a couple of good things to report

     In this blog, I report a lot of bad things that are going on in our society and especially in the public schools in hopes that attempts can be made to better them.  But now and then there are good things to report!

     Something good to report: Chelsea Schilling of WorldNetDaily reported on February 16, 2009, that despite facing threats of disqualification, a 12-year-old girl took first place in a speech contest when she eloquently argued for the rights of unborn children – after an offended judge quit. The girl, a student at a Toronto school identified only as "Lia," said, "What if I told you that right now, someone was choosing if you were going to live or die?" the seventh-grader begins in a video recording of her speech on YouTube. "What if I told you that this choice wasn’t based on what you could or couldn’t do, what you’d done in the past or what you would do in the future? And what if I told you, you could do nothing about it? Fellow students and teachers, thousands of children are right now in that very situation. Someone is choosing without even knowing them whether they are going to live or die. That someone is their mother. And that choice is abortion." Despite Lia’s enthusiasm for her topic, her teacher "strongly encouraged" her to select a different one for her class presentation or she would be considered ineligible for an upcoming speech contest. "[S]everal teachers discouraged her from picking the topic of abortion; she was told it was ‘too big,’ ‘too mature’ and ‘too controversial,’" her mother wrote. "She was also told that if she went ahead with that topic, she would not be allowed to continue on in the speech competition." Lia’s mother continued, "Initially, I tried helping her find other topics to speak on, but, in the end, she was adamant. She just felt she wanted to continue with the topic of abortion. So she forfeited her chance to compete in order to speak on something she was passionate about." Lia’s teacher was so impressed by the speech that she allowed her student to advance as the winner. Lia presented her speech to judges in front of her entire school on Feb. 10. The school principal and teachers called Lia’s presentation the "obvious winner" – but the judges suddenly disqualified her the following day "because of the topic and her position on abortion," her mother said. Lia’s father later revealed that the judges had a "big disagreement." One was offended by the speech and voluntarily stepped down while the others reversed their earlier decision – declaring her the winner. It is always good to read of young people who stand up for their convictions!

     More good news to report: The Feb. 22-28, 2009, issue of American Profile magazine had an article "Lifting Our Language" about McKay Hatch, 15, of South Passadena, CA. It begins with a quote from McKay. "Words mean something. Words affect things. They’re not ‘just words.’" The sophomore at South Pasadena High School "has been on a crusade to lift our language since he insisted that his peers stop cussing in his presence five years ago." He said, "After a while I just couldn’t handle it anymore. I challenged my friends: ‘If you want to hang around me, I don’t want to hear cussing. They stopped, which I thought was really cool." The article continues, "That positive experience gave Hatch and idea. If his friends were up to the challenge–why not the rest of his classmates? In 2007, Hatch organized the No Cussing Club to encourage students to stop using foul language. By the start of the next school year, more than 120 students had joined." Senior Dominique Butler, 17, said, "Those words aren’t good to hear or be around. A lot of people who do cuss are trying to stop–especially when McKay comes around. They’ll say, ‘Oh, there’s the no-cussing kid!’" Also, Cary Inouye, a father of five in Canyon Country, CA, hopes reactions like that will spread. He joined the club too, along with his wife and children. Way to go, McKay!!!!! Like Abou Ben Adhem, "may his tribe increase."

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a couple more interesting items, this time from Reader’s Digest

     Grammar: I have read responses on e-mail lists to questions about what is the best grammar program to use in which homeschooling parents said that grammar was unimportant and too much emphasis was placed on it. Well, each person is entitled to his own opinion, but the truth is that grammar relates to how we communicate, and that is a very important subject. Either we can communicate according to the established rules that everyone recognizes and thus speak or write so as to be best understood by all, or we can communicate according to our own little world of things and thus risk a greater likelihood of being misunderstood in our speaking or writing. Have you ever tried to read some modern text messages? Furthermore, most colleges have entrance requirements that demand English courses with substantial emphasis on grammar. Most likely, they have seen the messes that have appeared on entrance essays by many high school students, some of them "star pupils." With that in mind, I was especially interested in a Reader’s Digest article from the Mar., 2009, edition (pp. 22-23) about 28-year-old Jeff Deck, a self-styled "professional typo hunter and fixer," who goes around the country correcting mispellings, incorrect punctuation, and bad grammar on signs. The fellow may have gone a bit overboard when he corrected, without permission, womens’ (incorrect–if a plural does not end in s, the possessive is made by adding ‘s) to women’s on a Grand Canyon sign which had unfortunately been done in the 1930s by a celebrated architect. The National Park Service was not impressed. But I like his emphasis on trying to get things right ("Cars towed at owners expense"–possessive, should be owners’; billboard advising tourists to bring their "camera’s"–not possessive, no apostophe; "Express lane 12 items or less–less mass, fewer things).

