Thursday, September 11, 2008

This video clip from Fox News that I found on youtube is a poor example of interviewer ettiquette. She obviously has strong views, but I prefer to see an interviewer employ a line of questioning to cleverly bring about the fallacy of the opposing viewpoint. So who is this guys she's interviewing (attacking)? He's the president of a company called Schoolmatch. From their website:

SchoolMatch is an educational research and database service firm specializing in rating schools (K-12) by using auditable data. School systems and high schools are ranked in a national percentile format, making it possible for comparisons by the parent, homebuyer, corporate leader, policy maker, educator or Realtor.
SchoolMatch consultants also provide personalized services in the areas of school choice, counseling services for exceptional children, expert legal services, comparable school evaluation, and child custody school assessment.

In the video clip you can almost see the desperation through his dismissive attitude. Maybe he's desperate to get a word in edgewise, or maybe he is trying to keep his business from becoming irrelevant. This is the problem with teachers' unions too. Their very existence is dependent on people believing that we are all or too stupid to teach our own kids, or in Schoolmatch's case, too stupid to make choices for ourselves. And, as you can see, they will say anything to prove their point. This caught my attention mainly because of this line I recently read in John Holt's Teach Your Own.

"This is my objection to books about "Teach Your Baby This" and "Teach Your Baby That." They are very likely to destroy children's belief that they can find things out for themselves, and to make them think instead that they can only find things out from others."

But wait there's more...

The gentleman goes on to say (at about the 4:40 mark in the video clip)
"if they're so smart they should be able to work hard to to afford private school tuition or put their kids in a charter school." I have heard this line, use this line myself even, in reference to people who use government handouts as their safety net. I profoundly respect every man's right to change his own uncomfortable situation.
But never, never have I heard this argument used in this way. It obviously points to his disdain for homeschooling as a viable and effective means for educating children. Truly in this day, twenty or thirty years since the first parents stood up to the law and won back the right which was ripped from us, homeschooling can stand its ground. How many people are living under their rocks, not hearing, not accepting that which is fast becoming a hard fact? Families are successfuly teaching at home, and some families even allow children to lead their own education. And it works.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Universal Preschool

Many people think we should hand over our children to the professionals when they reach a certain age. Compulsory education used to start around age 6. Now if your 3 year old isn't in full time "preschool" (basically glorified daycare) people start questioning your parental judgment. The earlier the government gets their greedy little hands on my children the more likely they are to corrupt them into state-appeasing big government sympathizers. No thank you. Presumptive democratic nominee Barack Obama wants your kids as soon as they exit the womb (provided they survive that journey) and into preschool as soon as humanly possible. Here's a quote from Obama's website:

Zero to Five Plan: Obama's comprehensive "Zero to Five" plan will provide critical support to young children and their parents. Unlike other early childhood education plans, Obama's plan places key emphasis at early care and education for infants, which is essential for children to be ready to enter kindergarten. Obama will create Early Learning Challenge Grants to promote state "zero to five" efforts and help states move toward voluntary, universal pre-school.

That's right folks. Infant education. Want your child to succeed? Then Barack Obama has a plan to provide early care and education for your baby. Every time I hear about the need to increase "free" (taxpayer-funded) preschool (daycare) I am reminded of Plato's Republic in which Plato argued for the state to raise children. That is, Plato wanted the state to physically remove children from their parents and raise them with professionals. The goal of Plato's Republic would be to destroy the family in a quest for educating them the "right way" which Plato prescribes in his dialogue.

Read here for more.

Friday, August 22, 2008


Boy Wanders Into Mexico After School Bus Mix-up

"Gadsden Elementary School District board President Luis Marquez says that if any failure is found in the school transportation system, it will be corrected immediately."

"IF" any failure is found? You let a kid get onto a bus which wasn't his. You dropped him off at a place which wasn't his home. He "wandered" into another COUNTRY. I'd say that somewhere in there, something or someone failed.

People are surprised when something goes wrong after they turn their kids over to the government. Every time you hear, "This country is so messed up," "The government does this or that"...

