Sad news

HOMESCHOOL MOM NEAR ATLANTA, GA, MURDERED
compiled by Wayne S. Walker
     Along with a link to the item below, Kathy Matthews posted the following note on the Church of Christ Homeschoolers list on Wed., July, 26, 2006.
     “HELP NEEDED! HOMESCHOOL MOM MISSING! NOT A JOKE – PLEASE PASS ON!
     “The Silver Comet Trail is a popular place for walkers, joggers, and bikers. It goes through parts of Cobb and Paulding counties, and as far away as Rockmart. The portion in Cobb County goes behind several housing areas, with some houses backing up directly onto it.
     “Please add her to your prayer list – she attends North Point Community Church here in Alpharetta and taught English at our daughter's Friday classes at Johnson Ferry Baptist.”
     Also included was this note from Kelly Ling that was posted on the AlphaHome Yahoogroups List.
     “My sister just called me and told me that a well-known homeschool mom is missing in Cobb County! Jenny Ewing is well-known in the homeschool community – she has held classes at her home for homeschoolers in Sandy  Springs, etc and is known by many homeschoolers on this list. Last time they saw her was at 1 PM on Tuesday.
      “If anyone can help and join the search for her today, it is greatly needed!   Or put up posters, etc. You can contact the Cobb or Smyrna police numbers listed in the article.  Please pray for Jenny Ewing to be found!”
     The link was to the following item that was reported on News 11 Website: WXIA-TV, Atlanta, GA.
PD Look for Missing Woman in Cobb
Reported By: Elaine Reyes
7/26/2006 11:16:38 AM
     Police in Smyrna are looking for a missing 54-year-old woman, last seen at the Silver Comet Trail Tuesday afternoon.
     Friends and family of Jennifer Ewing, the missing woman, continue to turn out to search for her. Smyrna Police, as well as other local police agencies, are leading the search effort.
     Ewing was last seen Tuesday around 1:00 p.m., riding her bicycle on the trail. Her family told 11Alive that she usually bikes about 25 miles down the trail, then turns around and bikes back, the journey beginning and ending at the trail head in Smyrna, near Nickajack Elementary School.
     Ewing’s family attempted to contact her via cellphone starting around 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, and continued through the night, but to no avail. Her vehicle, a Honda minivan, was found undisturbed at the trail head; police have taken the vehicle to search it for clues to her disappearance. Ewing’s sons went to the trail head about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday night to check for the car, which led her husband Jim to believe that she had never returned to the vehicle.
     Ewing’s sons and some other family members searched through the overnight hours. When the sun came up Wednesday, Smyrna Police, along with Cobb Police, Powder Springs Police, and Paulding County Police, started searching in earnest.
     Anyone who has seen Jennifer Ewing since Tuesday at 1:00 p.m. is asked to call Smyrna Police at 770-434-9481 or Cobb Police at 770-499-3900.  ( http://www.11alive.com/news/news_article.aspx?storyid=82474 )
      However, later in the day, Kathy Matthews posted a follow up item on the Church of Christ Homeschoolers list.
      “Thank you for your prayers but her body has just been found.”
      She also included note that had been sent out from someone in the Home Education Resource saying, “I just heard 'breaking news' that she's been found dead. It's hard to find words for the sadness and horror of something like this!”  There was also a link to the following:
Action News 1 Website, WSB-TV, Atlanta, GA
Police Believe Body Is Missing Woman
July 26, 2006
     SMYRNA — Officials in Paulding County found a woman's body Wednesday along the Silver Comet Trail, and a Smyrna Police Department spokesman said was believed to be that of a missing 54-year-old woman.
     Jennifer Ewing of Sandy Springs had gone riding on the trail on Tuesday, but failed to return home.
     Police say they believe that Ewing was murdered — and that her body showed signs of trauma. Officials say they first found her shorts around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday morning before finding her partially clothed body.
     Officials say they believe it was a random murder and that they do have several leads.
     “What we believe to be the body of Jennifer Ewing” has been found in Paulding County, Smyrna spokesman Sgt. Robert Harvey said.
     “The body has not been positively identified by the GBI.”
     Harvey said he believed Ewing's bicycle was also found, but said he had few details of the discovery somewhere in Paulding County.
     “Paulding County is working on it,” he said. “Her family has been notified.”
     Ewing's husband, Jim Ewing, said her silver Honda minivan was found by family members after 9 p.m. Tuesday.
     Ewing made a 50-mile round trip on the trail three to four times a week, family members said.
      The Silver Comet Trail begins about 13 miles northwest of Atlanta. It runs 57 miles from Smyrna to the state line along an abandoned freight rail corridor, winding through Cobb, Paulding and Polk counties.
     ( http://www.wsbtv.com/news/9576152/detail.html ; Copyright 2006 by WSBTV.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report)

