions such as utilizing the buddy system and frequent unannounced monitoring cover most situations.

Another important element is trusting your instincts. If a situation doesn't feel "right," do something. Once at a social gathering I got a "bad vibe" when visiting with someone I hadn't met before. I pulled my husband aside and we discussed it. We decided that our child was not to be alone with this person during the event. We didn't make a big deal out of it. We just made sure one of us was in the room with our child at all times. We made no accusations and said nothing to anyone. I don't know what it was, or if it was anything. However, we did our job as parents.

That's one of the weaknesses of public education. Parents turn their children over to strangers for long periods of time unsupervised. A teacher credential doesn't mean that person is trustworthy or uses good judgment. The above mentioned study reported that often educator abusers are "professionally accomplished and even celebrated." The report stated that "many educators who abuse work at being recognized as good professionals in order to be able to sexually abuse children. For them, being a good educator is the path to children, especially those who abuse elementary and younger middle school students."

So, beware of a wolf in sheep's clothing. Parents must protect their children because the school system will not.

Here's how the study defined sexual misconduct:

During your whole school life, how often, if at all, has anyone (this includes students, teachers, other school employees, or anyone else) done the following things to you when you did not want them to?

() Made sexual comments, jokes, gestures, or looks.
() Showed, gave or left you sexual pictures, photographs, illustrations,
messages, or notes.
() Wrote sexual messages/graffiti about you on bathroom walls, in locker
rooms, etc.
() Spread sexual rumors about you.
() Said you were gay or a lesbian.
() Spied on you as you dressed or showered at school.
() Flashed or "mooned" you.
() Touched, grabbed, or pinched you in a sexual way.
() Intentionally brushed up against you in a sexual way.
() Pulled at your clothing in a sexual way.
() Pulled off or down your clothing.
() Blocked your way or cornered you in a sexual way.
() Forced you to kiss him/her.
() Forced you to do something sexual, other than kissing.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, , , sexual abuse of children, educator sexual misconduct

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Washington DC Trip - Second day, part 2

Ugh, I’ve typed this up once already. I am down in the hotel lobby on one of the hotel computers. My wife is upstairs using our laptop. I spent about twenty minutes typing up a report on our day, and the hotel computer bluescreened on my.

In the morning I took my oldest and youngest and headed for the Metro. As an adult it is easy to forget just how many things we take for granted. My youngest daughter thought it was pretty cool that a piece of paper would open the gate at the subway station.

We rode the underground to the Federal Triangle stop. I mostly wanted to spend some time this morning doing something fun for the girls, and scout out how to use the Metro for when my brother showed up. We headed over to the Smithsonian American History Museum. Like all the Smithsonian Museums I’ve seen, it is huge. We spent an hour in there, and we could have spent a day.

We headed back to our hotel, arriving about none. My brother showed up about a half hour later. Everyone walked over to a Subway sandwich place for lunch. My second daughter was still feeling awful and pleaded that we let her go back to the hotel to rest. We walked back to the hotel, and my wife went upstairs with our poor sick daughter. The rest of us hiked on to the Metro station.

We rode back to Federal Triangle. First we walked over to The White House. The girls looked at it, and we talked some pictures. We are far enough back that it is hard to see much. There was some excitement, there was a dog running around on The White House lawn. Someone claimed it was the President’s dog, but it didn’t look like Barney or Miss Beazley.

After The White House we walked over to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. We only saw the mammal exhibit and the dinosaur exhibit. All the girls were starting to feel exhausted. It was hot outside, getting close to 80 degrees. We must have gone through a gallon of water.

Next was the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. We got to see the first model of the USS Enterprise, used in the original TV show. I was surprised by how big it is. It is about ten feet long.

We headed back to the hotel. My brother and I left all six girls with my wife and we went out for pizza from Pizza Hut. My second daughter was feeling much better and even ate a slice of pizza.

It was a good day. The girls learned a little about the capital, and about history. And they are having a great time being together, and playing together.

