September 28, 2007
The Bulletproof Backpack
From Gizmodo comes word of this new item that, frankly, speaks volumes about our public school system.
Made from 13 layers of K-29 Kevlar, this thin, lightweight plate fits in most backpacks and can stop every bullet from a 9mm all the way to Dirty Harry's .44 Magnum.
Yeah, that's the kind of "socialization" my homeschooled kids are missing out on.
July 31, 2007
Name That Scientist
Jeff Jacoby presents, in a style not unlike Paul Harvey's "The Rest of the Story", a story about a scientist, and the school that he applied to, that will amaze you.
DID YOU hear about the religious fundamentalist who wanted to teach physics at Cambridge University? This would-be instructor wasn't simply a Christian; he was so preoccupied with biblical prophecy that he wrote a book titled "Observations on the Prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse of St. John." Based on his reading of Daniel, in fact, he forecast the date of the Apocalypse: no earlier than 2060. He also calculated the year the world was created. When Genesis 1:1 says "In the beginning," he determined, it means 3988 BC.
So we have a young-Earth guy who seems really into this Christianity thing, and who is applying for a science job at a very prestigious university. Did he get the job?
Hire somebody with such views to teach physics? At a Baptist junior college deep in the Bible Belt, maybe, but the faculty would erupt if you tried it just about anywhere else. Many of them would echo Oxford's Richard Dawkins, the prominent evolutionary biologist, who writes in "The God Delusion" that he is "hostile to fundamentalist religion because it actively debauches the scientific enterprise. . . . It subverts science and saps the intellect."
In today's academic climate, things don't sound promising for our intrepid physicist. Religion and science don't mix, so they say.
But such considerations didn't keep Cambridge from hiring the theology- and Bible-drenched individual described above. Indeed, it named him to the prestigious Lucasian Chair of Mathematics....
To find out who this guy was who beat all the odds to get hired, click here for the full column. (And if you're a regular reader of this blog, you may already know the answer. I covered it last month.)
May 30, 2007
Freedom of Religion Returning to Texas
The right to freely exercise one's religion outside of the 4 walls of a place of worship was affirmed by the Texas legislature. It's unfortunate that it had to be affirmed at all, but in today's church-and-state climate, it's necessary.
The House embraced legislation Monday that seeks to clarify the rights of Texas public school students to offer public prayers at football games or graduation, hand out religious messages or hold religious meetings during the school day if they want.
Supporters said the Schoolchildren's Religious Liberties Act, which passed on a 110-33 vote, would protect districts from lawsuits by setting guidelines for students' religious expression while protecting students from being admonished, for example, if they talk about Jesus in an assignment about Easter.
You can't keep people insulated from each other, and this bill takes the common sense step of acknowledging that.
"Freedom of religion should not be taken as freedom from religion," Gov. Rick Perry said. "This was a vote for tolerance of diverse views in our education system so that students are not admonished for wishing a soldier overseas a 'Merry Christmas' or for any other harmless forms of expression."
Precisely. The "diversity" crowd is the very group trying to remove diversity in the public square.
The bill has its opponents, who, as usual, use exaggerated language when describing religious speech.
"The intent of this bill is to enable people to impose their religious beliefs on people, and I stand four-square against that," said Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, who is a Quaker.
"I was one of those students of a minority religion who was frequently subjected to unwanted ... advice and insults when I was in the public schools. I do not believe the intent of the author [to avoid lawsuits]. I believe the intent of the author is to facilitate imposing certain religious values on students regardless of their religious faith."
Sorry, but freedom from getting unwanted advice is not in the US Constitution. Those who insult you because of your faith should be punished by their parents or, for adults, marginalized, but it's still not a legal issue, and it doesn't mean that because some kids were mean to you in school that now all kids must be silenced on religious issues. Bathwater, meet baby.
And rather than dream up your own view of what the bill's author intended, let's just ask him.
Author Charlie Howard, R-Sugar Land, said repeatedly that the bill "does not allow anything that isn't in the current law."
What the bill does is specify that "a school district shall treat a student's voluntary expression of a religious viewpoint, if any, on an otherwise permissible subject in the same manner the district treats a student's voluntary expression of a secular or other viewpoint" as long as the expression isn't obscene or vulgar and doesn't discriminate against homosexuals or religious beliefs.
Further, the bill says students may not be penalized for expressing religious views in classwork, and they may organize religious meetings and use school facilities like any noncurricular group.
Not sure why homosexuality was specifically singled out, but this is a good step in the right direction.
Plano ISD has been at the center of this debate since 2003, when school officials told a student he could not hand out candy cane pens with a religious message during a holiday party.
Rep. Burnam can hand-wring all he wants about how hearing religious speech is somehow imposing values onto him (is he that impressionable?), but if we can't give away pens in the name of religious freedom, things really are upside down.
May 11, 2007
"Public School? Aren't You Worried About Socialization?"
That's the bumper sticker that Linda Whitlock used to have on her car. She's got a great article on the socialization of homeschool kids, including her grandchildren. OK, she may have a conflict of interest, but she still makes great points.
March 23, 2007
Abstinence Considered Offensive, University Surrenders
Welcome to the age where encouraging abstinence until marriage is considered offensive. OK, truth be told, we've been in this age for quite some time now, except that the sentiment wasn't quite as outspoken. Now that abstinence groups are being formed in places like Harvard and MIT, however, the ridicule is boiling over.
This article talks about the new group at Harvard, secular in nature, that is trying to promote abstinence on campus. Seniors Sarah Kinsella and Justin Murray started "True Love Revolution" in response to all the other overt encouragment of sex on campus, and to the white flag waved by the administration. In response, those oh-so-tolerant folks on the Left are outraged.
Some feminists, in particular, have criticized True Love Revolution's message.
Harvard student Rebecca Singh said she was offended by a valentine the group sent to the dormitory mailboxes of all freshmen. It read: "Why wait? Because you're worth it."
"I think they thought that we might not be `ruined' yet," Singh said. "It's a symptom of that culture we have that values a woman on her purity. It's a relic."
Yeah, who needs self-control, eh?
A little common sense, however, is seeing the light of day.
