Evidence of anti-Christian bias in many public schools

     Your school tax dollars going to promote anti-Christian bias: In Wisconsin a Tomah Area school district teacher refused to give a student a grade on a project because his work included "John 3:16" as well as "A sign of love." The school district, however, openly acknowledged and publicized various pieces of art representing Buddhism, and Hinduism as well as several demon faces that appeared satanic. The school defended its actions: "Respect for the beliefs of a diverse student population … requires that the district treat all students equitable and fairly regardless of their faith," it said in a website statement. Treated equitable and fairly, that is, unless they are Bible believers. The Alliance Defense Fund, which has taken on the case of a student identified by the initials A. P., said the teacher’s grading policy banned depictions of "blood, violence, sexual connotations, [or] religious beliefs." But in practice it was a discriminatory policy, the ADF said in a court motion seeking an immediate injunction against the school. "Allowing demonic depictions by some students while prohibiting Christian religious expression in artwork by others is a blatant violation of the Constitution," said David Cortman, senior ADF legal counsel. The law firm said the district displays artwork reflecting Hindu, Buddhist and satanic themes all over. A motion has been filed by the ADF in a Wisconsin court to suspend immediately the policy in the school district that bans Christian symbols in students’ artwork, but allows Hindu, Buddhist and satanic representations.

     More school tax dollars going to promote anti-Christian bias: Students at the Mount Vernon, OH, school district have called a ‘take-your-Bible-to-school day" tomorrow in support of a popular teacher who has been ordered to keep his Bible hidden while students are in his classroom. The dispute arose, when school officials gave orders for middle-school science teacher John Freshwater to hide his Bible from students and Freshwater decided not to comply. School Board president Ian Watson told World Net Daily that the Bible was just part of a "tapestry" of issues the district was dealing with, but he said he could not provide details on other factors. He did admit that the order for Freshwater to remove the Bible from his desk, where he’s kept it for more than two decades while teaching in the district, was prompted because of contacts from some district parents. But again, he declined to elaborate. In an interview with WND, Watson accused Freshwater of "going public" with issues the school "is in discussions with attorneys at this stage." "We just asked him that the Bible not be on top of his desk during his teaching hours," Watson told WND. However, he also admitted that the school had no formal prohibitions on personal items on teachers’ desks. When asked how the school arrived at a ban on Freshwater’s personal Bible being on his own desk, Watson said, "I do not know how to answer." The district’s formal statement on the dispute said: "The Mount Vernon Schools today directed one of its middle school science teachers to remove from his classroom the 10 Commandments he had displayed and to remove his Bible from his desktop while students were in his room. The Mount Vernon Schools has not taken this action because it opposes religion, but because it has an obligation under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution to protect against the establishment of religion in the schools. As a public school system the district cannot teach, promote or favor any religion or religious beliefs." But apparently they can promote or favor anti-Christian beliefs. Coach Dave Daubenmire said the school’s demand amounts to an ongoing viewpoint discrimination, since a Muslim woman would not be ordered to hide her head covering from students’ view. Daubenmire said, however, the school’s demands go far beyond making sure it doesn’t "establish religion" and reaches the level of a "continuous purging of Christianity."