More of DC and then some with family

Request for submissions for the next Carnival of Homeschooling

The next Carnival of Homeschooling will be hosted by the Headmistress at The Common Room on the 25th of April. As always check here for details on how to submit. Entries are always due Monday evenings at 6:00 PM, Pacific Standard Time.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, education, ,

Washington DC Day 2 - Part 1

We are having a wonderful time in DC. Today began with a bit of a hiccup. Our 9 year old daughter went to bed complaining of a stomach ache. After laying awake most of the night, she threw up around 6 am. She doesn't feel too bad, but still doesn't want to eat. Henry took the two other girls out this morning, while the 9 year and I stayed in the hotel room.

Henry's brother Derek drove up from Lynchburg, Virginia, with his 3 oldest daughters. Henry, Derek and the 5 girls went to go see the sights while I'm staying in the hotel room with our 9 year old. She's perking up now, so I hope tomorrow it, whatever it was, will have passed.

She's really enjoying the cable TV. Animal Planet and HG TV have been a real hit. I'm not sure what HG stands for, but they have shows like "Design on a Dime" and other home management type shows. I'm glad that my kids want to watch shows like that instead of Disney or Cartoon Network.

I would be having fun if I could get to the TV. That's one of the reasons we don't have cable TV at home. I would turn into coach potato and my life would fall apart. There are so many good things to watch but even good things can waste valuable time.

Henry and the rest should be back by bedtime. Then Henry can post an update on what they saw today.

More of our trip

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Answering one of Peter's questions - attitude towards public schools

(Update I) Recently hundreds of people have recently been directed to this post by various search engines, looking for "peter questions." If this is you, you probably want Peter Answers. If you don't know the secret, check out Chris Wondra as he explains the trick.


A blogger named Peter asked several questions in response to my post about our second daughter's proposal to have the concession stand in our kitchen for family movies. I plan to answer each of his major questions or points in a separate post.

His first question was about the attitude homeschoolers have towards the public school system. He wrote:

"Yet I cannot understand why so many who are advocates of home schooling show no more than utter contempt for the public school system. Yes, many public schools are unproductive, failing and wasteful. Yet it is my opinion (and many others) that what is needed is an overhaul and fixing rather than condemnation."

Peter recognizes and acknowledges that public schools are broken. He then went on to list a number of commonly proposed suggestions for "fixing" the public school system.

There are so many different types of homeschoolers that you always need to be careful in trying to say what most of them believe about anything. I find that many homeschoolers have studied the history of education enough to realize that for decades people have been trying to "fix" the public school system, and they realize it has been getting worse. A good place to start is Inside American Education by Thomas Sowell.

I love the line: "Stupid is doing what you have been doing, and expecting different results."

Many homeschoolers have an informed understanding of the current state of education. They know that most of the "new" proposals for fixing public education have been tried, often several times, in the past. So when there is a promise that some new program is going to make things better, informed homeschoolers are very sketical.

I think some of the feelings homeschoolers have towards the public school system are:

Sadness - many children are suffering

Outrage - public school defenders won't admit the serious problems and fix them

Bewilderment - public school defenders continue to claim there aren't any real problems

Fustration - parents invest hundreds of hours in the public schools, and see little or no improvement

Indifference - many people homeschool for reasons other than the current state of the
public school system

I agree that there are a few homeschoolers who have utter contempt for the public school system, but I don't belive that it is most homeschoolers. The public school system has many, many problems. I think it is very reasonable for anyone to be suspicous of any program that this time will fix the public school system.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, , ,

The Carnival of Education, week 63, is up

This week the Carnival of Education is back at The Education Wonks.

Technorati tags: , ,

Washington DC Trip - Our first day

We’ve had a good day. Our girls are tired. They really didn’t fall asleep until after midnight last night. That is 9:00 PM California time, but then they they woke up this morning as the sun came up. Normally they’ll get around ten hours of sleep, so having only seven to eight made them tired.

We had a continental breakfast at our hotel. It was pretty simple, bagels, a couple types of cereal, juice, apples, and muffins.

For the day we decided to get an overview of Washington D.C. from a trolley. It really helped give us a general feel of the city.

We took a shuttle to downtown D.C. Our hotel directed us towards the Old Town Trolley Tours. When we arrived at the ticket office we were told that they were sold out, but since we had come by shuttle, and paid part of the price, we were able to buy tickets.