In the student paper, The Harvard Crimson, columnist Jessica C. Coggins praised the group's low-key approach and scolded Harvard students for their "laughter at the virgin." She said students on the campus, which has 6,700 undergraduates, should "find a different confidence booster than making fun of celibate peers."
As usual, the administration gets it wrong.
Dr. David Rosenthal, director of Harvard health services, disputed the notion that the university promotes sex.
He said students mistakenly think everyone on campus is having sex. The National College Health Assessment Survey, which included Harvard and hundreds of other campuses, found that about 29 percent of students reported not having sex in the past school year. For the 71 percent who are having sex, it is crucial to promote safety, Rosenthal said.
"Some students may have a feeling that acknowledgment is condoning," he said, "and it's not."
But it's not just "acknowledgement", as noted earlier in the article.
True Love Revolution members say the problem starts with the university. They say Harvard has implicitly led students to believe that having sex at college is a foregone conclusion by requiring incoming freshman to attend a seminar on date-rape that does not mention abstinence, by placing condoms in freshmen dorms, and by hosting racy lecturers. (Harvard students have also launched H-Bomb, a magazine featuring racy photos of undergraduates.)
Acknowledging is one thing. But this is encouraging. When you remove the consequences of bad decisions, you get more bad decisions. Shouldn't take a university degree to understand that.
March 14, 2007
Public Schools Teaching Student to Lie to Parents
When the public school system starts forcing kids to lie to their parents about what they're being taught, you know it's time to homeschool.
And when what they're being taught is homosexual sensitivity training, you have to wonder why they feel they can't be open and honest about it. Yeah, I know the presumed reason; that parent might object. But if parents are not allowed any say as to their children's education, it's no longer public education anymore, is it? It's state education. (And I really hope this school district doesn't ever complain about not enough parental involvement.)
March 13, 2007
German Homeschool Family Update
A German appeals court has not only affirmed a lower court's decision that ripped a 15-year-old homeschooler from her family and subjected her to a forced stay in a psychiatric hospital because she is homeschooled, but also ordered her parents to be given psychiatric evaluations, an international rights organization says.
The government psychologists, who had previously diagnosed Melissa Busekros with "schoolphobia", would now get a shot at labelling the parents. What's more, the court ignored the fact that the parents have been willing to accept a government compromise.
The appeals court ruling came despite the fact that all three of the lawyers representing Melissa Busekros clearly stated in their request to the court the family had accepted a compromise offered by a lower court for her to return home under government supervision.
"In spite of [that] … the appeals court held that the family refused the court's initial compromise to let Melissa become an outpatient," Thornton said.
Read the whole thing for details, and to get caught up if you hadn't seen this before.
March 06, 2007
Being Pro-choice (on Education)
Via Betsy's Page comes word of a chance for South Carolinians to get a bit more choice regarding schooling. In the report, Brendan Miniter give the example of a school operating on a shoe-string budget with low-paid teachers and just 42 students, but that is outperforming the local public school on SAT scores by 46%.
The idea that the public school system should be reformed from within has had plenty of time to be tried. It's not working. one member of South Carolina's state House has been there and done that.
Two years ago similar reforms were defeated in the state House by seven votes. But school-choice supporters picked up several seats in the last election, one of which is now held by Curtis Brantley, an African-American from rural Jasper County who picked off an incumbent in a Democratic primary last year. "It's time," he told me recently while sitting in his sparsely furnished office, "to try something new."
As a former public school official who, as he tells it, was forced into retirement after trying to reform the school system from the inside, Mr. Brantley is now becoming a powerful voice for reform in Columbia. And he was only too happy to organize buses for school-choice supporters from his district to attend the rally [at the state Capitol].
I wouldn't call it "something new", exactly. We've had school choice in higher education for a good long time, and it has resulted in one of the best systems in the world, while at the same time not deal a death blow to state schools. It can be done, it has been done, but those with a vested interest in the status quo (and those politicians beholden to them) simply won't let it happen, if they can help it.
As time goes by, they may not be able to help it.
February 26, 2007
Religious Freedom Inconvenient for Public Schools
Would you believe that here in the United States, someone would suggest that religious freedom and parental right undermine the public school system? It's happened. A US District Judge has used that as part of his reasoning in a recent ruling.
A federal judge in Massachusetts has ordered the "gay" agenda taught to Christians who attend a public school in Massachusetts, finding that they need the teachings to be "engaged and productive citizens."
U.S. District Judge Mark L. Wolf yesterday dismissed a civil rights lawsuit brought by David Parker, ordering that it is reasonable, indeed there is an obligation, for public schools to teach young children to accept and endorse homosexuality.
Wolf essentially adopted the reasoning in a brief submitted by a number of homosexual-advocacy groups, who said "the rights of religious freedom and parental control over the upbringing of children … would undermine teaching and learning…"
This started in 2005 when David Parker objected to the fact that he couldn't get his kindergarten child opted out of, or even notified of, same-sex household issues when they were brought up. The judge's ruling gives them three options; private school, home school, or vote in enough School Committee members to get things changed. Fair enough, but can you imagine a court telling a black man that if he doesn't like being forced into blacks-only restrooms and schools that these are his only choices? It would be unthinkable, but religious freedom, written quite plainly into the Constitution, is being afforded less protection than civil rights laws.
We are losing our constitutional rights at the hands of the judicial branch of government, and few notice, care, or even agree that it's being eroded. The folks with the latter view are the most blind.
German Govt. Offers Homeschoolers a Deal
Give us the rest of your kids, and we'll call it even.
German authorities who sent 15 uniformed police officers to take custody of a 15-year-old girl who committed the crime of being homeschooled now have suggested a solution that, in their minds, would "resolve" the situation: the parents should give up custody of their other five children.
The situation involving Melissa Busekros has been in the headlines ever since the beginning of this month, when the officers arrived at her parents' home with a court order allowing them to take her into custody, "if necessary by force."
"Melissa’s father, Hubert Busekros, said he and his lawyer were offered a compromise this week that they could not accept," the [Homeschool Legal Defense Association] said. "The authorities wanted the Busekros's to give up custody of their other five children in order to resolve this situation. Hubert said the authorities are considering doing psychiatric exams on the other five children in order to implicate Hubert and his wife as unfit parents and thereby break up the family."
Such actions, the homeschool organization said, are "an outrage."