I'm not even shocked anymore. The government screws up most anything it touches. I should know, I'm in the "go over there and screw that up" department of the government (only we use bombs and guns). Where's our "escape strategy" from the failed government education system?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Freedom ... for 10 weeks a year.

The back-to-school propaganda machine is in full swing these days. The news media makes light of both the collective groan from children, mourning the loss of summer freedom, and the cheers from adults, anticipating the return of "free" day care in the form of compulsory public education. Advertisers swoop in with the diversion of back to school shopping. New clothes, fresh supplies, the latest electronics - all to distract parents and children alike from the scary reality of ever-increasing government control over our children, our time, our entire lives.

Children are right to groan, but not for reasons that they are fully conscious of. Learning is about making sense of the world, but too many children are shut out of that world. They're stuffed in a classroom for eight hours a day after a too-early-in-the-morning bus ride and spend even more time away from family on homework or extracurricular activities. Caged like animals from dawn to dusk, separated from their natural instincts to explore, observer and learn, they turn into adults who can't make sense of the world around them. Their survival instincts were arrested at an early age. Good for a government that wants dependent and docile citizens, but a horrendous assault on individuality and the sanctity of a child's development. Children know it isn't right or natural, and I suspect, deep down, parents know this, too. But, just as in school, they are blinded by the status quo. They numbly go along. They shut up and put up, because they've forgotten how or never had the opportunity to think for themselves. They accept, essentially, government-mandated control over how their family spends its time.

Here in North Carolina, it's still over 90 degrees outside, hurricanes are churning in the Atlantic, summer thunderstorms wash away the day's heat, the ocean water is the perfect temperature, the cool air of the mountains still beckons, not a single leaf has turned color, tomatoes are still ripening on the vine, mosquitoes and fireflies still flutter in my backyard. Yet students are returning to school next week, unnaturally ending a season that naturally meanders into late September. Every year, I feel excitement with a twinge of sadness as seasons pass. But as a child, returning to school in late summer was met with unspeakable sadness and anxiety. It unnaturally cut short time with siblings, time to enjoy summer, to read, sew, garden, swim, be with friends or be alone, even do nothing at all.

The language of the back-to-school blitz makes me flinch. A "Kickoff to Kindergarten" event at a local museum was described as boot camp for 5-year-olds; a lifeguard described the change in demeanor among children in the past week saying "It's just like they put their heads down and look at their feet. They know what's coming."

A headline declared "Last week of freedom." I'm afraid that's old news. Our freedom was lost a long time ago.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

I stumbled across this quote today in reference to the parents' right to homeschool.
"Reality Check: The state needs our approval to even exist. This need is not reciprocal."
By Bev Jones. HomeSchooling Texas.

By clicking on this quote, I was linked to this:

"Some homeschoolers have been scrambling to gain state approval for years now. Those of us who realize that parenting our offspring is a perfectly right and natural function of having produced those children, also realize that no state "seal of approval" is required. In fact, seeking the state's approval is seeking to bring force to bear upon your own children, family and home. "

I was recently posed with the 'accreditation' question, by a new acquaintance. I literally saw his nose turn up when he said the word. I believe him to be one who has not been around many homeschooling families.
I have been on the receiving end of many snarky comments lately. It's getting to me, through my usually thick skin - maybe my guard is down being in a new country with few friends, and fewer like-minded ones. I have had to make up my mind to stop trying to discuss with new meets (potential friends) our particular style of education (which is quite relaxed).
I have seen first hand what happens when one mom asks the other what curriculum she uses, and the answer is 'ummm...none, really'. The conversation (the two sided kind) abruptly stalls. So I tend to elaborate and expound on the merits of unschooling. My first few tries to limit myself failed miserably. I love to talk about homeschooling and unschooling. Then when I finally got it right and kept my mouth shut, I was miserable - listening to this poor woman (who has 6 kids under the age of 11) discuss the merits of this curriculum or that one. I have only three kids and I can't stand the thought of trying to mold them all to one boxed curriculum. But, it is what they have chosen, because it works for them.