     Follow up on the previous note: On Apr. 23, 2008, WorldNetDaily.com reported that the Ohio school district under fire for telling a teacher to hide his personal Bible when students are present has released a long list of accusations against the teacher, ranging from preaching in class to "branding" students, and says it is hiring an investigator. The case arose last week when officials with the Mount Vernon, Ohio, school district ordered teacher John Freshwater to remove a Ten Commandments representation from a collage on his classroom wall and told him he must hide his personal Bible from students. The issue sparked a student-organized campaign using cell phones, text messaging and e-mails for a "take-your-Bible-to-school day." Students also wore Christian-themed T-shirts for a rally on behalf of the teacher. School Board president Ian Watson earlier told WND the Bible was just part of a "tapestry" of issues the district was dealing with, but at that time he said he could not provide details on other factors. Now the school district has released a laundry list of accusations to the Columbus Dispatch newspaper. Administrators told the newspaper Freshwater is accused of holding a religious "healing session" during school and burning crosses onto students’ arms. The "healing" happened when Freshwater was a chaperone for a Christian student-athlete group (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) and a guest speaker was ill, the newspaper said. The report said Freshwater called for his healing. The newspaper also reported a boy was "branded" during a science class when Freshwater asked for volunteers to see how an electrical device worked. On the newspaper’s forums page, Celia Dawkins wasn’t waiting for any investigation. "I do not send my children to school to be subjected to proselytizing or bad science or incorrect history. This man does not belong in any classroom and should have his teaching license taken away. He is a religious predator," she wrote. But a followup from "anonymous" defended Freshwater. "No, Mr. Freshwater does not deliberately ‘brand’ students. That is the most trumped up charge yet. Absolutely ridiculous. It is a ‘zapping’ type machine that shows the current of electricity. My son said you can put your hand in the ‘lighting bolt’ IF YOU WANT TO. Other teachers in the school system use this as well and have used it for years. The administration was right to not make a big deal of this in December. The kid’s parents are going overboard. I’m sorry one student got ‘burned’, but Mr. F. does NOT burn crosses as a religious exercise. That makes him sound like an idiot. Furthermore, the Bibles in his room are because he is the FCA leader. Kids can come in and get a Bible to give to a friend IF THEY WANT TO. Does the art club leader have to take down all artwork in her room? And does the chess club leader have to remove all chess boards?" the comment said. Fellow teacher, Dave Daubenmeier, a coach, said that the release of such allegations was a calculated effort on the part of the board. "What you’re seeing is a classic example of character assassination … to release nothing more than allegations and say now they’re going to investigate," Daubenmire said. A statement on the Minutemen United website accused the district of skirting the First Amendment issue. "For those of you who have ever done battle with government schools you know that you should always wear your head gears, pads – and a cup," the statement said. "Public schools are not familiar with losing and have a reputation of doing whatever it takes to continue their dominance over your child’s life." The organization continued, "Instead of addressing the supposed church state separation issue with regard to a public school teacher’s right to bring his Bible to school, the Mt. Vernon School Board – in a time honored tradition – have chosen instead to attack the teacher’s character."

2008 Greater St. Louis Area Home Educators Expo

     (We recently finished the Third Annual Greater St. Louis Area Home Educators Expo, Apr. 10-12, 2008. Karen and I are members of the board. I am the speaker coordinator, and Karen is the lodging coordinator. The following article about the Expo appeared in some of the Suburban Journals, local weekly newspapers in the St. Louis area, on Tues, April 8, 2008. Kerrie Tate, our advertising and hospitality coordinator, said that nearly all the local press interest in the Expo centered on the special needs section.)

Expo attracts homeschool family, plus those with special needs:

     The Greater St. Louis Area Home Educator’s Expo will be held April 10 to 12 at the First Evangelical Free Church of St. Louis County, 1375 Carman Road, Manchester. The expo will feature nationally known and local speakers, more than 70 exhibitors, a special needs area, youth seminars and a children’s expo. Thursday night events from 5 to 9 p.m. are free, while admission from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday is $10 a person ($20 at the door), $30 for a family of three or more ($40 at the door). Kerri Tate, a member of the steering committee for the expo, says the weekend’s topics have developed a dual emphasis. One is for the homeschooling family, but a second is for people challenged by special needs.While many speakers will touch on the relationship of foods and performance, two seminars are devoted to it. At 10 a.m. Friday, Dr. Amy Davis will talk about food allergies and their impact on health, behavior and learning. She will show through actual examples how detection and treatment of food allergies benefited children. On Saturday, Kim Perry, who has homeschooled four children, will share ways to focus on foods and resources for a family member who cannot tolerate gluten or casein. She will speak at 2:30 p.m. All expo information, speakers and registration are found on the Web site http://www.stlhomeschoolexpo.com .

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

     To paraphrase Will Rogers, I never met a homeschool magazine that I didn’t like, but The Old Schoolhouse ( www.TheHomeschoolMagazine.com ) is my absolute, all-time favorite. The Spring, 2008, issue is out, and it is chocked full of excellent material, including some articles about the fire-storm brewing over the California homeschool-related court ruling; columns by Senior Editor Deborah Wuehler and General Editor Donna Rees; information about homeschooling in Pakistan and Brazil; interviews with The Wise Guide for Spelling instructor Britta McColl and Phonics Plus Five creator Dr. Marion Blank; tributes to homeschool moms and dads; E-book reviews by Heidi Strawser; Excellence in Education awards; material about homeschooling the preschooler; product reviews; several other regular features; and a great deal of other informative and useful items. There is truly something for everyone in The Old Schoolhouse!

anti-homeschooling, ant-creationism comments

     In an Apr. 9, 2008, American Chronicle article entitled "Homeschoolers who don’t learn science shouldn’t receive a diploma," Steve Shives lambasted homeschooling and especially studying science from a creationist viewpoint.

     He began, "There are many, many things I find dubious about the practice of parents homeschooling their children. I wonder how a mother or father who has not been educated as a teacher, who in many cases has not even been to college her/himself, can possibly provide their child with as good an education as students receive in our much-maligned public schools. And I can´t help but think that these homeschool students, of whom there are several million in the United States, are being robbed of a crucial formative experience by not attending school with other people their age and being forced to interact with a diverse group of peers."

