Response from, to, and about Robert Reich’s views of homeschooling

 The following item comes from the Apr., 2007, issue of my free e-mail homeschooling newsletter, "Biblical Homeschooling."

     The Apr. issue will contain articles about homeschooling the high schooler, the general history of homeschooling, American War for Independence hero Caesar Rodney, early American composer (and horse breeder) Justin Morgan, and German hymns of the Reformation, along with the next chapter of "Johann, Georg, and the Princess," book reviews, news and notes, and what I hope will be other interesting information.

     If anyone wants to receive it, all you have to do is to send a blank e-mail to biblicalhomeschooling-subscribe@yahoogroups.com and follow the instructions that will be e-mailed back to you, or subscribe from the web at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/biblicalhomeschooling/ .

 

18. RESPONSE FROM AND TO ROBERT REICH
from World Magazine and Wayne S. Walker

     [Editor’s note:  Last month’s issue of Biblical Homeschooling had an article about a  January 10, 2007, segment of the PBS show Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, concerning the "Home Schooling Movement," in which, among others, Robert Reich, who is usually identified as a "critic" of homeschooling, was interviewed, followed by some responses to Reich, including one by Joel Belz in the Jan. 27, 2007, issue of World Magazine.  In the Feb. 24, 2007, issue of World, Reich responded with a letter to the editor, along with three others, one who agreed with him and two who did not.  I thought that you might be interested in the response, and some of my comments too.  Then in the Mar. 3, 2007, issue of World Magazine, there were three more letters in response to the Robert Reich article.  WSW.]

     Joel Belz’s column "Homeward bound" (Jan. 27), which describes and mocks comments I made on a recent PBS show about homeschooling, is an embarrassing piece of ad hominem attack.  It always surprises me how homeschool advocates are so quick to demonize homeschool critics.  Are these the character virtues they teach their children in the home?  Belz writes that people like me are interested in "total control and approvingly quotes Bruce Shortt, who claims that I have an "ideological and cultural agenda."  People should read what I’ve written on the topic and judge for themselves.  –Rob Reich, Stanford, CA.

     Dear Mr. Reich, It always surprises me how homeschool critics are so quick to characterize any disagreement with their pompous claims as "mocking" and "demonizing"!  Sir, I have read what you have written, and frankly, as a parent, it scares the daylights out of me.  You may dismiss his statement lightly, but Mr. Shortt hit it right on the head when he talked about your "ideological and cultural agenda."  –Wayne S. Walker.

     I agree with Reich in that I want good regulations to apply to those parents who homeschool.  Government has a duty to protect society at large, including children, from those who are unqualified or unwilling to teach to an acceptable level.  Parents who object to government involvement in the education of their children should either make an exception for skills testing, or pursue some other way to make it very obvious that they are "making the grade."  —Trent VanderZee, Crown Point, IN.

     Dear Mr. VanderZee, Your "Government Knows Best" attitude is showing through.  (Are you a member of the National Education Association?)  Pray tell, I must ask, who is to determine what it means to "teach to an acceptable level"?  The evolutionists?  The homosexuals?  The radical feminists?  The environmental wackos?  The anti-American multiculturalists?  The fact is that homeschooling parents have been pursuing "some other way to make it very obvious that they are ‘making the grade.’"  Those homeschooled children who do take standardized tests routinely score above both their public and private schooled counterparts.  And homeschoolers show that they are "making the grade" as they are accepted into colleges, get good jobs, and generally participate in the life of our republic.  The proof of the pudding is in the eating, not just in the test scores!  –Wayne S. Walker.

     From where does the government derive any right to regulate the choices that parents make as to how they choose to educate their children?  Government "accountability and oversight" of education leads to the compulsory exposure of children to whatever ideas are government-approved.  The right of parents alone to direct the education of their children, to the best of their understanding, should be protected.  –Peter Van Wieren, Ypsilanti, MI.