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Miscellania


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     John Taylor Gatto article: Ellyn Davis, formerly of the Elijah Company, now of Home School Marketplace, sent a notice that their “next ejournal is ready and you can read it here: http://clicks.aweber.com/z/ct/?y0x__ItT7zDe78ONAc6Mhw . This ejournal contains an article by John Gatto that you will enjoy.”


 


     New homeschooling website: Joan Elder sent the following information. http://www.homeschoolernetwork.fen.com/ . We are excited to launch this new site for homeschooling families: HomeSchooler Network. The site is packed with over 5,000 innovative lessons, activities, and inspirational articles to help you in your homeschooling life.


 


     More government school intrusion into students' private lives: Scott Esk of Oklahoma City, OK, sent the following information. “Howdy, Fellow Concerned Americans! Some concerning news about the growing trend of govt schools wanting to give govt school children mental screening, even if they have to sneak it past parents. Read on — http://www.newswithviews.com/public_comm/public_commentary39.htm .” The article by Mary Collins is entitled IS YOUR CHILD BEING “MENTALLY SCREENED” AT YOUR SCHOOL?, and she points out, “TeenScreen's aim is to locate more children that can be identified as mentally ill and routed into “mental health” treatment. Many of these would be “treated” with psychiatric drugs.”


 


     Lapbooks: We have used lapbooks at various times in our homeschooling. Stacy Pierce sent the following information. “Since there has been a little discussion of lapbooks in the recent past, I thought some of you might benefit from this website I just discovered. They have ready to use lapbook style project packs and research packs. There is a link on the left of the page for a freebie and it is a lapbook project on bees. It changes every three months. Enjoy! http://www.handsofachild.com/2/ .”


 


     Science Curriculum: I received the following e-mail from Resurrection Resources. “Dear Home School Family, With the beginning of home school only a month away, you may be busy with your final selections for science curricula. We would like to encourage you to take a look at what we have to offer in this subject as not all curriculums teach using the same methods. Our science curricula all include workbooks which are more 'hands-on' and interactive with your student. These workbooks employ several different learning styles that not only reinforce the textbook materials, but also greatly enhance your student’s mental understanding and retention of each lesson…To learn more about these products visit our web site: http://www.thefathersbooks.com When you visit, don’t forget to read the reviews from The Old Schoolhouse magazine. Sincerely, Resurrection Resources.”


 


    


     The Old Schoolhouse magazine:  The Summer, 2006, issue of The Old Schoolhouse (http://www.TheHomeschoolMagazine.com ) is wonderful, as usual. In addition to including my review of Paul and Gena Suarez's book Homeschooling Methods, there are great interviews, several articles on trains, and other interesting information, including Jenefer Igarashi's editorial “What do Do When You Think You've Lost Them,” Deborah Wuehler's “Homeschooling the Rebel,” and especially Danny Carlton's “Media Spotlight” article on “Radio, Television, Newspapers: Fact or Fiction?” in which he gives as an example, “In late 2005 when David Ludwig murdered the parents of his girlfriend and fled with her from Pennsylvania to Indiana, ABC News' Elizabeth Vargas noted in almost every reference to Ludwig that he was homeschooled. Why? Ludwig is also 6' 3″ tall, but she forgot to mention that, and that has as much to do with the story as the way he was educated does–unless by including the fact she wants to send the message that somehow his being homeschooled was a factor in the crime.” Right on!