In the morning we took the green line up north of the White House. It was fascinating to ride around town. Almost every block had something interesting. There is something like 170 embassies in Washington D.C. There are 50 churches on 6th Street. There are so many national organizations, and governmental agencies, and museums, and on and on.

Washington D.C. seems to be the place for protests. We saw several. At two different places we saw people protesting China and human rights issues. Behind the White House was a group protesting Egypt and how Christians are being killed in Egypt. Another group was protesting nuclear weapons. One man had his own protest on house prices.

For lunch we found a sandwich place west of the White House. Turns out the guy in front of us works at the White House! After lunch we went to the Daughters of the Revolution, DAR. Janine has a friend who works there. We got a short, private tour.

We walked in front of the White House. We went as close as we could, and there were still five fences between us and the White House. Two hundred years ago you could have walked to where President Thomas Jefferson was living, knocked on the door, and sometimes he would have answered the door.

Washington D.C. is laid out in a grid system. The horizontal streets are named after letters, starting with A, but there is no J street. The vertical streets are numbers. So if someone gives you an address of 12th M North West, in theory it isn’t too hard to find. But there are a whole bunch of diagonal streets, some streets don’t go through. And there is lots of construction. So in walking from the DAR museum to get back to the Old Trolley Tour, we ended up on a diagonal street heading slightly away. When we finally arrived at the tour stop, our daughters were very happy to be able to sit again and just look at the sites.

We took the orange line in the afternoon. The trolley took us past Union Station, the Capital, the Smithsonian museums, Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, the Reflecting Pool, and Washington Monument.

After taking the second tour, we got some ice cream and came back to our hotel. Our daughters are pretty exhausted. They are watching Animal Planet. They wi ll probably only stir for dinner.

It has been a good day. We are having fun. There is a lot to see here.

This is Janine jumping in here. I'm too tired to do my own post.

Boy, this is a lot of effort, but this is what homeschooling is all about. First hand experience is so much more powerful than reading about it in a book. I also think the kids get more than they would in a large tour, like our local schools do. If we want to spend more time at a certain museum, we can. When the kids are done, we can stop.

So far, the tour guides have been a bit biased politically. I'm glad we are here to explain a different point of view. As a parent, I wouldn't appreciate my child coming home from a school trip to the nations capitol with an unbalanced view of history.

I was also surprised to learn that a friend paid $1,400 for her daughter's school trip to DC. The trip for our whole family will cost just a little more than that. (I'm quite the travel deal scout. We plan our trips by what airfaire/hotel is on sale.)

This is a wonderful place.

Janine's report

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education,,

We made it to DC

We got into Baltimore last night and took a shuttle into Washington D.C. We had a pleasant chat with a man who spent six years in Alaska as a child. His father worked as a principal in a little village of 170 people.

We struggled last night with our new laptop, but weren't able to get access to the wireless network. Our daughters greatly enjoyed watching Animal Planet.

We've had breakfast. We're about to take one of the site seeing tours around Washington D.C.

Technorati tags:

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Carnival of Homeschooling, week 16, is up

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is being hosted at About Homeschooling.

She has some practical solutions for parents who are homeschooling.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, education,

Blogging will be light, we're leaving on a trip

We're about to leave for the airport. We are going to Washington DC to see the sites, and then to Virginia to see my brother, back to DC for a couple days, and two days in Williamsburg, VA. It will be a fun, hectic nine days.

Technorati tags:

Monday, April 17, 2006

Announcing interviews with Why Homeschool

Michael Shaughnessy interviews people connected with public education. I have been reading these interviews for almost a year. I really enjoy them. He interviews authors, leaders of education organizations, professors and so on. He has mostly focused on public education and education at the university level.

I find the interviews to be very useful. I've been exposed to a wide variety of people, and their ideas about public education. It has been fun to get to know these people on a more individual level.

I asked Michael for advice on how to do interviews. He gave me some good advice and asked if I'd like to be interviewed. You can read his interview of me here.

My wife and I will be doing interviews with people connected to homeschooling. Normally we'll email a set of questions and then post the questions and answers.

We'd love to know who you'd like us to interview. Also, let us know what kinds of questions you would like us to ask.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, , , ,

The Carnival of Kid Comedy, week 6, is up

Kim, at Life in a shoe, continues to suffer, having to wait for their computer. But even without a computer she manages to get this week's Carnival of Kid Comedy up!