     Bravo to Belz and Bruce Shortt.  As a homeschooling father of four, I am always thrilled when someone points out that the emperor is wearing no clothes when it comes to the standard, tired arguments against homeschooling.  Public education is about indoctrination, not diversity, and it encourages a boring homogeneity.  Homeschooling is about learning to understand the world around us, why we’re here and where we’re going.  No wonder Reich and his fellow travelers are running scared.  –John Carpenter, Dayton, TN.

     Dear Mssrs. Van Wieren and Carpenter, AMEN and AMEN!!!!!!   –Wayne S. Walker.

     Reich’s desire for regulation of homeschooling may indeed be to promote a "cultural hegemony."  Homeschooling should be regulated in some way, but for a different reason.  To assume that thousands of parents are suddenly credentialed to teach their children all subjects for all of the grades from K-12 is naive at best and foolish at worst.  While many homeschoolers do excel, many others slide by with no accountability.   –Aaron Hoak, Bremen, IN.

     Dear Mr. Hoak, Are you also a member of the National Education Association?  You obviously proceed upon the assumption that "teaching" is one of those "expert occupations" that needs to be "credentialized" like medicine or law.  However, parents have been teaching their children for thousands of years.  Furthermore, the fact is that all kinds of resources are available for homeschooling parents to provide an equivalent, and in fact often a superior, education compared to what can be had in an institutional school setting.  You say, "Many others slide by with no accountability," but the statistics just do not bear out your assertion.  Those who make such assertions are obligated to prove them.  Even children of homeschooling parents who do not have a high school diploma tend to do better on standardized tests.  –Wayne S. Walker.

     Thank you for taking Robert Reich to task for his recent comments on PBS about regulating homeschooling ("Homeward bound," Jan. 27).  He lamented that when children are shielded from what their parents deem "sinful or objectionable," they are more likely to hold beliefs similar to their parents.  Obviously, Reich thinks the state should determine what is objectionable, and he wants children to hold beliefs the state chooses.   –Douglas Daudelin, Hackettstown, NJ.

     I appreciate the column about Reich’s and Shortt’s opinions on homeschooling.  I’m a homeschooler and very familiar with the stereotypes.  Many people see us as timid, sheltered freaks with bad social skills.  This judgmental opinion used to bother me a lot.  However, I’ve come to learn that first, it’s not true, and second, this is right where God wants me.  As long as I’m following His ill, it doesn’t matter what people think.  —Carmen Schlosser, 17, Winchester, VA.

     Dear Mr. Daudelin and Miss Schlosser, Again, AMEN and AMEN!!!!!   –Wayne S. Walker. 

My opinion

     According to a USA Today news story on Mar. 21, 2007, a convicted child molester, George David Edenfield, 32, and his parents were indicted on charges they molested and then murdered a 6-year-old neighbor boy, whose body was found last week in a trash bag dumped by a roadside. Edenfield had to register as a sex offender in Georgia. He and his parents lived across the street from Christopher’s grandmother and less than 600 feet from where the kindergartner met his school bus. A Georgia law passed last year prohibiting registered sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school bus stop would have barred the younger Edenfield from living so close, but a pending lawsuit prompted a federal judge last year to block that provision from taking effect. As far as I am concerned, that federal judge, whoever he is, Democrat or Republican (and there are some boneheaded Republican judges), also should be indicted for his complicity in the boy’s death. But, of course, that "ain’t a gonna happen"!

Do you ever get discouraged? Please read this…

     Sharra Badgley, Editor of the Leader’s e-News and Event Coordinator with The Old Schoolhouse, sent me the following note on Mar. 6, 2007. "Do you ever get discouraged in your homeschooling? I talk to many moms who are homeschooling and sometime they get discouraged because they feel like they aren’t doing enough, or they struggle with failure, or they are weighed down by trials in life, or they just are not sure if their homeschooling will be successful, or for various other reasons. I have rarely met a homeschool mother who has not struggled with discouragement at some point. I am sure that as homeschool leaders, many of you have also needed to encourage those within your local groups. Additionally, if any of you have ever felt discouragement as a homeschool parent or as a homeschooling leader, please be encouraged that you are fulfilling a high calling and the Lord will give you strength to accomplish the tasks He sets before you! Be sure to check out this short video clip by The Old Schoolhouse:

Home Where They Belong — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_s18yj57iwU .