 


     Home Educator's Family Times:  Yes, Virginia, there are other homeschooling magazines and newpapers.  Even though The Old Schoolhouse is A#1 in my book, I subscribe to several of them and look upon them not as competitors but as collaborators.  The July/August, 2006, issue of Home Educator's Family Times ( www.HomeEducator.com ) contains my article “A Study in Critical Thinking” (posted earlier on this blog) along with several beneficial articles by Dr. Renee Fuller, Cheryl Carter, Lynn Scully, Valerie J. Steimle, Kimie Bringle, Shirley M. R. Minster, and others.


 


     And finally: There has been an interesting interview with Scott Somerville of HSLDA on Gena Suarez's blog.





     Here is an example: “TOS: Okay, next topic…I've heard you speak at a conference to homeschool dads in talks called Principles For Principals, and What Wives Wish Their Husbands Knew About Homeschooling. One of the key points you make is for dads to include homeschool magazines in their 'sacred' reading rack in the bathroom. Why should guys read about homeschooling? Scott: One reason homeschool dads should read about homeschooling is to save money. So many moms are working SO hard to provide everything their children need, and yet they still feel insecure. The common tendency is to try to solve that problem through shopping: they subconsciously think, 'If only I had the perfect curriculum, I would feel better about what I'm doing.' A little leadership from Dad will do a better job of addressing those insecurities–and it's a whole lot cheaper than 'curriculum buying disorder'! The bigger reason is that homeschooling is a revolutionary act. Homeschoolers are turning the world upside down! From what I read in the Bible, however, God wants men to lead the charge, not sit on the sidelines. Reading is one small step towards leading.”


 

Blog Watch

     The fact that you are reading this (or is anyone out there reading this?) indicates that you are interested in homeschool blogs.  One of my favorite homeschool Internet resources is HomeSchoolBuzz.com.  Kathy Davis gives wonderful book reviews and Gary Davis posts summaries and links of media sources that mention homeschooling.  They also now have a blogwatch for those who are interested in reading homeschool blogs.


 


http://homeschoolbuzz.com/blogwatch.html


     You can access the information at their website and you can also sign up for a free weekly homeschooling newsletter with the book reviews and media links.

Quiz Hub

     I received the following note that I thought that I would pass on to everyone.


 


You might find this website of interest …
http://QuizHub.com

Quiz Hub is a fun interactive learning center that
features educational games, puzzles, and quizzes.

Best Regards,
Dyann K. Schmidel
Schmidel & Wojcik
Educational Web Weavers

Universal Pre-Kindergarten


     (Note: This article first appeared in the July/August, 2006, issue of Home Educator's Family Times, P. O. Box 6442, Brunswick, ME 04011; http://www.HomeEducator.com, edited by Jane Boswell; it will be included in the August, 2006, issue of my free monthly e-mail newsletter Biblical Homeschooling)


 


A STUDY IN CRITICAL THINKING


by Wayne S. Walker


     When compulsory school attendance laws were originally passed beginning in the mid to late 1800's and into the early 1900's, many states did not start compulsory attendance until age seven because it was commonly accepted that a lot of children were not developmentally able to handle the stress of school at ages five and six. However, as more and more socialist-thinking people, who viewed their role as changing society to fit their ideas, came to be in control of the educational establishment, an effort was made to get children away from their parents' control and into government-approved indoctrination centers at earlier and earlier ages. First, many states lowered the compulsory attendance age to six. Next came the push for mandatory kindergarten. Now, there is a move to demand universal pre-kindergarten classes for all children.


     In the May 17, 2006, issue of the South County Journal, a free, local weekly newspaper in our area, there was a letter by Catherine Martarella headlined “PK-3: Maximizing children's potential.” It appeared to be one of those generically prepared letters on an issue that are mass mailed to all media outlets to see how many will publish them. Catherine Martarella is the program director for Citizens for Missouri's Children, an organization founded in 1983 as a state-wide advocate for child protection, early care and education, health and mental health care and youth development. It is always good to know a little bit about the background and views of an organization to help one understand why they say and do certain things.