It really blows my mind that people who clearly like America for the freedom to say anything that crosses their mind (like 'oh we'll work the devil out of you yet,') are incapable of applying the concept of freedom any further than their own mouth.
Whether or not you believe the classroom is the right place for kids,
whether you suspect I am a criminal, breaking the law by teaching at home,
or that I am an idiot who can't even teach at an elementary level,
or that my kids are stupid and incapable of learning on their own,

...certainly as Americans we can all get behind the idea that parents should (I don't even like this word) be the ones to choose the path for their own offspring. And we don't need a government, which came along only in the last 250 years or so, to grant that to us. It was ours in the first place. The government should be protecting the rights we already have, not give them and take them as they see fit.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Brief CA Follow-up

About a week behind the curve, but I did want to post an update concerning the California decision being revisited. The word on the streets now is you may homeschool your children. Hooray! Next stop... DC. (Reactionary politics gone awry)

Friday, August 8, 2008

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Failure really should be an option

My husband and I recently watched "The Pursuit of Happyness." The only thing more stunning than the number of bottoms this man, Chris Gardner, had was the how many times he picked himself up, thought of a solution and moved on. Even more interesting was that his ultimate triumph was not overly celebrated in the film. (WARNING: Spoiler alert.) The final scenes showed Gardner stoically accepting a job offer, calmly walking out onto a busy city sidewalk and tearfully clapping his hands. He didn't tell his internship supervisors that he was living in a homeless shelter with his son, that his wife had left him, that he could barely make ends meet; he just showed up to work each day, did his job and tried mightily to keep his head above water in the hopes of winning a job at the end of an unpaid internship. He didn't look for approval or validation of his struggle from his peers. His motivation was all internal. Given the institutional schooling he surely was brought up in, his reaction to adversity is extraordinary.

In school, learning is a race against the clock, failure is stigmatized and avoided while success is narrowly defined, rewarded and expected. Part of my objection to institutional schooling is the intense focus on success, especially in this No Child Left Behind era. We're forgetting that failure is just as instructive, maybe even more so, than success.

Every day, my 19-month-old son tries and fails at a dozen small tasks. Fast forward a few days and he's mastered a skill that once frustrated him. What would happen if I insisted that he succeed at, say, shape sorting after a prescribed number of "lessons"? Would he learn any more completely, quickly or easily than if I had simply let him keep trying until he figured it out?

Lately, instead of showing him how to do something, I simply say, "Try it a different way" or "Turn [the object]" or "It's getting hard to walk around all those toys. Maybe we should pick some up." He doesn't usually get a "Good job" from us when he complies, either. I just describe what he's doing, saying something like, "You're helping Mommy pick up your toys" or "You got the triangle in the triangle hole." And I feel like it's working. He claps for himself when he knows he's done something well or accomplished a task. I loathe using praise with young children. It sets them up to expect external praise instead of experiencing the internal pride that comes from completing an act, such as cleaning up toys under their feet or seeing for themselves how an object fits, that is meaningful to their environment.

Don't get me wrong. I don't want my children to suffer needlessly. I want my children to be successful. But I also want them to fail so that they learn to pick themselves up, try again and be satisfied with whatever level of achievement they decide suits them. They don't have to be perfect. They don't have to be rich. They don't have to meet federal standards or anyone else's. They just have to be human.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

found this on

Please take a minute to check this out. I'll try to post my comments on this later today.

Friday, March 7, 2008

No more Homeschooling in CA?

Boy am I lucky I got orders to Okinawa instead of California. It was really a choice between the two.

If you haven't read by now, "The Second District Court of Appeal ruled that California law requires parents to send their children to full-time public or private schools or have them taught by credentialed tutors at home." If the State has not anointed you as an official educator of children, you have no right educating kids.
"California courts have held that ... parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children," Justice H. Walter Croskey said in the 3-0 ruling issued on Feb. 28. "Parents have a legal duty to see to their children's schooling under the provisions of these laws."