"There are approximately 40 other cases pending in Germany [against homeschoolers]," the HSLDA said. "Many homeschool families have fled to Austria or another nearby country where homeschooling is legal. The German government is persecuting these innocent families without mercy. The German Embassy has indicated they cannot allow 'parallel cultures.' Christian homeschooling is a 'parallel culture' that Germany does not want."
As always, some of the best updates can be found at the blog "Principled Discovery".
February 20, 2007
Surge in Teacher Sex Abuse Against Students
New York State's Education Department has completed an internal study with results that should disturb parents of any state.
The study found the number of accusations against teachers [of sexual abuse to students] doubled in five years, to nearly one case for every day and a half of the school year. Almost three in four of the "moral conduct" cases involved sex between a teacher and student.
Taken together, the cases show a pattern of a small number of teachers preying on adolescents' need for attention, then exploiting their insecurities to keep the secret out of fear of ridicule or long-lasting damage.
The misconduct is part of a system in which other teachers can be reluctant to report colleagues, administrators are reluctant to act on claims that could result in bad press and lawsuits, and state hearing officers are not trained to spot and deal with sexual misconduct.
A state investigator called one case "almost like a type of mind control" often reinforced by e-mails and instant messages.
Of course, the study can't count or document those incidents that don't get reported, and if colleagues are reluctant to report on each other, there could indeed be a large number under the radar.
UPDATE: The original link is now broken. Click here for another copy of the story.
February 19, 2007
German Homeschool Parents Get Visiting Rights
Dana at "Principled Discovery" is keeping close tabs on the Busekros family situation in Germany. She has found out that Melissa's parents have now been told where she is and can visit her. For further developments, keep an eye on Dana's page dedicated to news on this situation.
February 14, 2007
German Homeschool Student Hidden Away
According to CBN, Melissa Busekros, the German homeschool student taken to the nearby psych ward for alleged "school phobia", has been taken to an unknown location by the German government. The state is not telling the parents where she has been taken.
February 12, 2007
German Homeschool Student Sent to Psych Ward
Since homeschooling is outlawed in Germany, if you do it you should expect the government to get perturbed. However, here's the story of a 7th grader sent to Child Psychiatry Unit of the local clinic and removed from her parents' custody over it. Seems quite an overreaction.
In summer 2004, Melissa was told that she would have to repeat the 7th grade at the Christian Ernst Gymnasium (a high school where one can obtain the Abitur, the highest German high school diploma) due to her bad grades in math and latin. The situation in the class played no small part in creating this state of affairs - the high noise levels and cancelled classes prevented her from receiving the educational assistance she needed during school hours. As Melissa had good grades in all the other subjects, repeating the whole year would be mostly a waste of her time, as well as the fact that she would now be in a class even more problematic than the previous year’s. Thus, it was decided by Melissa and her parents that she would be tutored individually at home to meet her specific needs. At her own wish, Melissa only took part in Music and sang in her school choir. The school and the local school authorities were not satisfied with this solution, and consequently expelled Melissa from the school, allocating her to the local Hauptschule (the lowest in the German three-tier high school system).
So the parents only took her out of public school due to her special needs, trying to avoid the wasted time of going through the one-size-fits-all repeating of an entire grade. The only homeschooled in response to an issue with their daughter. This is not a family that has completely avoided the public system; they have simply responded to the specific issues with their child. Shouldn't parents be allowed to do that. Not in Germany. The state stepped in, though I'd say "overstepped".
On Tuesday 30th January just after 7am, Mrs Busekros and her children – Mr Busekros had already left for work – were startled by the appearance of the judge of the Family Court,social workers and police officials who demanded that Melissa, now aged 15, be handed over to them immediately. They had as authorisation a decision by the Erlangen Court (case no. 006 F 01004/06) of the 29th of January. It stated “The relevant Youth Welfare Office is hereby instructed and authorised to bring the child, if necessary by force, to a hearing and may obtain police support for this purpose.”
Melissa was brought into the Child Psychiatry Unit of the Nuremberg clinic and was subjected to an interrogation in the presence of the specialist Dr. Schanda. After this interrogation, about three and a half hours after she was coerced into the clinic, Melissa was returned home. Her relieved parents and her five younger siblings, who didn’t know when they would ever see Melissa again, as well as Melissa herself didn’t know that the worst was still to come.Melissa (right, top) and her familiy [sic].
On the afternoon of the 1st of February, the judge of the Family Court, representatives of the Youth Welfare Office, along with fifteen police officers, marched up to the Busekros home, to haul Melissa off to the Child Psychiatry Unit of the Nuremberg clinic. The judicial decision authorising this also removed Melissa from her parents’ custody, according to her father, Hubert Busekros.This treatment was justified by the psychiatrist’s finding, two days previously, that she was supposedly developmentally delayed by one year and that she suffered from school phobia. The fact that the less than optimal testing environment and the unexpectedness of the tests could have impacted on Melissa’s performance were not taken into account in this decision. It is not known when Melissa’s parents and siblings will be able to see her again, as the official approach in cases of “school phobia” is to completely prevent the “patient” from having any contact with those closest to him or her, as such contact supposedly enables the phobia.
I guess the state's solution to "school phobia", assuming that's even a valid diagnosis, is to put her back in there. Never mind that, but for bad grades in two subjects, she had done just fine in school, despite this "phobia". No, the government--the Village, so to speak--knows better than the parents.
January 24, 2007
Sexual Predators Get Free Reign in Public School
An estimated 5 million students in United States schools have been assaulted sexually by teachers, according to a congressional report. But no one is calling for investigations or law enforcement crackdowns, there have been no campaigns to ban the offenders from schools, and in many states there aren't even any requirements such predator attacks be reported to education licensing agencies.
"We have approximately 5 million children suffering and no one is calling for an investigation, for any kind of data to be collected to find out why that many children are being hurt by teachers," said Terri Miller, who runs probably the only organization in the nation that focuses specifically on assaults by educators on students. "This is an epidemic."
In fact, in many cases, especially where the attacker is a woman and the student a male, such assaults are treated as a joke, with a hand-slap for the teacher, and some ribald locker room humor directed at the student.
WND has documented in recent months an alarming string of dozens of cases of female teacher-on-male student sexual assaults, but those are just part of the overall problem, Miller said.