     A check of the website of Citizens for Missouri's Children shows that their mission is “To advocate the rights and well-being of all Missouri's children, especially those with the greatest need.” Their vision states, “We believe that all children in the state should benefit from public policies that guarantee they are protected and secure in nurturing environments, allowing them to thrive and grow to their greatest potential.” This is so noble-sounding! Of course, everyone supports the well-being of all children. Yes, we agree that public policies should promote and support caring families in which children are protected and secure in nurturing enviroments, allowing them to thrive and grow to their greatest potential. However, notice what is missing in the quotes. There is no mention of “family” or “parents” anywhere! I have an idea this organization's view, when translated into simple language, is that government is better at protecting, securing, and nurturing children than their own families are.


     Let us now look at the article itself. It begins, “As Missouri considers increasing its investment in prekindergarten, we must consider this public investment in early learning. Maximizing these public dollars requires aligning standards, curriculum and assessment from pre-kindergarten through kindergarten, and into the early elementary grades. That's the PK-3 approach. PK-3 begins with voluntary full-school-day pre-kindergarten for all 3- and 4-year-old children. Compulsory schooling begins in kindergarten with a curriculum that builds on pre-kindergarten experiences. Children learn social skills and self-discipline as well as reading and math.”


     When people who think that the government does a better job at anything promote increased government spending on their pet projects, why is it that they always call it a “public investment”? The answer is that they want someone else to pay for their plans. Obviously, someone is going to have to do all this “aligning standards, curriculum and assessment” and then monitor it. And who better to do that than the same leftists and government bureaucrats who are promoting it in the first place? What a wonderful way to guarantee their job security! And to control the minds of impressionable children in the process! See what I mean about getting children away from their parents at increasingly early ages? Voluntary full-school-day prekindergarten for all 3- and 4-year-old children? Why should anyone in his right mind think that three and four year old kids should be cooped up in a school room for six or eight hours every day, five days a week for half a year? Also, what starts out as “voluntary” (though usually under great pressure) eventually becomes “mandatory.” Kindergarten used to be thought of as “voluntary” but now it is “mandatory” under this thinking. Finally, why cannot children learn social skills and self-discipline from parents and family? Or are parents nowadays just too stupid to teach their children these things?


     However, there are supposed to be all kinds of benefits for this “public investment.” According to the article, “Research supports the PK-3 approach. A study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association tracked 1,500 disadvantaged minority children in Chicago for 16 years….Called the Child-Parent Centers, these programs were part of the Chicago Public School system. The study found that CPC participants were almost 30 percent more likely to complete high school than a comparison group of equally disadvantaged children.” Someone has said that figures do not lie, but liars sure do figure.


What struck me about this research is that it only deals with disadvantaged children. Most of us would probably agree that in situations where children are growing up in a home where both mom and dad are away working all day or otherwise absent and there is hardly any parental supervision or nurturing it might be better for those children to be in an early learning center. However, to take these exceptional situations, apply the conclusions drawn from them across the board to all families, even those where the parents are present and nurturing, and then seek for laws to require every three and four year old to start PK-3 programs in public (or state-approved private) schools is the height of absurdity! These people really must think that all parents are just too stupid to raise their children, so the government, through PK-3 programs, will have to do it for them.


     In another attempt at proving the benefits of PK-3 programs, the article says, “According to the recently released Child Well-Being Index (CWI) report, the rise in 9-year-old's math and reading performance as measured by the National Assessment of Education Progress ('the nation's report card') corresponds with the dramatic expansion of pre-kindergarten since the mid '90s.” Notice carefully what is NOT said. It is not said, because there is evidently no evidence whatever to prove it, that the rise in 9-year-old's math and reading performance WAS CAUSED BY the dramatic expansion of pre-kindergarten. Ms. Martarella would undoubtedly have given her eyeteeth if she could have said that. But she did not because she could not, although she obviously seeks to imply it. All she could say was that the rise “corresponds with” the expansion. The truth is that there could be any number of other factors which may have contributed to the rise.