     And that was just for starters. He continued, "Most disturbing is the virulent strain of religious fundamentalism that is found in the lessons being taught homeschooled children, especially in the United States. Not all American homeschooling is religious—that´s not what I´m saying. I´ve known people personally who were homeschooled from a secular curriculum, and there are many others like them throughout the country. I think I´m safe in saying, however, that the majority of homeschooling in the U.S. is religious—specifically, fundamentalist Christian—in nature. This is no big secret."

     Apparently he is not disburbed by the virulent strain of radical secularism that is found in the lessons being taught public school children. Of course, that it because he appears to be a radical secular humanist.

     He goes on, "The area of study most affected by the Christian bent of homeschooling is science. The religion of the guy who wrote the textbook might not matter a whole lot when you´re studying geometry or reading Romeo and Juliet, but it comes into play in a big way when you hit high school-level biology. Homeschool parents who get their biology curriculum from sources like Apologia are not teaching their children science. They are giving them a Sunday School lesson."

     This is an example of "the big lie." The evolutionists think that if they can repeat, "Evolution is science, creation is religion," long and loud enough, then that will, presto-chango!, make it true.

     Again, he says, "Instead of evolutionary biology, which has been the keystone of the life sciences for over 150 years, homeschool students are taught creationism—that the God of the Bible personally created the universe more or less as described in the Book of Genesis. There are several varieties of creationism—Young Earth, Old Earth, Omphalosian, Neo—all thoroughly discredited. Increasingly, it is dressed in the pseudoscientific trappings of intelligent design. Whatever its proponents choose to call it, regardless of the intellectual contortions it performs to make the Biblical creation account plausible, it isn´t science and it should never be taught as such. But it is taught as science to millions of children and teenagers all over the country."

     This is simply not true. It is another case of "the big lie." If you say something untrue–that creation science has been "discredited"–over and over and over again, you can convince yourself and perhaps others that it is true.

     He makes another observation about a course offered by the Mason Dixon Homeschoolers Association in Pennsylvania. "There is also an ALPS course entitled Physical Science, again using an Apologia textbook, whose course description promises to ‘especially concentrate on the myths generated by the hysterical environmentalist movement.’ Clearly, there are axes to grind here; clearly, the education of the students is not a paramount concern."

     As if there aren’t axes to grind in the "evolution as a fact" (even though many evolutionists themselves admit that it simply is uproven and cannot be proven) and "global warming is true" (even though thirty years ago some of the same scientists, or at least their naturalistic, evolutionary predecessors were claiming that "global cooling" was coming and we were in for another ice age) presentations of "science falsely so called" in public schools.

     Then he says, "The description of the Physical Science course also claims ‘It is an excellent course for preparing the student to take a college prep high school science curriculum.’ I can tell you as a firsthand eyewitness that this is total c—. When I took a basic college-level general biology course last year, one of my classmates was a girl who had attended a Christian private school. Instead of legitimate science, she had been taught creationism, and thus didn´t know the first thing about what actual biological theory tells us regarding the origins of the universe and the development of life on Earth. She was not a stupid person, but her religious fundamentalist teachers had prevented her from learning some of the most rudimentary scientific knowledge. She may have been prepared to continue her academic career at Liberty University, but a first-year community college course in real science was utterly beyond her grasp."

     YES! It is "biological theory" (someone’s guess!) NOT facts, true science, that says anything about the origins of the universe or the development of life on Earth. And, by the way, I have talked to homeschooled students who had studied Apologia science courses and said that they were well prepared when they went on to college–even secular colleges.

     Then, in an Apr. 11, 2008, followup article, Shives "apologized" to those secular homeschoolers who teach evolution for lumping them in with "religious nutcases" (that was part of the title of the article, "And for you homeschool types who aren’t religious nutcases") but felt he had to add, "Don´t get me wrong — I´m not suddenly on the homeschool bandwagon here. I know our public education in the U.S. is in a terrible state, and I can certainly understand why some parents would rather teach their kids themselves than send them to school. I´d still be more comfortable with children being taught by teachers who have been to college and mastered their subjects than well-meaning parents who are simply following a lesson plan."

    Unfortunately, even in our public schools one cannot always guarantee that the teachers have truly mastered their subjects.