Her volunteer group, called Stop Educator Sexual Abuse, Misconduct and Exploitation, often feels overwhelmed by the dearth of information, injuries to students, and obstacles posed by opponents such as the National Education Association.
If the government's going to insist on pubic education, it must insist on safety in its facilities. But clearly that has not been a winning battle, neither regarding weapons & drugs nor sexually & psychologically speaking.
January 16, 2007
If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Regulate ‘Em, Part Deux
A good ending to this episode.
A campaign of telephone calls and e-mails from American homeschoolers is being credited with convincing legislators in France to withdraw a plan that would have made such home instruction efforts there illegal, according to the Home School Legal Defense Fund.
"Thank you so much for your calls and e-mails to the French Embassy," an alert from the organization said. "In an incredible turnaround of events, the sponsor of the restrictive amendments which would have outlawed homeschooling has withdrawn his amendments."
An earlier alert had gone out just a few days ago, noting that a "draconian" plan had been proposed in the French parliament that would shut down homeschooling across the nation.
(Story continues below)
The specifics would be that "no parent would be allowed to homeschool unless they showed that the health or handicap of their child makes it necessary for him or her to be taught at home."
Even if a family qualified under such restrictions, the HSLDA said the proposal would have required the family to submit to a home visit by a government official each year, and their curriculum would have to come from the "National Center of Correspondent Teaching" or from an approved source.
Once again, the failing wished to regulate the successful
French education officials earlier told lawmakers that 80,000 children start secondary school without really knowing how to read, write or count, and that is one of the main reasons for "parents who decide to homeschool their children."
And, of course, the catch phrase for this almost-loss of freedom was one you've heard before and will hear again. It's the same in any language. (Emphasis mine.)
"The French Minister of the Family, Philippe Bas, vocally opposed several articles of this huge bill entitled 'Protection de L'Enfance,' which means for "Protection of the Children,'" [Senior Counsel Christopher] Klicka wrote. "He specifically opposed the sections regulating and essentially prohibiting homeschooling, saying in the French parliament: 'As they are, I am not favorable to these amendments [numbers 127 and 128], I find them too restrictive…'"
"We want to force you to use an inferior system for the children." Once again, good intentions from the Left trump actual results or actions.
In Germany, where homeschooling is illegal, one homeschool advocacy group got quite the threatening letter from their government.
That threat from a state education official was reported in an English translation at the Homeschoolblogger.com website.
"The Minister of Education does not share your attitudes toward so-called homeschooling…," said a government letter in response to a request for consideration for a family whose children were taken to school by police.
"You complain about the forced school escort of primary school children by the responsible local police officers on the basis of paragraph 86 of the education law as a measure of the execution of authority. It is known to the ministry of education that primary school students can be particularly burdened by the related contradiction between the norms of the parent-house and that of the public school through such forced escorts."
Want a real chill up your spine? Listen to the government's proposed solution to the problem.
In order to avoid this in future, the education authority is in conversation with the affected family in order to look for possibilities to bring the religious convictions of the family into line with the unalterable school attendance requirement.
(Emphasis mine.) Besides the veiled threat, the blogger notes the irony.
It is interesting that in a state whose constitution is dominated by religious language and quotes the necessity of building Christian character, as well as guaranteeing the natural right of parents to have a say in the education of their children AND religious freedom, that the state would specifically mention that they are working to "bring the religious convictions of the family in line" with the goals of the state.
But as we know here, religious influence and language in a founding document is easily ignored and cheerfully misinterpreted when it interferes with greater governmental power.
January 15, 2007
If You Can't Beat 'Em, Regulate 'Em
PBS did a story about homeschooling last Wednesday. My favorite quote from the transcript is this, in response to a professor suggesting that homeschooling get "good regulations" applied to it:
Mr. [Bruce] SHORTT [author of "The Harsh Truth About Public Schools"]: I think it's ironic that someone with an obviously authoritarian agenda is attempting to lecture others, and unfortunately education seems to be one of those areas in which the failures astonishingly insist upon trying to regulate the successful.
An interesting statistic that they mention is that the number of homeschoolers in the country is growing at a rate 10 times that of the general school-age population. People are fleeing the government-run schools in droves, and it's the government that thinks it should regulate those alternatives.
Instead of figuring out what's wrong, they seek to regulate what's working. And they'd never let you keep your own money--directly or in the form of vouchers--to help you out. That's government at work.
January 12, 2007
Christians and Government Schools
From LaShawn Barber:
I feel for Christians who can't afford private schools and for whatever reason aren't equipped to homeschool. I don't believe in fighting the government for piecemeal concessions like "prayer in schools." Children don't need permission to pray. It is a private matter that can be done without formalities and protests, which in my view cheapen and obscure the whole purpose of prayer.
At the same time, I do believe taxpaying parents have a right to complain and seek change in government schools. I just don't think it's worth the effort for Christians to get themselves worked up over problems in a corrupted, Democratic party-controlled (teachers unions), monopolized, government propaganda machine like the public school system.
She also poses 3 questions for readers to answer.
October 26, 2006
German Homeschoolers Update
A Nazi-era law requiring all children to attend public school, to avoid "the emergence of parallel societies based on separate philosophical convictions" that could be taught by parents at home, apparently is triggering a Nazi-like response from police.
The word comes from Netzwerk Bildungsfreiheit, or Network for Freedom in Education, which confirmed that children in a family in Bissingen, in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, have been forcibly hauled to a public school.
"On Friday 20 October 2006 at around 7:30 a.m. the children of a home educating family ... were brought under duress to school by police," the organization, which describes itself as politically and religiously neutral, confirmed.
A separate weblog in the United States noted the same tragedy.
Homeschoolblogger.com noted that the "three children were picked up by the police and escorted to school in Baden-Wurttemberg, with the 'promise' that it would happen again this week."
The Network for Freedom in Education, through spokesman Joerg Grosseluemern, said the Remeike family has been "home educating their children since the start of the school year, something which is legal in practically the whole of the (European Union)."
October 23, 2006
Now here's an idea for all those previous-edition schoolbooks.
With school shootings a growing concern across the country, a candidate for state superintendent of schools in Oklahoma is running on a platform of defense.
His idea? Storing old textbooks beneath the desks of all public school children for use as shields from gunfire.