Parents can be criminally prosecuted for failing to comply, Croskey said.

"A primary purpose of the educational system is to train school children in good citizenship, patriotism and loyalty to the state and the nation as a means of protecting the public welfare," the judge wrote, quoting from a 1961 case on a similar issue.
Another quote from the same article:
But Leslie Heimov, executive director of the Children's Law Center of Los Angeles,... said her organization's chief concern was not the quality of the children's education, but their "being in a place daily where they would be observed by people who had a duty to ensure their ongoing safety."
There are soooooo many things wrong with this decision, I hardly know where to start. Am I mad? Concerned? Scared? Cautious? I don't really know what to feel about it other than relieved I don't live in California.

Let's start with the line, Heimov said her organization's chief concern was not the quality of the children's education, but their "being in a place daily where they would be observed by people who had a duty to ensure their ongoing safety."

Thank goodness we, as parents, no longer have this responsibility. There was a story the other day about a "mother" who placed two children, 3 and 1, into a tub and got wrapped up watching American Idol with her 7 and 5YO before "remembering" about the other two and then sending the 7YO (hey, the mom was busy watching Idol, remember?) to get the two out of the tub. When the 7YO found them unconscious, she called her mom (probably a commercial break by now) who did CPR and called 911.

It's not this "mom"'s fault. A teacher should have been watching her kids. We need to make sure these children are watched by people who have a duty to ensure their ongoing safety, and those people are credentialed teachers.

Meanwhile, you've got millions of families who are very successful at watching their own damned kids, but I' sure they won't mind a little intrusion by the nanny state if it means protecting two little girls who might otherwise have died.

I did a little experiment. You can play along at home if you like. Just make sure to get the authorization of your local school board first.

Go to Google News and type in the search criteria, "Teacher Arrested". Ok...I've already done the work for you, just click the words and see how many hits you come up with. Take a quick look at the headlines (make sure no kids are around... ESPECIALLY if they attend public school) and see what these "approved educators" are up to.

HERE's a link to a nice little story of John Corcoran. Corcoran was a public highschool teacher in Oceanside, CA. He was well respected among his peers, he was popular with the students. Corcoran was fully illiterate until age 48. Sure he's ashamed... he's lied... he's doing his penance. But the point to be made here is that this lying, cheating hypocrite was credentialed by the state of California to educate children while they will use fines, imprisonment, and police force to prevent a fully functioning parent, college degree or not, from teaching their own children at home.
"A primary purpose of the educational system is to train school children in good citizenship, patriotism and loyalty to the state and the nation as a means of protecting the public welfare," the judge wrote, quoting from a 1961 case on a similar issue.
Catholic schools don't teach you to question catholicism. Military schools don't teach you to question the military. Government schools don't teach you to question the government. What if we want our kids to question religion, question military might, and question the government?

The role of public education has never been education. It has always been a method by which you can get the masses just smart enough to work in the factories without drooling on themselves. Destroy vouchers. We don't want the "common man" having access to elitist education. We need a working class if this nation is to survive. We need serfs who practice "good citizenship, patriotism and loyalty to the state and the nation" in order to maintain production. Don't worry, we'll feed them the old line that it is "protecting the public welfare".

The following is a very short list of the ongoing problems with public education. Shorter still because I limited it to California alone. See if you can find what is wrong with this picture:A side note on that last one... how many signs, protests, and articles do you see day to day about how to fix our homeschools?

One last insert before I go off to bed... the following are home listings in California. Most are 1/2 a mil or above. ... $2.6M, $1.4M, nice houses... look carefully at the side notes and tell me if their children go to public school. More to the matter... part of the selling points are the hyping of the schools. You'll see that they are award winning, hyped as the best, but the test scores show otherwise. This is where they want our kids (the schools, not the houses.)