     After citing some examples of "religious homeschoolers" (mostly Unitarians) who teach evolution, he concluded,  "I wish more homeschoolers were taught from sources like Becoming Human rather than Apologia, and I wish states would alter their standards to require real science education before recognizing diplomas. Until those things happen, though, I´m happy and a little relieved to know that there are people out there like Dawn, Theresa, and the HUU, teaching their children at home, the right way. " 

     Apparently, the author has never seen an Apologia science course. As one who has used Apologia science, I can say that Dr. Jay Wile, a former evolutionary scientist who is now a Bible-believing scientist, deals thoroughly with the all the arguments and so-called "evidence" for and against evolution. In fact, I would argue that the reason why the rabid anti-creation science and anti-intelligent design proponents hate homeschooling in general and curricula like Apologia in particular is that they must be deeply afraid that when all the evidence is actually examined, the arguments for Darwinism and evolution will be seen for what they really are, weak and pathetic.

Some quotes from the founding fathers

      "If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be if without it?" (Benjamin Franklin, to Thomas Paine, Date Unknown). "I own myself the friend to a very free system of commerce, and hold it as a truth, that commercial shackles are generally unjust, oppressive and impolitic" (James Madison). "Children should be educated and instructed in the principles of freedom" (John Adams, Defense of the Constitution, 1787). And John Adams also said this. "There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty" (Wow! I had no idea that John Adams knew Hillary Clinton or Barak Obama.) Here is another good quote from a slightly later generation. "Let the American youth never forget, that they possess a noble inheritance, bought by the toils, and sufferings, and blood of their ancestors; and capacity, if wisely improved, and faithfully guarded, of transmitting to their latest posterity all the substantial blessings of life, the peaceful enjoyment of liberty, property, religion, and independence" (Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833, p. 718).

How do evolutionists interpret Proverbs 22:6?

     It’s so important for believers to pay attention to this verse. Christian parents must give their children a firm foundation on the Bible and its practical truths. But evolutionists also understand what this verse means. They want to teach children that we’re just animals who evolved through millions of years of death and suffering. Just think of the morality that goes with that! Yet the U.S. government gives evolutionists millions of dollars to "train up children" in their anti-Christian worldview. Some Christian parents think that as long as they take their children to church on Sunday morning, they’ll learn a worldview based on the Bible. But think about it: one or two hours in church—once a week—simply isn’t a match for five days in a public school . . . plus secular TV, evolutionary science museums, and so on. So, evolutionists are trying to "train up a child"—your child! We must teach young people to stand on God’s Word—from the very first verse. [From a weekly look at answersingenesis.org ; April 5, 2008, newsletter ; www.answersingenesis.org .]  Praise the Lord for homeschooling!!!

More goings on in public schools

     A newspaper report from Tampa, FL, on Apr. 3, 2008, said that before a Davidsen Middle School teacher, Stephanie Ragusa, 28, started a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old student, she told the boy she could help him overcome his shyness, according to a new court filing. When the teacher broke her foot and was confined to a wheel chair, the boy was assigned to escort her around the school, detectives wrote in their request for a search warrant filed in Hillsborough Circuit Court. Ragusa told the boy when they got into the elevator that she noticed he was "shy and she could break him of that," the warrant states. Then, it says, she invited him to go to her apartment after school instead of attending an after-school program. At her apartment, they had what the boy described to police as "consensual" sex. Ragusa then took him back to school in time to be picked up by his step-mother. Over the next several weeks, detectives wrote, Ragusa and the boy spoke over the phone. One night, while the boy’s parents were sleeping, the teacher picked him up around the corner from his house and they had sex in the back seat of her silver Lexus SUV, the report states. Their sexual relationship lasted from October, 2006 to May 2007, detectives said. Ragusa has been suspended from her teaching job. Then, on the same day, a television news report from Manhattan, KS, said that the Manhattan school board fired high school teacher Katherine Harder, who is accused of having sex with a male student. Harder had resigned her job after police reported that a sheriff’s deputy found her with a 17-year-old boy in a parked car at the Tuttle Creek Dam. But then the 31-year-old language arts teacher rescinded her resignation. She had been booked into the Pottawatomie County Jail on March 26 and was released on $3,000 bond the next day. Teenagers can legally consent to sex at age 16. But it’s a felony in Kansas for teachers to have a consensual sexual relationship with a student of any age who attends the school where they work. Such offenses also are grounds for losing a teaching license. Thankfully, the Manhattan school board acted responsibly, but, again, thank God for homeschooling!


     Here are some book reviews from my free e-mail homeschooling newsletter, Biblical Homeschooling ( biblicalhomeschooling-subscribe@yahoogroups.com or http://groups.yahoo.com/group/biblicalhomeschooling ).

     (Note on language levels: 1. Nothing objectionable; 2. Common euphemisms; 3. Some cursing or profanity; 4. A lot of cursing or profanity; 5. Obscenity or vulgarity.)