In a videotaped experiment, Bill Crozier even went so far as to test various books and various firearms.
Crozier, a Union City Republican challenging incumbent Democrat Sandy Garrett, said he would put thick used textbooks under every desk for students to use in self-defense.
Crozier's experiment began with shots fired at a calculus textbook from an AK-47 Russian-style assault rifle. The shot penetrated two textbooks at once. Shots from handguns were generally stopped by thick books.
And people suggest that kids who get homeschooled aren't getting socialized. Well, they're wrong, but even if they were right, they're also not getting shot at.
August 30, 2006
The Future of Dissent
Joseph Farah, on why the recent ruling requiring the condoning of homosexuality, bisexuality, and transsexuality in California institutions that get government money is a big deal.
I don't want to overstate this, but this is the end of religious freedom in the biggest state in the union.
The only alternative left for Christians and Jews and people of other faiths in California is quite literally to drop out. That means homeschooling. It means creating new institutions that won't touch any public funding – even when it is as tenuous as one student accepting a state grant. When you submit yourself or your institution to government regulation in California now, you tacitly accept the official state religion of paganism.
And don't think it will end here. It never does.
When more people choose to drop out, as they inevitably will, the coercive state will find new creative ways to come after them as well.
Just ask German homeschoolers. Yes, Farah's editorials are generally overheated, but this time I think he's really on to something. How far of a stretch is it, really, to imagine a law that makes this sort of coercion required for any business or institution simply operating in California, regardless of whether it gets state money? Not that much, in my mind.
August 29, 2006
Dissent is Futile, You Will Be Assimilated
It's now illegal in California schools to criticize homosexuality.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has tossed out all sexual moral conduct codes at colleges, private and Christian schools, daycare centers and other facilities throughout his state, if the institutions have any students who get state assistance.
The governor yesterday signed a bill that would require all businesses and groups receiving state funding -- even if it's a state grant for a student -- to condone homosexuality, bisexuality and transsexuality.
Note the phrase I bolded. Not only does this affect state-run schools, but it affects any private institution that has students who get state education grant money.
There is no exception for faith-based organizations or business owners with sincerely held religious convictions, critics note.
Gov. Arnold has essentially forced private institutions to either teach what they don't believe, or refuse students who get money from the state and who may not be able to otherwise afford those institutions (and possibly cause those institutions to scale back or go out of business). The state is now forcing a particular social curriculum, to the financial detriment of those who disagree with the state's position.
If this is what a "moderate" Republican looks like, I'll stick with those further to the right, thankyouverymuch. I applauded Schwarzenegger for actually stepping up to the plate and doing something about what he believed--running for office--when other Hollywood types just had photo ops for causes. I still think he's head and shoulders above the rest, but I think he's way out of the mainstream from the public. This is simply a bad law.
If you wonder why more and more folks choose to homeschool, there's you're answer. You're not forced to immerse your kids in an institution that is diametrically opposed to what you believe.
(See also Outlawing Disagreement Regarding Homosexuality.)
This sounds like the title of a bad sci-fi flick, and the following sounds like an overused plot--on the run from government compulsion--but it's happening today in Germany. They don't trust their citizens to do what's best for their childrens' education, even the highly qualified ones.
Hamburg- A German couple who are determined to educate their six children entirely at home have fled the city of Hamburg after the father, Andre R, 44, was jailed for a week for refusing to enrol his offspring in a public school. The R family are evangelical Christians who believe that public schools are a bad moral influence on children. Father R has a university degree in teaching, so he thought he could teach his five daughters and one son their reading, writing and arithmetic at home.
But the couple have hit a brick wall with German school authorities, who say they will apply the full power of the state until the R family yields to compulsory-education laws.
In February, Andre R and wife Frauke, 39, were hauled into court and fined 840 euros (1,090 dollars) for defying education laws. This month, five police showed up at the family's rented, suburban row- house and hauled Andre R off to the Hamburg city prison.
Andre R refused to give in, so after a week among murderers and drug dealers, he was released and the authorities tried a new tack.
Officials last week began fetching the children each morning from the R home and taking them to school. Custody of the children is to taken away from the parents and the children will become wards of the state.
On Monday, no one answered when officials came knocking at the door of the R home.
Armin Eckermann, president of the German Home-Schooling Association, who is advising the family, said, "They have left Hamburg." He declined further details.
I fully understand a government that insists that children be educated, but this is over the top. In Germany, there is only one way this will be done and that is by the state. There is no place for the parent in the equation. Where does this governmental attitude come from? Hint: Not from smaller-government, more-personal-freedom conservatives. More and more central control of things like education leads to this sort of incredible action on the part of a government that insists it knows better. It's the nanny-state taken to its logical result.
I was asked in a previous post on the subject, by a German citizen, what these parents have to fear from a government education. The thing is, the people aren't trying to stop the government from doing something, it's the government trying to enforce these onerous rules, so the question should instead be put to it. Or perhaps more accurately, it should be put to the citizens who have voted for the politicians that implemented these laws. What do they have to fear? It was also pointed out to me that there were Christian schools ("overlooked by the state", according to the writer). All well and good, but not all can afford that. But that begs the question; does the state really not trust its own citizens enough to allow even a university-trained teacher to teach his own children?
August 25, 2006
Outlawing Disagreement Regarding Homosexuality
The stifling of dissent, Democrat-style.
...[T]his week in one of the boldest moves yet by a sitting liberal, Democrat California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez proclaimed, "The real purpose of SB 1437 is to outlaw traditional perspectives on marriage and family in the state school system."
He continued, "The way you correct a wrong (perspective) is by outlawing. 'Cause if you don't outlaw it, then people's biases tend to take over and dominate the perspective and the point of view."
Nunez's solution to the people he disagrees with is to outlaw their ability to disagree with him.
And Nunez's viewpoint is one that pervades liberals in his party and in the nation. That is why Nunez and his fellow Democrats in the California State Assembly voted in unison to pass four bills that are all designed to punish people who disagree with them. To incarcerate someone for daring to criticize a different point of view – over a purely behavioral issue.
The bills in question have passed both houses and await Gov. Schwarzenegger's signature or veto. The bills were unanimously embraced by the Democrats and universally denounced by the Republicans.