     The stated reason (again, I believe that the real, unstated goal is to get children away from their parents and under state control as early as possible) for this mandatory early learning push is to give children a “Head Start” (the name of another similarly-aimed government anti-poverty program of questionable value) so that “children reach fourth grade equipped with the skills needed to learn at a higher level.” Forty years ago, when I was in elementary school, what we accomplished in first, second, and third grades seemed to do quite nicely, thank you! But do such early learning programs really increase readiness? The research examined by Dr. Raymond and the late Dorothy Moore show otherwise. Dr. Moore was an official in the Reagan Education Department and shows in Better Late Than Early and School Can Wait, which led to their other books promoting homeschooling, Home Grown Kids and Home Spun Schools, that children who grew up with stimulating environments in nurturing homes until they were eight or nine did just as well in school when placed with other children their age without the danger of academic burnout.


     This past year, there was a movement in California for universal preschool. Dianne Flynn Keith in an article “Universal Preschool: What’s Behind the Claims That It Will Stop Crime, Secure Your Child’s Future, Save Social Security and Provide A Free Government Nanny!” (The Link; Volume 8, Issue 2; pp. 13, 22, 37, 49, 51) states, “In fact, there are a number of revered child development experts who strongly oppose the institutionalization of mainstream young children in academic programs and warn of the potential damage intellectually, psychologically, emotionally, socially and physically to them if separated from their parents and homes.” She cites Mary Eberstadt’s Home Alone America: The Hidden Toll of Day Care, Behavioral Drugs and Other Parent Substitutes and David Elkind's Miseducation: Preschoolers At Risk. She also quotes renowned educational psychologist and authority on brain development in children, Jane Healy, Ph.D., who in Your Child’s Growing Mind: Brain Development and Learning From Birth to Adolescence, says to parents, “Give your child the gift of patience for the broad-based mental experiences that will underlie joyous learning throughout life…Childhood is a process, not a product, and so is learning. In a society that often respects products more than the processes of creation and thought, it is easy to fall into the trap of anxiety over measuring achievement in isolated skills. Have faith – in childhood and yourself. Children’s brains generally seek what they need, and nature has given you the instincts to help them get it.”


     Keith concludes, “For 80% of the preschool population, learning at home with loving parents — who may also occasionally and thoughtfully use private and co-op preschool programs in their community that emphasize imaginative play and facilitate a child’s natural curiosity — is a better model for the healthy intellectual, physical, social and emotional development of young children than any government preschool program could ever be. More than ever, parents need to be informed in order to maintain their right to determine the educational path of their own children without government mandates or interference….We should all care enough to examine the research and claims made in support of government funded and/or mandated universal preschool before we allow it to take hold.”


     Sharna Olfman, Ph. D., who is a clinical psychologist, an associate professor of Psychology in the Department of Humanities and Human Sciences at Point Park College in Pittsburgh, PA, and editor of the book All Work and No Play: How Educational Reforms are Harming our Preschoolers, issues similar warning in an article “The Push for Early Childhood Literacy: A Risk Factor in Child Psychopathology” (Home Educator's Family Times; March/April, 2006; pp. 8, 25). She concludes, “It is a striking paradox that as adults feel increasingly entitled to place their individual needs first, we are creating educational environments that do not respect children's individuality or their special status as children. We introduce concepts long before children are ready to master them, deny their need for play, subject them to uniform curricula and assessment, and label and drug the children who do not fit in. Our preoccupation with understanding the genetic and neurological bases of illness, while ignoring the power of the environment, also speaks to our increasingly mechanized conceptualization of human nature.”


     So, beware of attempts to mandate universal preschool. Home educating families will be affected if such programs are adopted. In states like Missouri where records have to be kept by homeschooling parents for students falling under the compulsory attendance ages, recordkeeping will become even more onerous as records will have to be kept for three, four, five, and six year olds as well as those who are actually of “school age.” There is one more item in Catherine Martarella's article that I would like to point out. “To help qualified teachers make a career of early education, we must pay them what we pay all other elementary school teachers.” Translation: Watch your pocketbook and look for a HUGE TAX INCREASE if these programs are adopted.