     Cooper, James FenimoreThe Deerslayer, or The First Warpath (published in 1841; republished in 1982 by Bantam Books, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc., 1540 Broadway, New York City, NY  10036).  The "Leatherstocking Tales" series of books by James Fenimore Cooper was recommended in the 3/03 issue of this newsletter.  My father recalls having read some of them when he was younger and always said that he really liked them.  He now has a one-volume edition of the five books and hopes to read them all.   Since our son Mark is studying American literature for his junior year of high school, I purchased all five of the "Leatherstocking Tales" for him.  He has now finished them, and I just completed The Deerslayer.  Actually, Cooper had first introduced the character Natty Bumppo in the 1823 book The Pioneers, where Bumppo is an older man.  The next book, The Last of the Mohicans, pictures Natty in his prime.  Three books later, the author went back to chronicle Natty’s earliest exploits when he was known as "The Deerslayer."  As the book, set in colonial New York colony of around 1750, opens, Natty, who was raised among the peaceful Delaware Indians after his parents’ deaths, and his friend Henry "Hurry Harry" March, are canoeing to a lake in New York where the widower Thomas Hutter and his two daughters, the beautiful Judith and the slightly feebleminded Hetty, live.  March is going to claim the hand of Judith for his bride, but Natty is going to help his Delaware friend Chingachgook who has already gone ahead for the purpose of trying to recover his fiancee Hist who had been captured by the Iroquois and is being taken back to Canada with them.  Unfortunately, while the three men are aiding Chingachgook, Hutter and March succumb to the temptation to try for some Iroquois scalps, for which the English governor was paying good money.  This sets in motion a chain of events that leads to Hutter’s death and several other unintended consequences.  If you like early American adventure with Indians and soldiers, you should like this book.  The action does flag every now and then when Cooper gets a bit descriptive or has Bumppo philosophizing for a while, but there are still a lot of excitement and suspense.  With very little bad language (the word "Lord" is used twice as an interjection, and Hurry Harry uses the colloquial curseword "damme" once), there is hardly anything to which one might object.  Of course, there is killing (after all, it is about war), but no gratuitously violent descriptions are found.  While Natty Bumppo is certainly not presented as a "perfect" character, and many of his ideas about "religion" are somewhat clouded, he is a genuine hero who is characterized by honesty, truthfulness, loyalty, respect for life, and other admirable qualities.  There is a strong sense of right and wrong, and Cooper makes copious references, in both dialogue and description, of the influence of God’s hand in the world.  In fact, he refers to the Bible "as a work replete with the profoundest philosophy, expressed in the noblest language" and says "that scarce a chapter, unless it be strictly narrative, can be turned to, that does not contain some searching truth that is applicable to the condition of every human heart."  It took me a while to finish it, but I enjoyed the book and look forward to the further exploits of Natty Bumppo.  Language level: just barely 2.  Ages: teenagers and adults.  GOOD.

     DiTerlizzi, Tony, and Black, Holly.  The "Spiderwick Chronicles" series (copyright 2003 by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York City, NY  10020).  Ads for the recently released movie based on these books intrigued me, so in last month’s issue I carried some information and opinions about the series.  I have now read the first two books, The Field Guide, and The Seeing Stone.  The three Grace children, Mallory, Jared, and Simon, go with their mother to live in their great-aunt Lucinda’s creepy old Victorian house, and in a secret room they discover a field guide from Lucinda’s father, Arthur Spiderwick, about fairies and other similar creatures, which leads to some unusual experiences,  including Simon’s being captured by goblins and Mallory and Jared’s rescuing him with a magical stone which enables them to see things which are normally invisible.  These books are well written but in my opinion, unfortunately, not written well.  Let me explain.  The stories are very interesting and exciting, and from that standpoint would probably be easy reading for reluctant readers.  However, the whole basis for the plot is that the children’s father has divorced their mother and left so that the mother and children have to move to Aunt Lucinda’s house.  As a result, Jared had begun getting into trouble at school (he gave one boy a black eye).  Now that they have moved he "hopes things will get better" (as if this kind of behavior is something that just happens rather than the result of making choices), but they do not and he still gets into trouble.  My perennial question is why do nearly all modern writers of children’s fiction seem to think that to be "relevant" they must always portray families as broken and dysfunctional, rather than giving children good role models?  The three children seem to do a lot of arguing and fighting with one another, saying "shut up," and calling each other unkind names.  On page five of the first book, Mallory refers to the house as "crappier" than she had first imagined.  Do we really want to be introducing our children to such language?  Aunt Lucinda is in a mental institution (probably because she believed in fairies) which the kids constantly call a "nuthouse."  A hobgoblin, who reluctantly helps the children rescue Simon from the regular goblins, calls Jared "candy butt" and is said to have (and this is a quote) "urinated on the fire, making the flames blaze green."  Some common euphemisms are also used.  And, of course, at the end of the second book, the kids have to lie to their mother to explain where they had been and why.  Some may find such things humorous.  I do not.  I am trying to decide whether we shall encourage Jeremy, age twelve, to read these books or not, but right now I am leaning against it.  There is just too much better literature available.  There are three more books in the series.  Language level: 2.  Ages: intended for 6-10; I would not recommend it for anyone under 12.  FAIR.  [Note:  An abridged version of this review appeared in the HomeSchoolBuzz.com e-mail newsletter for 3/22/08; if you are interested in receiving this newsletter, go to http://www.homeschoolbuzz.com .]