Read the whole thing for the details on those four bills. In summary, they are designed to promote homosexuality as a lifestyle in the schools (in rather graphic detail), and to punish anyone who dares speak against it.
Some have said that it's just a matter of time before the public accepts homosexual marriage. Perhaps not. Perhaps it's only a matter of time before it's fully forced on the public, and the public loses its will to fight.
June 28, 2006
An Illegal Education
Homeschooling in the US continues to grow, and slowly public educators are accepting it as a reasonable alternative given the studies that show how kids excel in it. However, in Germany, it'll get you jailed, and folks are fighting back.
German homeschooling parents who face fines or jail sentences are prepared to take their cause to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
The German Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe recently turned down an appeal by Christian parents. According to the justices, the parents are required to send their children to state registered schools.
Homeschooling is illegal in Germany, even if parents object to institutional education for religious reasons. Many Christians, however, are defying legal requirements. Some have been fined or incarcerated after refusing to pay the fines. It is estimated at least 1,000 children in Germany are taught by their parents.
Germany is rather unique in this stance.
Germany takes a tougher line against homeschooling than other European democracies. France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Switzerland and Austria also require children to receive school education but leave the form of education up to the parents.
If you can't trust parents to make decisions for their own children, who can you trust?
May 08, 2006
"Day of Truth" vs Journalists and Educators
Religion in schools will not be tolerated. Anti-religious views are just fine.
The Sampson County school system stands behind a decision to suspend a student for passing out Christian leaflets at Midway High School, Superintendent Stewart Hobbs said Friday.
Hobbs said the student was given in-school suspension for insubordination after disobeying the principal about distributing the fliers.
The handouts, which presented a Christian viewpoint on homosexuality, caused a disturbance in the school and prompted some students, teachers and a parent to complain, Hobbs said.
Bias and nonsense, both in the same line of news.
First of all, handouts themselves can't cause disturbances. They are, in fact, simply pieces of paper, incapable of independent action. Yes, I know that all sounds rather silly to have to explain, but the journalist who presumably studied Language Arts got this wrong, and I just wanted to set the record straight if others had the same misconception.
Second, if handing out fliers is "disturbing", then the very same handing out of fliers by students on the previous day's Day of Silence should not have been allowed either. I doubt that's the "disturbance" being referred to, however. Instead, I would bet that there were students who got upset at the contents of these fliers and likely they caused this disturbance. Unfortunately, this journalist did not answer all the proper questions a news article should, and we're left with the impression that the student handing out the fliers was the responsible party. There's your bias; not reporting the whole story and thus implicitly placing the responsibility for the disturbance on the guy voicing non-PC viewpoints.
But the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal group, said the student, Benjamin Arthurs, was wrongfully punished for expressing his religious beliefs. The group has filed a federal lawsuit against the school system, saying it violated Arthurs' freedom of speech by not allowing him to wear a Day of Truth shirt and to pass out the leaflets during noninstructional time.
"That, in our opinion, is unconstitutional," said David Cortman, a lawyer with the alliance.
Hobbs said the student was allowed to wear the shirt but told not to hand out the fliers. "The only thing the T-shirt said was, 'Day of Truth,' and we felt that was not forcing his religion on others," Hobbs said. The handouts, however, did present religious views, he said.
If you have to voluntarily accept a flier, how is that "forcing" anything? No one is compelled to take the flier. The problem for the school is that religion, to them, has no place in the public square, even during noninstructional time.
Arthurs, a ninth-grader, handed out the fliers following the April 26 Day of Silence, an event promoted by the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network. He asked Canady if he could wear the shirt and hand out Day of Truth cards, the lawsuit said. He was told he could not wear a religious T-shirt or distribute religious literature because that would be “pushing his religion on others,” the lawsuit said, and “religion is not allowed in school.”
"Religion is not allowed in school"? Banned? You're not allowed to speak about it? I mean, if you can't hand out printed material to those who volunteer to take it, what about actually talking about it? Those who think the First Amendment is doing just fine in America need to know what educators think about it.
Students don't lose their constitutional rights in school, but there are valid restrictions on them while in public school. In fact, I would agree that Arthurs should have been punished for disobeying the administration. If you don't have some semblance of order in school, you soon have little else. So even though I think the rules are being misapplied and use a double-standard, I agree with the suspension. I also, however, agree that the decision and the rules that led up to it need to be dealt with, and if that requires the courts to (hopefully) clarify the Constitution and possibly reverse the punishment, so be it.
Cortman said it is unfair that the school system allowed students to participate in the Day of Silence but did not let Arthurs express his Christian views. Day of Silence is a nationwide movement that allows students to protest anti-homosexual bullying and discrimination. Students hand out fliers and remain silent throughout the day.
So it's not the handing out of fliers that is the issue, and again this points out the misinformation given in the first paragraph of this story. If handing out fliers was a "disturbance", it should have been so on the Day of Silence as well. Thus, the disturbance was most likely caused by other students reacting to these fliers, not the student handing them out (nor the allegedly self-aware fliers themselves). No mention is made of these students or (possibly) teachers that really caused the disturbance. Whether this is due to journalistic incompetence or bias is not known, but it doesn't speak well of the writer.
The Day of Truth, which is held after the Day of Silence, was established by the Alliance Defense Fund to express the Christian perspective on homosexuality.
“School officials shouldn’t be treating religious students any differently than they treat other students,” Cortman said, “and that’s exactly what is happening here.”
According to the lawsuit, Arthurs belongs to the Bible Club, the National Honor Society and Who’s Who of American High School students. The lawsuit says his religious beliefs “compel him to share his faith and to address relevant subjects from a Biblical point of view with other students.”
In the lawsuit, the alliance is asking that Arthurs’ in-school suspension be removed from his record and that the school system write a policy giving students the right to free speech including religious speech.
I remember a video I saw of students praying around a school flagpole before school started in one of the early "See You at the Pole" events. School had not yet started for the day, and the event took place outside, so no disruption of learning occurred and no religion was "forced" on anyone. And yet, students were arrested because educators didn't understand the whole "free exercise of religion" concept. It's been 15 years since "See You at the Pole" got started, and yet the ignorance and double-standards continue (and this ignorance dates back long before that). And still educators keep needing further education on this topic.