     —9024 Amona Dr., Affton, MO 63123; wswalker310@juno.com


     If you follow homeschooling news, you may have heard about the crackdown on homeschoolers in Belgium recently. You may also know that there are all kinds of people in this nation who want the United States to sign the UN Convention on Children's Rights. The Home Educator's Family Times e-newsletter just ran an article by Alexandra Colen of The Brussels Journal dated Wednesday, June 21, 2006, which began, “In today’s Belgian newspaper Gazet van Antwerpen Bob Van de Voorde, the spokesman of Frank Vandenbroucke, the minister of Education, says: 'One of the conditions [for homeschooling] is that the homeschoolers must sign a document in which they promise to rear their children along the lines of the UN Convention on Children’s Rights. These parents have not done this. This is why the ministry has started an inquiry.' The parents Mr. Van de Voorde is referring to in the paper are my husband (TBJ editor Paul Belien) and myself. The 'inquiry' is a threat to prosecute us. Homeschooling is a constitutional right in Belgium. We have homeschooled four of our five children through high school. Only the youngest is still being homeschooled because the others are already at university. And yet, as if they have nothing better to do, the Belgian police and judiciary are conducting an “inquiry” into our homeschooling to see whether we 'rear our children along the lines of the United Nations Convention on Children’s Rights.' Until two years ago, we never encountered any problems with the authorities concerning our family’s home education. In fact, compared to neighbouring countries, Belgium was very tolerant of homeschoolers. In 2003, however, the Flemish regional parliament decreed that all homeschoolers are obliged to sign a document in which they promise to rear their children along the lines of the UN Convention. The latter undermines the authority of parents and transfers it to the state. The document the homeschoolers are made to sign also states that government inspectors decide whether families comply with the UN’s ideology. Furthermore, it contains a clause in which the homeschooling parents agree to send their child to an official government recognized school if the inspectors report negatively about them twice. We refused to sign this document. Not only do we object to the imposed UN ideology, but we would never put our signature under a document that forces us to send our children to government controlled schools simply because two bureaucrats decide on the basis of arbitrary criteria that we are not in compliance with the imposed philosophy. Last week my husband was questioned by the police. He was informed that, because we refuse to sign, our children are not being schooled or brought up adequately, i.e. along the lines of the UN Convention. Hence, we are committing a criminal offence. The authorities are threatening to prosecute us.” You can read the rest of the article at http://www.canadafreepress.com/2006/brussels062106.htm. Friends, this is scary stuff! Could it happen here? With our heritage of freedom, we would like to think not, but there are all kinds of anti-homeschooling bureaucrats who would love to impose this kind of regulation, and all it would take would be one Democrat President and a Democrat-controlled Congress to ratify the UN Convention, and this nation would begin sliding down the slippery slope.

Great example of why I prefer homeschooling


Under the above heading, on Mon., June 5, 2006, Kathy Matthews posted the following information on the Church of Christ Homeschoolers List from the Associated Press from Richmond, VA, about a student suspended for eating staff member's cookie. “A Henrico County eighth-grader was suspended from school for a day and kicked off the baseball team for eating a staff member's cookie. Jeremy Maitland was in the Hungary Creek Middle School kitchen one day last month filling a water cooler for a baseball game. Caryl Maitland says her son told school officials that he ate a cookie after someone knocked over a cookie jar and he tried to pick them up. She says the family received a letter from the assistant principal telling them the cookies were a staff member's personal food. Jeremy was disciplined under the school's theft code. The boy's mother says she understands the boy had to be disciplined, but she says eating a cookie and taking someone's laptop computer should not warrant the same punishment. They've appealed the suspension. Superintendent Fred Morton declined to discuss specifics but added that he reviewed the case and found the school's decision reasonable.” Does the word “overkill” come to mind here?