     Eager, EdwardSeven-Day Magic (published in 1962 by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Inc., Orlando, FL, and  republished in 1992 by The Trumpet Club, 666 Fifth Ave., New York City, NY  10103).  John and Susan live with their Grannie and enjoy playing with their neighbors, Barnaby, Abbie, and Fredericka.  One day in the local library the children find a book, which unlike most others, is due back in only seven days.  It turns out to be a magic book that grants them their wishes, such as Fredericka’s wish to see a dragon (which carries her off and the other children have to go find her), Susan’s wish to go into the future (where they see the girl from another of Eager’s books, Half-Magic), even Grannie’s unintentional wish to go back to the past (where she was a prairie school teacher), and Abbie’s wish to see her father sing in New York (which turns out badly at first but then turns out quite well later).  But when John and Barnaby fight over their wish, they accidentally tear the book in half, and Barnaby goes off into his own adventure world of "Barnaby the Wanderer."  Can the other children find him and bring him back?  Eager’s books are described as being in a "realistic fantasy vein."  Eager acknowledged his indebtedness to Edith Nesbit, and this book is somewhat similar to her Five Children and It.  As with other books by Eager, those who dislike any mention of "magic" will want to avoid it, but, again, it is not the "magic" of occultism, witches, and wizards, but of "fairy tales."  The euphemism "gee" appears once; otherwise there is no objectional language.  Also, there is one reference that Barnaby, Abbie, and Fredericka’s father sang in a beer commercial.  I enjoyed this book just about as much as Eager’s Knights’ Castle reviewed in last month’s issue.  Language level: I’m going to call it 1.  Ages: 10-14.  GOOD.  (Note:  An abridged version of this review appeared in the HomeSchoolBuzz.com weekly e-newsletter for 3/8/08; if you would like to subscribe, go to http://homeschoolbuzz.com ).

     Haywood, Carolyn"B" Is for Betsy (published in 1939 by Harcourt, Brace, and World Inc., and republished in 1967 by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, New York City, NY).  Carolyn Haywood (1898-1990) was a native of Philadelphia. One of America’s most popular authors of children’s books, she published her first book, "B" Is for Betsy, in 1939, and wrote more than forty books altogether. Many of her own childhood experiences can be found in her novels.  In this book, Betsy has turned six.  It chronicles her first year in school and tells how school goes from being a large and frightening place, based on the scary tales of Old Ned, her grandfather’s hired hand, from his childhood school days, to being something exciting and interesting.  One might wonder why homeschoolers would want to read about going to school, but this book describes what schools were like before the progressives got hold of them and turned them into a social experimentation and liberal indoctrination centers.  In fact, just before Thanksgiving, Betsy’s teacher tells how the Pilgrims gave thanks to God (something that is often considered a no-no in today’s schools).  Betsy is not an "ipsy-pipsy perfect" little girl.  She is naughty on occasion, but she suffers the consequences of her actions, is sorry, and learns to do better.  I had never heard of this book, so I read several reviews on Barnes and Noble’s and Amazon.com’s websites.  One said, "This series is a must for all young children, especially little girls who are ready to move onto longer stories."  All of the reviews that I read had nothing but positive comments, except one.  "Cons: Slightly outdated themes . . . but then the books are 60 years old!"  The "outdated themes" include the following: "Due to the age of the books, some stereotypes and prejudices exist, most markedly in gender roles. None of the mothers work outside the home."  It is just too bad that doing things God’s way is considered "outdated"!   Carolyn Haywood’s stories about her irrepressible character Betsy, originally consisting of twelve books, have never been out of print, and now the first four Betsy books are back for a whole new generation of young readers.  The other three are Back to School with Betsy, Betsy and Billy, and Betsy and the Boys.  Language level: 1.  Ages: 6-10.  EXCELLENT. [Note: An abridged version of this review appeared in the 3/29 issue of the HomeSchoolBuzz.com weekly e-newsletter; to subscribe, go to http://www.homeschoolbuzz.com .]