This is a sad commentary on the public school system, and further exposure of the double-standard applied to Christians, both in actions taken against them and in the reporting of those actions.
April 27, 2006
The "Tolerance" of Public Schools
Doesn't this school system have anything better to do with its time and money?
After seven years, a court case involving a kindergartner's drawing of Jesus for a class assignment in the Baldwinsville school district will go to trial in federal court in Syracuse.
The U.S. Supreme Court refused Monday to hear the Baldwinsville school district's request to have the case thrown out.
Now a federal judge in Syracuse will have to decide whether the district censored a Christian perspective, said Mathew Staver, attorney for the now sixth-grader Antonio Peck and his mother, JoAnne. He called it good news for Peck and other children in the nation.
"It's huge because if (the decision) had gone the other way it would allow teachers and school officials to treat religious perspectives like they're unwelcome," Staver said.
The details of the "offense" are an example of political correctness and sensitivity training run amok.
In June 1999, Antonio Peck was told to create a poster about the environment. Peck drew a picture depicting Jesus praying and two children kneeling before a rock with the word "savior" on it. The words "The only way to save our world" were across the top, according to earlier reports. Peck was told by his kindergarten teacher Susan Weichert to redo the assignment.
The new drawing had people recycling and throwing away trash, as well as a robed man kneeling with his hands outstretched toward the sky.
The district displayed it along with 80 others in McNamara Elementary School's cafeteria, Staver said. But the picture was folded, hiding the robed man, presumed to be Jesus.
"It makes someone like Antonio feel like he's unwelcome, like his faith is wrong," Staver said.
This was a kindergartner's picture, for goodness sake. The supposed "tolerance" of other views in the school system has reached a new low, and keeps digging with each passing appeal. The school system will simply not allow religion to be tolerated.
Staver said the family ultimately wants the school district to adopt a policy that states "whenever students respond to class assignments they should be able to present religious perspectives," Staver said.
"They have refused to do so," he said.
Is it any wonder so many religious families opt to homeschool?
March 16, 2006
"Out of Ur" is a blog put out by the folks at Leadership Journal, a publication of Christianity Today. A post of theirs from March 14th was an interesting look at the Christian perspective on the education of our children. Given the various choices--public, private, homeschool--how do you decide? A pastor wrote in with his thoughts and he looks to an unlikely source for guidance; the culture of 1st century Judaism. No pat answers, but some pretty interesting observations.
I’m not sure our school choices today are all that different than the religious options of 1st century Jews. I’d like to draw some parallels. There were four major sects in 1st century Judaism: the Essenes, the Sadducees, the Zealots, and the Pharisees. Each of these sects interacted with the Roman culture differently. I see a similar pattern in how families interact with the educational options of metropolitan America.
He touches on how each of these group interacted (or not) with the culture, and how (or whether) they tried to change the culture. Being a homeschooler (actually, we are or have been all 3 types of schoolers mentioned, but have leaned towards homeschooling), I'd like to comment on his homeschooling parallel.
The Essenes lived in communes away from the influence of the Roman occupiers. Their philosophy of cultural interaction was to stay as far away from the surrounding culture as they could. They simply didn’t like what they saw. The parallel I see is with parents who choose to homeschool their children. They have looked at the options, and they have chosen to exclude their families from that aspect of cultural interaction.If you think that homeschooling means you have no or little connection with the surrounding culture, you don't know homeschooling. Homeschoolers often participate in many extracurricular activities, where they come in contact with the culture and socialize with their peers. They still get educated (with higher scores than the average student), but they aren't exposed to all the excessive peer pressure and negative influences we're reading and hearing about more and more in the public school system. Now, if removing or reducing those influences while providing a superior education make homeschoolers "Essenes", that's not a bug, that's a feature (as we say in the computer field). But it's not nearly the cloister this article suggests that it may be.
January 19, 2006
Christian College Enrollment Up
Enrollment at Christian evangelical colleges is on the rise, quite sharply, across the nation. This excerpt from the Grand Forks Herald notes the numbers for Minnesota.
Across the state, and the nation, colleges with ties to evangelical movements are seeing their enrollments soar.
The numbers at Minnesota schools fitting that demographic are up between 28 and 49 percent over the past five years, compared with about 7 percent at other private colleges.
"I wanted to be able to discuss my religious beliefs," said Kristi Rohwer, who is taking classes at Bethel University in Arden Hills. "I feel that you view life and things differently in your education if you can do that. We do discuss our beliefs, and I like it a lot."
The 17-year-old Rohwer, from Forest Lake, is still a student in high school but is taking classes at Bethel through a special academic program. She said she wants to stay at Bethel when she becomes a full-time college student, and she's not alone.
Faith has a strong presence on campuses like Bethel's and Northwestern College in Roseville. Many classes begin with prayer and readily include considerations of faith during discussions about science or mathematics.
December 20, 2005
A Tale of Two Trials
Clayton Cramer, on the Dover "Intelligent Design" trial:
It was a controversial idea of human origins--one that offended many people because of its implications for their religious beliefs. The idea had some worrisome baggage far beyond the area of biology. It scared the people in charge of the society, enough so that they felt a need to prohibit it from being taught in public schools.
Whoops, sorry. He's talking about the Scopes trial. Follow the link for an interesting comparison of the two.
November 03, 2005
Why We Need Judicial Reform
Because of rulings like this:
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday against parents who sued their local school district after their elementary-age children were given a sexually charged survey, saying there is "no fundamental right of parents to be the exclusive provider of information regarding sexual matters to their children."
Here's a federal court telling parents that they are no longer the sole arbiters of how their own children will be taught a particular subject. The contention is that there is no "claim upon which relief could be granted" because there is no such fundamental right.
Unless there's some state law regarding this right, it's reserved for the people. Now, what the Ninth Circuit says essentially is that since it's not enumerated as a right, you don't have it. Talk about standing the Constitution on its head!
If you ever thought that you'd homeschool if not for all the time it takes, consider this; do you have the time to police the public schools?
August 04, 2005
Where to Hold the ID Debate
Snippets from blogs on Bush's "Intelligent Design should be taught in school" remark. Spot the repeating thread.
Protein Wisdom - "Similarly, I have no problem with Intelligent Design being taught alongside evolution in the context of questions concerning the origin of life-which, whether the President meant to do so or not, is in fact the context into which he placed the question. The origin of life-or first cause-is properly asked within the realm of philosophy or religious studies."