     Something else from Reader’s Digest: One of the big debates among homeschoolers over the past few years has been the use of standardized tests. Of course, most colleges have required some kind of standardized test (SAT or ACT) for admission, although this is apparently changing. Well, now, there is another test for schools to "teach too." Joseph K. Vetter began an article "Quick Study: Standardized Tests" also in the Mar., 2009, issue of Reader’s Digest, saying, "If you think your kids need to spend more time penciling in answer bubbles, the College Board has granted your wish. In October, it presented a new, SAT-style exam–for eighth graders. Critics pounced, blasting it as a cynical ploy to make more money by extending the angst of college-bound teens to mere tweens. The College Board insists that the test, known as RediStep, isn’t meant to predict how students will do on the SAT but to help guide ‘the course of a student’s instruction.’" I would tend to agree with the critics. It sounds to me like more leftist "womb to the tomb" social planning.

a couple of items of interest for your consideration

     Response to Homeschool Family on Wife Swap tv Show & all homeschoolers (Wed., Feb. 4, 2009): (Apparently, homeschooling was featured on the tv show Wife Swap .I don’t watch the show–and wouldn’t even if someone paid me to! But I think that I remember hearing something about this elsewhere. Here is a response that was posted on a national homeschooling leaders e-mail list). Dear Heather Martinson: I know how this tv show portrayed you was wrong. I am so sorry…you don’t deserve it! But at least we know the truth as homeschool families. I grew up in the industry. Every childhood star in my neighborhood has struggled one way or another by media ways. As a 20 yr. homeschool-lifestyle family, we have seen the brunts of attacks: The 1st generation of homeschoolers had to hide for their freedom and wanted no outside peer influence to "stain their fruit." When the 2nd generation of homeschoolers came on the scene, they expected and opened more public learning opportunities and acceptance. The 3rd generation are here and they have been able to "just be" and enjoy. But now the world has taken notice at our numbers and power and looks at us under a microscope. When my oldest 2 sons decided to go to college (we did not raise them to think college was the end of all learning–so they had that choice) I watched the pull "Higher educational thinking" from 2 different prestigous Christian colleges had on them as they were told homeschooling was done to them not for them. We still have ground to water and weed to keep homeschooling alive and well respected unfortunately. I find my time is better spent creating memories,the love of learning and living with neat people given to me for a short time that passes so quickly. Lisa Lyons."