     Kaplow, RobertThe Cat Who Killed Lilian Jackson Braun: A Parody (published in 2003 by New Millennium Press, 301 N. Canon Dr., Suite #214, Beverly Hills, CA  90210).  "Warning!  Warning!  Danger, Will Robinson!"  (Does that tell you how old I am and what I was watching on television when I was young?).  Some of you may be familiar with "The Cat Who…" books by Lilian Jackson Braun.  My wife Karen, who likes good mysteries, has read nearly all of them.  Even our son Mark, seventeen, who is very picky about what he reads, has said that he has enjoyed them.  My father, who, unfortunately, is NOT very picky about what he reads, gave us a copy of this book.  Please be advised that it is nothing like the novels by Mrs. Braun.  The cover calls this a "bawdy parody," and bawdy is certainly right!  Karen read the first chapter, put the book aside, and warned me about it.  I just read the first chapter to see for myself, and she was correct.  On page 2 the "f" word is used.  There are numerous references to Braun’s supposed relationship with a "gay bar" and the "gay male population."  And at the close of chapter 1, the hero of the book, James MacIntosh Qafka (the real Mrs. Braun’s hero is named James Quillen), a writer of children’s books (whose earlier "Little Blivet" books were said to have been popular, but his updated and more diverse, books like Little Blivet has Three Daddies were ignored–thankfully!) is specifically said to have gone into his bedroom and "violently m********ed" — the usual term for self stimulation.  While I understand that all this is fiction, it is still revolting and disgusting.  Publishers Weekly said, "In this wildly funny, biting satire…the zingers come quickly…the copious puns range from the simple to the elaborate…the reading public may read and roar."  Obviously, Publishers Weekly has absolutely no sense of common decency whatever.  My advice is to stay as far away from this author as possible.  Language level: 5.  Ages: adults only!  NOT RECOMMENDED.

     Norton, MaryBedknob and Broomstick: A Combined Edition of The Magic Bed-Knob and Bonfires and Broomsticks (published in 1957 by Harcourt, Brace and World Inc., New York City, NY).  Before Mary Norton published her series "The Borrowers," she had written a book entitled The Magic Bed-Knob in 1943.  She followed this up with a sequel Bonfires and Broomsticks in 1957.  These two books were then combined into one volume entitled Bedknob and Broomstick, which became the basis for a Walt Disney film starring Angela Lansbury and David Tomlinson entitled Bedknobs and Broomsticks (sometimes the book was sold under this title too).   It tells the exploits of the three Wilson children; Miss Price, the apprentice witch; and a flying bed.  When Carey, Charles, and Paul Wilson, who are spending the summer with their Aunt Beatrice in the country, discover that Aunt Beatrice’s neighbor Miss Price, a prim and rather unusual spinster, has been riding a broomstick, they decide that she must be a witch.  With a gift that the children acquire from Miss Price, who has been studying witchcraft, they have a series of exciting and perilous adventures traveling on a flying bed that takes them to a London police station, a tropical island, and back in time to the seventeenth century.  The "magic" in this book is not "fairy tale magic" as in Edward Eager’s books, but "witchcraft magic."  While admitting that I am somewhat troubled by the witchcraft element, I basically enjoyed the book.   The question is, why would I enjoy this book but not Harry Potter, since both deal with "witchcraft"?  The plot of Bedknob and Broomstick is more of a light-hearted romp that definitely has a fantasy feel to it, whereas Harry Potter is much darker and more serious about its witchcraft.  As a result, I believe that Harry Potter actually tends to promote an interest in witchcraft, while I do not think that Bedknob and Broomstick does.  In fact, Miss Price decided to regard "witchcraft not as a hobby but as a weakness."  Also, Emelius Jones, the seventeenth-century "necromancer" whom they save from being burned at the stake, said that his mentor, under whom he had studied, told him before he died concerning "magic" that "there isn’t such a thing."   Let me hasten to add that while I do not recommend Harry Potter, I cannot and will not say that anyone who decides to read it is "evil."  It is a choice that each family must make.  We chose not to read it for the reasons that I mentioned.  In Bedknobs and Broomsticks, the euphemism "gosh" is used several times, the phrase "hell to leather" is found once, and there is a reference to drinking beer.  I would not recommend the book for young children as the scene where Jones is about to be burned at the stake is a little intense.  Otherwise, I found nothing that I would consider objectionable.   The book was reissued, but apparently, at the present time, neither the individual novels nor the combined edition is in print.  Oh, buy the way, one reviewer noted, "Did you see the movie BedKnobs and Broomsticks? If you have, this book…is very different from the movie."  Language level: 2.  Ages: for 9-11 but I would recommend for 11-14.  GOOD.