I think this short video is a powerful demonstration of our biblical mandate to homeschool! Please send feedback of what you think of this video to the list. Also, please pass this video along to others! E-Mail msbadgley@comcast.net ." Then a few days later, Diana Dow, who is the subject of this month’s interview in my free e-mail , sent the following note about the same video. "Awhile back I was asked to submit photos to The Old Schoolhouse’s photo contest. They made a video with some of the photos they received. I think you will all enjoy it."

Posted in Reasons We Homeschool

      A homeschooling mom and fellow blogger here at Homeschoolblogger.com  ( http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/Christy/302179 ) reported the following information on Mar. 20, 2007, courtesy of FoxNews.com headlined "Oregon Biology Teacher Fired Over Bible References." During his eight days as a part-time high school biology teacher, Kris Helphinstine included Biblical references in material he provided to students and gave a PowerPoint presentation that made links between evolution, Nazi Germany and Planned Parenthood. That was enough for the Sisters, OR, School Board, which fired the teacher Monday night for deviating from the curriculum on the theory of evolution. "I think his performance was not just a little bit over the line," board member Jeff Smith said. "It was a severe contradiction of what we trust teachers to do in our classrooms." Helphinstine, 27, said in a phone interview with The Bulletin newspaper of Bend that he included the supplemental material to teach students about bias in sources, and his only agenda was to teach critical thinking. "Critical thinking is vital to scientific inquiry," said Helphinstine, who has a master’s degree in science from Oregon State. "My whole purpose was to give accurate information and to get them thinking." Helphinstine said he did not teach the idea that God created the world. "I never taught creationism," he said. "I know what it is, and I went out of my way not to teach it." Parent John Rahm told the newspaper that he became concerned when his freshman daughter said she was confused by the supplemental material provided by Helphinstine. "He took passages that had all kinds of Biblical references," Rahm said. "It prevented her from learning what she needed to learn." Board members met with Helphinstine privately for about 90 minutes before the meeting. The teacher did not stay for the public portion. "How many minds did he pollute?" Dan Harrison, the father of a student in Helphinstine’s class, said at the meeting. "It’s a thinly veiled attempt to hide his own agenda." Editor’s note: Well, at least I guess we can’t accuse the evolutionists of thinly veiled attempts to hide their agenda. They are quite open and vocal about their aim to pollute as many minds as possible with their theory and make unbelievers out of everyone they can.  Later, I also saw an article about this travesty at World Net Daily.

Homeschooling alumni of Florida College

      I attended Florida College, a small, liberal arts institution, in Temple Terrace, FL, near Tampa, graduating in 1974. It is non-denominational and unrelated to any religious organization, but all the board of directors, faculty, and staff are members of the Church of Christ. The purpose is to provide a well rounded academic education in a setting where all subjects can be studied from a Biblical worldview and all activities can be done in a godly atmosphere. Every time I receive the FC Magazine with its "Class Notes" I am amazed at the number of alumni who homeschool. The Spring, 2007, issue identifies four, including ourselves. "Wayne and Karen Walker ’74 live in Affton, MO, with sons Mark and Jeremy. Wayne preaches and the Walkers are on the advisory board of the St. Louis homeschooling community." Well, I didn’t say exactly that. I realize that things have to be edited for space, but what I think I remember saying is that we serve on the advisory board of our local homeschool support group and are active in the St. Louis homeschooling community. "Martin and Joani (Parker) Adams ’81/’81 are back in the Washington, DC, area. Martin is with the FAA. After 15 years of homeschooling, Joanie is developing an art studio." "Greg and Kristi (York) Perkins ’81 live north of San Antonio. Kristi is a retired pediatrician and mom to Luke (16), Erin (14), Nathan (11) and Ellen (9). She homeschools the younger two." "Bill and Shannon (Tharp) Sink ’90 have moved to Verona, IL, after 14 years in Indiana. They work with the congregation in Pontiac, IL, and are getting used to life in the country. They homeschool sons Jacob and Ethan." There are at least two other families listed in the Alumni Notes whom I know have homeschooled, but their reports did not specifically mention homeschooling.

help for Georgia tornado victims

     I received the following e-mail from April Estes, a homeschooling mom in Lawrenceville, GA.  I thought that I would pass it along to any readers of this blog who might be interested.
 