     High School Student Newspaper Explores Debauchery with Public Funds: Here are some excerpts from an article by Laurie Higgins, Division of School Advocacy Director with Illinois Family Institute, with good reasons to keep even high school students at home rather than send them to public schools. Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, IL has found itself in the midst of a mini-tempest as a result of a recent article in the student newspaper, Statesman, on the topic of hooking-up. For the uninitiated, hooking up refers to casual sexual encounters between individuals who are not in committed relationships. Hooking up is a relatively new euphemism for an old phenomenon. It’s euphemism for what in the days when people discriminated between moral and immoral behaviors would have been called profligate, promiscuous, or slutty behavior….I want to suggest that the entire topic is inappropriate for a student newspaper that is written by students enrolled in a curricular class. Public relations spokesman Jim Conrey has stated in multiple contexts that the administration has no opposition to Statesman addressing controversial topics, citing a previous Statesman issue that took on the topic of oral sex as evidence that the school is not interested in censorship. But that raises the thorny question: Should there be topics that are off-limits in public school newspapers that the taxes of diverse people subsidize and that minor students will be reading? I would argue that there are topics that school administrations should prohibit, and fortunately the Supreme Court has decided that they may, indeed, do just that. In the 1988 Supreme Court Case, Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, schools were granted a significant degree of authority to limit student speech in school newspapers. If the context (e.g. student newspaper) is school-sponsored and not considered a public forum, then school administrations have a fair amount of leeway for circumscribing content….When school administrations permit school newspapers to discuss topics like oral sex and hooking up, they have abandoned their responsibility to establish appropriate boundaries for students, to civilize students, and to demand standards of decency that our increasingly debased culture is abandoning with nary a backward glance. The Stevenson administration, or perhaps just the journalism adviser Barbara Thill, is allowing a base culture rather than some objective standards of decency to determine the permissibility of content. A Chicago Tribune article entitled "A Teaching Moment" extolled Statesman‘s "long list of awards," implying that exceptional journalistic skills mitigates the offense of offensive, inappropriate content. That’s analogous to the teacher at Deerfield High School who last year attempted to justify the teaching of an egregiously obscene, graphically sexual play by asserting that the play is a "heartbreaking, inspiring play, one that challenges us as much emotionally as it does intellectually. It is . . . harrowing and mystical, lyrical and beautiful." Somehow, all taxpayers are expected to accept–and fund–the philosophical view that concerns with standards of modesty or decency are automatically subordinate to other assessment criteria…Those adolescents who want to enlighten the world about the intricacies of hooking up are certainly entitled to do so, but they are not entitled to government money for their endeavors. They may freely research any ideas that pop into their fertile minds, freely employ their exceptional journalistic skills, and freely fund a newspaper that will illuminate both young and old on this new manifestation of debauchery. But unencumbered access to Illinois taxpayers’ money is something to which they are not freely entitled.

several items for your information

     New teaching unit for homeschoolers: Natalie Bishop passed along this information from Patricia Leonard ( pel27@cornell.edu ). The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s inquiry-based curriculum program, BirdSleuth, has released its first module just for homeschoolers! Our Science Investigator’s Kit for Homeschools will help you bring science alive for your family with hands-on, engaging activities involving birds. Your curriculum kit includes books, lesson plans, a journal, resource pages, CD-ROM, online resources and support, PLUS free participation in Project FeederWatch and the FeederWatch kit. Through Project FeederWatch, kids collect data about the birds they see at their feeders and submit their observations to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Scientists use this information to understand more about the distribution and abundance of birds across North America. Children like knowing their work is really useful….I believe it will keep your children engaged in science activities for months and perhaps spark a lifelong interest in birds. To learn more, please visit www.birds.cornell.edu/birdsleuth/homeschool . Or contact Jennifer Schaus Fee, Project Leader at birdsleuth@cornell.edu .

     Christ-Centered Online Classes: Home School Enrichment Magazine passed on the following information from Greg Landry, M.S., a13-Year Veteran Homeschool Dad and Director of Human Anatomy and Physiology Lab. "I’m a 13-year veteran homeschool dad, teach college Anatomy and Physiology, and I’m director of a university Human Anatomy and Physiology Lab. I offer residential fall, spring, and summer anatomy and physiology camps (using human cadavers) and one and two semester online science classes for 6th-12th grade homeschooled students nationwide.

Forensic Anatomy CSI

Biology and Pre-Biology

Chemistry

Anatomy and Physiology

Sports Medicine / Exercise Physiology / Athletic Training

Please visit our website for photos, letters from parents and students, and class and camp details.

http://www.HomeschoolScienceAcademy.com ."

There are also free Online Classes for Students & Parents–For 6th – 12th Grade Students. These classes meet one time for 45 minutes . "The Urge" (to go).. and other complex (but rarely thought of) characteristics of the human body that couldn’t have happened by accident. "There’s Life in the Blood".. An anatomical and physiological look at the blood. "The Physiology of Blood Clotting".. You’ll be amazed – cool stuff! "Revelations from the Cadaver Lab".. What I’ve learned from human cadavers. "Working Toward Academic Excellence" A practical and Biblical guide for students. To register for these free classes, visit the website, http://www.HomeschoolScienceAcademy.com . For more information, call office: 828-265-4101 or cell: 828-964-1662.