     Rogers, Dale EvansAngel Unaware: A Touching Story of Love and Loss (published in 1953 by Fleming H. Revell Company, Westwood, NJ; republished in 1963 by Pyramid Books Publications Inc.).  I grew up watching the movies and television shows of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans–back in the days when most, or at least many, celebrities understood that they were role models for children and tried to live the part.  Oh well, "Do not say, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’  For you do not inquire wisely concerning this" (Ecclesiastes 7:10).  Anyway, in 1950, after having had four "normal, healthy" children, Dale Evans, wife of Roy Rogers, gave birth to a girl, Robin, who was eventually diagnosed with Down Syndrome (then known as "Mongoloidism") and died at the age of two.  The Rogerses were advised by all their doctors except one to put the child in an institution, but they refused to do so and kept her home with them.  Mrs. Rogers tells the story of this little child’s life and how it touched theirs as if narrated by Robin to God after her death.  The book is truly a tear-jerker but is a great insight into the deepest thoughts of someone who loved a disabled child.  Even those of us who have never had to deal with such a situation can appreciate the pathos invested in Dale Evans Rogers’s words.  The original edition went through 27 printings and sold more than 700,000 copies.  It is still available today in a fiftieth anniversary edition put out by Baker Publishing Group.  One recent reviewer wrote, "I read this book in one sitting. I highly recommend this book to anyone that has a child with a disabilty. The book is written through the eyes of their little girl. You just have to read it to feel the wonderful feeling it leaves behind. It’s the most amazing thing I have ever experienced."  One might not necessarily agree with all the theological implications inherent in the telling of the story (the Rogerses were Baptists, but allowed an Episcopalian minister to "baptize" Robin), but it is still a heartwarming story.  Language level: 1.  Ages: for adults, but older children and teenagers could profit from reading it.  EXCELLENT.

Now going on in the public schools–perhaps yours

      In an article headlined "Superintendent’s orders to worried dad: Butt out Elementary lessons on ‘gay’ issues now tied to reading, social studies," Bob Unruh of WorldNetDaily reported on Apr. 4, 2008 that the superintendent of a public school which sparked a federal lawsuit by teaching homosexuality to children as young as kindergarten has told another worried parent he can review course material, but he has no right to withdraw his child from class during lessons. The lawsuit was filed by David Parker, whose child was in a class at Estabrook Elementary in Lexington, MA. Parker’s strenuous objection to not being notified when lessons concerning homosexuality were presented landed him in jail overnight. His subsequent lawsuit resulted in a court verdict that essentially concludes parents have no rights to control what their children are taught. The court ruling adopted the arguments submitted by several pro-homosexual organizations that stated they had rights to children in public schools. However, Parker has confirmed the case is being prepared for appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court because of the far-reaching impacts of the ruling. In the latest confrontation, publicized by the traditional values advocates at Mass Resistance, Lexington Supt. Paul Ash told a parent who also wanted to be advised when homosexuality was being taught to children that the school would not cooperate. "We are not required to inform parents in advance of teaching units that include same gender parents or required to release students when such topics are discussed," Ash told the parent in an e-mail posted by Mass Resistance. "The appeals court dismissed the claim that parents have a right to require the school provide advance notice or the right to remove their children. In addition, the school committee has decided that teachers must be able to teach topics they feel are appropriate without the requirement parents be notified in advance," Ash wrote. At one time a federal law was passed which said that any school receiving federal money must give parents advance notice of anything that would be offensive or contrary to parental values and provide an opt-out for their children.  Thank God for homeschooling!


     One of the things that sets Christianity apart from a religion like Islam is that men are given the freedom to choose for themselves whether or not they wish to adhere to its precepts. In Muslim countries one may even be slain if one chooses to be other than a follower of Mohammed. Religious intolerance marks the day in such countries. Because of the freedom that Christians are afforded by God, this country was founded with the same sense of allowing each to choose for himself. In fact, bigotry and intolerance were not overlooked because they were so out of character with the history of the founding fathers. In fact, intolerance was nowhere tolerated. Until recently. The secular humanists are gaining a foothold in this land. As a result, surveys show more and more often that believers recognize their freedom to be Christians is being abridged. Liberalism of that sort cannot accept those who deny their precepts. Christians should brace themselves for the day when religious freedom is removed entirely. (—from my good friend Floyd Chappelear, a gospel preacher living in Centreville, VA, from Stand, the bulletin of the church of Christ, 4709 Ravensworth Rd., Annandale, VA; Feb., 2008; Vol. 44, No. 2.)