Monday, January 14, 2008

legal support choices

We do have a choice... In true homeschooling fashion, one size does not fit all. Check out these alternatives to HSLDA and decide for yourself which one meets your family's beliefs and needs. I found this blog, Treasure Seekers, which offered the list along with her commentary, which I do not necessarily agree or disagree with. I encourage you to read, research, discuss, and decide for yourself.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Generation easy way out

Last night, the husband and I watched a Frontline episode on PBS called the Medicated Child. The documentary followed the cases of a few children who were being medicated for ADHD and, the latest popular diagnosis, bipolar disorder. You can watch it online here. Pundits are calling these kids Generation Rx, but we think there's bigger story here.

One child was labeled by a teacher at age 3 as being hyperactive. It was pointed out that this child had no problems at all until he was in preschool. The parents were backed into a corner of the next few years as teacher after teacher suggested that he be medicated. In another segment, a doctor and the parents took seriously the imaginative, albeit disturbing, ramblings of a 5-year-old girl. Her fantasies were all about bashing heads open and decapitating her parents. My first instinct was to ask what is this child watching on television and how are the parents interacting with her. The doctor believes the child has bipolar disorder, of course, and prescribes medication. Another young boy was taking eight medications for bipolar disorder and ADHD. Jim and I watched in horror as the child washed down a few microwave corn dogs with blue Gatorade. Later, he washed down his medication with soda right before bed. A steady diet of sugar, processed food, blue dye, soda chemicals ... I'm sure that has nothing to with his behavior. Asking questions about environment, diet and schedule and getting a sense of the parents' skills is too much work and not as profitable for drug companies, apparently. And if you can blame the behavior on a brain disorder, you won't offend parents who are paying the medical bills and you'll help increase drug company profits. It's a win-win for these doctors and pharmaceuticals.

I know it's not politically correct to suggest that parents' and teachers' motives are anything but pure or in the best interest of the children, but since when I have really cared about that? Prepare to be offended, outraged and more at my total lack of sensitivity. Ready? Here we go:

Schools are an unnatural environment where children learn to sit still, raise their hands, wait their turn, give up their property rights and accept the authority of a person who is not their parent and is more beholden to a demanding bureaucracy than to their best interest.

As for the parents, they are under enormous pressure from the federal baby-sitting service to make their children conform. And since many of these parents are products of this service, they don't likely have the intellectual courage to question authority. See, they don't teach that in school. The more compliant a child is, the easier it is for a teacher to do her job. For the children whose spirits have not yet been broken, medication is the easy answer. I'd say teachers and doctors have done a pretty good job of making normal childhood development seem like a disorder that can be managed only through medication. Evaluating and changing diet, schedules, parenting approaches among other things before resorting to medication seems like common sense, but the federal baby-sitting service has trained that right out of us. No, no, we must rely on experts and solutions that cost money. After all, a good economy is good for the state which collects taxes on every move we make. And, God forbid, we make a move that doesn't cost a thing.

To us, though, all this sounds like a pretty severe case of PPD (Poor Parenting Disorder) and NCC (Nonconformity Complex) with a mild case of the KIDs. The latter will likely abate over time if the PPD is brought under control and the expectations of conformity are abandoned.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Or can they?

Going along with the title of the blog, "they're mine and you can't have them", I came across a story today which puts that very statement in question. Here's the headline link:

SWAT officers invade home, take 11-year-old at gunpoint

If you've got a minute to spare to read it, I'm sure the shock and outrage you will feel after reading will make it worthwhile. That is to say, if you're into shock and outrage.

Here's the nutshell:
  • 11 y.o. Boy plays rough.
  • Boy falls during horseplay.
  • Father of boy (and 9 others) uses his training as a medic in Vietnam, diagnoses damage as a bruise and decides to observe the child at home for signs of trauma.
  • Neighbor calls paramedics
  • Paramedics show up say nothing is wrong, but want to take child to hospital for observation
  • Father, seeing it was only a bruise and wanting to avoid hospital bills, says, "No."
  • Paramedics call police
  • Police say, "No, the parents are right."
  • Paramedics call Sheriff
  • Sheriff goes to house gets a good vibe and leaves
  • Somebody calls DSS
  • DSS goes to home demands to see the boy in private, eventually leave
  • SWAT Team shows up the next day with court order from Magistrate, beats literal hole into family door, points gun into face of daughter, handcuffs parents, takes boy to doctor
  • Doctor evaluates boy and releases him immediately
Memorable quotes from the story:
"He immediately carried his son into their home several doors away, and John was able to recite Bible verses and correctly spell words as his father and mother, Tina, requested. There were no broken bones, no dilated eyes, or any other noticeable problems."