     Nomad Backcountry Adventures: Peggy Letson sent me the following information. "Nomad Backcountry Adventures, an Alabama based, wilderness adventure program invites you to join us. Exploratory and free-spirited in nature, our trips are designed to foster stewardship, empowerment, community and fun. We specialize in facilitating fun learning experiences in spectacular non-traditional settings. Our 2009 Adventure Schedule is now posted on our website: http://www.nomadbackcountryadventures.com . We also have new and exciting custom trip options for groups just like yours: http://nomadbackcountryadventures.com/customtrips.htm . Please feel free to give us a call or email if you would like to receive an information packet, or would like to reserve dates for next summer. Thank you for your time; we hope you will consider a Nomad Trip for your homeschool group." For more information, contact Peggy at Nomad Backcountry Adventures: peggy@nomadbackcountryadventures.com or 802-376-9603

     You might wish to share this with your language arts students: (Whit Sasser, gospel preacher and homeschooling father, sent me the following item.) Look at how the adverb "only" can change the meaning of a sentence depending upon where it’s placed:

Only I poked him in his eye with my stick.

I only poked him in his eye with my stick.

I poked only him in his eye with my stick.

I poked him only in his eye with my stick.

I poked him in his only eye with my stick.

I poked him in his eye only with my stick.

I poked him in his eye with my only stick.

I poked him in his eye with my stick only.

So use your "only" choices carefully, pilgrims.

— from Rob Kyff…"The Word Guy"

Movie recommendations

     Awhile back I gave some movie warnings.  I don’t do movie reviews, but I do pass along what others have said. Jill Pena reported, "After watching the link below for the movie, Fireproof, I decided to see the movie. It was extremely powerful and I highly recomend it for anyone, teenager and above that is married, or ever will get married. Everyone that I could see in the theatre laughed and cried througout the entire movie. One quote that I will never forget from the movie is, ‘Never leave your partner, especially in a fire.’ New one from Facing the Giants Director: http://www.fireproofthemovie.com/ ." Karen Walker (yes, that’s my wife), reported, "I have a site that sends news and this news title caught my eye, Homeschoolers take on Roe vs Wade. I looked into it and it is about a movie/DVD called Come What May. The article tells what the movie is about and what they hope to accomplish. I just thought there might be others who would be interested in it. Here is the website: http://onenewsnow.com/Culture/Default.aspx?id=297500 . It comes from One News Now, afflitated with American Family Association. I have not seen this movie so this is not a recommendation." And Home School Enrichment Magazine reported, "Burns Family Studios presents Pendragon: Sword of His Father, a Christian epic feature film set in Britain’s Dark Ages. Filmed in five states with a cast of over four hundred actors, Pendragon is the first independent Christian film of its kind. With riveting action and stunning visuals, Pendragon’s story of faith, courage, and vision is sure to inspire your family for generations to come." Aaron Burns, Homeschool graduate and character of Artos in Pendragon: Sword of His Father, said, " For the past four years, my family’s goal has been to inspire Christians to embrace God’s purpose for their lives—to take up the world-changing task that God has for them. To carry this message, we chose the medium of film… Through Pendragon’s epic battle scenes and horse chases shines the story of a young man whose life was changed when he submitted himself to God’s plan. Although it is set in a distant time and a faraway place, Pendragon is more than just an exciting fantasy – it tells a story that is essential to Christian families today." Pendragon has already been selected as one of eight finalists in the Feature Films category of the 2009 San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival, alongside such already-popular films as Expelled, Fireproof, and others!