     I am a member on the Yahoo group (Biblical Homeschooling), and have a simple request I was hoping you could indulge.  We currently live in Lawrenceville, GA, but lived in Americus, GA, for 20 years.  As you know, tornadoes swept through recently, wiping out half the town.  Our church (Williams Road Church of Christ) had 2 members and 1 elder greatly affected.  My homeschooling daughter, Savannah (5), mentioned wanting to help.  I told her that we "do what we know" – she then informed me that she knows how to draw.  So, we are trying to raise funds for Americus through our talents (hers, drawing – mine, writing). 
 
     She is selling 8.5 x 11 prints for a suggested donation of $3 (or more, if people are inclined).  This will include the shipping.
 
     I am joining her by donating signed copies of my book, Seeing the Father Through a Dad, for a suggested donation of $20 (this includes the shipping).  Some members might have remembered seeing the reviews from The Christian Chronicle, or hearing me speak at Freed-Hardeman University’s Christian Training Series a few years ago.  This book is a perfect Father’s Day gift for any new or seasoned father – through short, sentimental stories it shows the spiritual significance fathers truly have in raising their children, even in the "insignificant, everyday life routines".  
 
     ALL PROCEEDS will go to the Williams Road Church of Christ.
 
     Please contact me at: estesjasa@charter.net or 770-573-3096 with any questions.
 
     I hope and pray that a simple posting on your site will give us an outpouring of love to show both the people in Americus, as well as my daughters, what wonderful things can be accomplished when God is involved!
 
God Bless!!
April Estes
Lawrenceville, GA

A couple of homeschool resources

     Special online summer biology course: Many homeschoolers, including ourselves, have used science curricula from Dr. Jay Wile’s Apologia Educational Ministries. I recently received the following information from Steve Rosenoff who is associated with Apologia. "Hello, My name is Steve Rosenoff. I am currently employed by Apologia Educational Ministries as a Potter’s School online general science, biology, marine biology, and AP biology teacher. I am doing a prototype, summer, online, general biology program this year on my own. The details of the program can be found at:

http://home.comcast.net/~rosenon/science/index.htm .

I was wondering how I would go about advertising to your home schooling network? I am only taking twenty students this year for a very intense summer study. The money earned after expenses are going to help finance a free clinic in Algeria. Thank you for your assistance. God Bless, Steve Rosenoff." If you would like more information, you can contact Steve Rosenoff at rosenon@apologia.com .

     Math resource for homeschoolers: I received the following e-mail from Janet Tedesco. "I represent Hotmath, Inc. We are a mathematics homework help website developed by math teachers. We believe that that Hotmath.com is well suited to homeschoolers and would like to offer a free trial to all the parents/students in your group. Could you help us let your group know about the offer? A password for our tutorials has been established for your use through May 31, 2007. The password is: home123….You may wish to start with our Educators page when you go to the website. It explains the underlying reasons for our resource….If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at either jrted53@cox.net or 504-812-2690. I will be more than happy to help you." An attached flier noted, "We display tutorial explanations for the actual homework problems from math textbooks used in grades 6 through calculus (odd-numbered problems only). We cover over 150 middle school, high school and college math textbooks. We have workbooks and tests that can be used for practice. Hotmath displays step-by-step homework help, 24/7, online. We also provide free training exercises for TI graphing calculators. We have games that can be used to sharpen math skills. Parents can purchase this fantastic resource for only $49 per year. Free trial offer for homeschoolers good through May 31, 2007. The password is home123. Include your name, zip code and the fact that you are a home schooler." The website is http://hotmath.com .