The sheriff said the decision to use SWAT team force was justified because the father was a 'self-proclaimed constitutionalist' and had made threats and 'comments' over the years.
"However, the sheriff declined to provide a single instance of the father's illegal behavior. 'I can't tell you specifically,' he said.

Since when did providing for your family become a crime?
How/Why is being "a self proclaimed constitutionalist" a bad thing?

Warning: giant RANT to follow. try to keep up...

I don't usually answer the phone at home in the mornings, especially if I am spending time with the kids. This morning, though I welcomed a call from a friend while we were struggling through our first day back to "serious" school work after the busy holiday. The call was on another matter altogether, yet somehow the conversation turned to this friend's interest in how things are done in our house, as far as school is concerned. I have made no secret of my feelings on worksheets and workbooks as learning tools - I hate them. Yet somehow, at least a few times a year, I find myself torturing my children and ultimately, myself, with them. Why do I do this? This morning was one of those times. It didn't strike me until later, how ironic it is that she should call and express an interest in learning more about our different way of doing things and I had just spent three hours begging, issuing empty threats, and delivering one ultimatum after another, including no outdoor time, no scooters, no park trip - how very stupid of me, it's 68 degrees today!!! Why why why???

This is not how children learn. This is how children come to need to be convinced that "learning is fun". That may well be the lesson we learned this morning: how to kill a child's natural love of learning. This is how teachers keep kids busy and how they make a paper trail and how they maintain accountability in the face of a very demanding bureaucracy which in turn is driven by tax payers who rely on the school system to babysit their children while they go pull in their double salary and try to eek out a living on what the government doesn't forcibly take out of their paychecks. Aaack.

As I write this I realize, I may have been nudged into this worksheet torture by the pending testing issue we may have to deal with if we stay in Virginia till the end of the school year. We have the option of having a private evaluator/assessor come to our house (at our expense) and review the children's progress in lieu of standardized torture... I mean, "testing". But without worksheets and workbooks and assignments and projects as proof, what will they evaluate? We are researching our options, but may not even be here at the end of the school year.

The redemption...

This morning Simon was supposed to be doing this jokes page in code, solve the math problem, reference the letter in the key, put the letters together and it spells the answer to the joke. By the end of the morning, it dawned on me what he was doing to solve these, for example: 8+7, he would go find an 8+6 that he had already solved, see that it was an H, go to the key, find what number goes with H, then add 1, find that number and its letter, then fill in the answer. I excused Simon from the last coded joke on the page after I saw what he was doing. If he can make associations and perform complex transfers like this to solve a math problem, then I think he is okay. I mean, come on, he's five. Other kindergardeners are learning how to stand in line and raise your hand and wait your turn and give up your property rights and accept the teacher's arbitrary authority on what basis? that her parents paid for her college degree? This little guy would rather play with the window cling number stickers that he found in the math workbook with his three year old sister. It may be his individual learning style, but he does better with things like math bingo and a game called "math path" that we made from a file folder and some index cards (roll two dice, draw a card which shows you either a plus or a minus sign, perform the operation on the two numbers on the dice and move forward that many squares, cost all of 50 cents to make it and the kids helped, so they love it even more.)

And where do they get off thinking that the skills we need to live our lives have to be taught in a classroom? These couldn't possibly be learned, oh I don't know... while... living... life, could they? We don't teach babies how to walk, or talk, or eat, do we? We don't hand them a worksheet on proper technique and balance, hand out stickers if they get it right, and red marks if they need to improve. What is going on here? It's total arrogance.