more on going to college

     More reasons to be concerned about where your children go to college: Many homeschool families are sending their children to local community colleges because it is cheaper and often there are fewer objectionable matters than on larger campuses. But communiny colleges are not immune from problems. Charlie Butts and Jody Brown of OneNewsNow reported on 2/16/2009 that less than a month after voters in California decided to amend their state constitution and protect traditional marriage, Jonathan Lopez — in a public speaking class — shared his beliefs on faith and marriage. David French of the Alliance Defense Fund picks up the story. "Jonathan talked about his faith — and one of the things he talked about in context of his faith was…marriage," says French. "He read from the dictionary definition of marriage. The professor stopped the class, called him a ‘fascist b_____d’ — [he] used the expletive — [and] told the class that anyone who wanted to could leave if they were offended…." According to an ADF press release, when no one got up to leave, the instructor simply dismissed the class, effectively ending Lopez’s speech — which violated the student’s free-speech rights, adds the attorney, especially since other students made speeches on other subjects. Religious speech, notes French, apparently was excluded from the open-ended speech assignment. "You just cannot shut down student speech like that," states French, who explains that Lopez was well within the confines of his professor’s assignment, and that the professor’s actions not only constitute viewpoint discrimination but also comprise "retaliation" because he disagreed with Lopez’s religious beliefs. According to the ADF attorney, the professor was not yet finished. "When [Lopez later] complained about what was an obvious act of censorship, he was threatened with expulsion by that same professor," he says. The speech professor is identified as John Matteson of Los Angeles Community College. ADF reports that after Proposition 8 (the marriage-related constitutional amendment) was approved on November 4, Matteson told his entire class: "If you voted yes on Proposition 8, you are a fascist b_____d." Ultimately Matteson refused to grade Lopez’s November 24 speech, and wrote on the evaluation: "Ask God what your grade is." Yes, we recognize that things like this go on in our society and we hope to prepare our children for them, but at the same time, we send them to college to be educated for their life’s work, not to be assaulted, attacked, and abused like this.The new idea of continuing "homeschooling" through college (via distance learning, CLEPing, and other such means) starts sounding pretty good!

     And one more item on this topic: Pete Chagnon of OneNewsNow reported on 2/9/2009 that the University of Cincinnati’s "UC Sexploration" week was sponsored by Pure Romance and the University of Cincinnati Wellness Center. The event featured lectures by so-called sex experts, free sex kit giveaways, and a "Pizza and Porn" night. David Miller, the Vice-president of public policy with Citizens for Community Values (CCV), an Ohio-based family advocacy group, said, "The Wellness Center’s program director, his name is Reagan Johnson, said this very thing. [He said] ‘We’re using this to showcase that porn is not necessarily a bad thing.’" The CCV spokesman says concerned students and parents need to make their concerns known to the University of Cincinnati. He points to a recent study that shows 75 percent of UC students have had one or more sexual partners in the past year. "If anything, the school ought to be discouraging that kind of activity instead of encouraging it with these kinds of seminars," Miller suggests. The final event of the "Sexploration" week was called "sexcapades." Participants were invited to test their "sex smarts" in a series of physical and mental challenges and win "great prizes."  Should Christians send their children (even though a little older but still impressionable) to a place that sponsors things like this?

Time to think seriously about where you send your kids to college

     In an item headlined "Young woman booted from team for being straight" Pete Chagnon and Jody Brown of OneNewsNow reported on 2/13/2009 that Central Michigan University is being sued after one of its women’s basketball players said she was kicked off the team due to her heterosexuality. Brooke Heike was a high school basketball star who was aggressively sought after by several colleges that wanted the league MVP from Washington Township, MI, to continue her record-breaking rebounding and shot-blocking skills on their campus. After leading her team to its first conference title in 18 years as a high school senior, the 6-foot-2 forward decided to attend Central Michigan University, which offered her a full scholarship. But Heike says she fell out of favor in 2007 with CMU’s new women’s basketball head coach, Sue Guevara, and was eventually kicked off the team. She claims the coach, who is allegedly lesbian, took issue with her heterosexuality. Cindy Rhodes Victor of the Victor Firm, PLLC is representing Heike. "She was not only kicked off the team, but her scholarship was taken away because the coach kept telling her that she wasn’t her ‘type,’" Victor explains. "And when Brooke would ask what was that, [Guevara] would say ‘I don’t want you to wear makeup, you have a boyfriend, I don’t want you to have a boyfriend…you’re too girly girl’ — that type of thing." Victor says Heike was an excellent basketball player. She adds that her teammates liked her, but still Heike’s coach refused to help her out. Heike ended up hiring independent trainers to help her. According to Heike’s attorney, cancellation of elementary education major’s scholarship came as a surprise. "She wasn’t even told ever that her scholarship was in jeopardy or that her position was in jeopardy," says Victor. "Out of the blue she gets a letter from the financial aid office that says your scholarship’s gone." A teammate then told the 20-year-old that "the coach announced yesterday that you were off the team because you’re not happy." CMU representatives refused a request for an interview, but instead emailed OneNewsNow a statement saying they are familiar with the allegations and that they will defend their position in court. According to the case file, the coach in question was fired from a coaching job at another school in 2003. Team members at that school accused Sue Guevara of similar actions.