Technorati tags: , , ,

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Audio books - Bruggie Tales has links to free

Bruggie Tales had a post on the value of audio books, especially for children, along with a list of place to get audio books. May of the places provide audio books for free. Today Bruggie Tales posts another source of free audio books.

We make heavy use of audio books from our local library. Our daughters enjoy listening while playing.

Technorati tags: ,

Friday, April 14, 2006

We may be raising an entrepreneur

Awhile back my wife wrote about how our daughters had turned our kitchen into Cate Cafe.

Just this week my middle daughter approached me with a proposal. She asked if she could run a concession stand the next time the family watched a movie in the living room. She started going on about having popcorn that we could make and some fruit from the kitchen. She wondered if we could hit the grocery store and get some candy. We talked about what kinds of drinks we might have.

She said that the family members could buy the snacks with pretend money.

She says she wants to be a writer, but I wonder if she’ll end up being an entrepreneur.

The other option I’ve wondered about is that maybe she just wants us to watch more movies together as a family.

Update I (20 April 2006)
I've started to answer some of Peter's questions at:

Technorati tags: ,

M. Scott Peck

One of my favorite authors is M. Scott Peck. Among his books are The Road Less Traveled and People of the Lie. I've recently been reminded of some observations made by M. Scott Peck.

Peck's main thesis is that laziness is the root of all evil and that evil is obsessed with preserving an image of righteousness. In other words, evil begins when we want to look good, but not actually put in the time and effort to be good; or, when we are not willing to acknowledge our faults.

"Naturally, since it is designed to hide its opposite, the pretense chosen by evil is most commonly the pretense of love." (People of the Lie, p. 106)

Whether done by parents or institutions like schools, there is a pretense that coercive policies are meant to benefit the child, when in truth, they are designed to benefit the individuals or institutions promoting coercion.

Why use force and manipulation? Coercion gets instant results. It's fast and appears to be effective. However, it doesn't provide long term results. Whether it is at home in or an institutional setting like a school, intimidation provides only an illusion of compliance.

Today, we have laws mandating hours of instruction, age, and even content of instruction. Yet, we have decades of falling proficiency in core skills, such as reading and math, as well as high drop out rates. Of those who continue on to college, nearly 50% of the high school graduates in the University of California system have to take remedial math and English. We have policies that try to force children to get an "education." However, we have lower literacy rates than when school was optional.

This principle also applies to family settings. I once read a study about the abuse of the elderly. There was a strong correlation between child abuse and later abuse and neglect of elderly parents. Many children who were exploited by "loving" parents grow up to maltreat those same parents. Genuine care and affection can not be compulsory. It can not survive in an atmosphere of coercion.

I do not mean families should be a democracy either. I tell my kids that mom and dad are a benign dictatorship. Our goal is to establish "self rule" by the time the kids leave the house.

"Strangely enough, evil people are often destructive because they are attempting to destroy evil." (People of the Lie, p. 74)

How many public education objectives began under the pretense of ending some "wrong?" The list is almost endless. For example, to end the evils of "discrimination", schools now promote discrimination of select groups. The chosen group has preference in hiring, college admission, and such. They are given easier criteria for advancement at the expense of all others. These policies are design to promote an illusion of equity. In reality, they harm both groups.

"The words 'image,' 'appearance,' and 'outwardly' are crucial to understanding the morality of the evil. While they seem to lack any motivation to be good, they intensely desire to appear good. The 'goodness' is on a level of pretense. It is, in effect, a lie. This is why they are the 'people of the lie.'" (People of the Lie, p. 75)

A good example of this type of “lie” is the push for standardized testing. Teaching to the test and cheating are rampant because schools wish to maintain a pretense of efficacy while supporting mediocrity.

"For evil to so misuse their power, they must have the power to use in the first place. They must have some kind of dominion over their victims. The most common relationship of dominion is that of parent over child." (People of the Lie, p. 119)

Many who chose to homeschool do so to escape the tyranny of public education. As parents, we must be constantly vigilant that we do not become the tyrants.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, , , , ,