Ballon Juice - "I have no problem with a brief fifteen minute discussion of intelligent design as part of a religious/philosophy class, provided schools offer those courses."
DrivelBlog - In short, let science classes be science classes, and leave theoretical arguments for other classes such as philosophy."
Two Babes and a Brain - "How is this science? How by proving order and adherence to "rules" does this indicate an Intelligent" Design? ... Here is the thing: this theory is taught in philosophy or religion class--not science."
MovieBob - "Matters of faith, spirituality and the supernatural are philosophy, and Intelligent Design belongs in a philosophy class."
Louisiana Libertarian - "Intelligent design is not a serious scientific theory. It is the belief that some "intelligent designer" (ie. God or some space aliens) designed DNA to evolve in a programmed manner. That's not science, that's philosophy. It should be discussed in a religion or philosophy class, not taught as an alternative to evolution."
All these are wonderful suggestions as a potential place to put ID. But of course they're disingenuous because...well, let's let another blogger snippet say it:
L's Simple Observations - "It is a sad day when we are teaching philosophy in our Science classrooms. Maybe we should create an elective in High Schools that simply covers religion and philosophy...oh wait...there's no religion in public schools, but there can be Intelligent Design????"
So thus we have a whole host of people giving a reasonable-sounding suggestion yet which has an absolute zero chance of happening. Religion class? Forget it. Philosophy class? Perhaps as a low-attendance elective.
Any other suggestions? I mean, ones that have a snowball's chance in Havana of actually happening.
My main point here (and I'll admit, it's a little opaque) is that if you don't think ID has any place in school, just say so. That's a debate worth having. But if we're just going to get suggestions that could never happen in today's educational climate, that's not really a debate.
A fair result could be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts on both sides of each question. Oh, that idea isn't original with me. It's a quote from Charles Darwin in the Introduction to "The Origin of Species".
A good blog for keeping up with the ID side of the debate is Intelligent Design The Future.
June 29, 2005
Religion, minus the "G" word
You can write about religion, but don't dare mention..well, you know, the "G" word.
For using the "G" word 41 times in a term paper, Bethany Hauf was given an "F" by her Victor Valley Community College instructor.
Hauf's teacher approved her term paper topic - Religion and its Place within the Government - on one condition: Don't use the word God. Instead of complying with VVCC adjunct instructor Michael Shefchik's condition Hauf wrote a 10-page report for her English 101 class entitled "In God We Trust."
"He said it would offend others in class," Hauf, a 34-year-old mother of four, said. "I didn't realize God was taboo."
Hope the potential offendees never look too close at the money in their wallets. The idea that a report on religion should avoid the word God is akin to writing about the role of government in general without using the words "law" and "order".
I suppose that the teacher can place whatever restrictions he wanted to on classroom assignments. Still, this particular restriction seems one that was designed to ensure failure or at least discourage the topic. The American Center for Law and Justice is representing Hauf, asking for an apology and a re-grading of the paper. Oh, and one other nice bit of irony.
In addition to an apology and a re-grading of Hauf's paper, the ACLJ demands Shefchik "receive some kind of training to sensitize him to the constitutional dimensions of his employment in a public educational institution, including his duty to respect constitutional freedoms of expression."
Sensitivity ought to work both ways.
March 14, 2005
Who Would Jesus Dismiss?
(Hat Tip: Brainpost)
You may not have heard that a professor was recently fired from the University of Colorado for his controversial viewpoint. No, I'm not talking about Ward Churchill -- he's still there. I'm talking about Phil Mitchell, a professor in the history department.
According to Family News in Focus, Mitchell lost his teaching position for assigning a history class to read Charles Sheldon's In His Steps -- the book that asks the question "What Would Jesus Do," the phrase that launched a thousand marketing gimmicks.
Mitchell said he was immediately terminated when one student complained to the history department about the assignment.
"I called the director of my program on Monday morning," Mitchell explained, "and he confirmed that the department was going to let me teach one more year and then I would no longer be permitted to teach history at the University of Colorado."
When asked about Mitchell, a secretary in the history department—who asked that she not be identified—angrily responded, "We don't let him teach here."
This isn't the first time Mitchell, who has taught at CU for more than 20 years, has taken heat for using conservative sources in his classes. He said that when he quoted from Thomas Sowell, a conservative black commentator, the department head berated him and called him a racist.
Now I'm not exactly sure why one would assign In His Steps in a history class, but I might make a guess or two. The message of the book -- "What Would Jesus Do?" -- is certainly a timeless one, but the book itself is locked to a particular era in U.S. history. Written around the turn of the last century, one can connect In His Steps to a period of religious revival -- what some might consider the nation's third "Great Awakening." Christians began to emphasize the sins of society. There were temperance movements calling for the prohibition of alcohol, and poverty was seen less as a personal problem and more of a societal failure. This religious revival probably resulted in a political revival that led to FDR's "New Deal," and other social programs that are still with us today, even while their religious roots have been lost in time.
In His Steps certainly touches on the problems of turn-of-the-century America, even as its wide cast of characters seek their own personal revivals by trying to do what Jesus would have done. But though the message is timeless, I might suggest that the book itself is not. When I read it a few years ago, I found it difficult to relate to the struggles of the book's characters. One, a newspaper publisher, rethinks his newspaper's decision to run stories about boxing matches. He believes that people should not be reading about such things and so excises them from his newspaper. Later he decides that people should not be reading newspapers at all on Sundays, "the one day in the week which ought be given up to something better and holier," though it costs him advertisers and subscribers.
This isn't exactly a modern moral dilemma, which might explain why Sheldon's great-grandson decided to write an updated version a few years ago.
Meanwhile, back to Phil Mitchell.
The timing of the controversy is especially odd, considering how the campus has rallied around Churchill.
"I think it's interesting," Mitchell said. "People are marching for Ward's academic freedom, and I think—to a point—that's legitimate. I just wish somebody would march for mine. I don't have any."
I could see assigning In His Steps in a history class if one is discussing the social and political issues at the time the book was written, particularly as they relate to religious revivals which are certainly a historical reality. I have no idea if that was the context in which the book was presented.
I would love to know more about this story.